Tuesday, March 13, 2012

The Woodcarver DVD - A Review and Giveaway

Releases on Tuesday, March 13th

Current sale price of $10.92

from Christian Cinema

Rated PG with a running time of 90 minutes.

Brief description from the website:

Restoring their faith in God and in Life.
Matthew Stevenson is a troubled kid from a broken home. When he vandalizes the local church to get back at his parents, Matthew has to repair the damage to the church to avoid criminal charges. While working at the church, he meets Ernest (John Ratzenberger), an accomplished wood carver who created the intricate woodwork decoration that Matthew destroyed. Ernest has become something of a hermit, but reluctantly comes out of reclusion to help repair the church. Now Ernest and Matthew must work together to preserve the church's beautiful antiquity, and along the way, they also manage to restore their faith in God and in life.
Our thoughts:

A family-friendly movie.  No need to worry what the next word out of someone's mouth might be.  No need to worry that you will have to quickly hide your child's eyes or flip the channel. 

This is a feel-good movie that deals with some tough issues such as divorce, teen rebellion, greed, and accountability.  The catch-phrase of the movie is "WWJD".  As most of you know, "WWJD" represents "What would Jesus do?"  And that is the question asked throughout the movie.  Along the way, with gentle wise leading from a woodcarver, a family learns to make their decisions not based on their feelings of anger, greed, or betrayal.  But to make their decisions based on the simple question, "What would Jesus do?"

I recommend this family-friendly movie.

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.

The kind folks at Propeller are giving away a copy of this DVD to one of my lucky readers.  Good luck.

One winner will be selected at random on March 31st.  Just leave a comment letting me know you would like to win, and make sure I have a way to contact you.

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Monday, March 12, 2012

Art of Argument - A Review

The recommended age range for Art of Argument is Junior High.  I reviewed it with my 13 year old daughter.

Brief overview of product, from the website.  

Students master 28 fallacies (such as begging the question, the straw man, ad hominen, et al) by studying many pertinent examples. The text features a variety of:
  • Dialogues
  • Worksheets
  • Real-World Applications
  • Phony Advertisements
  • Dialectic Discussion Questions
  • Tests
  • Fun extras such as a humorous skit for students to perform, and the famous short story, Love is a Fallacy by Max Shulman
The Art of Argument has been revised to include:
  • Improved chapter and unit organization for greater ease of use
  • Fallacy explanations rewritten for clarity
  • Many added and updated examples
  • Ten new and revised advertisement illustrations
Our Thoughts:

I have been fascinated with the study of logic for a few years now, starting with a book about fallacies that I stumbled upon.  So, I was more than willing to review this book about "the art of argument" with my 13 year old daughter.  I volunteered with high hopes.  And I am happy to report (as you can see) that I made it onto the review team.

Politics and advertisements bombard us with messages, attempting to persuade and sway us to one side or the other.  Often they use faulty logic, and sometimes they use absolutely no argument at all.  They simply ask that we agree, just because.  They play games with us, throwing out terms and numbers that are either totally irrelevant or even completely false.

How can we know who to believe?  How do we know which politicians are being even half-way honest?  How can we see through the smoke screen of the commercials on TV and the advertisements in magazines and newspapers?

A good way to help us sift through for the truth is to have a good understanding of logic and the fallacies that signal bad logic.  The Art of Argument is, in my opinion, a great place to start.  As I mentioned, I asked my 13 year old daughter to use this book.  But I am working through it right alongside her.  Why?  Because I am really interested in it, and I want to learn it to! 

The book covers the important stuff like the background of logic and important terms, along with descriptions and examples of the fallacies.  It asks short-answer questions to review the lesson and offers essay style questions that require outside research.  The text even adds in great little scripts/dialogues to make it a lot more fun.  This is my daughter's favorite part of the book.  She LOVES drama! Seriously, she lives and breathes acting, already performing in several plays.  So she thinks it is awesome to be able to read through scripts with me, acting out the different emotions of the varied characters.  The scripts help make the topics more relevant to typical day-to-day teen issues, such as students running for class president or a student watching commercials on TV.

