Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Schoolhouse Review: The Fascinating World of Insects by BrainFood Learning

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Alyssa is intrigued with insects and asks so many questions about them when exploring the great outdoors. I had the chance to review The Fascinating World of Insects designed by BrainFood Learning as part of the Schoolhouse Review Crew. It was perfect timing since we just finished studying several different types of insects and their life cycles. BrainFood Learning is a company that sells award-winning educational videos. The fact-filled videos were produced by Bryce and Jennifer Mooney.
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The informative DVD covered a variety of insects within a reasonable 43-minute time frame. The video contained appropriate content that was easily understood thanks to the clear and simplified explanations. Each video clip lasted approximately 3 minutes per insect. A female narrator discussed the insect's features, their diet, abilities, the benefits to humans, and their adaptations. There are photographs and live footage of insects included in the fascinating content. Interesting trivia and facts are sprinkled in a gentle manner throughout the videos. Did you know that ladybugs could be the color blue? Did you know that only male grasshoppers sing by rubbing their wings or legs together? Another factoid we learned was that water striders can jump and land without getting wet. They also have hairs on their body that capture air and help them float. 

Insects Featured
A variety of specific insects were addressed in the video. Alyssa learned about 11 different insects including:
  • Grasshoppers
  • Ladybugs
  • Rhino Beetles
  • Fireflies
  • Mosquitoes
  • Honey Bees
  • Water Striders
  • Ants
  • Praying Mantis 
  • Dragonflies
  • Butterflies
We saw a menu with options including "Play All," "Insects," and "Reviews" once the video started. The "Play All" option enabled us to watch and listen to the video in its entirety showing information for all of the insects. You also have the option of choosing "Insects" for a specific or focused study on one particular insect. Additionally, your child could choose to click on "Reviews" which will enable him or her to skip straight to the review and quiz formats.
Menu Options
Insect Choices Displayed On Television Screen
Review Section
The "Play All" option begins with a short introduction to the insect world describing common insect features. The video reinforced previously learned concepts including the fact that insects have six legs, compound eyes, feelers called antennae, an exoskeleton, and three body parts. After the introduction, Alyssa was introduced to one specific insect at a time. I was most impressed with the thorough review at the end of the video. The review section is broken down into five different formats:
1.) Review Insect Flashcards

Insect Name Shown With Photograph
2.) Review Your Insects
Recognize Insect and Choose Correct Answer
3.) Review Insect Anatomy
Ant Anatomy Diagram

4.) Review Insect Facts
Answer Revealed With Photograph
5.) Review Vocabulary Terms
Choice C (Entomologist)
Please Note: Our DVD screen is very dirty. The content appears much clearer on a television or computer screen. I had a difficult time capturing shots without a glare.

Age Range
These videos were designed to be used with children of all ages. Older children and adults may find the content appealing depending on their interests. The company states that children as young as 2 and as old as 13 have benefited from viewing the video as indicated here. I was told this product would be suitable for children ages 3-11. However, I believe this product would be more appropriate for children ages 5-9 or for children in K-3rd grade due to the format and the more advanced vocabulary terms displayed in this video.

Our Experiences
My daughter was absolutely thrilled when the package arrived in our mailbox. She enthusiastically asked to watch it the first day. I used the Fascinating World of Insects video with my five-year-old daughter as a supplement to our homeschool science curriculum, nature studies, and unit studies this summer. We also used this resource in conjunction with lapbooking, notebooking, and copywork activities. Alyssa almost always selected the "Play All" option in order to learn about every insect mentioned in the video in one sitting. Many days she watched the video on her portable DVD player while we traveled or while I worked at the computer. She actively participated in the review questions at the end of the video. She literally yelled out the answers to the questions and applauded herself when correct. It makes me happy to see her interacting and learning so much from the video while having fun.
Review Time!
After completing the review section, she chose particular insect video clips to view again. Alyssa learned how bees make honey, how caterpillars transformed into butterflies, and that grasshoppers spit a brown liquid out to protect themselves when in danger. She also learned that some ladybugs taste and smell bad to predators and that they pretend to be dead. She couldn't believe that there were four types of rhino beetles including the Atlas, Elephant, Japanese, and Hercules rhino beetles. We would often explore the backyard or a nearby park for insects after watching the video.

