Faith, Family, Love and Reviews

TOS Crew: Vocal Coach – Teaching Kids to Sing


I must say that saving the best for last may just be true in this instance.  This is the last review I’ll be writing for the 2012 TOS Crew year and it’s a great one – Vocal Coach sent me a copy of Teaching Kids to Sing which includes 2 DVDs and 1 CD to teach your child how to go about singing, almost like having your own real voice coach in residence.  Teaching Kids to Sing is geared for children ages 5 to 13 years old – great for families that have several age spans in their house and not wanting to have to have a different music program for each age.

Chris and Carol Beatty, the creators of Vocal Coach have been training singers for over 4 decades, so one could definitely make the assumption that they know something about training others to sing.  This will come through as you watch the DVD in which Chris and Carol as well as other children who will join your family in learning how to sing in a fun and innovative way.  Teaching Kids to Sing DVD/CD set sells for $44.99 and includes the following:

  1. Building Foundations that Last DVD – includes lessons on posture, warm-ups, tone, and more.
  2. Essential Skills for Growing Voices – lessons on rhythm, dynamics, vocal health, and more.
  3. Accompaniment Track CD – 26 Demo and accompaniment tracks both with tracks or vocal only

It is recommended that this be used every day to make sure that the children get all they can from the lessons, however in our house, we only school Monday through Thursday and taking into account the teacher being sick on some days.  Even with me being down sick it was easy for my children to put in the DVD and begin watching where we left off the day before and do their own signing lesson when I couldn’t be completely present.  The videos are engaging and keep the children’s focus and since they are well developed it really made the  ‘class’ seem more real.  Even I found myself participating and trying to correct my posture, breathing and tone as I watched along with my children.

There are no lesson plans – some may find this a bit intimidating and others, like me, will find it liberating and a perfect fit for our homeschool.  While there are no lesson plans, it’s easy to tell when the DVD breaks and if your child or children need a different pace then it can be done without feeling one or the other is behind.  If one child does well with say the posture part but another child needs help have the child who can move on do her lesson on say tone while the other child works and re-watches the posture portion.  If you do need some more guidance in how to make it work there are some ideas on the Homeschool Tips and Suggestions page, including an exam for the Building Foundations and another for the Essentials disc and answer keys.

As our family definitely enjoys music and all the children enjoy signing this is going to be getting a lot of continued use – including by me, once my voice is back up to par.  I also appreciated that I could put the CD on my iPod so I didn’t have to drag the CD along when we’d listen in the van, which meant time practicing and doing ‘school’ when we weren’t really doing school – a definite plus.  If your looking for a way to get your children lessons in singing but can’t go the private lessons route or you just want your child to have musical knowledge in how to sign then this is the place to go.  If you want to know what other homeschool parents though about Teaching Kids to Sing and other Vocal Coach products visit the Schoolhouse Review Crew Blog.

**Disclaimer:  As a member of the Schoolhouse Review Crew, I received this product, at no cost to me, in exchange for my honest review. All opinions are mine.


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TOS Crew: IEW Primary Arts of Language

My son is six and I’ve tried various other resources for teaching him reading and writing and nothing has really clicked for him – enter in Institute for Excellence in Writing and their Primary Arts of Language curricula for children in ages K through 2nd.  IEW has become one of the most respected providers for writing and spelling curriculum for homeschool families and I’ve been eyeballing their choices but never have actually bought – which I’m now realizing is a shame.

