Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Dive Into Your Imagination - TOS Review

My kiddos LOVE the movie Finding Nemo, so imagine our excitement when we received the opportunity through the TOS crew to review a product from Dive Into Your Imagination called What Makes a Fish a Fish?

Ocean Annie (aka Annie Crawley) created Dive Into Your Imagination to change the way people view the ocean.  Before starting her own company, Ocean Annie worked around the world as a scuba diving instructor, boat captain, underwater photographer and cinematographer.   Annie was excited to follow her dreams of bringing the ocean to children when she created the company Dive Into Your Imagination.   Read Ocean Annie's full bio HERE.

What Makes a Fish a Fish is an enlightening DVD program recommended for ages 3-8 but even my 2 year old was fascinated by seeing the real "Nemo" and other interesting aquatic creatures.   We were blessed to review the What Makes A Fish comprehensive educator guide that is perfect for lapbooking, journaling and/or notebooking.   Broken down into segments the educator guide gives you ideas and printables for language arts, math and science for each video chapter.

What Makes A Fish, A Fish is the first DVD in the Dive Into Your Imagination series. This DVD teaches children about astounding fish from around the world. How do fish take a bath? Learn the truth about sharks. Play hide and seek on the reef. The underwater realm provides boundless opportunities for parents to learn and laugh with their children. An upbeat original score celebrates the ocean and brings it to life. The DVD has three audio tracks, English, Spanish and music only. Great as an entertaining teaching tool for the classroom too!

What Makes A Fish, A Fish won the 2008 Greatest Products call from iParenting Media Awards!

We really enjoyed watching the DVD and using the accompanying educational materials.  If your kids are into the ocean and what is under the sea then I highly recommend the Dive Into Your Imagination DVDs. Ocean Annie offers a few choices including Who Lives in the Sea and Dive Into Diversity!  Learn about her other DVDs HERE.  They all look so fun!  It was a simple way to incorporate fun science activities into our homeschool!

What Makes a Fish a Fish retails for $19.95.  Order your copy HERE.

The comprehensive educator guides retail for $69.95 each for a PDF or you can order all three guides in print for $299.00.  You can order those HERE.

Ocean Annie is also offering free shipping on any orders placed in June through her store  She will also be offering a special discount on the educator guides!

We had a great time Diving into our Imagination and I know my fellow crewmates did too!  To see what they thought of the DVDs click HERE.

Disclaimer:  We received Dive Into Your Imagination - What Makes a Fish a Fish free of charge in exchange for an honest review.  All opinions expressed herein are my own.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Heritage History for Young Readers- TOS Review

When I first began homeschooling I had many friends who were really into reading the classics in their homeschools.  I remember cringing and thinking "Classics?! UGH!!  I am not going to make my child read all those boring classics!"  But, hey, get this:  I was wrong.  I made a significant discovery somewhere in my homeschool journey...and that is that not all classics are boring.  (Don't get me wrong - some are a bit dry - it's true).  Once I made this important discovery I started seeking out opportunities to read good, wholesome - classic - stories.  What a TREASURE I have found in Heritage History!  A big HUGE thank you to Heritage History and the TOS crew for introducing me to this fabulous library of classics for children!

What is Heritage History all about?
The Heritage Classical Curriculum is the easiest, least expensive, and most enjoyable way to learn traditional history. Our "living books" reading program uses narrative histories that were popular with young people of earlier generations and features books of interest to students of all ages.

Heritage History takes a living books approach to teaching history.  This means that instead of reading from textbooks you read from a series of real books, adventure stories, biographies, and historical sketches to teach history.  This method of teaching history is fun, engaging and memorable.

Heritage History is also very affordable.  Your purchase of Heritage History is a "compact library" that gives you three ways of reading your books.  You pop in the CD and you can download your choice of PDF (print ready), MOBI or EPUB.  I chose PDF and saved them to my Nook.  There is so much flexibility!

We were given a copy of Heritage History for Young Readers and teachers guide to review.  This CD is an introduction to American History and Western Civilization that includes 86 classic stories.  How you incorporate this into your homeschool is completely up to you.  For our family, we are working on a unit study of George Washington and we read aloud from several choices.  Our favorite has been Pilgrim Stories!  While it would be hard to use as a stand-alone curriculum, due mainly to the fact that the books are all published in the early 1900s (or earlier) it is easily combined with other programs to give you a full history curriculum. 

Heritage History provides a thorough teachers guide with recommendations and guidelines for reading that outline the living books approach to learning.  They also include handy timelines and FAQ pages based on the time periods you are studying.   Their website is a wealth of information too that provides more detail on how to use Heritage History.

