The crazy life of the ClarkClan. Living a life of grace through Jesus Christ.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Commercial Fun

     Sarah, Ben and Rebekah have great fun with the video feature on Sarah’s camera.  Here they came up with a commercial for “Grandma’s Halloween Costume Store Incorporated”.  Ben and Rebekah are the actor and actress  and Sarah is the camera operator. They spend hours in their “studio” making different commercials and TV shows.  At least it is a good way to get them to clean up the girls room so the background is not messy.  Enjoy!'

Friday, September 24, 2010

Ocean Fun

     What a wonderful vacation we had this past week.  My kids got to see something  they had never seen before: an ocean! The Pacific Ocean to be exact. 


     As we were in Northern Washington, it was too cold to go swimming but, it was not too cold to go wading.  The tide was out at about 10:30 am and it had just finished raining.  We were able to walk out quite far and see the beautiful rainbow.  We were also able to see lots of crabs, hermit crabs, shells, seaweed, and kelp.

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     What a treat for kids who have lived their whole lives in various deserts, in New Mexico, Montana and now Idaho.  We now have collections of sea shells to look at and display.  The next day we took the kids to the ocean in the evening to see the ocean when the tide was in. What fun to splash around in the waves. 


Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Salem Ridge Press

Salem Ridge Press header

     On a cool, crisp fall day, my kids and I find that curling up with a good book and a cup of hot chocolate or tea is a great way to pass the time.  When the book is riveting, such days are bliss. Salem Ridge Press is a company that provides books just made for those fall days.

    Salem Ridge Press is a book company that republishes great books.  It was founded in 2005, by Daniel Mills.  He searches out books from the late 1800’s to the early 1900’s that are full of Godly character and good moral values.The standards of this company are very high.  They use as their standard for judging a book’s writing and illustrations Philippians 4:8 "Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.”  With this verse in mind,all books are evaluated and edited, if needed, to fit their standards.

The captives book cover

          Salem Ridge Press offers a variety of books for sale, for all ages.  I was able to review three historical fiction books.  As I love historical fiction this was an enjoyable review.  The three books I read were Dearer than Life, The Captives, and The Sign Above the Door.  I feel, with these three books, I was given a good representation of what the company has to offer.  The books were very well written.  The editing was wonderful. The best feature, for me, was the vocabulary defined at the bottom of the page in which it appears.  This was especially useful in the Dearer than Life book.  This book was originally published in 1848, and the story takes place in Medieval England.  As such, the language can be archaic and quaint, so having unusual words defined as I read was a tremendous help. Also included in the book are historical notes  My daughter Sarah, who is 13, also read the books and enjoyed them.  I liked that the books, although  not a “light” read, kept her attention through the power of a great story.  Other editing features are historical notes, maps and timelines.  These features are added to various books where needed.

Cover II.indd       As you visit the website for Salem Ridge Press, you can find four broad categories that will help you easily find  books that are right for your family.  You can search Alphabetically, by Time Period and Location, by Author, and finally by age range.  I was impressed to find books for all age ranges, from beginning readers of about six, to adult readers. Books are available in both hardcover and softcover. A few titles are available in clothbound heirloom binding.  The prices range from $10.95 to $28.95.

     In my opinion, one  of the greatest strengths of this company is their large selection of Historical Fiction.  Their Historical Fiction includes: Church History, US History and World History. The Church History series of books that Salem Ridge Press republishes are by Emma Leslie.  She wrote a collection of church history books in the 1800’s that span the time frame of Paul,the apostle, to the Methodist Revivals of the 1800’s.  So far 12 books in this series have been republished, and another 12 are coming.  Two of these I reviewed, Dearer Than Life and The Captives, and I am looking forward to reading more.  US History books include the time frame of Colonial America and the Revolutionary War.  The World History books include Egypt and the French Revolution.

     Salem Ridge Press is a company dedicated to providing high quality, well-written, wholesome books.  Through my review of this company and sampling of their products, I found that they have achieved their goal. If you are looking for great books that challenge your intellect and leave you wanting to read more, check them out.

     If you want to know what my other Crewmates are saying click here.

As an Independent contractor for The Old Schoolhouse and member of TOS Homeschool Crew I received three books from Salem Ridge Press for free in exchange for my honest review of their products.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Vocabulary Cartoons


    A quirk in my personality is  that I will not relinquish my right to be proficient at and use grandiose language.  Have I piqued your curiosity?  Well, look no further than this book, Vocabulary Cartoons SAT Word Power. 

     Vocabulary Cartoons is a book of hundreds of words and their meanings along with “Easy Memory Techniques”.  The vocabulary words in this book are arranged alphabetically, one word to a page.  Each word includes a pronunciation guide, part of speech and definition.  The key to learning the word comes next with the “link word” and a humorous picture.  The “link word” is a word or words that sound like the vocabulary word you are studying.  Then comes a cartoon, the sillier the better, with a caption using the vocabulary word with the link word.  This technique is a proven memory technique call mnemonic.  “A mnemonic  is a device that helps you remember something by associating what you are trying to remember with something you already know.” (Burchers, pg. 9, 2007)


     For our family, the strength of this book is the humor.  My kids all enjoyed reading it on their own and laughing at the pictures, then coming to me to tell me what word they were reading.  After a week or so, I then assigned my high school kids 10 words a day to read.  After another week, we then went back and took the quizzes that are included in the book.  I did it in this manner in order to ascertain whether the retention was there.   I found that the retention of the definitions was there.  My kids liked the low-key approach to vocabulary.  Each day only took 10 minutes or so, with no written work.  I was surprised at the amount of words they remembered.  They attribute it to the “link word” and picture.

      There were some features of this book that I really appreciated.  The first was the pronunciation guide.  To begin with, I was letting my daughter read all by herself, and found that while she knew the words written out, she did not always pronounce them correctly.  So I started listening to her read aloud her ten words for the day.  This way I could refer her to the pronunciation guide when she mispronounced a word.  Another feature I would like to point out is the three usage sentences that accompany each word and cartoon.  These sentences are great because they use the vocabulary word in various forms.  For example, verbs are used in different tenses.   This book does not teach spelling of the words however, only meanings and pronunciations. So you will have to add this skill in yourself.

     This book is published by New Monic Books, Inc.  It retails for $12.95. The age range for this book is 7th-12th grade.  That being said, my eight year old son enjoyed the book and has great fun using some of the new “big” words he has learned. The website for New Monic Books, Inc is  While I reviewed the first of two high school/college level book, the company also has vocabulary books for elementary age students.

     To see what my other crew members thought of this book click here.

As an Independent contractor for The Old Schoolhouse and member of TOS Homeschool Crew I received Vocabulary Cartoons for free in exchange for my honest review of the product.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Is this book fiction?

     “Is this book fiction?”  “Or is it a true story?”  These are the first two questions out of Rebekah’s mouth every time I give her a new reading book.  She likes both fiction and non-fiction, but wants to know before starting to read a book. 

     She had finished a really hard (for her) book last week. So, this week, being a short week I pulled out a book from the Sonlight Pre-K or K program we used two years ago called “Five True Dog Stories”, for her to read.  My thinking was to give her an easier book so she doesn’t get discouraged.  (Rebekah reads very well, she just doesn’t like to read so therefore needs a lot of encouragement.)  Boy, did she surprise me by finishing the book in one day.  She has to read for 30 minutes everyday.  She finished the first 4 stories in the book during the day.  Then that evening she did something that I never recall her doing before.  She willingly climbed on her dad’s lap and read him the last chapter.  The story was about Balto and they had a great discussion about Alaska and the Iditarod.  She was even telling me the next day about what facts Daddy told her. 

     So, on to the rest of the week.  Back to true Rebekah style.  I pulled out 3 books for her to choose from: “In Grandma’s Attic”, “My Father’s Dragon”, and “Dolphin Adventure”. She looked them over,asked her typical fiction or non-fiction question. Then we read the back of the books because she wanted to know what each story was about. Then she reminisced about “My Father’s Dragon” as we had read it out loud and it was a favorite.  And then came the deciding factor for Rebekah. The final question, the question that would make the deciding factor of which book she wanted to read.  “How many chapters are there?'” 

    So she is reading “Dolphin Adventure” because it was the shortest.  She is really enjoying her choice though, letting me know what the diver is up to and what happens to the baby dolphin.

     Oh, Rebekah, hopefully one day you will enjoy reading as much as your brothers and sister and mother.  But for now, we will continue to set the timer for your 30 minutes  and finding great (if not always short) books for you to read.

