Saturday, March 24, 2012

Action Alert

Action Alert is parental control software for computers.  There are two versions available:  a free downloadable version, and a paid version for $29.99.

As all parents know, the internet is full of information, both good and horrible.  Our job is to keep our kids away from the horrible stuff, but kids are usually pretty computer savvy.  Action Alert is a program that will help you protect your kids.

Action Alert provides several different safety features, including:
  • Access Control:  allows you to shut your PC down remotely 
  • Site Blocking:  blocks inappropriate sites
  • Activity Notification Alerts:  email or text when there is inappropriate activity
  • Content Filtering:  allows only safe searches
  • Activity Video Recording:  records up to 60 hours of all PC activity
  • Keystroke Logging:  logs user names and passwords
  • Time Allowance:  allows you to set daily times when the PC can be used
  • Chat and Email Logging:  logs both sides of the conversation

The Activity Video Recording takes shots of every screen that is viewed.  This information can be watched using the Action Alert Viewer, like a movie.  The Time Allowance feature enables you to set times to make the internet off limits during certain hours, or you can allow a certain number of minutes per day.

I did a search that I wouldn't want my sons doing, using a pretty obvious word.  The content was blocked and I received an email immediately with a link to shut the internet down remotely.  I clicked the link, and internet access was immediately disabled.  

Overall, this an easy to use internet protection software.  I admit, I haven't spent much time looking at internet protection software, but I can't think of anything else I would want from a program.  Take time to look the website over, and give the free version a try.

To read more reviews of Action Alert, go here.



Disclaimer:  As a member of the TOS Crew, I received this product, at no cost to me, in exchange for an honest review.  All opinions are mine.  

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Progeny Press: Across Five Aprils

Progeny Press produces literature study guides for all ages.  These guides are written from a Christian perspective, and they currently have over 100 guides available.  They are available as printed booklets, pdf documents on CD, or as a pdf document emailed directly to you.  I was emailed the pdf file for the guide for the book Across Five Aprils.

The pdf files for these guides are interactive, so the student can type their answers directly in the pdf.  Alternatively, the files can be printed if you prefer your student to write the answers.  There is a separate answer key included as well.  The guide begins with author information and then provides historical background information for the novel.  Following this information are pre-reading activities.  Progeny Press recommends the student reads the entire book before going back to study with the guide, and suggests that the student complete one or more of the pre-reading activities during this initial reading of the book.  Most guides will take 8 to 10 weeks to complete.

After the student reads the book completely, then the student begins the study guide. The Progeny Press guides are not easy, fill-in-the-blank-without-thinking guides.  The students are asked to go above and beyond simply understanding the story, and are required to really think about the story.  There are questions about the plot, but instead of simply making sure the student read the book, the questions require to think about the book and why things happened.  Students are asked to define words by using context as well as using a dictionary.  Literary terms, such as similie and  idiom are explained, and the student is asked to find examples in excerpts taken from the book.  The student is asked to look up Bible verses and explain how they relate to the book.  Because Across Five Aprils is an historical novel about the Civil War, the student is asked to look up various battles and mark them on a map, in addition to other "Connections with History" questions.  There are also optional writing assignments in the guides.  

The guide ends with an Overview.  In this section, plot, rising action, climax, conflict, and motif are explained and the student is asked to write about each of these elements in Across Five Aprils.  Once again, these questions require more than a simple regurgitation of events in the book.

I'm not a huge fan of literature study guides in general.  We read a lot of books in our homeschool and we typically just discuss them.  However, I'm impressed with the Progeny Press study guides and I am considering ordering one or two for Jacob to complete next year.  Since I now have five in school, I don't always have time to read every book that my boys read, let alone discuss every book.  The questions in the Progeny Press guide are very thorough, and I really think they can fill this gap in our homeschool.

The price for the Across Five Aprils study guide is $18.99 for the booklet, $16.99 for a CD, or $23.99 for a book/CD package.  Shipping is additional for these items, but you can have the pdf emailed to you for $16.99 to save on shipping.  If you're looking for study guides for literature, definitely take a look at the guides from Progeny Press.

For additional reviews of Progeny Press Study Guides, go here.


Disclaimer:  As a member of the TOS Crew, I received this product, at no cost to me, in exchange for an honest review.  All opinions are mine. 

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Falling Down

Nicholas is one of the happiest kids I've ever met.  He's always got a smile on  his face, and he laughs quite a bit.  Even tears often end with a smile or a laugh.

He went roller skating with Craig 2 weeks ago.  After they finished, he quite joyfully told Craig, "I went around 29 times and only fell 20!"  Instead of focusing on the 20 times he did fall, he was absolutely thrilled that there were 9 times he didn't fall.

I think there's a lesson for me in there somewhere.

Saturday, March 10, 2012

The Art of Argument

Ezekiel took one look at the book on my desk and proclaimed, "Hey, I'm great at that!"  He'd never been more correct.  What was the book?  The Art of Argument, An Introduction to the Informal Fallacies by Classical Academic Press.

I've had my eye on this program, with the intention of using it next year with Luke and Ezekiel.  If they're going to argue with me, I think we should at least follow some rules, right?  I was very excited to when the opportunity arose for me to review it.  I received the textbook, the Teacher's Edition, and the first disk from the DVD set.

There are 28 fallacies covered in this program, and they're divided into six chapters:  Ad Fontem Arguments,  Appeals to Emotion, Red Herrings, Fallacies of Presupposition, Fallacies of Induction, and Fallacies of Clarity. At the end of each chapter, there is a chapter review, along with a cumulative review worksheet (for chapters 2-6).  The six chapters are divided into 3 units (Relevance, Presumption, and Clarity), and these sections give an overview of the fallacies that will be discussed.  The Teacher's Edition includes a copy of the textbook with the answers filled in, tests and answers for each chapter, each unit, and a final exam on all the material.  There is enough material here for a full year of informal logic study.

To use this program, we read through the fallacy, watched the DVD segment (a teacher discussing the fallacy with 4 students around a table) relating to the fallacy, and then discussed the fallacy. In the text, each fallacy is explained and there are examples that the text helps you work through.  There are also advertisements (created by Classical Academic Press) that provide discussion points for the fallacy.  Most of the fallacies end with a "Fallacy Discussion", where the student is expected to point out the fallacy on their own and explain it.  There are lines provided in the text to write an answer down, but we chose to do it orally.  It took us about 30 minutes to work through the fallacy and discussion.  The DVD segments take an additional 15 to 30 minutes to watch.

We really enjoyed using The Art of Argument, and I think it's a fabulous informal logic program.  It is recommended for 7th and up, and I think that's a pretty accurate recommendation, though some 6th graders will be able to do the program just fine.  I would definitely recommend the textbook ($21.95) and the Teacher's Edition ($24.95).  The DVDs ($54.95) are not necessary, and my sons had mixed opinions about them.  Luke thought they were boring (so did I), but Ezekiel enjoyed them.  If you choose to purchase all three items, they are available bundled together for $88.95.  Check out the Classical Academic Press website for samples and ordering information.

For additional reviews of The Art of Argument, go here.


  Disclaimer:  As a member of the TOS Crew, I received this product, at no cost to me, in exchange for an honest review.  All opinions are mine.