Thursday, March 1, 2012

Taking a Break

Thanks for coming to check out Quinsmomma!  

I started this blog to have a neat scrapbook of all our homeschooling adventures and a way to share our life with family and friends.  It turned into so much more than that - it became a way to connect with other homeschooling families to share tips and resources, an outlet for many of my hobbies and interests like gardening, cooking, nature, and crafting, a way to try out free homeschooling supplies and curriculum and let others know about products and resources to help them in their homeschooling.  Unfortunately all that really added up in time and commitments.  Time that I would really like to spend doing all that cool stuff instead of writing about it.  So I've decided to take a bit of a blogging break.  I may be back soon and then feel silly for making such a big deal about my break. I just need a little time off.  In the meantime, please feel free to look around.

You can find some good resources about/for homeschooling HERE.

Great curriculum choices for preschool, more presschool, and fourth grade.

Homeschooling products we reviewed for The Old Schoolhouse Magazine are HERE.

And try poking around in the labels area on the side bar to see if anything interests you. 

Hope to be refreshed and back posting soon - until then - Enjoy!


Wednesday, February 15, 2012



We recently had the opportunity to review ALEKS (Assessment and LEarning in Knowledge Spaces) a Web-based, artificially intelligent assessment and learning system.

From the website: ALEKS uses adaptive questioning to quickly and accurately determine exactly what a student knows and doesn't know in a course. ALEKS then instructs the student on the topics she is most ready to learn. As a student works through a course, ALEKS periodically reassesses the student to ensure that topics learned are also retained. ALEKS courses are very complete in their topic coverage and ALEKS avoids multiple-choice questions.

For homeschoolers ALEKS states it provides the instruction and support you need to homeschool your children in mathematics for grades 3-12 and is accessible from virtually any computer with internet access, making it a flexible and mobile educational solution for your children. You can watch a quick 2 minute explaination for homeschoolers.

Here's how it went for us.  After creating an account, Ms. Q logged on and was taken to the assessment page.  She answered around 30 questions that tested her knowledge in various elementary level math topics.


The program then produces a pie chart listing all the areas the assessment found the student has mastered, needs to learn, and is ready to learn:


Ms. Q was then able to choose the topics she wanted to learn and the program provided instruction in the area she chose in a very matter of fact and straight forward way.


We are still on the fence about this product.  What we liked about the program: I love any product that makes my life easier.  Math has been an area  Ms. Q and I have struggled with from the very beginning, both because I really don't enjoy math and because I don't seem to be very good at teaching it.  ALEKS made life easier in that I didn't need to really teach Ms. Q the math, I just needed to be available in the event she needed some clarification.  She also really liked that she could choose the topics she wanted to learn and work on them at her own pace.  I liked that I didn't need to create a lesson plan and find resources for each topic and that I could easily see what Ms. Q worked on and how well she was progressing through each lesson.

The only thing we didn't like about the program was that although ALEKS did provide the instruction for Ms. Q for each of the topics she chose to learn, the way it was presented to her did not really keep her interest.  One of the reasons that we homeschool is because Ms. Q has a very short attention span for things that are less engaging or not hands on.  I think the only reason she was able to focus and complete most of the lessons was because her competitive nature had her determined to complete the pie chart as quickly as possible.  After a few lessons though,even that didn't seem to help.  She's just used to a much more hands on approach to math that explains the "why" to her as well as the "how."

 Subscriptions for ALEKS are available for $19.95 a month, $99.95 for 6 months of access, or $179.95 for 12 months.  For families with more than one child discount pricing is available.

We received a free two month trial. If you would like to see if ALEKS will work well with your child click here:

To see what other TOS Homeschool Crew members had to say, please go to the blog.

Disclosure: As a member of the 2011-2012 The Old Schoolhouse Magazine Homeschool Crew, I was provided this product for free in exchange for my review.  No other compensation was given and this review reflects my honest opinion.

Friday, February 10, 2012

TOS Review: Math Rider


Are you searching for fun and helpful ways to help your children practice their math facts?  It seems I am almost constantly these days!  Then once I find one that Ms. Q likes she looses interest in it and it becomes just another "school thing" to complain about. Well I think we found the one that will be staying around for A LONG TIME!  Math Rider is a fun math game for kids that sends them on a fictional quest while they practice their math skills.  It is targeted for elementary aged children who need practice with addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division facts 0-12.