Heritage History offers a lot more curriculum choices!   

Choose from:
1.  Young Readers (Western Civilization & American History)
2.  Ancient Greece
3.  Ancient Rome
4.  British Empire
5.  British Middle Ages

How to buy Heritage History
Heritage History for Young Readers CD retails for $24.99 and can be purchased HERE.

The teachers guide is available as a download for $8.99 or a full color printed for $20.99.  Purchase the teachers guide HERE.

We really, really, LOVED Heritage History!  If you are interested in teaching through living books...classic stories...then you will find Heritage History to be a welcome addition to your homeschool library!

To find out what my fellow crewmates thought of Heritage History, click HERE.

Disclaimer:  We received Heritage History free of charge in exchange for an honest review.  All opinions expressed herein are my own.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

WriteShop - TOS Review & Discount Code!

Writing is such an essential skill!  Of course, when I think of writing, I think of all the term papers that I had to write in high school and college -- and how much I didn't enjoy it!  Then, of course, there is creative writing...which always stressed me out because I was far from creative.  It never crossed my mind that kids could learn these essential skills as young as Kindergarten!  With a product like WriteShop not only can teaching writing to your kids be easy - but FUN too!

Who are the masterminds behind this great product?
In the fall of 1997, when Kim Kautzer and Debbie Oldar began teaching their first WriteShop class to a small group of homeschoolers, they planned to use one or two established writing programs as their core curriculum. They never intended to write such a program of their own. However, as they began the process of lesson planning, they found that each program, while having its own merits, also contained holes they felt were important to fill. Over that summer of planning and preparing, WriteShop was born...  To read more about the authors of WriteShop, click HERE.

What is WriteShop?
WriteShop was designed as a program to teach middle grades and upper grades complete composition skills.  Since its inception, Write Shop has begun offering options for the little ones that focuses more on creative writing and early writing skills.  We were blessed to get a complete PDF download of Writeshop Book A.

Book A is recommended for kindergarten or first grade. It may also be used with reluctant second graders. The program accommodates pre-writers as well as beginning and developing writers, teaching the skills of the writing process at the very simplest level.

Each WriteShop lesson is divided into 8 bite-sized lessons that create a comfortable and predictable routine for your children.  Each lesson includes a guided writing practice, followed by various activities including games, exercises, brainstorming, and worksheets.  Here is the lesson format:


The teachers manual offers scheduling options that are convenient to fit into any homeschool schedule.  We chose the 2 week plan, doing Write Shop activities 4 days per week.  It is so bite sized that it is super easy to incorporate into our homeschool day!  A schedule is also provided to help those who are teaching multiple children.

One of the most rewarding experiences in each lesson is the opportunity for your child to publish their writing project each week.  The first week we were able to create a "story kite" based on Kayley's creative writing.  We took Maggie along for the project and both girls had a cute story kite that have been on display in our homeschool room ever since!

What did we think of WriteShop?

We LOVE it!  LOVE it!  We are in week 3 of WriteShop and have no intentions of dropping it!  Kayley looks forward to it.

One thing I will note on here, when your kiddos are young and writing can be frustrating, Write Shop encourages you to write out your child's creative thoughts for them.  This is a creative writing program, not a handwriting program or a copywork program.  Of course, those subjects are also important, but for Kayley, the tediousness of writing stifled her creativity.  I wrote for her and encouraged her to either copy a few sentences or the title, etc.  As handwriting becomes less draining for her she will be able to do more of the writing on her own.  In the meantime I will continue to do portions of the writing for her...

Bottom line?  WriteShop is pretty darn cool!  They offer products for writers of every level!

Check out all of WriteShop's amazing products HERE.

Which product is right for me?  Check out a great scope and sequence of WriteShop Primary HERE.

Download sample lessons HERE if you want to get a better idea of what WriteShop is all about.

Want to buy your own copy of WriteShop?

WriteShop A print edition retails for $26.95 for the teachers guide and $4.95 for the worksheets.  Purchase HERE.

Write Shop A PDF download retails for $24.25 for the teachers guide - PDF worksheets are unavailable at this time.  Purchase HERE.

Now -- for one of the best parts of this review!

WriteShop is offering a special discount code to my readers!
Save 15% on any purchase of WriteShop Primary or WriteShop Junior using discount code CREW15 at checkout! 
This offer expires June 15, 2012.

We were blessed to review the very first book in the WriteShop series, but my fellow crewmates were all given various levels to try.  Want to read what they thought of WriteShop?  Check out the link to their reviews HERE.


Disclaimer:  I was provided WriteShop free of charge in exchange for an honest review.  All opinions expressed herein are my own.

