Faith, Family, Love and Reviews

TOS Crew Review: Beeyoutiful


Vendor Name:  Beeyoutiful

Vendor Contact: Beeyoutiful Contact Page

Name of ProductTension Tamer and B.A.L.M.

Price:   $11.00 and $3.00

Age Range: all ages


I’m tired of having to use big chain stores to find products for moisturizing, headaches and the like that are also loaded with preservatives and ingredients that add to the problem or make something else worse.  Welcome to Beeyoutiful, an online store that is full of information on wholesome living as well as products to help promote a natural lifestyle, for all ages, babies to the elderly and all in between.  There are an abundance of health related articles and videos on helping all of us learn how to live a more natural life without relying on products that exacerbate the problems.


I was given two products to try out from Beeyoutiful and the first is the lip balm.  I was provided with the orange scented one, and I must say I wasn’t sure I would like it – I’m very sensitive to smells and citrus scents are usually too strong and overpower me – but I tried it.  I liked it!  While you can definitely smell the orange scent it wasn’t overpowering, in fact it was very light and almost disappeared when I put it on.  I did seem to need to reapply more often than the lip balm I was using prior to this (I use lip balm year round) and if I applied it to frequently it felt somewhat heavy.  Even with these minor drawbacks I felt it did a great job in protecting and keep my lips moisturized and it will be a mainstay in my purse from now on.  Made with grapeseed oil, shea butter, beeswax and essential oils (either orange or peppermint) the B.A.L.M. is all natural and I like knowing that what is going on my and my children’s lips is a natural ingredient.


Next up, is Tension Tamer – this is a neat little product that is easy to carry around in your purse or pocket for those times when life makes you stressed.  It comes in a 0.3 fluid ounce container with a rolling ball applicator that you can use to rub on your temples, neck, wrist or nose to help with stress that could lead to headaches.  For those who’ve read my blog, many will know that I suffer from migraines, so when I received this product I was very excited, and it now has also found a place in my purse.  This has a wintergreen scent but even though I’m sensitive to smells wintergreen doesn’t affect me so this was great and also works as a decongestant.  I was not embarrassed to use this out in public since the scent is light enough no one else noticed and the bottle is tiny enough to be discreet.  I even used it on my children when they’ve complained of head pain and they enjoy it and the smell as well.  Be sure to note though that the bottle needs to be stored upright to keep constant contact with applicator ball and essential oil at a minimum.  This little bottle goes a long way as it doesn’t take much.

I have to say I’ve been very pleased with these products from Beeyoutiful, and what also garners my appreciation is the fact that since the products are all natural they can be used on children – whose little bodies are more prone to be sensitive to the harsh chemicals in other products.  You can browse their extensive online catalog, view their videos like this one on heartburn, or listen to questions posed on Facebook.  If you’re looking for natural supplements, probiotics or even just some lotion look no further than Beeyoutiful and if you want to read what other homeschooling parents had to say about other Beeyoutiful products check out the TOS Homeschool Crew blog.


**This is a TOS Crew Review.  I was provided the B.A.L.M. and Tension Tamer products from Beeyoutiful in exchange for my honest review, no other compensation was provided.



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TOS Crew Review: See-n-Spell

Vendor Name:  See-n-Read

Vendor ContactSee-n-Read Contact page

Name of ProductSee-n-Spell

Price:  $9.99

Age Range:  4th grade and up

“Mom! How do you spell…………….?”

I know I feel your pain.  The one thing that is a common question in our house during school time is how to spell a word.  And when I answer sound it out or look it up it’s met with more groans and cries of anguish than an extra math lesson.

Enter See-n-Spell.  A 40 page booklet that is big on the usefulness, whether it’s for 4th graders, 10th graders or even adults, this booklet is one to keep handy for those writing lessons or story writing.  Although if you have a 2nd grader who is reading and needing help with spelling I can attest to it that they to can use this guide with success.

The book is arranged in three sections the first concentrating on the alphabetical order of how each word functions as well as grammar skills such as whether the word is a noun, irregular verb, adjective and the others as well as what each of these grammar functions do in the usage. So if the word is a pronoun the booklet would also make it easy to remember or refresh that a pronoun are words that join tow or more words, phrases or clauses.  The second section is commonly misspelled words that are also organized alphabetically and the last section is for special interest words that the student wants to add to the booklet.