She watched the video numerous times during the review period. I actually lost count, but I know for sure she watched it several times a week and she frequently watched it more than once a day. She truly enjoyed viewing the labeled diagrams. She asked me if I could print the diagrams out so that she could add it to her science binder. Unfortunately, I had to tell her it was not possible. I guess she wasn't happy with my response, because one day I caught her copying and labeling a diagram of an ant on notebook paper while the video was paused.

What We Liked
  • The colorful close-up insect still life photos and live video footage of insects in their natural habitat were absolutely beautiful. Our attention was immediately captured by the vividness or clarity.
  • My daughter retained the material taught in the video. She was constantly telling family, friends, and even strangers while in my presence about the facts learned. She actually tried quizzing several people. Did you know that one of the strongest creatures on Earth which can be kept as a pet is the harmless rhino beetle which can lift 850 times its own weight?
  • The length of the video was reasonable for the intended age range.
  • Sections of the video can be viewed repeatedly. Your child has the option of learning about all 11 insects in one sitting or choosing one particular insect to focus on. 
  • Vocabulary was displayed in large print on the screen with clear pronunciations and simplified definitions. The terminology was more advanced than I expected, but this was a pleasant surprise and will help develop Alyssa's vocabulary. It doesn't hurt to expose children to a larger vocabulary. Vocabulary terms such as entomologist, larva, elytra, wingspan, metamorphosis, species, adaptation, colony, predator, scientific name, proboscis, and pollination are several of the "big words" your child will be taught. One new word was introduced per insect plus the introductory vocabulary word. 
  • Diagrams were displayed illustrating the anatomy of the insect. I appreciated that the diagrams were labeled. One label popped up at a time which means my daughter was learning even more vocabulary. The narrator discussed each new insect anatomy term as it was introduced.
Rhino Beetle Diagram
  • This DVD is not full of animated fluff instead the content is high-quality educational information that truly captures the child's attention. The company states that they want the video to "educate as well as entertain." I believe they have accomplished this goal with this fabulous DVD series. In the chart below, each life cycle stage was verbally described while showing illustrations and live footage.  
Butterfly Life Cycle Chart
  • Several review sections (2, 4, and 5) provide comprehension questions in multiple-choice format. Alyssa was given three choices and the chance to respond aloud. An appropriate amount of response time was given. However, please keep in mind that the response time may be too fast for some younger children. Review questions announced by a female or boy narrator required the child to recognize either the insect's name, characteristics, facts, anatomy, and even quizzed them on the vocabulary terms. Furthermore, the third review section was short and sweet revealing the anatomy of an ant while discussing the parts of an insect.
Choice C (Adaptation)
Three Multiple-Choice Answer Choices
Possible Cons
I hear the Texas crickets chirping loudly . . . still thinking . . . sorry, I have absolutely nothing for you. We absolutely LOVED everything about this DVD.

Possible Vendor Suggestions
  • I definitely suggest extending the series to include reptiles, amphibians, spiders and arachnids, owls, penguins, and other animals or subtopics. You could even extend the series to include other topics that explore geography or social studies concepts such as states, continents, and community workers.
  • Could you possibly create an accompaniment activity CD containing lesson plans for insect crafts, games, lapbooks, coloring pages, and projects for each insect in the video? This CD could be included in the case and price giving the DVD even more value and benefits to customers. Update: I just found out that BrainFood Learning has created curriculum lesson plans that correlate with their videos. Click on the link provided. 
  • I would consider adding more life cycle charts to the video or to future videos in the series. I appreciated the inclusion of the butterfly life cycle chart, but wished that each insect video clip contained a similar chart. 
Overall Thoughts
I hope to eventually own all of the DVD's. I would love to utilize The Fascinating World series this fall as a supplement to her zoology studies. I was thoroughly impressed with the comprehensiveness of the content. Additionally, the organization and presentation of the material was quite impressive. She often chose to take this video with her when on long road trips or when grocery shopping. She plans to pack the DVD in her luggage for our upcoming camping trip. I was thankful and grateful that we had an educational video for her to watch that managed to keep her attention. A sense of relief was felt when I realized she could actually watch it without my constant supervision.

