Archive for February, 2011


Jumping Over Math Hurdles

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In many ways, I’m old school.  So, when it comes to math facts, that means drills, drills, and more drills, followed by timed tests.  I can’t even tell you how many different sets of addition, subtraction, multiplication and division flashcards I’ve made and bought over the years.

New school is MathRider and my kids think it is boss! (adj. very good, excellent, cool)

MathRider combines fun game play with a highly sophisticated question engine that adapts to your child. The game propels your child to mastery of all four math operations using numbers 0 to 12.”

This is an instant download, for multiple users – now $37 US (reg. $49.95) for one year. It also has a 30 day, risk-free guarantee.

It is my opinion that the story, graphics and game play are simple, especially if your child plays many PC games, Wii or PS3, etc.  As stated previously, it is the question engine and the way it adapts to a child’s skill, that is more complex.  For this reason, even though it was designed for ages 6 – 12, I think it can be used for a wider range of ages.

Several of my children used MathRider recently, when it was supplied for this review, and it is our intention to purchase it.  One of my older children whizzed through the multiplication and division quests, but found that she wasn’t as quick with her subtraction facts.  So, she used this game for several days to refresh her memory and actually become a master of subtraction.

I have seen improvement [which is exactly what this game recognizes and rewards] in the basic math operations, in knowledge and application, with more confidence and less hesitation, in each child that has used MathRider.

We did use this program a little differently than the authors intended, though.  Even though the storyline involves “great and noble causes” it also involves magic gem stones, a wise wizard, mystical flowers and the like.  It wasn’t a surprise, because MathRider clearly states that it is a “ride through magical lands.”  The fact is:  we don’t do magic and we do our best to “avoid the appearance of evil”; so… after the first child read the story and we realized exactly what the content was, we didn’t read it again.  The other thing we noticed is that the same story is repeated for the mastery of each of the math functions.  Meaning, once they mastered addition and moved to subtraction, the story and the quest was exactly the same, just with different math facts to conquer.  So it is with the multiplication and division, too.  This was a tad boring for mine; so, it wasn’t hard to skip the story for this reason, as well.  Their goal of each quest was to get as many correct answers in the quickest possible time – and they loved it!  They were constantly checking their statistics page.

For us, the story was unnecessary to gain the learning and the fun.  We are hopeful, though, that more stories, with a variety of themes will be added in the future.

Contact info:

Office address –

Sharper Edge Pty Ltd

31 Hannah Street

Beecroft NSW 2119


Telephone –

+61 2 9980 2437


their Facebook page.

My crew mates have shared there personal reviews and varied opinions on the Homeschool Crew blog – check it out.


This product was given to me, free of charge, in exchange, for my honest review, as a member of the TOS Homeschool Crew. I receive no other compensation for my reviews on this blog.  The opinions expressed are my own.

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Wordless Wednesday

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Know what you believe and why.  Question with boldness.


*Photographs are the property of Knee Deep In Grace and may not be used without written permission.

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My First Blog Award

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I was recently discovered by Catherine @ Our Village Is A Little Different and she nominated me for the Stylish Blogger Award.

It matters not to me that this is not a one-of-a-kind award.  I’m just excited that she picked ME! to receive it.  “Thank you, Catherine.  I’m honored.”  In my enthusiasm to accept this, I neglected to read the small print.  It never crossed my mind that I would have to give up chocolate for a year…

Fortunately, I don’t have to, but there are a few simple rules ~

  • Thank and link back to the person who nominated you for this award.
  • Share 7 things about yourself.
  • Select 15 recently discovered, great bloggers, to receive this award.
  • Contact these bloggers and tell them about the award.

I believe that Jesus Christ is The Way, The Truth and The Life and that absolutely no one gets to The Father, God, except through the saving knowledge of His grace – not works, but unmerited favor.

I believe there will be enough time to organize the clutter in my house when my children are grown.  Right now, there’s just too many edu-fun things to do with them.

God never whispered in my ear, as a child nor as a teenager, and said, “I want you to have 11 children.”  I wouldn’t give up or trade even one of them, but… if He had told me ahead of time, I’d probably have run the opposite direction, sure that this was the first mistake He’d ever made.  I still feel ill-equipped, but I am so, very blessed.

If I could – I’d have a bin for everything (labeled) and every bin in it’s place (alphabetized).

Green.  Sage.  Forest.  Olive.  Spring.  Pea.  Camo.  Moss.  Clover.  Emerald.  Army.  Asparagus.  Sea.  GREEN.  Any of them.  All of them.  I really like the color green.

If you tell me something in strict confidence, you can count on me holding it in the strictest confidence.  “Treat others the way you want to be treated.”  I don’t hang my dirty laundry on the line; so, I’m certainly not going to hang out yours.

I would downsize, pack up everybody, and move into a motor home to travel the country – in a heartbeat or at least in 60 days.  It’s a mentality… only the back yard would change.  All of the truly important things would stay the same.  God, Family and Home.  Faith, Hope & Love.  All I need is a wealthy sponsor.

Please visit and if you’d like, follow my nominees:

Ramblin’ Roads

The Midlife Housewife

Home Joys


Tractors and Tire Swings

Around the Kitchen Table

Raising Future Leaders

Fenced in Family

Mama’s Coffee Shop

Suzy Q Designs

Beyond the Silver and the Gold – A Filipino Family’s Homeschool Journey

A Gallon of Learning

My Lord, Please Sanctuary Me

Our Best Daze

Homeschooling in Nova Scotia

What wonderful discoveries!


Categories : Award, blessings, Family
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Heather, @ The Blessings Pour Out is having her first giveaway – MOST (movie).    Christianity Today called the movie “life changing.”

Stop by for a visit and tell her PK @ Knee Deep In Grace sent you.


Say hello, while you’re here.  I value the gift of your comments.  Thanks.  PK

Categories : blessings, giveaway, Movie
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Creating an Eager Reader

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*Reluctant – not eager; unwilling; disinclined

*Reader – one that reads

*Solution – the answer to or disposition of a problem

There are nearly 400,000 books published each year in the United States and the United Kingdom, combined.  I love to read.  I want my children to want to read.  I want them to wonder what is written between the covers of some of those books; I want them to pick one up themselves and discover, on their own, whether or not it is something they’re interested in reading.  Kid Scoop is the answer for the disinclined, less than eager and occasionally, downright unwilling reader.

Kid Scoop:  Reluctant Reader Solution is designed to “spark your child’s own interest in reading.”  There are two parts to the Solution:

  1. 12 full-color issues of Kid Scoop News online magazine and
  2. 365 PDF formatted worksheets

Online correlates with the printed pages and keeps the child interested.  Simply, the more a child practices reading, the better they get at it and the more they want to do it.  Vicki Whiting, the creator of Kid Scoop has put together text and activities that have kid-appeal!

Each issue of Kid Scoop News has:

  • games
  • puzzles
  • experiments
  • pictures
  • news-worthy kid profiles
  • relating to –
  • current events
  • the natural world and
  • holiday observances

Then, print a page-a-day, every-day, worksheet that corresponds and reinforces the content.  Topics include:

  • Valentine Fitness
  • Bigfoot
  • Easter
  • Wangari Maathai
  • Orcas
  • Memorial Day
  • Constitution Day
  • Bubble Gum
  • Kitchen Creativity and
  • Clay Play

These were great car activities.  I knew we were still on task, and they just enjoyed having something fun to occupy their time.

Reluctant Reader Solution is “guaranteed to improve your child’s reading ability.”  It has been proven time and again and Kid Scoop stands behind it with a risk-free, 365-day Unconditional Money-Back Guarantee. Less than 40 cents a day.  $97 for one year.

Kid Scoop also has an engaging website for kids and an email newsletter for parents.   Sign up for the newsletter and in the first 30 days you’ll get 30 whiz-bang exercises and ideas to make reading and learning a blast!

[1 of 30 Days] Pack Up For Adventure

Pretend you have been asked to go on an adventure.  Your mission is to explore a new place and you will be away for a month.  Look through the newspaper for things you would like to take with you.  Make a list of the things you will pack – they must all be found in the newspaper!

Check in with my TOS Crew Mates for additional reviews of Kid Scoop:  Reluctant Reader Solution.

