Wednesday, February 29, 2012

K5 Learning Math and Reading Enrichment TOS Review


K5 is a online math and reading program. It is designed as a supplemental program to be used alongside a childs' regular curriculum or during vacations.All of the work in K5 is totally online, there is nothing to download or take up space on your computer.

K5 features activities in the subjects of  reading, math, spelling and vocabulary. Reading instruction includes phonics, sight words and comprehension. Spelling and vocabulary are together, but its possible to choose one or the other. Math topics include numbers and operations, measurement, and geometry. Math facts are also drilled. In total, K5 features over 3,000 lessons in these subjects areas. With the exception of the spelling lessons, all the lessons and work are presented in full color and a visually appealing manner.

5th grade Math

Scoreboard for fact drill


The K5 program includes online math and reading placement tests. After the assessments are completed the instructional material is personalized to the specific skill levels of the child.When the child begins using K5 the lessons are automatically selected and follow in a preselected order. However, it is possible for the adult who controls the parent account to make changes to the lessons. Additionally, K5 offers sample lessons and a free trial.

K5 is full of solid educational content, games and entertainment are kept to a minimum. However, there are activity rewards with limited time given to the students upon reaching predetermined milestones in their academic work. These are play time in math drill and the other is a short movie after spelling 50 words correctly. This movie features an animated line drawing in a story.

As the name implies, K5 features instructional material for students in grades Kindergarten through 5th grade.

K5 Subscriptions are:
Monthly Subscription
First Child.......................$25
Additional Children..........$15
Annual Subscription
First Child.......................$199
Additional Children..........$129

My Thoughts

I liked the length of each activity, about 3-5 minutes, as this prevented my children from getting bored with them.

Additionally, I appreciate the bite sized practice offered by K5. The material presented is long enough to refresh the students mind about process and give practice, but not overwhelm them with too much practice and thus become sloppy in their work. This is particularity true with the math drills. The student drills several facts until they remember the answer. Drilling facts in this manner is a lot more fun than flashcards.

Right after receiving access to K5 for this review, my children took the placement tests. The tests were easy to take and comprehensive. The reports I received were easy to understand. They explained my childrens' level both in words and with a timeline like visual. I believe they are fairly accurate as the results I received were consistent with their performance on daily work.

Upon completing a predetermined amount of math drill, my children were awarded 5 minutes of play time in the arcade. They enjoyed this break from the learning activities and particularly enjoyed the spot the differences activities.

Filling in the blanks on the advanced math activities (my daughter used the 5th grade level) was challenging. It took her quite a while to figure out how it worked. For us it seemed the order of filling in the spaces for showing work and answers did not seem logical all the time.

Another challenge for my children was the clarity of the words in the spelling exercise.The voice was not always clear when it gave the word and thus spelling was more challenging. One element which helped with spelling was the presence of a definition for the target word. Even with the vocabulary clues some words were difficult to tell what they were.

I like the convenience and ease of math, reading, spelling, and vocabulary review and practice in one place.My children enjoyed using K5 to interactively practice some of the items they are learning from their books. I did notice some improvement in my daughters math abilities after using K5 math lessons.

Other TOS Crew members had the opportunity to review K5 as well. Check out the Crew Blog to see what they had to say.


Disclaimer: I received a free trial to this program to enable me to write this review. I have not been compensated in any other manner. All opinions expressed here are solely my own.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Reading Eggs TOS Review


Reading Eggs

Reading Eggs is an online, interactive program designed to help children learn to read while having fun. The program consists of a collection of games to teach phonetic sounds and concepts as well as sight words. There are 120 learn to read games as well as 96 spelling lessons. These 120 lessons are sorted into 12 maps with 10 lessons each. Each lesson focuses on a couple concepts and has the learner practice them in games. Upon completing a game the user has the option to replay that game or continue on to the next. There is also the ability to go back to a previous map. Free activity sheets are also available which correspond to the lessons in each map.

In addition to the lessons students have the opportunity to visit the story factory, music cafe, skills bank, driving tests, puzzle park, general store, and arcade. An area entitled Storylands is coming soon according to the website. These can be accessed through the introductory page when the user first gets on as well as through the sidebar. The side bar has small icons as well as words to reference the varying activities.

While a child is playing on reading eggs, their egg character follows a track through a map and stands on the lesson where they are currently learning.



There is also an assessment test available to help place the student at the correct level of Reading Eggs. The user simply has to answer a series of questions and the program automatically places them at the appropriate level.

This is a sample question from the assessment.

Reading Eggs offers a 14 day free trial so you can try it out and see if it works for your family.

As reading eggs is designed to help children learn to read, the recommended ages are 3 -7. Reading Express is a companion website designed for 7-12 years. Reading Express is designed to help children increase their reading and comprehension skills. Among the features are books to read, comprehension activities, individual and competitive games.

Comprehension gym in Reading Eggspress

An email is periodically sent to the parents registered email detailing their student(s) progress and achievements.

Subscription Information
Monthly Subscription    $9.95
6 Month Subscription  $49.95
12 Month Subscription $75.00
Discount for second child when purchased at same time

Purchase includes full access to Reading Eggs and Reading Eggspress. Book Packs which go along with Reading Eggs are also available.

My Thoughts

My 7 year old son started off using Reading Eggs by taking the assessment/ placement test. I was surprised at the results as they were lower than his reading level and I don't believe he made mistakes on the test. As a result he was placed below his level for working through the program. He used it at this level, but the material was review for him.

He did enjoy the games and remarked on several occasions that it was a lot of fun to have games where he did different things. Some of the lessons have similar games, but using new material. I liked the variety of games on Reading Eggs. I believe the diversity helped to keep his interest and encouraged him to play as much as he did.

Reading Eggs  is very easy to navigate due to the use of icons in the sidebar to describe places where the child wants to go as well as the well sized arrows which move in the direction they are pointing. I believe this would help children to focus on where they should be doing next. Having said these things I do find the individual maps to be somewhat cluttered with scenery and extra pictures. Many of these pictures move in some way when the mouse rolls over them as well.

I also liked having activities my son could do while waiting for the next activity. These activities helped to keep him engaged and not lose interest.

The feature I liked the most in Reading Eggs is the Story Factory. After choosing a title users choose pictures and then write a story. My children struggle with writing and this activity helped them to write a simple story. The challenge in Story Factory was choosing pictures for all the pages in the story before writing it. Several times as he wrote his story my son realized the order in which he put the pictures didn't really work for what he was writing. We were not able to find a way to change the pictures without losing his writing.

Overall, Reading Eggs didn't teach my son phonics/ phonetic patterns which he did not already know, but I think it would have been extremely beneficial for him when he was learning to read. He has always enjoyed computer activities and games and I am fairly confident Reading Eggs would have taught and reinforced many concepts for him. Reading Eggs does a superb job helping children have fun while learning many fundamental skills and concepts essential to reading.

Both of my children enjoyed Reading Express tremendously. They liked having the opportunity to read books online. I liked the fact that they were then able to take a comprehension quiz about what they read and it wasn't drudgery for them.

Other members of the TOS Crew had the opportunity to also use Reading Eggs. Visit the Crew Blog to read about other families experiences with Reading Eggs.


Disclaimer: I was given a free limited time subscription to use for the purpose of writing this review.  I have not been compensated in any other manner and all thoughts expressed here are solely my own.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Sewing to Summer Challenge #1 Results

It's hard to believe that it's time to post the results of my sewing for the first period of The Summer Sewing challenge. My post describing the sewing challenge can be found here. But I do have to say I was almost successful in completing my project. The majority of the work is done, I just have to hem. My goal was to make a nightgown for my daughter. So here it is:

I wanted to get a good picture of the nightgown so you could get an idea of the style, but in order to do that I wasn't able to get a close, sharp picture of the fabric.

This is just a picture of the fabric:

It's a white background with butterflies of various sixes and shades of pink. Definitely a girly print for my girl. And it looks like the picture is up side down and my computer won't turn it right side up. Ahh, technology.

So since this is the first project of the sewing challenge I need to decide on something else to make for this next block of sewing time. I am thinking about starting Easter/ Spring dresses for daughter and myself.  I am pretty sure which pattern I will use for myself. It is one I had a dress made from a long time ago, so since that dress still fits and the pattern doesn't look too hard or that it was altered much, I don't think it will be too hard. I have a couple to choose from for daughters dress, but need to see what she thinks. Those are more complicated patterns so it will be a challenge.

