Friday, March 20, 2009

The TOS Homeschool Crew's 2nd Voyage is about to Set Sail

Our Second Voyage is About to Embark!

The TOS Homeschool Crew is ready
to set sail on its 2nd adventure!

Would you like to join us?

Last summer, TOS launched what would become one of our most exciting adventures to date--the Homeschool Crew. The Crew set sail for a year of fun and hard work, reviewing products from fifty different homeschool vendors. If you haven't seen our blog, check it out now--it's like a "convention in a blog", with information about many homeschool products (including websites, pictures, and plenty of reviews)!

Maybe you've heard about the Crew and wondered how you could become a part of it. Would you like to become a part of our exclusive group of reviewers--sharing your opinion on hot homeschool products via your blog, online support group, or homeschool newsletter? Do you have what it takes to be selected as the "cream of the crop" for this year? If you answered "yes" to any of these questions, then this e-mail is for you!

The Homeschool Crew = Focus Group

The Internet is busy with homeschoolers talking, sharing, and networking. It is natural to recommend our favorite homeschool resources, products, books, and more. We love to share!

The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine, LLC, is embarking on our second exclusive "whisper campaign" with up to seventy-five ofour magazine advertisers. You can help us start out as a whisper and end in a roar, known as "viral marketing." Are you game to be part of it? defines viral marketing as: The effective way of advertising or producing brand exposure through social networks. The technique spreads throughout the network rapidly by word of mouth or by Internet resources like e-mail, blogs, or other services. Like a virus, it replicates and spreads quickly.

I want to join--how do I sign up?

TOS is looking for 100 blogging, emailing, cyber talking, home educating parents for this exclusive group and will begin the screening process for the top 100 very soon.

We are inviting 75 of our best advertisers to take part in this special viral marketing program. These exclusive advertisers are going to send you a selection of their hottest products to try.

Your job as a Crew member is to thoroughly use the products in your homeschool. Then, blog about them, email, tell your online groups, and get the information out, helping us go viral. Not only do you get to use the product but it is a free gift, for being part of the focus group!

If you are a support group leader, then you should send out information about some of the focus group items to your support groups. Additionally, support group leaders are asked to take some of these exclusive products with them to physical meetings, and do a "Show and Tell," sharing their experiences with the items they are reviewing with their groups. The more you write, blog, and share about the items, the more fun you have, and the more viral this campaign goes!

It all works quite simply . . .

The accepted vendors will ship the select products you are to review directly to you. Naturally, they will send you catalogs and brochures. If this viral marketing campaign is to work, they need you to become intimately familiar with the items they send you. Use them. Think of yourself as a lab worker--thoroughly testing, studying, and then writing about your findings.

Is this the same as a TOS Reviewer? No. You will be a special independent reviewer exclusively for the Homeschool Crew. TOS will put you in touch with these companies. You will provide the homeschool community with an independent review and analysis of the products you use!

Do you get paid? No. You are, just like a regular reviewer, simply agreeing to test products and write about them on your blogs, within your newsletters, and through emails to homeschooling friends. You recommend your favorite books and restaurants; now you can recommend wonderful products specifically for the homeschool community!

You should also verbally/physically share your thoughts about these products with friends at park days, at your support meetings, whether you are a leader or not, and just in any other day-to-day contact with homeschool friends. Because you'll have company contact information such as website addresses, toll free numbers, etc.--due to all the support materials sent to you by the companies--you should include this information in your reviews and emails so that others visiting your blogs or lists can go check out the products for themselves.

Our goal is to get as much information out about each product reviewed as we can, and into the hands of as many homeschoolers as we can. This is the viral part!

I'm ready! Where do I sign up?

In order to be considered for a spot on the Homeschool Crew, you will be required to download some of our products and write a review of them. If you are a blogger, you can simply send us a link to your blog post(s) containing your reviews.

In order to download your free items for review, please follow the instructions below:

The first item for you to review is our newest E-Book, HomeWork. To receive your copy, go to this link and follow the instructions below:
1. Click the "Add this to my cart" button.
2. Log in to your account (or create one, if you haven't already).
3. At check out, select the Paypal® option. To select this you click on a little circle to the right of the word Paypal®.
4. Enter the code FREEHOMEWORK (all caps) in the "Redemption Code" space.
5. Then, click the CONTINUE button. At this point, the order total should be zero.
6. Click CONTINUE again.
7. You will see the free download link.
8. Click the link to proceed with the download of HomeWork.
The second item we would like for you to review is our newest E-Book line--WeE-books. Currently, we have 30 WeE-books available for download. We would appreciate it if you would review our WeE-book line, in general, by downloading 3 WeE-books of your choice. You may see the entire line here.

