Creating Art with Kids {Homeschool Review Crew}

Creating Art with Kids

Homeschool Review Crew

As a mom of 10 kids age 12 down to under a year I have a hard time getting crafts and art into our homeschool day.  After all, creating art with kids is messy and takes forever.  Or at least that’s what I used to think.  Join us in learning about Creating a Masterpiece online art lessons that we’ve been reviewing thanks to the Homeschool Review Crew.  We received the Monthly Plan which gives us access to all the levels and all the lessons.


Creating a Masterpiece

Working on creating art with kids has been my goal for the past month.  I personally have not done so well.  I’m not artistic at all.  Really.  Truthfully.  So when people talk about how some of my kids don’t draw at grade level I shrug it off because I certainly don’t either!  Stick people.  I can do stick people!!


Right now we’re still working through all the lessons involving oil pastels.  I wanted to work on one type of drawing at a time so that it was easier to manage the art supplies.  I love the oil pastels that I got off Amazon.  It’s a HUGE classroom size box and really perfect for my needs as a homeschool mama.  Oh and guys that’s not an affiliate.  I can’t do affiliates with Amazon due to the state I live in so you’re just getting a tip of advice there.  :)  


Creating Art with Kids


When I knew we were going to be incorporating more creating art with kids in our homeschool through this review I also knew we’d need paper.  Again Amazon to the rescue!  I bought this ream of drawing paper and we’ve definitely been using a lot of it.  I know there are actual art stores out there, but when you live out in the middle of nowhere Amazon Prime is your friend(or is that just me?)!

Our Thoughts

My kids have LOVED using this art curriculum.  I’ve tried a few of the lessons as well and it really is easy to understand and do.  However, I have no artistic talent so I’m not sharing my masterpieces here.  

As the oldest child keeps telling me, “Mom art is communicating just different than writing.”.  And she’s right of course.  Kids who can’t express themselves always through writing can do so in words.  Those who have no artistic talent for drawing(like me) are creative in other outlets.  I love to knit and crochet and sew, etc.  I do have to say that this program is amazing and I’ve even impressed myself with the fact that I did a nice picture.


Creating Art with Kids


My fridge is always full now of gorgeous art pieces and my computer is almost always going with some art lesson or another.  Different kids have lists of which projects they’d like to do next so I have a nice list of all the other art supplies I need to be purchasing.

About the Curriculum

Creating a Masterpiece is online through video instruction.  The goal of the creator, Sharon Hofer, was to guide students in creating excellent artwork on par with kids who were in a fine art school that they would be proud and willing to display.  This program contains step by step instruction to create high quality artwork in the comfort of your own home at your own pace.

There are 15 different types of art or media to choose from.  They include:

  • acrylic painting
  • soft pastels
  • oil pastels(our main focus)
  • sculpture
  • watercolor(our secondary focus)
  • block printing
  • ink
  • silk dying
  • pencil
  • bombay ink
  • colored pencil
  • charcoal
  • glass mosaic
  • gouache
  • balsa carving

With this many areas to choose from there is bound to be something that will interest them.


creating art with kids


Within the art program there are also levels from Beginner, Level 1-5.  There are so many art projects as well.  You’re not going to get bored creating art with kids with this program!

Learn More

If you’d like to learn more about creating art with kids and Creating a Masterpiece please go to the Main Blog Post over on the homeschool review crew blog.  All the crew review posts will be linked up.  Since we all had free reign over what we decided to create you’re going to see a great variety!  Enjoy! 


Creating a Masterpiece

You can also find more about Creating a Masterpiece and their monthly plan subscription by checking them out on facebook as well as their website.



Homeschool Crew Review Disclaimer

Elementary German {Homeschool Review Crew}

Elementary German

Homeschool Review Crew

One of the many many languages I have always wanted to learn is German.  I want my kids to learn several languages as well.  Recently through the Homeschool Review Crew we got access to an elementary German course from Middlebury Interactive Languages.  Their German Courses are available for grades 3-12.  We received online access to their Elementary German program for grades 3-5.  


Spanish, French, German or Chinese {Middlebury Interactive Languages}

While this course is for Grades 3-5, I find that my younger children can also learn from it.  We love to listen and practice this together as a family during our homeschool mornings.  Even my three year old is picking up short phrases and words.  It’s so fun to see the kids interacting and using German words during our days!