However, these plans depend on what fabric I have in my stash. I need to do through the boxes and see whats there that would be suitable for dresses. I have some pieces in mind, but I don't know if there is enough yardage for dresses.

Thanks to Milk and Honey Mommy for hosting the Summer Sewing Challenge and coming up with the great idea.

Friday, February 17, 2012

Homeschool Mothers Journal Weekly Review 2/17

In my life this week…
Not much, but I really need to get started on the taxes.
In our homeschool this week…
We have had the opportunity to use TWO great review products. I can't wait to review and share about them.

The children had their second art class today. A former Homeschool Mom leads a six week art class at a local library branch. My daughter has done this before, but this is the first time my son has participated.

We are continuing to work on an economics lapbook.
Places we’re going and people we’re seeing…
Piano lessons and library visit.
What’s working/not working for us…
I was trying to make a history timeline and wrote out a sample for my children to see/copy and realized the information is too complex for them to write in the space available. So I think I need to type out the information, print it, so they can glue the info on the timeline.  

Summaries about material read or listened too are continuing to be a struggle.

Things I’m working on…
Sewing a nightgown for DD, thinking about a couple upcoming projects.
I’m reading…
Scorpions for Breakfast by Jan Brewer   Governor of Arizona 

The Write Start  by Jennifer Hallissy

I’m cooking…
I made cupcakes for Valentine's Day. 

Thanks to Sue at The Homeschool Chic for hosting HSMJ.

Monday, February 6, 2012

Celestial Almanack TOS Review

The Classical Astronomy Celestial Almanack
A Visual Representation of the Sky
February 2012 edition
$3.00 available from

First of all what is Classical Astronomy? What makes it different from searching the sky with a telescope and sky chart in hand? Well, from the website..."Classical Astronomy is the traditional practice of observing the sky, to tell time, and to navigate by the Sun, Moon, and stars." From reading articles and information there I get the impression one big difference between Classical astronomy and traditional astronomy is technology. Classical astronomy doesn't need fancy telescopes or other equipment, maybe just a pair of binoculars and some information about where to look.

Jay Ryan, the website author has produced a monthly guide to the skies; The Classical Astronomy Celestial Almanack. Although small in size this 20 page pdf is an amateur sky watchers dream come true. It is jam packed with loads of information about all the wonderful activity occurring above our heads this month along with teasers for what is yet to come this year.There are a lot of special things to see in the sky to look forward to all year.


In the Almanacks' extensive discussions of the position of the planets and stars for this month you will find full color charts and pictures showing the positions of the constellations, their positions relative to planets and the moon and detailed descriptions of where to look for them in the sky. There is also a discussion and diagrams of the suns position and relation to the constellations if they could all be viewed at the same time.

Of special interest in this February edition is discussion and dating of the conjunction of Mars and Venus, a very rare event. The reader is told where in the sky to look and given detailed pictures of the angles. positions, and dates of various phases of the conjunction. With all this information sky watchers can become familiar with the path and angles of Mars and Venus and track their movement toward the conjunction in March.

The Almanack discusses many objects of the sky while giving both their history and what they will be doing in the near future. In discussing the constellations, diagrams are presented for the reader, minus all the additional lines and embellishments often found on constellation charts. I think this allows the reader to concentrate on the stars and makes it easier to look for them in the sky.

This issue of the Almanack features a brief history lesson on the reason for leap year as we celebrate it this month.Discussion of historical calendars reminds or teaches readers how this month has come to be set up the way it is.Events in the liturgical or church calendar are also referenced in their connection to celestial events.   Rounding out the opening material is a calendar listing each date, day of the year, a significant event, moon phase and significant celestial events. I imagine this information is similar in each months issue, just tailored specifically to that month.

A complete astronomy curriculum, Signs and Seasons, is available from Classical Astronomy as well.

My Thoughts

Generally in my reviews I try to keep my first part to simply facts about the product and then my reaction towards the end. While I have tried to do that here, I realize I have let some of my thoughts slip in above. So I do not know how much more information I have to add at this point.

