TOS Review: Vocabulary Cartoons by New Monic Books


Vocabulary Cartoons:  Kids Learn a Word a Minute and Never Forget It! 
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I was talking to my husband the other day discussing our upcoming trip and mentioned that I needed to finish the review for Vocabulary Cartoons before we left.  My daughter pipes up in the background and says “Tell them I love it, Mom!”  So, there you go!  Endorsement from a 5th grader!  I think she especially liked dropping “big words” when she was talking to her brothers and getting a “What?!” response from them.  Our children’s rooms are across from each other, so lately in the evenings (after they are supposed to be sleeping) we have heard her yelling out the vocab words and then the boys (9 and 6) yelling back “What does it mean?!” followed by“Don’t Flounder, keep swimming!” or “Ack…I was abducted by ducks”.   Then followed by a lot of giggles.  Silly cartoons coupled with funny phrases has made learning vocabulary words quite painless here! 
Vocabulary Cartoons is non-consumable, priced at $12.95 and meant for 3rd-6th grades.  It consists of 210 vocabulary words that are accompanied by a rhyming mnemonic and a visual mnemonic.  These help the children know how to pronounce a word as well as a silly picture depicting the meaning.  For instance, the word “Obsolete” gives the pronunciation, definition and part of speech along with a sound alike word, “Fleet.”  There is a picture of a cruise ship with several Viking ships surrounding it.  Underneath the picture is the phrase “The Norwegian Viking FLEET is OBSOLETE.”  
The words are divided into groups of 10 words followed by a review.  The review consists of matching a word to the definition and then a fill-in-the-blank section, using the words in sentences.  My daughter would read through a group for a couple of days and then do the review for that section.  There is an answer key in the back of the book for the review questions as well as an index of all words.  I used the index as a way to give my daughter a quiz on words learned.  I would call out random words from the index and she would then answer with the definition.  She rarely missed one in the weeks that we were reviewing and as soon as she saw the picture again, she immediately remembered what the word meant. 
She reads well and often, but this has been a good (and painless) way of learning more vocabulary words and discovering what she already knows.  If I were required to do any sort of testing, I would especially appreciate this way of brushing up on vocabulary skills.  I loved that it was something that she could do on her own until the review.  We would do that orally.  She thought it was fun and didn’t even think of it as work. 
There were about 6 words out of 210 that I wish the publishers had reconsidered the sound alike words or the cartoon depicting the sentence.  Particularly “adjacent”, “shoddy” and “transpire”.  We are pretty careful about what kind of movies our children watch and a couple of these referenced characters that my daughter didn’t recognize and showed cartoons of vampires, Frankenstein and Jason making the mnemonic meaningless to her.  If you have sensitive children or are keeping them from such things I would just cover those pages up, but I did want to give a word of warning.  I don’t think it ruins the usefulness of the book or lessens the value either.  The rest of them are pretty funny or cute and really do illustrate the meaning of words quite well.  My favorite was “The GAPING mouth of an APE devoured the grapes.” for the word “Gape”.  I loves gorillas and this picture is pretty funny!
New Monic Books also carries SAT Word Power and Picture Spelling for Young Writers.
Check out what my other Crewmates are saying about Vocabulary Cartoons at the TOS Review Crew Blog




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**Any products reviewed by me as a member of the TOS Homeschool Crew have been given to me free of charge in order for me to provide you with an honest review of the product and/or how we used the product within our family. I do not receive any other form of compensation for the reviews posted on this blog.

