Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Make the most of today!

Good morning friends! You know, while I really dislike the alarm clock, especially while it is blairing in my ear... I love the many hours I have to get things done.. when I don't ignore it!! :-) Have a wonderful productive day! Make the most of today! You don't know how many today's you will have!

Monday, December 28, 2009

Going, Going, Almost Gone........................

For many years now I have loved The Old Schoolhouse Magazine! And it is NOT because I am a part of the TOS Crew!!!  TOS has blessed my family, myself and my homeschool for many years now. Long before the crew was a glimmer in their eyes! If you have toyed with the thought of subscribing, now really is a great time! Times are tough for so many, especially families living on one income! I usually have paid $39 for 2 years. Right now their special is $7.95 for 1 year, plus free gifts. Please see the ad below to see how to redeem this offer!!!

Happy Homeschooling!!!

Going . . . going . . . almost gone!
The Old Schoolhouse®  Magazine is saying good-bye to their $7.95 subscription price (one year, U.S.) at midnight on December 31!

There is still time to treat yourself or share the gift of homeschool encouragement with your family and friends.
Receive 4 issues of The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine RIGHT NOW for only $7.95! That is less than $2 per issue. Your subscription will start with their Spring 2010 issue.
This includes our one-year gift subscriptions!
Order the one-year plus current issue option and enjoy the Winter issue in January 2010 for only $12.95!
Plus, new and renewing subscribers receive bonus gifts!

Canadian and international subscriptions are also on sale—save up to 40% on a one-year print subscription.
Get all of the details here.
Hurry! December 31 is the deadline for these  sale prices.

Living Abundantly-Homemade Laundry Detergent and Fabric Softner

I have been making my own laundry soap for years. I used to make a liquid soap, however, several months ago I have found a recipe for a powdered version. I like this one A LOT!!!
Here are the ingredients:
2 cups Bar Soap (finely grated)
1 cup Washing Soda
1 cup Borax
Now, you can use any bar soap that you would like. Recommended is Fels Naptha, Zote, and Ivory. However, if you have a favorite bar soap, use it! You can use chemical free soap, or traditional soaps that you find at the local grocery store. I have used all of the soaps listed above, and some others!
First I grate the soap into a bowl. Then I measure out the portions and add them to the food processor and mix until it becomes a fine powder. I store mine in an old ice cream tub. Use 2 tablespoons per load. We have been using this recipe for a couple of months and it works very well!! Here is my container and finished product!

When I found the powdered laundry soap recipe, I also found a recipe for fabric softener. We have been using this for a couple of months as well. Here is the recipe…
2 cups hair conditioner
3 cups white vinegar
6 cups warm water
Optional, few drops of essential oil of choice.

I purchased a plastic ‘cookie jar’ from the dollar store (see photos below) to keep it in. And I actually make it right inside the jar. I pour in the conditioner, then the vinegar and then the water and then whisk
it with a whisk. I have not used any essential oil. You would only do this if you want more fragrance.

I really do not smell any fragrance when the clothes come out of the dryer. They are soft and have no static clean. I purchased a bag of small sponges at the dollar store and I use two at one time. One
stays in the jar, while the other one is thrown in the dryer with each load. When putting it in the dryer squeeze the excess liquid out then put into the dryer.

Monday, December 21, 2009

ACT Explore and Plan

As a mom of kids with special needs, all the tests that high-schoolers take to prepare for their future have seemed so far away and out of reach. And in all honesty for some of my students, they simply will not be a part of their lives.

Even my son who does not have learning disabilities, I was not even thinking about college prep testing. He knows what he wants to be, he is going to be a missionary. He is headed for bible college. So we are not doing these sorts of tests to try to get him into an ivy league school. This does not mean we do not want to give him a good academic education. We do.

As a member of The Homeschool Crew we were sent a packet from ACT Advantage that included, The Explore and Plan homeschool packets which have the following items; Testing booklets titled 'Sample Test Booklet and Answer Sheet, Using your Explore/Plan results brochure- a brief overview of score results and the process.and College Readiness Standards handbook that provides ideas for progress in each subject to prepare students for college or the workforce.

Earlier this school year we received access to Discover their online career planning tool. You can read my review for that product here.

EXPLORE is designed for 8th-9th graders and it measures their skills and knowledge and can be used to prepare them for the ACT test. It covers, English, Math, Reading and Science.

I used this test with my 9th grader. It was helpful to pinpoint areas of weakness that we can spend more time.

PLAN is a measurement tool that provides a midpoint review of 10th graders progress toward college and workforce readiness when there is still time to make adjustments.  It also covers the 4 core subjects, English, Math, Reading and Science.

I used this with my 10th grader and it was equally helpful for my 10th grader as EXPLORE was for my 9th grader.

These plans are relatively inexpensive. If you are wanting, or needing to really pinpoint what your jr high/ high schooler is needing work in, this test kit can help you do that.

Each packet is available for $22.95 which includes the appropriate test booklet, The College Readiness Standards handbook and the Using your EXPLORE/PLAN results brochure.

Please visit the crew blog to see what my crew mates think about this product!

Friday, December 18, 2009

Maestro Classics

As part of the TOS Homeschool Crew I received a free copy of The Tortoise and the Hare from Maestro Classics in exchange for my honest review.