The program itself is fun and engaging.  It uses fun stories and videos to teach language.  It’s a bit of immersion since they tell a story fully in German to start the lessons.  But the stories are ones that everyone will know so you can get the gist and make your own inference as to what the words mean.

My thoughts

I love that at the beginning of the course you have access to a list of all the stories that are going to be used.  This list allowed me time to make sure that I had the English versions in our house.  I’m a bit of a nerd and love to add more literature into our homeschool day so I made sure that we were reading the same books in English and in German at the same time.   Fun for me and the kids!  

Also, when you go back to the section mentioned above, you can click on a button that allows you to see all of the German phrases they’ll show on the screens and the English next to it.  I LOVE this!!!  It’s printed and in a binder for my use with the kids.  This way I can write some of our phrases on a blackboard or whiteboard throughout the house for practice away from the computer.


Elementary German (Homeschool Review Crew)


Another fun feature I took advantage of was the list of vocabulary for all 15 units at the beginning.  I printed those guys off too!  I have a chalkboard sticker on my refrigerator door.  Yeap vocabulary words in German get written on there!  It also let me plan ahead.  If I knew say we’d be learning fruit words one week I can make sure I have the fruit in question in my refrigerator so we can eat an apple while we learn the word for apple.  I’m fun like that!!

About the Program

Lesson 1 is all about family.  We learn the names for brother, sister, cousin, etc all while listening to the German version of Rumpelstiltskin.  It’s such a cute and fun way to learn the words!  Be prepared for your kids to run around calling each other brother and sister in German.  It’ll happen.  Ask me how I know.  

We’re working through the program doing one unit per week currently.  Though there have been a few weeks we did two units because my kids really got the words learned quickly.  It’s self paced though.  All the lessons are available when you’re ready for them and you can go back and do them again if you need to.

I highly recommend using Middlebury Interactive Languages Elementary German program.  Again, while it says grades 3-4 I personally am using it with some kids who are in Kindergarten, first, and second as well as a few preschoolers in addition to those grades and they are doing really well learning the words.

Learn More

If you’d like to see more about the other languages that are offered from Middlebury Interactive Languages make sure to check out the Main Post on the Homeschool Review Crew blog.  You’ll also find other levels of German and more reviews about Elementary German as well.  Middlebury Interactive Languages can also be found on social media through their Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest.  



Homeschool Crew Review Disclaimer

Phonics for Beginners {Homeschool Review Crew}

Phonics for Beginners

Homeschool Review Crew

Ultimate Phonics Reading Program {Spencer Learning}
Our most recent review with the Homeschool Review Crew came from Spencer Learning.  We received the Ultimate Phonics Reading Program for download and review.  It’s a great phonics for beginners program as well as for anyone struggling with phonics or reading.

Ultimate Phonics Reading Program {Spencer Learning}
We were given access to this phonics for beginners program via email.  It’s a download and can be used on all computers in the home.  A fun thing about this program is that anyone can use it within your household.  It’s not limited to one child or one computer which makes using it easier.  There are certain tech requirements for using the program.  If you have Windows you will need Windows 10, 8, 7, Vista or XP.  Mac users need OSX 10.5.8 or higher.

I have several beginning type schoolers still so this program sounded like a great fit for us.  Specifically, I have a five and a six year old who were eager to begin using this phonics for beginners curriculum.  My five year old has already done some phonics work and is doing simple word reading.  She loves school and excels at it.  Really she was forcing us to let her do school as a four year old, I just tried to keep it very simple and basic.  She’s taught herself how to read at the level she is at already!  Our six year old is somewhat developmentally delayed and hasn’t done any “formal” schooling yet.  She has had some access to some fun review products this year from the Homeschool Review Crew but is still at a level I would call beginner.

Ultimate Phonics Reading Program {Spencer Learning}

So, how do you use this thing?  

It’s really very simple to use.  The first step is downloading the product from the email you’re sent.  This went very easily which was great because I’m not that computer savvy.  Simply follow the prompts and tada it’s done!!   Next you’re going to want to use the curriculum.  This company, Spencer Learning, has been very helpful and sends lots of fun and interesting emails to help make sure we’re getting the most out of the product.  