I received the Primary Arts of Reading and the Primary Arts of Writing which while they can be purchased separately are supposed to be used together at the same time.  The program complements each other and I can’t tell you how much it is very easy to get everything ready to go and use it together.  The Primary Arts of Reading sells for $69.00 (if purchased separately $98) and will include the following items:

  • Instructional Video by Jill Pike
  • The Four Language Arts MP3 Audio by Andrew Pudewa
  • Nurturing Competent Communicators MP3 Audio by Andrew Pudewa
  • Poetry as an Integrator MP3 Audio by Anna Ingham
  • Intro to the Blended Sound Sight Program MP3 Audio by Anna Ingham
  • Primary Arts of Language Reading Student Book (e-book)
  • Primary Arts of Language: Reading Teacher’s Manual
  • Primary Arts of Language: Reading DVD-ROM
  • Primary Arts of Language: Phonetic Games
  • Primary Arts of Language: Phonetic Farm Folder w/stickers

Before I began using this with my son I watched the DVD-ROM which explains the whole program very thoroughly and read the first few lessons of the reading and writing teacher’s manuals.  I assembled some of the file folder games and printed off the worksheets I’d need for the first few lessons.  It’s set up to do a lesson a day but it’s also understood that not every child is ready to do a lesson a day so we did a lesson over two days.  So I divided our days into:

  1. Poetry
  2. Story and discussion
  3. journal writing
  4. Introduce the new letter(s)
  5. go over helpers and their sounds

The next day we would finish the previous lesson:

  1. Poetry
  2. review the helpers
  3. journal
  4. play the games
  5. do worksheets
  6. spelling test

This was by far my son’s favorite part of the program.  He has learned several letters and we’re working on having him read some basic sentences like, “This is a ___________”, or “This is ________”.  As well as recognizing color words by using their helpers and whether a letter is a consonant or vowel.

Christian working on his cutting and pasting worksheet for reading.

The next part is the writing portion which sells for $89.00 for the set, or $113 if purchased separately.   This focuses on three main points, writing, spelling and composition – to be used together with the reading portion, unless your child is already reading.  I took dictation for my son when doing the journal portion while he can write it’s not legible, yet.  The spelling test were fairly simple, I tell him a letter sound that he already knows and he writes it on the box provided on the worksheet.  This was hit or miss but I would give him a high five after every correct one – it seems boys like that!

The writing package includes:

  • Primary Arts of Language: Writing Teacher’s Manual
  • Primary Arts of Language: Writing DVD-ROM which includes the following:  Instructional Video by Jill Pike, Reading Comprehension MP3 Audio by Adam Andrews, Dictation, Narration and Public Speaking MP3 Audio by Andrew Pudewa, The Four Language Arts MP3 Audio by Andrew Pudewa, Primary Arts of Language: Writing student books (e-book)
  • All About Spelling Basic Interactive Kit
  • All About Spelling Level 1 (Teacher’s Manual and One Student Material Packet by Marie Rippel
  • Bonus e-audio downloads:
  • Units 1 & 2 in the K–2 Classroom MP3 Audio by Shirley George
  • Unit 3 in the K–2 Classroom MP3 Audio by Shirley George
  • Preparing the K-2 Writing Environment MP3 Audio by Richelle Palmer

This product is wonderful!  If I could I’d write a book on this program – I have all the supplies in a basket that we can just grab or Christian can get his games out and play them at any time.  Even his sisters  enjoy playing the games with him – next to the games the phonics farm and it’s stickers are the favorite parts for Christian.  The best part to me is that he is reading, or at least beginning too and I’m so relieved that we’ve found a program that works for what Christian needs.

If you’d like to see what other homeschool parents thought about the Primary Arts in Language visit the Schoolhouse Review Crew blog.

**Disclaimer:  As a member of the Schoolhouse Review Crew, I received this product, at no cost to me, in exchange for my honest review. All opinions are mine.


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TOS Crew: Grace&Truth Books; “First Impressions of God” and “Grace Raymond”

I love books and my children love books – we are always looking for good, high quality books and the more Christian character that they instill the better.  However, it’s becoming harder and harder to do so and filtering through most books at the store leaves you empty handed.  I have a solution – Grace and Truth Books.  Grace and Truth Books is an online Christian book store that doesn’t make you sift for character building and God centered books for yourself and your children.