We are familiar with the classic story The Tortoise and The Hare. When I heard that audio childrens books were on the list to review I was envisioning the books of yesteryear you know the type the cassette tape with the story book and the ringing of the bell to mark when it was time to turn the page.

The story we received was nothing of the sort. This was a very intelligent version of the story. The narrator of the story is accompanied by the London Philharmonic Orchestra. It was a delightful rendition. I enjoyed listening to it, as did my 10 year old.

Included with the story is a lesson in music theory. The children are taught about different instruments, how they work, and how you can use their sounds to invoke certain feelings. Or to create a setting for a story.

A product like this, is clearly not essential to homeschooling, however, it is a nice compliment. If you are looking for audio stories, this would be a great choice. I really like the fact that they are learning about music, while listening to an entertaining story.

Please visit Maestro Classics to see their full line of audio books. Right now they are running a special, buy 3 CDs for $45 or you can buy them individually for $16.98 each.

Please visit the Crew Blog to see what my crew mates think of Maestro Classics.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009


As members of the crew we were given 45 days free membership to Mathletics for the purpose of review.

This really was not something I was looking forward to reviewing. We have reviewed several math programs and with math not being my favorite thing in the world, I was not wanting to tackle yet another math program.

However, I must say that I was pleasantly surprised by Mathletics. My children really have enjoyed the program.

Mathletics  is America's #1 Math Website. It is the next generation in learning. Helping students enjoy math and improve their results.  It is the essential  curriculum based resource for students at school and at home.

Benefits of Mathletics:
~ Students love it, becoming highly motivated to improve.

~Phenonmenal  improvement rates

~weekly report emailed to parents

~courriculum designed for K-8th grade

~costs less that $2 a week.

The parents section has some neat features that help to enhance the students and parents experience with Mathletics.

  Mathletics has a number of unique features to strongly support homeschooling, these include:

~ a personal mastery dial tracking a student's daily progress.

~ Access to live mental arithmetic challenges with students with students of a similar age and ability from all over the world.

~ Intelligent adaptiveness for most concepts- with questions getting harder as a student answers correctly.

~ Immediate feedback to responses with animated step by step support.

~The ability for a student to work at their own pace through the curriculum content.

~Lots of rewards and certificates for progress and the opportunity to appear on the American Hall of Fame.

~ Access 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, wherever there is Internet access.

So how did that look in our house?? It looked like all 5 of my children fighting over computer time, on our one computer!   Seriously, though, I must admit on many days I have children that grunt and grimace through math. However, they have thoroughly enjoyed using Mathletics.

Here is how I had them work through it. They each had about 1/2 hour or so, depending on how much time we had that day, to devote to 'Rainforest' which is a fun area that gives them practice. Or simply in the section marked 'problem solving'.  Then I would give them an additional 1/2 hour to 45 minutes to work in the 'practice' section. I really like this section as a parent. Once in the practice section they have listed 10 topics, and then once you click on one of those topics it will break down further into a smaller subset with 10 topics. When you click on those, your student will begin to answer a series of 10 problems. After they complete a section, they are given  a score, and each problem they answered is given. I have my kids print these pages out. It shows me exactly what problems they were given and what their answers were.
After they complete all 10 topic areas there is a test. My children really enjoyed working through the program! They had lots of fun and were learning all the while!
They do refer to their program as a curriculum, however and with the instant workbooks, it is a very good resource. Though I wouldn't feel comfortable using it as my sole choice for math curriculum, however it definitely would enhance your program, especially if you had a reluctant or struggling learner!!
There regular price is $99  year, however their current price is $59 a year per child. SPECIAL:if you know The Human Calculator's favorite number, which '9' you will get the an additional discount bringing your price to $49.95.  Also, if you have more than one child you can contact them about a family discount. They also offer a 10 day money back guarantee.

Check out the crew blog to see what my crew mates think of this unique program!

Thursday, December 10, 2009


The members of the TOS Homeschool Crew were given a 3 month complimentary membership to Tektoma; Game Tutorials for Kids, for purpose of review.

Tektoma offers a membership to their site, where you will find tutorials on how to create your very own video games using software available on the internet for free.. Now with 4 teenagers in my house this was very exciting!   ( for them! The Tektoma Tutorials take you step by step teaching you how to build your own video game. While the software you are using is available for free on the internet, if you are not familiar with creating video games, the software I believe, would be too complicated to take on, on your own. And that is what makes the tutorials at the Tektoma website such a help.

On the website they state that their tutorials are appropriate for ages 7-17. However, I will tell you that my 10 year old would not be able to do this on her own. However, if you have a young child who has the propensity towards computers, then I am sure they could handle it.

 My 14 and 15 year old decided to do the tutorials together. They have been having success with the program.  They  have created several games, and if I let them, they would do nothing but create games!  Well, in all honesty, my 15 year old has really taken to it, and run with it. I think once the 14 year old has more time ( his brother is hogging the computer) he will also do very well with it.

(able to focus even with their goofy sister in the background!)

