Wednesday, July 18, 2012

TOS Review: Apologia:Who is my Neighbor?


I love reading the Word with my kids. Teaching them the truths of scripture is one of the highest honors as a mother. While we have always had bible study and family bible time, sometimes we miss out on the application of what the scripture is telling us - how we are to use it in our lives, today. This bible study from Apologia, "Who is my Neighbor?" was a great alternative to what we usually do. Don't get me wrong - it is NOT a replacement to reading the bible. But it is a great accessory.


The curriculum is great for families with multiple ages, mainly for kids 6-14. They even sent a coloring book for the littler ones to keep them on track and busy while mommy or daddy is reading - great help! :)


Who is my Neighbor? uses stories to relate scripture to daily living. The stories are teaching the children - and reminding the parents - of what "salt and light" should look like in action in the world. It has given my kids a broader sense of the word neighbor. ALL God's children are our neighbors, and He can use any of us to bless others. It has been such a great time of study and discussion with the kids.

When I first got the book, I was a little concerned to see it was the third in a series called "What We Believe". But it really doesn't matter. Each book in the series focuses on a specific topic. And while, like the fruits of the spirit, they all relate to one another, the subjects are complete to stand and study alone. I do look forward to looking through the other books at some point, though...

If you are looking for a new approach or addition to your family devotion time, I highly recommend Apologia:Who is my Neighbor? It has blessed our family, and I'm sure it will bless yours as well.

*Don't just take my word for it! Check out other blogger voices here:


**I was given a copy of the above material for free in exchange for my review. All thoughts and comments are mine and my children's alone.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

TOS Review: IXL


IXL is an online interactive website created to help your student "excel" in mathematics. With programs from pre-K to Algebra, there is something to help nearly all of your students.

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IXL challenges your student to work on their math skills at their level, and at their pace. You can choose to let them work at their grade level or wherever you think they should start. They can choose what they want to work on, according to subject. When they improve, the levels get more difficult, but not so quickly that they get discouraged. There are awards scattered throughout the program, but they are not very exciting. :( Coco thought they were cute and loved to see her new button each time, but my boys thought they were pretty cheesy. I don't think they were very good incentives to make them want to work harder or do better.

IXL Awards and Games

The monthly fee for IXL is $9.95 (add $2 per additional student) or $79.95 for the entire year (add $20 for additional students). This is cheaper than what I pay for my hard curriculum for each of them, plus I wouldn't have to do the grading! For elementary ages, I believe this could be more than just a supplement. There is enough content on this site for a full curriculum.

IXL Fee Buttons

I like that there is a full report sent to me every week letting me know exactly what the kids worked on, what they excelled in, and where they struggled. It helps me to guide them in what they need to review, and what they can move on from.

IXL Family Reports

For the most part, they all enjoyed IXL. If I were going to use an online math curriculum, IXL would definitely meet all my standards.

**Don't just take my word for it! Check out some of my fellow TOS Crew Members' reviews.


***Disclaimer: I received this product via TOS Homeschool Crew in exchange for an honest review. I was not required to write a positive review; all opinions stated are mine or my children's.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

TOS Review: Creation Illustrated


Creation Illustrated is a magazine that combines beautiful photography and educational articles on science with excellent stories surrounded by biblical truths. Think National Geographic with a Christian mindset. In each issue, you will find articles, short stories, photo contests and puzzles for kids, and healthy recipes that will all bring you to a greater knowledge of Christ in your daily life and surroundings.

The photography is unsurpassed.


The articles are easy reads, but informative at the same time.


And the character and quality of the subjects are excellent reading for all ages. It is hard to find a magazine that I wouldn't mind sharing with my children AND my parents. The content is thought provoking and engaging. I am so happy that this review came my way. It's hard to imagine that this magazine has been around for 20 years, but I'm just now discovering it.


Creation Illustrated is published quarterly for $4.99 an issue. You can also subscribe online for the following lengths/rate: $19.95 for a year, $37.95 for 2 years or $53.95 for 3 years. It's a sound investment to expose your children to a magazine with high quality and appropriate content. They are even offering new subscribers a free issue. Just go HERE and fill out the form.

**Don't just take my word for it! Check out some of my fellow TOS Crew Members' reviews.


***Disclaimer: I received this product via TOS Homeschool Crew in exchange for an honest review. I was not required to write a positive review; all opinions stated are mine or my children's.

