Visual Spelling Help

I love it when things fall into place.  I love it even more when I find that “thing” that makes something click into place for my kids.  I happen to have a young man who is a very right-brained speller. Learning to spell has been a struggle for him.  He needs to “see” his spelling words in order for them to ever have the hope of remaining in his brain. We draw our words, we color them, we make flashcards with them….. you name it, we do what it takes to get those words locked in long-term memory.

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When I was introduced to Lone Star Learning’s Greek and Latin Roots Vocabulary Cards…..  I nearly flipped with joy!  These cards are created for long-term memory retention for those right-brained learners!  These have helped spelling words “click” for my son.

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They are bright, colorful and easy to use.  Their silliness ensures that they will be remembered.

The cards are designed to be a vocabulary builder and the directions that came with them suggested a few ways to use them.  Read a card a day and discuss the meaning, use the root words to create acrostic poetry, make simple songs about the root words; were just a few of the suggested ideas.

How it worked in our house:

The cards came out of the package and were never left alone again.  They were so colorful and fun looking, Hunter (age 10) had a hard time leaving them alone.  He also didn’t like to do just one word a day, that didn’t satisfy his curiosity enough.  Often we would go through the whole stack, either all the Greek cards or all the Latin cards in one day.

The most used application of the cards was to reinforce his weekly spelling list.  We would find all the root words (that we had cards for) hiding within his spelling list and underline them in the word,  we would use the card to help us remember how to spell that portion of the word.  The root words that were found in our spelling list went to the front of our pile for that week so we would be sure to see them often.

We also had fun trying to think up all the different words we knew that contained our root word.  Some of the words that he “made up” with the root words were downright hilarious.

Overall thoughts on the product:

Mom:  Having the cards has made spelling time more enjoyable and more visual.  He has had an easier time listening and looking for parts of words to remember that help him spell larger words.  I noticed that right off the bat he was able to infer the meaning of the root word from the picture on the card.  Learning the short quick word parts has helped build a confidence with spelling that he has not had before.

Hunter:   I like that they are short and easy to memorize.  They have fun pictures that help me to remember the words.  I like the way they write the words, each card looks different.  It is fun to see how many of my cards are in my spelling words.

More by Lone Star Learning:

The Greek and Latin Roots Cards are only a portion of what Lone Star Learning has to offer.  They have much more to help your child learn in their Get the Picture Vocabulary Cards.  If you have a visual learner like mine, I suggest you check them out.

Greek and Latin Root Cards retail for $39.99 and contain 60 full color cards; 30 Greek Roots, 30 Latin Roots. The cards would work with a variety of ages, but would likely benefit those in grades 3-8.  We used it with our 5th grader.

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Exploring God’s Creation

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When you are out and about running errands are you ever caught by surprise at the wonder and beauty around you?  Have you ever sat a stop light in town and just glanced up to see the most amazing colors in the sky; greater than any artist could imagine?

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When was the last time to stopped to admire the dew on a spiders web or the intricate weaving of a birds nest?

Creation Illustrated is a family run magazine that desires to share with you the beauty and wonder of the world we live in.  Each article is full of wonderful color photographs that let you see nature up close.  The articles are well written and come from a variety of contributors.  Each article has scripture to share with us what God says about the planet he created. It isn’t just a magazine for your children.  It is a magazine the whole family can enjoy and discuss.

The photographer in me loved this magazine.  The photos made me want to grab my camera and start shooting.

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I really enjoyed the Genesis Cuisine section.  The recipes are easy to follow and great to make as a family.  My kids and I enjoyed the Mint to be Green Smoothie from the Spring Edition, oh!, and the Grilled Grapefruit and Green Dressing was delicious!

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If your family would like to try this magazine.  I would love to offer you a free introductory copy. Subscriptions are available for this quarterly publication for $19.95 a year, $37.95 for 2 years, $ 53.95 for 3 years.  If you live outside the US please visit their website:  www.CreationIllustrated.com for the rates that would apply to your location.

