Saturday, March 27, 2010

TOS Crew Review: Dollar Homeschool

A Complete K-12 math curriculum, from counting to calculus.

"The Ray's math series begins at a preliterate level with counting; then takes the child through addition, subtraction, multiplication, division, and so upward until calculus, teaching concepts with thorough explanations followed by ample problem sets. The Ray's series provides a very full-bodied course of mathematics" quoted from website:
Ray's arithmetic CD contains 12 core textbooks, teacher guides, answer keys, and several other books that are math realted, for a total of 38 books.  The books come in PDF (ADOBE - which is available online for free if you don't have it.) format so you can print what pages you need at what level you need. This is textbook format, so once you print them out, you can keep them in a 3-ring binder or something similiar for your next child to use.
These textbooks date back to 1865 and were used exclusively until 1915. This texts were written by the best of the best in their fields at this time. There is a Welcome file which should be read first which gives tips on where to start and how to progress through the books.  It also has some frequently asked questions.

I looked over the Ray's Primary Arithmetic to start.  The lessons begin with counting and reading numbers one to one hundred. They then progress to oral exercise, including oral word problems.   "How many are one and one?" "How many are three take away one?" As you move through the lessons word problems include: "How many birds are two birds and five birds?"  "Francis had two cents and his mother gave him one cent, how many had he then?" "Jane had ten cents: if she gave 8 cents for a book, how many cents does she have left?"

The core of the program are word problems.  The focus early on is addition and subtraction then moves onto multiplication: "If one dozen apples cost nine cents, how many cents will 8 dozen cost?" So if you don't have a strong reader at this level, most will be oral.  But it is very doable for a first/second grader to get these concepts.

The next book in the series is Ray's Intellectual Arithmetic (and the last one I am reviewing).  It begins with a review for those who may not have covered the topics in the first book or need more practice. I found the concept from this level challenging for myself.  Yes, I could do it, but wow, made me think. For example in lesson 5 (V) you are instructed to start at 8 and goto one hundred four by adding 4 (to 8) successively. (8, 12, 16, 20, 24, 28, 32, 36, 40, 44, 48, 52, 56, 60, 64, 68, 72, 76, 80, 84, 88, 92, 96, 100, 104- phew - done!) Fractions, measurement, interest problems, and percents are also thoroughly covered at this level, and yes, using word problems!! 

This program is advanced, so you will have to look carefully over where your children are at, and possibly back it up a little to make sure they understand all the topics covered.
This is a great program.  One downside I see in it is that the pages require a lot of ink.  I did run the pages on "fast draft" and they were very readable, so that is an option. This is an economical option in that pages printed can be saved for the next child. The other downside is that work most likely will have to be done on another piece of paper, such as a notebook. My children balk at this.

To Find out pricing or for more information about this product and other products offered by Dollar Homeschool Click Here.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

TOS Crew Review: KinderBach (2010)

Kinderbach is an early learning (about ages 2 to 7) piano course, founded by Karri Gregor. She was looking for an age appropriate music program for her young children, unable to find one, she started teaching her own lessons. 150 students later, she had to give up her lessons after her husband lost his job and they had to relocate. Later, after digging up some old tapes of the lessons she decided to start up again. Using her husband's wise advice, she stared the DVD program so more could be reached. The rest is history. You can read her bio here.

We previewed the online web video edition, also available at the website, as a less expensive option then the DVDs. My children, boys, ages 6,7, and 8, watched intently each lesson and completed the associated worksheet. With the use of a basic keyboard, we followed along with the lessons learning about Dodi's house, the train station, simple music theory, sing along songs, and some percussion instruments.
The lessons are short (around 5 minutes) and complete one objective at a time. There are 4 short lessons a week. The intro lesson lets you know what you need each week. The pages with the various activities - color, cut, and paste mostly, are right on the lesson page. Karri's sweet voice sings the songs in the program. The program slowly builds concepts as it is meant for younger children. My older boys were able to complete a week at one sitting.
Not being musically minded, we all enjoyed the lessons and did learn quite a bit, completing only level one. The activity sheet are easy to use and have age appropriate activities. The curriculum is 2 years long or 60 lessons. You can preview the first two lessons for free online.

