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Monday, March 29, 2010

Review: Family Mint


Family Mint is a new online service designed to help your children learn to appreciate and manage their money. It’s a simple accounting system, designed to be simple enough for an elementary student to use, and yet robust enough for a teenager to plan out their future financial goals. And it’s free!

As a member of the TOS Homeschool Crew, I was asked to use and review this free service. I received no compensation. This review reflects my honest opinion.


As the family banker, you’ll set up an account and then add “depositors.” The website provides a complete tutorial on how to use the site, so you won’t be left floundering. Each depositor can then choose an avatar and set goals for their money. The program will help them to keep track of their overall funds and their progress towards their goals. Additional features for the banker include option of adding automatic “deposits” (a regular allowance, perhaps), and interest to help motivate saving.

This is simply an online accounting tool, a way to keep track of money. It is not linked to any accounts. You’ll need to decide if the physical funds will be kept in a bank account, the child’s piggy bank or an envelope for safe keeping.


Our children are still quite young. While David (age 10) and Mary (age 6) have a good understanding of what money is and an inkling of what it represents, our family found that using an online accounting system was a tad too abstract for them. It depersonalized it too much for them. Holding the money in their hands and counting it out to determine what they can buy with it is more concrete and simply makes more sense to them at this age. While I applaud Family Mint’s mission to help children see money as a tool to achieve particular goals and to encourage them to save it, I think using an envelope system is probably more appropriate for our kiddos until they are more comfortable with seeing money in the abstract. In a few years, I’m sure I’ll feel Family Mint is an invaluable tool.

Family Mint is currently 100% free, though they may be adding more features in the future that may require a fee.

For more reviews of this product, please visit:


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Review: Math Galaxy


Finding the perfect math program (or collection of programs) can be a challenge, there are simply so many on the market. How to choose? We recently had the opportunity to try out Math Galaxy’s entire suite of math programs and worksheets (I’ve included the title screens so you can see all the topics covered):

  • Whole Numbers Fun (grades 1-4) for $24.95


  • The Whole Numbers Worksheet Generator for $24.95
  • Whole Number Riddles e-book for $12.95
  • Fractions Fun (grade 5) for $24.95


  • Fractions Worksheet Generator for $24.95
  • Fractions Riddles E-Book for $12.95
  • Decimals, Proportions and % Fun (grade 6) for $24.95


  • Decimals, Proportions, and % Worksheet Generator for $24.95
  • Word Problems Fun (complements the other programs) for $24.95


  • Pre-Algebra Fun for $24.95


  • Algebra Fundamentals for $24.95


  • Algebra Worksheet Generator for $24.95

As a member of the TOS Homeschool Crew, I received free downloads of Math Galaxy’s software and e-books for review purposes. I received no financial compensation. This review reflects my honest observations of this product.

Math Galaxy is a series of simple, straightforward computer programs that “tutor” your child in various math topics. The idea is that the student can focus on weak areas, rather than going through every topic. While there are some “review” topics offered that give a fuller explanation, this is not a full curriculum, but a supplement that offers plenty of additional practice.

Problems are set up so you can choose to answer them “step-by-step” or just give the final answer. In either case, the computer “shows” how you arrived at the correct answer through visual manipulatives once you give the correct answer.

There are no distracting sound effects. Graphics are very simple. Perhaps a bit too simple in some cases. Some children may have difficulty linking these round balls with coins:


Explanations that are given tend to be reading intensive, as there is no sound. If your child is not a strong reader, you will have read the explanations to him.

Problems are randomly generated and the programs keep no record of progress. Each session is a blank slate. The advantage is there is no need for multiple profiles if you are using the programs with multiple children and there’s no limit to the number of children who can use the programs. But the disadvantages are numerous. There’s no way for you, as the parent, to go into the program and find out how many problems your child completed, what types of problems he completed, how many he got correct or incorrect, or which problems he is having problems with or anything like that (unless you are standing right next to him, watching).

There is no gradual increase in difficulty in a problem set. So a child who has a basic understanding may become discouraged when they get several difficult problems in a row.


