Monday, December 28, 2009


As a 2nd year member of the TOS Homeschool Crew, I have been given the wonderful opportunity to review many homeschool products over the next several months. The only compensation that I receive for my review is the free product. I feel truly blessed to be participating in this review group and I'm looking forward to trying out more products and giving you my honest opinion.

Seriously. I have reviewed a. lot. of math products over the last year and a half. I feel like every time I turn around I'm writing another post about math. As a matter of fact, in the next couple of weeks I will be writing at least two more posts about math. Which is really kind of funny because I don't like math. But I have to admit, I do like Mathletics.

I was first introduced to Mathletics a couple of years ago when G9 participated in the World Math Day event that they host at their site. This is a fun event where students can compete against students all over the world doing timed math problems. It was really neat watching my then 7 year old compete against other 7 year olds from the United Kingdom, Australia, and more. I had no idea that a subscription to would allow him to do this all year long!

But that's only the beginning of what you will get with a Mathletics subscription. First, your student will get to create their own Avatar. (This is like creating a Mii on the Wii games.) I'm not sure what the attraction to this is, but our kids absolutely love creating these cartoon versions of themselves. Once they do this, they will begin to "play". But actually, they are really reviewing math facts!

Your student will be given categories of math facts to review based on their grade level, but the Mathletics will adapt the categories to your student offering more problems in their weak areas and less in the areas that they have already perfected. When they complete drills and tests they are awarded with printable certificates and points that can be "spent" by "buying" extras for their avatar (like backgrounds, clothes, and accessories). Like I said before, they can also compete with other students around the world in Live play, but there is no communication among students keeping a safe online experience.

As a parent, you will have access to your student's reports, allowing you to see and print the work that they have been doing. You will even get a weekly progress report via email.

Mathletics is being used in schools and homes around the world. You can read through this brochure about the benefits of using Mathletics with homeschool.

Truly the only thing that I'm not necessarily thrilled about is the price of the subscription. A year long subscription to Mathletics is $59 per student. However, you can get $10 off that price if you know the Human Calculator's favorite number (it's 9 btw). Still that's awfully pricey for a large family like mine. It's not that I don't think Mathletics is worth $59 per student per year, it's just that I can't afford it! That's why I was absolutely thrilled when another homeschool mom contacted Mathletics and was told that they could get the reduced school rate (only $10 per student per year!) if they could get 25 subscribers. Sign me up, because that is SO worth it!! You'll need to contact Mathletics yourself to get the details, as I couldn't find any on their site. Apparently one homeschool mom will need to organize and collect the money, but each parent will be able to manage their own students' accounts.

Like I said before, I've tried a lot of math products. So far, Mathletics is our favorite!

For more reviews, check out the TOS Crew blog.

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Friday, December 18, 2009


As a 2nd year member of the TOS Homeschool Crew, I have been given the wonderful opportunity to review many homeschool products over the next several months. The only compensation that I receive for my review is the free product. I feel truly blessed to be participating in this review group and I'm looking forward to trying out more products and giving you my honest opinion.

I know I'm posting a review right in the middle of Christmas Movie Unit Study posts, but I really needed to get this review up and its been a little crazy around here this week. I promise I will let you know about the rest of our Movie unit!

In the meantime I wanted to tell you about this neat product that we got the opportunity to review. Being a part of the Crew has been so awesome, because we are constantly getting the chance to try out things that we maybe never would have otherwise.

We received a 3 month subscription to Tektoma, which is an online game tutorial for kids. What does that mean? It means your kids can actually learn how to create their own computer games!

Tektoma was created by Tom Marx and Matilda O'Connor. They actually run summer camps for children interested in computers and technology. They had a desire to "provide 24 hour a day, 365 days per year access to engaging video tutorials that teach children game programming" and so Tektoma was born.

The tutorials are geared towards children age 7-17 and include instructions on how to make many simple arcade style games including a racing game, memory game, fantasy game, and more.

