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

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Happy Birthday Sarah!

Fourteen years ago, on April 27th, Sarah was born. She was in a big hurry to be born as labor was only 4 hours and 7 minutes, and then proceeded to be a very easy, happy baby.  Today she is still an easy, happy young lady. She loves anything that has to do with being outdoors and exercise. She loves to play Fast pitch Softball. She has 066many friends that she enjoys being around.  Sarah is an excellent scholar and pushes herself ahead, when she likes a subject (although,it is another story when she doesn’t like a subject ).  Pull out any type of card or board game and Sarah is ready to play.  She has even taught both Ben and Rebekah to play Cribbage so she will always have a partner. My job of homeschooling Ben and Rebekah is made easier because Sarah is such a big help. She is a natural born teacher, always thinking of new ways to explain things to Ben and Rebekah. Happy Birthday Sarah! I pray you have a great year!

Pinewood Derby


     Ben loves the Pinewood Derby car he made this year. What made it so special was that Matthew helped him with it. They planned the design and cut it out together. Matthew put his heart and soul and even a little blood into this project. After it was done, Matthew looked at it and said “My Pinewood Derby cars never looked this good.”  I reminded Matthew that he did not have an older brother to help him with his projects. At his Eagle ceremony, Matthew was charged with helping his brother obtain his Eagle Rank some day. Ben is only a Bear Scout, but well on his way to Eagle,with his big brother’s help.


Saturday, April 23, 2011

Happy Easter




And he said to them, "Do not be alarmed. You seek Jesus of Nazareth, who was crucified. He has risen; he is not here. See the place where they laid him. (Mark16:6)

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Nutrition 101: Choose Life!


Book Title:        Nutrition 101: Choose Life!

Published by:  Growing Healthy Homes LLC

Authors:          Debra Raybern, N.D., Sera Johnson,

                          Laura Hopkins, Karen Hopkins

Price:                $99.95 Book; $79.95 CD-Rom;

                          $129.95 Book/CD-Rom Combo

                   (see end of review for discount code)

Age Range:      Pre-school through Adult

     Growing Healthy Homes has published A Family Nutrition and Health Program, named Nutrition 101; Choose Life!. This is a massive 448 page book that covers nutrition in a family friendly unit study style. It is appropriate not only for homeschooling families but anyone interested in learning and teaching better nutrition to their family.

     The information is presented in six units of four chapters each which cover the 12 major body systems.  Each unit begins with an overview of the body system that is covered. Then each chapter deals with a specific of that system. The chapter tells what your body does and what it needs in the way of vitamins and minerals to keep that system healthy.Certain foods provide the nutrition needed to maintain health and these are discussed. Each chapter includes a “Power Recipe” to help incorporate what is being learned into real life. Discussion questions, Activities, and Resources round out the end of the chapter.

     Nutrition 101: Choose Life! also includes 31 appendices. This is where specific topics are discussed. From Health statistics, to choosing fresh produce, Calcium rich foods to a Nail Health Guide the appendices covers many, varied topics. The appendices make this an excellent reference book, as well as a teaching curriculum.

ClarkClan Thoughts

  • Beautiful illustrations and pictures
  • Easy to follow recipes
  • In depth information yet easy to understand
  • Activities for both elementary and secondary ages

     Nutrition 101: Choose Life! is an overwhelming book. It is a “total’ nutrition program. By total I mean that you are taught why your body needs certain foods, not just a list of foods to eat. I loved that the book was written in a style that was extremely informational, yet very, very, understandable.

     Every time I open this book up, I am drawn into reading more and more. I have read some chapters three and four times, yet learn something new each time I re-read. I have a great desire to feed my family healthier foods. With this book, I not only read what foods to eat, but am given the science behind why to eat these foods I learn what my body needs to be healthy. Being told what to eat is one way to teach nutrition , being given the information on how your body works and why it needs or does not need certain foods is knowledge. And knowledge truly is power in this case. Informed decisions about proper food choices come with the knowledge gained in this book.