Phonics for Beginners {Homeschool Review Crew}

If your child is not a beginning reader but rather a weak or struggling reader, you can use this product too.  It’s also designed to strengthen a child’s reading ability as well as spelling.  Phonics for beginners can also be called phonics for the struggling reader or phonics for students struggling with English as a second language.  Lots of children can benefit from this curriculum so make sure you check out all the ways it can be used.  

It’s also recommended for children with autism and dyslexia.  I have to confess that we’re not a huge fan of online or computer curriculum because of the fact that we only have two computers and there are 12 of us here in the house.  That’s a lot of people sharing the same equipment.  But this program is one that I make the time for my two girls to use.  Sometimes they use it together with one being the primary user and the other watching.  My three year old even likes to watch and learn with her siblings.

It only takes a few minutes a day to use the program.  Phonics for beginners is simple to use and doesn’t require a lot of parental help which is great. This means that my girls can use it while I’m working on school with the older kids.  It helps to keep them occupied.  Though it’s a good thing it doesn’t take much time, the girls wish their lessons lasted longer!!!

Ultimate Phonics Reading Program {Spencer Learning}
Interested in what others thought of this fun phonics for beginners program?  Check out the linkup on the Main Homeschool Review Crew blog.  You can also find Spencer Learning on facebook and twitter.  


Homeschool Crew Review Disclaimer

Printable Homeschool Worksheets {Crew Review}

Printable Homeschool Worksheets

Homeschool Crew Review

Join me in exploring a new to us site!  I’ve been enjoying our last days before we hit our more structured school time with some printable homeschool worksheets and videos over on!  We received the Help Teaching Pro Subscription to review as a member of the Homeschool Review Crew.


Printable Homeschool Worksheets {Crew Review}


We received a one year subscription to the online Help Teaching Pro Subscription from for the purposes of this review.  On this site you find worksheets and helpful teaching videos focused on math, English language arts, and science.  You can also make your own worksheets and tests through the site.

For this review we’re focusing on the younger grades(elementary) which works wonderfully for me as that’s all I currently have!  My oldest is only in fifth grade this year so we didn’t use anything about the sixth grade level on the site.  Each course is listed with a corresponding grade level so it’s easy to see what might fit for your student. The site does provide lessons/worksheets/etc for grades kindergarten through 12th though so if you have older children this will still work for you.


Primarily, we have been using the science section.  There are some great resources hidden in there.  When you login and head to lessons you’ll find a key to guide you to where the lesson is and what company has compiled it.  That’s the fun thing with this printable homeschool worksheets site.  They give you access to specific lessons that you can only access through their site plus lessons from other places like Khan Academy and YouTube.  We steered clear of anything YouTube just because you never know what those will lead to.

We started out doing six lessons in Biology.  These are between 15-30 minutes long for the lesson portion plus however long is needed to answer the worksheet questions.  There are also tests available to go with the lessons.  These particular Biology lessons are listed as third grade but my older children were able to do them as well as we had not studied these subjects yet.

We did not do a lot of the tests as I’m not a huge testing person.  The tests that we did do I approached more as a “review” than a test.  I have a few children who will get very anxious when they know it’s a test and then you have no idea what they really are remembering.  They can’t focus and take the test as a test.  Thus, why we do a lot of reviews around here.  Another great thing we use is having them teach the lesson to a younger sibling.  You will find now that even my three and five year olds have a passable knowledge of what we studied simply by being taught from the older siblings.

We explored Earth Science as well as that is what we are studying this school year along with Astronomy.  I’m looking forward to adding these in as we go along to supplement what our current curriculum is teaching.


Help Teaching Pro Subscription {}
We explored the math section a bit as well.  This I used more with my younger ones.  The ages for these are three, five, and six.  Grade wise I’d say we’ve got two preschoolers and an advanced kindergartner.  

In exploring the math section it is set up like the science in that you’re being told what grade the lesson will correspond with.  Again, there is a video to watch and then questions to answer.  For these children a lot of the questions I was asking them instead of them reading them.  

