Thursday, April 29, 2010

lesson planet

As part of the TOS Crew (our year is winding down, by the way), we were asked to review Lesson Planet. The site is a compilation of links to lesson plans, worksheets and much more in a searchable system. The links are to more than 225,000 plans and worksheets which have been reviewed by teachers.

While I think this is a terrific resource for classroom teachers and homeschool families teaching several children or a co-op class, it didn’t really help us enough here in our one student homeschool to justify the cost. My favorite part of Lesson Planet is the monthly calendar with something interesting (like Shakespeare’s birthday) included daily, with links to applicable lessons. Very cool, but not a critical thing for us. The links are all redirects to outside sites – Lesson Planet essentially does the searching and weeding out for you, something that would without a doubt be worth the cost if I were teaching in a classroom or had multiple students. For those of you homeschooling several, you should check out the homeschooling guide. It holds a wealth of interesting information.

The good news is that you can decide for yourself. Lesson Planet offers a 10-day free trail. After the free trial, membership is $39.95 per year.

Also check out a You Tube video here, for more details about the site.


We were given a free trial of the site for review purposes. My opinions are my own.

Friday, April 23, 2010

it’s pretty easy to be green, actually

Under the category of “where did those follow up posts go?” I now present more of the belated Disney info from, um, February.

I think even the Disney folks were stunned at the response to the Give a Day, Get a Disney Day volunteer promotion. The goal was to give 1 million volunteers a free day at a Disney park in return for their community efforts. This was to be a 2010 promotion. All tickets were spoken for by March. Hope you got yours – if not, you can still volunteer (but not for a park ticket, just for the joy of giving back – you heard me). The big kick-off included some neat people like the Jamitors, Ty Pennington, Mickey Mouse (yes, he’s real), the world’s largest canned food structure (not a person, but cool) and MOST importantly, Kermit and Sweetums. (More from Kermit tomorrow, I promise.)

For you Disney geeks out there, this was the actual Kermit. Steve Whitmire, who took over after the death of Jim Henson, was present and helping Kermit fulfill his duties. No word on Sweetums.






Thursday, April 22, 2010

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

writers have to write

We watched this Sunday. It has been called the most accurate adaptation of Anne’s diary ever made. I agree. That also makes it joyful, funny, hopeful, gut-wrenching, frightening and sickening on many levels. Having visited the building that housed Anne’s secret annex, my thoughts have turned to one thing since watching this movie (see below, if you want). For a time at least, you can watch the film online. Don’t miss it.

“Only the dead have seen the end of war.” Do you know that quote? I think (I hope) we can prove it untrue.

Spoiler Alert (yes, I know you know the story…)






I have always associated the secret annex with the safety and hope found in that difficult time of hiding. It was a surreal pocket of near normality within a world that was far from normal. However, this adaptation goes just beyond Anne’s last diary entry, to the betrayal and the violation of their sacred space. I presume the ending scenes are based on Anne’s father’s accounts of what happened that night, as he was the only survivor of the eight who hid. (Maybe it’s just creative license, I don’t know.) In any event, for the first time, we see the bubble of protection penetrated and with it, the terror that must have stayed with Anne until she died of typhus. There was no more rest, no more writing, no more escape. It is harrowing to watch but important to remember.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010


Mmmmmm…Beeyoutiful sent us a Milk and Honey Facial Bar to review as part of the TOS Crew. The bar is rock hard, which is a good thing. I have used a number of natural soaps that practically dissolve upon contact with water, making them a terrible value. This soap is long lasting and made from non-scary stuff. (See the ingredient list below. Don’t fear the lye – all soap is made from lye. That’s what creates the saponification process. I did not make that up.) The soap is mild and my children are using it with great success (including the one with super sensitive skin). (I want to use it, but I am on fire at the moment due to the high pollen count. I need to live in a bubble.)

Milk & Honey Facial Bar

Beeyoutiful sells a variety of natural products including books, supplements (many with BEE products, hence the name), essential oils, skin and hair products and more. Their catalog even includes an awesome tutorial on bread baking. Beeyoutiful states its mission as “to do good to all men.” Can’t argue with that – and their soap is a step in that direction.

Milk and Honey Facial Bar Ingredients: Raw Goat Milk, Distilled Water, Olive Oil, Coconut Oil, Palm Oil, Vitamin E Oil, Vegetable Oil, Sodium Hydroxide (lye), Raw Honey, Bee Pollen, Bee Propolis, Beeswax, Sweet Orange Essential Oil

the travels of wiglington and wenks

The Travels of Wiglington and Wenks is an online game -- a virtual world -- based on books by John Bittleston.We were asked to review the site as part of the TOS Crew. My son loved W&W, which surprised me. When I saw the interface, I thought it might be too kiddie (my word) for him, especially given his love of complex games, but this site is actually deceptively complex. The exploration aspects and the hunt for historical figures enthralled him immediately. There is an educational aspect to the context of the game, but we just considered it fun.

On the very positive side, my son did recognize historical figures and would shout out to me about the context of the person’s role in history. That’s always OK in my book. He is on the upper level of the age 7 – 14 target audience of this site, so playing W&W may spawn a list of history questions from wee littles. (That’s a good thing!)

Because I knew other homeschoolers would also be reviewing this site as part of the TOS Crew, we exchanged user names with several of them, giving my son instant playmates in the virtual world. He was not allowed to interact with others that I had not approved. It is my understanding that the makers of W&W are working on improving chat features. Currently, I would recommend the use of this product under direct parental supervision and even so, parents should consider the age and maturity of their child before allowing them to sign on. I would also recommend that you read about the experiences of others on the site. W&W states that vulgarities are not allowed, but it appears that they are not filtered out. Players who violate this are either blocked by moderators or reported by others after the fact. As they say, it’s better to close the barn door than to try and get the cows back in (or something like that… I live in suburbia so I fail at the colloquialisms).

Until the chat feature is filtered or otherwise made to be more child-friendly, I believe removing it would only enhance the playing experience for children. Because I feel strongly about Internet safety, this is my son’s first experience with a virtual world. Maybe other sites also have similar problems with profanity, but I simply don’t know the answer to that. You must judge your child’s maturity and your level of comfort with this. As much as I my son has enjoyed it, he won’t be allowed to use it without direct supervision. If you can work this out to your comfort level, the site is a lot of fun.

WW is a product of Wiglington and Wenks Worldwide Pte Ltd ( Use of the site is free. A paid membership is available which opens up more of the world and provides greater interactivity. Memberships are $5.99 per month, with discounts available for longer terms.


We were given a one-month membership to the site. My opinions are my own.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

no time to say hello, good-bye, i’m late, i’m late, i’m late

I’m late in posting links to online stories for April. In my defense, there was that celebration of the resurrection of the Savior and all. Hope yours was wonderful.

Oh, and summer came – not spring. We skipped that. It’s not snowing, so who cares?

Here you go, for your reading pleasure:

I think there are more, but I will need to seek out links. I know you wait with bated breath. ;)

Coming in May, my interview with Danica McKellar (aka, Winnie Cooper). Smart girl, that Winnie.