     Each chapter includes  a “Power Recipe”. What fun! These recipes provide a way to physically taste, touch,and smell delicious healthy food. When I went through Chapter 1 with my kids they were so excited that the recipe was for guacamole (dip made with avocados). We love guacamole and they were surprised to find out it was a “brain” food.  

How the ClarkClan used the book

To begin this review, I had Sarah read the first chapter, while I read it to Ben and Rebekah. We then did the activities and made the “Power Recipe”.  They loved  discussing the answers during the discussion question section and making the “Power Recipe” with me.   I only had my children work on one chapter with me for this review. I read the entire book and knew I wanted my kids to get the full benefit from it. April is the busiest month of the year for our family because of sports and church activities, therefore I knew we would not give each lesson justice. The decision I came up with was to make Nutrition 101:Choose Life!  into a high school level Nutrition/Health class for Sarah’s sophomore year. I will also have Ben and Rebekah participate with us using the elementary activities.  I ,on the other hand, will continue to read and learn from this book all summer and be excited to teach it to my children next fall.


     This book is expensive, yet I feel that I can highly recommend it. It is an excellent nutrition curriculum as well as being an excellent reference book for eating healthy.  To help with the price of this book, Growing Healthy Homes is offering a 15% discount coupon. Just type in the code TOScrew11 during checkout.

     Still not sure about this product? Growing Healthy Homes and The Old Schoolhouse are hosting a webinar on Thursday,  April 21 from 4:00-5:30 pm  EDT (2:00-3:30 MDT) Attend the webinar by clicking here.

Where to Buy

     Nutrition 101: Choose Life! is available from Growing Healthy Homes. They have three ways to buy the book. You can choose the book itself for $99.95. You can choose the book in electronic format on CD-Rom for $79.95 which contains a pdf-file of the entire book. I received the electronic format and loved that I could have it not only on my computer, but also was able to put it on my NOOKColor to read anywhere. The final option is to choose the book and CD-Rom combo pack for $129.99. This option allows you to have a hard copy of the book and an electronic copy to print out recipes or other information when teaching your children.

     I am not the only one to review this book. Visit the TOS Crew Blog to read what my Crew Mates are saying about this book.

As an Independent contractor for The Old Schoolhouse and member of TOS Homeschool Crew I received  an electronic version of  Nutrition 101: Choose Life! for free from Growing Healthy Homes in exchange for my honest review of their product.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011



  • Kinderbach Piano for Young Children

  • Age Range: 2-7 years

  • Presenter: Karri Gregor

  • Price: Online Membership $19.99 monthly or $95.88 a year, also available as a DVD program check Kinderbach's website for DVD pricing


About the Program

(Taken from

Start early with Music and Piano for Children
is the best thing you can do for your child's brain development.

KinderBach does not color, sticker
or number keys or
turn the keyboard sideways
We just teach the children where
the notes are
using ANY piano without
ANY additions.

A Tried and Proven System

Professional Quality Video Lessons Online or by DVD!
You can teach your child yourself for a fraction of the cost

NO RISK 30 Day Money Back Guarantee!
The best time to learn a language or to begin playing a
musical instrument is 3 - 6 years of age.

Presented by Karri Gregor
Professional Musician, Artist, CEO
Decades of teaching experience
Thousands of Students

Research clearly shows Piano is the best instrument with the most benefits to brain development.
KinderBach is a unique method of teaching very young children to actually
Begin at ages 2 - 7 your child will play  songs and read music

Simple In Home or In Classroom Music Instruction is included on Online or DVDs, CDs, Activity Books

Keeping it fun and interesting always with games, puzzles, coloring, singing
All materials included and reprintable

Follow through the lessons Online or with the DVD's and activity books at home!
Play real songs like "Take Me Out to the Ball Game", "Happy Birthday"
and more in the first month of curriculum.
Perform like a real musician with CD's and studio quality background music. 
Students sound great and keep wanting to learn.