NEW THIS YEAR! Is a craft book to accompany Level 1.  Included are great items to reinforce the lessons. The crafts are meant to be done by the parent as object lessons for the children.  These were created with the home teacher in mind and use simple to obtain material: card stock, Velcro, pictures for a collage, etc.

A copy of the syllabus is available at:

To learn more about Kinderbach and to try out the first two lessons online for free, CLICK HERE.

TOS Crew Review: Homeschool Library Builder

"... Homeschool Library Builder, your resource for literature-based homeschooling. We offer quality new and used living books at bargain prices -- selections recommended by your favorite curricula such as Five in a Row, Sonlight, Beautiful Feet, Veritas Press, Tapestry of Grace, Ambleside Online, and others."

I am always looking for a place to get great prices on books for our homeschool. One place that has a great selection of books is Homeschool Library Builder. This online store was started by homeschool moms who obviously love books.  They carry new and gently used books to go with many of the common homeschool companies mentioned above.  Books are sorted by, age, subject, and by curriculum.

Another great thing is when you purchase books you earn points toward more books. You can also earn points other ways - by getting your friends to sign up (free!) and make a purchase, linking your blog to their website, etc.

So if you have not checked them out yet - go for it! There selection changes often as they buy and sell new books - so come back often! You can sign up at their website to be notified of sales and promotions!

To Visit Homeschool Library Builders CLICK HERE.

The Schoolhouse Expo!!

School House Expo

If you're looking for homeschool encouragement, resources, and fun, check out all that is going on at The Old Schoolhouse!

Right now March Madness and Win Big are going on in the Schoolhouse Store. During March Madness, over 240 items are 10 to 40 percent off!

Click here to read the details.

Then, if you're customer 139,000, 139,500, or 140,000, you will win over $348 in prizes. Prizes include a 5 year subscription to TOS (U.S.

only), Scripture Sleuth literature series, guitar lessons on CD, and more! Hurry, they are just past customer #137,818.
The BIGGEST news of all--The Schoolhouse Expo is coming in May!

Pre-register now and save $5!

As homeschool teachers?what do you need to learn? More about teaching multiple grades? All about different homeschool methods? Transcripts?

Could you use some help with reading, language arts, math, and more?

Are you intimidated by the idea of teaching middle school and high school?those dreaded, advanced courses? Would some encouraging words and motivational Scripture help you on your way? Get answers when you attend The Schoolhouse Expo, an 3-day, online conference, presented by The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine and The Old Schoolhouse® Speaker?s Bureau.

Pre-register today for only $19.99 through March 31.You do not want to miss this unbelievable, virtual homeschool convention! PLUS, you'll receive over $300 in free gifts when you register.

Get the details and preregister here

School House Expo

TOS Crew Review: Ultimate Guide to Homeschooling - Debra Bell

The Ultimate Guide to Homeschooling by Debra Bell, is just what the title says - it is the ULTIMATE Guide!  Where ever you are on your homeschool journey, from just thinking about it, to a many year veteran, The Ultimate Guide will give you a vision for homeschooling. It will encourage you to press on, help you out a rut, and give you many ideas on how to homeschool.  This book gives you practical examples to help you actually take action - it gives you the hands and feet to homeschool, with out being preachy or "you must do it my way" attitude.

Sections Include:
Homeschooling - Is it for you? (Includes a family quiz to see if homeschooling for you.)
Choosing a Curriculum (Includes learning styles, homeschooling on a shoestring, tons of recommendations)
Organization and Planning
Preventing Burnout
What to Teach:  When and How (Includes quotes from experts in the field.)
Homeschooling Teens (Planning, college options, college admissions, college at home)
Computers in Homeschool (Do I need to include computers in our homeschool?)
Creative Solutions (Toddlers, transitioning from school to home, motivating the reluctant learner)
Measuring Success
Resource Lists

Favorite quote:
"If you've potty trained, your qualified (to homeschool.)"

This book includes an excellent foundation for getting started homeschooling. While written from a Christian perspective, this book contains plenty of useful info for any homeschooler. Recommendation are for both Christian and non-Christian materials. The author also has an excellent sense of humor through out, which makes this really an enjoyable read.