“Robots” are the main reward in Math Galaxy’s math exercises. For every correct answer to a problem, the student earns a robot which can be used in a little arcade-type game called “The Labyrinth.” If your child answers a problem incorrectly, they will get 2 more chances to get it right. And if they still get it wrong, the computer will give them the correct answer and still give them another robot to use in the Labyrinth. Since each problem earns a robot, your child could answer a few 2-second questions and then spend the better part of an hour playing the Labyrinth.

There are other games that are more of a challenge, including the “Math Riddler” (solving math problems to “decode” a riddle) and “Bridge the Swamp,” which requires some strategy and math skills.

I found the math exercises to be time intensive, especially using the “step-by-step” option. For a double digit addition problem, for example, the computer asks you what digit goes in the ones column, then tells you if you are correct, shows adding up the ones, puts that digit in the ones column, asks you how many tens you are carrying, and so on. Giving the final answer is not much faster.

The worksheet generators are similar to other worksheet generators I’ve seen and used online, with one main difference: they offer hundreds of “riddle” worksheets in addition to the more traditional worksheets. My 10-year-old, who likes all things having to do with spies and despises worksheets in general, didn’t mind these as there was a riddle to solve and only a handful of problems per sheet. One problem: once he had solved a few of the problems and filled in those letters, it was easy for him to guess what the riddle’s answer was without solving all the problems.


The e-books offer a selection of the same worksheets in pdf format, simply print a handful or the whole book as you need them.

Math Galaxy system requirements: Windows 98 or later or Mac OS X and a CD-ROM drive for installation. My machine is running Windows XP. The programs installed and ran with no problems.

Software is available on cd (ships free!) for $24.95/program. License entitles you to install to one computer. E-books are available for download for $12.95 each.

You can access many of the math exercises as Java Applets on the Math Galaxy website for free, as demos.

To read reviews of this product by other homeschoolers, visit:


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Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Review: Seasons of Faith from CBH Ministries

CBH Ministries, known for the Children’s Bible Hour radio program, has produced a series of 4 books based on radio scripts from that program. Each book includes a cd with an audio recording of “Uncle Charlie” reading the book, complete with tones that indicate when to turn the page. The books are built upon the idea that there are different Seasons of Faith, with various challenges that can be overcome through the love of our Savior, Jesus Christ. You can read CBH Ministries’ statement of faith here.

As a member of the TOS Homeschool Crew I received the 4 books from CBH Ministries Seasons of Faith Series for review purposes. I received no other compensation. This review reflects my honest opinions.


Race with Midnight, illustrated by Robert Sauber- Becky is eager to share her Christian faith with her cousin, but anxious about being up to the task. This is the Spring Season, when “Christians begin to share the Salvation message with others.” (Text in quotes comes from the books' back copy.)


You Can’t Come In, illustrated by Robert Sauber- Zack discovers that just as he needs help to remove the mud from his clothes before he can enter his home, he needs Jesus to wash away his sins before he can enter heaven. This is the Summer Season, “when faith grows under God’s love and care.”


Seventy Times Seven, illustrated by John White- Brad learns first-hand the consequences of being an “unforgiving servant.” This is the Autumn Season. “Times of struggle and temptation, peer pressure, making mistakes and scary transitions happen in this season.”


Braving the Storm, illustrated by John White- Carlos’ family is going through a difficult time in their lives of upheaval and change, and learning to count their blessings after the storm is over. This is the Winter Season, when God “teaches us to lean on Him for comfort and peace.”

These are 10” x 8.5” paperbacks with glossy covers and heavy weight pages. Sound quality on the cds is good, with plenty of tracks, making it easy to find your place if you have to pause.