There are fewer lessons in the math section.  We exhausted the kindergarten level ones though we could watch them several more times without my kids complaining.  They really enjoyed being able to do “big kid school” and I love that I can give them review worksheets using the printable homeschool worksheets that go with the lessons.

Learn More

Interested in learning more about these printable homeschool worksheets and  Simply head to the Main Blog and check out all the reviews or find them on facebook, twitter, and pinterest


Homeschool Crew Review Disclaimer

Homeschool Supplements {TOS Crew Review}

Homeschool Supplements

TOS Crew Review

As part of the TOS Crew we get an opportunity to review lots of products.  Recently as I was thinking of what homeschool supplements I was going to need to purchase this year a new review through came through.  We received an annual subscription(so a year subscription) to the CHSH Download Club.


Christian HomeSchool Hub {Download Club}

As evidenced by it being a download club, these homeschool supplements are downloadable and entirely online.  It’s really simple to use.  You go to their website, log in, and browse.  Find something you like and you can just download and print it off.  Easy as can be.  

I was pleasantly surprised with the vast amount of downloads that had available for us.  There is a vast array of different subjects and subject matter that can be used.  If a homeschool parent wanted to create unit studies using the resources on CHSH Download Club, they could!

My favorite discovery when browsing through all the downloads was that they have the McGuffey readers on there!  I love these readers and have the complete set on my school set of bookshelves.  In my mind these are still a great resource for us to use when teaching our children to read.  If you don’t own a set the option to download them through here is wonderful.


Homeschool Supplements {TOS Crew Review}


Back to the homeschool supplements.  My favorite section to use and print off for my children now is the holiday studies.  Through the summer and fall we aren’t hard-core into school due to the weather being nice and living on a farm.  We’re still doing school, don’t get me wrong, but we’re not in our books all day everyday.

Holiday studies are a great way to be learning in addition to your regular studies and covering fun things.  We could go outside to do these or take them with us when we walked out to find the horses.  A great spot for schooling is a small area we have set up in our wooded bluff area.  We have benches to sit on and it has a natural cathedral type effect to it.  So peaceful.  Well, peaceful when there aren’t ten kids there maybe.  

The other section that we have used the most during our review period is the Bible section.  I’m loving using their Bible memorization sheets with my kids.  I want them to have a large memory bank of verses when they leave my house and this gives me a great place to start.  Right now we’re working through the A-Z memory verse cards though I’m looking forward to using their Bible copywork pages for the holidays they correspond with too.

I’ve discussed the homeschool supplements that I’ve used and found on the CHSH site.  What I haven’t mentioned is that this is more than just a spot where you can go to find curriculum.  It’s also a community where you can add curriculum or worksheets you have created as well.  You can find help and support through this site in addition to the homeschool supplements.  There is a forum available to chat with other homeschool parents who utilize the site as well where you can find friendship and moms in your situation can offer helpful hints and tips.

Personally, I have not had a lot of time to chat with others in the forum, but I have browsed some of the topics for special needs homeschooling and found them helpful.  The forum has lots of different topics or threads that you can browse such as groups by student grade/age or laws that homeschoolers should be aware of.  There is also a section for unlimited downloads which is where you can find the resources that other homeschool moms have decided to share.

If you’d like to learn more about and the homeschool supplements they offer make sure to head over to the Main TOS Crew blog and look at all the other reviews.  You can also find them on their facebook page or group, twitter, pinterest, google + group and page, Linked-In, and Tumblr.  

crew disclaimer graphic

Letter Sounds and Shapes {TOS Crew Review}

I have a three-year old and a just turned six-year-old who are learning their letter sounds and shapes.  The six-year-old is behind developmentally and is close to the three-year old level so I decided to start them both doing preschool together this year.  We were pleasantly surprised to learn that Talking Fingers Inc. was a vendor on the TOS Crew list this year.  The product we are reviewing from them is a one year online subscription to Talking Shapes: A Supplemental Curriculum for Early Literacy


Talking Shapes {Talking Fingers Inc. Review}
Obviously, most wouldn’t consider a six-year-old on the early literacy scale, but my three-year old fits in.  Actually, Talking Shapes is written and recommended for preschool and kindergarten students.  So even though my six-year-old is considered behind for her age she does fit into the recommended age range for this product.  I also have a five-year old who fits into the age range, but she’s already done a year of kindergarten and knows all her letter sounds and shapes.  She in fact is reading small words and phrases on her own now. 

