embracing life and letting God


Big I.Q. Kids



Today we are venturing into the world of computer learning

Helping kids become and stay A+ Students

Big IQ Kids, an online, interactive computer program created for elementary and middle school ages children (K-8).  My 12 year old and 9 year old son's and I were privileged to review the Big IQ Kids 1 Year Premium program.  The plan we enjoyed include expanded SpellingInteractive Math, Interactive U.S. Geography, and Vocabulary.  These award winning programs are self-guided lessons that take 10 to 15 minutes for each subject. 

My children were able to easily navigate this site without any hindrances.  The computer 'tutors' verbally instruct students on what is coming up in the lesson and providing them information on each subject.  The tutors are probably the only thing that is a bit of a weakness in my eyes. The computerized voices of the 'tutors' are dry and a tad monotonous.  Otherwise, I would have no problem recommending this program to anyone. 

My son's are able to complete every lesson without any assistance from me.  It is just that simple!  Love it!  We enjoyed the U. S. States program the most.  The interaction with the map and the information is very interesting.  They click on a state and the 'tutor' gives information on the state with pop-up pictures accompanying.  Once the short lesson of the state is over they are asked one question.  They then have the option to go onto to another state for more Intro information or the next level quizzes.  12 Question Quiz, then State Spelling, then State Capitals, finally State Abbreviations. I found myself sitting with them just to find out what fun facts they were learning that day.  It's so interesting. 

We also used the Spelling and the Vocabulary on top of our other online spelling/vocab program just to enhance their learning.  I am all about them not choosing a video game or television over school.  So when you can make it fun, and Big IQ Kids does, they are going to want to learn.  The vocabulary program was great and would require a student be able to read well. 

The Math program was used once or twice a week for drills in reinforcement.  50 problems a day, students are timed as they complete each lesson.  Since there is no workbook to 'show their work' they are training themselves to use their mental math skills.  Challenging and Good for them.

Periodically Big I Q Kids sent me emails to inform me how my student is progressing or that my student did not complete one of the questions and how important it is for them to finish every lesson. 

For every lesson the student completes they are given 'rewards' of coins to use initially to create an avatar person that represents themselves.  Then they use the coins to play a multitude of fun, some educational games.  My boys LOVED this aspect.  They are video game lovers and really felt that it was worth learning to get to the rewards.  Thankfully, the games were not dumbed down or kiddie games.  They were actually cool, keeping my sons interested. 

I, mom and teacher, love that I am able to modify their lessons to fit our current rate of study with just a click of a button.  Each child is set up with his/her own account.  They have a log-in every time they enter the site. 

My Soaring Eagle (12)::: "I like how the more you learn the more you get to play.  I also, like that interactive map."

My Tender Heart (9):::  "I like the State and games."

So there you have it!  We like it!  And we will continue using these wonderful interactive programs. 

The blessing of this site is that as you get started it is FREE!  You are able to utilize these programs to really test whether it would be a good fit for your homeschool program.  Once you discover that Big IQ is what you are looking for they offer several different bundled Premium Plans and individual subject plans.  Be sure to take a look at their pricing plans HERE monthly ranging from $7.99 - $19.99 or 1 year plans from $39.99 to $99.99. 

To discover why you would want to choose the Free learning experience and the Premium Plans check out this informational video:::

My boys really enjoyed this program.  We think you would too!  So, Check it out for yourself:::

From My Heart to Yours,
Mindy B

I received this product free of charge for review purposes only.  I have given my personal, honest assessment of this product.
Read More


Artisitc Pursuit


Review Day


Today our homeschool journey has taken us
to the world of Art

Serving Preschool through 12th grade aged children, Artistic Pursuits curriculum's bring life to the study and practice of art with pleasant ease.   My daughter and I were given one of their curriculum books to review...

32 Lessons

Our review can be summed up in one word, :::JOY:::  Brenda Ellis [author] and AP Art curriculum have brought even more joy to my budding artist.  Case in point, every morning "Mom, can we do another one of these today."[holding up Artistic Pursuits book up for me to see]  She has had so much fun being creative and learning about new ways to 'see' art.