Illustration styles vary widely when it comes to children’s books and I’ll admit there are many children’s books I simply don’t like the looks of. John White’s illustrations are fine, not outstanding, but nice. Our family simply didn’t care for Robert Sauber’s illustrations, but I thought I would include an example so you can see what you think:


The stories themselves are told in a simple style, easy to understand. I appreciate the positive messages, but the characters are a bit flat and unrealistic in how easily they change their attitudes to come around to the right way of thinking from one page to the next. Of course, the point is to make a point. Perhaps that’s why the books didn’t really appeal to my family. We’re more accustomed to reading books whose primary goal is to tell a story. The point, in the hands of a gifted author, tends to make itself known without the author having to tell you what it is.

Each book ends with a page that presumably would be the end of each Children’s Bible Hour---how to get saved. The doctrine portrayed in these books is not in line with Catholic teaching, though I don’t think reading them is a problem for children grounded in their faith. We skipped the “getting saved” message at the end. The first two books are on witnessing place more emphasis on doctrine, whereas the other two place more emphasis on finding strength and wisdom in the Bible.

Each Seasons of Faith book is available from CBH Ministries for $10.

For other reviews of this product, please visit:


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Friday, March 19, 2010

Review: Homeschool in the Woods


I’ve never seen a product by Amy Pak of Homeschool in the Woods (HSitW) that I didn’t like. Last year I had the good fortune to review HSitW’s New Testament Activity Pak and was deeply impressed with the incredibly detailed artwork. I was thrilled to find out that this year we would be reviewing the Brand NEW Old World Style Maps.

As a member of the TOS Homeschool Crew, I received free downloads of the Olde World Style United States Maps and the Olde World Style World Maps from Homeschool in the Woods for review purposes. I received no other compensation. This review reflects my honest opinions on these products.

FrameForHomePage The Olde World Style United States Map Set includes:

  • Maps of all 50 states, plus Washington, DC, in 3 different formats: labeled, unlabeled and just the outline;
  • Student notebooking pages and teacher keys for all 50 states;
  • State flags to color and cut out to add the the notebooking pages;
  • And various maps covering different eras of U.S. history, including the 13 colonies, the Louisiana Purchase and more.
  • The entire set is includes over 170 maps!

The Olde World Style World Map set includes:

  • Maps of different parts of the world for both ancient and modern times;
  • Political maps, physical maps, and unlabeled maps;
  • Over 40 notebooking pages, including a template for making a travel brochure, and various templates to report on whatever topic you choose, including world religions and cultures;
  • Full-color flags to print, cutout and use to enhance your projects;
  • Various specialty maps, including maps of Paul’s Missions.

You can download samples from both sets here.

Together, these will probably cover just about any map need you might have. The inclusion of unlabeled maps makes their use even more flexible.

The maps come in pdf form, either as a downloaded zip file or on cd. Rather than plowing through a folder full of pdfs, you’ll double-click on a “start” program which will open an attractive and easy to navigate menu in your default browser. Nice and convenient.

But what really sets these maps and notebooking pages apart from others I have seen and used is their very high quality artwork. Each map is hand-drawn, and once your child adds some careful coloring with high quality colored pencils…

watermarked map …you’ve got something genuinely impressive to add to his portfolio. Or even frame and hang on the wall (the watermarks do not appear on the actual product). I intentionally left part of this uncolored so you could see the detail in the blank map itself. These maps are gorgeous. And we love maps around here, especially antique maps. Our family will get a lot of use out of this set all the way through high school.

As much as I love this set, there are a couple of things that could be improved. I would have liked to use the U.S. Political map as an overlay to the U.S. physical map (both from the World set), but the 2 maps are not drawn to the same scale. On the one-hand, this is good, they are 2 unique maps rather than something added to another. On the other hand, this limits my ability to combine them. I’ve found doing maps with overlays is a great way to bring various aspects together. This was disappointing, I haven’t checked all the world maps, but so far, only the U.S. map appears to be in 2 different scales.

And while each map has an ornate box with the title and scale, there’s no room in the box to add your own symbols. You’ll have to add another box if you want to add a legend, which seems a bit of a shame. It would be nice if the title/legend box were a little oversized so it could be added to.

