Friday, May 27, 2011

Read for the Heart New TOS Review

PhotobucketRead for the Heart: Whole Books for WholeHearted Families
By Sarah Clarkson

Apologia Whole Heart Books
1106 Meridian Plaza
Anderson, IN 46016
888-524-4724   Look in Resources for Parents

Sample Chapter available with book description

$17.00 Paperback Book

Apologia is well known throughout the homeschooling community for their science curriculum, but they also have numerous other resources as well. Some of these other resources include Apologetics studies, and parenting and homeschool reference resources.  Some of these are specifically targeted to homeschooling parents, but they have many which could be valuable to parents in general.

Read for the Heart is a book to guide parents in finding reading material for their whole family.  The first four chapters share information about reading and literacy, the rest of the book is the meat- lists of books to savor and explore.

In the first chapter the author describes her love of books and reading and how books were constant companions in her childhood and adolescence. She then continues to detail the state of reading and literary awareness in America, sharing her conclusion that this is fast becoming a lost pasttime.  Sarah also shares several ideas about making reading a pleasant experience for children and families. She also gives suggestions for beginning or enlivening family read alouds. The fourth chapter shares information about the organization of the rest of the book, ideas as to why she choose the books she did, and sources to locate books in addition to the library and bookstore. She also explains what you will find in each books  review as well as the age rating system she employs.

Now on to the book lists.  You will find chapters devoted to:

Picture Books
The Golden Age Classics
Children's Fiction
Fairy Tales and Fantasy
History and Biography
Spiritual; Reading for Children
Music, Art, Nature

While most of these categories are self explanatory, it might be good to note that books placed into the Golden Age Classics category tend to be written in the late 1880 and early 1900's.  Whereas those in the Children's Fiction category are mainly written from the mid 1900's and on.  These are often medal winning literature selections.

In each of these categories the books are listed alphabetically by author.  Generally one example of the authors work is discussed and any additional publications are listed by title. Occasionally several books by the author are summarized, especially if they are favorites of the author or show the authors versatility. The book summaries may also include notes about situations or events which some people may find objectionable.

In appendices you will find lists of Newberry and Caldecott Medal books, several lists of specialized Historical books, such as The Trailblazer series, Landmark History books, and many by G. A Henty.  There is also a list of many of the authors personal favorite books, as well as lists of favorites for boys and girls.  Finishing out the 384 page book are indexes of titles and authors.  I estimate over 925 books are listed in the index.

Throughout the book you will read many stories and thoughts from the author about books and their influence on her.  Quite frequently she will mention a particular reason for enjoying a book in that specific books review, but their are many other personal references throughout the text.

My Thoughts on Read for the Heart
I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book. While several chapters contain a lot of statistical and research evidence it is generally an easy read.  The first four chapters contain a lot of material to absorb and reflect on.

I also like the fact there are selections for a wide range of ages.  Thus one volume can serve a family for many years.  Sarah does mention that some titles are out of print or may not be readily available and makes suggestions for online purchase sources as well as used book stores.  Personally my family makes use of our library due to limited storage space and knowing how quickly they change their collection I would be surprised to see a lot of these books available after only a few years. 

One of the marks of good writing is helping the reader to develop their own mental pictures from the descriptions.  Sarah has painted many very vivid pictures for her readers in the descriptions of her family life and reading experiences.  Her book reviews or descriptions are just as vivid.  The descriptions of picture book illustrations leaves the reader longing to hold those books in their hand and revel in the beauty of their pages.

I felt the History and Biography section was somewhat weak. With the exception of books covering World War I and II there are very few books covering Non-American history after 1650.

While reading I formed the impression that the author has a very strict view of what is proper or suitable reading material.  I am careful about what my children read, but I do allow them to read some of the more "popular" type books.  I let my children choose some of their books as well as have them read others which I have chosen.  They need to have the opportunity to make choices and I believe it is better to do this now when I can offer guidance than later when it may not be as easily accepted.

You might think I am strange, but I generally enjoy books about books.  I like having a resource to peruse if I am looking for a volume on a specific topic. While it seems it is marketed to adults I wouldn't have a problem sharing it with my 10 year old  for her to find ideas for new reading material.

I feel that there is much in this book to make it a useful reference for parents and it certainly fulfills its mission of leading people to discover wholesome books. While it is written by a woman who was homeschooled, it is a valuable resource for any parent.  The books reviewed  in Reading for the Heart can certainly be enjoyed by all children and even their parents.

Read what other Crew members had to say at the crew blog.

Disclaimer: As part of the TOS Crew I received a copy of this book in order to write this review.  I have not been compensated in any other manner and all opinions expressed here are solely my own.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Considering God's Creation New TOS Review

PhotobucketConsidering God's Creation

Eagle's Wings

Teacher's Manual with audio CD  $29.95
Reproducible Workbook   $13.95

Designed for grades 2-7

Eagle's Wings also has math, phonics, Bible History, and state capital curricula


 Considering God's Creation is a natural science curriculum from a Biblical perspective.  It covers
  • Creation
  • The Universe stars, sun, and planets
  • The Earth
  • Rocks and Minerals
  • Weather
  • The Plant Kingdom
  • The Animal Kingdom
  • Animal Anatomy & Physiology
  • Man
There are a total of 36 lessons in these units.
     Each lesson includes vocabulary, introduction, song/poem, activity, Bible Reading, Notebook activity, evolution stumper, review and digging deeper.  Many of these are very hands on and allow the student to explore and discover what they are studying.  The activities are fresh, exciting, and very engaging.  While there is a lot of coloring, cutting, and gluing the variety of projects is diverse.
    The beginning of the teacher's book includes several pages describing the multi-level teaching process they have envisioned for the series as well as several helpful questions and answers and a general layout for a lesson. Each lesson is pretty much scripted for the teacher and contains just about all the information needed to present the lesson.  All the items needed for the lesson are listed at the beginning of the lesson, but are easy to find around the house.

    The student notebook features all the notebook activities.  Each child needs their own book or you are given permission to make copies of the book for your own family. There are mini charts to assist with gathering facts about scientists, planets, clouds, and flowers.There are even charts to record information about animals seen at the zoo.  The zoo chart features thunbnail pictures of habitats, classifications, food, shelter, and special needs and a small world map to mark where the animal is from.  All the child needs to do is check the box by the appropriate picture. This would be great for beginning readers.

    You may view several examples of several pages from the student book at Eagles Wing's web site.

    How we used Considering God's Creation

    My children had been asking to read about our bodies and had been talking about the life size versions we'd made when daughter was in 1st grade so when I received this book and saw it contained several sessions discussing the body I decided that was what we would focus on for our review. We also used some of the material from another review project along with this course.