I was given the choice to pick two books out of ten – it was a near impossible choice!  I chose First Impressions of God and Grace Raymond – you can purchase them separately for $5.50 or $4.75 or in the Children’s Heritage Series – Girls Collection (8 books) for $39.00.  They are 19th century re-prints originally published by the American Tract Society geared for ages 8 to 14 years old.  Even though these books are part of the girls collection – they are also good for boys as the books have character building traits that are for either gender, but the covers do make them seem more geared to girls.

First Impressions of God is an endearing story of little Emily Tappan who begins to learn the truth of God’s existence and becomes fearful not only of her own soul but that of her mother, who does not know the Lord.  Through some ordeals, like an extended illness and a tornado, Emily begins to learn of the things of the Lord through her friend, Mary Lewis.  This book is 106 pages in length so it’s short but since I have such a varied age group – I tried to read one chapter a day.  All three of my children, two girls – ages 10 and 8, and my son – aged 6, all listened in.  The book is a re-print so keep that in mind as it was written in the late 1800’s so the language has not been changed, but I liked that as it gave a chance to sort of expand our usual modern day English.

Most children have a temper, and most have a hard time controlling it at times – just like Grace Raymond.  Unfortunately, even though she knows she can be harsh, it took an injury to a sister for her to realize just how much harm was being caused by her uncontrolled temper.  Grace’s family, know of God but aren’t Christian however the children’s teacher/nanny is a Christian and longs to teach the children in the Raymond family of the Lord and what He wants for their life but she can’t defy the father of the house.  After seeking his permission she is allowed to begin a weekly course on the Bible and the Lord.  Can the Lord change Grace’s heart?  Well I’d have to say you must grab this short book, 71 pages, and read it to see if Grace, with the Lord’s help can change her ways.

As I said, the books do contain dated language, however it really challenged my children and even I had to look up some words and we’ve come away with new words we can use to impress our friends.  My girls liked it more than my son, but I know he still got some because there were moments he’d make a comment on a reading and I’d think “it’s clicking”.  I used these as a read aloud for after we were done with our other school and if my children had the choice we would have read them both in one day.  I’m so glad to have been introduced to this bookstore and this series of books – and others have made their way to my children’s Christmas wish list.

If you’d like to see what other homeschool parents thought about these and several other books, including ones for boys, visit the Schoolhouse Review Crew blog.

**Disclaimer:  As a member of the Schoolhouse Review Crew, I received this product, at no cost to me, in exchange for my honest review. All opinions are mine.


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TOS Crew: Journeys of Faithfulness by Sarah Clarkson

By now, I’m sure you know how much I really enjoy Apologia products – and the most recent review product I received from them is no different.  Journeys of Faithfulness by Sarah Clarkson is a book geared for ages 12 and up (although a mature girl could work her way through it as well) for moms and their daughters.  In 232 pages girls will read accounts of Mary and Martha, Mary, the Mother of Jesus, Esther and Ruth and using historical fiction will see how God can and does love girls just like them – they will dig into God’s Word and hopefully come away with a much stronger knowledge of their relationship with Christ.

If you’re like me, you may be leery of handing your daughter, a fictionalized historical account of Biblical women and stories – however put your fears to rest.  Unlike other books Sarah Clarkson does not add to or take away from God’s Word but makes it come alive to His daughters.  In fact I felt more emotion in relating to these women of the Bible, than just reading the Biblical accounts – because sometimes we don’t get to ‘see’ all of what they are going through.  We meet Mary and Martha and we know their story but do we really know them?

After reading the story you and your daughter will work through a devotion – either alone or together.  I prefer to do it apart and then come together for discussion, or if your daughter is very private have her leave her thoughts in a journal where you can read and leave comments and vice versa.  After the devotional reading that relates your daughter’s modern life to that of the Bible woman’s life and to God there is the Bible study.  The Bible study has 3 to 4 Scripture readings with some things to think on or put into action – there is plenty of space to write under the Scripture reference or you can use the included journey journal pages.  Of course, you can also use the idea above of using a separate journal that is shared by both mother and daughter – what a great way to not only strengthen the relationship between the Lord and your daughter but also you and her?

