Archives For DVD


Are you looking to complete your homeschool curriculum for this upcoming year?

I’m in the midst of figuring out exactly what we want to do…it is hard to not overwork my kids, there is so much great curriculum out here!

Anyway, I have more than I need and maybe something here is just what you need to round out your year. So, FOR SALE!

My paypal email is: Shipping is not included. I will ship media mail.

FOR SALE, High/Jr High

  • Exploring Creation with Physical Science. 2nd. edition. Fair condition. Does have some writing, highlighting. Beat up a bit. Will be heavy to ship, add media mail shipping. $65 new, asking $30 plus shipping

Text only.

Text only.

locPositive Action For Christ, The Life of Christ. Includes Teachers Manual hardback binder, Full Color Students Manual softcover, Transparency CD. Retails 42.95 for Teacher manual/binder, 18.95 for student book. Asking $30 for both. NOTE: the first 3 student lessons have been written in).

  • simply draw Simply Draw with Bob Parsons. In hardback binder, does not include dvd-that went missing:( Retails $37.50 on sale. Asking $15 in great shape, the careful child used this!
  • Set of Nine Stories From History Graphic Novels. Retails $6.99 each ($72) Asking $15
  • vocabaheadVocabAhead, SAT Vocabulary: Cartoons, Videos and Mp3s. Softcvr. Retail $12.95. Asking $5

For Elementary:

  • all togetherScott Foresman Social Studies, All Together, K-1 curriculum. Hardbk. new. Retails $43.47. Asking $15


  • Set of 4 Computer Video Games (work on pc/mac) for children– Elmo’s World, Dora Saves the Crystal Kingdom, Dora’s Lost and Found Adventure, Go Diego Go’s Great Dinosaur Rescue and Safari Rescue. Retail from 16-20 each. Asking $10 for all 4.

I am also listing the curriculum I need for the upcoming year. If you have any of these and are willing to do a trade on something, I am interested, email me and maybe we can work something out:

High School:

  • Easy Grammar Plus. Nick’s testing results from this year in Grammar…necessitate this one!
  • Mystery of History Volume 2 (I’ll be using Illuminations, of course:) I have some $ saved from being an affiliate, but I really want to purchase Illuminations downloads for High School and Elementary and purchase MOH2.
  • An easy Spanish book/wkbook. Nick has done all sorts of “bits” of language, mainly online. We need to get serious without using too much of his energy on this

My Elementary One:

  • Math U See Alpha

Gosh, I need a lot to do what I’m thinking! Can you tell I’m a procrastinator? My husband and I were brainstorming today and finally…um…finalized what all I really want. So there it is:) Come September 1st, I WILL be ready, Haha!

IEW logo

True Ease in Writing comes from Art, not Chance,
As those move easiest who have learn’d to dance.
~Alexander Pope, “An Essay on Criticism”

The quote above really speaks to me as an old English major and a homeschool mom who respects the classical course of study. I appreciate the idea of writing as an art form. I do daydream about my children, my marvelous students thoughtfully creating coherent essays and well-researched papers.

I do. I actually daydream about good research papers.

But, how can you get there?

That was a question I mused over the past few years as I began teaching my oldest. In this student, I have a super creative and smart kid, but one who has a writing and spelling disability and years of frustration with writing in general. In fact, one reason I began homeschooling this son was because he had so much trouble getting thoughts onto paper, and between adhd and learning disability issues, he was not doing well in upper level courses. Ultimately it made sense that while he was quite intelligent, he had not learned some important basics in communicating through written medium.

So, one way I tried to work with him was to try to make writing fun. I studied the Charlotte Mason theories and shared interesting and exciting topics and we also just read as much as possible. I used some curricula to shore up his vocabulary and spelling abilities. We tried a few grammar curricula and more advanced curricula which included research papers. So far, I had a kid who could narrate beautifully, but would not/could not write me a decent paragraph.

Enter Institute For Excellence in Writing (IEW).

When I heard it was possible to review a writing program with IEW, I was very curious. I had seen others very excited about the program, once, at a homeschool conference, but I knew very little about it and frankly, I thought it looked costly and complicated. Too complicated for our writing needs.

I really was very wrong.

complete package IEWI received the Teaching Writing/Student Writing Intensive Combo Pack Level C to try out.

This included:

I also got a Portable Wall- a single-pocket folder with an extra page, creating a tri-fold wall packed with all the Unit Models, several word lists including prepositions, substitutes for “said,” and more.

On the website, this combination package is described as:

“The best way to begin with Excellence in Writing. It includes Teaching Writing: Structure and Style (TWSS), Tips and Tricks DVD and Student Writing Intensive (SWI). Comes with 2 sets of DVDs (one for the teacher, one for the student), TWSS Seminar Workbook, and Student Notebook with handouts and daily lesson suggestions.”

The cost for this combo is $239. We received many pieces, all so organized.

Immediately, I was impressed with the quality of the materials. Binders with printed section dividers, DVDs in sturdy and well labeled cases with hours of teaching, complete lessons plans, scope and sequence information. They even include details on exactly how to format your binders and tips on how to set up the lessons.

Honestly, the package kind of shocked me it was so well done. Unfortunately, it did also frighten me.

I felt like an idiot trying to figure out what I was supposed to do with the pieces. And, I was having a crummy day that day.

So, I handed Nick his student portion (the SWI) and said, “I know you hate to write. But this is supposed to help. Please figure out what we need to do and then we’ll meet up and work on this.” I know, not the best teaching strategy. But, my son did take the SWI and begin watching the disks. While I was working on other things with his little sister, he set up his binder and began to complete the assignments that he was given by Andrew Padewa through the DVD lessons.

My TWSS sat on my desk for “when I had time” which, incidentally, I never do have, just fyi.

So ironically, I did what Nick needed. The SWI is designed to engage the student and break through “reluctance in writing” while the teacher (me) is learning the actual program through the TWSS.

I realized quickly that Nick was not complaining about the course and was watching the Dvds and working through lessons. That got me curious that he was able to work alone with confidence and no frustration.

For the first time ever, this 16 year old began to ask to do his written English. He set himself up with the Dvds on the xbox in the playroom so he could and sit on the couch and watch Padewa on the television and complete his work.

I was super shocked. This is not my self-motivating child. I think, for the first time ever, he saw a reason to write for himself—not because a parent or teacher wanted him to, but because it made sense to him and good writing seemed within his grasp.

So, what exact materials did Nick have? Nick’s SWI level C included:

• Four DVDs—He could just pop these in and learn directly from Andrew Padewa
• A binder with dividers
• A packet with the teacher’s notes, handouts and checklists (about 100 pages in all)—these handouts include all the scope and sequence, suggestions for how to structure class time, handouts for each lesson, source texts, checklists and detailed teacher notes.

The entire course includes fifteen lessons. Each lesson block can take a few weeks to complete, depending on your speed, so this program can be used for over a semester (15-30 weeks).

And what exactly was he learning about writing?

Well, he was learning the main concepts of the TWSS program and diving right into working with the models created by Padewa, which are centered around the classical model of being given good writing and good information and then being asked, through specific, detailed exercises and practice, to examine and eventually recreate the ideal—whether that be a paragraph, an essay, a story.

So while Nick’s SWI follows the model of the TWSS, it delves into the teeny details, teaching the child with beginning steps like how to use a keyword outline, how to make sentences more attractive and interesting, how to make sure your paragraph includes a good title and topic sentence. Each step builds upon the one before.

Now, from what I understand, it is possible to just use the SWI, but then, you are really left just copying some lessons without the “big picture” I would think.

The TWSS (My set of curricula and Dvds) is the entire “Big Picture” so I sucked it up and began to check out all the details. My set includes the 10 hour seminar that is the backbone of the TWSS program. Through videos, Padewa teaches me how and why to teach writing. And, I get all kinds of helps as well: binders of sample lesson plans and “implementation schedules”, source texts, checklists, all kinds of helps.