On a side note, my son has really taken to this. He has really  enjoyed creating the games. As a mother, this thrills me to no end! Over the years he has been easily discouraged. He is my perfectionist. And if he cannot do things perfectly, then why bother, has always been his motto. Well, the way that Tektoma teaches them step by step how to create the video games, he has just been able to follow along and run with it. With NO intervention or guidance from me! I think the tutorials were key for this. I think he would have experienced the usual discouragement if he had to figure out the gamemaker program on his own. With Tektoma, he had a teacher, by his side every step of the way, which was great. Because his dear old mom, would not have been able to help him!

Now, let's get down to the nuts and bolts of it all...

Tektoma offers a 14 day FREE Trial, so what do you have to lose? This is something that takes time. So don't sign up for your trial, when you will not have time to devote to the computer.. Christmas break, just might be the perfect time to give this a shot!

Pricing; $14.95 per month OR $140 for a year. But here is the good news!
You can earn free membership time by referring friends. Once you are signed up, they will provide you with a secure link to share with friends. When someone signs up, you earn 15 free membership days ... in case you are so inclined, here is my link..... Join Tektoma, or you can visit their main page to sign up by clicking HERE!

Currently, the tutorials are for computers running Windows XP or Vista only. Macintosh versions coming in the future.  Broadband internet connection ~ Any browser should work, but make sure it is a current version For GameMaker tutorials, you need a copy of GameMaker installed and the GameMaker resources folder.  Instructions for downloading these files can be found on the GameMaker Tutorials page.  GameMaker requires 128mb of RAM, DirectX 8 with at least 32mb of video memory, and a screen resolution of at least 800×600.

Please visit the Crew Blog to see what my Crew Mates have to say about Tektoma!


Saturday, December 5, 2009

Maxwell Family Coming to Southern California

Will you be traveling through the Southern California area early next year? Are you a Southern California resident? Then I have good news for you! The Steve and Terri Maxwell Family are coming to Southern California! If you are not in Southern California, keep reading.. at the bottom there is something for you too!

If you have been in the homeschooling circles for any length of time, then you have probably heard of Steve and Terri Maxwell. They are a Veteran Christian Homeschool family. They speak at conferences, write books as well as publish homeschool helps. They have free email newsletters geared for both mom's and dad's to encourage you on your homeschool journey.  

One of their most popular books is 'Managers of Their Homes" A Practical Guide to Daily Scheduling for Christian Families".  many Homeschool Families have been able to navigate through their homeschool journey a little easier by using MOTH.

Terri Maxwell wrote one of my favorite books, 'Homeschooling With a Meek and Quiet Spirit'. It was a real blessing to me, as she is a Christian, with a large family who homeschools. And has homeschooled for a long time. So you can listen to what she says,  as she speaks with experience.

 If you are in the L.A. Area they will be in Burbank on January 21st. Click here for info on that conference.

They will also be in Fallbrook for a weekend conference February 12-14th. You can click here for info on that conference.

Now if you are not in either one of those areas, have no fear!! Visit Once there, you can sign up for their free email newsletter, under 'Dad's/Mom's Corner'.  You also can look into booking them to come speak in your area. If you click here   you can find a listing of where they are currently booked, as well as request info on having them come speak at your event.

If you are in the L.A.  area, our family plans on attending. We look forward to seeing you all there.

Happy Homeschooling!

Thursday, December 3, 2009

A Little Something New

Is your family like ours? We struggle with the monotony of family life. As homeschoolers we spend all of our time, (okay, not ALL of our time) at home. So the drudgery of chores and school work can get the best of you. Several of my children and I suffer from ADD. Yes, even I struggle with dealing with it as an adult. I easily lose focus. I have the greatest of intentions though I do not always see them through to fruition.

My children, suffer from this as well. A few are  probably from my lack of discipline and a couple actually suffer from ADD as well.

Well, while watching my daughter struggle with it, I came up with an idea of how we could combat this problem for them, and for me!

My idea was born from PECS  that is used in the Autism circles as a form of communication. When my oldest was small we used this method for schedules. I would velcro these pictures onto a velcro strip in the order he was to do his tasks.

So, this concept is simple. Make picture cards for chores and school work. What I did was using Microsoft Word, I made a template of textboxes, and then I inserted clip art and typed in the function I wished to be completed.
I made each box the approximate size of an id card.

I printed them out on cardstock, and then cut them out, laminated them and then punched a whole in the corner.

 Like this:

I chose this format, as I am using this system with both readers and non readers. That way I did not have to make two separate batches.

Each child has a set of their own which is on a 1 inch silver book ring.

It looks something like this:

So each day I will add onto the ring the school assignments they are expected to finish. As well as their automatic daily chore, in our house that is "general pick up" and "clean bedroom".  Then we will all come together and the kids will pick from the chore cards. Whatever chores they pick, get added to their ring.

When they complete the card, they take it off the ring and hand it to me.
This serves two purposes. Their ring, helps them to remember what is on their plate for their day. And when they hand me their card, it reminds me to go check their work right away. Accountability for the both of us!

I must admit we have just started this, but it has been great so far. They have even taken to trading the chore cards. Which initially, I wasn't too sure about. However, the only rule I've come up with, is that both members have to want to trade. No arm twisting allowed!

The kids liked that they are not tied to the same chore day after day. And it has brought a since of fun to our day. It has also helped them remember what we have planned educationally to get done, without the verbal cues from me!

So how does your family combat the monotony of the daily grind? I would love to hear about it!  Leave a comment about it below!

Happy Homeschooling!

Tuesday, December 1, 2009


I know there are people who love it and people who hate. I have to tell you a little over a year ago when a friend told me about facebook, I thought, really, do I need something else to 'do'? I have enough on my plate as it is.

Well, I have thouroughly enjoyed Facebook! Not only has it been a great way for our family to stay connected. We have members all over the country. It even helps with members of our church and our homeschool group. You know the people you talk to at church, but you may not list everything that you did all week. It has proven to be a fun way to connect, and keep connect with people face to face!

In addition, it has given me the ability to connect with friends from yester year!! Just in the last two days I have found friends from grammar school!  We went to a TINY school. Less than 100 kids went to this school, and it was in the heart of Los Angeles. So can you say needle in a hay stack???

It has been awesome! And we are planning a get together after the first of the year! I am so looking forward to catching up with them!

If you are leary of Facebook, or if you just don't think it is worth it, give it try, I really think you would enjoy it.

Side note: there are some quirks... worst of them being they periodically change the format and all the user get in a tizzy for a few days, but it then dies down and we get used to the new format. And they also offer privacy features, so you can keep yourself very private!

Monday, November 30, 2009

Professor In a Box

As part of The TOS Homeschool Crew, Professor In a Box sent us a complimentary copy of 'Financial Accounting' by Michael P. Licata, Ph. D.  for us to use, and share our honest opinion.

Professor Licata  is currently an Associate Professor in the Dept. of Accountancy in the Villanova School of Business at Villanova University in Villanova, PA where he has been a professor for the past 24 years.

Professor Licata is also a homeschool dad. He has brought his expertise to the homeschool arena. Now homeschool students have access to a college level accounting course. All from the comfort of their own home. Financial Accounting is the first course for homeschool high school students.

What is unique about this program is that is not taught out of  a boring dry textbook. When you order from Professor In a Box, that is what you get, Prof. Licata, on CD to be more exact. You pop the CD into your cd drive. And your student will not have to read a textbook, they will listen to a lecture while watching a powerpoint presentation.

This course is comprised of 12 chapters taught in 28 lessons. You can take this course in a semester or over a full year. Your student simply will watch the lectures, complete the included homework problems, check the solutions and take the exams.  At the end of this course your student will have all the information needed to prepare for the new CLEP (College Level Examination Program) Financial Accounting Exam. What a great motivation to complete this program while still in high school!

I began the program with 2 of my high schoolers. They have both enjoyed it. They really liked the format. While I believe that your Junior or Senior would best suited for this program, my two enjoyed the lecture and were able to understand what Prof. Licata was teaching, even though they are in 9th and 10th grade. They both enjoyed the independence of the course. As did I!

We will be continuing with this course in our homeschool! There is so much practical information in this course that while this course is designed for business, you could benefit from the class even if you do not find yourself going into business.

Currently the price is $134.99 with FREE USPS Priority Mail Shipping. They also offer a full money back guarantee. Work through the first three chapters and if you're not satisfied with the course, send it back for a full refund-they will even pay for the shipping. Check them out at

Also, don't forget to check out the crew blog to see what my crew mates thought of this product!

Friday, November 27, 2009

BLACK FRIDAY at The Old Schoolhouse Store!!!


There is a lot of money-saving activity in the Schoolhouse Store this weekend! You can receive up to $1300 if FREE gifts during the TOS Black Friday Sale.

Plus, the one-year, print () subscriptions will be available  for $7.95 during the sale which runs through Sunday. All those subscribing before December 7 will receive the Winter Issue. (Subscriptions received after that will begin with the Spring Issue.) As a bonus, you can select 10 gifts of your choice—there are 19 gifts from which to choose. There are only 1500 of these gift packs available.
This is a 68% savings! The $7.95 price is gone on December 31 at midnight. On January 1, 2010, the price goes back up to $25!
The 19 gifts can be viewed here: (Each subscriber picks 10 of the 19.)
Remember, the more you spend in the Schoolhouse Store through Sunday, the more free gifts you receive. One of the gifts is a FREE one-year membership to and a free will from Homeschool Legal Advantage. Plus, there are so many other FREE homeschooling resources. Check it out at the following link:
It’s so easy to earn the FREE gifts! Select a few items from the literature sale in the Schoolhouse Store or purchase the new Download N Go lapbooking and unit studies series from Amanda Bennett and TOS.

Thursday, November 19, 2009


As part of The TOS Crew, I was sent a complimentary copy of "Gymathtics" from Explormania, for the purpose of giving my honest opinion about the product.

 As a parent of special needs children, I have been exposed to the idea that movement can help a child retain otherwise difficult to retain information.  So, when I read a bit about this program, I thought that they were indeed putting to practice what I had learned about.

In fact, the creator of 'Gymathtics' is addressing the idea that when a child uses several senses they will have a better understanding of what they are learning. I have seen this to be true with my family. I have often said that my children have had to see, hear, touch, smell, do , eat and create in order to learn something!