Monday, May 14, 2012

CapJax Math Fax - TOS Review

You know, sometimes a kid just gets plain, old, TIRED of boring flashcards.  True, you can't deny that sometimes there are some skills and math facts that kiddos are just expected to memorize (I'm still traumatized by the "Math Minute" we were tortured with in the 6th grade, not to mention the awful months I spent trying to memorize the dreaded times tables.)  I'll admit though, knowing the multiplication table has saved me numerous times and I'm glad that I can still remember them as an adult.  Thanks to the TOS Crew and CapJaxMathFax we were given an opportunity to review a fun program that focuses solely on math drill.

Who is CapJax?
Starboard Training Systems is headed by Jack Fretwell.
Mr. Fretwell earned a Masters degree in Educational Technology and has spent over thirty years in education and computers.
With Mr. Fretwell heading up CapJaxMathFax™ for the last 10 years, we have seen many children develop stronger math skills and confidence.
Starboard Training Systems’ goal is to help organizations that teach, train and mentor our children so that not one is without basic math abilities.

What is CapJaxMathFax all about?
CapJaxMathFax is a computer based program that provides drill to your child in 4 key math areas: addition, subtraction, multiplication and division.   It is simple.  A low-frills approach to drill. 

To get a better idea of what CapJax is all about, enjoy the tour of screen shots below:

The main screen gives you a chance on the upper right hand side to choose the math facts you would like to work on, level, single vs. double digits and how many facts per set.

You can also chose "super seconds."  If your child provides the correct answer within the time-frame a big "SUPER!" will flash on the screen.

Choose whether you would like your child to play for a rating.  If you select yes, each time your child plays a new game he/she is playing against their old score to achieve a higher rating.

You can decide whether you want the seconds to show as they answer each question.

Print outs are an option, I've printed out several to keep in our math file.

Once nice thing:  If you miss the answer 3 times, CapJax will give you the correct answer.

When they beat their rating they get a great message on their screen!

What we thought about CapJaxMathFax:
-It is a great program that is a wonderful tool to focus on DRILL.  No matter which way we slice it at my house...some things require practice, and math is one of them.  A no frills, non-flashcard approach to practice was a welcome change of pace.
-When you get a correct answer it makes a sound kind of like a "clunk" which, on our iMac sounds like you are hitting a wrong button or getting an incorrect answer.  It caused confusion at first.  A pleasant "ding" or something would be a bit nicer but that is just aesthetics. 
-When you log in to CapJax  it automatically sets at Level 9.  If you choose your addition/subtraction button first it pops up a box that says "Licence needed for higher levels"  Or if you choose one of the check boxes first, the same.  When I click "ok" it pops back up...again, and again, and again...  So, I had to force quit the program in order to start over.  I'm not clear why it kept doing this but it was frustrating until I figured out how to input my choices to avoid the dreaded box!
-Kayley thought CapJax (the cartoon-guy) was a little scary looking.
-Sorry, we will not continue to use CapJax - not a good fit at our house BUT--to find out what my fellow crewmates thought of CapJax check out the link HERE.  I know a lot of my crewmates did like it a lot and you may find it a great fit for your family!

Want to buy your own CapJaxMathFax? 
The CapJax download retails for $29.95 and can be purchased HERE.  You can also download a free evaluation of the program to try before deciding. 

Have fun!

Disclaimer:  I received CapJaxMathFax free of charge in exchange for an honest review.  All opinions expressed herein are my own.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Homeschool Library Builder - TOS Review

One of the perks of being a member of the TOS Crew is finding out about great resources like Homeschool Library Builder.  It is no secret that most homeschoolers love books.  I like books.  No, I LOVE books.  I like the smell of books and the look of books and the feel of books...and you get the idea.  So, here is the deal - Homeschool Library Builder can help you build your library - as in, you can buy lot's n' lot's of books -- without "emptying your wallet!"  

Who is Homeschool Library Builder?
Homeschool Library Builder (HLB) is a Christian family-run book selling business that provides quality new and used literature at affordable prices.  Started in 2001 by Diane McKee, HLB is now run by homeschool moms Julie Huffman and Kayla Weatherford with the help of their families.

How do I use Homeschool Library Builder?
It is so easy to find what you are looking for on HLB.  You can search by curricula if you are looking for a specific item to complete your curriculum.  You can search geographically or by age.  They also offer a selection of vintage, rare and hard-to-find books.

What else do I need to know?
By signing up for a free membership you can earn points toward book purchases and receive notification of sales and discounts!

Right now, through the month of May, HLB is offering a 25% discount off everything in their entire store!  This is a great time to take advantage of low prices and begin building up your homeschool library!

