The internet is world full of exciting possibilities for you and your family. There is access to so much more than we could have ever dreamed possible when I was a teenager: Online encyclopedias, Google Earth, Nasa pictures of the outer limits of space, online field trips, news. The availability we have to everything and anything is incredible! The doors to home schooling have opened wider than ever before. But. . .  there are dangers, too.
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Are you as concerned about the things your family may encounter while online as I am? Things like: inappropriate videos or pictures, cyber predators, sexual predators, addiction to certain sites, and violent games or sites? 

You may think that having a "security suite" in place that allows you to block certain sites, protect from viruses, and block malware is sufficient enough and protects your children from all of these threats. But this is not so.

Action Alert is an Internet Safety program, actually a computer safety program, that easily installs on your computer allowing you to monitor and protect your entire family from the dangers that lurk online.

"Action Alert includes everything you need
to create a safe environment on the family computer"

With Action Alert, you will gain 8 internet safety tools and be able to add blocks, time limits, and be able to view actual keystrokes from users. This means whatever is typed into the computer, regardless of it's online or not. You can receive instant alerts to your phone or email and are able to lock down the computer even while you are away from home. You can receive the following tools:
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Action Alert has won the iParenting Media Award & the Safe Family Seal of Approval. It's "the ONLY Internet Safety solution endorsed by the Child Safety Network." It's even been featured on NBC. 

It is a great program that allows you to have a little more peace of mind while you are away, or even in the other room.

My son typed in "XXX" while using a game on the computer. It's because the "X" is one of the controllers for the game. I instantly received an alert. Fortunately I knew it was nothing, but it could have been, and it's really nice to know that the protection is there.

You can get Action Alert two different ways. The first is absolutely FREE and includes "everything you need to setup a kid-safe computer in seconds". Or for $29.99, you can purchase Action Alert and have more options and have "multiple user protection".

In today's world, we need to be vigilant in protecting our children. Don't wait until you find out you needed it, check out Action Alert today and protect now, before you find yourself saying "if I had only known."

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Reading classical literature has always been a love of mine. It's not just the story, but the use of the English language as well. Because the English language is used 'properly', sometimes it's difficult to understand; or there may be words that are not typically used in today's sentences. Having an idea of the time period the author lived and the era for the story does help, but that hasn't always been readily available. Now it can be.

Progeny Press has developed Study Guides for Literature that are not only guides to the classics, but are created with a Christian perspective. From their About Us page they write: "We believe in the equation 'Biblical Truth + Cultural Relevancy = Effective Christians'." Is there any better way to teach the classics to your children?

Progeny Press is a family-owned and operated business that started in 1992 by Michael & Rebecca Gilleland. They started it based on their desire to teach their homeschooled children classic cultural literature from a Christian perspective. At the beginning of 2012, they had 107 study guides and continue to grow. You can read more about Progeny Press on there About Us page.  

There are study guides available for grades kindergarten through high school. They concentrate on critical thinking, comprehension, literary analysis, all following Christian views according to The Gilleland's Statement of Faith. Their Mission Statement is:
"To teach our children to think clearly, to understand literature,and to rely on
the scripture for truth and values, and enjoy themselves while they do it!"
As a member of the TOS crew, we received the interactive Study Guides to The Screwtape Letters & The Bronze Bow. The Screwtape Letters has been a book that my daughter really enjoys. She's always quoting something from it and describing a scenario. I deferred to her opinion for the Study Guide since she has read the book so many times. Her words "I love it!". She went through and showed me each section of the guide and expressed how "great" it was and that she "wished I had this before" :-^ The vocabulary words were her favorite part, I think. There is a teacher's guide that includes the answers, too. The Bronze Bow correlates with our current curriculum. Having the guide allowed us to have a better understanding of the story and the author's intent and really opened up the time period more for us. You can view samples of The Screwtape Letters guide and The Bronze Bow guide. 

Each of the Study Guides start out with a synopsis, an about the author, and background info. This allows you and your child to "see" into the story a little. I like that. Just like when you're talking with an individual about some issue, it's nice to know where he/she coming from What his/her opinion might be based on. Perspective. With The C.S. Lewis, we learned about his childhood, his family, and how his Christian walk started. I really like that about these guides.

Of course the guide is not all about the author or a history of the time period. The components of the Study Guides include vocabulary; questions; story analysis questions including setting, characters, mood, etc; activities; and additional resources. To view another sample of a Study Guide click here. The interactive .PDF guides allow your student to answer most questions right on the computer. They can be printed, too. The guides are available on CD as well. 


The Study Guides are available as an emailed .PDF file, on CD as a .PDF file, or in print. You can purchase them through the Progeny Press online store. The guides are available from $10.99 to $27.99, depending on guide and format.