Also included with the purchase of the See-n-Spell booklet is the See-n-Read tool.  It is suggested that as the child finds the word they are looking for that they place the See-n-Read tool and the window will aid in focusing on that word.  The tool also makes word and line skipping less of a frustration while reading a book or text.  I will say that while I will use this tool more with my highly dis-tractable daughter my 4th grader and I didn’t need to use this in our trial run of the See-n-Spell, but it’s definitely a useful tool for students who need it.

*If you’d like to see what other homeschool parents think of the See-n-Spell then please visit the TOS Homeschool Crew blog.

**This is a TOS Crew Review.  I was provided a copy of the See-n-Spell from CadenaSmith Enterprises in exchange for my honest opinion, no other compensation was given.

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TOS Crew Review: Aleks

Vendor Name:  Aleks

Vendor ContactAleks contact page

Name of Product:  Aleks

Price:  $19.95 per student, per month; $99.95 every 6 months; $179.95 every 12 months.  Aleks Family Discount plan

Age Range: Grades 3-12

Aleks is a math program and stands for Assessment and LEarning in Knowledge Spaces.  It is suggest for grades 3 through 12 which targets gaps in the student’s knowledge skills of math,  along with other areas such as being customizable and aligning with curricula and can be used by both Spanish and English speaking students.  Aleks, however is not something that is full of ‘bling’ or over the top graphics – it’s a simple, straight forward math program to enable students to become proficient in math.

The first thing a student will do is to take an assessment to find out exactly where the student is at in their math knowledge.  I had my oldest who is in 4th grade take it and she was pretty much on target, I didn’t score very well myself.  I did not have my 2nd grader try it even though she is almost to 3rd grade math because after seeing the assessment I knew that she would place below that level.  After the assessment the student can then work through their pie, the dark area being what they’ve mastered and the light area being what needs worked on.  If the student can successfully complete a minimum of 3 problems (some required more) that area will be considered mastered and added to their pie.

I liked the idea that I could check on my child’s progress at any time as well as being able to email my ‘student’ with encouraging words to keep going.  My daughter could also respond to my email or even to other ‘students’ if I had them.  As you can see from the above graphic the parent can also create new quizzes, edit them as well as view the results.  I will admit I did not use this feature as I had a hard enough time getting my daughter to agree to use this program.  My daughter thought it was boring and would have liked to have some visual stimulation other than just the Aleks mascot.  I understand her thinking, and while I would have thought the same thing at her age it is actually an advantage for a child who cannot pay attention if there is a lot of visual stimuli.

While I think the idea behind Aleks is something that is very valuable, especially for students where math does not come easy some of it seems to be tedious.  In that you have to click in each box, we were not able to use tab key, and if you had to do a number of operations you had to make sure you clicked on the right box before solving the problem.  As  I said I think this could be valuable for the child who enjoys the computer and needs less visual stimulation but for the child where old fashioned paper and pencil work better, this program just wasn’t something that worked for us.  Overall, though I did feel like I remembered some things that I had long forgotten and was able to put that to work in my children’s math text, it’s just not something my oldest liked but I could see this program being a good thing for my other daughter and son when they are able to do it.  Visit the TOS Homeschool Crew blog to see what other homeschooling parents thought about Aleks.

**This is a TOS Crew Review.  I was given a trial subscription to Aleks in exchange for my honest review, no other compensation was given.

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TOS Crew Review: Math Rider


Vendor Name:  Math Rider

Vendor Contact: Math Rider Contact Page

Name of ProductMath Rider

Price:  $37.00 goes up to $47.00 on 2/15/12

Age Range:  5 and up


I was thrilled when I once again had a chance to use and review Math Rider, an intelligent math game that helps children (and parents) with math facts in addition, subtraction, multiplication and division.  This is great for both boys and girls and upon registering they can get either a boy rider or a girl rider, which makes it friendly if you have a mixture of boys and girls in the house and both will enjoy it.