Math Rider combines fun, adventure, and oh yea - Math!  Your child begins by choosing which type of operation they would like to practice and then the quest begins.  The child rides a horse over hurdles while solving math problems and completing their quest.  The more accurate and quickly the child answers the faster the problems come.  After four proficient rides the quest is completed. The child can then choose another operation/quest.  Although the quest can be repeated the problems will be different offering even more practice.


The really neat part of Math Rider is that kids can see their progress and improvement.  Instead of just a number of correctly answered problems, Math Rider  gives point bonuses, time bonuses, quest progress, progressively animated rewards and a comprehensive statistics screen.


Ms. Q really liked the quests.  She started with addition and then subtraction, even though she is already pretty quick with those facts.  The game adjusts to the user, so she was able to complete those quests much faster than the one she worked on for multiplication.  One of the things she really liked is that the operations are all of one kind and not mixed.  She sometimes has a hard time with mixed operation problems, especially when trying to answer quickly so that worked out just great for her.   It was sometimes difficult to get her off the computer do something else - but I guess that's really not a problem!

If you would like to check out Math Rider for your child, you can try it for free for seven days.  If you decide to purchase Math Rider it is on sale for $37.00 through February 15, 2012.  After that the price is $47.00.

If you would like to read what other TOS Homeschool Crew reviews thought, please go HERE.

Disclosure: As a member of the 2011-2012 The Old Schoolhouse Magazine Homeschool Crew, I was provided this product for free in exchange for my review.  No other compensation was given and this review reflects my honest opinion.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

TOS Review: Kinderbach

Ever since Ms. Q started her guitar lessons Little M has been asking to take music lessons too.  We kept telling him that he was still too little but as any three year old will tell you, he thinks he's big enough and we are just not fair!

Enter Kinderbach.  


Yep that's right - Piano Lessons - At Home - Online!

Kinderbach is about establishing a music foundation for young children.  Students learn note reading, rhythm, singing, vocabulary and a variety of other skills which provides them the basis for further education.  It’s about much more than just playing the piano! 

Here's what the interactive lessons look like: 



It's a whole preschool music curriculum just perfect for 3-7 year-olds!  Little M was totally delighted with the characters and the interactive activities.  The first week we started using Kinderbach, he was so excited he literally woke me up in the morning asking me if it was time to do his piano lesson!  His enthusiasm has waned slightly (thankfully) however he is really enjoying the lessons and retaining much of the information.  I am not expecting a protege at the end of this program but  he will have some concept of music theory and a pretty good idea of how to play basic songs on the piano.  He's already mastered a few simple ones.


Kinderbach has six levels of lessons each with 10 weeks of lessons and four activities each week.  Your child can move at his or her own pace through the lessons making the curriculum customized to your child's needs.  A yearly online membership is only $7.99 per month for an entire family!  That's right you get a full music curriculum, piano lessons, and printable activities and worksheets for all your children for less than the price of a large cheese pizza.  Plus you can try sample lessons online for free and if you decide to become a member you get a 30 day money back guarantee.  You must have a piano or keyboard but nothing fancy is required.  Any keyboard with 3 to 4 octaves will work.  Oh and here's a code to save 30% off  through February 2013: TOScrew2012

Little M was right, he is big enough for music lessons.  I'm really glad that we were able to review Kinderbach, it has really been a great addition to his school day. What are you waiting for? You should totally check it out!

If you would like to read what other TOS Crew members think about Kinderbach please visit the blog.

Disclosure: As a member of the 2011-2012 The Old Schoolhouse Magazine Homeschool Crew, I was provided this product for free in exchange for my review.  No other compensation was given and this review reflects my honest opinion.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

TOS Review: Vintage Remedies

I used to dread the cereal aisle of the supermarket.  It seems innocent enough but inevitably there is always a kid who is having a meltdown in this aisle (luckily it's not always mine).  We strive to eat a healthy diet and live as healthy and naturally as we can.  But man, sometimes it's really hard to get through to my kids the reasons why I'm making the decisions I am.

PhotobucketThat was until I received a copy of Vintage Remedies for Kids.  This little book is just chock full of good stuff.  Based on their popular Vintage Remedies  for Guys and Girls books, Vintage Remedies for Kids is geared toward kids ages 2-6.  It is a resource to help parents teach  topics of natural living that include wellness, nutrition, immunity, natural body care, and the conservative use of valuable natural resources.   This workbook is packed with projects for your little ones to complete that will reinforce the subject matter discussed and help them understand why healthy choices are important (and why the chocolate chip cookie cereal probably isn't the best choice for breakfast).