I am confident you will enjoy these guides and that they will enhance your child's understanding of the classics & offer a wonderful There is also a section on money savers. This offers specials and such Progeny Press offers a 15% discount to Military families, to thank them for their service. This is also under the money savers tab.
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As a member of the TOS Crew, I have been able to review a variety of products that we have enjoyed & have fit into our curriculum or activities. We have even been blessed to receive more than one product by certain company's that we really liked. One of these company's is Classical Academic Press. The first product I reviewed for them was Latin Alive!. I posted a review about it way back in March of 2011. Wow! Time sure does fly!
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The newest product I received is actually of set. It is
The Art of Argument, an Introduction to the Informal Fallacies. The set includes the student text, teacher's edition, and a sample CD of the Art of Argument DVD set. This sample contained the first 6 of the fallacies that are discussed on the DVD set.

I will start with this, first, I love logic; anything logic. I find it fascinating and always have. I enjoy teaching my children about logic and pray that they will have sound minds when adults, based on the ability to use logical reasoning. 

So what is logic? One definition that Merriam Webster's online dictionary uses is " a science that deals with the principles of and criteria of validity of inference and demonstration: the science of the formal principles of reasoning." (merriam-webster.com). Classical Academic Press (CAP) states it this way, "from the Greek word logos, meaning 'reason'. The art and science of reason, usually divided into two subdivisions, or areas of study: 'formal' and 'informal'." (Art of Argument, pg. 227) CAP further explains formal and informal here in their FAQ's. The term fallacy is defined by CAP as coming from "the Latin word fallacia, which means 'deceit', 'trick', or 'fraud'. . .  A commonly recognized bad argument failing to meet the requirements of relevance, clarity, or presumption." (Art of Argument, pg. 226). 

I have written before about our speech and debate club. We have been participating for about 4 years, and this year I am the actual leader of the club, really, lol. In club, we teach our students the process of arguing without bickering, without degrading the opponent, and for a purpose. The Art of Argument introduces students to this very concept. Learning how to critically think, process other's arguments and fallacies, and analyze your own, is a start in the direction of mastering the Art of Argument.

The Art of Argument student text consists of 6 chapters covering 28 fallacies with real world examples to help the student understand easier. The use of dialogues, work sheets, dialectic discussion questions, tests, and fun extras allows the student to apply each lesson for clarity and practical use. You can view a sample of the student workbook here.

The Teacher's Edition has been recently expanded and now includes the entire student text, answers to ALL exercises, and new chapter and unit tests. You can view a sample here

The DVD set features 3 experienced logic teachers and 4 students discussing the 28 fallacies presented in The Art of Argument. It correlates perfectly with the book and is a wonderful complement to it.

You can purchase the Art of Argument for $21.95, the Teacher's Edition is $24.95, and the DVD set is $54.95. The bundle can be purchased of $88.95. 

This curriculum will be an excellent investment in your child's future, I assure you. Teaching logic is the first step in helping your child understand the world and defend themselves and their faith.
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Does your homeschool curriculum need a little. . . boost? Do your children sometimes just want to have fun instead of doing another lesson? Well there is an interesting way that you can add fun directly to your curriculum, which will satisfy your need to educate, and your children's desire to do something different. . . Task Cards by Creek Edge Press.

What is a Task Card? Task cards are just as they sound. They are "cards" that have various tasks on them that your child can complete, that correlate with the particular subject they are learning. They are geared for children K-8, but can be modified or enhanced to use with children older or younger (in my opinion). "The cards are designed to engage the student in investigative, discovery based learning. . . .. The tasks direct students to research and explore concepts and vocabulary surrounding a particular topic which is stated on the card" (creekedgepress.com).

The subjects available in the Task Card sets are: history, art, music, grammar reinforcement, and science. You can even purchase replacement cards. Each subject will cover different areas, for example, for this history Task Card Sets, the tasks include research, map work, summaries, time line work, biographical figures, and simple projects. You can view the scope & sequence of the different sets here.The sets are designed to correlate with Charlotte Mason, Classical learning, and Montessori. Since there are not specific books required to use the cards, you can customize your resources according to your teaching style or home school curriculum. For a list of suggested resources and supporting links, you can view this page.Creek Side Press also has a blog that offers additional information, updates, and other news.
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We received the Ancient World Task Card set. This set is "extensive and intended to stand-alone" but can be used to complement other curriculum. There are 34cards that cover Ancient History, from Creation to the fall of Rome. The scope and sequence can be seen here. The card set comes with a Course Introduction book which offers instructions on how to use the cards, recommendations on preparing the environment, and resource suggestions. It is very comprehensive and I can really see how you might be able to use this set as a stand alone curriculum.

You can purchase the Ancient World Task Card Set for $20.00. Other Task Card Sets can be purchased from $18.00 for single sets up to $90.00 for the complete History set. Check out the product page to learn more about each of the sets. 