Alyssa's Thoughts (Age 5)
"I really liked the DVD! I had fun learning about ALL of the insects. I didn't know that ladybugs could be blue or that praying mantis could be pink. Mommy, did you know that only female mosquitoes bite and suck your blood? Oh . . . and daddy . . . the hard elytra on the outside protects the ladybug's soft inside wings. The butterfly and ladybug pictures were pretty. I thought the videos of the insects in their habitat were cool. I think the photos and videos were neat too, because it felt like I was outside looking at them."

I had to stop her at that point, because I am sure you can tell that she found the video stimulating and enjoyable. Alyssa's favorite insects to learn about were the butterfly, praying mantis, rhino beetle, ladybug, and honeybees. I think she would have listed the entire group of insects if given the chance. 

The Fascinating World of Insects DVD is available for the affordable price of $14.99. Check out the video below to preview the video content.

Other Products in the Series
All three of the DVD's in the series are sold separately for only $14.99 each. The following titles are included in this series:
I highly, highly recommend The Fascinating World of Insects DVD from BrainFood Learning to any homeschooling family with children who love observing and studying insects especially in their natural environment. This would also be a great resource or tool to utilize during a nature study or a science insect unit. I believe teachers and parents alike will benefit from having their children watch this educational DVD. This could also be given to babysitters especially if you pair it up with a craft or activity.

Social Media
You can preview the videos from this series on their You Tube channel or read a variety articles on the BrainFood Learning blog. Be sure to like the company on Facebook too!

Head on over to the Schoolhouse Review Crew to read more reviews for all three of the videos.
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Monday, July 22, 2013

Five Weekly Goals: Slowly Making Progress

Howdy everyone! This is my second week participating in the Five Weekly Goals hosted at Our Heart and Home. I did manage to accomplish some of my goals this week. I am making progress and that's really what matters.

What I Accomplished
1.) The bookshelves are finally filling up. I started sorting a few leftover boxes on the floor based on subjects, topics, and authors. However, I do have MORE boxes in storage. I was thrilled to find my collection of Tomie dePaola books when unpacking boxes. I am currently reviewing a Strega Nona Project Pack and Alyssa is reading the author's books in the chair by the window during her free time.

2.) Calendar time is not completely organized yet. Ha! Who am I kidding? It's nowhere near ready! I started hanging pocket charts but was distracted when unpacking math materials. Then, I looked around - saw the clutter in the center of the room and let it get to me. I can't decide how I want to arrange the room. I have a lot more open space here but very little hidden storage. I have been very indecisive lately. Spending too much time moving items around the room. This will be harder than I thought it would be. I can't decide what to get rid of and what to keep.

3.) I mainly worked on writing and editing my Couponing Made Simple review this week. I did start writing my poetry blog hop posts for August, but unfortunately I had to back out at the last minute. I really need to focus on taking care of my husband during his recovery time. I spent some free time yesterday working on reviews that are due at the end of July or the beginning of August including Brainfood Learning, Bible Study Guide For All Ages, Reading Kingdom, and In the Hands of a Child (Strega Nona).

4.) Well, I jotted down a temporary homeschool schedule, but nothing is set in stone yet. I have a lot of fine tuning to do before August is here. I am trying to decide on a starting date. We go on vacation at the beginning of September, so I would like to start new routines and curriculum before we leave (if possible). My hubby recommended waiting until after we got home from the trip since we homeschool year round. She is still working through summer school curriculum.

I did set-up Alyssa's workbox system. She has twelve boxes that are arranged in numerical order. I am looking for the other parts of the system which are still in storage. I started putting particular subjects inside the boxes. This is a first step for me. I still need to decide the "real" order I want to complete subjects and remove items she won't need in the box. I haven't yet dedicated a shelf for teacher manuals. I have in the past kept light teacher manuals inside the box for subjects that we do together or for ones that require a lot of parent supervision or support.

