Sunday, December 4, 2011

Don't Know Much About Art? Dive into Artistic Pursuits - TOS Review

Artistic Pursuits
2626 East 109th Avenue
North Glenn, CO  80233
Jr. High level
(PreK-12th grade available) 
Are you clueless about the basics of art?  Do you wish you had a primer to walk you through all those artistic concepts like space, texture, form, value, dimensions, balance, perspective and proportion?  Perhaps you should check out Artistic Pursuits.  As a member of the TOS Review Crew I received a copy of Artistic Pursuits--Junior High Book One--The Elements of Art and Composition by Brenda Ellis to use in order to provide this review.  Take a peek at what we found.

The first part of "Getting Started" contains a Table of Contents, a list of required Art Supplies, What Parents Want to Know and What Students Want to Know.  (The required supplies are minimal and easily found.)

So, what exactly does this book cover?

The Elements of Art
Space, Line, Texture, Shape, Form, Value and Line in 3 Dimensions

Visual Paths in Line, Center of Interest, Balance-Symmetry, Balance-Asymmetry, Rhythm, Space Without Depth, Space With Depth, Perspective and Proportion

Each unit of the book consists of 4 Lessons.  The First Lesson of a unit is all about Building a Visual Vocabulary.  The topic is explained in words and pictures, followed by observation and connection to real-world experiences.  The student then creates a work of art.  The Second Lesson is about Art Appreciation and Art History.  Students learn about how masters use a particular topic in a work of art.  The student then takes their observations and creates a work of art.  The Third Lesson of each unit is about Techniques.  Students learn how to use different materials and tools while making original art.  Finally, the Fourth Lesson of each unit is about Application.  Students get to complete a final project which uses the new techniques and topic information while using a variety of references like still life objects, landscapes, portraits and photographs.

The author suggests doing a couple of classes per week for about an hour each.  Completed this way, the material can be covered over 32 weeks or a full school year.  The book is non-consumable so you can use it again with another student.  Students can work fairly independently with this program. 

Artistic Pursuits has books available for all ages, PreK-12th grade.  To check out more information for this and other Artistic Pursuits books as well as art supply packs click here to visit the website.

My Thoughts:  I like this book.  The basics are covered and described in an easy to understand format.  I like that the book is written to the student and can be used fairly independently.  It's amazing what you're more aware of when you try to see art in everyday things.  My daughter liked the way the book progressed and the topics it covered.  I found myself wishing we had more time to spend with this one.  I'm thinking we'll backtrack and put in more time as we can.  The Culture and Artist parts of the lessons are quite informative and definitely add some interesting background.  It was fun to see many works of art throughout the book too.  This is not a book for someone looking for little art projects to do.  This book will help you and your child to know the finer points of "art".  Having taken an Art Appreciation class at a college level, I am impressed with the method this book presents.  We also found that it was fine to start at this level without having used the earlier level books.  Great job Artistic Pursuits!

**Another great point - If for any reason you are not satisfied with the book or art supply pack you order, Artistic Pursuits Inc. will refund the cost (shipping not included) when your items are returned in unused condition within 30 days.**

If you'd like to see what other TOS Crew members thought of this and other levels of Artistic Pursuits books click here

Disclaimer:  I received a free copy of the above-mentioned product from Artistic Pursuits in order to provide this review.  As a member of the TOS Review Crew I receive free products such as this one to provide reviews.  I have not and will not receive further compensation.   Observations, comments and opinions presented here are my own.  I am not obligated to provide a positive review.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Wow, Check out this Toydle Giveaway from The Old Schoolhouse!!

The Old Schoolhouse Magazine is giving away 
3 Big Toydle Forts.

(yup, that's a picture of the frame right down there)

Is this fun or what?  Three lucky winners will have fun with the toy every kid (and kid-at-heart) would love to own.  To find out more information about this Toydle product and enter the giveaway Stop by the TOS Crew blog.    

You can also visit Toydle on Facebook here .

NOTE:  This contest is open to residents of the United States ONLY.  TOS Staff and TOS Crew Members (and their families) are not eligible to enter this contest.

What a wonderful Christmas, birthday or just-for-fun gift for anyone!  Click now, what are you waiting for?  

Monday, November 21, 2011

The Reading Game - A TOS Review

Allsaid & Dunn

2727 De Anza RD, Suite SD21
San Diego, CA 92109

$24.95 each - 15% off orders of 8 or more
Suggested age - Pre-K through 1st grade

Recently we've been playing a new educational game with our son.  As a member of the TOS Review Crew I received a free copy of The Reading Game to use in order to provide this review.

The Reading Game is a curriculum supplement to use while teaching your child to read.  The game contains six illustrated storybooks: skunk, snake, bear, penguins, unicorn, and zebra.  Each of the books comes with a word matching card game.  The games are played in six stages, each of which teaches five words. The card game requires only two players, the student and a tutor.  The games are fast paced, with a winner every few seconds, and learning to read becomes fun.

When your child completes stage six of the first game they should be able to read thirty words.  The first story is told using those thirty words.  The first story is about a skunk without a stripe who is rejected for being different.  The skunk is accepted by a group of cats and becomes their defender.  Your child adds another thirty words with each game.  It’s told in rhyme, is beautifully illustrated, and is 32 pages long. It will be the first book the student reads, and there are five more to follow.

By the time your child gets through all of the games they should be able to read 180 words.  Of the twenty-five most commonly used English words, twenty-two are on that list; of the forty most commonly used English words –thirty. This is a multi-sensory teaching approach –using the card game play and the storybooks - designed to aid in retention of material and student enjoyment.

Free Individual Student Assessment Worksheets are include to help you see and keep track of your child's progress. There is a Pre/Post Card Game Sight Word Assessment Worksheet and a Test Sentence Assessment Worksheet.  At the back of the Teacher and Parent Guide is a list of all 180-vocabulary words.

According to the makers of the game, "By the time students come to the end of the zebra story, 180 words are hard-wired into memory."

• 60% of the words in “The Reading Game” are on the Dolch Word List for pre-k and k and makes up 54% of Dolch words for Pre-K, K and 1st Grade.

• Of the first 100 most commonly used English words “The Reading Game” incorporates 88% of the most common twenty-five words and 63% of the first 100.

Contents include: 6 illustrated story books, 6 decks of matching playing cards,  a Teacher and Parent's Guide

So, how did this work for us?  We all like this game.  My little non-reader is becoming a reader--slowly, but in a fun way.  The multi-sensory approach of the game connects for him.  He feels like he is accomplishing something and "winning", and we see that he is memorizing words and beginning to try to read.  He loves to find the word matches.  He loves animals.  The best part, he now wants to figure out more words and constantly asks "What do those letters say?"  We're not done with all of the games yet, but I'm thinking he'll be reading at a good basic level by the time we read the last story.  We'll continue to play this game for reinforcement until he's very comfortable reading.  What a fun way to learn what could be a tough subject!  It's a keeper!  (Wish we would have had this game for my daughter when she started reading.)  The age range is appropriate.  The price is reasonable for the content and quality of the game. 

To find out more about the game click here
To order The Reading Game click here

Click here to see what other members from the TOS Crew had to say about The Reading Game.

Disclaimer:  As a member of the TOS Review Crew I received a free copy of the above-mentioned product to use in order to provide this review.  I did not and will not receive further compensation.  All comments and opinions are my own.  I am not obligated to provide a positive review.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Math Mammoth - About "Time" for a Review

Math Mammoth Clock (Blue Series)

We've been using a fun curriculum from Math Mammoth to learn about clocks, telling time, and using a calendar.    Let me tell you about it.