I used this DVD with my 5th grader. I was not sure how it was going to fly. If it was going to feel babyish or if she would enjoy it.  Well, let me tell you I had decided to do the program with her. At first she wanted to do it in a room, where just the 2 of us were.... she was a little embarrassed to do it in front of her siblings. Well that completely changed when while her and I were working out, she thought I was making funny sounds!  There are a few stretches that made me groan! She quickly told all the siblings! So guess what, the next time we did the DVD, guess who joined us! That's right, the rest of my kiddos! (teenagers)
We really did have some good family fun doing the DVD workout together.  The program did help to concrete some of the math concepts in my daughters mind.

The program is divided into several different sections. First is the 'Shape  Stretches Warm Up', you will get your body ready to work out, and learn about shapes and angles!

  Next is 'Counting
Calisthenics', you will be getting your heart rate up while skip counting, counting with prime numbers and place values.

Next on the line up is Pattern Power. Here you will use your body to make different kinds of patterns.

And finally, you have the 'Well Being Wind Down'. Here while you are cooling your body down, Ms Karrie gives positive words of encouragement on how to help maintain a calm peaceful attitude.

This is clearly a supplemental program. If you have children in the K-5th grade range, you would have use for this in your home. Especially if your kids are active. In the beginning my daughter thought it was all a bit silly, though she did enjoy doing the program. Doing it together has proven to be fun for all.

You can visit their website to see excerpts of the video.  You can purchase from Exploramania directly for $24.99, which includes free shipping. Or from several online retailers. ( Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Glammatoys and Can Doo Products)

Please visit the crew blog to see what my crew mates thought of this product!

Saturday, November 14, 2009

The Myth of "Me" Time

At our homeschool groups Mom’s Night Out this month, I had shared about something I had listened to a few weeks ago. I had downloaded a seminar from Values Driven Family . On my download it did not give me a title, so I just listened blindly. As it turns out he was discussing the myth of “me

And he was discussing moms in particular. Society tells us that we need to have alone time, that we need to get away from our kids and our family in order to feel fulfilled and regenerated. Many of us have bought in to that mindset. He shared that from a father’s point of view that that can be very
discouraging. They are out in the world all day, all week long, and they are fighting their way to get BACK home, and so many mom’s want to ‘check out’ as soon as dad arrives.

However, what I learned, I should say what I was reminded of, is that it is not ‘me’ time that we so desperately need. What we need is “He” time. Alone time with our Lord and Savior. Oh that is so true.

As homeshool mom’s we have quite a lot on our plates. And we naturally begin to feel the stress of doing our best to ensure that our children grow up loving the Lord, serving Him in whatever capacity He sees fit, to do the best they can at academics. Not to mention maintaining the house, keeping food on the table… and sometimes just keeping it in the cupboard (can you say teenagers?). Making time for our husband, then add on our outside duties that we may have at church, or at the local little league. When you add all
of these things, it is no wonder so many feel as though the need to run and escape into “me” time. 

If we are to accomplish all the things listed, and sometimes more, we need to do it with God’s help, with His power. What is that saying, “Your walk talks louder than your talk talks!” When we talk about growing our children spiritually, we need to do that every single day. It cannot be accomplished sitting in a church pew on Sundays and then living our daily life without any any thought of our Lord. We need to live out our Christianity every single day of our life. And as we do that, our children will see us living out our relationship. And through that process, we will be empowered to do that which we have been called to do. Phil 4:13, “ I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me”.  When we feel like we need to retreat into our own personal bubble, that is when we need to find alone time with the Lord.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

TOS FREE Digital Holiday Magazine

This is the perfect “idea book” to get your family ready for the upcoming holidays!

And it’s yours at no charge—no strings attached.

This 180-page Digital Holiday Magazine is not your typical E-Book. Created with the same high-quality format that’s used in the digital version of our print magazine, you can even “turn” the lavishly illustrated, full-color pages of this supplement. And we hope you will enjoy this timeless, practical, and beautiful resource for years to come—all at no charge.

There’s so much included in this exciting supplement! Make this the gift that keeps on giving—link your friends and family up to receive their own fantastic copies!

Simply go to the link below to get your free copy. Again, no strings attached.

Feel free to share it with your site or blog visitors, newsletter subscribers, or Facebook friends.

Download your FREE  Digital Holiday Magazine  Here!!!

Tuesday, November 10, 2009


Several years ago I came to know AVKO. I actually wrote a post about it on my blog way back when... you can see the brief post hereSo, when I saw the list of vendors for this years crew voyage, I was thrilled to see AVKO listed!  As a member of the Homeschool Crew, we were each given a complimentary one year membership to AVKO, in exchange I would provide an honest review.

Not familiar with AVKO?

AVKO is a non-profit, 501(C)3 membership organization that focuses on the development and production of materials and especially techniques to teach reading and spelling, handwriting (manuscript and cursive), and keyboarding.  AVKO is dedicated to the teaching everyone how to read and spell, regardless of their mild to moderate learning disabilities, dyslexia, poverty, or opportunity.  Visit The History of AVKO for more information.

Mission Statement

The AVKO Educational Research Foundation, founded in 1974, has as its mission the following:

  1. To determine what makes the learning of reading and spelling so difficult for some and so easy for others.

  2. To determine what it is about our language that good readers learn without being taught that poor readers don't.

  3. To determine whether or not that which poor readers don't learn is ever systematically taught and if it isn't, if it can be.