Select the three you would like to receive, then follow these instructions:
1. Add each individual WeE-book (up to 3) by clicking the "Add this to my cart" button on each page.
2. At check out, select the Paypal® option. To select this you click on a little circle to the right of the word Paypal®.
3. Enter the codes: FREEWEEBOOK1, FREEWEEBOOK2, and FREEWEEBOOK3 (all caps) in the "Redemption Code space.
4. Then, click the CONTINUE button. At this point, the order total should be zero.
5. Click CONTINUE again.
6. You will see the free download link.
7. Click the link to proceed with your one-year FREE subscription.
Again, we ask that you review both the HomeWork E-Book and WeE-book line. When your reviews are complete, please send a link to your post to If your review is not a blog post, please include the text of your review, let us know where you shared it, and with approximately how many people.
Also, we ask that you complete the demographic form below as follows. Cut and paste all the information that appears below the dotted line into the email you send to Heidi upon completion of your reviews. Insert your answers under the questions, and then initial under each of the four conditions. Again, both reviews and the completed form must be emailed to Heidi by April 30th.
Enjoy your free downloads . . . and we're looking forward to reading some really great reviews!


TOS Focus Group Demographic Form

Full name:

Email Address:

How many children do you homeschool?
Please share their grade levels and genders.

What is your preferred method of homeschooling? (textbook, eclectic, unschooling, etc.)

Where do you plan to spread the word about the products you'll be reviewing? If you plan to share on your blog or website, please include the web url. If you are posting to an online group, or mailing list, please include the name of the group, and the approximate number of members.

Approximately how many people will see your reviews?

Please read each paragraph below. If you understand and agree with each statement, please add your initials after each paragraph.
If you are among the 100 participants selected, your name, address, email address, phone number and other contact information will be shared with the participating vendors so that they can send products to you.The vendors may want to email you, or talk to you by phone about their products--and there may be up to 75 of them. There may be less, but there will not be more than 75. We anticipate that the project will last about one year.
1. If you are among the 100 participants selected, your name, address, email address, phone number, and other contact information will be shared with the participating vendors so that they can send products to you.
2. The vendors may want to email you or talk to you by phone about their products--and there may be up to 75 of them. There may be less, but there will not be more than 75. We anticipate that the project will last about one year.
3. Several of the products you will be asked to review may be E-Books or other downloadable products or website services. There will be some physical products, but at this point we cannot guarantee the mix of products that any individual participant will receive.
4. TOS reserves the right to use all or part of what you write about any product in our print magazine, or in other TOS venues or marketing materials. We will always credit you by name, and where possible include your blog address. Please note that this applies to anyone doing a review, not only the final 100 participants.
5. The Homeschool Crew is a subsidiary of The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine LLC, and is not to be duplicated in any way, shape, or form.

God bless all of you,

Paul and Gena Suarez

Thursday, March 19, 2009

CHEA - Homeschool Convention Long Beach, CA July 9-11, 2009

In Uncertain Times Homeschooling Convention Can Bring You Closer to a Biblical Worldview

   In these uncertain times it is more important than ever that we have strong families that in part come from a strong homeschool experience based on an accurate biblical worldview.  Come to the XXVI Annual Christian Homes Educators Convention July 9- 11 at the ong Beach Convention Center and be challenged in your thinking and encouraged in your heart.

   Keynote and featured speakers include Voddie Bacuhman, Jr, pastor and naotionally - known speak and advocate of private Christian home education; Stan John, a vice president of Focus on the Family presenting The Truth Project training; Todd Wilson, homeschool father and author with a great sense of humor; and Dr. Scott Turansky and Joanne Miller, founders of the National Center for Biblical Parenting.

   Special events this year include free one-day admission for preschooling parents who have never attended a CHEA Convention, an Art & Science Fair for children and teens ("The Great Outdoors"), a free and open-to-the-public showing of DVD Exposing a Trojan Horse in which Voddia Baucham plays  a major role, and Focus on the Family's The Truth Project training.

  Again CHEA will offer an Introduction to Home Education session, free and open to the public. Invite your inquiring friends and family. Also, there will be a free pastor's information session. Please send us your pastor's business card ( or name, address, and phone number, and email address) so an invitation can be sent.