5.) I ordered Alyssa's math curriculum. It should hopefully be here in 2-9 business days. Shipping was expensive! I also extended her online math curriculum subscription another year and purchased her music curriculum. I finally made a decision on which writing curriculum I want to use this year, but I still need to order it. I am looking for back-to-school discounts first. I still haven't ordered her cursive book. We recently reviewed an awesome cursive writing program called PreScripts Words and Drawing. I want to get the first book for this year and take it slow.

Bonus Goals: I unpacked, organized, and cleaned Alyssa's room. She organized her play room which was supposed to be a guest room, but we never have overnight guests. She is in dire need of storage containers. I also did regular chores in addition to my hubby's chores since he is recovering from surgery. Jeffry's work tools are almost all out of the house. They have been stored inside since the day we moved in.

My Five Weekly Goals This Week
1.) Set-up Coupon System
I recently reviewed Couponing Made Simple written by Christi the Coupon Coach. I already have the hanging file system ready to go, but I need to spend time this week labeling my coupon box and accordion file. I also want to be more strategic when shopping so I need to plan better this week. I will print several coupons online using coupon matching websites. We are definitely motivated to save money on groceries. I did notice that this week's paper had a shortage of coupons.

2.) I need to organize the bathroom towels. Right now they are folded in a laundry basket. The cabinets need to be dusted first and towels need to be neatly placed on shelves.

3.) I will hopefully set-up the calendar and spanish learning area this week. I am aiming for progress on this project.

4.) Start working out???? Okay . . . so this year has been a tough one for me. I put on A LOT of weight (30 pounds the last two years - most from this year). I struggle with simple tasks that never used to cause me problems. My ankles and legs hurt. I need to start some kind of work out routine ASAP. Funny thing . . . one of my biggest hobbies used to be working out. My motivation is lacking and my self-esteem is in the dumps. I hope to start out really slow and workout at least twice this week. We'll see. I could use some encouraging words!!!

5.) We need to make our house feel like a home. This week I will focus on hanging family pictures and photos.

Well friends . . . that is my list of five weekly goals for this week. I pray that I have the energy and motivation to complete several of them if not all of the five listed above. Wishing you the best of luck as well.

What goals did you accomplish this week? What are your new goals?

Be sure to visit Our Heart and Home to add your Five Weekly Goals or to provide encouragement to others. The Five Weekly Goals link is not currently updated yet. I will try to remember to update it later. 

God bless, 
Tracey M.

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Schoolhouse Review: Couponing Made Simple by Christi the Coupon Coach

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Are finances tight? Are you trying to save money this year? As part of the Schoolhouse Review Crew, I recently had the opportunity to review the informative book Couponing Made Simple written by the author Christi the Coupon Coach. Couponing Made Simple retails for $20.00, but it is currently on sale for $18 on Amazon. The Kindle edition is available or only $4.99.

My husband and I aren't fond of clipping coupons. We usually clipped items we didn't need or use, because the deals were extremely tempting. We spent hours clipping them only to store them in a disorganized gallon-sized Ziploc baggy that we often left in the car. Does that sound familiar to you? Things changed after having our daughter. Our time was limited due to homeschooling and other priorities. However, we have come to a point in our life where we need to be more frugal with our spending and adjusting our grocery budget has become a number one priority. I needed an efficient way to effectively reduce our grocery and household expenses since we are living on one income. Christi's organization system is helping us organize our couponing adventures and is giving us suggestions for strategic shopping. 

Couponing Made Simple is a book the author describes as "real couponing for real people." The 132-page paperback book provides a step-by-step approach to couponing the frugal way. It is chocked full of tips and advice on how to get started. Couponing Made Simple contains numerous photographs and stories revealing fantastic deals the author and others have obtained using her methods. The author also teaches you the meaning of couponing lingo such as BOGO, blinkies, stacking, peelies, coupon kiosk, clipping services, and more. I appreciate that Christi included a chapter on couponing ethics. I have seen shoppers not playing fairly and it always disappoints me.   