  4. To devise techniques and materials to enable teachers (or parents) to systematically teach poor readers and/or poor spellers that which schools presently are not teaching.

  5. To widely disseminate its discoveries of techniques and materials that enable dyslexics to learn to read and to spell.

I had a struggling reader, he was dyslexic. I had read many books trying to figure out how to help him. It wasn't until I read To Teach a Dyslexic, by Don McCabe that I was really able to help him. After reading Don's book, I went on to purchase a membership to their website, as well as, purchase the entire set of Sequential Spelling.  Those few steps opened up a world of words for my son, who was struggling so. 

AVKO, is very confident that their method of teaching will help most, if not all students. One of the quotes from their website is this;

"AVKO claims the underlying cause of illiteracy or dyslexia is a failure of our educational system to teach"

This is a bold statement to make. Except in a situation where there is a reason why a child is not learning to read... learning to read... brain damage, seizures, autism, just to name a few, I believe this statement is spot on.  Especially when you look at learning in a classroom setting. I have a high respect for classroom teachers. I am not sure how they can balance trying to meet all the needs of all the children in their classroom. While I believe they do the best they can, if you have a child with dyslexia, or other reading issues, you may not be able to give them the time they need, and they will then struggle and perhaps  not learn.  Also, I want to also point out, that I had a child who struggled with reading, and once we followed the methods from AVKO, my son was able to make progress in reading that he had not been able to make prior.

Is AVKO the answer to every reading problem a child might have? Probably not. Though I do believe that AVKO will be a piece of the puzzle!

When you purchase a membership to AVKO you gain access to their members only site. As well as receive a discount on purchases you make through the site.

  Even if you are not using Sequential Spelling, and even if you do not have a child with learning disabilities, you will benefit from all that is offered to members. Using these resources you will be able to put together your own spelling program using the methods that was used to design the Sequential Spelling Program.

Also, you recieve  an e-book version of To Teach a Dyslexic ( a $14.95 value). If you do have a child that you are unsure how to reach, I highly recommend you read this book.

The Teaching of Reading and Spelling from K- College....$59.95 value

The Reading Teacher's List of Over 5,500 Basic Spelling Words.....$29.95 value

The Patterns of English Spelling... $359 value
( this is an awesome resource and something that it referred to throughout Sequential Spelling. It is not necessary to do the curriculum, though it would be a great supplement) Also, would benefit you with spellng in general.

That is just a few of the ebooks. Now in addition he has workshop recordings, teaching tips, pre tests and placements tests and much more!

Purchasing a one year membership  will help you in the realm of reading and spelling with your kids, even if your child does not have a learning disability. If you suspect dyslexia or a different disability it just might be the answer. As it was for us.

Also, if you never purchase Sequential Spelling, you would benefit from the materials.

Please visit the crew blog to see what my crew mates have to say about AVKO!!!

Saturday, November 7, 2009

America's Heritage An Adventure in Liberty

"If a nation expects to be ignorant and free in a state of civilization,
it expects what never was and never will be"
Thomas Jefferson

This review for the TOS Crew is right up my alley, not only was it FREE to me! It would be FREE for you! Now you can't beat that price point.

For many years now, I have heard people talk about how they cannot possibly homeschool because they cannot afford it. They cannot afford to purchase curriculum, etc.. Then they often think if they did find themselves homeschooling the only opportunity for them would be through a public charter program.

I would like to encourage all families, before you sign up with a charter school, check out what is available to you, for free or low cost! And here in this review you will learn about a product you can use for FREE!!

We were shipped a CD from The American Heritage Education Foundation, Inc.  On the CD you will find American History texts, in the form of ebooks. There are 4 textbooks on the CD. Elementary, Middle and High School, as well as, an Elementary School Spanish Edition (ESL).

What is The American Heritage Education Foundation? Here is their mission;

AHEF is a non-profit, non-partisan educational foundation dedicated to the understanding and teaching of America's factual and philosophical heritage to promote constructive citizenship and Freedom, Unity, Progress, and Responsibility among our students and citizens.

AHEF accomplishes this patriotic mission by writing, producing, and distributing FREE K-12 lesson plans to teachers, students, and families in all 50 states and through additional initiatives, programs, and partnerships.

I have printed out all three textbooks, as I have all three levels of students in my house. I wanted to compare them side by side.
Each textbook is is approx. 185 pages long.

The elementary level really covers between 1776- 1895. The Middle School level covers between 1776-1892. And the High School Level covers 1622-1988. This curriculum correlates with NCSS and Core Knowledge Standards.

From the get go, I would say that this program is not for current events, (as  you can see from the years it covers) it is indeed to teach your student/s about our American Heritage. Which I do feel is lacking in so many classrooms.

The textbooks are broken up in units, and each unit covers one or more of the themes; Freedom, Unity, Progress and Responsibility. At the end of each unit, there are activities given that will help to reinforce what was learned in that unit. They are age appropriate for the grade levels, which is a plus. One thing to be mindful of, is that this was a curriculum that was designed for classroom use. However, with some adaptation you could easily use this in your homeschool.