The Dvds include the following “how” to write through nine units:

  • Units 1-2 Note Making and Summarizing through Notes
  • Unit 3-Summarizing Narratives Stories and Dress-Ups
  • Unit 4-Summarizing References & Writing Reports
  • Unit 5- Advanced Dress-Ups, Decorations and Triples, Writing from Pictures
  • Unit 6- Writing Reports from Multiple Sources (extension of Unit 4)
  • Unit 7-Creative Writing with Structure
  • Unit 8-Essays: Basic, Extended and Super (extension of Units 4 and 6)
  • Unit 9-Critiques, Conclusion
  • Student Writing Workshop, Elementary Level
  • Student Writing Workshop, Intermediate Level
  • Student Writing Workshop, High School Level

Overall I really like what I see as the core of Padewas teaching: Start small with good structure and model good writers and build upon each little piece of the writing puzzle so you get confidence, accuracy and you know what to do next.

So what am I going to do next?

Well, as this can be used for years, with multiple children, I will be working through the SWI with Nick, while watching my Dvd seminar and planning for next year. He will be a junior in high school, so we have to get this down. From looking around on the website, I think I will try to use the Elegant Essay Writing lessons and the SWICC with Nicholas. I will have to use another grammar program and spelling, as those are not really included in the writing program. I have a grammar program in mind. As a plus, Nick’s grammar and spelling are improving anyway through using many source texts in the writing work.

On the other hand, I also will be teaching my six year old and I am excited to begin the same program with her as I already use many classical tools with her, this curriculum will fit right in and I will be able to get her up and running from the beginning. (Less pressure!)

I hope this tells you a bit about this program. There is so much to cover, I’m having trouble consolidating it all. Honestly, if you are interested in this curriculum, I strongly recommend going to the website and viewing some of Padewas videos that explain the program in depth. For example, I will leave you with one here below (but there are tons more!)

To find out more about Teaching Writing: Structure and Style and other available products, visit the main Institute for Excellence in Writing Website. I personally love their page, Suggestions for Our New Members. This page offers such clarity, with the goal of the curriculum, links to scope and sequence, helps for grade level selections and even a link to join a “loop” (online forum groups).

The site is extensive and you can find catalogs, samples and videos to help you learn about the programs. You can also visit the Institute for Excellence in Writing Facebook page, where you can join in webinars, ask questions about the curriculum and see what others who are using the program are doing.

See what my crewmates have to say about Institute For Excellence In Writing

I received the TWSS and SWI level C through the TOS Crew for review purposes. I have given my honest opinion.

See The Light Art Class

Heather —  April 22, 2011

art class

It’s time for Art Class! Today, I’d like to share about a new art resource that Em and I have just been reviewing, See The Light Art Class.

While Em is just a bit of the young side for this program, I was curious to see what we would think of an art program with classes online and on DVD—for these classes, Mom would not be teaching, we’d just be getting direct instruction from the Art Teacher.

The art teacher is Pat Knepley, Master Artist.  With an Art Ed. degree and a career in Childrens Ministry, Pat has combined her passions of drawing and teaching and is now sharing her skills with children everywhere with See The Light Art Class, this series of 36 drawing lessons for children of elementary school age.

We received the first 4 lessons as well as a bonus lesson for Easter. Each lesson ran about 15 minutes, and the lessons began very simply. I like Pat’s presentation and teaching style and find it perfect for young students. She establishes a rapport with the children, specifically telling them several times that they CAN do art. She speaks slowly and with excitement about how the children can use their God given creativity and helps them to really feel that they can succeed at creating artwork. While she teaches, the background is not distracting, and she keeps the art supplies to a minimum.

My daughter really did not feel like doing the lessons when I asked her to come see them. At just 6, she already often gets frustrated and wants to give up on creative endeavors when she decides “It just doesn’t look right.” Eeekk!! I feel sad, and know that I need to help my budding perfectionist feel free to try and have fun!

Anyway, so you get the picture? My baby wants to give up every time her artwork is not Mona Lisa quality. We had a rough start. While the lessons become progressively more difficult, the first lesson was very easy. My daughter watched and drew along, eyeing the dvd critically…as Pat discussed how to hold a pencil to create several kinds of lines.

Now, also, Pat is adding in a bit of Bible study during each lesson. After finishing the second lesson, Em was not as critical, and informed me that, “I wish we did this art in OUR Sunday school.”

Things went on pretty easily from there! Although we only did a few lessons, so far, I think this is a great option for Art instruction for young kids. I actually have an Art program we use that I like, but having dvds available like this…well, this makes it so simple for me and personally, I like integrating some Bible lessons as well.

The Lessons that are available right now include the main set of 9 DVDs with 36 lessons, 4 lessons per DVD. These teach:

  1. The Basics
  2. Shape and Space
  3. Value and Color
  4. Color Blending Techniques
  5. Proportions for Composition
  6. Texture and Form
  7. Perspective for the Landscape
  8. Balance and Foreshortening
  9. The Portrait

On the website, you will also find additional lessons, some done by other artists. I highly recommend going to the website and looking around, as you will find lots of online content you can access to check out the program. And, you can watch lessons for free or even order a free DVD!


You can order the DVD set for $99.99 or get a monthly subscription, which will allow you to view 4 online classes per month. While $10 sounds good, I do not think one lesson per week would keep my child really invested in the program as each lesson is simple…but, they may get way more complicated as they go forward.

And, that may work for your child. I am honestly unsure about whether that’s a good option. I actually wish you could just buy the dvds individually, and get a few at a time to do at least two lessons per week….

Overall, I like the teaching. I think the teacher enjoys kids and this comes through in her manner and her desire to empower kids to be creative and to hear the Gospel.

So, check out these childrens art classes.

You can also read what my fellow reviewers thought about See The Light, here

I received the first DVD in the See The Light program and a sampler cd for Review purposes, I have given my honest opinion.


To me, Kinderbach is actually more than piano lessons. In fact, in my teacher plans I label it Music Appreciation, because of the way it is taught. Most lessons have a little bit of playing and coloring and singing along so that your child has a gentle introduction to many music concepts. Here is a little clip:

Each Kinderbach lesson basically includes 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 for you, which I appreciate—I am no piano master!

Online lesson format view

Online lesson format view

You can use the online or DVD versions and move at your own pace. We actually went pretty quickly, sometimes doing a weeks’ worth of lessons in a day as Emma wanted to go forward.

To begin, 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 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.

Originally, before we had a piano, I purchased a little $20 keyboard at Target so we could practice along (a keyboard or piano is necessary). Later, through a gift from grandparents, we were able to move up to a piano.

IMG_0261When we used the little keyboard, I set it up with the computer. This worked nicely at first. When we moved to the big piano, I positioned a little table with laptop in front of her again. My daughter loves this. (I heard some people were able to use the Wii so they stream the lessons onto the television—this would be great!) I am still trying to get my techie son to hook my laptop up to the tv so we can watch in this manner.

Kinderbach is available for home lessons or school lessons. They recommend beginning your child at ages 3-7. Prices: An annual payment is $95.88—this comes out to a very reasonable $7.99 a month for over 240 lessons. If you purchase monthly, the cost is 19.99 per month. You can also buy the DVD/CD packages starting at $40.45.

Overall, we think our music appreciation class is wonderful alternative to trekking to regular 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 a 3 month trial of Kinderbach online through the TOS Crew for review purposes. I have given my honest opinion.

Speekee is a Spanish language immersion program – one that is working for us.

  • Example 1: As I was driving the other day, I got a text from one son, letting me know he was making good time on a trip to Washington, DC. I asked my other son to text back…and say “be careful!”

From the backseat a voice pipes up…you should text “Cuidado!”

She said it with such conviction! I laughed so hard I almost had to pull over. I mean, I didn’t even know what Cuidado meant, but my Spanish speaking son affirmed that cuidado, does mean “careful”

  • Example 2: My five year old wants to watch these videos. Over and OVER
  • Example 3: After being informed our subscription to Speekee tv is about to expire, My five year old just had a total conversation in Spanish with her father, begging him to renew her “favorite show”

I have a feeling, I’ll be renewing this one—even though I wasn’t even thinking about teaching Spanish this year. The program just works and I know it is great for kids to learn a language while young, so I am dropping the French videos I have and enjoying Speekee with my kid.