What's Covered?
Chapter 1: Success Stories
Chapter 2: A New Way to Shop
Chapter 3: The Language of Couponing
Chapter 4: Organization System
Chapter 5: Step-by-Step Process
Chapter 6: Tips and Tools
Chapter 7: Couponing Ethics
Chapter 8: Networking and Communicating
Chapter 9: Bonus Section
Chapter 10: Beyond Couponing
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My favorite chapters covered the organization system (Chapter 4), the step-by-step process (Chapter 5), and the tips and tools (Chapter 6). In my opinion, these three chapters are the most important ones. Additionally, chapter 3 explaining the coupon lingo was of tremendous help to my family. Some terminology didn't make much sense to me until after I read this book. The explanations were clear and easily understood. 

  • Her book is written with a positive and encouraging tone. She motivated us to take the necessary baby steps . . . maybe she can do the same thing for you if you are looking to save money. 
  • You can save a lot of money depending on which products you are buying and the number of newspapers you purchase. This is especially true if you are not particular about which brands you buy.
  • The text was printed using an easy to read font and size. I am a slow reader with bad eyesight. I found this book to be pleasing on the eyes. It was a very quick read. I actually surprised myself with how quickly I read the book. 
  • The comprehensive book was well-organized based on popular coupon-related topics.
  • Success stories that will capture you attention and interest were included in the first chapter to motivate and to show you that "real" savings can exist. 
  • The organization system was explained thoroughly in a step-by-step manner in Chapter 4. This was the most helpful and most informative chapter for our family. No more Ziploc baggies for us! 
  • Great tips are included in the book. Christi's advice gave me a new perspective with regards to couponing and things to think about when making purchases. One tip the author mentioned in the book was to check the amount of water in the product when purchasing canned goods or body wash. This was sound advice and something I never paid attention to in the past.  
  • The author tells you what you can do with expired coupons which was another new tid bit of information I never knew about and was grateful to learn. I love that the author encourages her readers to utilize freebie coupons that won't be used in your household by giving back to society. I immediately started thinking ahead in hopes to save on items I planned to purchase for operation shoeboxes, operation Christmas child through Samaritan's Purse, blessing bags for the homeless, canned food drives, and pet centers.
Possible Cons
  • I was hoping for or expecting actual coupon websites to be included in the book. Christi does give you tips on how to do a meaningful Google search. The coupon matching websites are extremely easy to find if you do a quick search. However, the author does share a list of her favorite websites at Christi the Coupon Coach. Her reasoning for not including them in the book makes perfect sense. Internet websites change all the time and it is important that the information within the book is relevant and updated.  
  • I did notice that a lot of the same information or familiar material was already available on the Internet. Please keep in mind that by purchasing the book, you'll have everything you need conveniently in one spot at your fingertips for immediate access.
  • It takes a reasonable amount of time and planning to get started and to be more organized especially if couponing is a fairly new adventure. 
  • The author suggests purchasing one newspaper for each family member and then she recommends that you purchase newspapers in even numbers. We have three family members which means we would need to buy four papers. Our newspaper costs $2.50. If we purchased four based on the number of people in our family that ends up being $10 a week. We aren't sure yet if the savings surpass the cost of the papers. Not to mention, we have accumulated newspaper clutter which we didn't have previously. 
  • I suggest that you take a few moments to familiarize yourself with the coupon policies for the stores you frequently shop in your area BEFORE your first organized shopping run. I would recommend that you create an excel spreadsheet summarizing the coupon policies for yourself. Then, bring the actual printed policies with you to the store just in case you need to show the cashier. When you have a question about the coupon policy, ask the store manager.
  • If you eat a clean diet or follow a whole food restricted diet, it may be harder to find grocery coupons that will work for your family. Instructions are included in the book on how to search for deals that fit your family's needs or diet restrictions.
  • You must be willing to try new stores and brands. I am a very brand-specific person.
  • We wasted money on four newspapers since we did not plan or organize a shopping trip before deals expired. We didn't remember that the flyers were only weekly savings. Most of the the coupon flyers were tossed out.
Our Experiences
Jeff purchased our newspapers at the closest gas station. I reminded him to check for the coupon inserts. Basically, we tried to follow the two main rules of buying what we use on sale and stacking coupons when possible. Christi's book contains a valuable chart on page 35 that explains the method of stacking.