Our current curriculum for history covers the Ancient World time period, so these cards are a perfect for us in that sense. It includes different activities, but sometimes the activities just aren't enough and the kids are wanting more. We have been able to use the cards to add in that "more", and were even able to learn a few extra things. 

The Task Card Sets are really a great way to supplement your curriculum or even learn about a new topic for extra-curricular fun. They are a good alternative when you want to get work done, but your student is needing a breather from her usual work. There is much to learn using each card, and if you're creative, you can add even more using the card as a guide.

For more reviews from Crew members click the link below.
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I'd like to introduce you to a new online program that can help your child increase his/her math and language arts skills.  As a member of the TOS Crew, we were given a trial membership to K5 Learning. K5 is an online after-school study program for kids in kindergarten to grade 5.  Their goal is to help your child "build readingmath and study skills to last a lifetime." The program is customized for each child; which means your child will learn at his own level & advance at his own pace. Isn't this what's most important? K5 doesn't just look at how old your child is or what grade they are in, they offer an assessment for both math and reading, and base your child's starting point on those results. If your child is more advanced than her age, then she will be able to start at that level, if she has areas that need a boost, she'll start there. Since there are separate assessment's for math and reading, your child can be at an upper level for one and a different point for the other. It's totally child specific. This is a wonderful benefit of K5 Learning.
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The assessment places the child based on Phonemic Awareness, Phonics, Sight Words, Vocabulary, and Reading Comprehension. the assessment may seem intensive to some, but it is comprehensive, which is beneficial in placement. To the left is a sample screenshot of the reading assessment results. Based on these results, the child would then be able to begin the program. 

With the math assessment, you would find the type of results page. The math assessment place based on Number and Operations, Measurement, & Geometry. Again, the assessment is intensive, but is comprehensive, which is really the most effective way to measure your child's skills. 

As the parent, you have access to the "dashboard". This allows you to view your child's progress, test results, and upcoming lessons. You can change lessons, add an assessment, and even change levels, if necessary.

Once your child has taken the assessment's, he then has access to all 4 sections of K5: 

K5 Reading helps kids become strong readers and develop a love of reading. This award-winning program covers phonemic awareness, phonics, sight words, vocabulary and reading comprehension. 
K5 Spelling is an advanced vocabulary program which improves language skills one word at a time. We feature adaptive instruction, automatic word generation, an optimized visual interface, and a 150,000+ word database. 
K5 Math is an award-winning program which builds self confidence and a deep understanding of math concepts. K5 Math covers numbers and operations, geometry, measurement (including time and money), algebraic thinking and data analysis. 
K5 Math Facts uses adaptive technology to help kids develop instant recall of basic addition, subtraction, multiplication and division facts. Progress on each and every math fact is monitored until mastery is obtained. 
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Your child will find this page (to the left) and be able to choose which section he wants to do. If you will notice, there is a "Today's Riddle" on the page, too. It's fun little riddle. The answer is shown once your child clicks on "answer". It's just a little extra fun :^)

You can purchase a one month subscription to all 4 programs for $25/1st child & $15/additional child. An annual subscription is $199/1st child & $129/additional child.

K5 also offers a free 14-day trial membership. This is a great way to try before you buy, and see if K5 Learning fits for your family.

I like the concept of K5 because it is so comprehensive. Language arts has been a sore subject for my son for some time. I found that K5 touch on all of the areas that he needed to work on. However, because of this, he did not like it. He felt that it wasn't "fun enough" and that "it's all work and no games". Although there are some games, K5 really is focused on academics and not "fun". Some students will be fine with this, my son, unfortunately, is not. So though I do like K5, it was not a good fit for us. But I encourage you to try it for your family. You may find it's just what you've been looking for.
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My daughter and I have recently started taking Zumba classes & have really enjoyed the Latin style music. It's exhilarating while exercising. The one thing that I do not like about a few of the songs are the lyrics. Because of this, I was so excited to receive my copy of the Miami Vineyard Live music CD. It's a mixture of Latin, Black Gospel, Caribbean, and Anglo music AND IS CHRISTIAN! How wonderful to hear praises to The Lord while listening to this style of music.

The CD was developed by a group of "20+ musicians and 10+ songwriters that are steeped in their own musical traditions . . . [that come] together to create a new tradition and sound." The Miami Vineyard Community Church took one night, the over one hundred singers, instrumentalists and songwriters that make up its eclectic worship ministry, and joined together in worship. On this night, they created the fabulously MIAMI VINEYARD LIVE CD." (miami-live). You can hear clips of the music on the video below. It makes you want to put your hands in the air and PRAISE THE LORD!