The Olde World Style U.S. Map set is available:

  • as a download for $18.95
  • on cd for $19.95

The Olde World Style World Map set is available:

  • as a download for $18.95
  • on cd for $19.95

Or buy the complete set:

  • as a download for $28.95
  • on cd for $29.95

You can read other reviews of this product here:


Tuesday, March 16, 2010

CLOSED Review and GIVEAWAY: Uberstix Uberpult

031510 002

The Uberstix Uberpult (for ages 8 and up)---a kit obviously designed with learning in mind. The Uberpult comes with everything you need to build and test your very own catapult, including 177 Uberstix, an instruction booklet, 2 plastic spoons, 4 rubber bands, and even a lab sheet for recording your results. The kit also includes a little explanatory sheet on simple machines and instructions for making a “Minipult.”

031510 006 I found the instructions simple to follow, though my almost-10-year-old pointed out they were a little vague in a few places…since the kit is intended for ages 8 and up, I’ll have to bow to his judgment. He said he would prefer larger pictures, with the new pieces being added highlighted, and to be told ahead when multiples of a particular construction are needed. I would also like to see actual instructions on how to fire the catapult. It is not completely obvious from the construction and the only clue you get is from the picture on the front of the box.

031510 012 The catapult went together fairly easily (a few pieces were hard to slide together and required Mommy power), though my son, who is already a skeptic, ahem, insisted throughout that arm was much too long to get any real distance. He was right, of course. But the makers of Uberstix thought about the need to modify the design. They actually include more pieces than you need to complete the catapult as directed. David created a shorter arm (he didn’t even have to disassemble the original one) and the catapult went from firing the projectile a couple of feet to over 10 feet! Pretty impressive.

A few notes:

  • The Uberpult is a tad unstable when firing on a hard surface (you’ll want to fire with one hand, and hold the Uberpult down with the other), but was perfectly fine on a carpeted floor.
  • The Uberstix themselves are flexible and might be prone to breakage, though none have broken on us. Uberstix, very cleverly, touts breakage as an advantage! Broken Uberstix can be trimmed, sanded, and transformed into unique pieces otherwise unavailable.

And what do I love about Uberstix?

  • They have been engineered to work with any of the major building systems already on the market and a number of household materials, greatly expanding the creative possibilities.
  • Many of their kits encourage the use of recycled components, like plastic spoons and plastic water bottles to create functioning projects.
  • Moving joints make your creations do something, and they give educational support for understanding the why behind it.

I received one free Uberstix Uberpult 183 piece set from for review and promotion purposes, and the promise of one identical set to be sent to the winner of this giveaway. I received no compensation. The opinions expressed in this review reflect the experiences of me and my family.

Buy it:

The Uberstix Uberpult is on sale right now at for $19.29! That’s 23% off the retail price.

Win it! has generously offered to send one Uberstix Uberpult to one lucky reader! This giveaway is open to residents of the U.S. and Canada.

Please read the instructions carefully. You must leave a separate comment for each entry. If your email is not visible in your profile or you use the anonymous option, you must leave your email or web addy in your comment so I can contact you (you can use the name at somewhere dot com format). If there is no contact info, you will not be included in the draw.

Entries will close on Sunday, March 28th at midnight EST. Each comment will be assigned a number and one number will be chosen at the next day. The winner will have 48 hours to reply to my email. If I don’t here from him/her before then, a new winner will be selected.

  1. Mandatory: Visit and tell me about something you like on the site. (No other entries will count unless you do this one.)
  2. For 1 additional entry: Follow me using the Google Friend Connect widget in my right sidebar (I’ll follow you back!). If you already follow me, leave a comment telling me.
  3. For 1 additional entry: Subscribe to my email feed (see right sidebar). If you already subscribe, leave a comment telling me.
  4. For 3 additional entries: Blog about this giveaway, be sure to link to this post. Include a link to your post in your comment.
  5. For 1 additional entry: Follow me on Twitter. Leave your Twitter id in your comment.
  6. For 1 additional entry: Tweet this giveaway. Link to your tweet in your comment. You may copy and paste the following for your tweet:
Win an Uberstix Uberpult from at Homeschooling Hearts and Minds: Ends Mar28

This Week's Carnival of Homeschooling is Up!