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disclaimer:

as a Schoolhouse Review Crew Member, I was sent a full year worth of Creation Illustrated for the purpose of this review.  No other compensation has been received.

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what’s for dinner at your house?

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Anyone Hungry?

Doesn’t that look good?  This is just one of the side dishes that you could be preparing for your family, with e-mealz, the menu plan option for busy and frugal people.

In case that isn’t tantalizing enough here are a few more pictures of the meals we made with this affordable, easy to use menu planning service.

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We enjoyed Quiche, Pizza, Orange Chicken, Mexican Casserole, Meatloaf, Fish n’ Chips, Italian Sandwiches,  Chicken and Cannellini Soup………  The list goes on and on!

All that variety, without digging through 40 cookbooks, and spending 3 hours planning a menu (I prefer a monthly one) and making a shopping list……. and then finally going to the store to shop for it all.  I suppose I should let you in on a little known fact about me.  I love to cook but hate to shop (hate it with the passion displayed by Rocky as he screams, ADRIENNE!!!!, yeah I hate to shop that bad.) Combine my aversion to shopping with the time needed to make a menu plan….  and you have a girl who will even choose to fold laundry over sitting down to plan a month’s worth of meals, and we really shouldn’t even begin to talk about my laundry issues…….

So what is a girl who likes to cook but hates to plan it, supposed to do?  Normally, I just go to the store and shop for the basic staple items, toss a few things into the cart that I have found inspirational as I trolled the isles, and I come home with food for about 2-4 weeks worth of meals.  Even though I hate to shop, when I do it, it lasts me for more than 7 days.  The other thing I am a stickler for is FRESH, whole. real. food.  I am a near expert on keeping veggies from going bad in the fridge so what I buy really does last.  Most of my shopping is done on the outer circle of the store, from local farmers markets and farms, and we also grow a garden.  When we were given the opportunity to review e-mealz, I was interested to see if it would be more cost effective than my current method of shopping, would the meals be easy and quick to prepare, and most importantly, would even my pickiest of eaters eat the food.

My only criticism, and it was echoed by my husband, was that many of the side dishes relied on boxed or processed foods.  Are they cheaper than eating out?  yes.  Are they still healthy choices for this family?  No.  To that end, I often substituted. The main meal was still delicious, we just didn’t get the boxed mac n’ cheese or the frozen potatoes, chips or frozen bread that was on the list. I just exchanged as I went.  My husband’s main criticism was that many of the first meals we ate were rice heavy.  This changed as we experienced more menus, but for the first two weeks he was wondering if he should turn part of the yard into a rice patty to help supply all the rice we were eating Smile  Past that, he deemed the food, “pretty tasty”.

E-mealz does a great job trying to tailor your menu to exactly where you might shop, taking advantage of whatever weekly specials the store might be having, saving you money and time.  They offer plans for Kroger, Wal-Mart, Publix, ALDI and Ralphs.  I only live where there is a Wal-Mart, and I personally do not enjoy their selection of produce, so for our review………  we chose to prepare meals from the ANY STORE PLAN. 

The ANY STORE PLAN is 7 meals, that feed 4-6 people, and helps you take advantage of the store with the best prices in your area, and in my town, that is NOT Wal-Mart!  All of the ingredients are easily found in stores and tend to be the items that cost less over all, such as burger, sausages, pot-roast, chicken……. those sorts of meats. 

As we worked through the menus we often substituted cuts of meat for those we already had in the freezer.  We purchase 1/2 a side of beef and pork at the same time, we also eat pasture raised poultry, so if a recipe called for chicken breasts, in our home it was often made with a whole chicken. This substitution didn’t affect the recipe’s at all.  I would also go through all of the fresh produce that was needed for the meals and check off the ones I could get out of my garden.  My menus that were taken to the store were a crossed out messy nightmare of things with the word “have” next to them or stars and check marks that indicated it was pretty important to the recipe and I needed to get that specific thing.  I also noted any changes we may want to make the next time we make the meal.

