Sunday, August 31, 2014

Great Products Homeschool T Shirt Giveaway!

This time last year I was fortunate enough to be sent some cool clothes from Great Products. This year they approached me again and wondered if I would like to offer another giveaway to my readers. The kids are anxiously awaiting the T shirts we chose. The two older ones are still wearing last years choices (albeit Boo's is a little snug this year.) They have washed great. Jam actually had the black hoodie and it hasn't faded at all, in fact he can't wait for the cooler weather to come so he can start wearing it again!

Captain America is SO excited to have his own home school t shirt on the way. Last year the kids picked different ones. This year we decided to have the same one!

Isn't that cool. You now know why the kids are stalking the mailbox. They seriously can not wait. I will post some pictures when they arrive.

Even if you don't win the giveaway, you can purchase your own cool T shirts for the new home school year. Right now all of the home school T shirts are just $5.99 until SEPTEMBER 15th. Check out all the designs here.

©2011-2014 Chickensbunniesandhomeschool. All rights reserved. All text, photographs, artwork, and other content may not be reproduced or transmitted in any form without the written consent of the author

Friday, August 29, 2014

Random Five Friday - August 29 2014

 1. Today I decided to take the kids to the zoo. I didn't decide last night however, it was at 8:30 this morning. So at 9am we were heading down the road. Reminder to self...Next time check the weather forecast. Did you know not many people go to the zoo WHEN ITS CHUCKING IT DOWN!! Bonus though...we got a really close parking space.

2. The polar bears at our zoo like the rain, and have you ever had fun in a mirror.

 3. We had out regular homemade pizza night tonight. Our current favorite - My homemade crust, barbecue sauce, bacon, onion, peppers, chicken, Italian cheese - plus jalapenos (but not on every pizza).

4. The kids and I are working on a review. They are LOVING it! In fact they have been working on about a week worth work every day. Watch this space for the review. I bet you would be surprised to hear it's GRAMMAR

5. I can't believe it's labor day weekend. Another year has gone by without Heather. It's strange that something can feel like it happened yesterday and yet so long ago at the same time. Labor day 1999, Sept 6 we lost our little angel.

Check out some more random five over at The Pebble Pond.

The Pebble Pond

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Thursday, August 28, 2014

2014-15 Homeschool Curriculum Choices

Curriculum is a HUGE decision. We follow a loose Charlotte Mason program. When I say loose, I mean we love living curriculum, but sometimes we love textbooks. So really we balance our loves into a blend that is just ours. There are no affiliate links in this post - they are there purely for your information.

The kids are going to be continuing swim team this year. We are hoping that Captain America can swim well enough to sign up too. He has really improved his swimming this summer, and he really wants to join. We won't sign him up for USA Swimming this winter but should be ready for our summer league next year. I love that this gives the kids SO much exercise and they really love it. We start again next week and the kids are really excited!

Latin is still being done with Nana via Skype. It is so great that she is willing to put so much effort into the kids studies. This will be the third year. They have compleated Cambridge Latin 1 and are half way through Cambridge Latin 2. We are not quite sure what we are doing next. We may just repeat the books again, as Nana thinks there is still SO much to learn.

One of Jam's other main goals this year is to get closer to obtaining his Eagle Scout Award. He was made a Life Scout last month and so this will take up quite a bit of his spare time.

Boo turns 12  this year and so will be entering our Young Women program at church. She is really excited to start working on her Personal Progress.

So saying that here is what else we will be working on this year.


Math -
CTC Math
Life of Fred - Physics
Pre Algebra with Biology
Pre Algebra with Economics
(We may get further with Life of Fred, we will just have to see)

Literature and Social Studies

Roman Roads - The Greeks 1 year course
In Freedoms Cause 
The Age of Chivalry
Joan of Arc - Mark Twain
History of English Literature


Apologia - Physical Science
Life of a Spider


America The Beautiful - Notgrass
Birth of Britain - Winston Churchill

Language Arts

Spelling You See (We are testing a new level)
IEW Fix It (Review will post in October)
ERS Expository Essay - Fortuigence  (Review will post in October)
IEW Student Writing Intensive 


How the Heather Looks
Brendan Voyage


Cambridge Latin II
Duolingo Spanish


Piano Lessons


Swim Team

Scripture Study / Memorization



Life of Fred Fractions
Life of Fred Decimals and Percents
Life of Fred Pre-Algebra with Physics


Oliver Twist
Age of Fable
(More to come)


IEW Student Writing Intensive
IEW Grammar - Fix It
Life of Fred Language Arts (Book 3 & 4)


Exploring Creation with Human Anatomy and Physiology
Exploring Creation with General Science


America The Beautiful
Abraham Lincolns World
Story of the World 4
Carry a Big Stick


Halliburton's Book of Marvels (both books)


Cambridge Latin 2
Duolingo Spanish




Swim Team


Scripture Study / Memorization



Life of Fred - Apples, Butterflies, Apples
Math Mammoth Grade 1


New Testament Readers


Three Tales of My Father's Dragon
A Bear Called Paddington
The Milly Molly Mandy Storybook
The House at Pooh Corner
Uncle Wiggly Bedtime Stories
Mouse Tales
Harper Collins Treasury of Picture Book Classics
The 20th Century Children's Book Treasury
A Treasury of Curious George
Mad About Madeline
The Danny and the Dinosaur Treasury 


Favorite Poems Old and New: Selected for Boys and Girls


Funnix Reading
Bob Books 
Various Early Readers


Stories of Great Americans for Little Americans
Kindergarten Gems 
Fifty Famous People
Little Wanderers
Among the Forest People
Among the Pond People
The Burgess Flower Book for Children (If I can find a reasonable priced copy)
The Berenstain Bears - Big Book of Science and Nature


Zoology 1 Exploring Creation with...


Funnix Reading
Lightening Literature Grade 1 
Spelling You See - Jack and Jill (2nd half)


Homeschool Piano
Recorder (as soon as I can find a good program)


Bike Riding
Rollar Skating
Plus just being a five year old and climbing trees etc

WOW that was a long list...kudos to you if you stuck around and read it all. Hopefully we will have some awesome reviews mixed in too!

©2011-2014 Chickensbunniesandhomeschool. All rights reserved. All text, photographs, artwork, and other content may not be reproduced or transmitted in any form without the written consent of the author

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Essential Skills Advantage {Review Crew}

Essential Skills Advantage Review

Since I work from home there are times when I need Captain America (remember this is now what we call Little J who's 5) to do something constructive if I am busy. He has his own laptop on his new school desk that we set up this year and so doesn't have to boot someone else off theirs to play. Essential Skills Advantage is an online reading and language program for grades K-6. I was given a premium membership in exchange for this review. A premium membership costs $9.99 a month however if you use the code 'TOS50' by Oct 1 2014 you could get this program for $4.99 a month (for as long as you keep the subscription active). There is also a free version of the program available however this does contain ads and doesn't have all the features of the premium membership.

Essential Skills Advantage has been around along time. Up until recently it worked mainly with traditional schools (over 20,000). Since the program was so successful in helping children in the classroom to read company started getting requests from members etc to use the program at home, and so here it is.

OK now we have all the cost and information out of the way lets look how the program works. When I first started Essential Skills Advantage I was a little confused because I thought that I had to sign in Captain America everytime he wanted to use it. After a quick email to the company (and super quick response) I realized that I had missed an important part of the set up ~ his unique sign in link. I placed this on his laptop screen, changed the original password to one he could remember and 'boom' easy peasy! When Captain America clicked on the link on his screen he saw the screen below (there are a lot more buttons to choose from though this is just a limited screen shot).

After clicking on the activity he wants to go it then takes him to a login page where he enters his username and password.

The next screen shows your progress in the chosen area. Each of these buttons are clickable and starts an activity.

Captain America is a little impatient with the sign in process, he would rather click a button enter a password and GO.....I quite like how this program works. It starts of very simply. We had to jump around a bit to find the right level for Captain America. He wasn't quite ready to handle the 1st grade level without my assistance and the begining of kindergarten made him roll his eyes. Eventually we found a happy medium. His favorite part was he was asked to type in words. First - copying what he read on the screen, then with the same list of words he had to type what he heard. This second part was quite tricky, luckily there is a button you can press to hear the word said again.

For some reason Captain America doesn't ask to work on this program. I think in that sentence is the key. It truly seems more like a program than a 'game'. If I ask him to work on it, he will without arguing though. To him this is a school program rather than something he asks to play during his free computer time. I don't have a problem with that and I like the way the program works. We have been focusing on kindergarten sight words, typing, and listening skills so far and I can definitely see an improvement.

Since this program is recommended up to grade 6 I logged Boo onto the program at the begining of the review period. Unfortunately she found the program too easy. Although she is technically grade 6 her reading and comprehension is much, much older. So it was hard to get her motivated to use the program. I decided to just focus on Captain America.

Essential Skills Advantage Social Media Links

There are a lot of other crew members using this program. Click on the link below to read more reviews.