•Written to the student - NO teacher preparation is needed
:::Note:  you will need to purchase the supplies from the 'Materials' list provided:::
•Complete art history - Examining works of the Great Masters
•32 projects in each book include drawing, painting, printmaking, sculpture, and more!
•Easy organized system for handling materials
•Sharp color images printed on bright heavy-weight paper, soft bound

What I love the most is the way the curriculum encourages my student(s), through different methods, allowing them to express themselves through their art in their own way.  The curriculum does not tell the student to do things in a very certain way.  They are free to be as the artists they are studying.

Students are simply guided into drawing, painting, sketching, sculpting as landscape, still life or portrait or more.  They use what they see, shapes, texture, colors, imagination, etc.

The study shows an example of original art work allowing my student to understand the concept and really look deeper into each piece of art.  Then they give an example of another students art. 

My daughter is able to visualize these different examples and grasp the realness of the art in what she sees in her minds eye and then puts pen, pencil, pastel, water color to paper to simply create.

Artistic Pursuits Information
[excerpts gathered from http://www.artisticpursuits.com/]

At Artistic Pursuits Inc., we believe every child can understand the concepts of art and enjoy the process of putting ideas and visual images on paper. We're committed to the goal of helping children become visually aware of the wonderful world we live in, and be able to work in creative ways within this world. We offer parents and teachers a simple way to give children a quality art education that will prepare them to meet creative challenges in their future endeavors.

How We Teach Art

... Using ARTistic Pursuits, a child carries art tools to locations which both inspire and are chosen by the child. Creating truly personal work gives a child a sense of accomplishment that cannot be attained by copying from a book or watching an adult do it for him....Children examine and explore these key ideas by seeing them in their own world, in art works by the masters, through pages demonstrating techniques, and through art of their own and of others. Childhood development studies were foundational to the layout of the program. ARTistic Pursuits lessons offer children the right kinds of information at the right time. We expect a child to be a child and we value what they produce from their own hands. Projects do not try to force young children to draw like adults. Our projects do not require patience and discipline on the part of the child, which leads to frustration. Children don't need patience when their own interests and motivations are guiding them.

What you WILL NOT find in ARTistic Pursuits:

•NO formal exercises that make no connections to real world experiences. We will not ask your child to draw a page of straight lines, circles, cones, and cubes. The development of eye/hand coordination, which may improve with such exercises, happens more easily when children draw objects that they enjoy and are willing to draw.

•NO single technique to learning. This is not a book of step-by-step copy exercises typical of How-to-Draw books. The technique of teaching kids to draw shapes copied from a book page does nothing to help them draw real objects. ARTistic Pursuits employs a variety of drawing techniques practiced by all artists when drawing from direct observation.

•NO tiny boxes in which students are asked to sketch into. Artists don't work in 2" x 2" squares and we won't ask your students to do something that is physically uncomfortable. With a 9"x12" sketch book, they practice the type of whole hand and whole arm motion needed to make art. Art requires the use of the larger muscles of the hand (moving at the wrist), and arm (moving at the shoulder). Small muscle groups are used less often, therefore large sheets of paper are needed, 9"x12" or 11" x 14".

•NO kids sitting in front of the TV or computer screen. Assignments guide children to work from life. The stillness of a natural setting revives our spirits. To be in nature helps us to become keen observers of our surroundings and active in our participation. Children benefit from time spent observing, and learn to "focus in" and "ponder" rather than "tuning out" to harsh sounds and fast paced visuals that TV and computer programs present to them. One mom wrote, "My son took his ARTistic Pursuits book and art tools out to the pasture. He's been sitting there with his dog for quite a long time, drawing something in the distance. I couldn't be happier!"

Wonderful!  It is as they say.  We highly recommend this curriculum knowing that it would be an added treasure to your homeschool experience. 