Monday, June 11, 2012

TOS Review: Pearson Homeschool - 6th Grade Reading Street


Pearson Education is a leading provider of public school curriculum nationwide. They are now expanding into the homeschool world. Their website is still in the works, but there is a lot of information for you already. I was chosen to review Reading Street - 6th Grade. We received the Student Textbook (2 volumes), Teachers Guide DVD-ROM, Exam View CD and test creator, and the Guide on the Side Instruction Booklet. This bundle is $124.95.


* I think Pearson Homeschool is truly selling themselves short by classifying Reading Street as a reading program - it's a complete Language Arts program! It covers spelling, writing, vocabulary, grammar, literature, comprehension and so much more! You are supplied with digital versions of teacher and student materials, honestly more than you will probably use.

* The cost is pretty decent when you look at all that you are receiving. For $124.95, I would be replacing my spelling ($60), English ($50), handwriting ($15), Writing ($75), and who knows how many literature/book report unit study or lapbooks I would purchase. In all, I think Pearson would save you money in the Language Arts department. And don't forget, it's non consumable, so that's a big bonus for larger families like mine.

* There is such a variety of learning tools. If your kids are hard pressed to find activities that keep their attention, they will likely find something they enjoy with this program. About every other page in the textbooks seems to have online links (which we didn't have access to yet, but know would thrill my son), and there are a ton of games and puzzles/activities to help the material really stay with them.


* It is all textbook format. I have pretty much used the Charlotte Mason approach from the beginning, and I have to admit that I was terrified to try this out. I was afraid it would be dry and difficult. I was wrong about the dry part - the graphics and writing style were very engaging. But I still prefer living books.

* We were introduced to some great pieces of literature...let me emphasize PIECES. If this were the only reading curriculum we were to use, my sixth grader would not finish a single book in the entire school year. Now, I know many of you probably think that's silly, he can read whatever he wants in his spare time. Well, you wouldn't know my son then! If it's not assigned, he probably won't be reading it! ;) Plus, there is SO MUCH for him to do with this curriculum (I'm guessing an hour and a half of work a day), he would be very unlikely to read in his free time...

* There are no lesson plans. I have NEVER used a curriculum where I have had to completely create a lesson plan on my own. There have been many times when I have tweaked or revised or eliminated from pre-made plans, but I have always used materials that had them available for me. I have four children and one on the way. I do not have any desire to spend hours, days or weeks creating lesson plans. I would gladly pay a little more to have this already part of the curriculum.

* While there are many tools and activities for both student and teacher, they are all in cd/dvd format. Which means my time and money (paper and ink) is yet again spent making my own worksheets. This was incredibly frustrating to me because our printer has been giving me fits for weeks now, so I was unable to print out a lot of this great stuff in a timely manner for Connor to use.


Overall, I think we would give Pearson a shot. I must admit, it would have never come into my house had it not been for TOS Reviews. I'm glad to have had an opportunity to try something so far out of my and my son's scope of familiarity, and I think we will use it some in the coming school year.

**Don't just take my word for it! Check out some of my fellow TOS Crew Members' reviews.


***Disclaimer: I received this product via TOS Homeschool Crew in exchange for an honest review. I was not required to write a positive review; all opinions stated are mine or my children's.

Friday, June 1, 2012

TOS Review: Dive Into Your Imagination - What Makes a Fish a Fish?


Annie Crawley is an amazing photographer, diver and sailor that wants to bring her fascination and knowledge of the ocean and all its amazing creatures to you and your student. Dive Into Your Imagination is her company that has made that dream a reality. Her first three videos are What Makes a Fish a Fish?, Who Lives in the Sea? and Dive into Diversity. In the video we reviewed, What Makes a Fish a Fish? ($19.95), "Ocean Annie" takes you on an underwater tour and explains to you the reasons ocean life are classified the way they are.


Annie has also compiled a very thorough set of lesson plans for you to use with the video. The guides are available as a printed version for $299 (for the whole set of them) or as individual PDFs for $69.95. They consist of crossword puzzles, vocabulary lists, coloring sheets, and much, much more.

The boys really enjoyed the 30-minute video. The music, the narration and the information provided was fun and inviting for all my boys (ages 4 to 10); it kept all of their attention. We love ocean and nature documentaries, and we watch a tone of them. So I was careful to ask them if they had learned anything new. They each came up with at least one new animal or fact about an anmimal that they learned in the video.

