Sweet Critique: Camtasia Studio Video Editing Software


Camtasia Studio is screen recording and video editing software by TechSmith.  It can be used to train, teach, and do just about anything else you’d want video for.

The thing is absolutely amazing!  I was a bit concerned about reviewing it as first because I’ve never really dabbled in video {although I’ve wanted to start vlogging}, but when it was mentioned that this could be used in homeschooling, I thought I’d give it a whirl.

What Can It Do?

Well, it can do more than I’d ever know how to.  You can use it to edit video, as I’ve mentioned before.  This is helpful for bloggers, families, and businesses; pretty much everyone.

There are tons of professional options in the software, and they’ve done a great job of providing tons of support videos.  This really eases any nervousness you might have.  I watched the intro/getting started video {I was really terrified when I first opened it up…} and immediately felt at ease and excited to use it.

What I really love about Camtasia Studio, though, is the ability to record what’s on the screen, complete with added audio and/or video {picture-in-picture}.  This is just genius, and could really be pivotal in the future of homeschooling.

Camtasia Studio gives you pretty much any option you’d ever want when doing this:  cursor highlighting, callouts to call attention to specific things, zoom, transitions, and much more.  You can really make your videos stand out.

In addition, you have the ability to record PowerPoint presentations.  You can do so with just audio, or {this is so cool} you can use a webcam to record yourself teaching, creating a picture-in-picture effect to go along with the slides.

Getting Started

I was up and running in no time.  Setup was really easy and nothing to be afraid of.  The good folks at TechSmith anticipated your needs and took the opportunity to proactively begin answering questions with a product tour:

Missed that? No problem, each time you log in {for as long as you leave it selected} you’ll have the opportunity to watch the getting started video.

In addition to the information in the software, there are a ton of resources on the TechSmith site to help you get the most out of the software.  I like the section on using the tool with PowerPoint.

How Can This Help Homeschoolers?

Oh man, I think the possibilities are endless!  Have a special talent that you feel would be easier taught using video rather than an eBook?  Use Camtasia to put it together.  Want to offer the co-op class you teach to students around the world?  Use Camtasia.  Want to add diversity to your teaching?  Use Camtasia.

I especially think software like this will be invaluable going forward because technology is becoming so much a part of homeschooling.  Just take a look at things like Khan Academy.

How Can This Help Bloggers?

If you want to at all get into vlogging, this is your man right here!  I would use this thing hands down to put together things for my blog.  This software will help you put together professional looking videos not only to engage with your readers, but to teach as well.

One last thought:  It’s pretty.  Sure, not a huge factor, but I’m a girl and I like pretty, classy, awesomesauce looking stuff.  Camtasia Studio is pretty awesomesauce stuff.

Now that I’ve made you want to start vlogging and teaching via video, don’t you want Camtasia?!?!  Well, the lovely folks at TechSmith are giving away a license to one lucky reader!!!  Guys, this is a $299 value!

Making Our Own Science Fair Display #ElmersScienceReady #GlueNGlitter


A couple of weeks ago I told you guys about our experience making butter.  While it was fun and tasty, I didn’t think Babydoll quite got the science behind it.  Talking about it was all well and good, but I needed something more…

So, why not do a science fair project?!?!

Babydoll has never entered a science fair before, and she loves to color and glue, so I figured this would be a great way to get her to really understand the concept behind the butter.

The Supplies

I needed supplies to get started, so I made a stop at Walmart while Babydoll was at soccer practice.  It would be gutsy going in on a weekday evening, but I made the sacrifice.  Garden Center entrance for the win.

Elmers X-TREME glueI’ll admit that I’ve never really looked at all of the stuff in the Elmers section; there is quite a bit to choose from.  I was surprised {and happy} to see how many different types of glue were available.  We’ve used the regular glue sticks before, but this project calls for something more heavy duty.  Enter X-TREME glue.

And of course we’ll need the standard tri-fold display board.  Only, there aren’t just standard display boards available now.  Being the lover of foam core that I am, I went with the foam core tri-fold board by Elmers.  I had no idea Elmers made so many types of tri-fold boards

Armed with our tools, we set out to complete the project again. After all, who doesn’t need more butter?

The Experiment

First, fill a mason jar halfway with cream.  Take it from us:  leave your cream out for 12 hours.  It won’t make you sick and it will make it easier on your arms.

Next, shake the jar for about three to five minutes.

Shake until you see little bits of butter and liquid separate from each other.  The bits are butter, and the liquid is buttermilk.

Pour the contents of the jar into a strainer and rinse with cold water until the water runs clear.

Finally, you can either mold your butter or just place it into a storage container and refrigerate.  That’s it, you’ve made your own butter!

The Display

With the “fun” stuff over, it was time to talk about what just happened.  Babydoll despises writing, so I decided to ease her pain and type up the information we needed.  I typed while Babydoll dictated the whole experiment, and the science behind it, for me.

We printed off our information, the pictures from the experiment, and began to plan our board.  We’re both perfectionists, and notice different things, so this was a bit hard for us!  It was a great way to spend time together and do something a bit out of the ordinary and fun with science; I’m so glad we did it!

I’m also glad we chose the board we did; it’s nice and sturdy, great quality.  Elmers does have a variety of boards in different shapes, sizes, colors, and price points.  This is great because the boards can be used for a variety of things.  They don’t just sell tri-fold boards either; they had quite a few one piece boards on display as well.

Alright, now that we’ve figured out where we want everything to go, it’s time to attach it all.  Time to put the X-TREME glue stick to work!