With Christmas around the corner I think this would make a great gift for any young lady who is needing to get more out her relationship and how the Bible and God relates to her life.  I really want to continue on in this study with my 10 year old and hopefully again when my second daughter gets old enough.  If your daughter isn’t grounded in the above characters you may want to go over them with her before giving her the book so she can decipher what is historical and what is fiction and how it does tie together.  This book is definitely one that each young lady who yearns to lead a life pleasing to the Lord can glean so much from.    You can purchase the book at Apologia for $13.00 and they also have a sample chapter and table of contents available so you can preview before you buy.

If you’d like to see what other homeschool parents thought of this book then please visit the Schoolhouse Review Crew blog.

**Disclaimer:  As a member of the Schoolhouse Review Crew, I received this product, at no cost to me, in exchange for my honest review. All opinions are mine.




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TOS Crew: Beloved Books: Sugar Creek Gang audio CD Volume 1

I enjoy reading to my children, from the moment they were born I was reading to them.  I have enjoyed books for many years, and I think that stems from my mom having read aloud to my brothers and I from our youngest years.  Even my oldest, at 10 1/2, still enjoys it when I get a great book from the library and we begin, as a family to enter a new world.  Of course, there are times when I can’t read – I may be feeling ill, or driving, or need to get something done around the house and that is where Beloved Books comes into play.

I must admit I’d never heard of the Sugar Creek Gang but when I had the chance to be included on the group to review these audio stories I became very excited.  My children and I love and enjoy listening to audio stories and the Sugar Creek Gang is no exception – my only regret is not having heard of this series before now!  I received Volume 1 which has six stories that are narrated and produced by Paul Ramseyer and were originally written in book form by evangelist, Paul Hutchens.  The six stories on this volume are:

  1. The Swamp Robber
  2. The Killer Bear
  3. The Winter Rescue
  4. The Lost Campers
  5. Chicago Adventure
  6. The Secret Hideout

Each volume has six stories on 12 CD’s and there are six volumes that will give you over 100 hours on 72 CD’s.  I’d pop a CD in while driving somewhere or if we needed a break from our regular school day and we were still learning.  There is nature study going on, as well as Christian and godly character traits, Scripture verses, poetry, adventure and much more in these stories.  Even though the main characters are all boys, my girls loved listening to the stories and I must admit hearing the story of one of the boy’s dad’s giving his life to the Lord choked me up – not good while you’re driving!

If you want your child to step back in time, and enter a way of life where wrong is wrong and right is right.  Standing up for those who are in need, sharing the love of Christ and not being afraid of being a boy who goes to church – then the Sugar Creek Gang audios are a great choice.  Good for all ages, my children are 6, 8 and 10 1/2 years old, and they were enjoyed by all – including me (my husband isn’t in to audio adventures as we are) and it’s available for $54.95 with free media rate shipping.  If you’d like you can also buy the first story, The Swamp Robber, for $4.95 plus free shipping so you can try before you buy.  I cannot say enough how much we did and are continuing to enjoy these CD’s and my son is even requesting other volumes for Christmas!

If you’d like to see what other homeschool parents are saying about the Sugar Creek Gang audio CD’s visit the Schoolhouse Review Crew blog.

****Disclaimer:  As a member of the Schoolhouse Review Crew, I received this product, at no cost to me, in exchange for my honest review. All opinions are mine.


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TOS Crew: Samson’s Classroom

I’d like to introduce you to Samson’s Classroom that is geared for grades K through 5 and encompasses sight words, reading and spelling.  Samson’s Classroom is an “umbrella” product which means you’ll have access to all the products and your child will get a lot of practice for each area all without having to leave to go to another website.   Samson is a cute dog that will appeal to both boys and girls as they go through the learning process.

With sight words children will learn 224 commonly used words in the English language.  In spelling with Samson there are 5,o00 and going words included for this area and children will better improve their spelling skills.  Finally, in reading with Samson each child will read a passage of text and answer questions that pertains to that text to establish reading proficiency.   They will earn different prizes depending on what area they are in, such as for reading the child will earn hammer swings which they use to earn hammer points competing for a space in the top 5.

The two favorite of all three of my children were the sight words and reading.  In the sight words area they work through one of 4 levels, each level has seven lists of sight words in varying degrees of difficulty.  Within each level there are 5 areas to be completed such as: learn words where the words are said and spelled, build words where the words are said and the child must spell by clicking on the right letter in the right order, identify words several words are given and the correct one must be given, quiz, and treasure hunt challenge where for each one correct the child earns a jewel.

I used this to reinforce what were already doing in our current studies although my oldest daughter who is in 5th grade found the reading selections too easy as well as the sight and spelling words.  However, my non-reading son and middle daughter found each area to be challenging that I felt that they were learning.  My only issue with the site is that since most children aren’t proficiently reading in kindergarten that the reading area for the lowest level should have the ability to turn on or off voice so that a non-reading child can hear the passage and still answer questions regarding the passage.

If you think this is just a fun educational game there is more to it than that – in the resource area under sight words parents and children can find lesson plans that go along with the lists such as flashcards, bingo, kaboom, recall and more games that make learning fun and get the parent involved.  There are printable PDF documents that will also add a worksheet flair for those students who like and learn from seat work – and as a way for the parent to document progress.  Finally, there is the toolbox which has more printable sheets geared to the parent such as a manual grade-book, word lists and awards.

Even though my children didn’t prefer to play the spelling area I had them try it so I knew what it was about.  You, the parent, can make lists for your child if you want them to have lists that are based on current studies you are doing or you can chose the random lists based on the site generated lists.  There are four games for each list like, the study area which helps the child to master the list.  It will open a list and then the child clicks on it and can have it spelled, said and used in a sentence.  The next game, which was my son’s favorite, is missing letters where Samson karate chops his way through the list, then there is spelling scramble where the word has to be spelled while avoiding a tarantula (we couldn’t get this game to work on our computer but from watching it it appears fun).  Lastly, there is the game crunch time where your child has to avoid Wally the Walrus and keep Samson dry and is especially fun to do.

My children, at least the younger two, are still asking to play Samson’s Classroom and I think that is great!  I’m hoping as my son learns more of his phonics rules he’ll be able to play on his own but for now I have to help him and explain certain areas that don’t quite make sense just yet.  Samson’s Classroom offers a variety of pricing options, which is great for a family who may only need it for one child ($30.00 per year) or has multiple children who could use it ($50.00 per year for up to 4 students) and even a classroom option and more.

If you’d like to see what other homeschool parents thought about Samson’s Classroom visit the Schoolhouse Review Crew blog.

****Disclaimer:  As a member of the Schoolhouse Review Crew, I received this product, at no cost to me, in exchange for my honest review. All opinions are mine.


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TOS Crew: Deep Blue Kids Bible

Most of the time Bibles that are geared for children are too young or written so far above their age that even the information tends to be more than needed.  With the Deep Blue Kids Bible (CEB) that is geared for ages 8 to 12 that isn’t a fear any longer – all three of my children, including my 6 year old son enjoyed using this Bible as we came across Scripture reading in our school day or just for our daily Bible reading.  Your children will go through the Bible with Asia, Kat and Edgar as they delve deeper into God’s Word on their level.

I was given the Image-Flex cover which can be found at various retailers listed  at the Deep Blue Kids Bible store, beginning at $17.81 and if I must say so, is very much worth every penny.  With it’s 9 point type, four color, 8 full color maps from National Geographic and more this is more than just a regular study Bible, however it makes it relevant to today’s child.  The Bible includes the following in-text notes:

  • Sailboat – this points out positive traits to children that they can have in their lives and grow closer to the Lord
  • Umbrella – explains how negative emotions and traits aren’t good for any of us and how the Bible can help us through them.
  • Lighthouse – gives children the way to have a rock solid faith in God
  • Life Preserver – answers those tough questions and hard issues in the Bible
  • Did You Know? – fun facts, customs, and trivia about the Bible
  • God’s Thoughts My Thoughts – how the Bible relates to their life today
  • Navigation Point – memory verses for specific sections
  • Bet You Can! – reading challenges

Navigation point verses are outlined and if your child memorizes all the verses listed they will have memorized 145 Scripture passages!  The beginning of each book will give you a brief synopsis of what the book is about as well as what they’ll discover, people they’ll meet, places you’ll go and words you’ll remember.  The Common English Bible (CEB) is in a readable and familiar modern language which for the younger child will go a long way in early understanding of God’s Word.

