Friday, January 29, 2010

Christian Keyboarding

Katelyn has been asking if I would teach her to type and I had just started researching my curriculum options, when Christian Keyboarding sent me two wonderful typing programs to review...Keyboarding for the Christian School, Revised Edition and Elementary Edition both by Leanne Beitel. What perfect timing to receive these typing programs...God's timing never ceases to amaze me!

General facts on the two e-books I received:

1. Keyboarding for the Christian School is a typing curriculum for private schools and home schools designed for grades 6 and up and sells for $15.95 for a 107 page e-book. Your student can learn touch typing through typing drills, timings, letters, envelopes, APA and MLA reports, centering, proofreader’s marks, and creating tables “with a Biblical perspective.”

Lessons include:

* Lessons 1-20 Alphabetic Keys
* Lessons 21-25 Numbers and Symbol Keys
* Lessons 26-29 Number Pad
* Lesson 30 Centering
* Lesson 31 Enumerated Lists
* Lesson 32 Tab Key
* Lesson 33 MLA Reports
* Lesson 34 APA Reports
* Lesson 35 Cover Page
* Lesson 36 Works Cited
* Lesson 37 Bibliography
* Lesson 38 Personal-Business Letters
* Lesson 39 Business Letters
* Lesson 40 Envelopes
* Lesson 41 Proofreader’s Marks
* Lesson 42 Timed Writings
* Timing Scale
* Lesson 43 Tables


2. Keyboarding for the Christian School, Elementary Version download is 87 pages and is available for $12.95. This is geared towards students from grades K-5.

Lessons include:

* Touch Typing Technique
* Lessons 1‐20 Alphabetic Keys
* Lessons 21‐25 Numbers and Symbol Keys
* Lessons 26‐29 Number Pad
* Lesson 30 Centering
* Lesson 31 Enumerated Lists
* Lesson 32 Timed Writings
* Timing Scale

I decided to use the elementary edition with Katelyn, since she is in 5th grade and the lessons are geared toward the elementary level. I printed off a lesson at a time and she did one lesson per day (sometimes 2). I put each lesson in her workbox and she did it during her independent work time. She used the Studypod to hold each lesson near the computer. I also made her a 'mini-office' file that included the color-coded key chart and the touch typing techniques, both of these resources are included in the e-book.

Katelyn is zipping through the lessons! I love the practice sentences that Leanne Beitel has incorporated into this curriculum...ALL scripture! I have used the scripture for Katelyn's copywork and weekly memory verses to tie it into everything she is doing. Overall, I'm extremely happy with the program and I think the price is just right [Only $7.95 with the coupon below!]. Katelyn loves the program as well and she is happy with her new typing skills!

Visit the website for Free Sample Lessons and check out the current specials:

Need a Coupon to start the year right? Type NewYear5 in the Discount Code section for $5 off of your purchase of $12.95 or more available until February 28, 2010!

2010 NEW YEAR SPECIAL: Purchase both the Keyboarding for the Christian School, Revised Edition and the Elementary Edition for only $22! Yes, this is a big savings! So, purchase your e-books now for only $22 for both typing books!

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Kregel Publications ~ TOS Crew Review


Kregel Publications offers over 900 titles including books in Christian education and ministry, contemporary issues, Christian living, fiction, and Biblical studies, in addition to reprints of classic works. They also offer a wide selection of over 500 solid, evangelical titles for the spiritual growth and encouragement of Hispanic readers world-wide.

From the website:
Mission Statement

Our mission as an evangelical Christian publisher is to develop and distribute, with integrity and excellence, trusted, Biblically based resources that lead individuals to know and serve Jesus Christ.


Kregel Publications recently sent me a book, Bertie's War by Barbara Tifft Blakey, to review. It is a title listed under 'Homeschooling with Kregel'. I enjoyed the book! It is considered historical-fiction. I have to admit that I did not learn much history in the public education system. I certainly did not remember learning anything about the Cuban Missile Crisis (yes, I had heard of it, but could not tell you anything about it!). I learned a lot from reading Bertie's War!