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Based on the ANY STORE plan,  I think their weekly menus are price comparable to what I would normally spend.  With our substitutions, and feeding 6-10 people, we usually spent about 50 dollars a week on the e-mealz, because we are a bigger family.  On the weeks that I shopped exclusively for e-mealz dinners, and our regular Lunch and Breakfast Foods, we spent between $100-125.  Which isn’t too bad for a family of 6 that often entertains and feeds extra people.

E-mealz met my expectations of being easy to prepare, cost effective, and feeding the picky eater (I have 1 and he ate all the meals!). Even though I really enjoyed the whole click and print, no-brainer part of the program, I am not 100% sure I would renew my subscription when it is over.  As much as I whine, I really like my once a month shopping.  I don’t like going every week. Maybe I will just save up a months worth of e-mealz menu’s and go once a month.  For this busy homeschooling family, having a plan, even one I might whine about, is essential.  If you don’t have a meal plan already, you need e-mealz on your team.

I would recommend e-mealz for new brides or families that have just had a baby. Did you know they have gift certificate options?  This would be a great kitchen tool for a new bride who may not know how to cook and a wonderful timesaver for new mom’s and dad’s.  For busy single mom’s, or a busy family with lots of activities, e-mealz is worth the investment.  You just print out the PDF menu, it comes with a shopping list, and hit the store.  In under an hour you will have 7 meals that take less than a half hour to prepare, and you family can save money, and remember what conversation and laughter around the dinner table was like.  I was able to save my menus to my computer so if there were some great favorites that week all I need to do is look them up and print them out. 

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$5.00 a month (billed quarterly) is NOT too much to pay if you are on the go and need some help getting good meals on the table for your family.  This service is for every mom who has opened the cupboard at 3 p.m. and wondered what in the world she is going to make for dinner.  Using e-mealz, you will KNOW what is for dinner and be prepared to get it done!

Make sure you check out all of their Low Carb, Vegetarian, Gluten Free, and Portion Control Plans.  Going on Vacation and need to feed a crowd?  They have one time purchase menus for meeting the eating needs of vacation groups of 12 and 24.  Are you empty nesters?  Don’t worry, there are plans for your sized family too!

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Check out e-mealz.com today and see if there is a meal time makeover plan that will fit your budget and help you to bring the family back to the dinner table. Maybe hop by their blog and see if they have a new recipe or a great coupon, or just some kitchen inspiration.

Many families tested out various Menu Plans from the e-mealz selections.  Please take the time to read their experiences at the TOS Homeschool Crew page.

Happy Eating!,

name gif

******disclaimer a.k.a. the legal mumbo-jumbo*******

As a member of the TOS Homeschool Review Crew, I was given access to e-mealz.com for 3 months, free of charge, solely for the purpose of this review.  NO other compensation was received, and I am not obligated to furnish a positive review.  All of the above opinions and experiences are those of this family as we used this product.

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I have a secret

I have a confession to make.

My confession will help you understand this particular review. I am supposed to be honest with you, a transparent homeschooling mom.  I need to get it off my chest……….  I homeschool and I don’t teach Latin.

There.  I’ve said it.  Now you know my dirty little secret.

Wait! there is more!……  if you don’t understand this about me…. you are not fully going to grasp what I have gone through for you, to bring you this review.  I shall explain.

TOS crew members have a very small voice in the items that we receive for review.  We are asked to comment on our level of interest for various products.  Then the review coordinators make the final choice, based on what best fits the vendor’s needs.  It is hard work, I don’t envy them in their decision process.

My level of interest comment about Latin review products went something like this:  “I would rather chew off my own arm, than try to teach Latin.  I can’t pronounce the words, it is miserably comical to watch. Please spare me and my children and choose someone else for this review.  However, if you need me, I will endure…”

Guess what?  The people that pick reviewers, have a wicked sense of humor and I received a Latin product to review.

When the package arrived in the mail, I whined, OH how I WHINED to myself, and now I will come clean and tell you about it, beyond whining……  I moaned. I had a “why me?? why must I be tortured” party…..

……and then I took a deep breath, put my big girl panties on….. and plugged in the DVD.  It was ten lessons.  How hard could ten lessons be?