Before our first shopping trip, we sorted all of our flyers on the counter. Our paper consisted of inserts from several well-known companies including Red Plum, Smart Source, CVS, Walgreens, Academy, Target, Walmart, Best Buy, Conn's, Michaels, and more.
Sorting Coupon Inserts
We didn't have many coupon insert deals that extended for longer than a week's time span so I adapted Christi's hanging file box organization system to meet our criteria. Red Plum and Smart Source were the only coupons that needed to be stored for a longer duration. Instead of dating the files with the month and week such as 7/1 and 7/15. I labeled four manila files under each tabbed file as 1st, 2nd, 3rd, and 4th for these two stores as seen in the photo.
Our Coupon Insert Crate 
Before our first trip to the store, we searched the HEB flyer for products that we already use hoping they were on sale and used coupons when possible. We also didn't read the store's coupon policy beforehand and sadly we found out that stacking coupons was NOT allowed. We needed the groceries so we went ahead and purchased them all. However, we still managed to save approximately 20% on our receipt with very little effort. Can you imagine what the savings would have been if we were more prepared? The milk was FREE when we purchased the batteries we needed. The Pantene shampoo and conditioner was a BOGO free deal. We also stockpiled razors using BOGO deals. Two packages were free. The Simply Potatoes were FREE after purchasing Jimmy Dean Sausage. The cupcake wrappers were only 19 cents after using a coupon. Many of the items seen in the photo were purchased with coupons for varies amounts. 

I realized that my daughter still needed summer clothes. I knew that children's clothing stores were offering lowered prices during their summer sales. I left one store spending only $43.65 for three adorable matching outfits. The manufactured suggested retail price (MSRP) for the bottoms were $24.00 each and the shirts cost $18.00 each which makes the total MSRP for these products $126.00. All of the brand new clothes were discounted 30% off in addition to already reduced clearance prices meaning each pair of skorts dropped from $13.71 to $9.60 and each shirt dropped from $10.29 to $7.20. Then, I handed the cashier a printable coupon for 20% off a purchase of $40 or more further reducing the cost of the skorts to $7.68 and the cost of the shirts were lowered to $5.76. In the end, the out-of-pocket expense ended up being only $43.65 with sales tax.

We shopped at Walgreens the next day. We purchased two Softsoap refills for $7.99 each (retailing for $15.98) and one tube of toothpaste retailing for $3.59. We received one refill FREE thanks to a BOGO coupon. We also used a manufacture coupon on the toothpaste which discounted $2 off the product which was also on sale for $2.99. We spend $19.57 and paid $8.98 which is approximately 54% in savings. The store also gave us back $1.30. 

I managed to find a few good deals at CVS. Please ignore the Softsoap refills below. I accidentally grouped and photographed them with CVS items. We used the kiosk at the entrance, scanned our card multiple times, and received a $2 off coupon for the body wash. We bought two and only paid 99 cents each. I checked the prices at another store that same night and the items were almost $4. The PowerRaids were only 69 cents each. We had two Buy One Get One Free (BOGO) deals including Purex Liquid Laundry Soap and Omega Three Gummy Fish. We were willing to try the CVS brand of vitamins. I found several brands of lip balm on clearance. One brand was discounted $1.50. Each lip balm was purchased for under a dollar. My husband also found a large box of Swiffer Sweeper Mop refills and used a 25% off coupon when they were sold in bulk on sale. The rest of the items were purchased with regular coupons. We saved 20% on our receipt and received summer extra bucks for purchasing several specific store items. We are only a few dollars away from earning $10 on each ExtraCare card. 