While I looked through the pdf for our video, I chose not to use it...the sheets were very nicely put together, but I thought there was just way too much to use with a 30-minute video for a homeschool family. I looked at this as a supplement to our science curriculum, not a complete year's assignment. And I just wouldn't pay $90 for a supplemental unit study - especially for a pdf where I still have to print off everything on my own time, with my own paper and ink.. The material really is great, but the price is just way out of our budget range. So while I liked the video very much, I wouldn't recommend the pdf. Possibly for a classroom setting, but not for a homeschool family.

**Don't just take my word for it! Check out some of my fellow TOS Crew Members' reviews HERE.

***Disclaimer: I received this product via TOS Homeschool Crew in exchange for an honest review. I was not required to write a positive review; all opinions stated are mine or my children's.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

TOS Review: Bright Ideas Press


Bright Ideas Press is a multi-age curriculum that will fit your hectic lifestyle by being able to teach one subject to varying ages of children at one time. Christian Kids Explore Physics ($39.95) introduces the student(s) to fundamentals of physics: terminology, concepts and hands-on activities engage the student while reminding them of Who created it all. Here is what BIP had to say on their website:

"The universe that we live in is the result of God’s thoughtful design and careful building. Physics gives us a glimpse into the materials, laws, and structures of that universe. Behold the wonders of creation with this series of 30 easy-to-understand lessons for grades 4-8. Each lesson helps develop an understanding of matter and energy and the rules they follow. Exploring physics is an exciting adventure!"


The resource cd is an excellent supplement to the program. With it, you have Daily Lesson Plans, Materials Lists, Bonus Literature Study Guide, and All Reproducibles, such as:
•Coloring Pages
•Unit Reviews
•Follow-Up Questions for each lesson
•Activity Charts

The book alone is a great value with excellent material. But the Bonus cd makes this curriculum a bargain you just don't want to miss out on. If you are planning on introducing Physics to your students in the near future, Christian Kids Explore Physics is what you want to use.

**Don't just take my word for it! Check out some of my fellow TOS Crew Members' reviews HERE.

***Disclaimer: I received this product via TOS Homeschool Crew in exchange for an honest review. I was not required to write a positive review; all opinions stated are mine or my children's.

Monday, April 16, 2012

TOS Review: AIMS


AIMS Education Foundation (Activities Integrating Math and Science) is a non-profit educational foundation created by 80 educators that believed that students could learn more about math and science if they were engaged in the process. They have developed several curriculum that gives students hands-on experience, making the information stay with them much longer. We reviewed From Head to Toe ($24.95).


So far, the kids have learned about how the brain, heart, lung and respiratory system work individually and as a unit. We got to make a 2-chamber heart model and a single lung model. The kids loved it, and they really learned a lot. I like the way the the kids are leading the process. They put together a rubber band book that gives them their reading assignment. Then they have the instructions for the project. You are there to guide and assist, but the kids are in charge - they love it!

One thing that I wasn't aware of until it was too late was that some of the materials for the projects needed to be purchased from AIMS beforehand. So unless you have a set of forceps lying around, you should probably check your lists 2 weeks ahead of time! ;) Some of the materials are reasonable, but others are kind of pricey. Unfortunately, if you are in a bind and need the materials quickly, you have to dish it out! It would have been nice if there was a kit you could buy at the time you buy the book that has all the hard to find materials assembled for you.

AIMS is a great resource for families who want a hands-on, child-led experience in math or science. They are definitely worth your time to look at!

**Don't just take my word for it! Check out some of my fellow TOS Crew Members' reviews HERE.

***Disclaimer: I received this product via TOS Homeschool Crew in exchange for an honest review. I was not required to write a positive review; all opinions stated are mine or my children's.

Saturday, April 7, 2012

What Part Would You Play?

This was a friend's post on Facebook today: "All day I've asked myself what part I would have played if I had lived during Holy Week. It's a sobering question." Wow. I actually dreamed about this a little this morning...

I'm in the crowd. I can see his face. He's too exhausted to even wipe the rivulets of blood out of his dark, drooping eyes. His skin hangs in torn scraps from his bruised body. I can't imagine how he is even breathing, let alone standing. The pain in my chest feels like a weight of a thousand pounds. This is when I feel the tears on my cheek. I touch them gently. I open my mouth to speak and what comes out shocks...and sickens me.