Many times when you find a free resource online, the resource is  not complete, or it is simply a cursory look on a subject, that is not the case with this CD from The American Heritage Foundation. While we did not have the time to complete the curriculum, it does appear that it is a complete study on our American Heritage. And it is something that we will be using in our homeschool. I believe it would be a welcome addition to any homeschool! 

Please visit The American Heritage Foundation and request your free copy today!!! No Strings Attached!!!!!                  

Take a moment to check out the crew blog to see what my crew mates have to say about this resource!

** I was sent a free copy of  America's Heritage: An Adventure in Liberty for the express purpose to use the product and give my honest opinion. All opinions contained in this review are my own, and are indeed, my honest opinions.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

ACT Discover Online Career Planning Program

As a member of the TOS Homeschool Crew, I recieved a free 30 day subscription to the ACT, Discover Online Career Planning Program in order to review.

This program essentially plays the role of the high school guidance counselor. Just as a guidance counselor, the Discover program guides students down a career path, something that can seem like a difficult task for a parent who perhaps has not gone to college, or if this is your first high school student, where do you begin?

Here is how ACT describes their program;

ACT Advantage offers DISCOVER—the career planning system developed for professional career counselors and used by millions of students to develop a comprehensive career path.

"DISCOVER is jam packed with career tips and uses a proven developmental guidance process to help students:

  • Assess interests, abilities and job values.

  • Explore occupations, majors and schools.

  • Build an education plan that relates to career plans.

  • Improve job-seeking skills and develop a resume.

The DISCOVER career planning process begins with a research-based assessment system that allows students to assess their interests, abilities and values—a critical step to building a career plan based on personal strengths.

Students can then explore multiple career paths using DISCOVER's up-to-date databases of occupations (including military), majors and colleges. DISCOVER also includes the latest information about financial aid and scholarships.

Price: $19.95 for a three-month license, $24.95 for a six-month license."


All of this sounds fabulous, however, I was a bit turned off by the program before I even had my son try it out. As I have done with my others review, I tried the program out before even introducing it to my son. I want to have a working knowledge of the product, as well!


So, I signed into the program and began to take the inventories they offer, in order to "Discover" what career path would be a good fit. However, as I took the inventories, following the directions they gave, I found that the career choices they gave me, were not anything close to what I would actually enjoy.

I was given things like refuse collector, paper hanger, plumber, butcher, among many other crazy things that do not fit what I would see as my ideal line of work!

I continued through all of the inventories, and was not pleased with the outcome all the way through. I felt that the reports at the end of the inventories were not helpful whatsoever. They were long lists of jobs, that seem to be disconnected.  If my high schoolers had this result it would not give them guidance, it would cause more confusion.


We have been able to look at their interests and their talents on our own, and come up with a career path that is much more suitable then what was 'discovered' through the 'Discover' program.


The one thing that I did like about the program was the resume section, which gave a tutorial and examples of how to write a resume.
 If you do not have any idea on how to guide your child, or what direction they might want to go in, then this may be a helpful tool. 

Please visit their website to see if it would be a fit for your family.

And please visit the crew blog for varying points of view!

Monday, November 2, 2009

ABC Teach

When I first heard that we were going to be reviewing ABC Teach, I really was not sure if this would be an item that is relevant to our homeschool. After all, I thought of ABC Teach as a site with free worksheets for the early elementary ages. I actually had not been on the site for years.

I must admit I was pleasantly surprised. First it was nice to see that a lot has been added to the free side of the site. As part of the crew, we were given a free one month membership, in order to review as part of The Homeschool Crew.

As I started to work through the members site.  I was struggling to see how I was going to use this for my kids. While there is a lot available, we are really do not use the worksheet/textbook learning style. And then I found it, the one thing I was avoiding, it was a little thing called ABCTools. With ABCTools you can create custom worksheets. And that is the tool that I needed, the one that I was looking for...

I created worksheets to go with our Spelling Program. I created Crossword Puzzles and Word Finds, to help reinforce the words they have been learning.
However, that is not all that is available. There are custom math worksheets, bingo, soduko, handwriting sheets and so much more!!!

I have decided to purchase a one year subscription for ABC Teach. If the only thing I utilize from the website was the spelling worksheets, it would be well worth every penny spent! However, knowing that I will have access to all the many more worksheets (over 35,000 worksheets in the members area) and the custom worksheet generator (ABCTools), it was an easy choice!

Please take some time to visit ABCTeach and see if it will be a good fit for your family.

Here is the current pricing:

$40 per user per year / $70 two years — individuals/groups 2-9

$35 per user per year — groups of 10-29

$25 per user per year — groups of 30 or more. **SUPER SITE LICENSE pricing available for groups of 100 or more. Contact for details.


Don't forget to visit the Crew Blog to see what my Crew Mates have to say about ABC Teach!!!

Friday, October 30, 2009

The Old Schoolhouse Magazine $7.95 and 10 FREE gifts!!!

For many years now I have loved The Old Schoolhouse Magazine! And it is NOT because I am a part of the TOS Crew!!!  TOS has blessed my family, myself and my homeschool for many years now. Long before the crew was a glimmer in their eyes! If you have toyed with the thought of subscribing, now really is a great time! Times are tough for so many, especially families living on one income! I usually have paid $39 for 2 years. Right now their special is $7.95 for 1 year, plus 10 free gifts. Please see the ad below to see how to redeem this offer!!!