ClarkClan Observations

     First of all I would like to say Wow! is this a very full program.  It is way more than just watching a teaching video on how to play the piano. Kinderbach actively engages kids with fun, interesting characters and Mrs. Gregor who guides the lessons. There is way more than just finding notes and playing simple songs on a piano.  Music theory is taught in a fun, gentle manner. I would encourage you to visit the KinderBach website for more samples than I can describe to you here.

Some standout features for Ben and Rebekah

  • Rhythm instruments
  • Activity books for use during the video
  • Songs to sing
  • Fun characters, Dodi the Donkey, Frisco, Jake the Golden Retriever and the most favorite: Beat Bugs

2011-03-03 15.49.05

     Ben (9) and Rebekah (7) were the two that tested the Kinderbach program.  They both really enjoyed the program. They were always eager to sit and do the lessons. While we have a piano, we also have a full size keyboard. This made the program easier for the two of them to use at the same time. We would set the keyboard up on the ottoman in front of the TV. We used our Wii and the internet channel to stream the videos on to the TV so they could watch easily and together.

     There are 6 (level 7 is coming) levels of the KinderBach program. Each level has 10 weeks of lessons, with four lessons per week.  Because Ben and Rebekah are at the top of the age range and older, I did not follow the one lesson per session. We would sit to do their music lessons two to three times a week and would do a weeks worth of lessons in one sitting.   As each session is not very long, this worked well for us.  I had printed out the activity books that went with the level they were working on. I originally had only printed out one activity book with the thought of just making copies as needed, but soon found this to be a pain. Each child having their own activity book worked very well.

     I found that it was very easy to see what materials were needed for each week. Items needed were presented at the beginning of each week’s lessons. Very simple, basic items were required. A printer, crayons, glue, cardstock or cardboard were the most commonly used items.  A rhythm instrument was also needed. The video told you that it did not have to be fancy and could be out of the kitchen. We cleaned up two tin cans and used wooden spoons. These instruments worked great

     You could tell that the program was designed for younger children. It moved slowly and made great use of repetition.  As well, each individual lesson was fairly short. While this may turn off other older children, my two enjoyed watching, playing their instruments and singing or marching along.  Rebekah loves to color and enjoyed the activity book and coloring books that we downloaded.

Here is a sample video of Mrs.Gregor teaching how to find D on the piano.

Kinderbach Sample

One of the activities is to color Dodi’s house and place it above the two black keys.

Matthew's Birthday 18 063


     I would recommend KinderBach to other families. My two enjoyed the lessons and will continue to work on them. I can definitely see using these with younger children. Because of the short lesson time and lots of activity, even a three or four year old could easily pay attention.

     As someone who reads music and plays an instrument, I liked the music theory that my kids were learning as well as how to play the piano. There was a game to help train the ear to listen for high notes and low notes. This is so ingrained in me, I never thought to teach the difference to my children.  The rhythm instruments were excellent tools, as well as fun to play. Ben and Rebekah both loved marching around to the Beat Bugs, which were a good way to introduce keeping the beat of the music.  Overall I was thoroughly impressed with what my kids learned and the manner in which it was presented.

     I also feel that the price of the online lessons is a good value. If you have ever paid for music lessons, they can be cost prohibitive. In our area the running rate is $12-$15 a half hour per child. When you pay for an entire year of Kinderbach, it breaks down to just $7.99 a month.

As always, I am not the only one to review KinderBach.  Visit the Crew Blog and read what my Crew Mates thought of this product. It is always nice to get a balanced view before you buy.

As an Independent contractor for The Old Schoolhouse and member of TOS Homeschool Crew I received  KinderBach online lessons for free from KinderBach in exchange for my honest review of their product.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Keeping House and Homeschooling, Can it all get done?

     This week the blog cruise topic is “how do you divide household duties and needs with your homeschool schedule?”  This is an area where I know many homeschooling families struggle. As my kids have gotten older, keeping house while also homeschooling has become easier.