    There are 9 sessions covering the human body. We found we were able to complete each lesson, with the exception of the notebook activity in about 30 - 45 minutes. This included a few review questions from the body system we had studied the previous session.

    One of the hands on activities is creating a paper model of the body showing the skeleton and major organs.  The children had a lot of fun putting this together.

    Some of the organs are attached by a tab so that they can be lifted up to  look at organs underneath.

    It is hard to tell in this pic, but son also added the veins and arteries to his body by drawing them in with red and blue pencils.

    I did find that this project (as do several others in the book) had a fair amount of cutting. In the interest of time I cut out the pieces so the construction wouldn't be slowed down. Also my 7 year old doesn't cut as well as some of the small pieces required.

    They also enjoyed putting together a cross section diagram of the digestive system and looking at Fingerprints.  We also tried the Fingerprint detective game, but I had to read the directions several times as I just wasn't understanding them.

    The Science Detective or biography exercises are really appealing, but I had a difficult time finding information about the people who are recommended in the lessons.  My library had one of the resources that is recommended for this use, but it is a reference copy and not at a branch near us.  Maybe we can take a look at the book when we are in the area of the branch that has it.

    There are other mini charts to fill in, which I found great as both of my children are reluctant writers; the less they have to do the better.

    The vocabulary lists in the teachers book  also contains a note about the language of the origin and root word as well as the definition.  I really liked this feature as we are studying Latin and so many scientific/medical terms come from Latin and Greek.  My husband knows both of the languages so the children like to show off to him what they know about these word origins.

    I would seriously contemplate purchasing some of the additional suggested resources.  From reading through the additional activities I can see where they would certainly add to the learning experience. I will be looking at the recommended list and see what may be useful as we continue using Considering God's Creation next year.

    We did not use some of the Bible activities as they conflicted with our Lutheran faith.  However, we did use several during our studies and found them to be useful.

    Read what other Crew Members had to say at the Crew Blog.


    Disclaimer:  I received a free copy of the teacher's manual and student notebook for the purpose of this review.  I have not been compensated in any other manner.  All opinions expressed here are solely my own.

    Tuesday, May 24, 2011

    G is for Games we play

    A couple weeks ago I stumbled across this new link up.   Homeschooling A B C's is hosted by  5 Kids and a Dog.  I thought that was such a neat topic and it would be fun to participate.  I meant to participate that week, I think they were doing C.  Well, guess what?  This week's letter is G and it is my first time!  Well, here goes.

    G is for Games

    I think I would have been perfectly happy doing just bookwork in my homeschool.  Reading books, filling out workbooks, etc. I have found some exciting looking workbooks and activities. But guess what ?  My children aren't and they have let me know quite well. 

    So all of a sudden it seems I had the idea to try games.  We had some letter and number games so I pulled them out.  Well it turns out they were a big hit.  My daughter thoroughly enjoyed the break in the routine and she even learned something! At this point my son was too young to play most of them so we had to do it while he was sleeping or I played with her and did something else with him at the same time.  As both of them have grown older our taste in games has expanded.  We now play history games and  trivia games as well as letter and math games.  We also have several varieties of bingo.

    Some of the games we play are Made for Trade; a colonial American game, Money Bags; coin counting, Scrabble, Professor Noggin card games; trivia, but based on one topic, and a variety of flashcard deck like games.

    Games have provided a nice break from traditional educational methods but still allow the brain to stay active and exercised.

    I have written several other post about games we like.  You can find them under the games tag in my labels on the right.

    Monday, May 23, 2011

    All Together Social Studies by Pearson New TOS Review

    PhotobucketAll Together Social Studies
    Pearson Education

    First grade students

    Student Book $43.47
    Teachers Edition with Card Pouches $150.47
    Teacher's Package $487.47
    Reproducible Assessments $57.97

    Additional items are listed at Pearson's website.

    As part of the TOS Crew I received of a copy of All Together, Pearson Educations' First Grade Social Studies book.  This is a very nice study hard cover book.  The curriculum covers  the concepts of:
    • History
    • Economics
    • Science and Technology
    • Geography
    • Culture
    • Citizenship
    • Government
    • National Symbols
    Each of these concepts is briefly described and illustrated in the first pages of the book.  This is a section entitled 'Social Studies Handbook' or 'Explore the United States'.

    The book is divided into 6 units covering :

    • Time for School
    • In My Community
    • Work! Work! Work!
    • Our Earth, Our Resources
    • This is Our Country
    • Our Country, Our World
    Within each unit you will find a beginning song or poem, vocabulary words, chart/graph skills, several biographies (both historical and contemporary), as well as several lessons focusing on the theme of the unit. Both Social Studies topics and history are include in the book, but social studies is given a greater focus. Throughout the book students are introduced to geographic features, several types of maps, reference resources, and habitats.  The 5 themes of geography are also explained.

    Students are introduced to large number of vocabulary words over the course of the book.  Not only are these explained by definition and context in the text, there is a glossary in the back of the book. Both in the text and glossary words are accompanied by a picture.  Additionally several literature and writing concepts are introduced and explained throughout the text.

    In addition to the glossary an atlas is found in the back of the text.

    There are a number of discussion questions on each 2 or 4 page spread as well as hands on activities.  Most of these are drawing type activities, although there are several which are writing focused.

    Several units have a 2 page spread featuring objects from DK Eyewitness books.  The  featured objects have some connection to the rest of the unit.

    Throughout each unit there are pictures of book covers which correspond to the units focus.  Several of these books looked interesting, but my library system did not have them.

    There appears to be a relatively balanced portrayal of races and ethnic backgrounds throughout the text.  Both men and women are portrayed as being able to do any type of career.  However, it seemed to me that the traditional family of  Dad, Mom, and kids is not prevalent.

    Also throughout the text is referenced for more information.

    How we used All Together

    My 7 year old son and I read through this book together.  We more or less worked through the book from the beginning.  He was very excited at the beginning as he said he didn't know what Social Studies was. We started with the Social Studies handbook.  I think he really liked this and all the facts, figures, and trivia it presented.

    After this we went into the text and he became less enthusiastic.  The routines and situations discussed did not interest him as they pertained to school and the school environment.  He commented he was glad he didn't have to go to a real school because it sounded boring.

    One of the skills addressed in each until is entitled 'Reading Social Studies'.  These skills include: picture clues, order, like and unlike, main ideas, recall, and predictions.  While most of these were pretty simplistic for my sons abilities at this stage we talked them over.  The main idea exercise focuses on celebrating the earth.  The students are to read the following paragraph from the book written by the student character and then tell the main idea.

    " Butterfly Garden
    Our class will take care of our Earth.
    We will plant a butterfly garden. 
    We will plant flowers that butterflies like.
    We hope to have many butterfly visitors soon."

    The text then goes on to say that the main idea is in the first sentence and the other sentences will tell how they will do it. My son remarked that the first sentence didn't seem to have the same idea as the other sentences. I tend to agree with him on this thought.  So we talked about how the first sentence could be changed to go with the other sentences better.

    My son did some of the drawing activities suggested throughout the book.  One of them he did was to draw signs for laws we must follow. This is a picture of what he did.

    I honestly do not see this book appealing to homeschoolers for the following reasons:
    • there is a fairly large section of the text devoted to school.  A homeschoolers day and activities are often structured quite differently.
    • Many of the concepts such as jobs in the community, types of communities, laws/ rules, voting, reasons for holidays etc are learned as a part of everyday life for homeschoolers. 
    If a  parent is only homeschooling for a short time and wants to be sure their child is studying the same things as their peers then this could be a good option. It could also work well for a parent who is not confident they know what to teach their child.

    I checked out the website mentioned above  and it appears to be a portal to 'approved' websites which have social studies connections.  The main source was  There were also logo links to 'Colonial Williamsburg', 'Smithsonian Institute', 'Discovery School', 'MapQuest', and 'Inspiration Software'.  The only one which was new to me was 'Inspiration Software'.

    We were able to use the book without Teacher's materials, but they may provide for a richer more detailed experience with the curriculum.  When I looked at the website I had a hard time knowing what I would need if I desired additional materials as I couldn't find descriptions of the products or what might be contained in bundle packages.

    Pearson's website has a small box on the left side labelled state standards.  I found Missouri and it took me to a page that gave options to see how their various products compare to the state standards and how Pearson products are used in one of the large Metropolitan districts. I looked at it out of curiosity, but the sparse information I found was not of use. 

    Studying this book was helpful for my son as he is now familiar with what the term Social Studies covers, but he is much happier studying history and "doing social studies" rather than just reading about it

    Read what other Crew Members had to say about All Together Social Studies as well as several other textbooks from Pearson Education at the Crew Blog.


    Disclaimer: I received a free copy of this student book in order to write this review.  I have not been compensated in any other manner. All opinions expressed here are solely my own.

    Friday, May 20, 2011

    Homeschool Mothers Journal May 20

    In my life this week…
     I am not sure where my week went.  I think I have been spending a lot of time in front of my computer.  I know I have I had 3 product reviews for the TOS Homeschool crew to do this week. 

    In our homeschool this week…
     We are wrapping things up for the year.  Son has finished his main math book and so we are using other resources for his math right now.  

    We have finished our lapbooks and a drawing project about DaVinci.  I will have to take pictures and post them later.

    Places we’re going and people we’re seeing…

    Early this week I had the opportunity to meet a friend who I had only known through the computer. She is also a homeschool mom.

    Daughter had her piano lesson and is preparing for her recitial on Saturday.

    Can't forget stopping at the library. 

    My favorite thing this week was…

    Meeting my computer friend in person.

    What’s working/not working for us…

    Since the weather has finally been a little nicer I am trying to get the young ones outside a little bit more.  We have been able to take a walk/scooter ride around our street several times this week.  It is amazing what a little fresh air and exercise can do for the brain.

    Homeschool questions/thoughts I have…

    I am thinking I need a break.  Let's have some down time.
    I really need to start planning for the fall.  I have thoughts running around in my head, but until I write them down I won't feel like I know what is happening.

    A photo, video, link, or quote to share…

    This is a search engine for kids that finds websites which are related to a brand of books we find and use quite frequently from the library.  Books from the publisher have a code in the back which you can put in at the website and it will find several websites related to the book. 

    The Homeschool Mothers Journal is hosted by Sue at the Homeschool Chick.  Check out her blog to see what she and many other homeschooling moms are doing.

    Wordy Qwerty New TOS Review

    PhotobucketWordy Qwerty
    Talking Fingers

    Customer Service  800-674-9126

     Home Edition   $35
        This includes 1 copy of the disc, a Wordy Qwerty program guide, and a Jingle Spells CD containing all 20 songs from the lessons

    Bundle of Both Wordy Qwerty and Read, Write, and Type     $99.00  CD version
    Pricing for all CD options for both US and International users is displayed in this chart

    Online Version   1 user     $25.00
                              2 users   $40.00
                             Pricing for additional users can be seen here 
                             Licenses are for 5 years

    Jingle Spells CD  $10   (Also available form itunes)

    Talking Fingers Homepage has a free download demo of Wordy Qwerty.  Find it in a yellow burst under Wordy Qwerty.

    Make sure to compare the system requirements for Wordy Qwerty which the capabilities of your computer.


    I'd like to introduce you to Wordy Qwerty and Midi.  Wordy Qwerty is the computer keyboard you see in the picture and Midi is the keyboard/piano keyboard. Together they guide your child to better spelling and make it fun in the process. They also teach a few typing skills.

    Wordy Qwerty is the follow up program to Read Write and Type, a program I used and reviewed earlier this year. Wordy Qwerty is geared to children who have learned basic phonics and reading and are continuing to learn more about how words are built, thus focusing on spelling and spelling rules. It is comprised of  20  lessons, each teaching a different spelling rule.  While each lesson teaches a different rule the activities are the same.  As the student progresses they earn parts for Midi which he uses to build his music machine. This is their reward for completing a lesson. Upon completion of the 20 lessons Midi has a large, great sounding music machine.

    The different activities in Wordy Qwerty include:

    1. Balloon pop - choose the proper word for the sentence they've heard


    2. Choose a word to fill in a sentence - electronic fill in the blank


    3. Type sentences to finish a story


    4. Type a word for the picture and place in proper column


    5. Spelling Rule Song
    Students have the option to replay the music and sing in a karaoke manner- earns them additional points


    6. Choose which or both columns contains a word

    In the course of these activities users gain experience using homonyms, word recognition, and spelling. To a lesser extent they practice typing.

    This is an example of the lesson selection screen. In the center are the  numbered lessons, the left column contains thumbnails of the 6 activities and the right column thumbnails show parts of Midi's music machine.  The balls around the outside move from the left of the screen to the right as lessons are completed and show the progress towards finishing the music machine.

    My son told me lessons or sections of lessons can be repeated by clicking on the yellow repeat button first and then whichever thumbnail you wish to repeat.

    In addition to the student accounts there is an administrator/parent account.  This allows the parent to set individual parameters for times of the day when log in is allowed as well as the level of mastery for moving on to the next lesson.