A teacher's edition book is available.   "The greatly expanded Art of Argument Teacher’s Edition now includes the entire student text, answers to all exercises, and new chapter and unit tests."  I found it to be a great resource.  I read from the teacher's edition, while my daughter read along in the student textbook.

The company also offers a DVD set to complement the textbook.  It takes each fallacy one by one and breaks it down offering definitions and lots of real-life examples.  My thoughts are that this could be helpful for auditory learners, for those who are struggling to understand the fallacies and could use more extensive examples and explanations, and also for including younger siblings in the discussions.

I think Logic is a very important and relevant topic.  Mastering the fallacies of logic and being able to discern them in an argument will serve you and your child well.

Beware!  Your child may become a much better arguer.  :)  But as the book points out:  There is a big difference between an argument and a quarrel. 

Read more reviews!

Disclaimer: I received this product free of charge to review, as part of the TOS Homeschool Crew. The above is just my opinion. Please remember that opinions may, and do, vary.

Sunday, March 4, 2012

K5 Learning - A Review

$25/month (other options)
For grades Kindergarten - 5th grade

Twitter:  http://twitter.com/#!/k5learning

Take a look at some samples.
Try out a free trial. 


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.

Our Thoughts:

I volunteered my 10 year-old 4th grader for this program.  She spent the most time on it.  But I also had my 13 year-old 7th grader use the spelling and vocabulary sections for an occasional drill/review. 

The first step in using the program is to have your child take the assessment tests in reading and/or math, depending on what you plan to use the program for.  Remember, the assessment tests are used to determine what your child already knows.  Don't help them. Don't give them the answers.  And don't let them get discouraged.  It is expected that some of the questions will be too hard.  This is just a guide - a starting point for your child to begin using the program.  K5 tries to break up the monotony of the assessments by providing small game breaks after every few questions.

The program consists of a reading program, a math program, math facts, and a spelling/vocabulary section.  The main sections of reading and math are very colorful, interactive, and engaging.  The math facts section is more of a speed drill kind of style.  The spelling/vocabulary section is also a more cut and dry kind of style. 

When your child logs in, the home page will have a joke.  This is a cute way to get started.  This is where they pick what to work on.

My daughter spent most of her time in the spelling/vocabulary area.  Each word provides several helpful aids.  You can hear the word, the definition, see it used in a sentence, and even see an image of the object. If you spell the word incorrectly, it will show the correct spelling and give you another chance. This area was of great help to both my daughters.  It offered several challenging words and some of those "tricky" words that don't follow the rules.  I felt it was time well spent.

My 10yo also spent time on the math facts.  This section takes a few facts at a time and drills your child.  It evaluates not only on accuracy, but also on speed.  It will introduce new facts, while throwing in some review ones from previous lessons.  After each section, a chart will show what your child has mastered with accuracy and what they have mastered with speed.  It is good to be able to get the correct answer; but it is much better to be able to get the correct answer QUICKLY.

As for the reading program, I think it is a great reading comprehension program.  Colorful, interactive, engaging.  Very nice quality.

Same for the math program.  Colorful, interactive, very impressive.

But you don't have to take my word for it.  Check out all the great samples.  They are listed by grade and category.

I asked my 9yo what her favorite part was.  Not surprisingly, she said the games.  Games are dished out in 5 minute increments as a reward for completing lessons.  Her next favorite part was spelling.  I can tell that she made a lot of progress and gained some self-confidence.  It was a great confidence booster when she mastered a word that she felt was difficult. 

I think time spent on K5 is time well spent.  I would rate this program much higher than some of the other online programs we have reviewed in the past. 

Read more reviews here.

Disclaimer: I received this product free of charge to review, as part of the TOS Homeschool Crew. The above is just my opinion. Please remember that opinions may, and do, vary.