Windows XP or Vista is a requirement to use this program as is a free downloadable game software. (Instructions to download are given when you sign up.) It's also recommended to have a broadband connection.

G9 and I were the only ones big enough in this house to really give this program a try... (well, that statement doesn't give my hubby much credit, does it?) Okay, G9 and I were the only ones big enough and who had enough time to try this program out.

How we felt about it: I actually felt like the video tutorials were very thorough. I wouldn't necessarily say that it is an easy to follow program, however. I have always been a bit of a slow learner when it came to anything science, math, or technology related. So, I had to stop, rewind the video tutorial, and try again several times while attempting to create a game. G9 was interested at first, but needed my help to work through it...apparently he takes after his mom on the technology end. He became bored with it after about a half an hour and to be honest, I sort of did as well.

That being said, I really don't want to leave you with a negative view of this product. It's actually a good product, but just not necessarily one that hits a particular interest for our family. Tektoma offers a safe learning environment for kids. None of their games include any inappropriate content such as language or violence. Membership also includes a private and secure Member's Only Forum to post questions.

14.95 per month or $140 per year gets you access to all the tutorials as well as online help via the forums. It's payable by credit card or Paypal on the Tektoma website. You can also try Tektoma for free for 14 days.

Many of my crew members found great success with Tektoma and their kids really enjoyed making computer games on their own. You can read their reviews here.

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Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Christmas Movie Unit - Day 2

It's A Wonderful Life

Our second day of our Movie Unit was focused on the classic Christmas tale, It's A Wonderful Life. Now, I have to admit that I had not actually seen this movie until today...I know, I know it's like blasphemous or unpatriotic or something equally as terrible...and we actually didn't get to complete the whole thing as our movie was interrupted by Baby L's speech therapy appointment. But we will be finishing the movie later.

It was a little hard to prepare lessons for this movie, since I hadn't seen it. There are a couple links on the site that I got the Christmas Movie Unit idea from, but they are geared towards older kids. I knew that the main character in the movie had a guardian angel, so I decided to theme our lessons around angels.

First we read about biblical angels at this site.

Then we did an art study of famous paintings with angels at this site. We continued to dialogue about biblical angels, specifically the descriptions of what angels look like (and the lack of biblical descriptions) and how artists have given their own interpretations.

The kids then drew their own angels.

We also worked on some simple spelling and copywork worksheets (Christmas and angel themed) from Enchanted Learning. Some worksheets are available for free there, but we have a membership which allows us access to all of thier worksheets.

BTW, here's a picture of our Who Pudding that we made for our Grinch study yesterday:

I've never had rice pudding before and the best I can really give it was that it tasted ...interesting. The kids seemed to like it, but I think it was really just the novelty of it that they liked.

Tomorrow: Miracle on 34th Street

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Monday, December 14, 2009

Christmas Movie Unit - Day 1

How the Grinch Stole Christmas

I recently came across these homeschool lesson plans for a Christmas Movie Unit. This is a perfect time of the year to do a unit based on movies because we're just too busy to do a unit based on anything else! Besides, its impossible to get through the season and not curl up to watch a few Christmas classics, so we might as well turn them into a homeschool lesson.

The hardest part was narrowing it down to just one movie a day. Our plan for the week:

Monday: How the Grinch Stole Christmas (Cartoon)

Tuesday: It's a Wonderful Life

Wednesday: Miracle on 34th Street

Thursday: Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer

Friday: The Nutcracker Prince

So this morning we all gathered around to watch the Grinch's heart grow three sizes and then discussed these questions about the movie. We also took an online quiz about the movie here.

To add a little living math and home-ec skills, we also made Who Pudding. It'll be ready in the morning.

While we were waiting for the pudding to cook, the kids made these Grinch Masks and worked this Whoville Word search.

Our big project of the day to create a Whoville newspaper. The kids searched through our own local newspaper to see what a newspaper should look like.

Here they are with their finished product:

Yeah, the masks are a little creepy. Anyone have a handgun and a getaway car?