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Such a nice young man greeted me.  He spoke with a sparkle in his eyes about Latin and why it was important to learn.  I had to fight the initial urge to think he was crazy.  My experience with Latin was far different from what this man said.  My experience with Latin was painful, time consuming, and embarrassing.  How could it be possible that it was really important?

With my big girl panties firmly in place……. I listened on……..  I will to give this program a fair shot, I will give this program a fair shot….. it has become my mantra.    It isn’t their fault I am allergic to teaching Latin.

I plug on through Lesson 1A.  Verbs, the State of Being kind….  ok… good to know….. Lesson 1B… Sentences….. a crowd is beginning to gather behind me on the computer.  Hunter who is 9 has ceased doing his Math and is repeating after Mr. Bright Eyes on the screen.  Did he understand that?  Evan and Tayler, in High School are laughing softly at his jokes.  Jeremiah (4) is saying Deus est bonus….  while driving his racecar across my lap. Hmmmm…. the kids seem to like it…. why is it I was allergic again?

Lesson 1C…. reading Latin… what?  you tell me one verb, toss me a few paltry sentences and now you want me to read it?  I think the Southern humidity (umidus) has fried this poor man’s brain!  And then he tells me that he is going to quit speaking ENGLISH?  oh here it comes…. this is why I was allergic.

What was my mantra again???

Lesson 2…. I shall press on. Set up is the same…  grammar, sentences and reading.  He is still speaking English….  this is good.  He is on to predicate nominatives, and predicate adjectives….  something I barely understand how to teach in English.  This is a bonus…. grammar lesson and I didn’t have to teach it.  Bellum. (beautiful) Wait? Did I just think in Latin?  Weird.  How is this possible after only two lessons.  Kids are still crowded around, still engaged…..  still chortling at very silly jokes…..

And so it went as we skimmed our way through the DVD.

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My mind is beginning to change on the possibility of incorporating Latin into our studies.

When we began again, as actual lessons during the week, we would watch a section and do the worksheet that was provided with it.  They are right there as a PDF on the DVD.  Pop it into your computer and print them out.  Very easy to do.  No one struggled.  No one whined….  I didn’t have to invent the way a word sounded….. it was all there on the DVD for me. If we didn’t get it… we went back and watched again. The kids were translating words within the very first page.  This program really gets them THINKING in Latin.   It was great!  (wait? did I just use GREAT to describe the teaching of Latin?)

So, if you are like me, and currently suffering from metus lingua latina (aka. Latin freaks you OUT!).

I highly recommend Visual Latin.  The creators are not joking when they say your child will ask to do their Latin.  Mine have, and still do.  They love it, even if you as the mom have no clue where to begin teaching Latin.  They guy on the video does!  He teaches for you! Painless, easy, non-time consuming….ahhhhhh…..

They offer a few Free Lessons, so you can see what it is like…. a try before you buy sort of thing. I would say that you could use lessons 1-30 as a High School level course.  But don’t limit yourself to only letting your High School students use it.  My 4 year old watched with us and learned Latin.  He didn’t do the worksheets, but he will when we review it again when he is older. My nine year old did the worksheets along with the videos and he walks around the house muttering sentences in Latin all day.  Good thing I watch with them so I know what he is saying….haha.   Visual Latin is for the WHOLE family.

They have lessons available for Download  or in DVD format like I received.  They even offer a live class.  Every option has worksheets that go along with it to help cement the lesson your child just watched.

Pricing ranges from $25.00 to $115.00 so please check their store out for the option that best fits your family budget. http://store.compasscinema.com/categories.php?category=Visual-Latin  If you ask me…. $25 is a heck of a deal!

If you would like to contact the company directly with more questions about how their program works, you can find them at:

The Compass Store

609 West Iris Drive

Nashville, Tennessee 37204

or go here for their email form.

I am sure there are parents out there who aren’t allergic to teaching Latin, who didn’t need to confess to the world their inadequacy in this area, when all the homeschoolers around them seem to just LOVE Latin…..  to read those parents reviews of Visual Latin Lessons 1-10, please visit the TOS Homeschool Crew page.