I use the CEB as well and I so love having this on hand for my children, whether it’s for school, devotions or church – it’s fantastic.  While I do think it’s a great Bible I also must say I have a couple concerns the first being the fact that instead of using “son of man” the CEB uses “human being” – while Christ was in fact fully human He wasn’t human like you and I because He is also fully God.  Another issue is that the use of BCE (Before Common Era) and CE (Common Era) has replaced the traditional Christian unit of time – Before Christ and Anno Domini.  While these issues may be more personal ones I know that some of my other readers will appreciate these facts going into the Bible.

Even with the concerns that I have with the Bible I do think that the CEB can be useful for children who want the freedom to study the Word on their own and be able to understand it.  Some of the nuances that I’ve pointed out can open up discussion among parent and child as to what each family believes and why (we still use BC and AD) as well as using it as a learning process.  Children will delight in having a Bible that they can understand without having to wade through language, that to them, for now, is outdated.

If you’d like to see what other homeschooling parents thought visit the Schoolhouse Review Crew blog.

****Disclaimer:  As a member of the Schoolhouse Review Crew, I received this product, at no cost to me, in exchange for my honest review. All opinions are mine.


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Crew Review: Pearson Homeschool; Reading Street Grade 3

Vendor Name:  Pearson Homeschool

Vendor ContactPearson Homeschool Contact Us Page

Name of ProductReading Street Grade 3

Price:  $124.99 for the homeschool bundle

Age/Grade Range: 3rd grade

Pearson Education has been providing textbooks to schools and they have now entered into the homeschool market and I was given the Reading Street Grade 3 set to use in my home with my 3rd grade daughter.  Before I tell you what we thought while using this program I’m going to tell you a little bit about Reading Street Grade 3 before telling you what we thought about this curricula.

The first part is the Guide on the Side which is as it says on the cover “a customized literacy approach for the third grade teacher.”  There is a lot of information in this book, which is written for the class room teacher, more than the homeschool teacher.  It explains how to use this curricula for a classroom complete with break downs for times for each area of study such as phonics/reading, writing, comprehension, and vocabulary.  This proved a bit confusing and a bit more information than I needed to use this with one student – I liked the research findings – but overall I didn’t see this as something that aided me in teaching as there were no suggested lesson plans for a homeschool parent and really nothing to help the homeschool parent organize how to use this in the home.

Next are the text books themselves, there are two for Reading Street Grade 3, and they are just like what you’d be handed in school.  Beautiful hard covered books, complete with a space to record students name and condition of book at the beginning and end of the school year.  They are colorful and with the large print they are easy to read for the child who is at reading level or struggling with being at grade level.  Each week has a theme so for unit two week 1 the theme surrounds plant and animal structures and everything the child is learning about will revolve around that theme.

The last two components of the set are the Teacher’s Resource CD and the Exam CD, both run once they are inserted into the disc drive and are easy to navigate.  If your child likes to do worksheets then the Teacher’s Resource CD is perfect, as it contains all the needed worksheets for each lesson/week along with the answers for the teacher.  The Exam CD is just what it sounds like, it allows all tests, exams and assessments to check on the students learning and other areas of comprehension.

I was very excited at first when I found out I was going to get this to review, although after reading the Guide on the Side I became very confused at how exactly a homeschool family is supposed to utilize this – I don’t spend an hour or more on teaching reading/writing/literature and to me it seemed like it was just very ‘school’, which I do my best to avoid.  My daughter did enjoy the colorful book and the easy to read stories, some of which I thought were too easy for a third grader and were not what I would consider high quality literature.  I picked and chose what we’d use each week and still keep it within the four day school week that we use.

