Archive for Computers

Jul
26

Homeschool Programming ~ A TOS Review

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The fact is that I really want my children to be more techie than I am.  I think it’s important in this time, and will be even more so, in their future.  It seems to take me forever and a day to learn something new when it comes to the computer, so I know I’m not equipped to teach them Computer Science.  As a homeschool parent/teacher, I learned long ago that don’t have to know everything.  I just have to know how to find the resource and make it available to my child.

 

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Homeschool Programming, Inc. is my resource.  They had me with their home page Welcome! and this description: “Our computer programming courses for kids and teens teach students to write programs, games, and Android applications!  No teacher expertise required! All of our award-winning computer science courses for Visual Basic, C#, and Java are self-study,” and they’ll keep me because I think their TeenCoder C# Series lays an excellent Computer Science foundation for my high school student.

 

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I had the opportunity to use TeenCoder C# Series with my son, a high school junior.  It’s designed for 9th – 12th graders, so I expected it to be a good fit for him.  I wasn’t disappointed.  He’s had no previous programming experience, but he’s familiar with navigating Windows on our PC.  That’s really the only requirement.

TeenCoder C# Series is divided into two stand alone courses, each a full semester of work.  One semester is spent on C# programming skills – Windows Programmingand another semester covers writing graphical computer games – Game Programming.  Together, they fill the need for high school Computer Science credit.

 

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Included with each course is a Student Textbook e-book, and a Teacher’s Edition, that mainly gives me a synopsis of what my student is working on.  There are also chapter tests/answers in PDF format.  The Student Text is written to the student.  My son says it is “interesting and easy to follow.”  I’ve stood over his shoulder a couple of times, out of pure personal interest; but thankfully not because he needed my help with anything.  We’ve found there’s truly no teacher experience or prep needed.  It’s not that he understands everything the first time he reads it, but he can read it again and follow the clear instructions.  Everything necessary to his success is included in the teaching.

The first chapter begins with the most basic step and builds a step at a time through the final chapter.

The Windows course covers:

Introduction and Installation of C#

C# Syntax

Data Types

Debugging

Recursion

Reading & Writing Files

Polymorphism

and more.

Thorough, detailed instructions are given with each lesson, and for audio-visual learners, additional Instructional Videos are available, to be used in conjunction with the Student Text.

 

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They work well for reinforcement and clarification, but they are not as complete as the written instructions.  We did find them helpful on occasion, but unnecessary for every lesson.  Once he read a lesson, I let my son decide if he wanted to watch the video that accompanied it, or not.  A hands-on project or Activity is assigned at the end of each chapter, with a final project due at the end of the book.  These are the best part of the course, as far as my student is concerned.  They challenge him, but then affirm that he’s learning the language and learning to program.  He hasn’t reached his final project, yet — designing a graphical chess game — because he’s in Canada with our church’s mission team; but he’s excited to complete it and see what his dad and sister think of it.  They play against each other at least 3 or 4 times a week, so they’ll be good judges of his design.

The Game course builds on Windows Programming.  It’s the next logical step, and Windows is actually a pre-requisite.

The Game course chapters cover:

An Intro and Review of What the Student Already Knows

Programming

Design

Graphics

Sprites & Swarm

Animation & Sound Effects

Multiplayer Games, Scrolling Games

and

Artificial Intelligence!

It is set up the same way as Windows, with lessons, followed by activities.  We haven’t even started Game Programming, but the cool thing is that an interest is already sparked in my son’s mind.  Whether or not he pursues Computer Science beyond high school, I think this course will benefit him.  At the moment, he just thinks it’s fun and it takes up a space on his transcript.  My view — I’m from the “knowledge is power” generation, so who knows where this might take him.

If you’re interested in a few other view points, you can click the banner below and follow the link to read reviews from my Crew mates on this, TeenCoder C# Series, and other products from Homeschool Programming, Inc.

 

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Windows Programming and Game Programming can be purchased separately, for $75. each; or as a Year Pack for $130. for both courses. The Instructional Videos are $20. each and are not a required purchase.  I am more than satisfied with this product and plan to use it with my other children.  I’ll have a new freshman next year, so I’ll write an update on how she navigates the program.

Blessings,

pk_siggy-purple2

 

Disclaimer*   I received the TeenCoder C# Series, in exchange for my honest review as a member of the Schoolhouse Review Crew.  I receive no other compensation for my reviews on this blog.  The opinions expressed are my own.

 

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Thank you for your comments.  I enjoy hearing from you!