At Homeschooling. Lots of great posts here, so be sure to check it out when you are looking for a little encouragement or new ideas.

Tuesday’s Toolbox

Tuesday's Toolbox button

We just finished a unit study on the Wright brothers and I stumbled across this site. In addition to providing a brief biography on the Wrights, as well as activities, a bibliography and glossary, the site links to a number of animated demonstrations, and even a few video clips prepared by NASA, which explain pitch, yaw, roll, camber and angle of attack. A few of the links on the site are no longer good, so be sure to check it out ahead of time.

View previous installments of Tuesday's Toolbox here.

To participate in the meme, please sign MckLinky with your post for Tuesday's Toolbox, and feel free to use an old post if you like. Be sure to link back to this post so your readers can check out other ideas.

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Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Homeschool Library Builder

Homeschool Library Builder is a joint endeavor by two homeschooling families, the Huffmans and Weatherfords in Flower Mound, Tx. Their offerings range from used to new books and each book is rated for condition. Many of their books are remainders in new condition. And many of their prices can't be beat.

And if you become a member (it's free!), you will also receive an HSLB book point for every dollar you spend. For every 15 book points you earn, $1 will be added to your account to use towards your next purchase. Spread the word about Homeschool Library Builder and earn more book points. Click here for more info.

Use the search engine to look for a particular book on this site, browse by category, or if you are looking for books used in Ambleside, Beautiful Feet, FIAR, Sonlight, Tapestry of Grace, or by Veritas Press, check out the "Search by Curriculum" option. While you're there, check out the "HELPING HAND" category. Currently, all the proceeds from this category will go towards sponsoring a child through Compassion International.

HSLB's regular Media Mail shipping rates are quite reasonable, starting at $4.50. Priority Mail and International is a bit steep and may wipe out any savings, so be sure to calculate your shipping when considering placing an order.

They accept Visa, Mastercard, Paypal and checks from a US bank. If you pay by check, your payment must clear before your books will be shipped.

While I would not expect to do all your homeschool shopping here, this site is definitely worth a look. Be sure to check it out: Homeschool Library Builder

Disclaimer: This post is part of the TOS Homeschool Crew review program. I received no compensation.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Tuesday’s Toolbox

Tuesday's Toolbox button

I recently came across a great vendor that I have to share: Bare Books. They have bound bare books, spiral bare books, bare comic books, bare journals, bare board games…the pages of their site are strikingly bare (grin). I recently received my first order from them and was pleasantly surprised by the quick service and the very high quality of the goods and the very reasonable prices. The Printed Gameboard Kit comes with a sturdy gameboard, dice, six wooden pawns, a spinner, play money and bare cards, all in a sturdy reusable box and all for only $7.95. This is going to be great, much better than the cardstock board with paper stand-up game pieces I’ve concocted in the past.

David has been interested in drawing Manga and creating comic books, so I also sprung for some bare comic books and a call-out template. I added a few other things like some large spiral-bound bare books, and journals to meet the minimum order. That’s the only drawback: a minimum order of $25. But, the shipping is only $3.50. Can’t beat that. Is there a particular company you’ve come across, maybe a little off the beaten path, that provides cool tools for your school?

Note: This post was unsolicited and uncompensated. It reflects my personal experience with these products.

View previous installments of Tuesday's Toolbox here.

To participate in the meme, please sign MckLinky with your post for Tuesday's Toolbox, and feel free to use an old post if you like. Be sure to link back to this post so your readers can check out other ideas.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Review: Graphics Toolbox


Did you notice my new blog header and background? I’d been thinking about giving myself a new look for awhile, and I had a bunch of digi-scrap elements I liked, but, I’ll be frank, I’m definitely not a graphic artist. That’s where Graphics Toolbox comes in.

As a member of the TOS Homeschool Crew, I received 1 free license to Graphics Toolbox from Great Software Tools. I also attended 3 online training sessions. I received no compensation. This review reflects my own honest opinion based on my personal experience using the product.