The Whoville Chronicles based out of Whoville, Onthespeck (get it?) turned out great though. G9 and A7 were both assigned articles to write and all four of the oldest came up with Who advertisements.


G9: Flying Dee Stoogle for only $1.

A7: Buy your Rainbow Tree today at Toys-R-Who.

E5: The Sock Walk. It's Remote Controlled and helps you walk when you've broken your leg!

H4: The Dora Who Doll. She talks, walks, and moves her hands. Buy at Who-Mart!


Miracle on Who Lane!
How the Grinch Stole Christmas
and came back with it.
By: Gavin Wavin Who

The day before Christmas the Grinch heard everybody getting ready for Christmas. That night he decided to steal Christmas!

He dressed up as St. Nick, using red paper and pillow stuffing. He put a horn on his dog Max which made him look like a reindeer.

"Well, I was just jealous of everybody," the Grinch told reporters. "I was thinking that if I stole the Who’s Christmas, then they would all be miserable like me."

The Grinch rode down to Who-Ville on his sleigh and began to take everything.

Six year old Eli Wiili Who said, "He took all of my toys! My bang-boogle, my airplane with a exploding dee-stoogle. He even took our roast beast!"

When the Grinch was going through the Who houses, little Cindy Lou Who almost caught the Grinch. She saw him trying to take her Christmas tree and asked him what he was doing. But he thought of a lie, and gave Cindy Lou Who a glass of water and sent her to bed.

Then the Grinch drove his sleigh full of Who stuff to the top of the Who Mountain to wait to hear the sad cries of Who people.

"Instead of Who cries," the Grinch said. "I heard the singing of Whos. They were singing and singing. It made my heart three sizes bigger!"

After his change of heart , the Grinch decided to take the Who stuff back down to Who-Ville. He gave all the toys back to the children. Then the Grinch himself carved the roast beast during the annual Who Christmas feast.

Grinch Almost Caught!
Cindy Lou Who’s Story
By: Aubrey Wabrey Who

When the Grinch was stealing from the Whos, he stopped at Cindy Lou Whos house. Cindy Lou
Who is 2 years old and is very small. She has short blonde hair and wears pink dresses.

As the Grinch was trying to stuff the tree up the chimney, an ornament fell and woke Cindy from her sleep. She went downstairs to see what was going on.

"I saw Santy Claus trying to stuff my tree up the chimney!" Cindy Lou Who explained.
But it really wasn’t Santa Claus that Cindy saw. It was the Grinch. But he told Cindy a lie.

"I told little Cindy that the light was broken on the tree and that I needed to take it to my workshop to fix it." the Grinch told reporters.

"I believed Santy Claus - I mean, Mr. Grinch. He gave me a glass of water and sent me to bed." said Cindy Lou Who.

In the morning, little Cindy Lou Who woke up to no presents and no tree. "I felt really sad that Mr. Grinch tricked me. But even though we didn‘t have presents, we still had love." Cindy then went out with her family to sing Christmas songs.

"I was so surprised when Mr. Grinch came back with our presents. I always forgive my friends, so I forgave Mr. Grinch." Pin It Now!

Friday, December 11, 2009

I Love Blue Eyes

Strong eyes. Eyes that laugh and love. That look at me confused. Eyes that forgive. Eyes of my beloved.

Eyes like his daddy's. Eyes that are concerned, curious. Eyes that think they know everything, but have just begun. Nine year old eyes.

Demanding eyes. Eyes that are beautiful, but questions it. Eyes that are looking to see who's looking back. Compassionate eyes. Seven year old eyes.

Laugh out loud eyes. Eyes that surprise me with wit and intelligence. Eyes that will get lost if I don't draw them out. Brave eyes. Six year old eyes.

Passionate eyes. Eyes full of emotions. Eyes that are silly, laughing, adoring one moment and reserved, stubborn, or furious the next. Eyes that are always lovely. Four year old eyes.

Irresistible eyes. Eyes that flirt. That explore. Mischievous eyes. Eyes that always tell the truth. Two year old eyes.