I looked through each week and decided what my daughter needed to work on, mostly skipping the phonics as some of the skills I was not sure what they meant such as CVC.  Concentrating on vocabulary, spelling, reading and writing skills versus the phonics – which if your child needs that or you want to teach it is included.  I didn’t use a lot of the worksheets because my daughter gets easily stressed with lots of worksheets and for the most part it seemed to be more busy work, but if your child enjoys worksheets there are plenty of them and they are easy to print off from your computer.

While I liked the product it needed a lot of tweaking and a lot of reading on my part in order to make it usable for a homeschool student.  Since I believe that reading, spelling, vocabulary and even writing can be easily learned through literature and being read to instead of through text books and worksheets.  I can see where the first time homeschool parent could definitely utilize this, or a family whose children are coming out of a school or even a homeschool parent who used to teach in a school and needs this kind of program.  I prefer a more streamlined and laid out curricula instead of one that needs a lot of tweaking and prep work on my end.  Yes, we liked it and we’ll probably continue to use it as a reader for practice and I may use it for my son when the time comes as he likes worksheets.  If you’d like to see what other homeschooling parents thought of this and other Pearson products visit the Schoolhouse Review Crew blog.

**Disclaimer:  As a member of the Schoolhouse Review Crew, I received this product, at no cost to me, in exchange for my honest review. All opinions are mine.



TOS Crew Review: Dive Into Your Imagination; Dive Into Diversity DVD

Vendor Name:  Dive Into Your Imagination

Vendor ContactContact Page

Name of ProductDive Into Diversity

Price:  $19.95 per DVD; PDF educator’s guides are $299 for the set of 6 or $69.95 for an individual title.

Age Range: Pre-K and up

Annie Crawley the creator of Dive Into Your Imagination has a love for the ocean and it’s inhabitants – this is seen through her work as a dive instructor, underwater photographer and dive instructor.  Her desire is to have all parents and children fall in love with the animals of the sea so that we in turn can learn to protect what we love.  She has 5 DVD’s such as the Camera Coach, Visions of the Sea, What Makes a Fish a Fish?, Who Lives in the Sea and Dive into Diversity all of which shows her love for teaching others about the ocean.

Dive Into Diversity was a very entertaining DVD, not that it was entertaining in a funny way, but I was as interested in the subject area and learning about creatures with Annie Crawley’s narration – such as the beautiful nudibranchs.  In just over 40 minutes I felt like I had taken a dive myself into the oceans depths without ever leaving my living room.  The colorful footage and sometimes even in your face movements had me wanting to touch the hammerhead sharks and hugging a seal!

Along with the beautiful DVD there are educator’s guides to have some follow up activities to watching to really sink in the lessons learned from the video.  Each chapter is based on a segment of the DVD so you can choose to watch the whole video or watch a segment at a time while focusing on the guide.  I will say the guide is mainly written for the school teacher but could be adapted for the homeschool family as well, although the price is a bit more than I would honestly pay.  The guides are a great way to follow up with what the child has learned and it covers the following areas such as general concepts/topics to teach, character education (puts a lot of emphasis on self esteem for me), imagination play script, book list, and more.

While I value the educational and beautiful teaching on the DVD I must say that I also must say a word of caution.  As a Christian I believe it’s our duty to take care of God’s Creation – but it’s not the end all and be all of our existence – and at points it seems there are references made about how we must all be in balance and protect our oceans.  One of the activities in the guide says to have the children learn a mantra about not throwing stuff away and reducing our amount of trash.  While this is all good in theory, some is hard to practice and I have a hard time teaching my children mantras of any kind.  There is also a brief period where Annie is in a bikini while she gets suited up and some of the children are as well.