After puttering around in the graphics programs I already had, I put my blog graphics on the back-burner. I just couldn’t get the elements to mesh together the way I wanted them to, and trying to change the colors of those flowers to work with the papers…forget it. So, I was excited to try out this professional-grade program and see what it can do. Graphics Toolbox (GT) is designed with the average person in mind. The interface is icon-based (no pull-down tabs like you’ll see in most windows programs), so it’s easy to pick the thing you want without having to remember a fancy name for it or what menu it’s under. But while the interface may look like child’s play, it’s really a very powerful tool that can give you professional results.

I could easily write a book on GT and still not cover all the different features, so I’m going to concentrate on a few of the key features that really distinguish this program from others I’ve used (and that helped me make my awesome new header and background).

When you open up GT, instead of finding a piece of paper to fill, you’ll find a workspace that represents more of a desktop. When you load a picture file, you’ll be able to place it exactly where you want on your desktop and you’ll have plenty of blank space around it to load other elements or create some new ones. When you save, you’ll have the option of saving the entire workspace, or you can “frame” and save any portion of it you choose. This was a fabulous way for me to work on my blog header and background on the same page at the same time. Rather than juggling a couple of windows to compare them and see how they worked together, I was able to open them up in my workspace at the same time, and yet save them as individual files.

gt workspace

The zoom and pan functions are awesome and nearly seamless. Ever get frustrated because you were trying to select a section that is larger than will fit on the screen at one time and you couldn’t get it to scroll? Not a problem at all with GT. A right click with your mouse on the workspace edge pans your view in that direction. Use your scroll on your mouse to zoom in or out. Prefer keyboard shortcuts? They’re here, too, or click a particular zoom level in your on-screen controls.

The irregular cropping tool works great with the zoom and pan. Check out the before and after:

1maryapronsfront 1maryapronsfront crop

You can select an irregular shape in other programs as well, the difference here is the zoom and pan functions are so easy to use you can move it around as much as you want to get the exact outline. Make a mistake? Just back up a few steps and try again. Select “transparent” for the background and pop your subject into another background.

Brilliant color! Most graphics programs have eye-dropper tools for selecting colors, a color spectrum and options for choosing particular RGB or CMYK values. You’ll find those here, but GT also has a massive color library to choose from. Looking for a color a few shades darker than your selected color? Use the “color finder” to locate your color in the library and find other shades that will work well with it. Create a color card for each project with “chips” of all the colors you’re using. You’ll be able to use it to color coordinate future projects.

gt color finder

And GT solved my problem with the flowers not matching my chosen color scheme. You see that little dark blue flower? It used to be bright pink:

gt pink flower

GT’s “tonal color change” allowed me to tweak the colors until everything meshed together. This was fun:



I love the precision it gives me. I can pair the zoom with the crosshairs mode and get exact placement for my elements. The zoom is also great for making little “fixes” like removing facial blemishes. I can even zoom in close enough to change single pixels and erase things like crow’s feet.

I could go on…I haven’t even scratched the surface…but I think you get the idea. This is an extremely versatile program. Go to the Great Software Tools website for a complete list of features. And while you’re there, check out the featured projects.

There are a few things to be aware of.

The learning curve for using GT is pretty steep, and even after using the program for several weeks, I’m still learning about everything it can do. The interface is very different from other windows-based programs and not what I would describe as intuitive. The manual (a pdf accessible directly from the program) provides an excellent tutorial of the basics. You’ll also find a number of tutorials available for free on Great Software Tools’ website. TOS Homeschool Crew members were able to take part in on-line training sessions that I found to be very beneficial (some of these training sessions are now available on the website). Individual training is available at the rate of $65/hour. Expect to spend a good bit of time learning the program.

GT is not a vector program that works with layers, but a pixel painting program. Think of it this way: instead of having elements that you can click on and move around freely as you would in most digital scrapbooking programs, once you put an element down, it’s a little like gluing it to a piece of paper. If you cut it out, you’ll be left with white background where it was. Lynda Holler at Great Software Tools says that layer programs tend to be harder to use because it’s too easy to lose track of what is on what layer. Transparent layers can be hard to click on. While I agree that this can be the case with some programs, I’ve also used programs that give me an index or picture list of my layers. You just click on the object you want in the list, and it is selected for you. Then you can move it around, rotate it, and place it. Change your mind? Select it again and move it. Or even delete it. You cannot do this easily in GT. Frequent saves are your friend here, as you can go back to a previous version if you decide you don’t like a change you made. There are advantages and disadvantages to this, depending on your application.

GT is not a word processor. While you can add text to your graphics, you cannot go back and change it if you make a typo. If you are using a lot of text, it would probably make more sense to create the graphic part of your project in GT, then paste it into a word processing program and add your text. Again, this is because your text is not a separate layer, but actually “painted” on the graphic.

I tried out my graphics tablet with GT, but found that free drawing with it was very jerky, not smooth at all. To be fair, this may be in part due to our graphics card. Our super fast graphics card fried a while back and we haven’t replaced it, so we are relying on the onboard graphics card. However, I’ve been able to get smooth rendering while using the graphics tablet in other programs.

GT is very memory intensive, I would avoid trying to use it while using another program at the same time, especially if you are at the minimum RAM requirements. Loading times for large graphics seem a bit long.

Much as I’d like to say that Graphics Toolbox will fill all your graphics software needs, it probably won’t. It’s a fantastic tool that will give you professional results, but I think you’ll find it is best used in conjunction with other tools, depending upon your application. To find out if Graphics Toolbox is the right tool for you, download the free 30-day trial and try out some of the tutorials.

System requirements for Graphics Toolbox:

Windows NT, 2000, XP or Vista 32-bit (will not run on Vista 64-bit). Minimum memory requirement: 512 MB RAM; 80 MB hard-disk space

I’m running it on an XP machine with 1.47 Gigs of RAM.

Graphics Toolbox is available for $149 for a single, one computer license.

Find out what other homeschoolers thought of this product:


Monday, March 1, 2010

Tuesday’s Toolbox

Tuesday's Toolbox button

My dear 9-year-old has a fascination for all things WWII. Submarines, naval battles, aircraft carriers…atomic bombs. How about building a Plastic Hydrogen Bomb? Now, don’t go all ballistic and sic the CIA on me! We’re not talking about a radioactive device of mass destruction, but a simple Science Toy You Can Make With Your Kids at home:

It sounds like the perfect terrorist weapon, but it is a toy that teaches the principles of electrochemistry. It's also a high-tech squirt gun.

The Plastic Hydrogen Bomb uses electricity to break apart water molecules into hydrogen and oxygen. Then it uses a spark of electricity to explosively recombine the gases into high pressure steam, which propels a stream of water high into the air.

There are several other awesome projects on this site, including a film can cannon, a homemade vacuum pump, a rocket engine…What I love is how everything is explained step-by-step with plenty of pictures and diagrams (I’m very visual), and there’s a full explanation of the principles behind the toy. A little advanced for my crew, but something to bookmark for later on.

View previous installments of Tuesday's Toolbox here.

To participate in the meme, please sign MckLinky with your post for Tuesday's Toolbox, and feel free to use an old post if you like. Be sure to link back to this post so your readers can check out other ideas.

Wednesday is World Math Day. Come Join the Fun!

It's time for World Math Day from (note, you can register up until the event starts):


World Math Day is free and lots of FUN!

Join us in a celebration of numbers as students from

around the globe unite in their quest to set a world record

in answering mental arithmetic questions. Be a part of

this great education event involving more than 2 million

students from over 200 countries.

It's Free and Fun!

• Brand NEW format.

• World Math Day is the education event for the world!

• Your students will love it! Be part of setting a world record!

• It will create an amazing buzz around Math

• Designed for all ages and ability levels. Simple to register and
participate. All you need is internet access.

• Great prizes

• And it’s absolutely free!!