Independent eyes. Eyes that want to know, want to be adored, and wants to do it on her own. Eyes that are wild and free and innocent. One year old eyes.

Cherished eyes. Eyes that wonder and instill wonder all at the same time. Eyes that remind me that there is a God who loves me more than I know. Three month old eyes.

These are the eyes that I love.

Thanks to Rebecca at Renaissance for posting the Foto Friday Challenge: Eyes. Looking forward to participating in more!

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Thursday, December 10, 2009

Kids make gifts...again

I posted earlier about the Kid's Craft Bazzar that our children participated in and the Christmas stockings and scarves that they made. Here are two more simple crafts that they made for the Bazaar...

First, they made beaded bookmarks. I pretty much just handed them some craft string and beads and let them do their thing. They sold these for 50 cents a piece.

They also made Christmas Tree ornaments from pine cones. I got the directions from Enchanted Learning. It was a simple project but very messy. Needless to say, the kids loved it.

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Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Chrismas Photo Cards for $5!

"We're going to take family pictures today!" I announced one day last week. So Chad and I headed downstairs to the family closet...yes, we have a family closet but that's a post for another pick outfits for each of the kids.

An hour and not too many tears later everyone was dressed, brushed, and scrubbed. We headed outside armed with two white sheets, a step stool, and a camera. I draped one sheet across our deck railing and laid the other on the deck floor. With the stool in the middle, we started arranging children.

Every picture was adorable and since I was taking them myself, I didn't have to pay an outrageous fee or pick out my favorites. I could keep them all...for free!

Here are a couple of our favorites...

The sunny day made for great lighting which was really what made the pictures turn out so good. My photo editing software was also helpful when it came to cropping and erasing the shadows from the deck rails that shown through in some of the pictures. My favorite editing software is Memory Manager from Creative Memories. I used to be a CM Consultant and the investment in that software has been well worth it.

Also well worth the investment, is the digital scrapbooking software they offer, Storybook Plus. This is what I used to create my Christmas cards. I googled 'free digital scrapbooking' and found that there are many sites that have digital scrapbooking programs that can be downloaded for free. I can't vouch for any of them, so you'll have to do your own research if you're wanting to try them out.

The key is that when you create your card you need to make sure that you choose a 'custom size' of 4 by 6 inches. Design your Christmas card however you like using your digital scrapbooking program.

Here's how ours turned out...

The reason you want your card to be in a 4x6 size is because you can now order your cards as 4x6 prints. I usually order from because they often run deals for 10 cent 4x6 prints. Also, I can usually pick them up in an hour or less from my local walgreens store. I bought 50 Christmas cards for $5.

By the way, if I ordered the customized photo cards from walgreens I would have had to pay $12.99 for 20 cards. The only difference is that mine are a different size.

I've used my digital scrapbook program to make birth announcements, birthday invitations, and thank you cards as well. My program is really easy to use and it usually takes less than 15 minutes to create a card.

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Tuesday, December 8, 2009

An Apple A Day - Christmas Gift Idea

Santa's list may be long, but if you're family is anything like mine then you know that I have a pretty long list of people to buy for as well. Our cash flow is certainly limited, but I know that homemade can add that special touch to turn an inexpensive gift into a gift of real worth.

I was at a friend's house recently and tasted some of her delicious apple butter. When she assured me that it was very easy to make, I decided that jars of apple butter would be the perfect gift for extended family members and friends. Because it was so easy to make and I had so much extra, I was even able to pull a jar out this morning to give to Baby L's physical therapist ... spreading a little Christmas cheer on a moment's notice!

The trick to apple butter is that it takes a. long. time. to cook. I found a few recipes online and kind of meshed them together to make it the way I wanted.

Apple Butter Recipe

about 6 lbs. apples - peeled, cored, and sliced
4 cups white sugar
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/4 teaspoon allspice
1/4 teaspoon salt

1. Place apples in a large pot on the stove with a little water in the bottom (about an inch). Cover and bring to a boil. Stir occassionally and cook until apples can be sliced through with a spoon.