TOS Review: America’s Math Teacher



“He counts the number of the stars….His understanding is infinite.” Psalm 147:4-5
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America’s Math Teacher is an online math tutoring website.  Rick Fisher, a math teacher from CA, created Math Essentials and America’s Math Teacher (AMT) to address the problem of low math proficiency scores in middle and high school students.  AMT includes 4 courses: Basic Math, Advanced Math, Pre-Algebra and Algebra.  Many of his students using this program have actually been able to skip 7th grade math and move right into 8th grade Algebra. 
My eldest, in 5th grade, used the Basic Math section during our review period.  Math is not her favorite, nor her best subject so she initially wasn’t that excited about doing more math.  However, after watching several video’s and completing the accompanying worksheets, she decided that Mr. Fisher was very helpful and she enjoyed the lessons.  She is very math phobic and tends to shut down when she perceives that a math concept will be difficult to learn, but was very receptive to Mr. Fisher’s way of explaining different math concepts.  After she got past the look of the Speed Drill exercise on the worksheets (the wagon wheel with numbers freaked her out), she discovered that the way he taught things made a lot of sense and that she *could* do it!  And after she started doing the online Speed Drills, she thought they were awesome!  So did my 3rd grade son.  He thinks math is fun and would have done Speed Drills all. day. long. if I would have let him!
There are 4 main sections to AMT Online Math Education Website:
Learning Centers: This is the hub of each course with access to the tutorials, exercises, quizzes and exams.    
Exercise Center: Access and download printed exercises that correspond with each AMT course.
Evaluation Center: Access pre-tests, quizzes and final exams for each course.
Resource Center:  Access helpful information, math glossaries and the online Speed Drill.  New content is being added often!
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My daughter spent most of her time in the Basic Math Learning Center area of the website.  She completed lessons on whole numbers, fractions, charts & graphs so far.  I really appreciated that Mr. Fisher encourages the student to be involved in the lesson and reminds them to be working through the problems themselves on scratch paper.  They are not meant to mindlessly watch the video, but to actively participate in the tutoring session. 
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After viewing the lesson, which are usually 5-10min. in length, the students are expected to work through the coordinating printed exercises.  Each worksheet is packed with learning opportunities on 1 page that can be completed in a short period of time!  This motivated my daughter and made it seem less intimidating and much more doable. 
  • Review Exercises: Covers past concepts learned
  • Helpful Hint: reminds students of what was presented in the video lesson with a sample problem completed.
  • Work Section:  Gives the student an opportunity to work through problems and use what they have learned.
  • Problem Solving: Word problems using a variety of skills/concepts learned in a practical application.
  • Speed Drill: 2 Speed Drill wheels both for addition and multiplication.  Great (and fast) way to keep students on their toes with basic math facts.
I completed the Basic Math Evaluation in the Evaluation Center but was confronted with processing problems, so I couldn’t find out how I scored.  (Which is probably good because I may find out I am *not* smarter than a 5th grader!)  They are having issues with the evaluations working properly, however, in my experience, Technical Support has been very helpful and I know they are working on getting any kinks worked out as fast as possible.  My questions and those of my Crewmates have been answered quickly and I don’t feel as though this will be an on-going problem, just merely a start-up glitch.
The program is $195 for a one year subscription for *all* of the students in the family and includes full access to all 4 math courses, Basic Math through Algebra.  $16.25 per month for a 24x7 math tutor seems like a pretty good value to me, especially if you have students falling into several levels!  They also offer a 30 day free trial as well as a few free lessons.  My husband and I will seriously consider this as an excellent math resource as we have more students in the upper levels of math instruction.  As a side note, I have been going through some of the upper lessons myself after having gone through the Basic Math Evaluation and discovered that a lot of my math has been long forgotten. (Like “integers”…as soon as I watched the lesson I remembered what they were, but not before! LOL)  If it were in our budget this year, I would purchase a subscription to brush up on my own math skills in preparation for teaching the upper levels of math that are looming in the future!  AMT could be considered an excellent 1 year “Math Teacher Education Course”. 
Except for the technical glitches, I have been very happy with this program as was my daughter.  She and I both enjoyed Mr. Fisher’s teaching and found him to be personable and encouraging. 
To see what my other TOS Crewmates had to say stop by the TOS Review Crew blog!

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 **Any products reviewed by me as a member of the TOS Homeschool Crew have been given to me free of charge in order for me to provide you with an honest review of the product and/or how we used the product within our family. I do not receive any other form of compensation for the reviews posted on this blog.

TOS Review: Time4Learning Preschool

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I was able to review the Time 4 Learning Preschool program being part of the TOS Homeschool Review Crew and it has been a lot of fun!  Time 4 Learning has been known for quite some time for their Kindergarten through 8th grade online curriculum including lessons for Math, Language Arts, Science and Social Studies.  In the last year they completely updated the Time 4 Learning Preschool and it doesn’t disappoint with great kid appeal, easy verbal instructions and age appropriate lessons.
My 3yo wasn’t quite proficient enough with the mouse to do the activities by herself, but her 6yo older brother was more than willing to help her out. Yay! for cooperation!  I think they played the ABC song at least a hundred times, as they thought it was quite catchy!
Time 4 Learning Preschool is split into 2 levels, although you have full access to both levels with your $19.95/child monthly online subscription (additional children are $14.95/mo.).  Level One contains 20 Themes with 83 activities.  Level Two contains 21 Themes with 92 activities.  Themes cover a variety of kid pleasing subjects like the zoo, farm, weather, insects and seasons as well as standard preschool objectives like numbers, alphabet, colors and shapes!  Each lesson contains a short story that is read by the computer and is then followed by a couple of choices for different activities like matching, patterning, painting and memory match.  One really neat activity is called “Stories You Write”.  This allowed my children to create their own story, clicking on different pictures that were linked with audio descriptions.  My son thought this was particularly exciting because he could make silly stories that were cracking them both up!!  
You can find what others thought of Time 4 Learning Preschool as well as their other products like Time 4 Writing and Spelling City at the TOS Homeschool Review Crew!





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