That thing is freakin’ sweet!  It glides smoothly with little to no mess and it holds tight.  It’s not slippery, either, like some glue can be.  I like that because you can avoid something shifting out of place.  I really was pleasantly surprised.  *heart it*

Here’s our finished project!  We had a lot of fun working on this together!!

Check out my thisMoment for  lots more fun pictures of my whole shopping trip, the experiment, and putting the display together!

True Confessions:  This project has been compensated as part of a social shopper insights study for #ElmersScienceReady #collectivebias #CBias.  It was so much fun and I loved it and I can’t wait to do another one.  But, you still got my honest opinion.

Sweet Critique: Multiply and Divide with Sticks and Steps


I’m not a fan of book-work math.  Love it in real-life application {like baking/cooking}, but I can do without the rest of it.  Blech!

Babydoll liked math…until we got to multiplication.  And it is here we seem to be stuck.  Well, not necessarily “stuck,” but it’s slow going and I’m wondering when we’ll hit division.  I’ll quiz her on each set of facts and she’s got it down, then two months later she doesn’t remember them…  Maybe I really suck as a math teacher.

At any rate, I was recently given the opportunity to review Multiply and Divide with Sticks and Steps, a book that touts an easy method for teaching multiplication.  Maybe this could help?

The method is easy; it literally took about five minutes to teach.  Out of respect for the author, I have chosen not to give specifics about the method, but I will say it is similar to things a student might do when they can’t remember the answer and need to “count it out,” such as tally marks, however, it is much easier, smaller, and cleaner than that.  It is a multi-sensory approach.

I really like that the book doesn’t just deal with basic multiplication, but shows you how to use the method with an unknown value, multi-digit multiplication, and division.  That really excited me.  I think this will come in very handy when we get to things like that.

Don’t get me wrong, I still love Math U See, but as many of you know, sometimes you need to send in the reinforcements to really get something through, and that’s what I love about this book.  It’s a great supplement and I highly recommend it.

The book retails for $14.95, but is listed on Amazon right now for $11.66 and free shipping.  Don’t worry, the parent site links to Amazon to purchase.

And yay!  They’re giving one of you guys a copy of the book!!!  How sweet is that?

The Rafflecopter form below has all the info you need to enter!

True Confessions:  I was provided with a copy of this book in exchange for a review.  This did not sway my opinion one way or the other.

[Read more…]

TOS Sweet Critique: Games for Competitors {Tricross}

Who:  Games for Competitors

What:  Tri-Cross – A pseudo-chess strategy and critical thinking board game.

Contact Information:  Here

Cost:  Standard Edition {$24.95}, Wood Edition {$35.95}, Eco Edition {$19.95}

Recommended Age:  Eight and up, although kids younger than eight can be taught to play

Tri-Cross is a wicked awesome game of strategy and critical thinking that can be played in a variety of ways.  Right off the bat, I’m going to let you know that Babydoll and I love Tri-Cross:

  • You can begin playing within about five minutes of opening the box.
  • If you want it to be, it can be a super quick, yet fun, game.
  • If you want it to be, it can be a more in-depth and even more exciting game.
  • It is well made.
  • The company has great history behind it.

And it’s not just us thinking it’s awesome, other peeps do too:

I’m not at all good at explaining how to play games in a concise manner, so I’m linking you guys to the How to Play page.  Basically, you move your pieces around the game board and try to “jump” the other players’ pieces.

Gifts for Competitors sent us both the standard edition and the eco edition, which is a great travel edition {and I love the whole eco thing}.  We haven’t yet used the eco one, but we’ve gotten quite a bit of use out of the standard one, and it’s holding up really well.

I really recommend this game for homeschoolers for a few specific reasons.  It can be very hard to separate mom from homeschool teacher; this game allows you to still implement learning while just having fun with your kids.  Also, for people like me that aren’t a big fan of “playing” {well,  put it like this, I play by cooking and baking with Babydoll, playing video games with her, going shopping with her, etc.}, the game gives you a fun way to do some playing with your child.  I also like the fact that we’re working on critical thinking together, without sitting down in front of a workbook.

Definitely check it out!!

True Confessions:  I was provided with these two games as part of the TOS Homeschool Review Crew program.  The company was not promised a good review, and my honest opinions were asked for.  I liked it.  Period.

Mega Homeschool Giveaway Sponsor: Usborne Books

Durable, fun and an established name, with over 1,400 titles, Usborne Books, has something for everyone and is a name that is trusted.

From the Usborne website,

“In 1973, Peter Usborne decided that educational, non-fiction books would need to change in order to compete with TV and comics. He borrowed some ideas from those two media and hired educational consultants to oversee the writing to make sure that the books would satisfy the child’s interest, but also arouse it. Explanatory books which merely explain are doing only half the job; if a book fails to make its subject attractive and interesting to the reader, chances are the explanation will fail. Usborne Books are designed graphically to draw the students in, to make them want to learn the material and to help them retain that knowledge.

The magic of Usborne Books is that they make both reading and learning fun and not a boring or intimidating experience. Peter Usborne set out to break down a child’s resistance to reading and learning at home. These books are so well organized that children absorb and recall much of the vast amount of information presented.”

One of the many fabulous giveaways that is going on, “Usborne Books” is giving a lucky winner, the chance to win 21 different books from them:  a great way for a new homeschooler to start a library or for current homeschoolers, build up their current library. So drop by “Usborne Books“, discover all they have to offer! Don’t forget to participate in Molding Minds Homeschool-Mega Homeschool Giveaway and tell your friends about it too!