2. You may want to drain off excess water, but keep it in a bowl or cup nearby. Using a food processor or hand mixer, blend to the consistency of applesauce. You can slowly add applejuice that you drained off back in, if your applesauce does not seem to thin.

3. In a separate bowl, mix sugar, cinnamon, cloves, allspice, and salt.

4. Combine applesauce and sugar mixture in a slow cooker. Cover and cook on low for 10-11 hours, stirring occassionally so that it doesn't burn.

5. Remove lid and continue cooking on low for one more hour.

I was able to fill about 10 small jars with one batch.

If you have a breadmaker, you can even bake a few loaves of homemade bread to go along with your apple butter.

At a Christmas party this weekend, we gave a loaf of whole-wheat bread, a jar of apple butter, and a Christmas card to each of the eight families there. An inexpensive and delicious Christmas gift!

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Monday, December 7, 2009

No Sew Fleece Scarves

Cheap...easy...and fun! This is a great project for kids and a wonderful gift idea. I found fleece on sale for less than $2 a yard and chose several colors to make winter scarves. I only bought a half a yard of each fabric which was enough for 3 scarves each.

First, we folded over the fabric so that the salvage edges met. Cut off the salvage edge with a rotary cutter. Keeping the fabric folded your kids should cut the fabric into three scarves. Each scarf will be about 7 to 9 inches in width.

Then they will use a ruler and the rotary cutter to cut one-inch wide fringe along the ends. They will need to make them about 5 inches long. Once again, as long as the fabric is folded, they will be able to cut both ends at the same time. (Just make sure they don't cut the folded end!)

Once the fringe is cut, they will need to use the rotary cutter again to make a small slit above each strip of fringe. Then they will take each strip and pull it through the slit. This adds a nice decorative touch to the ends of your scarves.

Here's our pile of completed and folded fleece scarves.

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Sunday, December 6, 2009

Sew Easy Your Kids Can Do It!

Our homeschool group decided to host a Kid's Craft Bazaar at a local mall this year. Our kid's have been working hard the past couple of weeks making crafts to sell at the Bazaar.

When I first announced the project to the kids, they were up for it but slightly creatively challenged. Most of their ideas centered around making things from cardboard boxes. Figuring no one fork over a dollar, even at a Kid's Craft Bazaar, for anything made from a cardboard box, I suggested that maybe it was time for the oldest two to learn how to use the sewing machine.

Luckily for me, I had just had the opportunity to make Christmas stockings for a prison ministry with the lovely ladies in my prayer group which is where this stocking pattern came from.

So the kid's and I picked out some Christmas fabric that was on sale for less than $2 a yard. I only bought half a yard of each fabric, but we were still able to get two stockings out of each.

As you can see in the picture above, you'll need to draw and cut out a simple stocking pattern out of large plain paper. Remember that once sewn, your stocking will be slightly smaller so allow for that in your pattern.

Have your children fold the fabric in half (right sides together) and trace the pattern onto the fabric.

Once the pattern is traced, they can cut it out. Since the fabric is folded, they will be cutting both sides of the stocking at once.

H4 isn't quite proficient with scissors yet, but she was able to help by pinning the stockings together once they were cut. (Remember right sides together!)

Both G8 and A7 were able to operate the sewing machine very well. A7 did most of the sewing, though.

This is a great first sewing project, because the next step is to simply sew from one top corner of the stocking, down and around the foot, and straight up to the next top corner. (Leave the top open.)

Notice in the picture above that I just instructed the kids to keep the outside edge of the fabric aligned with edge of the foot to make sure they were sewing straight. You'll definitely want to sit right next to them if it is their first time with the sewing machine and expect mistakes. Remind them that practice makes perfect!

Unfortunately I didn't take pictures of the next step, it was pretty simple.

First you want to show the kids how to turn the stockings right side out. Then they will need to turn the top edge inside about a half an inch so that it can be hemmed. But first it must be ironed! G8 was really good with the iron and we didn't even need to pin the fabric in place to hem the top.

