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Saturday, March 21, 2015

Congratulations, Bethany, winner of Dial Miracle Oil Body Wash

Congratulations to Bethany, winner of the Dial Miracle Oil Body Wash.

Stay tuned ... another giveaway will be starting early next week!

Friday, March 20, 2015

Congratulations to Fiona, winner of Easter Stories

Congratulations to Fiona, winner of the Easter Stories book recently reviewed and given away at Because I'm Me.

How to Fold a Pocket Square


Because I'm Me review of GPA LEARN GPALOVEMATH, online math program for elementary aged home school kids

A penguin named Pi for a math teacher? With an Australian accent? Where math is fun and kids ask to do math? And they come to you with all sorts of interesting animal facts? There's a show called Ice Factor? Gift card prizes and other rewards abound? Clearly just a good, really strange dream, right?

Not at GPA LEARN, a program that was given to River to use for this review! GPA LEARN offers GPALOVEMATH, a complete, online, interactive, fun, math curriculum for students in grades Kindergarten through 5th.

To begin, River and I received two accounts for this program, a parent's account for me and a student account for him. I was able to oversee all of his work from my account, approve prizes, check his grades, and add new prizes.

Prizes? Oh yes! Seriously, these are HUGE motivation so I might as well just cut to the chase and start with rewards. Each time the student completes enough lessons, approximately five but that can vary by how many rewards have been chosen, the student gets a motivating reward. The program comes with many incentives already inputted that the parent can choose to use or the parent can add their own prizes geared towards the specific child. River had prizes like “play a game of your choosing” and "build an indoor fort”, I opted to not use any that would cost money. His first prize earned was snuggle time, which thrilled him to no end as he'd never won a prize for doing schoolwork before. He was even happier after earning "Mommy will make your bed for a day", a prize he wisely saved until his room needed a good cleaning. 

It took us a while, but eventually River and I discovered the "holy grail" of prizes – after he earned enough points by completing lessons and getting good scores on them he was able to choose from available gift cards to Target and ToysRUs and other more tangible prizes. The availability of these prizes varies, sometimes there are plenty of them, sometimes you have to wait or maybe choose a reward that wasn't your first choice, but still - pretty sweet prizes. Over the course of the six week review period River earned 2 $10 gift cards to Target. Woo hoo River!

Some of the prizes:

Because I'm Me review of GPA LEARN GPALOVEMATH, online math program for elementary aged home school kids

Ok, back to the program, gotta do that to earn the rewards! For this review River did 1st grade math and used the program as a supplement to his current math curriculum. 

River's GPALOVEMATH course contained three tracks; green for algebraic thinking, purple for numbers, and blue for measurements and data, as you can see in the bottom half of this image:

Because I'm Me review of GPA LEARN GPALOVEMATH, online math program for elementary aged home school kids

GPALOVEMATH lessons can be sorted and given to the student in two different ways - recommended order or by topics. We opted to go in recommended order, which allows the program to only make available to the student lessons the child has the proper background information for. Initially he only had lessons available in two of the tracks, after he completed a few lessons a lesson in the third track become available also. The program is geared to allow the student some flexibility by offering the different tracks, but to not ever get ahead of their abilities. If River had fallen in love with the blue track and done lesson after lesson in it eventually no more lessons would be available until he caught up in the other tracks.

Each animated video lesson began with a short introduction, followed by a lesson narrated by an Australian penguin (because who else would teach math??). Sprinkled throughout the lesson are animal facts, which relate to the tv show "Ice Factor" the penguin and the student are creating. Ice Factor gives the lessons a little more interest and fun, instead of just being math lessons. When River would learn new animal facts he would come running to me to share his new knowledge, those little facts were a great diversion for him. After the lesson River worked through some practice questions with the penguin and then answered 10 questions in a short quiz. The lessons take about 15 minutes each to complete and we tried to do 3-4 lessons per week. Most of the time River was able to do the lessons independently, just asking questions if he didn't understand the instructions of a quiz question.

Because I'm Me review of GPA LEARN GPALOVEMATH, online math program for elementary aged home school kids

As soon as a quiz was completed I would receive an e-mail letting me know he'd completed it and what his score was. The higher the grade the more points toward gift cards; needless he say he tried for 10 out of 10 each time. If he didn't do well on a quiz he could easily retake it and didn't have to go through the entire lesson again.