    How we used Wordy Qwerty

    Both my 7 and 10 year olds used Wordy Qwerty and had fun with it.  Wordy Qwerty helped explain in a catchy manner some of the spelling rules that my 10 year old has struggled with and introduced my 7 year old to some new ones.  They are both great readers, but spelling remains a challenge.

    We all liked the variety of activities in each lesson. Each activity uses words in different ways so that the student is exposed to how the rule applies in many settings. I especially liked the two column activity for my 7 year old as he has been interested in homophones lately and this gave him concrete examples and many more than I could think of one my own. I would say it is a very well rounded approach to spelling and something that maybe more difficult to find in a paper and pencil approach.

    Both of my children loved seeing their music machine parts add up as well as guessing what part would be added next or what sound there would be.

    I was somewhat disappointed in Wordy Qwerty as I was expecting it to be more of a typing instruction program. The website does not say it is a typing program, but I made this assumption based on my prior experience with their other product. But I love Wordy Qwerty for what it does, helping children learn how words are put together in English.

    One thing I would like to see added to the Wordy Qwerty program is posters of spelling rules. I am thinking of something along the lines of a pdf file which could be downloaded and printed on standard size paper. This way the rules learned in Wordy Qwerty could be easily referenced and transferred to our subjects thus providing reinforcement across the curriculum.

    We did experience some issues with slow loading of Wordy Qwerty and it was frustrating to both of my children.  I never timed it to see how long it actually took to move from activity to activity so I don't know if this is truly an issue or just my childrens' expectations for instantaneous results. I emailed customer service about this concern and they were very prompt in replying to me.

    Note: While looking for information on the website to finish this review I noticed that Quick Time is required for operation of the program.  I do not believe Quicktime is on my computer so that may be part of the problem here.  I will be checking this out in the near future.

    If you are interested in learning about Read, Write, and Type you can go to the Crew Blog or to my personal review.

    Read what other TOS Crew members had to say at the Crew Blog.


    Disclaimer: I received free access to Wordy Qwerty in exchange for my honest review here.  I have not been compensated in any other manner and all opinions expressed here are solely my own.

    Thursday, May 19, 2011

    What is a 7 year old to do?

    A few days ago I heard the dreaded question from my 7 year old son, "What can I do?" So I took the opportunity to sit down with him and brainstorm a list of things he could do.  Most of these are things he can do on his own.  Here is what we came up with.
    1. Read a Book
    2. Draw
    3. Play with Build a Bear animals
    4. Put together a puzzle
    5. Make Cards 
    6. Read his Bible
    7. Build with Legos
    8. Play with Planet Heroes Figures
    9. Read The Learning Calendar
    10. Watch a movie
    11. Play a game
    12. Pick up toys/ Clean room
    13. Take a nap
    14. Use Brain Quest cards
    15. Listen to Music
    16. Use educational activities on the computer
    17. Plan a menu
    18. Write a letter
    19. Play piano
    20. Run around outside
    I think we came up with a pretty good list to choose from.  Any more suggestions?

    Wednesday, May 18, 2011

    Mad Dog Math New TOS Review


    Mad Dog Math  is available for Windows 32 and 64 bit systems
    Downloadable Software        1 Year license       $19.99
                                                 2Year license        $29.99
                                                 Perpetual license   $39.99

    Also available in a Mastery System which includes written timed tests as well as a computer CD        $69.99

    A free trial download is available on the Mad Dog Math website.

    Success in math requires knowing math facts in all four operations and being able to recall them quickly.  However, this is something many students struggle with.  For some students learning their basic math facts is a tearful never ending process. I have at least one child for whom this is true.

    Mad Dog math is a computer quiz program for math facts mastery.  It includes addition, subtraction, multiplication and division.  Students start out with addition and subtraction operations and upon mastering these move into multiplication and division. Facts are grouped together in small fact families and students work with one group at a time.  Examples of facts groups are When they master one of these groups they then move on to the next group.  After several such groups there is review group including all of the facts they have all ready mastered. 

    Mad Dog Math is timed practice with 1 and 2 minute and 30 second intervals.  Students begin with the 2 minute time and are presented with 20 problems in the selected fact group.  They proceed through all the fact groups, answering the facts within that time limit. Upon successful completion they receive their 2 minute club sticker. Then the student moves on to having 1 minute to answer the questions correctly to master the group and upon completion of all the groups they receive their 1 minute club sticker. The same process is repeated with the 30 second time interval.

    Main Drill Screen
    Level 2 addition provides one addend and the sum and the user needs to fill in the remaining addend.  Level 3 is multiplication and division and has 24 problems in the first fact family. Additionally there is a challenge level that features mixed operation drill and a magic square of addition and multiplication.

    Using the timing feature is optional, users may also practice without being timed using the same format, but these scores do not count towards earning a club sticker.

    After finishing up a group of problems the incorrect and unanswered problems are highlighted so the user can easily tell what was missed.  If the mouse is placed over these incorrect/uncompleted questions the proper answer is shown.

    Some examples of the problem groups are: 0-3,1-4,2-5,3-6,0-6.  Sums in addition and subtraction go up to 18. Multiplication and division focus on single number families with periodic review groups of previously mastered facts.

    After logging in, the main screen will present options for which group to practice with and which time option as well. These are found in drop down menus and the yellow bone.

    PhotobucketThe main screen also has a bone button which opens a progress window.  Here you will find a listing of the groups of facts and the completed ones are checked.  Progress on both addition and subtraction are shown at the same time. 
    This is a sample of the Multiplication and Division progress screen,  The addition and subtraction progress chart is the same.

    I think the program is designed to alternate between addition and subtraction quizzes.  After one group of facts has been mastered there is a short note stating which group is next and subtraction is listed after addition.  My children have preferred to work on one type at a time. They both understand the 
    relationship between addition/subtraction 
    and multiplication/division. As long as they 
    are working and learning I am not going to fight it.

    Mad Dog Math is designed to be used for only a few minutes a day, the website says 5 -10 minutes a day.  The creator advocates using it for students in any educational setting, not just homeschooled students.

    How we used Mad Dog Math

    Both my 7 and 10 year olds have used Mad Dog Math and are loving it.   They are both increasing in speed, proficiency, and accuracy. Not a day would go by that my son didn't ask to use Mad Dog Math. I only requested that they use it for 10 minutes a day and most times they were begging to use it longer.

    This is a very simple program to download and get working. It is also very easy to operate.  Everything is done from one main screen that is free from a lot of distractions.  There are not a lot of complicated operations which could side track the learning process. I believe the simplicity belies the effectiveness.