While your child is learning letter sounds and shapes they are also having fun with Talking Shapes.  They’re learning to read but in a way that is fun and engaging.  The program is all online.  With one computer my two girls didn’t get to use this as much as we would have liked.  Instead of doing it individually we did it together.  I would sit in the computer chair with a girl on each knee and we’d go through some of the program.


Letter Sounds and Shapes


There are a total of seven stories to work through.  Once done with the program all 40 phonograms have been learned and the beginning stages of reading met.  The stories are engaging for the age level they’re directed at and tell the story of how the alphabet was invented by two sisters a long long time ago.  

What makes this program unique is that the letters aren’t just written letters on a page.  Instead, my children see the letters as pictures.  The letters are inside of or embedded into the pictures which helps cement in their brains the letter sounds and shapes in correlation with where they are. 


Talking Shapes {Talking Fingers Inc. Review}

This would be a great program to use with a touch screen computer or tablet.  Our computer is very old and is the only one we have in our house.  Because of this I did have to do the entire program with my girls as neither of them can work the computer mouse correctly yet.  While I didn’t mind this, it did limit when they could be working on their program and for what length of time.

I have seen great improvements in both girls with letter sounds and shapes recognition.  We were on a bit of a drive or road trip(we call them field trips) yesterday and my three-year old was able to tell me some of the highway names when they were letters.  It’s great to be able to see that our children are learning.

This is a four step program.  First we listen.  Then we draw.  Next we play games.  Finally we read.  By doing all the steps the learning of the letter sounds and shapes is cemented.  Each of the seven stories introduces at least six new phonemes.  While learning children sound out and spell three-letter words while they are playing games.  Not only is learning taking place but having fun as well.  Learning should always be fun. 


Talking Shapes {Talking Fingers Inc. Review}

We approve of Talking Shapes and learning letter sounds and shapes with their program.  My girls thought it was fun and were always begging to read the story on the computer.  They’re going to continue to have great fun and learn for the rest of our subscription.  Here’s hoping for more computers soon or a touch screen so they can do it all on their own!!

If you’d like to hear what other Crew members thought of the program hop on over to the Main TOS Crew blog and see all the reviews.  You can also find Talking Fingers Inc. on facebook, youtube, and twitter to learn more about their company and products.  


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Everyone Does Math {TOS Crew Review}

Everyone Does Math

Everyone does math.  Think about that.  We all do math.  Recently all of my school aged children have been using a math program called CTCMath.  Through the TOS Crew we received a one year online subscription to CTCMath Homeschool Membership.  This is an online program that can be used by up to 10 children.  This is perfect!


CTCMath Review

Why is this perfect you might ask?  It’s perfect because everyone does math.  Plus(hey that’s a math word!), I have ten children!!  Of course, the two youngest at age 3 and age nine weeks don’t do math for school yet.  They will someday though.  While they are doing kindergarten math their older siblings can do algebra and trigonometry or calculus.


Everyone Does Math


CTCMath is an online digital subscription math program.  We received access to a one year subscription for up to 10 children.  Not all of my children are in active school yet.  That is to say, all my children are learning things but only seven of them are currently using some kind of curriculum.  Learning and play go hand in hand here in our homeschool.  I believe learning should be fun, exciting, and engaging.  Children should want to do school.  

After all, everyone does math.

Each math lesson that is taught is a short video.  The videos are between four and nine minutes long.  Nothing that is going to tire or tax the brain.  We all know children don’t have the longest attention spans when you want them to also retain the information.  After the lesson is taught the questions test on how well they learned the information.  Students can go back and re-watch each lesson as well as retake the questions.  This can be done until they are fully comfortable with that material. 


Everyone Does Math


This is where we are at with CTCMath Homeschool Membership.  My nine year old son begs to do his math on the computer.  Math is his favorite subject.  He loves to sit at the computer and listen to his math lessons.  CTCMath does lessons through video.  You sit down, click on the video lesson you want to watch, watch and listen, then you answer the questions.  Easy peasy simple as pie.

CTCMath allows you to choose where your child should be.  Say I start my oldest who is 11 in 4th grade.  It’s too easy for her.  I can move her to 5th grade math with the click of a mouse.  Simple.  Easy.  She is doing math that challenges her and I can see what she has done and whether she has gotten the concept or not.

Parents Have Access Too

As the parent, I can see what lessons my children have done.  I can see which lessons they spent the most time on, which were the hardest for them.  Basically, I can see everything they’ve done and this shows me what they might need more work on.  Available for each lesson are worksheets that can be printed off for additional help.  Plus of course, the lessons can be watched again to help refresh memories and cement the concept.  I love having a parent account where I can track all of my children instead of having to get into each of their accounts.


Everyone Does Math


My kids love CTCMath.  They love being able to do math on the computer.  Another fun thing about CTCMath is the accent.  The person doing the talking and teaching on the videos has a nice Australian accent and my kids love it.  We have cousins who live in England and the kids are always fascinated with how they talk differently than us.  Teacher having an accent ensures that they have their best listening ears on.

Everyone Does Math

Another fun aspect of CTCMath is that each child has their own login.  They can login to their own account without having to go through the parent or teacher account.  This makes them more independent.  Really, this program does not require much parent teaching or involvement.  Students can be self sufficient.  The only ones that I really have to help are the young ones.  

My five year old is doing kindergarten math this year.  She’s almost done with the second book of kindergarten math that we use.  She loves doing math on the computer, but I do have to help her some as her reading skills aren’t as strong as her math skills.  She’s sharp as a tack with math.  For CTCMath she’s using first grade math.  I’m pretty proud of her and she’s super pleased with herself.  


Everyone Does Math


Check out CTCMath for the US and Canada on facebook, twitter, Periscope, pinterest, and youtube.  

Interested in hearing about other levels of CTCMath?  Maybe want another opinion?  Check out the Main TOS Crew blog page to find out what other crew members thought of CTCMath.  Remember everyone does math so everyone has an opinion.  Whether this math program is right for you or not, everyone does math and everyone needs a math curriculum.  



crew disclaimer graphic

Rainforest Journey {TOS Crew Review}

Have you ever wondered what it’s like in the rainforest?  Wanted to teach your child about it during homeschool?  My kids have been enjoying a Rainforest Journey thanks to a recent review from the TOS Crew.  EdTechLens offered us a year subscription to three levels of their Rainforest Journey program.  We received levels(grades) Kindergarten, First Grade, and Second Grade.  The main grade I’ll focus on in this review is the First Grade level though we did use and enjoy them all.


Rainforest Journey EdTechLens Review

If you’re like me, you had never heard of this company until I mentioned them.  They’re a fairly new resource to the homeschool community.  EdTechLens focuses on Kindergarten through 5th grade.  Rainforest Journey is their first program.  It focuses on teaching children about the rainforest in a unique way.  Each level is a bit more difficult and more complex to help build on what they may have learned and to help them incorporate it more.

Some fun things about the program are the wonderful pictures.  They’re not animations but rather real vivid photographs and videos.  The program is also interactive so your child can feel like they really are on a Rainforest Journey!  The closest we’ve ever come is visiting the rainforest section of our local zoo so this was very fun for my kids.   Plus the bonus is that they’re learning so much and having fun at the same time. 

For each grade level their are 5 units.  Each unit contains different lessons.  There are 34 lessons total per level.  All grade levels have the same 5 units.  They are The Big Picture, Adapt or Die!, Animals, Plants and Fungi, and Ecosystem.  Each grade level gets more indepth with these concepts and challenges the user more.  This is an interactive program so throughout the Rainforest Journey there are interactive ways for your child to learn more and also answer questions and show their knowledge of the material.


Rainforest Journey EdTechLens Review

My kids loved that they could click to learn more and it would and it would sometimes take them on a tour or introduce them to a child who was in the rainforest.  It made them feel like they were really a part of the rainforest journey and that they were seeing and learning on their own.  I liked the enrichment areas that would tell them more about what that particular passage was about.  It helped them to relate their life to the rainforest and the plants/animals that live there.