Because I'm Me review of GPA LEARN GPALOVEMATH, online math program for elementary aged home school kids

Things we liked:
  • River liked the penguin. He thought being taught by a penguin was a lot of fun.
  • River loved the prizes, as did I. I thought it was pretty ingenious to offer rewards that really didn't cost anything but allowed River to feel like he was getting something really special.
  • Information was presented logically, at a reasonable rate. He never felt overwhelmed or as if he'd missed some information somewhere.
  • We both liked that if he wasn't sure about some of the words he could click a button and have the quiz questions read out loud.
  • I liked receiving his quiz results. It let me know how he was doing and that he was working, without hovering over him.
Minor things we didn't like as much:
  • The voice of the penguin sounded like poor quality voice recognition software. At times it seemed fuzzy and hard to understand.
  • There were a few glitches in the program. On one quiz question no answer was accepted and he couldn't move forward, on another the answer was just plain wrong. I have no doubt that this is because the program is newer and that these quirks will be worked out, and it was only two questions out of a few hundred. And, to be honest, he appreciated being smarter than the program and we got a good giggle out of it. For example there's this one, which we decided was probably just "new math":
Because I'm Me review of GPA LEARN GPALOVEMATH, online math program for elementary aged home school kids

River will be continuing with this program but I'm going to move him up to the 2nd grade level to give him a little head start for next year.

GPALOVEMATH is available from GPA LEARN for kindergarteners through fifth graders. An annual subscription is $129 and includes all grades.

Click the image below to read more reviews by the This Old Schoolhouse Review Crew. If you decide to use GPALOVEMATH stop back and let me know what you think.

GPA Learn Review

Saturday, March 14, 2015

Review and Giveaway: Dial Miracle Oil Body Wash with Marula Oil

Dial Miracle Oil body wash with Marula Oil review and giveaway, enter now


Marula Oil is a wonderful beauty ingredient, an all-natural, moisture rich, highly nutritious, light textured oil that hydrates and refreshes skin with nutrient rich anti-oxidents. With new Dial Miracle Oil Body Wash with caring Marula oil you can now splurge on this wonderful oil without spending a small fortune.

I was given a sample of this body wash to try for myself and to try on the family. The scent is gentle, not girly at all, and the kids had no hesitation in using the body wash. Micro Oil Technology creates a luxurious clean-rinsing lather that feels just right and leaves skin feel soft and smooth.

While I did let the kids try this I banned them from the rest of the bottle once I'd used it so I wouldn't have to share! The body wsah felt great and left my skin feel refreshed, clean, soft, and healthy.

Dial Miracle Oil Body Wash with Marula Oil review and giveaway

Enter below to win two bottles of Dial Miracle Oil Body Wash. One winner will receive two coupons, each for a free bottle of body wash. While most of the entries are one-time deals you are welcome to come back every day to tweet about the giveaway for more entries. Good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway  

The Dial brand provided me with a sample of Dial Miracle Oil Body Wash in exchange for a product review. However, all the opinions expressed are my own. 

Friday, March 13, 2015

Review and Giveaway: Easter Stories, A Treasury of Read-Aloud Tales


My kids and I love candy, baskets, eggs, and the Easter bunny as much as anyone else and we look forward to celebrating with all of that at our house each year. It's a lot of fun to wake up Easter morning with a basket full of bright, spring colored goodies, isn't it?

However, as fun as that is it's not the only thing I want my kids to take away from Easter. I want them to know that there is much more to Easter than sugar and chocolate and more sugar, that the true meaning of Easter is far more important.

Easter Stories, Classic Tales of the Holy Season, helps to share the true meaning of Easter with read-aloud stories for the family. Not only are the stories Easter and Holy Week centered but they are also very well written, high quality, easy to read classics. The stories contain suspense and drama, perfect for capturing the attention of young listeners.

The 374 page softcover book contains 27 stories from authors such as Oscar Wilde, Leo Tolstoy, and The Brothers Grimm.

The book is illustrated with beautiful original woodcuts.

River and I have really enjoyed these stories. We haven't yet read through all of them (reading out loud makes me yawn, what's up with that?) but have enjoyed the ones we have read, and I look forward to sharing more with him.

More information about Easter Stories can be found here at Plough.com. Easter Stories: Classic Tales for the Holy Season is available at Amazon. com for $13.34, regularly $18. The book can also be found at Barnes and Noble and Indie Bound.

 Enter below to win your own copy of Easter Stories. Good luck!

Only one entrant per mailing address, per giveaway. If you have won a prize from our sponsor Propeller/Fly By Promotions in the last 30 days, you are not eligible to win. Or if you have won the same prize on another blog you are not eligible to win it again. Winner is subject to eligibility verification.

a Rafflecopter giveaway
Many thanks to Propeller Consulting, LLC for providing this prize for the giveaway. Choice of winners and opinions are 100% my own and are not influenced by compensation. I did receive a sample of the book in exchange for this review and post.