  In addition, the Annual Convention will offer more than 60 inspiring workshops, an encouraging leadership conference, a two-day teen convention, a two-day children's convention, a two-day children's convention, and approximately 220 exhibitor booths for all of your shopping requirements.

  Brochures and online pre-registration are expected in April. The pre-registration deadline is June 12.  Please visit our website for details, policies, and limitationos for some of the programs.

P.O. Box 2009 Norwalk, Ca 90651-2009 1-562-864-2432 FAX 1-562-864-3747  Email:  Website:


Purple Day


A little bit about Purple Day...

Founded in 2008, by nine-year-old Cassidy Megan of Nova Scotia, Canada, Purple Day is an international grassroots effort dedicated to increasing awareness about epilepsy worldwide. On March 26, people from around the globe are asked to wear purple and spread the word about epilepsy.

Why? Epilepsy affects over 50 million people worldwide. That's more than multiple sclerosis, cerebral palsy, muscular dystrophy and Parkinson's disease combined.

Why purple? Lavender is the international colour for epilepsy.

Getting involved is easy. Wear purple and encourage others to do the same. Host a Purple Day party or fundraising event at your home, school or business. And most importantly, get real facts about epilepsy by browsing this site and those of our partners.

Cassidy's Story

Hi, my name is Cassidy Megan. I’m nine years old and I have epilepsy. I started Purple Day because I wanted to tell everyone about epilepsy, especially that all seizures are not the same and that people with epilepsy are ordinary people just like everyone else. I also wanted kids with epilepsy to know that they are not alone.

Before I started Purple Day, I was afraid to tell people about my epilepsy because I thought they would make fun of me. After the Epilepsy Association of Nova Scotia did a presentation in my class, I started to talk with the other kids about my seizures. That is when I decided to become a spokesperson for kids with epilepsy.

When I’m not in school or working on Purple Day, I like to act. I have been in a couple of commercials and was the lead in a movie featured in the Atlantic Film Festival. I also like to play outdoors with my friends, take care of my four pets, go to Girl Guides and cheerlead. My favourite thing to do is spend time with my family.

Now that you know a little about me, I’d love to learn more about you. Join the Purple Day Forums and tell us about yourself! And remember - wear purple on March 26 to support epilepsy awareness! Read more..

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Homeschool in the Woods- New Testament Lap Book


Have you ever lapbooked? You know, after  much reading, I believe that I am what you would classify as a visionary. I have GRAND ideas, yet, I fall short in the follow through section. Don't get me wrong. We get lot's done, just not my "grand" ideas. 

When it comes to lapbooks, my "grand" idea was  that I  could create a lapbook project myself!  I have always wondered  why someone would want to purchase a premade package. After all, with all these "brilliant" ideas floating around in my head, surely I can create something comparable. Boy was I wrong!!!!

Homeschool in the Woods, I must tell you, has put such a high quality product  together, that I would be crazy to even attempt to "match" it. I would fall short! I wouldn't even be in the same league! The research has been done for you, the illustrations are beautiful! What a blessing!  Even if you are a creative mom, this product is so well done, that you would not be settling by purchasing premade, you would be doing you and your chidlren a huge favor!

We have not yet finished our lapbook, however, we are enjoying the process immensely.  What has been a huge blessing is the step by step instructions, with color photos included! Which are wonderful for me, a visual learner!

All of my children have enjoyed working on this project. Their ages range from 9-16 and include some special needs learners, and we have had an awesome time. It has sparked many conversations, and looking up verses in our bible. While Amy includes verse for the lap book, we used this pak as a spring board.

If you have ever considered a lap book, and have been unsure on where to start, I would say Homeschool in the Woods is the place for you!

You can purchase the downloadable version for $18.95 and the cd version for a mere $1 more. You will find timelines and time line figures among other resources, I would highly recommend checking them all out as you plan next years curriculum!


Thursday, March 12, 2009

One 2 Believe Noah's Ark

The people at One 2 Believe have done it again! They have sent us a fabulous product to review. You know what the crazy thing is? The crazy thing, is that I know these products are geared for the younger set. But, guess what, my 9 year old has simply fallen in LOVE with these products.

It was like Christmas Day all over again.. the day the delivery man brought us our big box. The children gathered around to see what was inside.  Once I opened the box to reveal the adorable Noah's Ark, there were squeals of delight! We then spent the next  half an hour, taking out and setting up the Noah's Ark, in fact, she took out the Nativity Scene we had received months ago and set up all of those figures right along side the Noah's Ark figures.