There are 13 songs on the tracklist, and each of them brings it's own uniqueness. From the instrumental blends to the voices, The Lord is lifted above all else.
The Tracklist includes:
You can listen to a sample of each of these songs by clicking here. I like Holy Spirit Come, How Great Is Our God, & At All Times the most, I think, though, all are great to listen to. You can also purchase the CD for $11.99 or download it for $9.99.

You can follow MiamiVineyard Live on Facebook or view their site through Vineyard Music

ON TO THE GIVEAWAY: Along with the CD I received to review, I was also given the opportunity to offer one to you! Just follow the simple rules below and you'll be entered. It starts today and ends 3/13/2012.
a Rafflecopter giveaway
Disclosure of Material Connection: I received one or more of the products or services mentioned above for free in the hope that I would mention it on my blog. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising. I received this product through FlyPropeller.
 
 
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Over the course of our home schooling years, I have encountered many reading programs utilizing either software, books, or a combination of both. For my daughter, now 16, we started very early on, like at age 1. She loved looking at books and playing games, with us right beside. My son, now 11, has been unlike this, from the beginning. He was not interested in looking at books or the computer. He wanted movement and action. It seems he still wants this. Reading has not come as easily for him as it did our daughter. It "bores" him, despite what books we've used. 

As a member of the TOS Crew, we have found a few programs over the last few years, that he has actually liked, and used. One of those programs is through Reading Eggs

Reading Eggs is an online reading program developed in 2008, that encourages children to develop their reading skills through interactive animations, games, fun characters, and a reward system. It is geared for children ages 3-7, or children learning to read. Reading Eggs has 120 literacy lessons that takes children from a non-reading level to a 1st grade level. It also includes spelling lessons that will develop skills to a 2nd grade level. They've even developed a new program, Eggsplorers, for children ages 6-8 that already know have some reading skills but still have more to learn. This area of the program includes a creative writing factory, books, new games, and focuses on building reading fluency, spelling, vocabulary, grammar, and punctuation.

Before your child begins the Reading Eggs program, she will take a placement/assessment "test" (pic on left). From there, she will be placed at the appropriate level based on the computer generated findings. Once the test is complete, your child will find a map (right pic), that identifies where he will be starting. In the sidebar, there are a number of activities that can be clicked on for exploration, or, he can click on his avatar and be taken to lessons. One such lesson is a sentence creator (bottom pic). The words are given and must be put in the correct order. The activities are engaging and interesting. If your child needs a change of pace, he can click on a different activity. Reading Eggs allows your child to work at his/her or pace and at the appropriate level. 
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From Reading Eggs and Eggsplorers, the next level takes your child to Reading Eggspress. This eggsciting (hehe) site is geared towards kids ages 7-13 and steps up the maturity level from Reading Eggs as well as the educational level. There are over 700 books, 200 comprehension lessons, over 100 games, and a stadium with real-time games where your child can play against other children. There is so much to do on this site, that your child could spend "literally hundreds of hours of motivating educational content waiting to eggsplore!" (readingeggspress.com) At Reading Eggspress, your child will find a floating island (seen in the pic above), that includes a comprehension stadium, library, gym, apartment, & mall. Each of these have various activities, lessons, and fun! There are so many different things to do. Again, there is an assessment test for the various areas, that is taken to be sure your child is at the right level. These are a little more intense than on Reading Eggs, since it is for the older child. This is the assessment for the gym: 

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After the assessment, one of the first things your child can do, is go to his/her apartment and create his Avatar. There are options for the body, head, clothes, and accessories. My son enjoyed being able to play around with his Avatar, changing the ears, eyes, & nose, along with hair style and color. At one point, he was sporting a multi-colored mohawk, lol.

After deciding on an Avatar, your child can add things to his apartment, or go hang out at the mall. One of the "stores" is a pet shop. There are various animals and creatures that can be purchased with the eggs that have been earned doing lessons and activities.

In the stadium, your child will find Grammar Skating, Spelling Spring, Vocabulary Pursuit, and Freestyle Usage. There is the option to play the computer or person and the option to change levels from 1-5. Below is an example of Grammar Skating at level 5. The players race against each other (you can see the avatars at the bottom of the pic) to win. It is challenging and quick, but fun. The pace is fast and makes you think. 
There really is much, much more to Reading Eggs and Reading Eggspress than what I've told you here. To find out more, check out a few of their FAQ's or read their history here

Reading Eggs can be purchased for 12 months at $75, 6 months at $49.95, or monthly at $9.95. These prices are good for the first child, any additional children are 50% off. 

If you'd like to "try before you buy", you can get a free sample lesson or a free 14-day trial membership

As I wrote above, my son likes both of these sites. He wouldn't really tell me why, but I suspect it's because he's able to start & stop when he wants to, go at his own pace, and feels encouraged by the progress that he can visually see.. I can also view his progress. I like that. Right now, it's just what we needed. :^)
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