Your child should open the stocking and slide it onto the sewing machine to hem the top. But before they hem, they will need to cut about 5 inches of ribbon and form a loop. Slide the loop on the inside of the stocking and they will start to hem at that spot. But don't let them go to far...

Once they've sewn just far enough to pass the loop, instruct your child to sew backwards to lock it into place. Then choose a pretty lace as a border and secure it under the foot as well. They will need to make sure that they continue to line the lace along the edge as they sew it on and hem the top of the stocking all at once. Once they make it all of the way around they will finish by overlapping and turning the lace under slightly.

Here are the kid's finished stockings! Pin It Now!

Friday, December 4, 2009

A Week of Christmas Fun!

The tree is up and the advent studies have's beginning to look a lot like Christmas! That's why I'll be devoting next week's blog posts to all-things-Christmas. We've got Christmas lessons, crafts, recipes, and gift ideas. I've got enough ideas for at least one post a day, so check back often!

Let's start out with a few...okay, a lot of ideas for your advent season...

I cannot begin to tell you how much we enjoyed Christmas last year simply because of participating in advent. Before last year, advent was always a little mysterious to me...but after a little research I found that it really just boils down to taking a little bit of time each day of December to focus on the true meaning of Christmas as a family. You can see my post about advent from last year here.

Once again, we are taking a pause from our regular studies during the month of December to focus on our advent studies. Advent does not have to take the place of your regular studies, but we tend to find ourselves ready to mix things up a bit by this time of the year.

Okay the two resources that get my HIGHEST recommendation this year are the Jotham's Journey series and the Advent Idea Box.

The Advent Idea Box is a FREE online resource and created by my good friend, Jenn. She has put together daily lesson plans including devotionals, games, craft ideas, recipes and more. Jenn has truly taken all the hard work out of planning an advent unit study and is so generous to offer this resource for free!

Bartholomew's Passage is the second book in a beautiful trilogy. (The first book is Jotham's Journey.) Choose one of these books to read aloud each night as a family during advent. The stories are wonderfully written, edge-of-your-seat, true Christmas tales and each evening's passage includes a devotional.

We will be using both of these resources this year as well as a few more.

Now for more freebies...

Audrey's Christmas Page has loads of links to coloring pages, crafts, recipes...oh, there's too much to list. You'll have to look for yourself!

Here is a Christmas Movie Unit Study for homeschoolers with lessons based on four Christmas movies: How the Grinch Stole Christmas, Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer, It's a Wonderful Life, and A Christmas Carol.

A free unit study to download on The Names of Jesus. Each day your kids will study a different name of Jesus. I really like this one.

Free printable ornaments and idea to Make a Jesse Tree.

Christmas Nativity Felt Board Fun.

Christmas Crafts and printables at Enchanted Learning.

Free Nativity Lapbook to print.

Free Christmas Symbols lapbook.

Free Christmas Customs lapbook.

Free Christmas Around the World Unit.

Well, that should keep you busy for now! Check back next week for more ideas!

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Thursday, December 3, 2009

So much to blog about, so little time...

The posts are brewing in my mind and the pictures are saved on my computer. I plan on playing "post catch-up" very soon.

I just can't right now because I have apple butter cooking in the slow-cooker, a loaf of whole wheat bread in the bread maker, I promised G8 a game of Scrabble Slam, we're leaving in an hour for dinner at a friend's house, and I'm still in my pjs.

A quick update on Chad: he had the second interview at a possible job today. Please pray for us...we think they will be offering him this job and the income potential would be very good...but it's 100% commission...yikes! Pin It Now!

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Exercise meets Math

As a 2nd year member of the TOS Homeschool Crew, I have been given the wonderful opportunity to review many homeschool products over the next several months. The only compensation that I receive for my review is the free product. I feel truly blessed to be participating in this review group and I'm looking forward to trying out more products and giving you my honest opinion.