 

Contents of this blog are copyrighted;  they are the property of Knee Deep In Grace and may not be used without written permission.

 

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Yes, I have a blog on the internet; and I’ve learned a few things about attaching links to text and photos.  For this post, I even learned how to take a screen shot of a web page.  Needless to say, my skills are extremely limited and I feel like I am nearly technologically illiterate.  Therefore, I’m not comfortable teaching computer anything to my children.  I’m grateful there are now computer courses for younger children available from Phyllis Wheeler, the Computer Lady at Motherboard Books.

 

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My Schoolhouse Review Crew mates and I recently had the opportunity to review two products from Motherboard Books:  Logo Adventures a full-year, homeschool computer science curriculum using MicroWorlds Logo language developed at MIT; and the concise, short-term project e-book, Let’s Make a Web Page.

Logo Adventures is designed as a weekly lesson for 8 – 12 year olds, teaching students to read and write code, think logically, and strengthen their reasoning skills; as Ms. Wheeler walks them through the basic steps of starting to program while laying the foundation for understanding what it means to program.

 

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Logo Adventures Curriculum is a self-study book and answer key, plus MicroWorlds EX software for $129.99.  You can check out the Logo Adventures website for a sample chapter, and a Gallery page of student work.  I’m interested in reading the Crew Reviews for this one, because I didn’t have personal access to it.

A couple of my children used the 60-page tutorial e-book, Let’s Make a Web Page It is also written for children 8 – 12 years of age, but was easily adaptable for someone older, meUsing free trial software – CoffeeCup Visual Site Designer, this e-book will show you or your child how to make a Web page.  It’s just $19.95, and it includes an Introduction for Parents, 10 step-by-step lessons — from download, set up, add text and photos, to sound, links, and post your work; with an  Appendix:  How to Upload to the Internet. 

 

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Let’s Make a Web Page is easy to read and my kids found the instructions simple to understand and follow.  One of the first things Ms. Wheeler does is coach the student through an interview process to determine who and what their web page will be about.  Neither of my children had any prior experience building a web page.  They talked to me, and I explained the types of things I wanted our web page to contain;  while leaving the entire design and layout up to them.  I told them I wanted it to be about our family.  A place where we could scan and share pictures, stories, drawings, music; and more.

 

Webpage Screen Shot

 

Granted, the name isn’t the most creative, but the layout looks like they understood what I was looking for, and I like it!  We learned what HTML is and how it works; and they learned how to link text and pictures to other sites.  They had to do a little research, and were given important tips on how to safely browse the internet.  I think this is especially valuable information and I appreciate that it is included in the course.  My young web designers liked how Ms. Wheeler showed a graphic of the window they should see if they are following her directions and are on the correct page.  This was useful for comparison, reassuring to them that they were understanding the material; and a confidence builder as they worked. They were not as fond of a learn-by-error teaching technique that was used several times.  She would direct them a certain way, purposefully wrong, have them acknowledge that it didn’t work; and then redirect them in a way that would successfully accomplish the task.  Although it was effective, they felt it was a waste of time.  They prefer the do this>go here>see the positive result approach.  Overall, though, it wasn’t a deterrent; because Let’s Make a Web Page took away the fear of the unknown, eased concerns of difficulty and failure, and sparked a desire to learn more about computer programming and web design.

We haven’t published our web page, yet.  As suggested by Ms. Wheeler, I’m going to have my kids design another page or two and have a family vote to determine our favorite.  Then, I think we’ll find a free domain and publish it, so we can all keep up more easily with each other’s activities.  I’ll post an update here when we’ve settled on our final design.

My Crew mates have written more than 50 reviews of these Motherboard Books products.  Please, click the banner below and follow the link to read a few of their opinions.

 

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Blessings,

pk_siggy-red1

Disclaimer*   I received the e-book, Let’s Make a Web Page, in exchange for my honest review as a member of the Schoolhouse Review Crew.  I receive no other compensation for my reviews on this blog.  The opinions expressed are my own.

 

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Thank you for your comments.  I enjoy hearing from you!

 

Contents of this blog are copyrighted;  they are the property of Knee Deep In Grace and may not be used without written permission.

 

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Mar
02

Eggsceptional Reading!

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“The more you read, the more things you will know.  The more that you learn, the more places you’ll go.” ~ Dr. Seuss

In our house we read.  I read to gain knowledge and for personal enjoyment.  As a parent, I read to my children.  My older children read for themselves but they are also encouraged, from a young age, to read to their younger siblings. I read to the family, chapters at a time, as a series, instead of watching TV.  The younger children see us with books, they hear stories of adventure, courage, excitement, and mishap.  They can sit in their bedroom and be in Africa on a safari, at the same time, or sit in the living room, together, and travel back in time to a Little House on the PrairieAll of this cultivates a desire in the young ones to want to read on their own.