     I make daily housekeeping part of our daily chores. One child is assigned to emptying the dishwasher, one is assigned to the morning dishes. One is assigned to clean the bathroom daily and one is assigned to pick up the dog poop in the back yard. Laundry is also thrown in with the daily chores. I expect the person doing the laundry to make sure it is washed, dried and folded.  We all pick up the common rooms daily and I vacuum. (I love to vacuum so I have never assigned that one out.) I only require that they clean their rooms well once a week and just keep them picked up the rest of the week. I take time to plan a weekly menu. I like to know what I am cooking for dinner that evening. I use my crockpot a lot. It just seems easier to me to make dinner in the morning and let it cook all day, than to try to rush and cook something when I am tired in the evening or when kids have sports.

     I involve all the kids in housekeeping chores. We have a schedule of who does what chore on what day posted on the refrigerator. I expect all the kids to get their chores done without me telling them to do them.  Sarah, Ben and Rebekah all are given an “allowance”.  We have broken the $10 they get every two weeks into $.25 increments. If I have to tell them to do their chores, or they are not done when school starts, I dock them pay.  I like visuals so I can easily remember who gets what, or how much. So my husband came up with the thermometer idea.  This idea to dock them pay for not doing chores properly or in good time has helped tremendously. The first two weeks we started this nobody lost any money. Then after their first “payday” Rebekah did not do her chores. Instead of taking money, I just marked off on the thermometer that she was down to $9.75. Didn’t seem to bother her at this point in time. She lost a few more “quarters” throughout the week. When payday came, she finally realized that she did not get as much as Sarah and Ben because she did not do her work. This straightened her up as she had plans for her money. I have not had much of a problem since then.

2011-04-04 15.33.30

     Matthew at 18 is still involved in the chores list as he still lives here and is part of the family.I do not give him an allowance as he is working an outside job. But I do expect him to get his work done.  Only one time did I have to say that since he lives here and eats here and we pay the gas, electricity, water etc. I will expect him to do his chores as always. 

     Is my house perfectly kept? By no means. I try to remember that I have five people home all day, myself and four kids. If I required perfect cleanliness and order we would spend more time cleaning up, than doing school. I am always looking to improve upon how we do things. My main problem is “clutter”. I always seem to have a pile or two of papers that I am unsure of what to do with: file, throw, shred??  I am excited to read how others keep their housework done as well as school. Make sure you visit the Blog Cruise and read how others keep up with this important task.

Go Go Kabongo

Company:   Kabongo, Inc.


Price:           First Habitat Free, $4.95 additional habitats

Ages:          4-7 years

kabongo home page

About Go Go Kabongo (taken from Feb. 11, 2011 press release)

      Designed especially for kids ages 4-7, GoGo Kabongo presents three fun-filled learning habitats: Laughter Lake, Galaxy Garden, and Twister Top. Here children can play challenging learning games, solve mini-missions, and discover lots of other hidden surprises. Along the way, children will meet a host of friendly characters who are always there to help and share a laugh.

      Each of GoGo Kabongo’s learning games addresses a specific cognitive skill and adapts to the child’s level, so they are never too easy or too hard, inspiring self-confidence and independent play.

Critical thinking skills children learn and practice with GoGo Kabongo:
• focus and attention
• letter and pattern recognition
• planning
• listening comprehension
• phonics and phonetic awareness

ClarkClan Observations

     Go Go Kabongo is designed for children ages four to seven. With this in mind we chose Rebekah (7) to be the one to review this product. She thoroughly enjoyed playing games on the Kabongo website.

Rebekah home page

Rebekah’s thoughts:

“ I like Go Go Kabongo because of it’s characters.  The one in the clubhouse is named Duffy. Duffy always says ‘You can’t learn moves like this’. There is a character named Ginzo. He has a comic sticker in the comic maker and it says ‘Aw, we played too hard’. He says this because his doll head is in his hand and the body is on the floor, because he played too hard’. Go Go Kabongo has Galaxy Garden with Photo Safari. Photo Safari has a camera and you take pictures of the animals but only the animals you have not taken pictures of already.  You get a prize when you finish. You can pick your prize from three choices. You can get a new part for your skate park, a sticker, a poster for your clubhouse. Robo Bobo is another game in Galaxy Garden. You have to make a robot from pieces off of the conveyor belt. You pick up pieces from the conveyor belt and see if they fit . Then you get a prize when you are done. I really like Go Go Kabongo and give it ten thumbs up.” (narrated to mom by Rebekah)

kabongo map

Mom’s thoughts:

     As you can tell from reading what Rebekah thought of the program she had a great time with Go Go Kabongo. The games were right up her alley. Very bright and colorful with lots of action. I liked that the games seemed to “grow with her”. The first time she played a game she earned the reward quickly. The more she played the game, the longer it took to earn the reward. When she made a mistake in a game, it gave her encouraging words urging her to try again.

     The rewards are used in your character’s clubhouse. The clubhouse is where you can access your skate park, or comic book maker. You can also change your avatar within the clubhouse. When you are ready to play more games just click on the map and  you can choose which habitat you would like to play in. Each habitat has specific characters that guide you through the games.

     Go Go Kabongo helps to teach pre-readers and beginning readers the skills they need to become better readers. The games themselves do not teach reading, but help kids with learning skills needed to read. There is a game to discern big and small animals. There is a game that you have to look at the two letters given and then find and “run” over those letters with your skateboard. This game has kids remembering what letters they are looking for as they are shown the letters, then the letters are hidden.

     We used Go Go Kabongo as Rebekah’s “fun” computer time. I did not make it part of her school day, but it was one of the computer game choices she could make when she was allowed to play for fun. Rebekah regularly chose to play Go Go Kabongo.

     One aspect of the game that annoyed me a little, but did not bother Rebekah at all was the speech. Most of the characters sounded like stereotypical  “surfer dudes” from California. Each character was easy to identify by their voice, they all had a very distinct way of speaking. There was a good mix of male and female characters.

     The characters were definitely nothing you had ever seen before. They were completely fantastical, some had four eyes and six legs, one looked vaguely like an octopus but floated in the air. Even the avatar Rebekah made up was unique because of all the choices in features to make the character up.

     Go Go Kabongo also has a very nice parent site. You may log in and see progress reports on how your child is doing. You can opt to have these reports e-mailed to you as well. There are coloring pages, dot-to-dot pages and mazes that can be printed for your child as well. There are different parenting articles to read as well as activities to do with your child.


     I would recommend this game. In fact, during the review period I was able to recommend it to a few people who’s kids have enjoyed Go Go Kabongo as well. I really like the fact that one habitat (two for a limited time) is free so you can try this out without a monetary commitment. Then if your child likes it, you can buy each additional habitat for $4.95, no subscription fees ever. I feel that the price for this game is very reasonable.

     Another reason that I recommend this product is the good tech support. I had a little trouble when we first began using this website. When I e-mailed the tech support on a Friday evening, not expecting an answer until Monday, I was surprised to receive and answer and a solution to the problem that evening.

How to buy:

     Go Go Kabongo is an online game. Visit the website to create a log-in and start playing. Parents will need to put in their e-mail address and set up the account for their child.  

     I am not the only one to review Go Go Kabongo. Other members of the TOS Review have been able to play this game as well. Visit the Crew Blog to get a balanced picture of this website.

As an Independent contractor for The Old Schoolhouse and member of TOS Homeschool Crew I received  all three Go GO Kabongo Habitats for free from Kabongo, Inc, in exchange for my honest review of their product.

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Spoiled Plans

     One of the great things about homeschooling is the joy in making your own school schedule. I can decide when to take Spring Break when it is convenient for  our family. This year we decided to go from a Wednesday to a Wednesday because of a weekend trip out of town.

      Everything went according to my plan, until we got back home.  I had planned that our Spring Break would end on Wednesday and we would have a half week of school. All my carefully laid plans of starting up again on Wednesday were foiled by the public school’s Spring Break.

     What happened was that some of the activities that my children are involved in decided that since kids didn’t have school they would meet in the middle of the day. Softball practice was scheduled for the middle of the day, Venturing went on an all day long event. And then the weather worked against my school plans as well. After being cold and rainy for months, we finally hit 70 degrees and full sun, for two days straight!