Want to see what my crewmates thought of HLB?  Click here to read their thoughts!


Disclaimer:  Sometimes as a member of the TOS Crew we are asked to share great deals or other information.  I did not receive any compensation for this information review and the opinions expressed herein are my own.

Where Will You Go from Here? Book Review

Life coach and author Valorie Burton offers critical advice on resilience.  Her sincere desire is to help you move forward when life doesn't go as planned.  It doesn't matter what has set your course careening off its intended path, whether it be divorce, a layoff, or a health crisis, this book is designed with your unique challenges (and emotions) in mind.  Valorie wants to help you get up...not give up.  She encourages, "resilience is a skill that can be honed.  The more you practice it, the better you get."

Valorie teaches that when faced with major setbacks, you can either choose to push through it, learn from it, or you can choose to get defeated, and feel helpless and stuck.  She maintains that resilience is not about restoring the "external things that you've lost" rather it's about developing your ability to withstand the adversities that come your way so you can bounce back.

Where Will You Go from Here is an interesting, thought-provoking read that helps the reader grow and flourish through challenges instead of getting bogged down.

Disclaimer:  I received this book free of charge from Waterbrook Press in exchange for an honest review, all the opinions expressed herein are my own.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

I Believe In Jesus Too - Review & Giveaway

All around the world, Latter-day Saint children go to church, sing songs, pray, read scriptures, participate in family home evening, and get baptized.  We may meet in different types of buildings or speak different languages, but we have a lot in common.  Why?  Because no matter where we live, we all love and believe in Jesus, and He loves each one of us just the same.  Are you like Pablo, Dimitri, Bayani, Junpei, and Shamara?  Do you believe in Jesus too?

I Believe in Jesus Too written by Mark S. Nielsen celebrates the traditions and cultures of other Latter-day Saint children around the world.  Beautifully illustrated by Craig Stapley each page captures the uniqueness and similaties of kids everywere.  LDS children, no matter where you go, believe in Jesus too.   I believe in Jesus too.

I have already read this book cover to cover to both my girls several times.  They love to see how children go to primary and participate in family home evening.  It's quite a bit different in other cultures...and yet, still the same.  We loved this book!

I am so spoiled by Deseret Book - they offered an additional copy for me to giveaway to one lucky reader!  To enter, leave a comment below (don't forget to leave me an email address) telling me how you would use this book if you won.  
(We used it for Family Home Evening!)
I will draw a winner on Sunday, May 6th at 12pm CST using and will contact you via email.  Winner will have 48 hours to respond.

Disclaimer:  A hearty thank you to Deseret Book for providing me I Believe In Jesus Too free of charge in exchange for an honest review.  The opinions expressed herein are my own.

The Forgiven Duke - review & giveaway

In The Guardian Duke, we met Miss Alexandria Featherstone.  She was on a mission to find her parents.  Presumed dead, her treasure-seeking mother and father had gone missing and it was up to Alexandria to find them.  The biggest obstacle:  her handsome guardian - Gabriel, the Duke of Saint Easton.  Bound and determined to see her safely ensconced in London she runs away from her protector and in to the arms of Lord John Lemon.  
(oh, Yes! We were left cliff-hanging at the end! lol).   

We start Jamie Carie's new book The Forgiven Duke where we left off!  On the bridge of the Achillies Gabriel sees Alexandria sailing a way with another man!  While John promises to help Alexandria find her parents there is a niggling doubt to his loyalty.   Does he love her for her fortune?  Is he dangerous to her mission?  Will her guardian come for her?  Nursing second thoughts on her betrothal to John, Alexandria begins to wonder if maybe she made a mistake and she should've placed more trust in her guardian...with whom she has fallen in love!

Didn't read the Guardian Duke?  Don't worry - Jamie has cleverly written the 1st books basic storyline into the first chapter of The Forgiven Duke.  This is another great book in the Forgotten Castles series.  Oh...  and I didn't tell you this but - it's true...there will be a 3rd book so:  yes, this one ends with cliff hanging too!  Aaakkk!  :)

The Forgiven Duke will be available for purchase in July 2012.

Want to learn more about Jamie Carie and her series?
Enjoy exploring the links below:
I'm excited to be able to give you Alexandria's next adventure as well!  I have been blessed with one copy to share with one of my readers!  In order to win - leave a comment below.  (Don't forget to tell me your email information so I can contact you if you are the winner.)
I will pick a winner using on Sunday, May 6th at 12pm CST.
Winner has 48 hours to respond.

 “Disclosure of Material Connection: I received one or more of the products or services mentioned above for free in the hope that I would mention it on my blog. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”
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