 Math Mammoth Clock (Blue Series) is a 78 page worktext (including answers), suitable for grades 1-3, that covers:
  • Whole and Half Hours
  • Half and Quarter Hours
  • How Many Minutes Pass
  • Using Calendar
In the book there are explanations and exercises.  The book really requires very little teacher preparation--very easy to use.  By the time you're done your student will be able to read a clock, figure out time intervals, and use the calendar.  Since this book contains grades 1-3 and progresses as you go it's easy to have your child work on different sections at different times as they are able.

Fore example: 1st grade contains reading the clock to the 1/2 hour, 2nd grade contains reading the clock to the 5 minute intervals, 3rd grade contains reading the clock to the minute.

**You will need a practice clock where the child can turn the clock hands.

There is a PDF download available for $4.00.  A black and white printed copy is available for $10.85, and new in November 2011 is a PDF version of the book enabled for annotation.  (Yes that means you can have your student fill it in on the computer!)
Keep it or Leave it?  Well, I really liked this worktext.  The explanations are easy, and we progressed quickly.  My daughter fully understood each section without much effort on my part.  Good job Math Mammoth!  The many examples and questions were easy to work through--and, although I didn't need it much I liked that the answers were included too.  I was glad this included calendar information to round out the whole "time" concept.  This got a thumbs up at our house.  We've also checked out the 300 free worksheets and samples.  We have a few of the the Math Mammoth products and will probably be using more.  If you're even slightly considering the program it's worth visiting the website to check out all options and prices/discounts.
Other products from Math Mammoth include the Blue Series (work texts by topic) and the Green Series (work sheet collections by topic).  Math Mammoth covers:

Addition & Subtraction

Addition 1 worktext (grade 1)

Subtraction 1 worktext (grade 1)

Add & Subtract 2-A worktext (grades 1-2)

Add & Subtract 2-B worktext (grade 2)

Add & Subtract 3 worktext (grades 2-3)

Add & Subtract 4 worktext (grades 3-4)

Place Value

Place Value 1 worktext (grade 1)

Place Value 2 worktext (grade 2)

Place Value 3 worktext (grade 3)

Place Value 4 worktext (grade 4)

Place Value 5 worktext (grades 5-6)

Multiplication & Division

Multiplication 1 worktext (grade 3)

Division 1 worktext (grade 3)

Multiplication 2 worktext (grade 4)

Division 2 worktext (grade 4)

Multiplication Division 3 worktext (grade 5)

Multiplication & Division worksheets (grades 3-6)

Numbers & Operations worksheets (grades 3-6)

Clock and Money

Clock worktext (grades 1-3)

U.S. Money worktext (grades 1-3)

Canadian Money worktext (grades 1-3)

British Money worktext (years 2-4)

European Money worktext (grades 1-3)

Australian Money worktext (years 1-3)


Measuring 1 worktext (grades 1-3)

Measuring 2 worktext (grades 4-5)

Metric Measuring worktext (grades 1-4)

Measuring worksheets (grades 3-6)


Introduction to Fractions worktext (grades 2-4)

Fractions 1 worktext (grades 5-6)

Fractions 2 worktext (grades 5-6)

Fractions & Decimals 3 worktext (grade 6)

Fractions worksheets (grades 3-6)


Decimals 1 worktext (grades 4-5)

Decimals 2 worktext (grades 5-6)

Fractions & Decimals 3 worktext (grade 6)

Decimals worksheets (grades 3-6)


Early Geometry worktext (grades 1-3)

Geometry 1 worktext (grades 4-5)

Geometry 2 worktext (grades 6-7)

Geometry worksheets (grades 3-7)

Ratio, Proportions, Percent & algebraic thinking

The Four Operations (with a Touch of Algebra) worktext (grades 5-7)

Ratios & Proportions & Problem Solving worktext (grades 5-7)

Percent worktext (grades 6-8)

Integers worktext (grades 5-8)

Ratio, Proportion & Percent worksheets (grades 5-7)

Integers worksheets (grades 5-8)