Because I mainly teach history through living books [historical-fiction], reading this book was a neat experience for me. It allowed me the opportunity to learn as my children do and it was fun...wish I would have learned history this way! The author did an excellent job of intertwining real-life history into the life of a young girl living in that time period.

The book, listed as juvenile history, is just under 200 pages and it was hard for me to put down! Although I was not born during that time period, I could relate to Bertie in many ways. I had my own 'war' with fear as a child and now (as an adult) I can see how many of my fears were unfounded, but very real as a child. The author did a good job of 'viewing the world through the eyes of a child." I think pre-teens & teens, especially, will relate to Bertie.

Bertie's fears (some based in reality, most not) continue to plague her life, but the ending brings everything together in a way that will teach your child to trust God. It's a good book to not only learn history, but to learn how God has a plan for our lives. Super book to read and discuss as a family.

Check out Kregel's selection of many, wonderful books as well as their best seller list to see what else they have to offer.

Go HERE to read more reviews from the crew.

I received this product for free in exchange for my review as a member of the Crew. No further compensation was received and I offer my honest opinion.

Mathletics~ TOS Crew Review

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Katelyn: "Mathletics is super cool!"
Me:"Oh, ya...why?"
Katelyn: "I like to compete with kids in Australia!"

And she does! Thanks to kids can compete (math challenges) with children from the US and around the world! What in the world is Mathletics? It's an online curriculum-based math community for students K-8 with colorful, engaging graphics and step-by-step animated support.

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The online community of approximately 1,000,000 children creates a safe, fun place where the children [of the same age and abilities] can compete in real-time games of speed and skill. NO actual communication takes place, so it's a safe environment.

The site also has over 750 learning activities from age
5-14. My kids enjoyed the various activities (math games). The Mathletics math curriculum covers various topics in each grade level, which makes it easy to 'assign' activities that reinforce your particular math curriculum.

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Another fun Mathletics feature, which my daughter loves, is the ability to earn awards and points to later spend in 'the store'. They can buy clothing, hair styles, backgrounds, hats, glasses and such for their avatar image which they design when they first sign on. It's just another fun, engaging motivator.

It's very easy for parents to keep up with their child's can view progress online, and you can receive weekly progress reports [via email]. You can also print out workbooks to use for further learning. And they offer a 6-page,
Home Schooling Brochure with all the information you need to implement Mathletics in your homeschool.

Mathletics offers each child an individualized learning path...
keeping track of their results and progress as they work their way through their individual grade curriculum. Each child also earns points as they achieve mastery of concepts and are individually rewarded. But the BEST part is they LOVE it and they do not even consider it to be a part of 'school', because it is so fun! They are learning, reinforcing, & retaining math facts and they beg to do it everyday! Love it!

Click 'About Mathletics' on the Mathletics website to explore all they have to offer.

The annual subscription to Mathletics is $59.00 PER CHILD, per year. If you know the Human Calculator's Favorite number [answer is '9'], you can purchase a single child subscription for $49.95 (per child/per year). I think it is definitely worth the money when you think about the reinforcement and retention it will offer. They give you a 10-day money back guarantee, so you can 'explore' it for 10 days and see if it is something you want to keep...I think you will love it.

I received a 45-day subscription to Mathletics, for free in exchange for my review as a member of the Crew. No further compensation was received and I offer my honest opinion.

Tektoma~ TOS Crew Review

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Do you have a child that loves video games? If so, you [and your child] will love Tektoma! What is it? Tektoma is basically a website that offers access to engaging video tutorials that teach children game programming. My son, who is 8-years-old, enjoyed making a simple race game, but it took lots of help from me. The website states 7-17. I would say a child would need to be at least 10 before he could do this independently, but I know it depends on the child's computer experience. Overall, it was a fun experience and the tutorials are very well made...easy to follow and understand. My son really likes video games and I liked the fact that this was very educational!

From the Tektoma website:

  • Engaging video tutorials for ages 7-17
  • Tutorials of varying skill levels and topics
  • Learn at your own pace in the comfort of your home
  • Natural progression helps develop technical skills
  • Customize your learning experience
  • Low monthly membership fee gives access to all our resources
A Tektoma membership is available for $14.95 per month or $140.00 per year, and includes access to all the tutorials as well as online help via the forums.