Depending on what your child needs work on you’ll chose which quest your child will be on.  They can switch quests but that will delete their current quests, so make sure you chose that only if they have completed that quest or are truly ready to move on.  The quest will time how long it takes to be completed, how many poles are cleared and not cleared and the points.  The child can also see how many poles are remaining as they are going along and they have a visual as to how much longer they have until the end.

As you can see from the screen shot above the poles are actually flowers and the riders go through their enchanted lands to complete the quest.  It depends what operation and difficulty level (easy, medium and advanced) what quest your child will embark upon.  There is a wizard and there are fairies and dragons throughout, while that isn’t an issue for us it could be for some of my readers so I’m going to put that out there.  My two girls, enjoy using this and even see it as a reward to be used after their regular school work is completed.

My son, even though he is 5 1/2 is still a little young as his math abilities aren’t on a level that he’d be able to complete a quest.  Also his attention span wouldn’t last through one of the rides – each quest is made up of several rides and those can be tracked on their quest progress map – so that the child and parent can see how much further until a quest is completed.

If you’re worried that your child can’t type fast enough, no worries, the game recognizes the typing speed of the child and slows or speeds up accordingly.  This is really great if you don’t have a number board and your child has to hunt for the numbers on a regular keyboard.  After entering each answer they hit the enter key and if they miss an answer their game will stop and they will have to input the correct answer three times before continuing.

This is a great way to help your child gain confidence in their math skills or brush up on ones that may be lacking.  Combining horses and a imaginative world children can learn math facts and with daily practice they’ll be flying through their math lessons (at least it’s helped mine improve).  If you’d like to see what other homeschooling parents have to say about Math Rider please check out The Old Schoolhouse Homeschool Crew blog.

**This is a TOS Crew review, I was provided trial access to the program through Math Rider in exchange for my posting my honest opinion, no other compensation was given.

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TOS Crew Review: Maestro Classics – Swan Lake

Vendor Name:  Maestro Classics

Vendor ContactMaestro Classics Contact page

Name of ProductSwan Lake

Price:  $16.98 CD; $9.98 download MP3

Age Range:  5 years and up

Other Products:  The Soldier’s Tale, Mike Mulligan and His Steam Shovel, Casey at the Bat, and more.

If you’ve been trying to figure out a way to make teaching classical music fun for your children then look no further than Maestro Classics, started in 2004 by Bonnie Ward Simon and Stephen Simon when they decided to share their love of the music with a wider audience.  In each CD the title track is the music with narration done by Yadu, the next track is a brief lesson on the composer’s life, a new music genre is then heard, about the music is next so that students can learn what to listen for, and several other tracks depending upon the selection choosen.

My children love classical music so it’s not hard to get them to listen to it and I don’t really add it as a lesson because I don’t want them to lose the enjoyment of listening but that is what makes Maestro Classics CD’s so great.  I can put it in the CD player at home while doing chores or on errands in the van and they are learning without learning.  The track they all enjoyed, including my husband (and even old fashioned, little me) was the Speed Metal Swan.  Yes, it’s Swan Lake to speed metal and it really isn’t as awful as you’d first think and after a couple listens it does start to grow on you.  The playing length of the CD totals 54 minutes which is the perfect time for errands or chores!

Also included with the CD is a 24 page booklet that you can use to aid in the study of Tchaikovsky and Swan Lake.  The booklet contains some fun activities like a cross word puzzle, learning major and minor, dot to dot as well as information on Tchaikovsky, the Conductor/Composer Stephen Simon, Executive Producer Bonnie Ward Simon, Narrator Yadu and more.  There is a lot of information in this little book.  If you want more to assist in your homeschooling efforts or ideas on how to fit science, art, geography and other subject areas into the area of music then check out Maestro Classics Homeschool Music Curriculum Guides.  If you’d like to listen to a sampling of the music of all the CD’s available visit the products page.

**If you’d like to read what other homeschooling parents have to say about Maestro Classics visit The Old Schoolhouse Crew blog.

**This is a TOS Crew Review.  I was given a copy of Swan Lake on CD from Maestro Classics in order to facilitate this review, no other compensation was given.