Reading Eggs is an eggsceptional  interactive, online reading program.

 

 

This program is developed by teachers, educational writers, animators, and web designers.  It is built on a core curriculum of skills, using a sequential series of lessons.  The focus of Reading Eggs is for children ages 4-7, with the addition of Eggspress geared for 7-13 years old.  There are over 100 lessons available now, plus they continue to grow.  The brand new Storylands opened March 2, 2012, with the first 20 lessons of Clinker Castle!  My son agrees this is a big deal!

 

 

My youngest daughter loves Reading Eggs!

 

Map of lessons and eggs waiting to be hatched.

Her personalized, eggsploring avatar walks through Reading Eggs World as she works her way through lessons and quizzes.  Upon completion of a set of lessons, she is rewarded.  Special eggs hatch and reveal a new critter that is added to the zoo.  The program is student-paced.  If there is any difficulty understanding or retaining a lesson it can be repeated as many times as necessary, with no penalty or negative judgement.

Lesson activity – put the words in the correct order to form a sentence.

Songs, games, educational activities, and golden egg rewards, make for eggstra FUN!

Game time!

There is an Assessment Test available for each child.  40 questions, that will determine the best place to start your student.  My son is happy being an Eggpress eggsplorer!

An Assessment Test question

He says the animation is eggscellent!  The lessons are fun, but he is still challenged and he’s learning!  There are many stories of fact and fiction that keep his attention.  Just like his sister, he enjoys furnishing a house for his avatar, shopping, and generally playing in the Reading Eggs World.

An Eggspress comprehension test question.

I like the parent’s reports that I receive, keeping me up to date on their progress and accomplishments!  I eggspect to use Reading Eggs for years, especially because they eggspect to continue to expand and improve.

~

Don’t just take my word for it.  Follow the links I’ve provided throughout this post and investigate their website.  You can also read other reviews by my crew mates, when you click the TOS graphic below.

And Reading Eggs offers a 14 day free trial!

~

Subscription costs:

$75.00 year

$49.95 6 months

$9.95 per month with the option to cancel anytime

~

Comments or Questions?

Contact:

email – support@readingeggs.com

or

phone – 1.877.661.4898

~

Blessings,

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.

 

Thanks for sharing your comments.

*Contents of this blog are copyrighted;  they are the property of Knee Deep In Grace and may not be used without written permission.

 

 

 

 

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Oct
19

For Girls Only!

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Finding one’s place in a big family can sometimes be difficult.  Having something that belongs just to you or that didn’t belong to a sibling before you doesn’t happen often, but sometimes it’s nice.  It’s a little affirmation that you are one-of-a-kind and not just part of the group.   I look for ways to let my children know that I see them as individuals.

Our youngest daughter is the youngest of 11.  She loves her position, but we’ve made it a point to let her know that she wasn’t an afterthought.  She was/is wanted and she is an important part of our family.  It would be easy for everything she owns – clothes, toys, books & games – to be a hand-me-down, much is, but not all.  Truly, she probably wouldn’t even mind, but I would; so, when I recently had the opportunity to review an ad-free learning website, for girls only, I was just a wee-bit excited about the possibilities!  I wasn’t disappointed.

Always Icecream is geared for girls, ages 7-12, and it looks like it was created just for them.  It’s pink and fun, and frufru and fun, and cute & sweet and fun!  Much to my youngest son’s dismay, the website for boys only hasn’t been completed, yet, but I hear it is in the works.  If I’d allow it, he’d learn & play right alongside his sister, but since I haven’t, he can not wait for his siteWhy have a site, for girls only?  My guys and girls get along very well together.  My guys are a little more sensitive, considerate and compassionate and my girls are comfortable catching bugs and fishing, because of their interaction with each other, but it’s not that way in every home or classroom.

    • “Online games for girls are games that have been specifically designed to meet the interests and curiosity of girls. This gender-focus makes it possible that “girls can be girls” without the fear of being bothered by boys who tend to make fun of everything that girls consider “cute.”
    • “Within the target age group of 7-12 years, children’s preferences and ways in which they can be motivated tend to be influenced by gender.  Collaborative play (girls) versus competitive play (boys) and girls tend to be attracted by virtual goods that are “decorative”, such as clothes, versus “useful”, such as machines or armor.”