WHAT?!? I'm confused, angry, pushed and shoved from all directions by the angry mob I'm surrounded by when it tears from my throat again.


The thought of his weakened condition forces my eyes to find his bent form up on the podium once more. This time, he is looking straight at me. Tears are in his eyes, but not tears of hurt. Not even anger. He looks at me with such love, such understanding, such...forgiveness. I feel powerless, immobile. I don't know what I've done. Wait, that's not true. I know EXACTLY what I've done.

I'm no better than Judas. Or Peter and the others, who hid to save themselves. I've betrayed Him with my words, my deeds, my actions, my lack of action. I was in that crowd. I screamed for Him to pay the ultimate price. I shouted for His blood to be spilled. Why???

We may not have been there in the flesh, but I know I was on His mind that dark Friday 2,000 years ago. I know He knew about every time I'd disappoint Him, every time I'd deny Him, every time I'd sin against Him. There is no difference in what sins I've committed in my life than what I dreamed about this morning. I'm no less guilty than the ones that stood in that crowd. His blood covered their sin. And it covers mine today.

I know that the concept of forgiveness is so very hard to grasp for us emotional, volatile human beings. We work and live by our emotions, and we can't understand the complete spectrum of His love for us. But we can choose to accept it. Had you been there, Jesus would have looked you straight in the eye. And you would have seen how very much He loved you. You can seek Him out today. He will speak straight into your soul. And you can see - TODAY - just how much He loves you.

It's Saturday, people. The darkest day in the history of the world. No hope. No light. Just the pain of lost dreams and a dead Messiah. But guess what?

Sunday's comin'.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

TOS Review: TruthQuest


Truth Quest History is a new and interesting way to teach history to your children. The publishers have redefined what history is REALLY about. We've been taught it is about the accomplishments and paths of men. But Truth Quest refocuses our eyes on the true story - the revelation of who God is and how man relates to that truth. As a whole, people are motivated by their basic beliefs about God, whether true or untrue. The consequences of their Big 2 Beliefs (Who is God, and who, then, is mankind?) are what we read about in history.

Truth Quest is broken down into nine chronological study guides from Creation to 2000 A.D. Within each guide, your student will be introduced to the primary action taking place in that time, always with the premise of the Big 2 Beliefs in the forefront. A list of living books that coincides with the time period is provided to peak your child's interest and curiosity, as well as let them delve deeper into the topic at hand.

We reviewed American History 3: 1865-2000.


The kids really enjoyed the way the text was written. It was almost like having a conversation with somebody about history instead of reading a typical history book! Serious subjects like slavery and The Great Depression are written in a way that the my children learned something on the subject, but weren't bored or overwhelmed with a lot of names, dates and dry things like that. They learned about the personal stories and experiences of people and came to understand or empathize with those individuals. I think that's why we learn about our history in the first place - to understand and learn from those examples set forth before us. We have a lot more to read in this book, but I'm very pleased with what we've studied so far.

One problem I had was that we were unable to find many of the suggested reading books to go along with our study. We have a great library available to us in SW Missouri, but many of these titles didn't even pull up in their system. Also, I would have liked a little more extensive help with the read alouds. I think if we could have had suggested excerpts from books, or study questions to go along with the books, the kids would have taken more away as well as covered more of the books. I understand some people would stop and take several weeks for each time period, but I think that is too long for the ages of my children.

All of Truth Quest's guides are available in PDF ($19.95-$29.95) or hardcopy ($24.95-$34.95). You can check out samples of all their materials on here on their website.

**Don't just take my word for it! Check out some of my fellow TOS Crew Members' reviews HERE.

***Disclaimer: I received this product via TOS Homeschool Crew in exchange for an honest review. I was not required to write a positive review; all opinions stated are mine or my children's.

Monday, April 2, 2012





1, 2, 3, 4...


Wow, what a fun day this has been! God is so good, and I know he gave us laughter for a reason! He also gave us wonderful friends and family who, while probably think we are completely insane, love and support us through everything.

I'm very early on, so prayers for a safe first trimester and continued pregnancy are much appreciated. We only told today because Kelly couldn't pass up the opportunity to mess with people on April Fool's Day! LOL, and boy did it work! Don't believe me, just go to my Facebook page! ;)

We have decided to cancel the trip to Colorado. Though not the main reason, we decided morning sickness on a 1,600-mile roadtrip is more than either of us want to handle! Hopefully some day...but we know there are tons of great things ahead for the coming year!