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TOS Crew Review: R.E.A.L. HomeSchool Spanish

Vendor Name: REAL Homeschool Spanish

Vendor ContactContact Info page

Name of Product:  REAL Homeschool Spanish

Price:  $49.95 download, $59.95 download with daily curriculum guide, $89.95 hard copy, $99.95 hard copy with daily curriculum guide

Age Range:  all ages – families can learn together

We’ve been studying Spanish this year and when I had the chance to review the REAL Homeschool Spanish product I was eager to try it since we are about done with the current Spanish curriculum and I needed something for all three children to participate in, not just two of them.  This is what I like about REAL Homeschool Spanish, it enables the whole family to get involved in learning the language.  My 5 year old, 7 and 9 1/2 year old as well as myself can all learn by listening and doing at our own levels.

I was given the whole book bundle including the daily curriculum guide, which to me is indispensable in preparing the week’s study.  It lays out what you will need in way of the preparation for that week as well as all 5 days organized, which also makes it easy to know if your 5 year old can do what you want your 9 year old to do.  For example in week one the daily prep is to review the vocabulary that you’ll be teaching, listen to the audio and read “Tips to the Home Educator”.  The prep is low key and is not at all time consuming which is great for a busy homeschooling mom.  If, like us, your school week is only four days the week guide can be easily tweaked if needed.

The book contains 10 units that cover greetings, colors, numbers, foods, family,animals, and more including grammar like verbs.  There are many ideas given in the book for using it with multiple children, how to set the rhythm for your family’s learning style,  and planning grid and more information on using the curriculum.  I received both the color version as well as the black and white, the black and white is great if you have a highly dis-tractable child or want to print off copies for each child – although reading from a computer, e-reader or tablet is a great and viable option as well to save on printing costs.

There are activities to go along with each lesson that helps to reinforce what was just learned such as crossword puzzles, scrambles, word searches, fill in the blanks, among others.  This book is in black and white so if you’d like to make copies it won’t use up a lot of color, especially if you’re printing for multiple children.  Since this curriculum is geared for whole families, it may only be your older child, or the one who likes puzzles who will complete the activities but the Daily Curriculum Guide gives other ways to teach the lessons such as making a cartoon and they can write or dictate what the characters are saying, puppet or mime shows, there are many ways to teach and get the language to stick.  There is an included answer book so you or the student can check the work as it’s finished.

The audio files are well done and easy to follow which file goes with which unit and does a great job in teaching how certain words are pronounced which is helpful for those not used to the Spanish language, especially if you ever plan to actually use it either at home in the Unites States or abroad in a Spanish speaking country.  This is definitely one Spanish curriculum we’ll be continuing to use.

**Visit The Old Schoolhouse Homeschool Crew Blog to see what other homeschooling families thought about this Spanish curriculum.

**This is a TOS Crew Review.  I was provided this curriculum from REAL Homeschool Spanish in exchange for my honest opinion, no other compensation was given.

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TOS Crew Review: The World’s Greatest Stories

Vendor Name: The World’s Greatest Stories

Vendor ContactEmail Contact

Name of ProductThe Prophets

Price:  $7.95 CD or cassette  NIV or KJV

Age Range: all ages

Step back in time with me for a moment and let’s meet Daniel of Lion’s Den fame, Jonah, Elijah and other prophets of old…… You say that’s not possible?  Well believe me it is and you’ll enjoy the trip.  With the World’s Greatest Stories you and your children will be transported directly into the Word of God and hear word for word the words that were told from the Lord and spread by the prophets.

Actor, George W. Sarris, reads directly from the version of the Bible you chose – either NIV (New International Version) or KJV (King James Version) – and neither takes away or adds to the already great stories of history from the Bible.  You can’t merely sit back and think just your children will enjoy this word for word telling of the Prophets stories, because you to will be caught up in the enthralling history.

I received Volume I: The Prophets and when it was over my children were very,very disappointed and had me promising them to buy the rest.  I too was extremely caught up and found myself wanting the disc to continue on and on and on.  It was so awesome to listen to since we’ve studied the prophets this year and this made the stories come alive like I couldn’t do myself.  You’ll hear The Blazing Furnace, The Handwriting on the Wall, Daniel in the Lion’s Den, Elijah and the Prophets of Baal and The Prophecy of Jonah.