Contact Kid Scoop~


telephone:  707.996.6077

Kid Scoop

P.O. Box 1802

Sonoma, CA  95476

Facebook Page

I was given Reluctant Reader Solution to use and review.  In a short time, my child has gone from reluctant reader to eager reader, and I’m betting we’ll reach enthusiastic before the year is over!


This product was given to me, free of charge, in exchange, for my honest review, as a member of the TOS Homeschool Crew. I receive no other compensation for my reviews on this blog.  The opinions expressed are my own.

I value the gift of your comment.  Thank you.

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Wordless Wednesday

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But Jesus answered, “I tell you, if these become silent, the stones will cry out!”  Luke 19:40


*Photographs are the property of Knee Deep In Grace and may not be used without written permission.

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Blue Diamond and Hope

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My older children grew up going on adventures with Ms. Valerie Frizzle and The Magic School Bus and they are sure she would think that Professor Ana Lyze (Expert in Outlandish Oddities) is a long lost cousin, or in the least, a forever friend with a kindred spirit.  They both delight in exploring, learning and teaching children, but there is a significant difference in the heart of Professor Ana Lyze.  Here’s an excerpt from a letter of introduction, from the professor:

Allow me to introduce myself.  I’m Professor Ana Lyze… My research team and I specialize in the obscure, the abnormal, and bizarre.

Outlandish insects, rare diseases, unique gems, and more.  There are things in God’s creation that you’ve never seen before!

…read, learn and research The Curiosity Files.


Professor Ana Lyze

She acknowledges God and gives Him the glory!

We first “met” Professor Ana Lyze, when we were given The Curiosity Files: Blue Diamond, to read and review.  This is an 88 page eBook, from The Old Schoolhouse (R) Magazine.

click the cover to view sample pages

Because of the professor, my children found it appealing from the first page.  It is presented in an easy-conversation style.  The Curiosity Files are ideal for ages 8 – 13, but there are enough internet resources, video links and options for older learners included, that it wasn’t difficult to stretch the age below or beyond and still keep everyone interested.

Currently, there are 9 curious unit studies available from TOS –

But, there are others in development, already.  If you have an oddity you’d like Professor Ana Lyze to sort out for you, she’s a contributor to The Curiosity Files facebook page, and I know she’d like to hear from you.

Blue Diamond is a thorough study of… you guessed it, diamonds.  Especially, those rare diamonds that are formed when boron mixes with the carbon, the blue diamond.  “It is estimated that for every 10,000 clear diamonds, the earth produces one colored one.”  One of the most famous blue diamonds, The Hope Diamond, is highlighted in history.  Bible scripture is referenced and adroitly woven throughout the unit.  The subjects tie into one another, seamlessly.

Diamond –> Blue Diamond –> the Hope Diamond –> our greatest Hope/Jesus Christ

photo courtesy Smithsonian Institution

There are puzzles, maps, quizzes, worksheets, games; crafts and experiments – with Notebook and Lapbook instruction, covering writing, math, vocabulary and spelling, history, geology and Bible study.

More than 20 websites are listed for more fact finding.  My older children researched the conflict/war diamonds of Sierra Leone and Angola.

Blue Diamond was especially interesting to us, because my children’s grandfather was a gemstone cutter for 5 years and then a diamond tool cutter for another 30 years.  “Diamonds are extremely hard and focus light well, therefore everyone from computer manufacturers to military contractors are interested in them.”  This gave my children the why to go with the what they knew their grandfather had done.  We have a couple of old, uncut and unpolished diamonds and one, small round cut,  set in a shank, that we studied under a magnifying glass.

Between the academics, reinforcement activities and the discussions on Biblical grace and hope; our family heritage and work ethics, and the true cost of blood diamonds, this was an exceptional unit study.

All eBooks published by The Old Schoolhouse (R) Magazine have a 7-day money back guarantee.  The Curiosity Files are available in 9-pack CD-Rom ($49.) and 9-pack instant download ($46.); they are also sold separately.  Check TOS store for individual pricing though, because every time I turn around they’re having a sale or promotion on something and the prices are cut.  Sweet deals!

Go to The Homeschool Crew Blog to read reviews of the other Curiosity Files.


This product was given to me, free of charge, in exchange, for my honest review, as a member of the TOS Homeschool Crew. I receive no other compensation for my reviews on this blog.  The opinions expressed are my own.