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Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Ubersmart Math Facts {Review Crew}

UberSmart Math Facts Review

I don't know about you but in our house math facts are a problem. We memorize and memorize but 'instant' recall comes and goes. Well for me anyway! Anytime I can review something that can help in that area it is exciting to me (not necessarily to the kids). So when I was offered a chance to try Ubersmart Math Facts  from Ubersmart Software I jumped at the chance (and my kids groaned).

Before I get started talking about how the program works I have to point out that this program is downloadable to your computer and only works on Windows 7, 8, XP and Vista.

This computer based software teaches addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division and is aimed at grades K-6. However if you are like me you might find it useful for yourself.

The program was designed by a home school dad, like many dad's he was trying to solve a problem given to him by his wife ~ "make a set of math flashcards". He actually did something my husband would have done...tried to find an electronic version. My husband hates scraps of paper around the house. So this is always his first choice. Not finding one he liked Mr Kocur decided to create his own. It did the job ~ his kids learned their facts and learned them well!

UberSmart Math Facts Review

 All three of my kids have their own laptops and so each of them have their own copy. Although this program is marketed for ages K-6 I loaded on Jam's laptop too! Everyone can do with more Math fact practice right! The program costs $24.95 and allows for 8 users.

Now this is not a flashy, bright, program with teddy bears jumping out every few seconds to encourage your kids. But believe me once you get going it's really fun. Why...because you are challenging yourself. My older kids like it, and are willing to spend a good ten minutes or so on it. My 1st grader however is a little put off by the 'let's get down to business' attitude of the program. This is where bribery comes in...ten minutes on this program for ten minutes of that... I will freely admit it bribery works some times. Especially when I hear him shout "YES!" when he passes something off (even if it's just his +0, +1, or +2 math facts).

I love that this program is a one time purchase and not something I have to commit to every month. So although Jam has basically aged out I know that we will get plenty of miles out of this program as a family.


After I loaded the program on the the kids computers I gave them a quick tour of the program. The older two I basically let them explore most of the program by themselves but I did insist that they only work on multiplication and division. Captain America worked solely on addition throughout the review period.

When I setup Captain America (Little J's new name for the blog as apparently he's not 'little' anymore) on the program I was able to edit a couple of the settings. I was able to extend the seconds per problem, mastery factor and the beat the clock. Since he is not working on multiplication and division yet I didn't worry about changing those. However, when we start I will go in and change them one at a time so he doesn't get hit straight away with a 12x problem.

Captain America completed the beginner assessment and we received quite a comprehensive report. I know you can't read it clearly but it gives you the general idea. (This is printable for your records or can be saved on your computer.)

My kids tried out the 'learn' section but honestly they didn't like it. They found it annoying that they couldn't pick the answer. So most of our time was spent in the other sections. The practice section allows you to enter the answers and they prefered this. The Test section is split into 2 choices 'beginner' and 'intermediate' this is where we took Captain America's assessment test. This is also where you can obtain 'mastery' of a particular area. This is a great tool as it helps you pass off individual sections. So you can start for example working through the timestables from 0 to 12 and as you get 100% in this section it marks them as 'mastered'. The next tab is 'compete' I must admit this is my favorite area. You can pick your age generally 'Adult', 'High School', 'Middle School' etc and then you answer a set of timed questions. You are then ranked with all the other players that the program has one file. It's pretty fun to see where you rank in the list. The report sections shows a summary of the progress that you have made, and the 'maintain' section is just that, it helps you maintain the account, passwords etc...

Some of the unique features of the program are;

~ Beginner option using dot cards (like adding domino faces)
~ Keyboard Entry (Ten-Key Numbers)
~ Flash Cards (add, subtract, multiplication, division)
~ Addition/Subtraction goes up through the 9s
~ Multiplication/Division has the option to set it to go up to 9's - 20's.


At first the kids groaned quite a bit when I asked them to play with this program. However eventually the older two had less of an attitude with it. I think when they bypassed the 'learn' section they found it a lot more user friendly. They also like to obtain the 'mastery' status. Captain America is still not convinced. He does it when asked but he never chooses it when given computer time.


I like this program. It's simple, yet complicated (if you understand what I mean) I am sure there are things that I haven't mastered yet, and things I have missed. The only thing I didn't like was the learn section as it wouldn't let us pick an answer, but this was easily solved by jumping to the practice section so it wasn't a huge issue. I would LOVE this as an Android App so that we could play it on the go without the Internet.


1.  Downloads to your computer and only works on Windows 7, 8, XP and Vista.
2. Marketed for grade K-6 (although suitable through Adult as it's not babyish)
3. $24.95 one time payment (no monthly fee)

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©2011-2014 Chickensbunniesandhomeschool. All rights reserved. All text, photographs, artwork, and other content may not be reproduced or transmitted in any form without the written consent of the author