There are a total of 18 stories on 5 CD’s or cassettes totaling an hour each – almost over 5 hours of Bible stories that will keep children’s attention as well as the adults in their life.  If you order 6 or more items you get free shipping as well.  The other volumes are:

  • The Life of Christ
  • Beginnings
  • Joshua and Esther
  • Joseph and his Brothers
  • Defeating Giants

**This is a TOS Crew review.  I received The Prophets KJV CD from The World’s Greatest Stories in exchange for posting my honest opinion, no other compensation was given.

**If you’d like to see what other homeschooling families thought please visit The Old Schoolhouse Review Crew blog.

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TOS Crew Review: I See Cards

Vendor Name: I See Cards

Vendor ContactContact page

Name of ProductFractazmic

Price:  $6.95

Age Range: children and adults who are learning measurement and fractions

Other Products: Pyramath, Prime Bomb, I See Cards

I have a confession – I’m bad, really, really bad at fractions and measuring.  My oldest is now into measuring and fractions.  What does that mean for me?  Nail biting?  A little.  Phone calls to husband while he is working?  You bet!  However I have found a solution for both my oldest and myself (and even my 7 year old could use these as well) – it’s Fractazmic.  If you don’t know what Fractazmic is, it’s a game that involves math – namely fractions and measurement.

My husband had to teach me to play it first.  He jumped right in with all three of the decks, the twelfths, sixteenths and the tenths.  I was sort of hoping for an easier teacher but husband said I needed to know how to play with all the decks.  The goal is to use the cards in a variety of ways to come up with a whole.  So I know 1/2 and 1/2 equals a whole – when you start getting into the common denominator, well then you’ve lost me.  This is what my husband encountered when he tried to teach me (and my daughters) to play this game.

Each suit is colored coded so the 1/16’s are red, the 1/10’s are green and the 1/12’s are blue.  Would I have recommended that we start with all 60 cards?  No, but my husband who has a brain for math doesn’t see it my way and it almost looks like he enjoys math – and I guess if I played the game enough I’d find myself not dreading fractions as much.  Yes, it’s embarrassing to have to call your husband to figure up what is 35% off on a sale item when I know if I knew my fractions I could easily do this on my own.

When you order the Fractazmic set you’ll get 60 brightly colored and illustrated cards that are clearly marked with the fraction as well as picture to reinforce that fraction and instructions on how to play the game.  Each game is geared for two to four players and depending on the number of players will determine the starting number of cards.

Even though I’m still struggling with how to get from 1/16 to a whole 1 this game is going to be a fun way to learn my fractions and maybe one day I won’t need to call my husband from the store.  My husband too enjoyed the game (maybe too much in my opinion) but he  thought it was a great way to learn and teach fractions and measurement and can’t wait to play it again.

**If you’d like to see what other homeschooling parents thought of Fractazmic visit the TOS Homeschool Crew Blog.

**This is a TOS Crew Review.  I received a deck of the Fractazmic cards from I See Cards in exchange for my honest opinion, no other compensation was given.

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TOS Crew Review: The Reading Game

Vendor Name: The Reading Game

Vendor ContactContact page

Name of ProductThe Reading Game

Price:  $24.95

Age Range:  4 years and up

What is The Reading Game? (from the website)

The Reading Game is a fast-action memory card game.  It includes a series of six beautifully illustrated storybooks.

The Cards & Books work together to make learning to read exciting and enjoyable.

Game sessions are fun-filled with a winner every few seconds.

After completing the first memory card game, the student has thirty words “hardwired” into memory.

The Skunk story, Book One in the series, is told using only those thirty words.

On completing the series, the student has a reading vocabulary of 180 words.

Almost half of them are among the one hundred most commonly used words in the English language.  The Reading Game was created by “Wordly Wise” author, Kenneth Hodkinson.

My Thoughts

I used this with my 5 year old, not-yet-reading-but-says-he-wants-to-son, who was very, very excited when it came to our house and wanted to start reading the books right away.  Once I explained that we had to play the card game first before he could read the books, he wasn’t as thrilled – he thinks he should just be able to pick up a book and read it.  The explanation I’ve given that each letter has a sound and that then helps us form words hasn’t quite sunk in yet – and it’s for this reason that I’ve put off typical phonics curriculum and requested to review this game because he loves games and it may help us with his reading.