Caleb is very excited. He told everyone today he is FINALLY going to be the big brother, and he's going to learn to ride his bike without training wheels this week to prove it! :)

Canon was happy, too. He has asked me 100 times today when the baby will come, what will it be, where will it sleep, does he have to change diapers, will I hurt too much, and many, many, many more! I'm just glad he's curious and pleased!

Chloe is going crazy! She is so ecstatic, she can hardly think of anything else. She, of course, asked God tonight that it be a baby sister...then said, "Better yet, Jesus, TWIN girls would be great!" I just rolled my eyes, but I've always told her to pray her heart's I guess it's my fault, there! :)

Connor is... well...a preteen boy with a mind of his own. Right after we told them, he said he wasn't mad, or sad, but a little confused. I know he is happy, deep down, but he did tell his Aunt Ariel that we didn't even ask him if he wanted another brother or sister...needless to say, Aunt Ariel reminded him that it wasn't his call! :) He did get animated when we started discussing names and of course, when they started debating whether we "needed" a boy or a girl! I have no worries that he will be amazing with the little one once he/she arrives...but I do hope to see his little heart soften quickly.

So that has been the excitement for the week in the Quinn household. Hoping you and yours are feeling as Kelly and I are right now... and that is Abundantly Blessed!!

Friday, March 30, 2012

TOS Review: Amazing Animals By Design


Amazing Animals By Design, written by Debra Haagen, is a new children's book that introduces Intelligent Design to your younger children. The story is about two kids, John and Sarah, who love to visit their local zoo, but are a little confused about a word that keeps being used by the grown ups around them: design. With the help of their parents, they learn wonderful information about the animals that God created - and better yet, about the Creator Himself.



I believe Intelligent Design is an important foundation in the Christian worldview. Introducing our children to great books that support our worldview at an early age is difficult, frankly because there just aren't many out there. Debra's book eases you into these conversations as easy as if you were strolling through the zoo with them yourself.

Debra Haagen is a military wife, a homeschool mom, a blogger and now a children's author. Amazing Animals By Design is Debra's first published book, and I was thrilled to be one of the first to read it in PDF format. The book's official release date is April 3, but you can pre-order the book directly from Tate Publishing. Even though I have it in PDF format on my computer, I WILL be buying it for my bookshelf. For $8.99, it's worth having two copies in our home! I truly hope this is just the first of many books from Debra, because I am already a fan! :)

**Don't just take my word for it! Check out some of my fellow TOS Crew Members' reviews HERE.

***Disclaimer: I received this product via TOS Homeschool Crew in exchange for an honest review. I was not required to write a positive review; all opinions stated are mine or my children's.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Catching Up

Just thought I'd post that I AM alive and kicking....sorry for the massive break in blogging - I've just been so overwhelmed with the schedule, that finding time to write something that wasn't critical (ie:reviews for TOS) has been next to impossible! I've sat down two or three times after midnight this past week to try and write something, and I'd just stare at the screen. Nothing. Blank. Zilch. NO IDEAS WHATSOEVER! How many of you know me? Most, I'm assuming. So you all know how rare it is to find me with ABSOLUTELY nothing to say! I admit, I am still having a hard time believing it myself... ;)

Life is normal around the Quinn home...which is to say, there are not nearly enough days in the week to get all I need to do accomplished! But still, we are loving life and praising the One who makes this journey so worth it. We've had some amazing time with family this last month. My cousin April and her kids came and spent a week with us. We had a great birthday celebration for Caleb's big day (I'm still trying to process that my baby is four!). We took a mini vacation to Kansas City - thanks to Kelly's work! And we have had spring break from co-op this week - woohoo! As much as I love my LCA family, it was so nice to have a day to not be rushing around and getting into my frame of mind that is necessary to wrangle 110 5 to 12-year-olds! :D

Lots coming up, too. My birthday is Wednesday. Band and Orchestra contests are a week from tomorrow...prayers needed there! Easter is just around the corner, and I want so much to focus on my Savior's sacrifice and resurrection with the kids - as well as privately. The kids' musical is May 3 - and they all have big parts this year. :) And we are working on our Colorado vacation plans for mid-May. The list could go on...and on...