Our best luck was at Target, Walmart, or CVS. I prefer the customer service and ease of checking out at CVS. Most of our grocery store runs were disorganized, because we didn't utilize all of the guidelines for the system to its full potential. We walked in holding a handful of coupons and a list in which items with asterisks required a coupon. I admit that I jumped the gun and rushed out in hopes for big savings with very little preparation. 

Overall Thoughts
We still have so much more to learn!!! In order for our family to save even more money, I need to reread the book and set-up the entire organization system. My husband and I really want to utilize the methods, but we are taking baby steps since he just had surgery and we recently moved. My husband finally told me to purchase an accordion file. I bought one with 12 tabs and 13 pockets. I also brought home a coupon box with blank dividers to help get organized.

Jeff was doing most of the grocery shopping on his way home from work to help save on gas and time. I realized that he had his own system. He kept saying, "I was already doing that." However, a few of her steps were very different from his method. We'll make the necessary changes so that hopefully we can save more money. I plan to carve time out of my schedule to go grocery shopping with my little girl. My husband wants to read the book so that we'll both be on the same page. He is willing to invest in at least two newspapers until we notice more savings and use the deals in a timely manner. 

Furthermore, we will spend several weeks tracking the cost of certain items that we consistently purchase in order to know when the product is actually offered at a rock bottom price. This will be a key element for us in order to have a more successful shopping trip! We both agreed to try different brands of deodorants, toothpastes, toothbrushes, pain medicines, shampoo, conditioner, and razors after realizing that discounts and/or freebies are usually offered for these particular types of products. I recently downloaded a coupon bar which enabled me to print online coupons. We definitely plan to continue using Christi's ideas in order to save even more money after our organization system is completely set-up. 

I recommend Couponing Made Simple for large families on a tight budget. In fact, ALL families wanting to save money will find the money-saving tips and simplified organization system useful and beneficial. This book would also be a great introduction for those beginning the task of couponing, families living on one income, or as gifts for college students living in their first apartment. The author saves 50-80% on her grocery bill. I believe it is possible that we can all save high percentages with the methods. The money saved could pay for other bills, paying off debt, family expenses, vacations, medications, extracurricular activities, or curriculum.  

 So now you must ask yourself . . . Do I like saving money? 

Social Media
You can follow Christi The Coupon Coach on Facebook. Check out the You Tube video below where Christi discusses her book on the Daytime television show.

Head on over to the Schoolhouse Review Crew blog to read more reviews about Christi The Coupon Coach's book titled Couponing Made Simple. I am sure everyone will have different experiences with this product.
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Friday, July 19, 2013

KinderBach's Sizzling Hot Summer Weekend Deal

I HAVE to share this deal with you all! It's sooo good! Do you have children at home between the ages of 3 and 7? Do you have a large keyboard?

KinderBach is currently offering 50% off ANY website order (excludes apps) until Sunday, July 21st, 2013 at midnight. You MUST use the coupon code Wow2013 at checkout. I reviewed the online subscription last year. Click here to read my review about our experiences when the online at home subscription was $95.88/year. Alyssa enjoyed using this program. Recently, the company reduced the cost to the very affordable price of $59.88/year. You can now purchase the online subscription on sale for ONLY $29.94 which gives you six levels of piano/keyboard lessons containing a total of 240 sessions using the code. I couldn't believe my eyes when I opened my e-mail and read about this deal. So, if you are a  homeschooling family or you have little ones at home this summer . . . you may want to visit the website and/or read my review. This is a great way to incorporate music lessons into your day. Click here to watch a video about KinderBach. 

If you purchase this deal, I would love to hear about your experiences. You can stop by and leave a comment under my KinderBach review. There's even a FREE trial if you would like to try before you buy.  

Have a great weekend and please don't forget this price is available for a limited time and works for ALL website orders except for app purchases. Check it out! 

Disclaimer: This is not a review and I am not an affiliate for the company. I am just notifying my readers about a great deal. 

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Five Weekly Goals: Will We Ever Get Organized?