We now keep both of these products in our bin, with our bible story felt boards, and we pull them out and play with them all the time. Can I tell you a secret? Even my teenagers have been know to get down on the floor and play with these with their little sister.

So, if the older children get a kick out of these high quality products, how much more would the wee ones in your life adore them?  And I must say, there is nothing like having hands on tools, I mean toys.... to reinforce God's Word in the heart of our children.

Please visit and check out their complete line of products.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009


Well, I must admit that I was not sure if I am the right person to review this product. You see the curriculum we have been using for Spelling, is not the typical type of Spelling Curriculum. Our children take daily spelling tests. Tests that I do not have them study for. And then they correct themselves.


However, what I have found, that even though we do not use the typical method for spelling, this program is a perfect fit. You see, I have 5 children. And we do our spelling program together. However, I have one son, that has many special needs and he moves at a much slower pace than the rest of the children.

Now, here is where we come to Spellquizzer. What exactly is Spellquizzer? Spellquizzer is a software program that you load onto your computer. With this program you can either add spelling words manually or you can import premade spelling lists.

Once you have your list loaded, you can record yourself saying the word. For us, the way our program is set up, you say the word, use it in a sentence and say the word again. You would do this for the entire list.

Typically your child would use this to study for their weekly spelling tests. However, we used this program for our special needs learner. He was able to sit down and take his test, and not worry about his siblings. Also, he struggles with writing, and this way, when he hears the word, he types it in.
When the word is incorrect it shows him the correct spelling and then moves onto the next word. Exactly what we do in our regular spelling class.

This program has helped my son feel independent in ways that he has been unable to do previously.

Now, while I did not use this program as it was designed, I see the benefit to this program. Especially if you have more than one child needing help with spelling words. This frees you up, and teaches them to study independently. Yes, there is some work involved in getting it set up, however, I found that it was not difficult, and the benefits far out weigh the time it takes to set it up.

Now let's get down to the brass tacks of it all... you can go to and sign up for a free one month trial. Also, they have video demos available for you to check out, to help teach you how to use the program.  If you find that it is a good fit, then the price is a one time fee of $29.95.  Which I think is a great price for something that you will be able to continue to use for one are more of your students.

Please visit and try out this unique product.


Sunday, March 8, 2009

Math Mammoth

 I had decided what math curriculum I was going to use with the children this year. And then I heard that we would be reviewing Math Mammoth. Now, I have heard of Math Mammoth over the years, however, I had never tried it.

So when I emailed with Maria Miller from Math Mammoth, she decided that she would send me the 6th grade "Golden Series" and Grades 2 and 3 "Light Blue Series.

I am using the grade 6 Golden Series with my son, who is using a grade six curriculum.  The Golden series is not a typical math text, they are support worksheets. They were designed in concert with the  Virginia State Standards. And as standards vary and will change over the years, it may not exactly match what your state's standards are. However, this is a really good set of worksheets to help your child understand math. It has been very helpful to have these worksheets at my finger tips for my son.  I usually am hunting the internet trying to find a worksheet generator of sorts, to fill that need. However, Maria Miller has compiled worksheets that are a cut above the rest. Not your average worksheet!


Now, onto the Light Blue Series. These sets of books, can be a stand alone. They are not like the Golden Series, these are designed to teach your child. I have really liked the layout of these pages. And the wording is something my children have responded to. I have special needs kids using these sheets. So my students are not of average age. They are older students using the younger text. What is nice about these pages, is they are not full of cartoon characters, and baby type illustrations, that make it very distracting and humiliating for a struggling learner. My children have been able to use these pages and feel as they are doing the same work as their peers. For this, I am eternally grateful.

Please go to... and check out Math Mammoth. And while you are there, you can sign up for a "tour" of Math Mammoth. As well as, joining her email newsletter. When you do so, you will have access to 280 worksheets. I promise you will not be sorry for taking the time to check them out.

Once again, thank you Maria Miller, for helping my struggling students study math with dignity!


Artistic Pursuits

As part of the TOS homeschool crew we were sent one copy of Artistic Pursuits Art curriculum. Never heard of Artistic Pursuits? Neither had I. Artistic Pursuits was written by Brenda Ellis, a homeschool mom herself!  So, you better believe that she has taken into account not only the need of the student, but also the needs of the homeschool parent/teacher. She has created curriculum for students from Preschool through High School. So, no matter what age your student there is a curriculum available.

I was sent their curriculum for Grades 4-6 Book One, The Elements of Art and Composition. This book is a spiral bound soft back book. I will tell you one of things that first caught my eye was the fact that the supply list was short... and simple.... Here is an idea, these are the supplies needed for Units 1 through 7:

 2 Ebony Pencils, 1 metal pencil sharpener, 1 vinyl eraser, 1 sketch pad for drawing.

Wow, I like that. I even have all of those things in my house ALREADY!!! Through out the year, there are some additional supplies needed, however, rest assured, they still are simple and just a few.

In the "Getting Started" section Mrs. Ellis takes time to address both the parents and the student. In the parents section, explains how to use the curriculum to be used in One Full School Year. However, you also have the ability to use it as it fits your family. I, also,  really liked how she spoke to the students. The information was easy to understand, yet not dumbed down for them.

Now here is the best part of the curriculum, it is written to the student. It is written so the student can complete their work without the parent directing every assignment. They can sit down read the section and follow the instructions. While I was involved with what the kids were doing, they wanted me to see all that they have accomplished, versus me setting out the assignment. We both really enjoyed that!

Some of the things that will be covered in Book One are; Space, Line and Shape, Texture, Value, Form, Form using Value, Local Value, Contrast, The Shapes of Natural Forms, Edges and much, much more. As you can see from this list, Mrs. Ellis breaks down each area into small enough chunks for the student take that information, and really learn it.

If you have been searching for an art curriculum, please visit Artistic Pursuits and check out their sample pages and see if it is right for you and your family.

Happy Artistry!

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Beyond Five in a Row Volume II


I am so thankful for the opportunity that I have had to review curriculum this year as a member of the Homeschool Crew. I have been introduced to curriculum that I have never heard of before, some old favorites and in this case, I was able to review something that I have heard about for years and years, yet, have never actually had my hands on a copy. I am referring to Five in a Row .  I received Beyond Five in a Row, Vol II. Geared for ages 8-12.

I am going to tell you that I really like what I see with this curriculum. Beyond Five in a Row, is a literature based unit study. When you work through this unit you will study History and Geography, Language Arts, Science, the Fine Arts and Human Relationships. You will need to supplement with Arithmetic along with Spelling, Penmanship and Grammar. Ok those are the nuts and bolts. However, I want to tell you what I read in this volume that pulled me in and connected me to this curriculum. 

"Remember that our goal as educators is not to cram facts into children's brains long enough to successfully complete a test on Friday.  Our goal is to help children fall in love with learning, to discover the joy of reading, to learn how to find answers and use research tools, to learn to think critically and to assimilate knowledge in a way that is both relevant and memorable. "

This in essence has been my goal of homeschooling since beginning our journey.  When I read this, I knew that this curriculum has the same goal for my children when it comes to academics as I do. 

Let's look at the books that are covered in Vol II.

Sarah, Plain and Tall by, Patricia Maclachlan

The Story of George Washington Carver, by Eva Moore

Skylark, by Patricia Maclachlan

Helen Keller, by Margaret Davidson

Each volume is designed to take one semester to complete. The readers are not included, however, everything else you need to complete the study is in  your Volume. As we worked through Sarah, Plain and Tall I was very pleased with the activities they have come up with.  They were insightful and original. Over the years, I have seen programs that are literature based unit studies, and when I would look through them, I often felt, I could think of those question or activities on my own. I don't need a curriculum for that. However, with Beyond Five in a Row, I believe the integrity of the activites they have come up with are true to that quote that touched my heart. I can see how each of those activities are going to instill a love of learning and teach them how to gather information, think critically and assimilate information.

I had thought Five in a Row was only for very small children. I am pleased to see Beyond Five in a Row for 8 - 12 year olds , as well as, Above and Beyond Five in a Row, for 12 years and up. So no matter if you are just starting out homeshcooling your wee one, or in you in the middle of your journey, your family will benefit from this really neat curriculum.

Please visit Five in a Row to see their price list and package options. They had digital resources to supplement your program. There are message boards so you can talk with other Five in a Row users!

As an added note, this program is written by a homeschool family. Started with Jane Lambert, homeschool mom. And Beyond Five in a Row was written by their daughter, Becky Jane Lambert.  Who knows more about what homeschoolers need, than homeschoolers!!