This year has already been so packed with blessings, I can hardly believe March is coming to an end. Where does the time go? I hate to sound cliche, or worse, like my mother, but REALLY - it blows me away how quickly the years are flying by! I find myself tired and overloaded, cranky with the kids, and frustrated for not accomplishing what I expected to. But then I realize we have 9 weeks left of the school year, and I can hardly believe it. The cloce just won't slow down, no matter how much I want it to.

So tonight, I just want to take a moment and breathe...breathe in the silence of my home while my babies are sleeping just feet from me...listen to the much needed rain on our porch...focus on this moment...because it, too, will be gone in an instant. I NEED to remember this moment. God has given me so much. I miss a lot of what He's given me because of the hectic schedule I've allowed into our lives. It's my job to set boundaries, to protect our family time, to keep the main thing the main thing. I want to do that better. I will do that better. I'm getting off here. I'm going to go look at my sleeping babies and thank God for those flesh-wrapped miracles He gave me...and ask for the patience and wisdom and all the love He has for me to pour out on them. Because I only have so much time before my job will be done and they won't be here driving me crazy. They won't want to cuddle with me on the couch and read 22 books - or one book 22 times. And regardless of how silly it sounds, I KNOW - without a doubt - that I'll want this moment back. For this moment, time will slow down.

Saturday, March 3, 2012

TOS Review: K5 Learning


K5 Learning is an online educational site that offers your children lessons in 4 different areas - math, math drills, reading and spelling. There are lessons provided for kindergarteners to 5th graders. There are learning assessments that your children will take and will automatically place them where they should begin academically.

I have had three children using this site for some time now. Connor (5th grade) has mostly used the spelling program, but also did a few reading lessons. Chloe (3rd grade) has used the math, spelling and reading. Canon has worked in all four areas.

For the most part, all three of the children enjoyed these lessons. Connor thought they were a little young for him, but I thought the content was engaging. He used deductive reasoning and had to use some skills he doesn't always excel in in order to answer the review questions. Chloe did really well with this program, and Canon did, too.

Unfortunately, none of my children liked the spelling program. The format is very simple, and I was surprised how much my kids disliked it. The word is spoken for them and they are given a box to type the word in. Below the box, the definition is listed and it is used in a sentence. They type it in and press enter. If they made any mistakes, they are given a second chance; below the box this time, there is a clue given. For example, if the word is comfortable and the student wrote comftorble, the clue would look like this: comf****ble. That way the student can see what he got correct and what he missed. If they miss it again, the word is flashed in the box, then flashed letter by letter. Then they have to type it again by memory...until they get it right. The shortest list is 15 words, and you have to do the missed words again at the end of the lesson. Connor felt like it would never end! Even Chloe, who is an excellent speller, got very disgusted with this process.

Chloe and Canon did the math lessons for their appropriate grade level. They both really enjoyed it, but I am not sure how much I liked it. The lessons were incredibly short, and I didn't feel like they built upon one another. It was all over the map regarding content, and I couldn't tell how much either one was retaining. One thing they both agreed that they didn't like about it was that you couldn't do anything on the screen until the automated voice was done speaking, even if you read it yourself. Her explanations were very long, and her voice really got on their nerves.

Math Drills
Canon is the only one who did this part, and he didn't care much for it. We have seen many online math drill pages, and I couldn't see anything wrong with this one. However, there was nothing that really made it stand out, either.

K5 Learning has some different pricing options - a monthly rate and a yearly rate. You can pay $25 a month ($15 for each additional child) or $199 a year ($129 for each additional child). They also offer a free trial for new users. Make use of the free trial offer, it may be a great fit for your family.


*Don't just take my word for it! Check out some of my fellow TOS Crew Members' reviews HERE.

**Disclaimer: I received this product via TOS Homeschool Crew in exchange for an honest review. I was not required to write a positive review; all opinions stated are mine or my children's.

Friday, March 2, 2012

TOS REVIEW: Reading Eggs


My baby turns four tomorrow...and I am not handling it well. So when people ask me when I plan to start formally "schooling" him, I really don't have my happy face on! I can't believe it's already time! I mean, I didn't think he was even ready for that...up to about six weeks ago, when Reading Eggs showed up in my inbox. Boy, was I wrong!