Happy Homeschooling!!!

We are a magazine with a heart for homeschooling.

Through the years, The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine has reached thousands of homeschooling families like yours around the world--each with different homeschooling styles and needs, but the same goal of providing the best education possible for your children.

Each family is unique and TOS Magazine provides a variety of content from experts and homeschooing families just like yours. They share their triumphs and trials, ideas and resources.

Now, you can enjoy a one-year subscription for only $7.95!

The Real Deal--Get at least $100 worth of gifts for FREE! are tight economic times. Many homeschooling families are sacrificing extra income to provide an education for their children.

At TOS Magazine we support and stand with you, in your convictions and in this economy. That is why we are delivering big savings on subscriptions and at least $100 worth of free gifts!

Subscribe or renew for one year (U.S., print) and pay only $7.95. PLUS, receive 10 FREE gifts--while supplies last!

There are 19 gifts from which to choose and you won't even have to pay shipping--that's free too.

Here is a sampling of the available gifts--while supplies last:

Hurry! The 10 gifts are gone at midnight on October 30!

How do you get the 68% savings and 10 free gifts of your choice?

It is so easy to get all of these goodies!

Here's what you need to do

  1. Place the one-year, print (U.S.) subscription in your cart. Or you can purchase a one-year subscription plus current issue (U.S.) for only $5.00 more. Or purchase a gift sub for friends!

  2. Enter coupon code 10GIFTS at checkout.

  3. Complete the checkout process.

  4. We will email you a gift selection form after your purchase.

  5. Complete and return this form via email.

  6. We'll U.S. mail you 10 gift cards which can be redeemed for the gifts via U.S. mail, though several companies will allow you to redeem online or by phone. All of the companies will pay the shipping to get the product to you--no strings attached.

For our returning customers, you'll enjoy a FREE bonus gift.

With your renewal, you'll receive a FREE copy of Dreams and Designs--Homemade Supplies to Complement Your Homeschool! This bonus E-Book is in addition to the 10 FREE gifts! Renew now!

You'll receive one year of The Old Schoolhouse®
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With a spark of low-cost creativity and a few simple instructions . . . you'll be amazed! Design fun, easy-to-make learning aids and imaginative organizing tools using household items--and dream of your best homeschool year yet!

Read more about the Dreams and Designs: Homemade Supplies to Complement Your Homeschool E-Book.This $12.45 value is yours FREE, when you renew your Canadian or international subscription.

Do you know someone with whom you would like to share this fantastic deal?

Our Winter 2009 issue is absolutely packed with
articles on support groups, preschoolers, and
tips and tricks for teaching writing!

Winter is a wonderful time to get cozy and catch up on YOUR homeschool reading.
You'll find all the support and information you need to get re-energized for the upcoming new year inside each issue of The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine.

Just take a look at what's inside the crisp, cool cover of the
Winter 2009 issue:

  • Speech & Debate by Chris Jeub

  • The Fast Track to Memorization by Carol Barnier

  • Conflict in a Homeschool Group by Carol Topp

  • World War I: The War to End All Wars, a Unit Study by Jennifer Steward

  • The Spiritual Instruction of Preschoolers by Mike and Carolyn Riggs

  • Leadership Education for Followers: "Freedomship Education" Defined by Andrea Newitt

  • Top 10 Tips for Teaching Writing by Fran Santoro Hamilton

  • Support Groups: Cultivating a Garden of Friendship by Cheryl A. Bastian

  • Three Keys to Teaching Writing by Danielle Olander

  • The Three Flavors of Speech Communication by JoJo Tabares

  • The Princess or the Pack Mule by Denise Mira

  • Preschool: Start at the Very Beginning by Kendra Fletcher

  • Helping the Reluctant Writer by Lee Roddy

  • Homeschooling: Growing and Thriving in the 21st Century by Amelia Harper

  • Mix It Up . . . From Scratch! by Lisa Barthuly

  • When "No" Is Beautiful--And When God Changes It by Melissa Culver

  • Contemporary Classical Education: It Really Can Work for You! by Andrea Newitt

  • Magnetic Books by Jan Bloom

  • Ten Writing Tips by Ruth Beechick

  • Seven Gifts to Give Yourself by Molly Green

"Every issue is just like attending a homeschool conference--motivation galore! I receive many homeschool magazines, etc., but yours really stands heads above the rest."
--Katrina V.
Spring 2007

". . . The pages of TOS overflow with ideas and thoughts that make me feel right at home . . . I've always been annoyed by magazines that are full of advertising, but with TOS, I find resources that make sense for real life . . . You have helped me to have the best year of homeschool I've had yet!"
Spring 2007

Why should you subscribe or renew NOW?

  • The 10 FREE gifts are gone at  midnight on October 30!

  • These low prices won't be around forever!

  • You don't want to miss having our Winter 2009 issue delivered right to your mailbox.

  • You'll receive a FREE copy of Dreams and Designs with your renewal!

  • The Winter issue and your next 3 issues will be right there to provide you with information, ideas, advice, and encouragement for the coming year!


 Hurry! Friday, October 30, the
 10 FREE gifts 
are gone!
Remember, use coupon code 10GIFTS to get the special price and 10 gifts.

Share this offer with a friend!