Overall, this is an exceptional learning DVD for both parents and children and it comes with three tracks, English, Spanish and music only.  My children really enjoyed this and even my son asked if we could watch it again.  When I told him we own it, he was very excited to know that he could indeed watch it again.  If you’re child likes learning about the ocean, it’s inhabitants and the beauty of it then I do recommend these DVD’s for the educational value that they contain.

Here is a special offer from Annie Crawley in regards to the PDF educator guides: “As a special for the Homeschool Crew and The Old Schoolhouse Magazine and followers Annie Crawley of Dive Into Your Imagination, she will gift you a set of PDFs with purchase of the DVDs. When you place your DVD order, just let her know in the notes that you are a Homeschool Parent!”

**Disclaimer:  As a member of the TOS Crew, I received this product, at no cost to me, in exchange for my honest review. All opinions are mine.

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TOS Crew Review: Write Shop Primary Book C

Vendor Name:  Write Shop

Vendor ContactWrite Shop Contact Page

Name of ProductPrimary Book C

Price:  $32.95 print teacher’s edition, $4.95 worksheet set physical copy

Age Range: 2nd to 4th grade depending on placement

My 7 year old doesn’t like to write, well she likes to write but it is hard for her, unlike her older sister who it seemed to come naturally too, so in light of this I jumped at the chance to review Write Shop Primary Book C.  Book C is to be used for above grade level 2nd graders, no prior/limited/writing at grade level 3rd graders and/or no prior or limited experience 4th graders.  Bethanne is a 3rd grader but has no formal prior experience with writing a story, this I am at fault for because of writing being stressful for her.  She loves to write stories but often times her hand hurts, she doesn’t write small or very legibly, etc – so I was hoping that Write Shop Book C would encourage this.


All you need for this is the teacher’s guide, which tells you everything, and then some on how to get started.  They give many different lesson plan ideas such the three week, two week and one week lesson plans.  We gave the one week lesson plan a go and I’ll say that for myself and my daughter this was not the way to go – I’ll explain more in a bit.  The teacher guide gives scripts that will help the parent who struggles or feels uncomfortable teaching writing, although you may want to proof read as my daughter did not follow the script (they aren’t supposed to but that is how my mind works). The first 34 or so pages go into great detail about teaching and using the program, prep that needs done, and additional supplies.


As I said above I chose the one week lesson plan, which worked great for my needs and wants but went way too fast for my daughter.  By the time I realized this was what the frustration was I was to enmeshed in the schedule to back track and slow down.  The other frustration was the guided writing process – my daughter absolutely did not like this part and while I know this is a big part of the curriculum, I did like most homeschoolers do, I improvised and did away with the guided writing practice.  Once we forgot that part, things went much more smoothly and Bethanne enjoyed the process.


Bethanne doing a writing assignment for Write Shop Book C – yes, that is a silky and her sucking her thumb at the same time 😦


If you’re wondering what does the student use, they use the Activity Set Worksheet Pack.  These are reproducible for single family use and includes 20 activity sheets to be used as directed in the teachers guide.  My daughter liked these sheets and it really helped to bring certain concepts to fruition as well as helping in brainstorming writing ideas.  For Primary Book C the student will use the activity sheets to:

  • plan a story using who, what, when, where and why
  • learn to self edit
  • choose descriptive words
  • list facts for a short report
  • independently practice handwriting, spelling and story-writing skills on page 2 of most worksheets


Also included is an Evaluation Chart to track your child’s progress through each of the lessons.  These will help you see where your child is doing well or needs improvement so you can help them learn those necessary skills.  This is a very thorough writing curriculum if your looking for an in depth and teaching intensive curriculum.  I did feel there was a lot of preparation needed on my end and with three children to teach I don’t have a lot of time to devote to teacher prep but all the preparation has a purpose and my daughter enjoyed the tools that I made to make this curriculum fun and work for us.  To see what other homeschool parents thought visit the TOS Homeschool Crew Review Blog.


**Disclaimer:  As a member of the TOS Crew, I received this product, at no cost to me, in exchange for my honest review. All opinions are mine.

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