     So what does a homeschooling mom do when a half week like this happens? She does a few school subjects in the morning and plays in the park all afternoon. Full school can start again on Monday.

Friday, April 1, 2011

Zeezok Publishing


z-guide to the Movies

Zeezok Publishing



     Every so often during our school day, we will watch a movie pertaining to what the kids are learning. For example, when Matthew was studying Concentration camps during WWII we watched The Boy in the Striped Pajamas. At other times we watch more lighthearted fare, but always pertaining to something we are studying. When we watch these movies, I always end up feeling like I need to ask questions and make it a true “learning experience”. No longer do I need to make something up myself, thanks to Zeezok Publishing’s z-guide to the Movies.

     Zeezok Publishing produces movie guides that incorporates media into social studies classes. There are approximately 28 movie guides available. All are available on CD-roms and some are available as an  e-book download as well. The guides are geared toward junior high and  high school, depending on the movie. The guides provide a week’s worth of learning activities based off of the chosen movie.


ClarkClan opinion


  • Multiple learning activities
  • Grading scale included with each activity
  • In-depth, make you think activities
  • Easy to use, “grab and go” style

   We were able to review the z-guide to the Movies based on the movie Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner? I was given a choice of which guide to review and the kids and I decided that this sounded like an interesting movie. Since this guide was a high school level product I used it with both Matthew (18) and Sarah (13). The guide only includes learning activities, the movie is not included. I was able to instantly stream the movie from our NetFlix account.

     This guide includes five days worth of activities, with two activities a day for a total of ten. The guide begins with a “topic overview” and a “movie synopsis”. I had never seen the movie before and appreciated the heads up as to what we would encounter while watching. Then I surprised both Matthew and Sarah by watching the movie the first day. They loved this part, as the usual approach to movies is to do all learning type activities first, then conclude the week with the movie. The first activity is “Movie Review Questions”. I printed off copies for each of them, and they filled them out while they were watching the movie. Another activity had them thinking and analyzing “Are you ready for marriage?”.  I was impressed with the thoroughness of the directions given and how the questions made my kids think critically. Matthew is used to giving “quick” answers to questions and these were designed to draw the students out and make them think. 

While most activities can be done on paper, we used some of the essay type questions out loud as discussion questions.  I found it very interesting to listen to my two teenagers, who are four years apart in age, defend their opinions. Activity 7 has the student researching how to host a formal  dinner party, then the next activity is to prepare a meal for your family. Activity 6 is a word search, based on the movie. Sarah enjoyed this activity, but Matthew asked to be excused as word searches do not interest him. I figure this is the difference between 9th and 12th graders.  The last activity was based on The Filmmakers Art and focused on the theme, irony and comic relief elements of the movie. Since they both enjoyed the movie, we finished up the week by watching the movie a second time.

     I found this to be a great addition to our school work. While the movie did not fit exactly into what either of my two are studying right now, it brought about many interesting discussions. We were also able to relate the topic of the movie, “race relationships” into modern day. We discussed what would happen if they decided to marry a person of an entirely different religion than Christian as opposed to the movie topic of marrying a different race.


     After reviewing the Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner? z-guide to the Movies, I would highly recommend not only this guide, but any of the guides Zeezok Publishing produces. I was very impressed the the quality of the learning activities included in this guide. I am planning on buying a few more of these guides to use during our history lessons. I am especially interested in the guide for The Boy in the Striped Pajamas as Sarah is going to be studying this later this year.

Order information

     You can order the z-guide to the Movies directly from Zeezok Publishing. They are available for $12.99 each for either the CD version or the e-book version. Click here to view all the movie guides available. Also available for purchase if needed are the movies themselves.

     My TOS cremates were given an opportunity to choose and review a movie guide of their own. Visit the Crew Blog to read about the different guides available.

As an Independent contractor for The Old Schoolhouse and member of TOS Homeschool Crew I received the Guess Who’s Coming for Dinner z-guide to the Movies for free from Zeezok Publishing, in exchange for my honest review of their product.