You can get a FREE 14-day trial...check it out and see if it is something good for your homeschool!

Read more Tektoma reviews from my wonderful crew mates HERE.

I received this product for free in exchange for my review as a member of the Crew. No further compensation was received and I offer my honest opinion.

All About Spelling~ TOS Crew Review


Last Spring, a good friend of mine raved on and on about a spelling program [All About Spelling] that she was using. She was seeing some amazing results in her children and she knew I was looking for a program to 'play catch-up' with my daughter [5th grader] and to use as a starter program with my son [2nd grader], so she encouraged me to look into using this spelling program as well. Needless to say, I was beyond excited when I realized All About Spelling [AAS] was 'on deck' to be reviewed! And I was even more excited when I found out I would be reviewing Levels 1 & 2.

Here is what I received from AAS:
  1. Starter Kit [Letter tiles, Magnets for letter tiles& Phonogram CD-ROM] $26.95
  2. Level One (includes Teacher's Manual and One Student Material Packet) $29.95
  3. Level Two (includes Teacher's Manual and One Student Material Packet) $39.95
My first 'struggle' was do I start my 5th grader at Level 1? She can spell, but I know she has gaps. I found my answer quickly on the FAQ page! It led me to a wonderful article titled, Should We Start in Level 1 or 2? According to the article...ASS is a building block program (one level builds upon the previous one), so they strongly recommend that you start all students on Level One. I still felt a little uneasy about starting my daughter, who actually spells pretty good, at the VERY beginning. Then I read this statement:

If your student needs remedial spelling...
The All About Spelling program is perfect for the student who needs remedial work. All holes in his knowledge of spelling are filled in. You can move as quickly or as slowly as your student needs. If you are working with an older student , he probably understands some of the concepts but not others. In this case, very quickly skim the parts that he already knows and slow down on the parts that he needs to learn.
That calmed my anxiety and I set forth with the 'set-up phase'. At the beginning of each manual there is a section titled Preparing for Level _______. It completely outlines everything you need to gather, read, organize, and set-up. The Starter Kit, which is used in all 6 Levels, is GREAT! The tiles work very well with the magnets! I purchased a large, 2'X3', magnetic dry erase board that is the perfect size...plenty of room for the magnets and room to 'work', plus room for me to write, if needed. The Phonogram CD-Rom was a 'life-saver' for this 'phonogram-challenged' mom (with a deep-rooted, Texas accent)...I learned a lot!

It took about an hour to carefully follow the directions [I listened to the CD-ROM while I cut out the tiles and organized the cards]. I LOVE the organization of this program...a breath of fresh air! I cannot tell you how many programs I have considered buying, but decided it would be too difficult to set-up and use OR have bought a program and soon put it on the shelf [to gather dust] because it was too complicated to set-up. I'm an intelligent person, but I like things that are simple, yet amazing...ASS is both! The set-up phase built my confidence in the program even more, and I was ready to begin.

The day-to-day lessons were an absolute breeze! As a matter of fact, several times I re-read that day's lesson plan to make sure I did everything right. It took ZERO set-up time! Each lesson clearly states:
  1. WHAT you will teach during that lesson.
  2. What you need to teach that lesson (i.e., tiles, tokens [colored disks included in the materials pack, word cards).
My daughter moved through Level 1 very quickly. She surprised me by knowing some phonograms I thought she needed to learn! And there were a few she did not know [that I thought she did], so it worked out great to begin at Level 1!! Once Level 1 was completed, we jumped right into Level 2 and she will be ready for Level 3 soon. I'm going to start my son in Level 1 next week. You can have two children in the same level at the same time, but you will need to buy an additional material packet {$14.95 for Level 1, $19.95 for Level 2}.

Overall, I'm extremely happy with this fabulous spelling program! It truly 'teaches' your child the how & why of spelling. Even though my daughter was already a 'pretty good' speller, I definitely saw a difference in her spelling skills after working through Level 1! And most importantly...her spelling confidence shot up tremendously! I'm hearing her say, "Oh, I know how to spell that" a lot more often.