You can find more age appropriate Artistic Pursuits curriculum's  and art supplies at www.artisticpursuits.com

 Also, find out what other TOS Homeschool Crew bloggers are saying at


The following are some examples of My Princess Girl's [and 1 from My Tender Heart] creations:::

From My Heart to Yours,
Mindy B
Read More


The Old Schoolhouse Homeschool Crew


The Old Schoolhouse
Homeschool Crew

Is now accepting applications for the 2011-2012 school year. 
If you are interested in being a part of this wonderful experience
you have until March 31st to go HERE and find out more!

From My Heart to Yours,
Mindy B.
Read More


Reading Kingdom


and today we are in
the Kingdom...

An online Reading program for elementary aged children Pre-k through the 3rd grade level. 

I began the program with my 5 year old daughter who is in the beginning stages of her reading development as a kindergartner and my 9 year old son in the 4th grade who is more advanced in his reading [just to get his perspective and encourage more development in his reading skills].  Though he is a 4th grader and reading above level, I wanted to get his point of view.  He felt the graphics and approach were a little 'young' for his age, as was expected.  But he worked well through the exercises, enjoying the ability to answer, without too much of a challenge. 

My 5 year old really enjoys the sights and sounds making this learning program fun.  Reading Kingdom is so full of color it really draws her in to the lessons and makes them seem like a game instead of school.

I have to say for any beginning and/or struggling learner this is a good choice to help them grasp more solidly letters, reading, writing and keyboard mastery.  Overall, we have been please with Reading Kingdom and look forward to getting even deeper into the program.  We would recommend this as a supplemental program to your regular phonics/reading program.

Now, As you enter the program exercises a cute little owl pops up and guides students through the different stages.

Keyboard and Mouse Training stage
This is the initial  stage of the program that determines your child's ability to use the mouse and the keyboard to complete the lessons.  There is one lesson a day to complete and can be done with assistance from you, the parent.

This stage was a bit frustrating to My Princess due to the fact that once she types in, as in the above, e m, she is not told that is correct,  it prompts her to type it again.  After a few sessions I realized that this was the process of having them learn by type over and over again.  But she found that be a mistake because she wasn't told 'right' or 'correct'.  Then once she was taken to the 'stage'  she typed the letters/words in correctly and the cheering begins.  Otherwise, this is a valuable teaching tool. 

Skills Survey Part One
This section is the stage of the program the determines your child's level of learning with reading and writing.  They see and hear the word and then type the word on the keyboard. 

Each skill is recorded as not yet started, in progress or completed.  These are the parents easy to read reports to track your students success. 

"A child is assessed on skills related to left-to-right visual sequencing and the ability to use a keyboard to type words."

My 5 year old was unable to begin in the left-to-right visual sequencing stage so she was directed to the Seeing Sequences and Letter Land to teach her better keyboard skills.  With fun, colorful pictures she is given memory and keyboard activities to complete. 

My 9 year old was able to breeze through this because he is more comfortable with the keyboard and is more advanced in his reading and writing.  He then is moved to the next levels.

Sentence completion

Auditory/Visual spelling

"The Reading Program that Is Customized for Every Child

Every child is different! We all know this instinctively, but our education system, due to budget concerns and historical precedent, tends to take a one-size-fits-all approach. Classroom teaching may aim to accommodate individual differences, but its group-based instruction places this goal out of reach. But the use of computers offers amazing new opportunities for customized teaching that is tailored to each child’s skills and needs.

The Reading Kingdom has been created with this in mind. As a child moves through the program, the path they take will be customized to their particular needs based on their previous interactions. Because of this, each child’s experience in the Reading Kingdom is unique. You could say that the Reading Kingdom is "kid customized".

You can see this right from the start with the Skills Survey. This is an activity that a child completes before starting the actual teaching. It assesses his or her skills in pre-reading, reading and writing. Based on the results, the program places each child at the point that is just right for his or her skill level. This prevents children from wasting time learning something they already know (which leads to boredom) or being faced with tasks that are too difficult for them (which leads to frustration).