    This is a very uncomplicated program to use. Logging in is simple, it just requires a name.  No complicated user names and passwords to remember!! I really liked this.  It also doesn't require hitting enter or the space bar, just enter your answer and its on to the next problem. It also doesn't require 100% master to complete a fact group.  The student is allowed to miss up to 2 problems and still receive completion credit for that group.  I think this allows the student to feel like they are making progress and encourages them to go on. Just because they have completed a group doesn't mean they can't go back and redo it. 

    I am very seriously considering purchasing this program later this summer as both of my children have really enjoyed it and I can see how both of them have benefited.

    Read what other TOS Crew members had to say at the crew blog.


    Disclaimer: I received a free trial download of the product to use to help me write this review.  I have not been compensated in any other manner and all opinions expressed here are truly my own.

    Monday, May 16, 2011

    Reflections on the Year on the TOS Crew

    I can't believe it is the middle of May already.  This calendar year is flying by and the academic year is almost over.  That means the year for the TOS Homeschool Crew is almost over also.  In addition to reviewing educational products crew members have had the opportunity to write a special blog post each week and join the Crews' blog cruise.  I haven't written any all year, but decided I needed to participate this time.

    This week we were asked to reflect on our experience as a member of the TOS Homeschool crew this past year and what impact it has had for us and our families. It was certainly a blessing to learn about and use so many programs and materials in our educational journey. One of the biggest blessings for us has been all the math programs we were privileged to review.  As a result I believe my children have increased their knowledge and understanding of mathematical concepts greatly. While it is still not a favorite subject, they have grown in their abilities and progressed dramatically. 

    Being privileged to review a Latin curriculum was also wonderful for our family.  We had been studying Latin already, but just were not making progress in our other curriculum.  It is hard to pinpoint why we weren't making progress or benefiting, but having the opportunity to review a different curriculum has made a world of difference in attitude towards studying Latin as well as learning and remembering.

    Being a member of the TOS Crew is certainly like a job for mom (or dad) with requirements and deadlines, but we have found it to be a great addition to our homeschool.  While sometimes a review has been challenging, the opportunity to share our experiences has been enjoyable for us.  I hope the reviews have been helpful for you.

    Read what other Crew members have experienced this year at the crew Blog.

    Wonder Maps New TOS Review

    Bright Ideas Press Logo
    Wonder Maps by Bright Ideas Press

    Download or CD  $49.95  (Also requires Adobe Reader 9.1 to be installed on the computer)  Readers of The Old SchoolHouse Magazine can receive 20% with the coupon code found in Bright Ideas Press' ad in the current issue

    Wonder Maps is a computer program featuring historical and contemporary worldwide maps which can be customized by the user.  This is a very complete collection of maps, encompassing the world and history.  Biblical History, Post Biblical History, all of the continents, and the United States are included.

    The program has maps arranged in four groups: The World, United States, Historical, and Thematic.There is an individual index for each of these groups.

    Sample picture of US map

    From this page you can select individual state maps or regional maps of several states.

    The World maps feature continents, regions, and nations, however for many continents there are only maps of regions, not individual countries.  Historical Maps are broken down into the following time periods: The Ancients; The Middle Ages; Renaissance, Reformation and Growth of Nations; and Revolutions to the Rising Times.

    All of the maps for The Mystery of History and All American History curriculums are included in Wonder Maps and accessed from a button on the main screen.  The user is then directed to choose the particular book they are using.

    Wonder Maps is very easy to navigate. The opening screen has a button for each of the four map category and their corresponding index. Using the index to locate a specific map is easy, just find the map you want and click on its title and it automatically opens.

    opening page

    Upon opening the map you will have a bookmark on the left side of the screen (less than ¼ of the screen) and the remainder of the screen is your map. From there you can click on one of the titles in the bookmark or a label on the map.  From there you can get a more detailed map of an area or country. There is also an option to see thumbnail maps in the chosen category. Clicking on a map label will take you to a more detailed map.


    The individual maps feature the option to add or remove many features.  The options include color or black and white; names and locations of countries or states, capitals and cities; and rivers and streams. Some maps also include terrain features. Each of these features can be added or removed by clicking the “eye” icon on or off.

    When looking at maps of the continents your options are varied. For some continents you  can choose the individual country, some other continents only have the option of regional maps showing several countries. For the United States you can choose maps of the individual states or regions, which encompass several states. There US territories are also featured on a large world map and numbered according to a key. For many countries there is not an individual map. All of these maps can be customized in the ways mentioned above. 

    Maps can be printed with various features included or removed depending on the goal of the study.

    In addition Wonder Maps includes a Teachers Guide  which has a 1 page quick start guide, a tutorial video, user manual, two downloadable MP3’s and resource ideas for using Wonder Maps, integrating geography and history, and making the study of geography exciting.

    How we used Wonder Maps

    So far we have looked at different maps and investigated all the neat features that are included.  While doing this we have talked about many geographic features and locations.  

    I particularly like the ability to take off place names, yet leave markings for their locations.  This is great as we continue to study all of the individual states in the US.  It will allow for having my children label cities and places in the states and not have to figure out exact locations. This will be great for my oldest especially in other history map assignments.

    While these features are nice and make it so easy to learn about a region, I have been disappointed in the quality of the actual maps.  As an example, the state of Minnesota is included in several regional maps of the US.  One of these maps has no indication of the beginning of the Mississippi river, it looks like it forms from a junction with the Minnesota river.  But another map indicates the Mississippi beginning where it actually does in Northern Minnesota and receiving the waters of the Minnesota river south of St Paul which is correct.

    I also looked at the Civil War maps in preparation to study this time period with my children.  One map is color coded to show which states stayed with the Union and which went with the Confederacy.  However, in history there were also several states which were border states and thus had divided loyalties.  These border states are not recognized as such.  The map would be greatly improved by showing this as it is important to the whole cause and situation.

    Additionally several of the Bible maps are inaccurate according to the Biblical text and  historical resources from closer to the time period.

    Due to these discrepancies, it is hard to judge the quality and reliability of the maps themselves. However, several crewmates have said Bright Ideas Press is very responsive to notes about discrepancies or errors nin the map.

    My 7 year old son thinks Wonder Maps is “Just cool”.  He has spent a lot of time playing with the maps and checking out all the different features he can put onto a map. It has also inspired him to learn more about some of the geographic features he has seen on the map. He is capable of studying the maps and using all their features himself. 

    Read what other crew members had to say at the crew blog.


    Disclaimer:  I received a free copy to use and help me write this review.  I have not been compensated in any other way and all views expressed here are solely my own.