Cub Scout Leaders Gifts

Simple, easy, inexpensive leader gifts for scouts
Our awesome Cub Scout pack recently enjoyed it's annual Blue and Gold Celebration. I have no pictures of the event, or at least very few as I was running around in circles most of the day (Committee Chair side effect). But trust me, it was fun.

We opted to have our party at a huge park during the day, with the awards and Arrow of Light ceremonies first and then lunch. After lunch the kids got to experience a really neat climbing wall that the pack rented for the event. The climbing wall was an ideal activity - the kids loved it and they felt really good for accomplishing a skill they may not have mastered before.

In addition to all the awards the scouts earn every year we give leaders year pins, designating how many years they've been with the pack, to wear on their uniform. This year we decided to also recognize our three den chiefs and our other volunteers who do important jobs but don't wear "tan shirts". In total 27 leaders and volunteers were recognized. 27! That's pretty darn amazing and makes me so happy to be a part of our pack.

Simple, easy, inexpensive leader gifts for scouts, with cards for year pins

Instead of just handing them their pins I decided to give them mason jars with a few pieces of candy in them. The pins were the real gift, the jars were really just a slightly fancier way to package them - plus mason jars are pretty "in" these days.

Simple, easy, inexpensive leader gifts for scouts with thank you notes

Please understand that I'm not a paper crafter. I could be, easily, but I'd be more broke than I am as just a fabric addict. In an effort to keep a little money in the grocery fund I stick to only hoarding fabric. I had to work with what I had for these, with my limited knowledge of the art, so they could certainly have been fancier but they were fun to make.

Simple, easy, inexpensive leader gifts for scouts with Cub Scout logo lids

I created Cub Scout logo circles for the lids and printed them on heavy paper, then cut them into circles and inserted them. Simple card stock, in blue and gold, form the bases for the cards. The pin acknowledgement and "thank you" were printed on mailing labels, then cut, peeled off their backing paper, and attached to the labels. The tags did end up being a little wider than I'd have liked them to be, but I think they worked alright.

Simple, easy, inexpensive mason jar leader gifts for scouts with year pin and thank you tags

In the jars are various candies, individual packages picked up at a 90% off after-Valentine's clearance sale at Target. The blue striped bags were on clearance in the stationary section of Target.

The cost per jar was less than $1. 

Proud Mama ... my guy with his awards:

Thursday, March 12, 2015

TOS Review: Digital Science Online (Grades K-12)

Visual Learning Systems Review
When River began school this year, as a First Grader, I knew he'd use the same math and grammar his older siblings had used. After seven months I'm confident that he's doing wonderfully with those programs and all is well.

One area I've never really gotten a handle on, though, is science and history. We do it, but I've not found a routine with those subjects that fits right in with everything else we're doing. They far too often get moved to the bottom of the schedule and some weeks they are left out completely when we run out of time. So I didn't have a grand plan for River for those subjects. When he and I were asked to review Visual Learning System's Digital Science Online: Elementary (k-5th grade) and Secondary Editions (6-12th grade) I was more than happy to say, "yes, please", in hopes that this would be the answer to my "making it a priority" struggle.

Digital Science Online features engaging videos and teachers guides for primary (K-2), elementary (K-5), and middle/high school (6-12 grade) students, with many lessons covering a wide variety of topics. For this review we were given access to all levels for evaluation, however each level (Elementary (primary and elementary) and Secondary (middle/high school) is sold separately.

Digital Science Online Review for elementary through high school

Upon logging in to Digital Science the student is taken to a screen like one of the ones included in the collage above. They then choose a grade level and a subject. After opening the subject of their, or their teacher's, choice they are given lesson topics to choose from.

Digital Science Online Review for elementary through high school

After choosing a topic the student will see a screen giving them a choice of watching an entire video, about 15 minutes long, from introduction to lessons to summary to assessment, or to watch individual parts of the whole lesson. The assessment asks questions about the lesson for the student to answer verbally, more of a self-check or teacher-check than a pass or fail type of assessment.

Digital Science Online Review for elementary through high school

If the student just clicks "play" instead of choosing a chapter they will, by default, watch the whole 15 minute lesson, which is what River did. Watching the individual chapters would be a great way to go back after doing the lesson and reinforce what was learned or hit on areas that were a problem on the assessment.

Digital Science Online Review for elementary through high school

In addition to the lesson animations and images are available to study.

Digital Science Online Review for elementary through high school

The teacher's guide is unique to each lesson and contains aids like student activities/worksheets, lesson plans, and a guide to the video.