I NEED to get my life organized again. Everyone keeps telling me to take it slow - unpack one box at a time, but when I look around the classroom the overwhelming number of boxes makes me feel completely disorganized and the mess add a little more stress to my life. I need this phase of my life to be over soon hopefully by the end of summer (wishful thinking). My husband invited my in-laws over on Wednesday for dinner and the house is nowhere ready for visitors. UGH!

This is my first week participating in the 5 Weekly Goals hosted at Our Heart and Home. I am hoping that if I set a few simple goals to target, that maybe . . .  just maybe I will accomplish my goals this week. So without further ado here are my five weekly homeschool and classroom goals for this week.

1.) Unpack several book boxes and organize them on the shelves. This will free up more space in the classroom and give Alyssa a clutter-free area to read near the window.

2.) Set up our math calendar time and spanish wall learning area. Alyssa and I are having withdraws and miss completing these activities.

3.) Try to find some free time to work on reviews in advance and start my posts for The Schoolhouse Review Crew's awesome blog hop in August. I have some ideas on paper but have transferred them to the computer. Time online has been limited lately since my husband's surgery.

4.) Create a working homeschool schedule for Alyssa. Start organizing her work boxes which is a huge part of our schedule.

5.) Order my daughter's math and writing curriculum for this year. I guess that means I need to finally decide on which writing curriculum I will use with my daughter before I can actually purchase it. Any suggestions? I am torn between Essentials in Writing and Writeshop.

What are your weekly goals?

Well, that's all folks! Have a wonderful week and I hope you all accomplish at least one or more of your goals this week. I am posting this a day late so I am already behind - wish me luck! Be sure to visit Our Heart and Home to add your Five Weekly Goals or to provide encouragement to others.

God bless, 
Tracey M. 

Monday, July 15, 2013

Random Five on Friday (July 12th): Road to Recovery

Okay so my random five post is a little late. We were out-of-town this weekend. We got in late Sunday night. We are recovering from a busy weekend.

In Our Homeschool This Week . . .
1.) Alyssa is working through her summer curriculum. She completed four full A+ Interactive Math lessons and online worksheets the other day. She also took the chapter quiz on money. She did really well. I am glad that I purchased the second grade curriculum several months ago through Educents. The price was extremely low after I used my free $15 for signing up at launch time. You can read my review for A+ Interactive Math First Grade here if you are interested in the company. We are also reviewing the Strega Nona Project Pack Curriculum from In the Hands of a Child. I love Tomie dePoala books!

In Our Life This Week . . . 
2.) Jeff is slowly recovering from his surgery. He takes his medication and rests when needed. I have obviously been doing his chores along with a few other extra things. He'll need 4-6 weeks recovery time. Please pray for a speedy recovery, less pain, and clean healing. I am grateful that my husband's surgery went well and that he had a wonderful doctor.

Places We Went and People We Saw . . .
3.) We went to my niece's 5th birthday party this weekend. Alyssa always has so much fun with Haydn. She's sweet and gentle. My daughter had loads of fun and stayed cool while playing on the water slide. We visited the Texas State Aquarium the next day.
Haydn - The Birthday Girl (My Niece)
Silly Faces
Guess Who Lost Tooth #4?
I recently found out that all four of her back teeth came in. 
What I'm Baking
4.) I made oatmeal apple pecan pancakes for my family this week. Alyssa helped grate the apples and measure ingredients. They both LOVED these pancakes! Personally . . . I thought they were too thin and moist, but my hubby said not to change anything.
My Sweet Helper

I Have My Eyes On or Have Been Oogling . . .
5.) Discovery Education Streaming Plus has been on my wish list for years. But, we can't afford a subscription right now. Click here to read how you can get a summer subscription for FREE. It is only available for a limited time so head over to read it now if interested. We are lovin' it!

I will link this post up at Random 5 on Friday hosted by Miranda at The Pebble Pond. Please join the fun and link up your random five thoughts, facts, or occurrences. I will also link this post at Weekly Wrap-Up at Weird Unsocialized Homeschoolers and The Homeschool Mother's Journal at So You Call Yourself a Homeschooler?