    Friday, May 13, 2011

    Institute for Excellence in Writing New TOS Review

    Student Writing Intensive A
    PhotobucketInstitute for Excellence in Writing

    Call us: 800.856.5815

    Student Writing Intensive Level A   Notebook Binder with lesson materials and handouts and 4 DVD set $99
    Structure and Style Overview  $10
    Portable Wall     $7

    I realize this is a very long review, but please bear with me.  There is a lot of valuable information tucked into this DVD case and 3 ring binder and I want to share as much information as I can to show you the value of the program. 

    I lost my catchy opening and I can't remember what all it was so I will just get to the heart of the review: describing the product and what we thought of it.  This way I won't make it any longer than necessary.

    Student Writing Intensive level A (SWI A) is set up to be a 30 week course, but it says it can be accomplished in 15 weeks by doubling up the days assignments. There are 15 lessons, each scheduled for 2 weeks. The student book and teacher guide/ outline are included in one binder.

    IEW Comparative ChartThe teacher materials include a Scope and Sequence, breakdown of the DVD scenes, suggested course schedule, notes for each lesson with directions to integrate the written materials with the DVD and ideas for extra practice. There are also lists of words for the key word outlines. (I will explain these outlines in a couple paragraphs).

    The student materials are handouts which feature the reading selection which the student will use to write from, pages for listing banned words for verbs and adjectives and space to write in better alternatives, a listing of adverbs, a list of prepositions, and a model for organizing key ideas.  The back page of the student handout of the text provides a checklist of concepts which should be included in the students work.

    The DVD set includes 4 student DVD’s which provide the actually teaching of the program for the student.  It appears that the sessions are recording live during an actual class led by Andrew Pudewa.

    Writing Instruction is approached from the view of reading good writing helps a student to produce good writing of their own.  Thus they are taught to find key words in a passage and use those key words, without looking at the original text, to reconstruct their own paragraph on the same topic.

    Specific writing techniques are presented as ‘dress-ups.  Throughout the course these are concepts such as; who/which clauses, adverbs, strong verbs (verbs which make something exciting), adjectives, because clause, and adverbial clauses.

    The first 6 sessions focus on Key word outlines and the first 5 dress ups mentioned.  According to the included schedule these lessons could take 12 weeks.  Lesson 7 begins using longer selections of several paragraphs.  Now the student will begin writing a story building on the previously learned.  They are introduced to a “Story Sequence Model” to assist in this larger task.  The questions employed here tend to answer the 5 W and H’s.  They remind me of the answers a newspaper reporter would be thinking of when writing a story. No longer are they taking notes or key words from each sentence, but answering the questions from the story sequence chart. This process is used through lesson 9.

    Lesson 10 instructs the student to write their own original story using the techniques learned so far. The notes give suggestions of stories to use as models so they student doesn’t have to construct everything from scratch.  Some of the suggestions are well known fairy tales, a Bible story or historical story. A checklist is provided to help remember what to include.

    Lessons 11 through 13 focus on Report writing. There is a copy of the whiteboard notes used in the DVD lesson included and the non-fiction text and writing checklist are provided as well. Lesson 13 has students find their own resource material.

    Lessons 14 and 15 focus on creative writing.  The basis of this is ‘taking notes from your brain’ or what the student is thinking about. Then the student chooses a topic from these and uses the writing techniques learned to write a composition.

    Structure and Style Overview is a condensed version of the longer teacher training program produced by IEW.  On the DVD you will learn the basic components of the writing method and implementation.  The reasoning behind this particular method is also explained.  Throughout the presentation ideas and suggestions for implementing and teaching the IEW method using the SWI are shared.  Many of these ideas can also be applied to our courses of study as well. Andrew Pudewa also leads this seminar.

     The Portable Wall is a tri-fold showing the useful concepts taught in this and further courses. It features examples of adverbs, synonyms for “said”, the dress-ups, strong verbs, and quick reference models of concepts.

    How We Used Student Writing Intensive

    My 10 year old daughter has been working through SWI.  We have watched the teaching videos together and discussed them as needed. We have both enjoyed the instruction provided by Mr. Pudewa.  He is an engaging instructor making writing an enjoyable pursuit, at least in terms of watching the DVD. My daughter is not sure if the writing process is enjoyable. He talks to the students at their level and uses examples from their everyday lives.  Several times she commented she would like to take his writing class in person. 

    She has become fairly proficient at making key word outlines from the provided text. Yet she is still struggling with some of the techniques and dress ups.  It seems they are not as easy to put into a piece of writing as it appears in the DVD class. We have both struggled with trying to figure out how to add a who/which clause at times. I appreciate having the written checklist for her to refer to as she is writing.  It takes the pressure of having to remember all that needs to be included away. However, having this on the reverse of the text makes it too easy to just turn the paper over to look at the original text.

    We are just finishing up the first 6 lessons with short passages from which to take notes and write.  We have used some of our own passages in addition to what is provided in the course. I felt my daughter needed additional practice with some of these concepts and did not want to rush her through before she had a firm foundation.

    I appreciate the Structure and Style DVD as it has helped to demystify the writing instruction process. In the session Andrew Pudewa  brings up several common concerns a parent might have in helping their child such as how to grade a composition and ideas to explain concepts to a student when they are having difficulty understanding what is being expected of them. This presentation takes some of the angst out of teaching writing. Some of the ideas discussed in the parent/teacher DVD are also addressed in the student instruction as well but addressed to the different audiences.  As an example he discusses the difference between writing a story and a report in both programs.

    After watching the Structure and Style Overview DVD and studying the teacher handouts I feel somewhat more confident in teaching my daughter to write.   I believe it is a program that requires a fair amount of teacher preparation; not so much in gathering materials, but in time to become familiar with the layout and approach employed.  It is not something which the teacher can just pop in the DVD player and hand the child papers and say “Go to it.”  For us it also required a fair amount of teacher involvement during the writing process.  This is actually a method of writing, not just putting paper in front of the student and telling them to write. As I don’t really remember how I learned to write (not forming the shapes of words) it has been challenging for me to guide my daughter in her efforts.

    After we watched the DVD together we would discuss what was presented and review key ideas. One thing I came up with was to liken “strong verbs” to bright colors in a painting or room, something which adds excitement or draws attention.

    I love the key word method as a way to help a budding writer keep important information in their writing and avoid plagiarism.  This method encourages keeping the original idea of the research they have done but make it their own and put into their own ‘voice’.  It is a concrete way to explain ‘putting information into your own words’. 

    The portable wall is wonderful way of keeping useful information handy while writing.  I like the convenience of not having to flip pages back and forth to find the information which is sought.  It is also provides a handy divider so siblings don’t have to look at each other when working.  ;)

    I really like the methodology and approach employed by IEW.  I will continue to use SWI A and subsequent programs as my children's writing course.  I have looked through the catalog several times and love the variety they have available.  My only problem is confusion over where to go from here and what extras would be most beneficial to add to correlate with our other studies and my children's interests.