I know this program would be a blessing to those of you that have children that struggle in spelling. On the home page of the website, founder Marie Rippel, outlines Why All About Spelling Works:
The website also has some wonderful articles on teaching spelling. One article that I found extremely helpful was Teaching Spelling in Your Homeschool. And the section on dyslexia might be beneficial to those of you that have a dyslexic child, or for those that think your child might be dyslexic. You can also sign-up for the Spelling Newsletter.

I'm positive that you will LOVE this spelling program! And the company is as well...they offer an Unconditional One Year Guarantee! I'm so thankful for the opportunity to review All About search for 'the best spelling curriculum' is over!

To read more reviews, including from those that have children that struggle with spelling, go HERE.

I received this product for free in exchange for my review as a member of the Crew. No further compensation was received and I offer my honest opinion.

American Heritage Education Foundation ~TOS Crew Review

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"The advancement and diffusion of knowledge is the only guardian of true liberty."

James Madison

American Heritage Education Foundation sent us a CD titled America's Heritage: An Adventure in Liberty~ K-12 Teacher Lesson Plan Resource. It is a K-12 Teacher Lesson Plan resource for social studies, U. S. history, U. S. government, political science, economics, geography and speech. It includes three levels: Elementary School, Middle School, and High School.

According to the American Heritage Education Foundation website:

"The resource aims not simply to present historical facts but to provide opportunities for students to explore and understand the factual and philosophical significance and meaning behind events, causes, and effects—the whys—relating to and influencing the early history of the United States."

We will definitely use this CD as a supplement to our American History study next school year. As I looked over the Elementary level, I saw MANY wonderful lesson plans that I can easily work in to my plans. This is a super product for ALL, whether you homeschool or not. AND the best part? It's FREE! Yes, FREE for all! Go HERE and get your copy today! You will be amazed at the knowledge you and your children gain!

"A people can only be free, happy and great in proportion to the virtue and intelligence of the people."

Stephen F. Austin

I received this product for free in exchange for my review as a member of the Crew. No further compensation was received and I offer my honest opinion.

Exploramania "GyMathtics" ~TOS Crew Review

According to Exploramania..."Everyone can GET FIT! GET SMART! HAVE FUN!"


Exploramania is a company that develops products that deliver enriching and powerful educational experiences for children! As a part of the TOS Crew, we received a DVD, from Exploramania, titled Gymathtics. It is one of two DVDs in the Exploracise collection. According to the website, Exercise + Education + FUN = Exploracise!

The DVD is unique in that it teaches math and healthy lifestyle concepts while performing a complete [30 minute] exercise routine. The exercise program is great for kids of all ages. The math facts target 2nd-5th grade levels.

Some of the Math topics covered include:
  • Even and odd Numbers
  • Counting by 2’s, 5’s, and 10’s.
  • Prime Numbers
  • Place Value
  • Pattterns
  • Triangles

Overall, we enJOYed it! My children had fun and the exercise was a great workout! They also learned while exercising, which according to research enhances retention! At $24.99, it seems a little pricey, but if you are looking for an exercise DVD to add to your collection, you will be happy with the product!

Exploramania has lots of educational, fun products...check them out HERE.

And don't forget you can read more great reviews, from my wonderful crew mates, HERE.

I received this product for free in exchange for my review as a member of the Crew. No further compensation was received and I offer my honest opinion.

AVKO~ TOS Crew Review


AVKO [Audio, Visual, Kinesthetic, Oral] Educational Research Foundation is a non-profit organization that was founded, in 1974, by Don McCabe. It's mission is “to provide free and low-cost resources to home and school educators in order to achieve literacy for all, even despite learning challenges or dyslexia.” The site specializes in teaching children with dyslexia how to read, spell, write and even type. AVKO creates materials and books using a multi-sensory approach, combining the visual, auditory, and kinesthetic approaches.

As a member of the TOS Crew, I received a one-year membership from AVKO, in return for an honest review of the membership benefits. I have to admit that the website is a bit overwhelming when you first look at it...SO many good resources! But it is well-organized and once I spent some time navigating it, I found it to be user-friendly. The free e-books, that come with the membership, are amazing and well worth the $25 annual membership. I've been quite pleased with the membership!