I do need to say I find this Almanack to be very easy to understand and full of great information. It is written in a very conversational tone which makes it easy to understand the first time through. However, you will probably want to look through it more often as the month goes by and the stars and planets change their positions. While there is a lot of scientific information it is presented in an uncomplicated manner so most family members can understand and appreciate what is happening.

Another neat feature are the star ratings sprinkled throughout the guide. These simply tell the level of difficulty for finding a particular constellation. Many of these are one star, which means they are totally easy to locate.

After reading the Almanack I believe I could go outside, look up, and find some of the constellations and celestial activity mentioned even though I live in town and thus have to deal with a lot of artificial light.Now, I just hope we get a clear night to be able to look at the sky.

I am also encouraged to explore the night sky more simply because of the authors enthusiasm and writing style. From reading both the website and the Almanack I know he is passionate about his topic and wants to help other people know more about as well.

I give this a 5 Star rating.

Other TOS Crew members had the opportunity to review the Celestial Almanack also. See what they had to say at the Crew Blog.


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

See-N-Spell TOS Review

See -N-Spell Spelling and Vocabulary
Quick Reference Guide


See-N-Spell sells for $9.99

After conversing with many people over the years I have come to the conclusion spelling seems to be a skill which people either get intuitively or have to work extremely hard to have some level of success with. For those who have to work at it there can be intense frustration when it comes to writing and expressing themselves non verbally. Possible solutions to the dilemma include using easier words or just adopting an attitude of not minding what misspellings are present. However, the writer may have to trade spelling ease for clarity of message or give the reader the impression they are not as well spoken as they actually are.

An often used solution to spelling dilemmas is pulling out the dictionary and looking up the desired word. However, this is often viewed as a chore for many reasons and thus something to be avoided. A dictionary is also challenging when looking up words whose beginning sounds can be spelled several ways.


For all of these hurdles and more the experts of See -N-Read have developed a revolutionary spelling tool, See-N-Spell Spelling and Vocabulary Quick Reference Guide.

PhotobucketSee-N-Spell is a 40 page paperback book modeled after a spelling dictionary. Generally each letter has its own page and lists nouns, pronouns, prepositions, conjunctions, verbs, irregular verbs, adjectives, adverbs, and homophones beginning with that letter. Each of these headings is in a slightly larger type size and bold as well as being in a gray bar.There is also room for notes at the bottom of each page. If applicable, there is also a note about other beginning letters to check if the sound can be spelled several ways. Another handy feature in the guide is a list of commonly misspelled words. Some of these are the same as in the alphabetical lists, but there are additional words as well.


See-N-Spell also includes a See-N-Read reading tool to assist the user in marking their place while copying their chosen word. See-N-Read is a handy device which allows readers to focus on one line of text at a time, by slightly darkening the surrounding lines but not completely obliterating them.

See-N-Read is a tool used to increase reading fluency and efficiency.See-N-Read is also available for online reading.

See-N-Spell, as well as these other products, can be purchased at See-N-Read's web store.

My Thoughts

My 10 year old daughter has struggled with spelling quite a bit over the years, so I was excited to have the opportunity to review See-N-Spell. While we have tried a number of products and approaches I am still holding out hope that there is something which will help her overcome this hurdle. I think to some extent See-N-Spell has helped her written spelling. She seems pleased with the book after her frequent use, but has also expressed the frustration that words she's wanted are not included.

My seven year old was also capable of using the book, however he didn't have many occasions to use it as he is not doing a lot of independent writing.

I like the clear and simple layout of the book. Words can be found quickly and their proper use can be verified by reviewing what part of speech they are. Another plus is that the whole book is done in high contrast black and white with only a little gray to delineate part of speech headings. There aren't colorful pictures to distract or lead the user into a tangent.

We didn't use the See-N-Read tool with See-N-Read as I knew it would frustrate my daughter to have to move it around to find the word she was looking for.

One thing which would make See-N-Spell better for us would be the cover being a color to it would be easier to find. Being a narrow saddle stitched book it was often hard to find on the shelf or among other papers.

While many reference books can be shared by a family, I believe See-N-Read is one resource which would benefit each student most if they had their own copy.This way each user can make their own notes and markings to personalize and get the most out of See-N-Spell.

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


Disclaimer: I received a free copy of this book to use for the purpose of writing this review. I have not been compensated in any other manner and all opinions expressed here are solely my own.