    Additionally I plan to start my 7 year old with this SWI A program in the fall.  I will probably modify it for him by using other  shorter passages to outline and rewrite.  He is a good reader so the reading aspect should not present a problem.  I may also need to use a dictation type method with him in the beginning. I feel some of the struggle my daughter is experiencing is because I waited too long to spend much time on the writing process and I do not want to make the same mistake with him. We'll see how he does with it.

    Institute for Excellence in Writing offers print and DVD resources in the areas of reading/ phonics, spelling, literature and grammar.  The writing instructional materials cover all ages/ grades and integrate other subjects into writing as well. A number of parent/teacher resources are also available. The catalog is a wealth of information on education in these areas as well as providing product information. The lower right side of IEW's homepage has  link where you can view or download a copy.  Several online groups are also available via IEW’s website.  Also at the website you will find helpful information to guide in the process selecting which resources will best fir your needs.

    Read what other crew members had to say at the crew blog.


    Disclaimer: I received a copy of the notebook, DVD’s and wall to use to write this review.  I have not been compensated in any other manner.  All opinions expressed here are solely my own.

    Wednesday, May 11, 2011

    GoTryBe New TOS review

    GoTrybe, LLC.
    P.O. Box 1853
    Johnson City, TN 37604-1853

    Phone: (423) 926-1583

    GoTryBe offers a one day free trial.  This promo code is in the speech bubble on this page.
    It is also possible to try GoTryBe on a monthly basis  for $.99 with the code KIDSFITNESS   Check here for more details.

    GoTryBe is $19.95 with the code GETFIT

    GoTryBe is an online, interactive wellness site for the whole family.  There are three different levels: elementary, middle school, and high school age. Their mission is to help youth learn to get active, try new things and be healthy.

    GoTryBe features 4 daily activities: workout, nutrition, motivation, and wellness.

    The workouts are actual videos led by instructors and designed to get children (and adults) up and moving.  The user has the ability to customize a workout by choosing videos in the areas of warm up, cardio, strength, and flexibility. These videos range in length from 2 to 7 minutes.  You can choose one video in each of the categories, except for cardio where you can have 3. As shown in the screen below the user has the choice of several videos for each category.  If the mouse is hovered over the video thumbnails there is a brief description of what is done, length of video, and difficulty of that video. To add a video to the workout, simply drag the thumbnail into the top bar.

    Sample screen for choosing workout videos

    The nutrition, motivation, and wellness activities are short video clips sharing tidbit size information in one of those categories and then giving the user a question to answer about what they just saw.  The questions are simple recall and either multiple choice or true false.
    Sample of nutrition activity

    Each account also has an avatar which the player can dress.  Clothes and accessories are purchased with points earned  from completing the daily activities.  Articles of clothing, footwear, accessories, and pets are all available.  There are several styles of clothing available as the user can choose different colors for them as well.

    How we Used GoTryBe

    Both my 7 and 10 year olds have GoTryBe accounts. We only have a desktop computer in our living room, so all three of us would do the workouts together from that computer. We would make the exercise video full screen so it was easier to see. One day we would use one childs'  account and the next  the other account.  This way they both had the opportunity to earn the points for completing the workout and we didn't exhaust ourselves each day. I usually let the other child do the nutrition, motivation, and wellness activities each day. Both of them enjoyed the program and asked to use quite frequently.

    I really like the concept and execution of the workouts. The workout videos offer varying degrees of difficulty which I found to be very helpful.  We purposely started out with easier workouts and I think before long we will be able to try to harder ones.  I have seen improvement in my stamina and a lot of the exercises are easier to do.

    The style of the avatars was a little too hip for me, but I tend to like more classic designs. I don't think they were too outlandish, though. I like the format of only being able to buy items for the avatars by earning points.  From my Mom point of view, I prefer activities where the children have to do something to earn a "reward".  This gives them a built in limit of what they can do.

    One thing we found difficult was some of the workout videos were often slow or choppy.  While we have a DSL connection  it is slower, so I am not sure whether it is my connection or the videos themselves.

    We did not use the shout out or friending aspects available.  My children listed each other as friends, but that was the extent of our using it.

    I thought some of the wellness, nutrition, and motivation clips didn't contain a lot of useful information or they came across as lame, but my children didn't have any complaints.

    I wish I had known about GoTryBe last fall and winter as the weather is not conducive to outside activities where we live at that time of the year. This would have been a great way to get the wiggles out and refresh sluggish brains.  GoTrybe would also be useful to families who want to help their children become more active but have circumstances which limit participation in formal recreation programs.

    Read what other members of the TOS Crew had to say on the crew blog.


    Disclaimer: I received a free trial of the product in exchange for my honest review.  I have not been compensated in any other way and all opinions expressed here are solely my own.

    Friday, May 6, 2011

    Homeschool Mother's Journal May 6

    In my life this week…

    Read a book - Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother by Amy Chua.  I am still thinking about it and digesting it, but I think she has some good points.
    In our homeschool this week…

    My children enjoyed making slime with glue and borax.  We made it Tuesday and they have played with it since.  I guess I will have to stock up on glue when it is on sale in the fall.

    Places we’re going and people we’re seeing…

    We went to piano and the library, like we always do, so that is kind of boring.  Spent lots of time field at a homeschool field day.  There were about 90 kids from  toddler through 12 years old there, plus high school helpers. 

    My favorite thing this week was…

    I am not sure if there was anything that stands out.

    What’s working/not working for us…

    This is a both working, not working

    I discovered my 10 year old is not a test taker, I think.  A homeschool duh! moment.  I was giving her a math placement test to see where she was and she didn't do so well.  When I asked her the questions she got a whole lot more right. 

    Homeschool questions/thoughts I have…

    I guess I really should figure out what things we "must cover" yet this year and how we are doing on hours.  (State requires to log hours) I've kept track all year, just haven't added the last few months to the total.

    Maybe also be a little more serious about next years plans.

    A photo, video, link, or quote to share…

    This is a neat site for math information and worksheets.  I found it earlier this week when I was looking for metric system worksheets.

    The Homeschool Mother's Journal is hosted by Sue  at    

    You can read about other Homeschool Mom's weeks there.

    Wednesday, May 4, 2011

    Yesterdays Classics NEW TOS Review

    Yesterday's Classics

    Yesterday's Classics
    PO Box 3418
    Chapel Hill, NC 27515

    9 AM to 5 PM EST Monday through Friday

    Yesterday's Classics books are available in an electronic format of EPub or Kindle files.  The collection includes 225 titles.