The 5 FREE e-books ($400.00 worth) are:
  1. The Patterns of English Spelling
  2. To Teach a Dyslexic
  3. Starting at Square One
  4. The Teaching of Reading & Spelling
  5. The Reading Teacher's List of Over 5,500 Basic Spelling Words
More membership benefits include:
  • *workshop recordings from Don McCabe
  • *AVKO newsletter (with freebies and discounts)
  • *supplemental resources (worksheets, word games, etc.)
  • *access to pre-tests and placement tests.
  • *AVKO's Individualized Spelling on
Have a look at their freebies page and the membership page...I know you will enJOY this incredible website and the annual membership might be a blessing as well!

As always, you can read more reviews from my crew mates HERE.

Jean Welles Worship Guitar ~TOS Crew Review

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When Jean Welles Worship Guitar Class Volume One Book and DVD came in the mail, I thought, "This is not going to be an easy review!" You see, I am 'musically challenged' and I do not know anything about teaching it! This product scared me and I did not open it right away. Once I worked up my courage...I was pleasantly surprised to find both the book and the DVD to be easy & fun to use! My son has wanted to learn guitar, so we watched the DVD together and he amazed me with the skills he quickly picked up. I learned some things as well and it greatly lessened my 'music phobia'. One thing that I love most about the program is Jean Welles desire for you to learn music as a way to worship God!

The Worship Guitar Class for Kids Volume One includes the following lesson topics: Tuning, Parts of the Guitar, Rhythm Patterns, How to read Chord Patterns, and eight songs learned over nine weekly lessons. Even the very first lesson teaches a song! There are additional practice sessions for the introduction and all 7 lessons with further clarification including helpful information such as singing on key.

You can view an introduction to the course on the website. There are over 80 products available for sale on her site.

DVD Volume 1 + Book 1 - $29.95. OR the complete 4 book/DVD series is available for $119.80. What a bargain...have you priced private guitar lessons in your area? This is a GREAT deal!

She also has a class designed for kids! You can see more reviews, by some of the other TOS Crew members, HERE!

I received this product for free in exchange for my review as a member of the Crew. No further compensation was received and I offer my honest opinion.

Monday, January 4, 2010

1st Snow ~2010!

SNOW DAY!! What a wonderful way to start the new year! It started snowing late Saturday night [Jan. 2] and has continued (on-and-off) through today...and more is on it's way! I was going to start back to school today, but I was looking for an excuse to 'ease back in' and I found it. :) Katelyn's [public school] friend spent the night last night, since schools are out, and this morning she asked if she could do school with us, so we did some stuff. It was fun!

Happy New Year!

Be JOYful, Kristi
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Saturday, January 2, 2010

Maestro Classics ~ TOS Review

M.C. Tortoise and Hare
The Tortoise and the Hare..a favorite Aesop classic with a fun musical surprise!

As part of the Homeschool Crew, I received a free copy of The Tortoise and the Hare by Maestro Classics to review. The CD features the London Philharmonic Orchestra, and is narrated by Yadu, a.k.a. Dr. Konrad Czynski.

This came in the mail the day before we were leaving on a weekend trip, so we listened to it in the car and everyone [including Mr. Pool] loved it! So much so, that I ordered 3 more titles [The Story of Swan Lake, Mike Mulligan and His Steam Shovel, & Peter and the Wolf] to put in the kid's stockings, which the kids were delighted to receive!

Maestro Classics does an incredible job of blending beautiful music with great stories. Maestro ClassicsEach CD includes a booklet packed with information about the conductor & the story. The Tortoise and the Hare booklet taught us lots of information about
  • instruments in an orchestra
  • whole notes, half notes, quarter notes and rests
  • measures
  • time signatures
  • the difference between a tortoise/turtle and a rabbit/hare
Overall, we found this CD to be delightful!

The CD cost $16.98.

Visit the website where you can listen to samples and take advantage of a super special ~3 CDs for $45.00 [coupon code MAESTRO45].

To read more reviews of Maestro Classics, visit the Homeschool Crew Blog.