“Notwithstanding the differences in brain development and socialization, Always Icecream is adamantly opposed to stereotypes such as “girls are not interested in science or math.” The site challenges its young members to engage in learning activities across a broad spectrum of subjects:

Language Arts

Math (basic and advanced)

Science

Computer Skills

Geography

History

Foreign Languages

Music & Arts

and Religious Education

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I asked my daughter for her opinion of Always Icecream.  She said, and I quote:

I love it!  You get to make your own house and you get your own pet.  It’s fun!  The learning is still fun, too.  I am learning, you know.  There are so many activities, I can’t even tell you!  I’m practicing typing and I’m learning my states.  Want me to show you?  I’m getting higher and higher in my math and I got all of the Bible questions right, last time, because we had just learned about two of them in Children’s Church!  The pet world thingy-place is my favorite!  The pets can play games and do stuff.  You can buy them accessories, (yes, that’s her word.  We are big Fancy Nancy fans, but I’ll save that for another time) like a necklace or a bow.  You use your $coops to buy stuff.  ($coops is the earned currency in the Always Icecream world.)  You buy them food and feed them, like carrots for the rabbit, not bacon or dog bones, of course.  You give them cuddles and love and their hearts go up!  I already said it, I just love it!

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School time.  Learning time.

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 Play time.  Reward time.

Parental participation, behind the scenes, is encouraged.  Parents sign-up to receive a progress report, once a week, and may choose a number of $coops to be rewarded for special in-real-life projects, chores or accomplishments.  My kids are on a rotation to clean the cat’s litter box.  Our youngest was rewarded $coops for doing it without having to be reminded.  Granted, she would like to go to Dairy Queen in the future for real-world ice cream in exchange for a real-world chore, but since she usually only gets a “thank you” she thought getting $coops was actually “pretty cool.”

The girls earn $coops currency for completing their learning tasks, challenges, games & videos.  They create a mini-me avatar and can switch her clothes, buy rooms for the house and purchase furniture, pets and more.  My girl loved this!

There is also a social feature available, set up by the parent, that enables or not, the girls to “make friends” and communicate with one another safely through Always Icecream.  Although we didn’t choose to activate this feature, I do appreciate the excellent safety measures that are in place for the girls.  Click the graphic below for more information.

 

*  $4.99 per month  *  $29.99 per year  *  $99.99 for a lifetime membership  *Take a quick tour of the site and try out FREE GAMES before you buy.  “Satisfaction guaranteed: Your daughter will have fun and learn relevant skills – or you get your money back!”

 

You’ll want to read more reviews by my crew mates and their girls.  Click the TOS banner below to get the full $coop!

 

 

Contact:

website

email – feedback@always-icecream.com

or visit

facebook

 

 

Blessings to you and your girls,

 

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.

 

*Contents of this blog are copyrighted;  they are the property of Knee Deep In Grace and may not be used without written permission.

 

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Jan
28

10/10

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An online math program that can stand alone or supplement your child’s curriculum.

Ten Marks offers lessons and personalized programs that cover all the core math skills and concepts your child will need…”

Ten Marks offers a free assessment for your child and will build a personalized curriculum for them, based on the results.  It services grades 3-10, but I think it has a bit of flexibility.

The creators say that this program is based on 3 simple principles:

  1. Personalized Learning Makes All The Difference.
  2. On-Demand Instruction Provides Help When You Need It.
  3. Practice Builds Confidence And Improves Achievement.

As the parent, you sign-up your child and he/she is given assignments according to grade level.  You can actually choose the number of worksheets given each week.  The default is 4, which works well for my two that are using this program.  You can choose as few as 3 to as many as 7, according to ease and progress.  Remember, these are tailored to each individual.

Video lessons

and

hints

are available to help complete each worksheet.

There are practice pages and tests.  A current report card can be viewed by you or your child and there are printable certificates of mastery awarded when a skill is completed.  A unique system of reward is built into Ten Marks.  As a number of worksheets are done, games are unlocked.  My children have a set time to work on assignments and when they unlock a game they get additional time to play.

“Drive the taxi using the maximum possible speed.  Press the arrow keys to dodge other cars, accelerate and decelerate, and press the space bar to jump over them.”

You can also customize a reward for each child, e.g., 20 completed worksheets = 20 minutes on the Wii, or 30 completed worksheets = a Sonic milkshake; it is posted on their page as an ever present motivation toward a goal.

HERE is a video of “how it works,” by Ten Marks.