So why does this one work?

Well, I am no language expert, but some things that I see that we like include:

  1. The videos are engaging for kids. Speekee is a loveable puppet who hangs out with Spanish speaking children and they all go to places like the park, the zoo, the beach…where they talk and sing fun catchy tunes designed to introduce and reinforce Spanish
  2. Speekee “speaks” directly to your child. My daughter does sit and answer. Speekee’s voice is also very pleasant (yes, I hate annoying puppet voices)
  3. This is an immersion program, so all the dialogue is in Spanish—although there are subtitles available.
  4. Pdf worksheets are right next to each episode.

There are currently 10 episodes packed full of vocabulary, and hopefully, they will be creating more.

Speekee is created by specialist language teachers, produced in England and based upon Castilian Spanish.

Check out the Speekee TV free trial.

A subscription to Speekee TV is £4.95 (or $7.50) per month and the first two weeks are free. Subscribe securely using PayPal, and unsubscribe at any time – there’s no minimum period (I love that)

(or you can purchase PAL formatted DVDs.)

See the Speekee website or check them out on the Speekee facebook page.

See what my crewmates have to say about Speekee TV

I received an 8 week subscription through the TOS Crew for review purposes. I have given my honest opinion.

Math Tutor DVD Review

Heather —  September 8, 2010

Math Tutor

Review & Summary: 4 This company specializes in Math Curriculum, packaged in DVD and online formats for all ages, from beginning Math to Physics. We received two specific DVDs, Pre-Algebra Tutor Volume 1 and a TI83 / TI84 Calculator Tutor.

Overall, I felt the curriculum was solid…the presentation for the older ages is very much like taking Math in a class.

Now, while Math Tutor does have a range of math products that includes colorful and fun videos for younger children,when you look at  the material for the older students, you are getting serious, lecture style instruction. The instructor is Jason Gibson who has several math related degrees.  As he lectures, he uses the whiteboard and is quite clear and very specific. You can see a sample from the Pre-Algebra video here:

I am not a math lover, myself. I will basically do anything to avoid Algebra. But, I do understand Jason…so that is a start. I have one child whose eyes just glazed over when I put it in…and another who excels in Math said he could use this easily and move forward quickly. So, for the cost, I think this could be very useful. I intend to use the DVD as a help–to do review or get extra help when my Algebra student is stuck.

item63Now, the graphing calculator DVD is supposed to “unlock the power” of your graphing calculator. And, it does! With 3 DVDs you can see all kinds of functions. I am ashamed to admit this, but it helps you to put it in perspective. The main thing I have done with a graphing calculator lately is to type in numbers and turn it upside down to see if I found a new word. With this tutorial, I can show off some new skills. I did not watch all 8 hours, but I think it is cool that I could.

My three teenagers felt that this DVD was really worthwhile–all of them are using/or will be using the TI calculators through High School. As in most of the Math Tutor materials, you learn by watching your teacher DO. For this one, it is neat to see a close up of the calculator itself as the teacher works example problems on the calculator. You can see a clip of this in action on the math tutor page. (Drag down a bit).

I think this curriculum is worth taking some time to look at. While I feel less sure about my opinions when it comes to upper level math, I think this curriculum does have some excellent courses and is very reasonably fantastically priced. If you are looking for a long term plan or just some help for Math, definitely stop in at the Math Tutor DVD site. They have plenty of samples and videos and worksheets to peruse to see if the style works for your family. They also offer an online plan for $19.99 per month.

The Math Tutor DVDs reviewed today are currently on sale for $26.99 each.

Find tons of FREE sample lessons, online calculators and math references and articles–even a podcast at Math Tutor.

To see what my TOS crewmates have to say, click here

The 2 Math Tutor DVDs were provided to me for the purpose of my review. I have expressed my unbiased opinion on this product.