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New Look…Again

     Well, I have been at it again.  I decided that I needed a new look for Fall.  So, once again, I changed my background and colors and all else that a blog entails.  I have learned so much about HTML and adding Gadgets and what all.  It is enough to make my head spin.  At least it was spinning at certain times during the process today.

     I also changed to a three column format so that I could put links to my upcoming product reviews.  If you have time, check out the companies that have been gracious enough to let me review their products.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Math Tutor DVD’s


     Math trouble seems to be one those polarizing episodes in a homeschooling mother’s year.  When your child begins to have trouble understanding some aspect of their math it can be frustrating not only for the child, but also the mother.  Where to turn? Math Tutor DVD’s may be your answer.

     Math is one aspect of homeschooling I feel shaky about.  I do not have good memories of math class. In fact, what I remember most is feeling like I was just never going to “get it”.  So when my kids don’t understand a concept, I don’t always know how to help them. I am not good at explaining things in a different manner.  Math Tutor DVD’s can help this problem.



The Pre-Algebra Tutor Volume 1


     My daughter was just starting Algebra I, when I received the Pre-Algebra Tutor Volume 1 DVD ($26.99) to review.  I had her watch one lesson per day as a review of the Pre-Algebra concepts she had gone through last year.  Watching the videos with her, I really liked the way Jason presented the material.  He was very personable and made the concepts easy to understand. 

     The Pre-Algebra Tutor DVD has 9 sections on two discs.  Each section thoroughly covers one topic.  For example, section 1 covers real numbers, section 2 covers the number line.  Jason Gibson introduces the topic, explains it and then proceeds to doing practice problems.  He explains that it is best to watch first, and then go back and work the practice problems yourself.  With this technique he is able to cover various learning styles.  Visually you see the problems and how they are worked.  For auditory learners he explains each step as he is working the problem and for kinesthetic learners,there is the act of actually writing the problem and each step out.

     My daughter enjoyed the videos.  She said that she liked that Jason did a lot of practice problems.  She liked the way he started out with simple problems and then proceeded to longer and harder ones.  I had her sit with a white board and markers and she wrote the problems that Jason was working on the screen and worked them for herself. 



The Texas Instruments
TI-83/TI-84 Calculator Tutor


     Where to start for the TI-83/T-I84 Calculator Tutor ($26.99)?  Truth be told, these calculators scare me.  They are very intimidating to look at, with all the buttons plus the words over the buttons for even more functions.  Jason really accomplishes his goal. He demystifies the calculator functions.  This DVD is very thorough.  It is 3 disks and has 37 sections.  He starts at the beginning with a basic overview of the calculator.  Then he proceeds to cover every button and function over the next 36 sections.  I was very impressed, that even I, who am intimidated by math, could see that knowing how to properly use your calculator would take away some of the fear and increase learning.


     One of the main reasons this DVD works so well is the way the screen is set up.  When you are watching it, the calculator is divided into two parts.  On the left are all the buttons, exactly as they appear on the calculator and on the right is the display screen.  Breaking the calculator up allows you to clearly see all the buttons that are being pressed and clearly see what is displayed on the screen.  As he is speaking, Jason uses a cursor to press every button, just as you would with a real calculator.


     These are just two DVD’s in the Math Tutor line.  At the company’s website, you can find over 22 math DVD’s.Topics range from learning to count (for young children), basic and advanced math courses, to upper levels such as Physics and even Chemistry.  There are two ways you can access the information on the DVD’s.  First you can buy the DVD’s themselves.  The second way is to buy a monthly subscription to their site. It is $19.95 per month and you then have online access to every DVD that MathTutor DVD produces.  I mention this option because it is very intriguing for our family.  With an age range of 7-17 being able to access all levels would be very helpful. 

     We have thoroughly enjoyed reviewing the Math Tutor DVD’s.  They were easy to understand, well-produced, and most important, learning was increased by using them.  If you have kids who are having math trouble, I encourage you to check out MathTutor DVD's.  To read more reviews on this product visit the TOS Homeschool Crew Blog.


As an Independent contractor for The Old Schoolhouse and member of TOS Homeschool Crew I received two Math Tutor DVD’s for free in exchange for my honest review of the product.