Alright, I'm just gonna be real honest here... exercise and math are definitely two of my least favorite things to participate in. So imagine my surprise when I popped in our new GyMathtics DVD from Exploramania and found that the combination of the two was actually a lot of fun.

Carrie Schneiner is a mom and the founder of Exploramania. She created the GyMathtics videos when she discovered the need for an opportunity for her children to combine education with physical activity. I have to admit, I was pretty impressed with GyMathtics and my kids have a blast with it. We have been using it weekly since we got it.

The math on the first edition of GyMathtics is geared for 2nd-5th grades. (There is a GyMathtics 2.0 with math geared toward 4th and up.) The video lasts for 30 minutes and includes the following:

Shape Stretches Warm Up: Stretch your mind and body with line, circle, and polygon stretches.

Counting Calisthenics: Aerobic movements work your heart as fun counting concepts work your brain.

Pattern Power: Growing and repeating pattern exercise combinations challenge minds and strengthen muscles.

Well-Being Wind Down: Relaxing stretches cool down the body and open the mind to think about healthy lifestyle choices including the Nice Wave Stretch and Big Dream Stretch.

You can see a full list of the math details here and sample video segments of the dvd here.

I found the math seemed just right for my 3rd and 2nd graders if not a little bit challenging, and I could see it being useful review for at least a couple of years to come. I really like the idea of combining exercise and education because we've always felt that it was beneficial to start our homeschool day with a little exercise to "wake our bodies up". With GyMathtics we can wake our bodies and our minds up!

I did notice that it seemed like the first two segments of the DVD were recorded in a basement or some sort of small place. The background was rather dark and the camera was often placed at weird angles (instead of a front view). Also we really don't care for the last segment, The Well-Being Wind Down. Instead of reviewing math facts, the voice-over plays "healthy lifestyle choices" messages. I don't think there is anything wrong with an exercise video suggesting tips on how to make healthier choices, but since it is combined with the cool down segment it gives a little bit of a New Age vibe.

GyMathtics sells for $24.99 and I would definitely suggest checking it out to see if it would be a right fit for your kiddos. You'll find more reviews of this product at the TOS Crew blog.

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Friday, November 27, 2009

Christmas Sale on our website!

I wanted to let you all know about a sale that we are having over at Integritas Acadamy. (Our family's online business.)

BTW, if you want to blog about the sale, including a link to our site, I'll send you the files to one of our Integritas Academy File Folder Games for FREE! Just leave me a comment below to let me know that you've posted and which file folder game you would like. (Don't forget to include your email!)

Here's the info:

Merry Christmas from our family to yours!

Our lowest price ever...

Purchase Integritas Academy File Folder Games Collection 1 CD-ROM and SAVE!!!

17 games for only $15 $10!!! (until Dec. 25th)

(plus s&h)

FFG Collection 1


AM or PM
Buried Treasure
Busy Buzzing Numbers
Contraction Contraption
Counting Coins
Crocodile Chomp
Crocodile Chomp Addition & Subtraction

Don't be Late!
Let's Play Doubles!
Let's Play Doubles! Multiplication
Letter Match

Name That State
Parking Patterns

Rainbow Ice Cream
Seasons Change
Skip Counting
Who Has the Patience for all these Patients?


Purchase one for you and all your friends. We will gift wrap and mail to multiple addresses for FREE!**

Visit Integritas Academy now to purchase!

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Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Needing your prayers again.

I'm searching for the right words tonight...real words.

I know that God is here. And I believe with all my soul that He is here. But I have been having a hard time feeling that He is here.

It's my fault, of course. Because I move and I move without stopping and sometimes without thinking. And then all of the sudden life happens. A blow. A punch in the gut and I'm not prepared, because though He is here, I wasn't drawing near.

Our most recent blow...Chad lost his job about a week and half ago. I could go on a bitter rampage about how wrong they were in their reasonings and the way they did it. But I won't because it doesn't matter.