The book is 201 pages with three sections covering food and drink, health and wellness, and healthy lifestyles, with 18 topics/lessons in all.   Each topic is explained first to the parent in the "Parents Section" and then to the child through the "Read to Me" section.  Following the read to me section are follow up questions to ask and discuss with your child and projects for you to complete together. The book costs $25.00 and can be purchased HERE.

Little M really enjoyed the projects in the food and drink section.  He's usually my helper in the kitchen but it was really fun to have a way to explain to him the choices we make about our food before we buy it and prepare it.  The hand washing song in section two has been stuck in his head for days now and he is totally excited to be "The Bag Man" because it's now his job to remember to bring the reusable bags with us when we go to the store.

Although the book is targeted to kids ages 2-6, Ms. Q listened in and learned a few things too.  I did change the wording up a bit when I was reading or asking questions to her so she wouldn't think it was too babyish for her.  Honestly, the book is written so well and doesn't "talk down" so I really didn't need to change much.


From the moment this book arrived I was impressed.  The book came so beautifully packaged, I wish I had taken a picture but I was so excited I didn't even think about it!  I also received a copy of The Kitchen Herbal as gift for Mom. This is another fabulous book! Vintage Remedies offers many different products and resources from online courses in professional herbalism and holistic wellness to natural food cookbooks and resources for children.  I have added Vintage Remedies for Girls to Ms. Q's must have curriculum list for next year and have added some of the mini lessons to my wish list as well.

To see what other TOS reviewers have to say about Vintage Remedies and their youth programs check out the BLOG.

Disclosure: As a member of the 2011-2012 The Old Schoolhouse Magazine Homeschool Crew, I was provided this product for free in exchange for my review.  No other compensation was given and this review reflects my honest opinion.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

TOS Review: I See Cards


Fractazmic is a card game for 2-4 players that uses math skills, specifically fractions, in a fun and engaging way.  The object of the game is  to create as many "hands" as possible before a player runs out of cards.  "Hands" are made by adding together the fractions within a suit to equal one (1).

Fractazmic includes 60 sturdy, colorful, and clearly marked cards.

The cards are divided into three suits:
  • Sixteenth suit (red) 1/16, 1/8, 3/16, 1/4; 5/16, 3/8, 7/16, and 1/2,
  • Twelfths suit (blue) 1/12, 1/6, 1/4, 1/3, 5/12, and 1/2,
  • Tenths suit (green) 1/10, 1/5, 3/10, 2/5, and 1/2.

There are a few different ways to play with Fractazmic.  You can check out this site for rules to play Fractazmic Trap or Fractazmic Rummy.  Or you can download a free 28 page booklet that describes how to play Fractazmic and the other card games available from I See Cards.

Ms. Q and I played the Fractazmic Rummy game because she is already fairly familiar with the rules of rummy (pick a card, make a hand, discard, etc.).  What she is not that familiar with is fractions.  The advertised age for this game is 1st through 8th grade. However, Ms. Q is not that familiar with fractions yet (she's in 4th grade this year) so we started the game out with a lesson in how to add fractions.  I should add here that I was totally terrified when I sat down to play this game.  I have never been that good with fractions.  As a matter of fact it took me quite a while to even remember how to add them when they have different denominators.  But after a quick refresher and a brief lesson for Ms. Q we were off and playing.  As we played the game we created a cheat sheet because well we're new at this and adding fractions with different denominators on the fly kinda takes a long time when you're new at it.  It was also a confidence builder for Ms. Q so that she felt she was able to play the game.  I'm sure after a while she (and I) won't need the cheat sheet anymore.

I have to say that at first this game can be a bit challenging.  It was really fun though!  Yep I said it, a game about fractions is FUN!  With a bit more play and a bit more practice I'm sure Ms. Q and I will be adding fractions like nobody business. The idea that this card game could take something that made me afraid and intimidated into something fun to share with my daughter is mind blowing.  Who would have thought that we would be bonding and having fun with fractions?

I See Cards, the company that makes Fractazmic, has other math card games including I See Cards Spanish/Engish, Prime Bomb, and Pyramath cards.  Fractazmic (and the other games as well) can be purchased here for $6.95 each and there are also various bundling options.  You can also play Fractazmic Speed online for free so check it out.

The see what other TOS Crew members thought about Fractazmic go HERE.

Disclosure: As a member of the 2011-2012 The Old Schoolhouse Magazine Homeschool Crew, I was provided this product for free in exchange for my review.  No other compensation was given and this review reflects my honest opinion.