Each child is provided with their own username and password so they can get in and work on their level independently.  Unless the parent overrides it, the default setting is to go through the program sequentially start to finish and not allow the child to skip around.  I didn’t over ride that as we haven’t really studied the rainforest before and I wanted to see what direction the program would take.  As the parent I could get into my own account and manage all three of my children’s accounts and see what they had done and what they had left.  I could see what areas they had done better at and the ones that needed some work.


Rainforest Journey {TOS Crew Review}



This is an online only curriculum.  It’s considered enrichment because it doesn’t contain an anatomy portion to fill the life sciences title, but we found it to be a wonderful well rounded program.  You can purchase a one year license for one student in one grade for $50.  If you have 2-5 students that you wish to place all in the SAME grade you can choose the up to 5 students option which will give you 5 slots in the class for that one grade level.  This costs $75.  For me that would be a good deal because I do have two children in the same grade for a few grade levels.  But then when you have 9 children and they all work at their own speeds it’s bound to happen somewhere!

I have to say that I would recommend this.  I liked that I could have three different grade levels to look over.  I found that they are geared down in my opinion.  So my student who I placed in the kindergarten level could easily have done the first grade.  Of that vein the one I put in first grade could have easily done the second grade.  We received K, 1st, and 2nd so those were the only ones I had access to.  I wanted to start at the beginning and see how it progressed.


Rainforest Journey EdTechLens Review

I feel that after my child doing the first grade level finishes that level he could easily do the second grade level without feeling like he was going over the exact same information again.  It does change it up just enough and interact with them a bit differently that it gets them thinking on a different level and course so they’ll stay engaged.  

The program is simple for children to navigate and does hold their attention.  My kids easily did 30 minutes on this one days we worked on it.  It’s recommended to use it three days a week(at least).  We used it on an almost daily basis.  Four days a week on this program was very common in our household.  In fact, asking to use it on a Saturday was common to.  It’s more fun for the kids than it is learning in my opinion.  They like to do things on the computer which they don’t get to do often in our house considering we have one computer for 11 people so it’s a treat and they’re going to pay more attention to it.  

We would definitely recommend this to anyone wanting to take their children on a virtual rainforest journey while also having them learn about the rainforest and the layers and how everything works.  I’m excited to take my kids to the zoo again and see what they have to say when we’re walking through the rainforest section!

Please feel free to check out all the other levels and what reviewers thought of them on the Main TOS Crew Blog.  You can also visit EdTechLens on twitter, facebook, pinterest, google +, and linkedin.  Because there are so many reviewers you’re sure to find someone focusing on the grade level that your child will need!


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Here to Help Learning {TOS Crew Review}

Do your children write in paragraphs easily and efficiently?  My children still struggle with writing in complete paragraphs.  We recently received a helper for this area from Here to Help Learning as a review from the TOS Crew.  We got Teacher’s Kit Flight 2 Paragraph Writing in the physical form for our review.


Here to Help Learning Review
This is a multi-level program that works for grades 1-3(and higher if needed).  I have several children in these grades and was excited to give it a go.  You can get this course in physical format or online.  If you get it physically you’ll receive two books.  A Teacher’s Guide with Lesson DVDs(6 DVD’s) and a student workbook and language helps booklet.  You do have to have all of those components to use the course properly.  Each student should also have their own workbook as they are required to write in them.  Plus kids just like having a workbook to call their own(or my kids do!).  The Kit we received retails for $89.99.  The individual student workbooks are available for $19.99.

The online version of this course is available for $6.99 a month.  You get access to all the levels that Here to Help Learning offers and are not locked into just one level but can move around and use whatever fits your child best.  You do have to have reliable internet access and computer access for each student who will be using the course.  If you’re not sure if you’d like the online version feel free to take advantage of their free one day membership to check it out!


Here to Help Learning


We received the physical kit from Here to Help Learning as we currently only have one computer in our house so the children are not using it very much at all.  My husband needs it for his business and I sneak on when I can.  Thankfully most of our homeschool is done in physical books or items I can download and print off so the death of my laptop hasn’t been a huge hardship for us.

I decided to initially use this with my older two students.  One is 11 and one is 9.  They both work around a fourth grade level but are a bit behind in writing.  This was a great fit and they seem to be flying through it.  I can see us needing Flight 3 Paragraph soon as they’re almost done with this level.  

