Friday, 23 August 2013

Natural Wonders - TOS Review

In the Hands of a Child is a popular lapbook resource that I've have heard loads about so I was quiet excited when it came up on the review list.

We chose Natural Wonders for Lilly and Sunflower to work on - it's designed for grades 4th - 8th but it worked well for my 10yo and 8yo. We were send a pdf download that came with 'type it in', however I chose to print the work out because we need more handwriting practice : )
(NB if you do print it out you need to remove the words 'type your answer here' or it prints that in the activity)

The study is designed to be a short one and can be completed in 6 days, although with the suggested reading list you could easily stretch it out - we stretched it over a couple of weeks. I was able to assign the natural wonder, provide them with the research books and activities and leave them to it. They even decided the layout themselves and redesigned it around a world map with lines to each of the wonders.

The unit starts with a intro into lapbooking including pictures of the finished product as well as directions for how to fold each part, a short write-up about each of the natural wonders (includes all the information needed to fill in the minibooks), a related reading list, printables for the twenty activities that make up the lapbook, and three extension projects.  During this work the girls were introduced to some of the most famous natural wonders of the world including Angel Falls, the Aurora Borealis, Ayers Rock, Grand Canyon, Great Barrier Reef, Harbor of Rio de Janeiro, Mount Everest, Paricutin, and Victoria Falls.

I did pick and choose what activities to do as some were less relevant to us (a poll of your classmates to create a bar graph of the most popular natural wonders). They focused instead more the geography of the natural wonders in the lesson, learnt the vocabulary words, did additional research/reading and completed the activities for what we'd learned. The girls especially liked the the 'create your own liquid Aurora Borealis' activity.

I liked that it was a complete unit and contained all the information needed. I found the Vocabulary study to be helpful and it lead to some great discussions.

I felt this pack would have benefited from colour options - I know Hands of a Child only supply in Black and White due to customer request but I really felt the pictures of the Aurora Borealis especially would have been better in colour. Luckily I got some great books from the library with colour photos of the natural wonders.

Overall, this was a fun study to do and the girls seemed to enjoy it.

Natural Wonders is available normally for $12.00 but is currently on offer for $5.00

You can see what my crew mates thought of this and other 'In the Hands of a Child' products over at the TOS Blog

Friday, 16 August 2013

Reading Kingdom - TOS Review

We were offered the chance to review Reading Kingdom and both Sunflower and Tulip have spent the last month using their program.

Reading Kingdom is an online programme created by Dr. Marion Blank to teach reading skills using 'Six SIM' (6 Skill Integrated Method) that teaches reading and writing skills together to complement and reinforce each other. These skills are sequencing, writing, phonics, meaning, grammar and reading comprehension.

Your child starts with an assessment activity and the website then tailors the programme to your child's needs/skills. For example Tulip (6 - basic reading skills) had to start in letter land where she had to learn where to find the keys on the keyboard before she could move to level 1 whereas Sunflower (8 - excellent reader who struggles with spelling) started part way through level 1.

The lessons take about 15 mins a day and they don't require parental supervision. In fact they clearly state during the set up that you must not assist your child with their lessons. I must admit I found this difficult when Tulip would ask 'where is the R on the keyboard' - she wasn't happy when I wouldn't tell her :)The girls used this on average 4 times a week (they suggest 3-5 times a week)

Tulip loves the animations and the stories - she thinks of it as game time not her lesson time and often asks to do it more than one session a day. Sunflower likes scoring points to advance to new levels although she does get slightly frustrated at the repetitions.

I liked how the website adapted to each individual needs and how it targeted their weaknesses to help them improve. I also liked how it is easy for younger kids to understand what to do and it helps with their keyboard skills.

The parental section is a useful way to track your child's work and you can opt into emails to keep you updated with their progress.

Reading kingdom has worked well for us, especially for Tulip who has improved in leaps and bounds.
Reading Kingdom is designed for ages 4-10 and is available for $19.99 a month or $199.99 a year each additional child is at a 50% discount.
You can try Reading Kingdom out for free for 30 days to see how it works for you. 

You can see what my crew mates thought over at the TOS Blog.

Thursday, 15 August 2013


We had a great trip last week to the Falconry centre.

We were able to observe some wonderful birds (our favourite being the skipping vulture - picture 3)

and then listen to some great lectures and demonstrations where we picked up a number of interesting facts.

They have a free downloadable schools pack (at the bottom of their page) which has some great info on pages 3 & 4 about the different types of birds of prey.
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