If I'm honest, though, I am bitter. But it didn't start a week and half ago. It started almost three years ago when our financial famine really began. It's been three years of not answering the phone without checking the caller ID, of late fees, of red letters on our back statements, of robbing Peter to pay Paul, of gift cards "from Jesus" left on our front porch, and of praying for an end but hearing silence. We have been living paycheck to paycheck and right now there isn't any coming.

Funny thing is...I'm not panicked. And better than that, I'm beginning to feel Him again. I'm beginning to see His hand moving. And I'm beginning to think that this is not a curse at all, but that God is answering our prayers.

Don't get me wrong...we've had interviews, but no callbacks.

Would you pray for us again? Pray that God moves another miracle for our family. Pray that this job loss is actually the end of our financial woes and not the beginning. And pray that I would find my comfort and strength from the only One who can truly give it to me.

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Monday, November 23, 2009

Life on the Farm for preschoolers

As a 2nd year member of the TOS Homeschool Crew, I have been given the wonderful opportunity to review many homeschool products over the next several months. The only compensation that I receive for my review is the free product. I feel truly blessed to be participating in this review group and I'm looking forward to trying out more products and giving you my honest opinion.

It's not often that I can find a game that all of my children enjoy playing but the Preschool Edition of Life on the Farm has become a big hit around our house recently. H4 has been especially excited about this new game since she can be her own player...instead of being a "helper" to another older player.

So what makes this game so appealing? For starters the board and pieces are made of a thick, durable foam that is so appropriate for little destroyers...uh, I mean toddlers/preschoolers. The gameboard is actually four large puzzle pieces, which makes just putting the board together a fun game in and of itself. The characters on the board are cute and colorful and the game play is simple and fun.

Players are each given a barn shaped, foam board and move around the board collecting shapes with different farm animals on them to fit like a puzzle piece in their barn. Players can be pre-readers as well since they move around the board simply by drawing a card. The card will show them where to move. For example, if there are two blue squares on the card the player simple moves to the second blue square from where they are on the board.

I absolutely loved that this was a game that even E2 could play. Of course he still needed help, but he had a blast collecting his farm animals and fitting them into his board. And I wasn't worried at all about him bending or tearing the pieces. It's also been wonderful to pull Life on the Farm out when I am otherwise occupied with the baby since this is a game that doesn't require my instruction or supervision. I recently sent the kids upstairs to play it while Baby L's home therapists were over for a consultation. All of the kids played quietly without interrupting us!

The Original Life on the Farm Game (for ages 8 and up) and the Preschool Edition of Life on the Farm can be purchased from We R Fun, Inc. The Preschool Edition is $20.

For more reviews, visit the TOS Crew blog.

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As a 2nd year member of the TOS Homeschool Crew, I have been given the wonderful opportunity to review many homeschool products over the next several months. The only compensation that I receive for my review is the free product. I feel truly blessed to be participating in this review group and I'm looking forward to trying out more products and giving you my honest opinion.


AVKO is the creator of the popular homeschool curriculum, Sequential Spelling. What you may not know is that there are many more resources available on the AVKO website including a one-year membership for $25. When you join the AVKO membership, you are helping this non-profit organization in its "fight to bring literacy to all" as well as getting quite a few online perks.

As part of the TOS Crew, I received a one-year membership to AVKO to review. The perks of membership include:

* 25% discount on all printed AVKO materials

*Free ebooks:
The Patterns of English Spelling (All 10 Volumes) with Word Families in Sentence Context
To Teach a Dyslexic
Starting at Square One
The Teaching of Reading & Spelling: a Continuum from Kindergarten through College.
The Reading Teacher's List of Over 5,500 Basic Spelling Words

*AVKO newsletter

*MP3 Downloads of Don McCabe's workshops

*and more

It seemed that a lot of these materials were supplemental to the Sequential Spelling curriculum and since we don't use that, it was hard for me to find much that would really be beneficial to our homeschool. However if you are using this program, or have a child with reading problems such as dyslexia, than the $25 AVKO membership is a treasure trove of information for you.

Read more reviews at the TOS Crew blog. Pin It Now!


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