When we began to play he was having fun but as the novelty wore off and he became frustrated with not getting some of the words he eventually lost total interest.  As it is with my son, if it frustrates him the best thing to do is let him leave it alone and revisit it again later.  I also liked the fact that if I wasn’t available to play it with him, my 9 year old can easily pull it out and do it with him – but it seems he gets more frustrated when she’s playing it with him than when I’m playing it.

The game is easy to play and figure out and as the child continues to memorize more words the sooner they are reading the books that correspond to the card game.  The books and games go in the order of Skunk, Snake, Bear, Penguins, Unicorn and Zebra.  Each story has 6 games that go along with it after every two games the student is given test sentences using words learned either in those games or the ones before it.  During the test if the child has a hard time or struggles with it playing a refresher game is the recommended course of action.  After passing all the test sentences for Skunk and reading the book the child then moves on in order to the games and books to learn 30 new additional words in each story.

The cards are easily identifiable with what story they belong to with a picture of the animal and what game they go to.  With numbers 1-6 the parent can easily tell what is Bear game 1 cards or Penguins game 5 cards.  Not only do the animals match but the colors for the covers match the color of the cards as well.  The books are illustrated in black and white, which for my reading 7 year old (who read the Penguin book) but didn’t play the game, was a plus since it’s wasn’t something that took her attention from the words.

**If you’d like to see what others had to say about The Reading Game then please visit the Old Schoolhouse Review Crew Blog.

**This is a TOS Crew Review.  I was given this game from The Reading Game in order to facilitate my review and in order to give my honest opinion, no other compensation was given.

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TOS Crew Review: Time Timer

Vendor Name: Time Timer

Vendor Contact:  Email:

Name of ProductTime Timer 3″

Price:  $30.00

Age Range:  all ages

Other Products Available: 8 and 12 inch Time Timers, wrist timer,  software and apps, Time Timer puzzle, accessories

Do you have a child with special learning needs such as Autism?

Does your child have a hard time staying on track?

Do you want your child to do their math work in a certain time or timed speed drills?

Does your child need to be able to ‘see’ how much time is left to do their chores?

Well then – I have the answer!  The Time Timer – this small, 3″ timer will be able to help you and your child or children keep on track in whatever it is you’re doing.  My 7 year old daughter has a hard time staying on task and needed constant reminders and while I’m not saying the Time Timer is a cure all it sure has made our school day less of a struggle.  She knows she now has 30 minutes to complete her math work (the area of the most struggles) – I set the time timer and walk away (unless she needs help, in which case I stay).  I use the audible sound setting (a low beep-beep sound) so she’ll know when time is up.

I thought there had to be more than just using this for my daughter’s math so I now use it for their speed drills as well.  Each will have 3 minutes to finish their speed drills – with the Time Timer I set it for the allotted time and they know when time is up if they don’t finish before.  I’ve also used it so they know they have so much time on the computer or if we have to leave for an errand and I’ve even used it for knowing when I had to drink something or when I have a meal in the oven.  This Time Timer is a great way to keep track and manage time so that things that need done get done.

What I like about it as well is the fact that it has a cover that doubles as a stand so if I wanted to I could throw it in my purse and take it with me to places that need to have time limits.  I can see great potential in using it at a children’s museum where if you’re not careful the children will spend four hours at the water table.  With the Time Timer you can set a time limit of anything from 0 to 60 minutes and let your children know that when that time is up it’s time to move on.

To use the Time Timer you simply move the red disk counterclockwise to whatever time increment you need – again it’s from 0 to 60 minutes with 5 minute intervals displayed.  You can turn the sound off or on depending on your needs or your child’s needs and it only takes one AA battery.  I’ve been using this almost everyday for our school and home needs and I have yet to replace the battery.  I’m so happy that I’ve added the Time Timer to our school and home day as it even helps me, who also gets easily sidetracked, to stay on task and focus on what needs focused on.

**If you’d like to see what other homeschoolers are saying about the Time Timer please visit the TOS Homeschool Crew Blog.

**This is a TOS Crew Review.  I was given the 3″ Time Timer from Time Timer to facilitate my review, no other compensation was given.





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