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Wordless Wednesday

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Life is grand, six times over.

sibling grands (left – right) – grand3, grand1; grand2

grand4 – big sister to grand6

grand5 – baby sibling due this year

grand6 – 2hrs. old 12/24/2010

“Children’s children are a crown to the aged…”  Proverbs 17:6

Sweetest blessings,

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Words, Words, Marvelous Words

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Okay.  The truth is,  I delight in words.  Not just using them to speak out loud, but reading an author’s description of a character or a scene in a book or skipping through an outlandishly ingenious Dr. Seuss rhyme.  I appreciate a well thought out explanation or an example, that utilizes words to convey a precise meaning.  If  I mean great, I can use the word great, but if I actually mean stupendous, I’m not stuck with the inadequate, great.

In our house, we try to choose our words with care.  For example, stupid is not a word that we use, at least until all of our children are old enough to know it’s meaning and to use it properly.  Therefore, if someone spills their milk it is not the stupid milk’s or the stupid cup’s fault.  (The milk nor the cup can be lacking in common sense or perception.)  Yes, this instance would be harmless, but blaming the stupid sister would be hurtful.  (Even if she actually spilled the milk it is doubtful it was because she has dull mental responses or is slow-witted.) We tend to hold the line that if you don’t know what a word means, don’t use it until you do and then use it correctly.

We don’t use foul language, cuss words, vulgar words, curse words or the like.  Based on our view of The Bible, we believe this is sound teaching.  I do like colorful phrases, though, and everyone is encouraged to stretch their vocabulary.  Just because the guy you work with uses a common, four-letter word, every.single.time. he hits his thumb with the hammer, and you’ve heard it recurrently, does not mean that you should/may use it.  I think the use of such language is boring and shows a lack of intelligence (the capacity to acquire AND apply knowledge.)  Words are accessible to everyone.  It’s generally laziness that prevents us from acquiring new words and relying on the old, overused ones, instead.  When I stub my pinky toe on the buffet in the hallway, because there is seriously not enough room to walk through it with ease, I need to verbally express myself.  Throw off the pain.  Yell out belly rub! the next time and the looks you get will ease the hurt.  When my son aces his calculus test, he is jubilant.  I just encourage creativity.  “Fried pickles!  That is magnificent,” I might say.

So, you can apprehend my ebullience when I was asked to review VocabAhead– One Thousand SAT Vocabulary Videos & MP3s. Available for $24.99

This is a DVD-Rom with +1,000 words.  It contains a video and an audio file for each word.   I appreciate the verbal pronunciation provided, along with the definition.  In addition, verbally, each word is used in a sentence and in a brief scenario; visually, a cartoon depicts a scene from the mini-story.  You see it.  You hear it.  You make an attachment to it in your mind, because of the sketch.  Therefore, you retain it.

Related material, study aids and teacher helps can be found on their meritorious web-site.

There is also a book, VocabAhead – SAT Vocabulary:  Cartoons, Videos & MP3’s covering 300 words in print, plus free video and audio downloads for each word.  Now only $12.95


SAT Visual Vocab is the groundbreaking app covering SAT Vocabulary words you really need…” for the iPhone, iPod; iPad.  Here is a list of all the words included in the DVD and SAT Visual Vocab App.

Follow VocabAhead on Facebook or telephone 503-336-1338.  They consistently add a new word, with video and audio, to their Facebook page every few days.

Since I was given the DVD-Rom, I anticipate learning hundreds of new words this year.  My older children are using it as prep for SAT/ACT testing and my younger ones have an approved list of words they can watch.  Some of the words and their skits are coarse for impressionable young children.  I recommend viewing first to maintain your personal standards.

I believe that a good grasp on our language is a powerful tool to success.  So, the advantages, of using this software with my children, have yet to be seen and remain boundless.

Visit our crew blog for more VocabAhead reviews.


This product was given to me, free of charge, in exchange, for my honest review, as a member of the TOS Homeschool Crew. I receive no other compensation for my reviews on this blog.  The opinions expressed are my own.

Follow me and I will follow you, because it’s a nice thing to do.

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Wordless Wednesday

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“And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up.”  Galatians 6:9


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