***** Disclaimer*****

As a member of the TOS Homeschool Review Crew, I received a DVD copy of Visual Latin Lessons 1-10 from Visual Latin, free of charge, solely for the purpose of this review.  It really has changed the way I view teaching Latin.  All of the above experiences and opinions are my own.  No other compensation has been received.

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Teaching Children about God’s Love

If there is one thing I would like to say I feel passionate about, it is teaching kids about who God is.  I am not one of those teachers that only like to tell bible stories and hit the highlights every year.  I really feel it is important to teach them the what and the why.  To me the Bible is so much more than a collection of stories.  It is a road map for living.

With this in mind I am pleased to let you know about THEO. A cute animated professor who is a student of God’s Word.  He along with his two mice Belfry and Luther, will help teach your children Biblical Doctrine, in a great easy to understand way.  I enjoyed watching the sampler DVD they sent us.  It contained the two episodes of Saving Faith and Good News. Both my younger children enjoyed them as well. 

They are reaching the home with these materials so that we can reach our communities. 

The creators of THEO have also created a DVD for Children’s Church Ministries complete with worksheets and material that will help you dig deeper into the Word.  Click on the picture below for more information.

There is an App for Theo as well.  Doctrine at your fingertips, being able to share the gospel with children wherever you are, is priceless.  Visit the iTunes store to download.

The creators of THEO are so committed to helping spread the truth’s in Gods Word, that they have a give away program in place.

The Buy 1 – Give 1 campaign! For every Theo DVD purchased, Whitestone Media and Child Evangelism Fellowship® will send a child in need their very own copy of Theo. You can log onto TheoPresents.com after making your own purchase, and select the region of the world you’d like another copy of Theo to be sent.

Pretty cool if you ask me.  In the spirit of spreading the Word, The creators of THEO want you to have a copy of this great introductory DVD.  Leave a Comment below, and let me know if you have followed THEO on Facebook or Twitter, I will draw TWO winners on Tuesday, Tuesday September 13, 2011.

Visit TheoPresents.com for more information on these great DVD’s.

Note: I received a sampler DVD of THEO for free in the hope that I would mention it on my blog. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255:

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Melodious Music

I have decided to branch out.  Pick up a few extra reviews….  expand…. So from time to time you might see CD’s or videos, maybe even movies reviewed this year.  Most of them will come with a chance to win the item I am reviewing….. so stay tuned, follow the blog through twitter, GFC, Networked blogs…. sign up for email RSS feed posts…. and stay tuned.

 

Today I am pleased to tell you about a new CD from Ginny Owens.  It will be available in stores September 13, 2011.

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Is this the point that I tell you, that until this CD came in the mail.  I had NEVER heard of Ginny Owens?  Just in case you are like me…..  here is a snippet from the bio on her website  ginnyowensmusic.com

Born and raised in Jackson, Miss., Owens was discovering melodies on the piano almost before she could complete a sentence. Songs began to emerge from her fingers as the vision began to leave her eyes and by the age of three.  A degenerative eye condition left Owens completely blind.  Despite her physical challenge, Owens pursued a music career.  Songs provide a window into a world Owens can’t see and an outlet for her to express her thoughts and dreams. Owens’ unique musical style and inspirational lyrics continue to appeal to Christian and mainstream audiences alike.

I really have enjoyed listening.  The tracks range from upbeat R&B, soulful jazz, retro big band style, and sweet introspective instrumental ballads.

When I first listened to the CD it was in the computer, playing while the kids were running around, I was trying to prepare dinner, the phone was ringing, chaos reigned.  The second time I listened was a quiet Saturday morning, with my favorite coffee cup filled to the rim….. I was able to close my eyes and just feel the different songs as they filled the air and really experience the range of emotions each song evoked within me.  It was great.

It is a blend of music that I envision playing often as we sit in a warm room reading our school books this winter.  I wouldn’t mind loading it onto my 9 year old’s  MP3 player, to help him balance out the Disney soundtrack he is currently addicted to.  (ugh!!)

If you would like a copy of Ginny Owens new CD  “Get in I’m Driving”, make sure you follow this blog and let me know how you follow.  Then, leave a comment at the bottom of this post.  I will draw a winner on Friday, September 16, 2011.

Happy listening,

name gif

Note: I received the CD mentioned above for free in the hope that I would mention it on my blog. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255:

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Homeschool Transcripts made easy

Are you freaked out a little bit at the thought of making a transcript for your high school student?

I know I was. 

I mean, I knew I could make one in a spreadsheet, or create one in a word document…… but that takes time.

Time is something I am short on these days.

I didn’t want to have to format, fiddle, rearrange, fiddle, format some more, do the math to make the GPA right…. ugh…  and hope that it looked all nice and professional.   I mean really, let’s face it…. coffee stained, handwritten transcripts are not the things that inspire a college to admit your little genius.

I am excited to tell you about an amazing product that I was privileged to be a beta tester for.

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This has to be the greatest thing since parents decided to educate at home.  It is SO easy to use !!

The getting started wizard asks you to name your school, enter the years you are creating a record for, select the grade point values of your letter grades, it gives you a helpful list of possible classes…. or you can just skip the wizard and get right to work setting up the program.

It is easy to add students, classes, subjects, and grades.  You can enter how many credits are needed to graduate your student.  (I found that information out by just searching the Internet for the graduation requirements for my state.)
If your student attends college classes, or takes honors classes, you can weigh those classes more heavily into their GPA….  The program does it all the math for you.  You can enter testing data, extracurricular activities…. and it will all show up on the Transcript.

About half way into the beta testing process, I contacted the developer with a question….  I wondered if we could add some sort of a progressive or projected GPA to the transcript.  You see, in my state homeschoolers are allowed to participate in Public School Sports programs……  but that means they need to have grade check like everyone else does….  Steve Sensenig, the homeschool dad and creator of this program, went right to work adding this progressive feature to My Homeschool Transcripts

Last week,  we were in the school office paying our fees for Softball…..  (she made JV by the way) and the Athletic Director came out and asked if there was a way I could get them Tayler’s grades.  I looked at him and smiled….  “Yes,”  I said.  “I will go home and email them to you this afternoon.”  I got that look, the one that says….  “sure you will, homeschoolers don’t ‘do’ grades”

Thanks to My Homeschool Transcripts, I was able to go home, plug in her 3rd quarter grades and in under 5 minutes I had a PDF transcript to email to the Athletic Director, with her projected GPA right on it.   HA!  It was great ! I felt so smart and organized !

This web-based application has an introductory price of $ 59.00, that is 25% off the regular price of $79.00.  For that price, you receive access to the application for LIFE….  all your kids, for all the years you homeschool…. how nice is that?  Including the 2 I have IN high school, I have 2 more still to go through high school and into college, and My Homeschool Transcripts is going to be there to help me do it !

This program is really worth the investment.  You can’t put a price on peace of mind.  Go and get it now at this great low price!

*** disclaimer***
I received a copy of My Homeschool Transcripts for free in exchange for beta testing the software.  No other compensation has been received.  I was not asked to write a review on this product and have done so of my own volition.  I just think it is a great product and people need to know about it.