Then, all the teaching activities that follow have been scientifically designed to take advantage of a child’s strengths and to help him or her overcome any weaknesses. For example, The Reading Kingdom:

is structured so that a child skips over words that he or she can already read and write. That not only saves precious time, but accelerates learning which adds to a child’s motivation.

offers tutoring techniques that enable a child to overcome any errors he or she may encounter with the material. That allows every activity to end successfully, with a resulting increase in levels of skill and confidence.

includes a Progress Check at the end of each of the five levels of reading/writing, to assess whether a child has mastered that level. If the achievement is on track, he or she moves to the next level; if it is not, a set of review activities is provided to bring a child to the level needed for continued progress.

Finally, there is another component that is vital to learning which is rarely found in most programs. It relates to having a sense of control over your life. Children, of course, do not have the option of deciding whether they want to learn to read. But the fact that reading is required doesn't mean that children cannot have a sense of control over their experience. The Reading Kingdom gives them this power by offering optional post lesson activities where they choose what to do . This optional component provides a sense of control that is invaluable in motivating learning."

The Reading Kingdom is a subscription-based online reading program. To get your subscription sign up for our 30 day free trial. After you've created an account you can purchase a subscription.

READING KINGDOM'S ~ 9 Reasons to Sign Up for the Reading Kingdom Today!

  • It's easy and risk-free. You receive a free 30 day trial. If after that you choose to start a paid subscription you can cancel at anytime for any reason at all.
  • It's the only program that teaches all 6 skills a child needs to read and write effectively.
  • It's kid customized. Unlike any other program, the Reading Kingdom customizes itself to a child so they don't become frustrated with material that is too advanced for them or bored with material they already know.
  • It's affordable, and if you can't afford it, you can apply to our scholarship program.
  • It's A LOT OF FUN so kids enjoy doing it.
  • Once you get them going, children can do this program on their own with minimal adult supervision.
  • Join a community of successful, happy people. Thousands of kids and ex-kids have used this program (in its previous offline form) to learn how to read and they RAVE about it. So parents and teachers. And we're committed to fostering a vibrant community of parents and educators whose children are using the program right now and want tips, advice, and mutual support.
  • Easily follow your child's progress with reports that are emailed to you or always available on our website.
  • When you sign up all of your information will be kept private. Spamming is rude, unethical and we don't do it."

The cost of the program is  $19.99 per month *or* $199 per year but if you have multiple children in the family each additional child is $9.99 per month.  You can sign up here.

From My Heart to Yours,

Mindy B.

I was provided free access to this program as a member of the TOS Homeschool Crew for review purposes only.
These opinions expressed are my own.

Read More


For Me? Oh, Thank You!

In the midst of some 'storms' and flu virus attacks, my blog received a Wonderful Award. 

Sweet Marie of Our Best Daze  blessed me with the Stylish blogger Award! Wow!  I am so honored. 

From Auntie Margs Blog & Twisted Monkey Scraps 11-25-2010 Pictures, Images and Photos

A part of the honor of this award is I must pass on the Love... 

Thank and link back to the person who nominated you.
Share 7 things about yourself.
Select 15 recently discovered stylish bloggers to receive this award.
Contact these bloggers informing them they have been selected and Bless their socks off!

First and foremost: 
Marie THANK YOU!!!!  Your nomination is a blessing to me in a time when I didn't know if my blog was making the impact the Lord intended. 

Seven things about me:
~Blessed wife of a lovingly patient husband I affectionately refer to as Captain Awesome (if you watch the tv show 'Chuck' you understand & the name is as it states - he's simply awesome) and sometimes Big Daddy and My Love.  He is my Mr. Steady.  He is an amazing leader who loves his family immensely.  I am truly blessed.

~Blessed mother of the 3 of the most loving, caring, smart, strong children. (I gush...they are my children.  Please forgive me)   And I homeschool them all!  Life is never boring.

Eagle 1 - 12 almost 13 years old.  Ugh!  that is so hard to type and accept and...never mind.  In preschool his 'indian' name was Running Buffalo.  His preschool teacher was determined to, because of his sweet 2 year old plumpness, call him Hoss from the old western tv show 'Bonanza'.  This, therefore, manifested into Running Buffalo for Thanksgiving dress up time.  Tall, slender, broad shouldered son is now kindly renamed Soaring Eagle.  We are blessed.

Rhino 2 - 9 almost 10 years old.  His 'indian' name in preschool was Gentle Giraffe.  It fit.  He was a quiet, tender-hearted little boy. And not much has changed over the years.  Except for the quiet.  LOL!  He has the strength of a Rhino, but a heart as tender as a lamb.  Tender Heart.  It fits.  We are blessed.

Princess 3 - 5 years old.  She is the embodiment of everything Princess.  From day one she has been delicate and girly but can fight with the best of them.  She is all ballet, twirly dresses, shoes, artist - drawing everything that comes into that sweet little head.  At the same time she is not afraid to get down and dirty and rough with the boys.  Precious Princess.  We are blessed.

~I really enjoy working on the computer.  Publishing a newsletter or processing pictures in Photoshop to bless family or a friend  Blogging.  In life, helps, ministry...I am a behind the scenes type of girl, for the most part.  I don't want to be front and center.  I just want to be of service.  Simply. The best way I know how.
 ~I am currently reading Ann Voskamps one thousand gifts.  Let me just say, I have NOT been more blessed, challenged, frustrated, and uplifted by one book, one concept in my life (Bible exluded).  I am moved.  It is as thought she wrote this book after listening to my heart, my thoughts.  I have begun my list and it is amazing what it has done to changed my perspective of my Abba, God, and my life.  You can learn more about Ann and her book at A Holy Experience.  She is amazing.

Memories invaded my 'gifts' this time...
#54 Soaring Eagle growing almost eye-to-eye with me
#55 How Tender Heart desires to care for us when we are sick
#56 Life - mine
#57 Adoption - mine
#58 Couples whose hearts are open to embracing another's child as their own - Thank you mom & dad.
#59 Truth, in the grip of pain
#60 God's unbelievable, overpowering, astounding Grace
#61 Fort Lauderdale Florida - roots discovered
#62 My daddy
#63 My momma          -      I am theirs.
#64 Glider rocker.  Expensive.  Purchased by my Gran to rock my son, her first grandson [8 weeks old]
#65 Surviving the first 3 years of motherhood as God molded me.  Clay.  Cutting. Squeezing. Forming... It was terribly painful, exhausting.  I wouldn't have traded those times for anything.

~I love Jane Austen.  Like most, I was introduced to the romance of Jane through movies, but I have read her "Pride and Prejudice".  I am and/or desire to be a more 'poetic' writer so the extended use of all the adjectives appeals to my literary self as it did Jane. 

~I am not perfect.  So many times when you read a blog the pictures, the ministry, the 'sharing from the heart' comes across as We've got it all together and those pictures display a perfect house or perfect family situation".   That could not be further from the truth.  I am a mess. I struggle. I waver. I forget how blessed I am.  But I have a Big God who can handle my stinkin' thinkin' and I am daily growing, daily changing. 

~Above all, I love God with all of my heart, mind, soul and strength.  I miss it and HE lifts me up. 

15 Blogs I recently discovered - Award them with the Stylish Blogger Award!
Here we go...(slowly, but surely)

1 ~ Capturing This Lifesong 
2 ~  Tea Girl
3 ~ Gently Metamorphing
4 ~ Encouraging Hearts at Home
5 ~ Abundant Life
6 ~ Dear Lissy

From My Heart to Yours,

Mindy B.

The Lord is gently leading me through my own one thousand gifts with Ann at A Holy Experience, join me, you will be immensely blessed.


Read More

© my own sense and sensibility, AllRightsReserved.

Designed by ScreenWritersArena