Reading Eggs is an online program that introduces children to the world of reading. It is geared for children aged three to seven, and can place a child on which level he/she should begin his learning journey. Since Caleb has not been formally taught any reading yet, we started at ground level. It is a gradual, fun process, using engaging characters and lots of music to get the child excited about learning. From day 1, Caleb was hooked! By day 2, he knew four letter sounds, and by day 5, he recognized a couple two-letter words. And he doesn't even realize how much he's learning...he just wants to play! This is what learning should feel like all the time for young children.

This is Sam - Caleb loves him!

Here are some things that we love about the program. First, Caleb can see how far he's gone and how far he has to go to his next level. The map is cute and fun, and it tracks your student's progress for you - so neat! Second, for every activity completed, they earn "egg money", which they can spend in the arcade. Caleb got so excited to see all the games he can play - it's just like some of the game sites his big brothers play on, but are too hard for him. These games are just right for his age level! Third, you can go back and do lessons again and again. This provides great review for when you think they "got" it, but actually didn't. We have had to revisit a few lessons when I realized he really didn't understand something. It's so nice to have that option!

Here is a photo of the map. On the sidebar, you can see how many eggs have been earned and how many places have been unlocked. We haven't even begun to learn about all the awesome things this website has in store for Caleb!

Another great thing about this program is the price. I can't believe how affordable it is, what with all the content it provides. I am certain that I will be buying a membership after my trial period. It's the hour of the day that Caleb looks forward to most right now, and that is worth every penny! Payments range from $9.95 a month to a greatly discounted yearly package for $75. There are even more discounts for additional children, as well. Check out the payment options here. There is also a two week free trial offer that you won't want to miss! And I don't want to forget to tell you about the reading books that you can purchase to coincide with the lessons your child is doing online. I can't wait to get my Level 1 pack for Caleb!

It's hard to watch my baby grow up. And I wasn't looking forward to doing this review specifically for that reason. However, this has really been one of my favorite sites all year. How quickly I'd forgotten the joy that springs up in my heart when I see my children learn new things - and be excited about it! I hope you check it out for your younger children. You won't be disappointed!!

*Don't just take my word for it! Check out some of my fellow TOS Crew Members' reviews HERE.

**Disclaimer: I received this product via TOS Homeschool Crew in exchange for an honest review. I was not required to write a positive review; all opinions stated are mine or my children's.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

TOS REVIEW: Beeyoutiful!


Do you ever think that if you could just get away to a spa for the weekend, everything else would be less stressful? Do you dream about being pampered and relaxed, but look at your schedule and realize it's just not going to happen? Or if you just had the time to take care of yourself, you would be healthier? Well, I know I have had moments like these...and BeeYouTiful can get you through some of these times!

BeeYouTiful - healthy living for the real world - offers a vast array of beauty and health products that will enhance your daily life. Their goal as a company is to promote individual responsibility for your own health. Here is a quote from their website:

"At, we believe that each individual is responsible for their own health. It is not a doctor's responsibility to keep you in good health. Instead they are a tremendous resource, especially for those times when urgent care is required. But, they are only one of many resources. And the tools they use, while powerful, are not the only tools available. But a tool is worthless unless one knows how to use it... As much as is in our power, we want to aid others in obtaining and maintaining good health."

I was sent the Winter Breeze Vapor Rub ($18)and the B.A.L.M. ($3) to review. Beeyoutiful skin products contain NO Parabens, Formaldehyde, Petroleum derived ingredients or SLS Detergents. They are all manufactured in the USA using pure, all natural ingredients.

The Winter Breeze Vapor Rub is a natural alternative to that blue jar we all grew up with. I was pleased to have this supplement this winter, especially for the little guy. Rubbing this concoction made of body-friendly coconut and olive oils, beeswax, camphor, menthol, eucalyptus, wintergreen, and tea tree oils gave him an easier night's sleep on several occasions. I was also encouraged to try the Vapor Rub as a foot treatment. I have very dry, cracked feet in the winter time, and I was pleased with the outcome. I would apply the salve on my feet generously right before bedtime, pull on my thick socks and let the Vapor Rub do its work. The slight gentle tingling was so nice, and my feet felt great the next morning. (Caution - it may take several weeks to see healing results.) Oh, it felt wonderful!