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PG Key~ Product Review

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This is an amazing little piece of hardware, you never knew you needed, (well maybe you did…) and in this day and age, will not want to live without.
PhotobucketLet me introduce you to the PGKey.  The Keyware Corp in Arizona, has managed to provide an amazing piece of monitoring hardware for your computer, it is easy to use, and requires NO annual or monthly fees.
When this product arrived for review…. I read the box….  and then I started to get excited…  I started to feel like Jane Bond…. my inner spy was completely enthralled with the claims this product was making……..The box made some amazing claims.  I was looking forward to putting this baby to the test.
  • Have you ever wished you could “see” what the kids actually were doing on the computer… not just the web history in your browser? This product provided a DVD like playback system where you can view all the places a protected user has been.
  • Have you ever wished that you had a monitoring system that would disable your computer if they tried to pull it out? You decide when to allow access to the computer.  If you take the PGKey out, the computer can not be accessed without the key and your password.  If someone attempts to take it out while in use.  It will freeze access, and be disabled till you return with the password.
  • Do you long for Internet searches without the risk of stumbling onto offensive photos, or websites? In partnership with Google, PGKey has created a filtered search engine that automatically blocks undesired content from ever showing up.
  • Worried about cyber-bullying?  Wish you could record BOTH sides of chat conversations? Do your kids keep changing their passwords, in an attempt to hide things from you?  Just another one of the benefits of the DVD playback.  You can see emails, chats, anything that was viewed by that user.  No need to have their password.  If they view it, you can too.
If you answered yes to even one of these questions, the PGKey will be worth the investment.  It costs $49.99 and if you purchase direct from the website they charge $8.95 shipping, for a total of $58.94.  It is also available through Amazon, and this month will be available in an Office Max store near you.  They even have a free trial offer!
My PGKey experience:

The very next morning after receiving this little package of love, I was up and at the computer before the kids…. I plugged in the PGKey into the USB port… and picked a password…. and that was it.  Installation began.  It took me maybe 30 Minutes to pick out the websites I wanted to block, add our favorites list to the Key, and set my email notifications up.  I played around with the DVD like video play back and saw my activity setting up the key right on a little screen…. it was really cool.
I was feeling really, really proud of my sneaky little self.
 
Later that same day, I had to leave the house for an appointment. I had tested the PGKey… it had sent me and email notifying me that I had used the blocked words in a search.  I knew I had picked a website that my son loves to go to, I was confidant I was going to get an email alerting me he was playing on the computer when he should have been doing school.  See, in my house…. when momma cat is away…. the mice play… I knew I had laid the perfect trap!
 
When I got home there was no email.  I was feeling very proud of my children for being obedient and not playing games on the computer……….  Alas, my joy was short lived…..  my oldest came in and snitched on himself.  He asked me why the computer wouldn’t let him go to his game site.  This got me thinking…. He admitted trying to go there, but I didn’t get an email….. hmmmmmmm. 
The product worked.  It blocked his access.  He could not get on that site, no matter how many times he tried.  The play back option the product provides, indeed captured him typing in the game site into the secure web browser…. but no email… weird.
 
I figured my happy lil spy self messed something up, so I sent an email to the company’s customer service department to ask for help.  They replied very promptly, and were very patient with my questions. Turns out, I did not add every possible choice of words to my blocked list….  that was part of it… I had Addicting Games…. I should have added addictinggames to my blocked words list also….  The second cause for the lack of email notification was the dreaded drop down menu on search engines.  If my son were to type “add” into the search engine… it was likely addictinggames would drop down as a choice.  If he never finished typing the word and clicked the drop down choice…. I wouldn’t get the notification.
 
Needless to say…. this was just a minor glitch in my opinion….. the main components of the PGKey worked like a charm.  He was never allowed access to the website I blocked, and the playback feature caught every move he made.  I watched lots of YouTube clips of his favorite video games… (sigh).   I also told him to go ahead and try to hack his way around the safety features….  He was unable to get around them.  My daughter liked the fact that if she searched for something through the PGKey safe search, she didn’t have to be bombarded with unwanted images, or vulgar websites.   When my son, a night owl, wants to be on the computer late into the night, I can go to bed knowing he is protected.  The next day, I can open a screen and see exactly what he did.  I don’t have to wonder what places he may have visited, the emails he may have sent, or who he chatted with.  It is all visible with a click and a password.
 
I wholeheartedly recommend this product to absolutely everyone.  It should be used by everyone with a child, not just homeschoolers.  It is incredibly easy to use, and the peace of mind you are able to have for only $50, is well worth every penny. 
 
***Disclaimer***
As a member of the TOS Homeschool Crew, I was sent a PGKey by Keyware Corp. free of charge.  This unit was provided in exchange for my opinion of their product.

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