This is a big read, 509 pages plus an index. You can pick and choose what you need first and go from there, reading the chapters as needed, or you can do it the old fashioned way - reading from beginning to end. This book has recently (2009) been updated, so it contains all the current contact and website info throughout.

If I was rating this book - I would easily give it five stars for books in this category. This book should be in every library! I really enjoyed this book. It is helping to remind me why I started doing this in the first place, and giving me many fresh ideas.

To purchase or to find out more, CLICK HERE.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

TOS Crew Review: Math Mammoth Light Blue - Grade 3

Last year I reviewed some products from Math Mammoth.  You can see that review by clicking HERE.

This year I decided to review a complete years math curriculum.  After reviewing the placement test with my fourth grader, we decided to go with grade three.  He did not yet have a good foundation in multiplication and division, which was required for the fourth grade level. You can see the placement tests by clicking HERE. Having completed several weeks of lessons, I have no regrets with that decision.

Grade 3 description from the website:
"Third grade is a time for learning and mastering two (mostly new) operations: multiplication and division with single-digit numbers. The student also deepens his understanding of addition and subtraction, and uses those in many different contexts, such as with money, time, and measuring."
For detailed description of each grade Click HERE.

This program requires little teacher preparation. The most burdensome thing I find with it is printing out the pages. I remedied that by printing off several lessons at a time, so I only have to do that twice a month. I was able to use the "fast draft" feature on the printer and still obtained quality copies. The pages are in color mixed with black and white. Sometimes I will use only the black ink cartridge for printing projects, but for this math program, I kept the colored pages as is.

Lessons ran about 3 pages in length with frequent repetition and just enough problems to get the lesson point (not to much, not to little). A few different topics are covered in each lesson. I appreciated that the program stresses mental math. Most of the time descriptions are easy enough that my son can work independently. Other-times, a simple explanation is all that is needed. Fun puzzles are sprinkled throughout the lessons. Mastery is definitely encouraged. There are some basic manipulatives used with this curriculum, but are basic things we have at home (measuring cups, rulers, etc.)

My son is really enjoying this program, so he is going to continue to use it.  This program is currently available for grades 1 through 5 with grade 6 coming out this year. You can purchase this as a download or printed by

To learn more about Math Mammoth CLICK HERE.

TOS Crew Review: Zeezok: Presidential Penmanship

The product I have received is Presidential Penmanship Italic Style Complete Program on CD-Rom. This is a supplemental handwriting skills program for first through senior high. This is copywork type program - where the students copy quotes from presidents.  The quotes come from speeches and from books such as George Washington's Rules of Civility and Decent. It comes in six different handwriting styles (see below.)

The quotes are shorter for younger grades and progressively get more difficult as the student progresses through the program. By the end of sixth grade the student is expected to quote the Gettysburg Address.  In high school the passages are smaller in the beginning and progress to longer passages. Quotes are also taken from Declaration of Independence, Lincoln and Reagan's Inaugural Addresses. All the quotes are excellent for memorization and civics studies.

This is a supplemental program since it does not actually provide instruction for the individual letters. It is assumed you have a basic understanding of writing the letters in the version you choose. You can choose the grade level that best matches your child's ability or you can do it based on subject matter. For example, the 5th grade level discusses manners and that might be a topic of interest for you.

For the earlier years you are expected to trace the letters and stay in the lines provided, then you copy and trace the quote on top of light grey scale letters. Then you are on your own to write out the quote on the lines provided. The child would have enough to do one lesson a week for 36 weeks. As you get in higher grades less practice is given and more lessons per week are expected. In third grade 108 lessons are provided.  Extra lined pages are included for you to print out as needed.

The quotes are great discussion starters and my children enjoyed copying the verses. The only difficulty we had was with a child with a visual impairment being able to stay in the lines while copying and seeing the light grey print.

What is great about this is that you only have to print out as much as you need and you can use this with multiple age households, inexpensively. You do need to provide paper and a printer to print off of the CD-Rom. Using "fast draft" to use less ink, as a printer option, did not effect the quality of the print compared with using the "normal" option.

To learn more visit: