Archives For TOS Crew Review

MathRider for Math Fact Games

Heather —  February 3, 2012

Do you find yourself looking for ways to drill in math that your kids will enjoy? I am constantly looking for ways to make this necessary reinforcement seem like fun for my youngest student! I was glad to try MathRider. Check out this math facts game that offers students races and quests and tracks their progress, using computer intelligence to adjust to their needed level as they practice.

Em really enjoys racing “her” horse and does very well doing timed addition and subtraction with this game. We do have several math fact type games and what she likes most about this one is having her horse and being able to do the quests, where she takes her horse on a journey and completes math questions to move on and complete her quest. The game has several quests and I would like to see even more , as she likes that portion of the game so much.

The game does track her progress and adjusts the questions to fit what she needs. There is quite a bit of background “code” so that the game can track her progress and intuitively advance her. It is easy for a parent and student to see how they are doing, through incentives like point bonuses, time bonuses, quest progress, progressively animated rewards and a comprehensive statistics screen.

I think the graphics are adorable and the sounds are very pleasant. Visit MathRider to learn more and get a FREE trial! Right now, the software is on sale for $37.

See what my crewmates have to say about Math Rider


I received a Trial download of Math Rider through the TOS Crew for review purposes. I have given my honest opinion.


Want to find piano lessons for children? Try Kinderbach.

Kinderbach is more than piano lessons. It is Piano, with Music Appreciation.

Each lesson has playing and coloring and singing along so that your child has a gentle introduction to many music concepts.

Kinderbach lessons basically include a video session, with singing and stories, worksheets to color and cut and some type of music practice—whether that is tapping to a beat or playing on the piano. In just the beginning, my daughter learned about reading notes, about rhythm and levels of sounds…and little by little she learned where and what all the keys were on the piano. Additional music pages help kids feel successful in playing simple songs pretty quickly.

See a video about how Kinderbach works on their site.

The video sessions are led by Kari Gregor, creator of the program, who uses a cast of characters to help deliver many of her lessons–small children will love Dodie and Frisco—my child certainly did. The fun videos do all the teaching.

You can use the online or DVD versions and move at your own pace. We have used Kinderbach before, but this time around I LOVE being able to use my iPad for the lessons. Using the iPad makes it so portable and easy for our family! I hear that Kinderbach even has an APP coming out (not positive, though, check that infoJ)

Anyway, when we first tried Kinderbach, we were able to look at two weeks’ worth of lessons totally free. You can too—click to see their two week trial. To really enjoy each lesson, for us I found it helped for me to preview the lessons and print out any sheets we would use in that lesson, so it was streamlined, although an older child could easily work alone.

We do have access to a piano, but you can easily use a little keyboard as well to get going (we did for awhile).

Kinderbach’s online lessons start at $7.99 a month. DVDs can also be purchased starting at $40.45. You can also preview Kinderbach with their free trial. And there is a sale going on right now, hurry! Details: “Sale ends TUESDAY, January 31, 2012. Can you believe it’s the end of January already?! Anyway, 40% off coupon code is: KBclear2012”.

So much nicer than going to piano lessons!

See the Kinderbach website to find out more, and find them on facebook.

See what my crewmates have to say about Kinderbach.


I received three month access to Kinderbach through the TOS Crew for review purposes. I have given my honest opinion.

We Choose Virtues

Heather —  January 19, 2012

Emma has been choosing one card per week to put up on her wall and work on

“We Choose Virtues…simply inspiring character that lasts”

We Choose Virtues is a curriculum for character development that was created by pre-school teacher and children’s pastor, Heather McMillan. You can purchase the various components in sets or teachers and parents can just mix and match some pieces to choose and use the system for ongoing learning.

I received several items, including “Virtue Clue Cards,” from the creator. I think the artwork is fantastic and really got my child’s attention.

You have to see the character illustrations and the content of these! My daughter loves the cards and easily associates a behavior with the character “card” so I can say things like, “Em, remember Cake Jake? Lets get our wanter under control.” And she does! The set of cards represents the 12 virtues for the younger set:

They are…I am Diligent, I am Kind, I am Helpful, I am Obedient, I am Forgiving, I am Perseverant, I am Gentle, I am Patient, I am Self-Controlled, I am Content, I am Honest, and I am Attentive.

I also received ebooks of the Teacher’s Handbook, Memory Verses, Family Character Assessment and the Virtueville coloring book.

These products, from the Our Kids Set are for Early Education-Elementary kids (ages 3-11). The parts of We Choose Virtues are designed to use in a classroom or home setting, and can be used one-on-one.

I really have enjoyed looking at these with my six year old. She is very receptive to the colorful, fun characters and easy to remember concepts. I could see using this long term. Prices range, but for example, the clue cards are very inexpensive at $5.99. (on sale right now).

Go check out all the stuff!

During January, February, they are having some sales:

  1. The 100 Days of Virtue Poster and Stickers will be included FREE with any Homeschool Kit purchase during these months.
  2. Code VIRTUE15 for 15 % off the shopping cart is still available
  3. Code FAMILY for $3.00 off the Kids Virtue Poster
  4. Code SHIPFREE for free worldwide shipping

* only one code can be used at a time

Visit the We Choose Virtues Facebook page for tips on parenting, leadership and inspiring lasting Virtue.

See what my crewmates have to say about We Choose Virtues


I received the Virtue Clue cards, and several download files through the TOS Crew for review purposes. I have given my honest opinion.

Zeezok offers a number of educational products, with a common denominator being their appreciation of history, art and literature. I have reviewed several products for Zeezok, and I am always pleased with the content of their products. (Here is a previous review for Flyboys Z-Guide) They are so creative. With all the ones I have tried out, my students learned while having a great time. The content was solid educationally, they learned…they retained…and they had fun.

The “Z-Guides to the Movies” are no different. These movie viewing guides with activities are great fun and can help introduce or reinforce many educational subjects. For us, we were working through the historical period of the Early Church and the Middle Ages. For a fun, snow day and a transition from Attila the Hun onto the future, I got the “Z-Guide to the Movies” for Knights of the Round Table (High School). I got this in an ebook, immediate download format for $12.99. The movie must be purchased separately. I was able to find this 1953 movie to accompany the Z-Guide to the Movies available for instant download for $2.99 through Amazon. (Of course, if you want to, you can buy this movie, also).

So, I was just waiting for a snowy day in January to work on this!  Here is a brief summary of what exactly is in this Z-Guide to the Movies from their site:

Join Merlin, Arthur, Queen Guinevere, and Lancelot as they battle the evil Modred and Morgan Le Fay for control of the British Isles. This guide contains a topic overview, movie synopsis, and ten learning activities based on this classic tale. Learn more about medieval England and how to become a knight. Write your own code of chivalry or design a castle. Evaluate your personal beliefs with the “Worldview Activity.” Probe the director’s mind with “The Filmmaker’s Art” activity, and get the entire family involved with the “For Family Discussion” section at the end of the guide. Choose those activities which best fit your student’s course objectives, areas of interest, or time schedule.

So, we settled down to make this an all day thing, rather than do a little bit each day—which you also could. I ended up including my six year old as well as my highschooler, because with me sitting with them and the movie being pretty tame, I felt comfortable with this.

My highschooler ended up doing all the activity guide questions and especially like designing a castle. The little one was excited to hear about Camelot. Like I mentioned earlier, we have several of these now and I really like using these for a special treat with the kids. Take a look at these movie study guides for yourself, many titles are available and you can search by time period or by child’s ages.

Visit Zeezok at and see everything they have to offer.

Just another great Product from:

See what my crewmates have to say about Z-Guides to the Movies.


I received Z-Guide to the Movies through the TOS Crew for review purposes. I have given my honest opinion.

Vintage Remedies for Guys

Heather —  December 18, 2011

Oh, wow. If you have any interest in living a healthier, more natural, green lifestyle, you definitely should check out the website for Vintage Remedies. While this review pertains to a particular curriculum on the site, Vintage Remedies for Guys, I find the overall site to be an amazing wealth of information on the basics of creating a natural and healthy lifestyle for yourself and your family.

Vintage Remedies has online tutorials and lessons and all sorts of things! Right now, though, I want to share about their workbook lessons/curriculum for kids. They have four books specifically for children. You can get one for little ones, or one for Girls ages 7-13, Guys ages 7-13…and even a new one for Tweens in general.

Nick and I (and sometimes Em) are working through the book for Guys. This is a spiral bound 201 page worktext, geared for introducing wellness concepts to boys. Included you will find chapters on nutrition, wellness, hygiene, herbal medicine, immunity, conservation and green living.

The course is formatted more like a book, where your son (and you) can read about certain issues such as what is healthy food, or daily hygiene or colds. Then, the author proceeds to show you how to create something to help with the topic for yourself, be it trying out some recipes for food or homemade skin care items, even medicinal herb preparations.

As an organic mom, I love this book! Since we have gone organic I am always feeling rushed to hurry and find healthier options for my kids for foods and toiletries and cold meds…things like that. Being able to work on this with the kids (and having a leader, through the author) is making my life easier!

Rather than standing in the kitchen, saying, oooh, I read something about a way to make herbal candies that might help your sore throat, let me figure that out, go to the store, then create it…(you get the picture). Anyway, now we can do these things together, before they are needed and my kids get to feel like the heroes!

The book is divided into three main units, then chapters. The three main sections are, Nutrition and Culinary Skills, Health and Body and Natural Living. We went directly to Health and Body when we got this book, as Nick and I have already done a lot of work regarding culinary habits and I wanted to let him dive right into using healthier things for his own body care.

So far, we really like this. I love having so many good recipes for items at my fingertips and Nick is impressed that we can create so many things from Herbs and such. I hope he is doing more healthy selfcare. At least this book brought up some discussion with specific answers.

Vintage Remedies for Guys retails for $45. See the site for more information and other options for purchase.

Also, go to the site for free coloring sheets for little ones with healthy food pictures as well as the link to buy Kitchen Herbal (a nice little gift to get someone). I also received Kitchen Herbal as a gift and I love this little book. Again, it is such a nice resource tool.

See what my crewmates have to say about Vintage Remedies.


I received Vintage Remedies for Guys through the TOS Crew for review purposes. I have given my honest opinion.

As a homeschool Mom, I really appreciate creative people. It is so easy to get into a rut just using textbooks and such all the time. Especially, if you are not super creative. Which is what I am. Not a fun maker. I know this because my Mom, a veteran teacher and my husband somehow always make schooling fun. (In contrast to me). I am the meat and potatoes person I guess!

Haha, but kids DO need to have both. The creative, fun lessons catch their imaginations and give them motivation to do the required learning, which may be repetitive.

Thankfully, I have found many creative curricula for my kids since I am their main teacher. I have some old favorites and every day seems to bring some new ideas. I recently got card game that teaches fractions, called Fractazmic.

It’s a sneaky, fun way to reinforce math!

My daughter is actually too young for this one. I tried to mess around with the rules, but she is just not ready.  I did play it with my husband and son though, and I think it is a great concept and one that will come in handy when Em reaches a bit more readiness to do fractions, probably this Spring.

If the deck had simpler fractions (didn’t include like 12ths) I think we could do it. But, she also gets frustrated easily, so I want to be cautious to not push her. My serious child!

For children ages, say 7 to 14, I think this is a terrific way to get some practice with fractions, and in numbers and measurement.

The cards are playful and cute, with little ant character graphics that my kids thought were funny.

What’s included in Decks:

  • 60 Math Learning Cards
  • Each card clearly numbered
  • Each card clearly labeled with the fraction and reinforcing graphic.

This is a 2-4 person game. As always, I recommend playing with your child—that always makes them so happy!

Go look at the site with the fraction game online. You can even win a free set of the cards!

Now, this company makes several really fun card games for students. Take a look at what they have available to spice up your Spring Semester schedule!

Fractazmic retails for 6.95. Go check these out—whether you are a homeschooler or just want to play.

See what my crewmates have to say about I See Cards (the makers of Fractazmic)


I received Fractazmic through the TOS Crew for review purposes. I have given my honest opinion.

The best way to learn is to do!

 When I first began homeschooling, one of the main things I knew was that my son needed hands-on learning activities. He is very much a kinesthetic  learner, and really wants to experience learning by doing

This is not my main learning style, and I was at a loss as to how to do hands-on learning things! I wish I had known about Pitsco Education back then. It would have saved us all a lot of grief. Rather than sit with written work, Nick could have done a lot more projects.

Basically Pitsco offers all kinds of items that you can use to create a wide range of hands-on learning opportunities to suit your curriculum needs. For example, we reviewed the Trebuchet & Catapult Pack. Many of the project kits are so affordable, compared to what I would have expected.  (The cost for this set is $21.95 and it includes a Trebuchet Kit, Catapult Kit, Mass Plates, and Seige Machines book).

For this, I let Nick take the lead. Watch the video to hear what he thought:

They had so much fun and Nick reviewed quite a lot, while Em learned all about how these machines work.

We could have used these in conjunction with our Mystery of History, or Math…or Science curriculums this year. Because Nick was excited when we got this, he went ahead and built it…for a fun homeschool day. This was great in itself and we ended up having loads of impromptu lessons in gravity and the Renaissance.

I really recommend browsing through Pitsco Education’s homeschool department. They have kits in such a variety of hands on stuff–science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM). The packs, such as Robotic Packs include pretty much everything you need to complete a project. (You may need some glue and common tools)

Nick really handled everything about building these. And he loved every minute of it. I should have found this company a LONG time ago!

I usually wouldn’t recommend curriculum for Christmas gifts…but this is an exception!

See what my crewmates have to say about PITSCO Education


I received Pitsco Education’s Trebuchet & Catapult Pack through the TOS Crew for review purposes. I have given my honest opinion.


Right away, I would like to say J’adore Francais. I do! I took French in high school and several years in college. I loved every minute of my French courses. I hope my professor, Beth Nott, knew that. The sound of the French language is just so beautiful to me.

As my children began taking languages I was hoping to live vicariously they would enjoy their language experiences as well. So far, everyone has had some exploratory French and Spanish. Em has had some beginning Latin as well. Some people might say, it is unusual to use French, compared to Spanish, but I disagree. Right now, my eldest son is living in the Caribbean, where he does use his French. On top of that, from a Christian perspective, I find it interesting that French is spoken in many parts of the world that are fertile mission fields.

When I heard about Le Francais Facile, I was very interested and wanted to review it. I did ask my children for their opinions on taking French, because Em is also doing Latin and Nick is working on some Spanish. I downloaded some samples of the first few units from The Great Commission Languages (GLC). As we worked through these, my children were so interested and really wanted to move forward with French, so I asked to review the level 1A (the older version) so that Nick could work on getting his high school language credits. I did read that you could use the Level 1A with younger children, you would just need to go more slowly. (As an aside, I loved the junior level samples and would prefer those for Em if I had just a little one!)

GLC is the creation of Marie Filion Sherwood and Peter Sherwood.  They are homeschooling parents themselves, and Marie is French Canadian. The program offers both French and Spanish lessons and does have a Christian perspective, in that GLC desires to teach languages in order to spread the gospel and the lessons options include scripture memorization.

Great Commission Languages - Easy French Level 1AI got the level 1A complete student curriculum, including a data cd with all answers (for me) an audio cd with tons of stories, test booklet, answer key, and phonogram cards.

Check out French samples.

The basic teaching approach includes introducing vocabulary through stories on the CD with a French weave, where English and French are used together, so that students can infer and learn naturally.

There are 18 unit lessons and

Each Lesson includes the following portions:

  • Listening to a French story (with a bit of English woven in to increase comprehension)
  • Vocabulary (reinforces above storyline)
  • Student helps
  • Scripture memory work
  • Cultural notes
  • Trivia
  • Everyday Vocabulary (i.e, Chapter 1 includes days of the week)
  • Activity (follow up with grid for week long lesson plans and Phonogram work)

In the Activity portion, there is a lesson planner grid, which breaks down what needs to be accomplished by your older student. Honestly, I found this very helpful, yet my student kept coming back for help. I think the concept of rolling vocabulary and culture and grammar into one is very good. But we kept coming back to the fact that the grammar portions made no sense to Nick. This took extra time for us—yes, grammar will get you, no matter what language! I do think it was clearly presented in the lessons, but this may be something your child needs help with, while the vocabulary is fun and easy to master.

You should use this daily, so the child becomes familiar with the sounds of the language.

Some things I loved about the curriculum:

  • So all inclusive! I like listening to the stories on cd and being able to hand my child his book to do the work—no printing out tons of things.
  • I like having the “official” tests. Taking these out means business!
  • The curriculum really has a “voice” the stories are entertaining and the voices are gentle and pleasant.
  • Can use with many ages
  • you do not have to know French to teach!
  • The trivia sections are teaching me tons of little cultural things.

Le Français Facile! Level IA retails for $84.95. Go check this out—whether you are a homeschooler, teaching languages, or just someone who wants to learn French!

See what my crewmates have to say about The Great Commission Languages

Great Commision Languages - 2011 Practical Homeschooling Reader Award


I received  Le Francais Facile, Level 1A through the TOS Crew for review purposes. I have given my honest opinion.