For the most part I gave River free reign with this program. He stayed within the elementary area and was able to study whatever he chose. While he did do a few of the worksheets and enjoyed them, he preferred to focus on watching the videos and doing the verbal assessment. He did Visual Science three-five days per week, depending mostly on the amount of time we had available to us.

 Overall, I found Digital Science Online to be a good supplement to River's curriculum. He enjoyed the videos and they kept his interest and focus. There are so many lessons that there's no way we could complete all of them and their worksheets in anything less than a few years. I liked that I could let him largely do this on his own and that he could check himself with the assessment. I also appreciated how easy it was to use the program - it made sense from the get-go and, if it hadn't there are very helpful tutorial videos available.

I would have appreciated a way to track which lessons River had already completed. On occasion neither of us were sure what lesson was next in line for him or which he'd already done.

River really likes Digital Science and is looking forward to continuing with the program. He likes the clear, beautiful videos and finds them very easy to follow and learn from. His favorite lessons were the ones in life science about animals.

Kaden, who was not a part of this review because he already has a full science curriculum, thinks the  the videos are very interesting and much more fun than his regular schoolwork.  Far too often he can be found watching with River instead of doing math or creative writing. Stinker.

Visual Learning Systems Digital Science primary and secondary levels are available for classroom use. Additionally, a homeschool edition is available for $99 per year and is available for either elementary or middle/high school.

After you check out the program please come back and tell me what you think!

Visual Learning Systems Review

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

St. Patrick's Day Bow Ties and Neckties

Green Gaelic Print Bow Tie for St. Patrick's Day, festive tie for men and boys

May there always be work for your hands to do,
May your purse always hold a coin or two.

Irish Green Gaelic Print Bow Tie for St. Patrick's Day, festive tie for men and boys

May the sun always shine warm on your windowpane,
May a rainbow be certain to follow each rain.

Green Bow Ties and Neckties for St. Patrick's Day, available for both men and boys

May the hand of a friend always be near you,
 And may God fill your heart with gladness to cheer you.

Celtic Green Bow Ties and Neckties for St. Patrick's Day, available for both men and boys

-Irish Blessing

Green Gaelic Bow Ties and Neckties for St. Patrick's Day, available for both men and boys

Orders to be delivered in the United States should be placed by March 8, 2015 for St. Patrick's Day delivery.

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

St. Patrick's Day Goodness For Boys from Birth to Teen

We've collected a wonderful grouping of Irish and St. Patrick inspired items for your special little Leprechaun. These items can all be found on Etsy, and clicking on the images will take you to the item listing.

We hope you'll enjoy these as much as you enjoyed the collection of men's Gaelic influenced decadence we shared the other day.

Fun St. Patrick's Day bookmarks
Leprechaun bookmarks at MyBookmark, $25.00

Newsboy Baby Cap
Newsboy Baby Cap by LittleBirdLucy, $26.99

Irish Baby Mobile
Irish Baby Mobile from PickUpSticksStudio, $43.00

Map of Ireland
Map of Ireland at HildaLee, $12.00

Shamrock Soap
Shamrock Soap Set from LeeAnnsHeavenScents, $6.80

Irish Cap
Irish Donegal Cap at TSBPhotoProps, $19.00

Irish Blessing Wall Hanging
Personalized Irish Blessing Wall Hanging by deSigns of Expression, $55

Irish St. Patrick Chaplet
Irish St. Patrick Chaplet from BaptismBracelets, $23.76

Small Wood Eire Oar
Small Wood Eire Oar at MadMorCreations, $30.00

St. Patrick's Day Onesie
St. Patrick's Day Onesie by LittleBumbleBees, $15.00

Irish Scally Hat
Irish Scally Hat from SweetnessinSmyrna, $23.99

Personalized Wall Art
Personalized Clover Wall Decal by VinylWallLettering, $15.00

Celtic Confirmation Jewelry
Celtic Confirmation or Communion Gift at Rosaries of Love, $29.00

Shamrock Tees for boys
Shamrock Tee's from 4AngelBabies, $19.94

Green Retro Irish Bus Print
Green Retro Irish Bus Print by designbirdie, $25.32

Celtic Soft Baby or Toddler Shoes
Celtic Soft Shoes from LittlePitterPat, $32.00

Printable Personalized Irish Invitation
Printable Irish Invitation by thepaperblossomshop, $12.50

Single Decade Irish Rosary
Single Decade Irish Rosary from plainsongprayers, $12.99

Celtic Nursery Art
Celtic Nursery Art by SweetPeonyPress, $24.00