    Special Offer: Now thru May 31st this electronic collection is available for $99.95. 
    Find more information here.
    Regular Price is $149.95

    The same books are also available in paperback format from the Yesterday's Classics Website. Prices for these editions range from $7.95- $19.95.


    When you hear of classic books you may think of gems enjoyed in the past and now only available to collectors, people with connections or deep pockets.  Maybe you would like to share older editions with your students but aren't sure where to find them.  Now Yesterday's Classics makes Classic literature more accessible to more people. Now it is possible to have a large number of books as close as your computer or ereader, eliminating the need for a trip to the library or waiting for a package to arrive.

    You may be asking what are classic books?  One of the definitions Webster's College Dictionary offers for classic is something 'of enduring interest, quality, or style'.  These books expose readers to different styles of vocabulary and grammar than what is found in current literature and may offer a glimpse into life around 100 years ago as well. They certainly offer a wide variety of literature for all interests.

    Yesterdays Classics republishes children's books with original publication dates from 1880-1920. They have put their reprints togeher into an electronic collection for e readers as well as offering individual paper back titles. The titles they have reprinted offer something for just about every interest and age.

    Topics include:
    • Ancient World History (Egypt, Greece, Rome as well as the Middle Ages)
    • American History
    • Literature and Poetry (both long and short stories, and verse)
    • Science (all branches)
    • Faith
    • Nature
    • Holiday Stories
    • Fables and Fairy Tales
    • Readers
    All of the books are indexed in several ways to allow for quick location of a specific topic or title.  Indexes are by author, subject, and title. In each index there is a sample for each of the books available by the picture of the cover. Each book has been assigned an approximate age/grade level based on subject and difficulty of reading. It is also acknowledged that these are just guidelines, the user should feel free to use whatever books are most appropriate. Indexes are received with the purchase of the collection of EPub or Kindle files.

    Many of the books available from Yesterday's Classics fit in curriculum plans such as Ambleside Online, Living Books Curriculum, and Pageant of History. Yesterday's Classics website shows when many of the books fit into each of these plans.

    How we used Yesterday's Classics e-books

    I received the EPub version of the book collection, downloaded them onto my desktop computer and read them using a plug in with my Firefox web browser.

    We read:
    • The Story Book of Science
    • The Wonder Book of Chemistry
    • The Secret of Everyday Things
    • A Child's Own Book of Verse
    • The Dutch Twins
    • Second Reader

    The first 5 I have read out loud.   My children have both really enjoyed hearing them.  It has definitely been interesting to see the different word usage patterns and sentence structure than we normally use.  These books have also expanded their vocabularies. While they have not used dictionaries, I have often had to stop and explain definitions.

    The Story Book of Science is quite a fascinating volume.  Among the many topics discussed are many different animals, natural events, weather, astronomy, and plants. While the information is interesting and written in a engaging manner, some of it is outdated due to advances in scientific knowledge. It is a very good resource for learning about how scientists thought things worked in the past and to compare it with current ideas.

    We read  the introduction and first chapter from The Wonder Book of Chemistry.  This was rather difficult to get into. We have been studying the elements, but it was much more complex than I had anticipated.

    The Secret of Everyday Things is very interesting.  We thoroughly enjoyed reading about things like chocolate, spices, salt, thread, needles, and states of matter.  There are also chapters about weather, food, and forces of nature.  The states of matter was interesting as we are finishing up a study of matter. elements, and the Periodic Table.  That chapter offered an uncomplicated explanation of the states of matter which was a handy review.  Regarding the other items, it is interesting to learn about things we often may take for granted.  Anytime I can read about chocolate and consider it school that's great!

    The Secret of Everyday Things also has some marvelous diagrams.  The first which come to mind are the spinning jenny and spinning wheel.  They are labeled with letters for what I assume would be a description key, but I could not find such.  The pictures are simple and detailed, but it would have been fun to see what the parts are called.  There were also drawings of the cacao plant and other spices.  These were helpful to have as the text describes the plant and its fruit in great detail. 

    A Child's Own Book Of Verse (3 separate volumes) are collections of poems and short verses for children.  Several of the poems I recognize from books of my childhood.  The collections include poems like Wee Wille Winkie,  What Can I give Him?,Thanksgiving Day- better know as Over the River and Through the Woods, The Owl and The Pussy Cat, America, Columbia Gem of the Ocean, the complete text of The Star Spangled Banner, and The Pied Piper. Many of the verses have charming little black and white illustrations with them. Here again there are some terms which are not used in the same way we use them today and require a little explanation.  I don't think this is a bad thing, but something to be aware of.

    The Dutch Twins is a charming story about a little Dutch boy and girl who are twins.  Their given names are longer than they are tall so they are given short nicknames until they grow into their names. They get into scrapes and situations, but in the end their parents and grandparents are able to help them out and the children learn a lesson about their actions and they will be loved no matter what.  This book also contains cute illustrations of the twins and their adventures.  We all really loved this story.  I can't wait to read the other books by the same author which feature twins from three other countries. My mom read this story (and other Twins stories) as a child and was happy to hear that we were able read and enjoy it also.

    My 7 year old has been reading from the Second Reader and enjoying it.  He would have finished it by now, but it is slow going as he is not used to reading from the computer and the type is smaller than what he is used to for the computer. He said  "This is a neat storybook, it has a lot of cool things to read."  He was very excited to see the text to Sleep Baby Sleep as he learned some of it in a previously reviewed music education program.  He said "I knew there had to be more words than what was in the song, and now I know them."

    The Second Reader also  contains the story of Hansel and Gretel in play form.  I was interested to see how this version compares with more modern versions, but he wouldn't read it as it was a play and we didn't have four people to do it as a play.   

    Additionally there is an abundance of Ancient and World History Titles in this collection.  I have not read through all of these titles or a whole book of any of them, but sections and I have no doubt they will be a valuable addition to our Ancient History studies.  My son, who is 7, is already fascinated with Ancient Egypt and Rome and I know he will be clamoring to hear all the stories.

    In our reading and my perusing through several titles I frequently came across the label 'savages'.  I have not been able to find specific, original, copyright dates for several of these books so I am not sure if they are referring to American Indians or another group.  While this does not particularly bother me and it is something I have discussed with my children, I realize some people may not care for this label, so I felt I should point it out to my readers.

    I can honestly say these books provide much information and interesting perspectives of the past and are a valuable resource to students of history and those who wish to read publications reflective of days gone past. It is a collection we have enjoyed and will continue to enjoy for a long time to come.

    See what other TOS Crew members have to say here.


    Disclaimer:  I received a free electronic download of the product in exchange for this review.  All opinions expressed here are solely my own and I have not been compensated in any other manner.