The other product I got to test was the B.A.L.M. - Beeyoutiful All Natural Lip Moisturizer. This comes in two flavors, orange and peppermint. I tried the peppermint, and really loved the tingling sensation it left for the first little bit after applying. I am not sure if I saw great improvement in my lip state, however. My children and I all get very chapped lips in the winter. But this winter has been incredibly mild, and our lips never got in a terrible state. For daily use, the B.A.L.M. is fine, but not sure if it is strong enough to heal severely chapped lips.


I look forward to perusing this website more. They have so many products that I'm excited to try, and I hope you find something you like as well!

*Don't just take my word for it! Check out some of my fellow TOS Crew Members' reviews HERE.

**Disclaimer: I received this product via TOS Homeschool Crew in exchange for an honest review. I was not required to write a positive review; all opinions stated are mine or my children's.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012



ALEKS, which stands for Assessment and LEarning in Knowledge Spaces, is a comprehensive, online math program that will assess and teach your child in every aspect of their mathematical education at the level they should be. It is a great way of finding out where your child is in their mathematical skills, comparing them with your state's standards. While I typically don't concern myself with these types of comparisons, it was a nice way to determine how my students stacked up with other students their age.

When beginning this program, each student is given a mathematical assessment test. WARNING: THIS TEST IS LONG, INTENSIVE, AND BORING! (basically Connor's words ;D) However, the information provided by this assessment is essential in placing your child where they should be for the remainder of time you are using this program. The assessment consists of about 60 questions pertaining to all math subjects your state requires public school students to know upon completion of their grade. So it's important to remember that if you are just beginning the school year, or are only half-way through, you should not expect your student to have mastery of all subjects.

My favorite part of the assessment is the fact that ALEKS lets your student work on what they already know, and pass on topics they are not familiar with. If they come to a question they have never seen, they click the button, "I haven't learned this yet." I loved that - there was no blind guessing! Once the assessment is finished, the student receives their pie.


This chart is broken into a number of pieces representing the different math subjects. Inside each pie, you will see a shaded area that represents the percentage of mastery your student has. For example, in the above graphic there are 62 areas of geometry to be covered at this grade level. The student has mastered 20 of the 62 geometry topics. The pie lets the student see, on a regular basis, what progress he has made. Connor absolutely loves seeing his pie get filled in - it is very satisfying to him.

The great thing about this learning method is twofold.

1) The student gets to choose which topic they work on each day. I required Connor to work on 3 different topics - they could be review or new information - but he chose which topics he would work on. There is also a review page, showing you what they've covered in the past. I required him to review 3 topics every Friday.

2) When the student comes to a new topic, they will hit the button EXPLAIN. They will be taken to a new screen that will teach them how to solve the problem (ie: finding mode and range). They will learn the definition of each process, and they will be taken through a sample problem step-by-step.

"I really like ALEKS," Connor told me. "It's annoying when I don't know how to do a new problem, but I like that it teaches me how to do each new problem. Then I get to see how much I have learned with my pie. And I like working on the computer instead of in a book. It's pretty cool."

As for the parent/teacher, there is so much to this site. You have a master account homepage that lets you check on each student's progress whenever you like. You can set up how often you want them reevaluated, check on how often they are logging in, how much time they spend on each lesson, and a great breakdown of their assessment tests.


I was very impressed with ALEKS. I liked seeing Connor learn a new topic every day and see him progress through many different concepts in such a short time. There were some great things about this program, but there were also a few things I didn't care for.

First, some of the tools were a little touchy. You have to use an electronic ruler, protractor, and such. Sometimes I would be certain Connor had done a problem correctly, and the computer would say he hadn't. I know it was because he didn't click the button correctly or something minor.

Another thing that concerned me was what ALEKS considered a level of mastery. There were some topics that were considered mastered after getting 3 questions in a row correct. Now in some cases, I would agree that he grasped the concept that quickly and was ready to move on. But sometimes, I believed he definitely needed more practice in a certain area. That is why I required a review day every week.

Subscriptions are available for $19.95 a month, $99.95 for 6 months of access, or $179.95 for 12 months. For families with more than one child, discount pricing is available. However, as much as I liked the program, I'm afraid that it is well over our price range for one school subject. Try it for yourself, though, and see what you think. They are offering my readers a FREE 2 month trial. You and your family may consider it a great value! Click on the button below.


*Don't just take my word for it! Check out some of my fellow TOS Crew Members' reviews HERE.

**Disclaimer: I received this product via TOS Homeschool Crew in exchange for an honest review. I was not required to write a positive review; all opinions stated are mine or my children's.