I plan to continue using this and may be a combination of online and book once we have another computer.  I do like that they have a section of their forum to connect with parents of special needs children.  They also have a section in my teacher’s book explaining that they think this works well with students who have special needs and why.  I’m looking forward to trying this out with some of my special needs kiddos in the future.  Probably when we switch to our next school levels.  


Here to Help Learning Review

Some fun things about the program include that it’s all like an airplane ride or learning how to fly.  You’re teaching your child to fly with their writing.  There are sections for Pre-Flight Checklist, Flight Check-In, Take-Off, Full Throttle, and Flying Solo.  My son especially loves these titles and it seems to help him keep working and be engaged with the material knowing he’s flying his own airplane.  

The recommendation for this course was to work on it two days a week.  One day for watching the video and doing the games and one day for the coursework/writing.  Each flight has 32 lessons for the year so that would take you 32 weeks to complete.  We’re looking at being done in 16 or less weeks as we’ve been using the program four days a week and completing two lessons per week.  My kids like to work on this and since we’re ahead in most other subjects and behind in writing so we were able to focus on this more.

If you’re interested in learning more about Here to Help Learning and hearing from reviewers of the online version as well please go to the Main TOS Blog to see what everyone has to say!  You can also find Here to Help Learning on their blog, facebook, twitter, pinterest, and youtube.  


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Increased Reading Comprehension {TOS Crew Review}

My kids love to read.  Some take longer to learn to read than others, but they all have loved to read or be read to from the start.  One thing I’ve been working with them is on having increased reading comprehension.  I want them to understand what they’re reading and retain it instead of just reading.  Recently I was aided in this goal with two of my girls through the TOS Crew.  We got to review Reading Kingdom Online.  This is a program online from Reading Kingdom.  

The Reading Kingdom Online teaches six areas to children ages 4-10.  These areas they work on are sequencing, writing, meaning, grammar, sounds, and comprehension.  My girls could already read.  They already had sounds mastered.  They pretty much knew grammar.  It was increased reading comprehension that I really wanted them to work on.

Reading Kingdom Review
We worked on this through using Reading Kingdom Online three days a week.  Each girl used it on separate days since we only have one computer that the kids can use.  Both girls are at the same academic level though one is 10 and one is 9.  They both read at a 2nd to lower 3rd grade level.  We’ve battled learning delays and slow progress over the years but I’ve always been encouraged that they have made some progress!  

I didn’t expect to see their reading comprehension increased by 200% in the time we’ve used this program.  That would have been unrealistic for my girls.  However, I am very pleasantly surprised with the amount of progress they have made.  

Reading Kingdom Review
Because this program is online it can be geared towards your child. It’s interactive.  The first thing you’ll do is have your child take a placement test.  This will determine where they are academically and what areas they have weaknesses and strengths in.  My girls were placed just a smidge lower than I would have thought they were.  I think some of that is due to the whole being on a computer thing.  My girls are not good with computers.  Like I stated above we only have one computer that the kids can use and they don’t use it very often.  A touch screen device would inevitably be easier for them to use these programs on, but the Kindle we were gifted is for reading only.


increased reading comprehension


After the placement test your child can begin to learn, grow, and play.  Really this is  learning program, but it acts like a game.  They’re going to think they’re playing at computer games really.  My kids think learning is fun, but can get frustrated at times when they can’t seem to grasp a concept.  This program doesn’t make them feel like they’re failing to grasp something and doesn’t seem like it’s repeating itself even if they ARE repeating the same concept several times.  I think it has worked very well for my girls and they have enjoyed using it.

If you look at the program it will tell you it’s for preschool through third grade with ESL and remedial available.  It also has a program available just for children on the autism spectrum.  I think this is a reading program that many can use and enjoy and it gets our approval!

Want to learn more about the Reading Kingdom Online program?  Or maybe the other program for kids on the autistic spectrum that Reading Kingdom Online has to offer?  Check out the Main TOS Crew Blog for the other Crew reviews.  You’ll get more of a feel for the program with all of our opinions!  You can also visit Reading Kingdom Online on facebook, twitter, and pinterest.  


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