You can use the entire system for free AND there is a money back guarantee, if you are not satisfied after purchase.  I think they can offer a money back guarantee because they are confident in your satisfaction.  Ten Marks has excellent customer service and it is their desire to see your child achieve the highest marks they can in math.

China shouldn’t test higher than our children in mathematics!  10/10 can be achieved with Ten Marks.

Pricing is per child:

  • $10 a month
  • $49 for six months
  • $89 for 12 months

Contact ~

Address:

38 Glen Avenue

Newton, MA 02459

Email:

info@tenmarks.com

and

The TOS banner below will take you to more reviews of this program.

Encouragement and Blessings,

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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Categories : Computers, Games, math, reviews, TOS
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Jan
12

Virtual Nerd

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As many of you know, we have homeschooled our children for years.  Teaching higher math has always been a challenge.  Usually, it’s the only subject I want to ship them out for or at least hire someone to come in and tutor them.  If  I thoroughly understand something, I tend to be able to break it down and teach it.  Notice that “thoroughly understand” and “higher math” are not in the same sentence.  The cavalry has arrived though and this challenge can now be conquered at www.virtualnerd.com.

Virtual Nerd is an interactive video tutorial with over a thousand videos.  Presently covering Pre-Algebra, Algebra 1, Algebra 2 and Intro Physics.  Searching by keyword, topic or textbook, questions are asked and answered.  Students learn at their own pace, gaining a clear understanding of science and math concepts as they study.  A private tutor, available on your schedule, for a fraction of the cost.

Use the 2 hours FREE to see if this program works for you and read more reviews on the Homeschool Crew blog

or

Subscribe today:

Will this be your new conquering hero?  Let me know.

What other challenges do you face and who do you call when you need the cavalry?

Blessings,

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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Oct
06

A Non-Tech view of Cool-Tech Software

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I appreciate technological advances that make my life so much easier and connect me and my children to places we might never have a chance to visit, and to information we could never afford, if it were only beautifully bound between the covers of a book.  I like the good that comes from having a personal computer and access to the internet.

I don’t have a clue how “it”  works, but the benefits to our homeschool have far outweighed any personal negatives we’ve experienced.

One such benefit was the opportunity, these past few weeks, to use software from LanSchool Technologies. If two or more of your computers are networked together and they meet the system requirements listed here, LanSchool software allows you to manage and even monitor every computer in your classroom.  The $99. perpetual home use license, allows up to three computers to be monitored and includes 3 years of tech support and upgrade protection.  Click on the LanSchool logo below for a guided video tour.

LanSchool Technologies is the award winning provider of classroom management software since 1986.  There is a license for every need, from small or large, private and public classrooms to non-profit and corporate use.  You can access a fully functioning 30-day free trial for your classroom and if you are a teacher, tech coordinator or administrator, with a valid school email address, you may sign up for a free copy of LanSchool Home.

Contact LanSchool Technologies at www.lanschool.com

By telephone:  877-370-5546 (USA) and 801-770-3096 (International)

or fax:  240-331-1316

Mailing address:

LanSchool Technologies, LLC

770 West 210 South

Orem, Utah  84058

LanSchool believes, “Parents today are faced with the challenge and opportunity of using technology in the home.  Computers are amazing educational and entertainment tools, but they can also be a huge distraction and danger to kids.  LanSchool Home v7.5 allows parents to easily keep track and restrict what happens on the family computers.”

LanSchool Home v7.5 helps parents:

● Monitor real-time thumbnails of their home computers

● Limit distractions such as the Internet, games and
instant messaging

● Track Internet history

● Log every keystroke typed on a computer

● Limit computers access by locking out the computer

● Provide help through remote control

● Chat with family members

I have a non-tech view of this cool-tech software…

We have two computers in our home utilized, on occasion, for schooling, they are located in the main area of the house and are about five feet apart.  At this time,  I find it difficult to use our LanSchool software to it’s fullest potential.  It is easy enough for me to verbally make assignments and keep my students/children on track.  We are basically a one-room schoolhouse!

I think this would have been more of an asset to us, if our home were larger, or multi-level and if,  we had children that made use of the computer in a less public area.

Since I can’t foretell the future, I’m glad LanSchool Home is a perpetual license.   Using state-of-the-art-cool technology, I’m equipped to monitor and protect my family’s computers, as the need arises.

Several of my crew mates have written reviews of LanSchool Technologies software.  You’ll find them at http://homeschoolblogger.com/homeschoolcrew/783135/

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.


Blessings,



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