Statistics / Graphing / Probability

Statistics & Probability worktext (grades 5-7)

Statistics worksheets (grades 4-7)

Make It Real Learning

States by the Numbers series (grades 3-6)

Arithmetic I (grades 3-6)

Fractions, Percents, and Decimals I (grades 4-8)

Fractions, Percents, and Decimals II (grades 4-8)

Sets, Probability, and Statistics I (grades 6-10)

Linear Functions I (grades 9, 11)

Linear Functions II (grade 11)

Quadratic Functions I (grades 9, 11)

Exponential & Logarithmic Functions I (grades 11-12)

Periodic & Piecewise Functions I (grades 11-12)

Polynomial, Power, Logistic & Rational Functions I (grades 11-12)

Calculus I (grade 12)

You can even get a complete curriculum for individual grades 1-6, pre-algebra, and grade 3-7 worksheets collections.  Pre-algebra and Algebra 1 worksheets collections are also available. 
If all that information above confused you stop by Math Mammoth and sign up for a 7-day virtual email tour which includes a package of over 300 free worksheets and sample pages, 7 individual emails on 7 subsequent days  answering the most commonly asked questions, and a math newsletter.
If you're interested in reading more about the Math Mammoth options and what the TOS Homeschool Review Crew thinks click here  

Disclaimer:  As a member of the TOS Review Crew I occasionally receive free products to use to provide candid reviews.  I receive no further compensation for my reviews.  Thoughts and comments are my own.  I am not obligated to provide positive reviews.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Guess Who'll Be Visiting the Christmas Lodge?

Oh Trina, you won!!  You'll be receiving a free copy of The Christmas Lodge DVD.  Watch for an e-mail to confirm your mailing address.  Congratulations and Blessings to those who entered.

Monday, November 14, 2011

College Prep Genius - VocabCafe - A TOS Review

Vocab Cafe
Maven of Memory Publishing

College Prep Genius
P.O. Box 398
Hurst, TX 76053
81-SAT-2-PREP (817-282-7737)

No particular recommended age, but since this is a college prep program I think 8th grade and up would be appropriate.

$12.95 per individual book
(set of all 4 available for price of 3 - $38.85 - see link below)

As a member of the TOS Review Crew I recently received a set of 4 Vocab Cafe books from College Prep Genius to read in order to provide this review.  This set of 4 books is interesting, challenging and educational.  The series contains 4 novellas written to encourage the development of vocabulary knowledge.  Each book in the series contains 300 words which should improve the reader's vocabulary.  This increased vocabulary can lead to better reading, writing, and speaking skills and can even improve standardized test scores.  Within each story the reader sees the vocabulary words in the context of a narrative story.  Storyline and sentences around the vocabulary word help readers figure out the meanings.  Pronunciation and definition of the words are at the bottom of each page, and at the end of each chapter is a review of the words in that section.

These novellas are original stories which contain no foul language, no illicit sexual themes, and no sorcery.  The books emphasize a 3 step approach using definition, repetition, and reinforcement.

Since the books are fairly short I don't want to ruin the experience by telling too much, but here's a teaser for each book:
  • IM for Murder is a story of three boys and their encounter with an internet serial killer.  This story teaches a lesson about online communication.  This story might be a little "dark" for some readers.

  • Operation High School is a story about high school student Emma Jones and the mysterious note which turns her world upside down. As the newest member of a “Spy Club,” Emma learns about self-reliance, strength, and the value of friendship.

  • Planet Exile is a story about Maleck Vise Plutean's adventures through outer space. After a crash landing on the mythical “Planet Exile”, Maleck and his friends usurp an evil dictator and rescue a beautiful princess.

  • Summer of St. Nick is a story about Nick's discovery of a jackpot of money.  He has to decide whether he will use this cash to better his social standing or help those who really need it.

Special Deal:  To order the 4 books from College Prep Genius for the price of 3 ($38.85 instead of $51.80) click here .

College Prep Genius also sells the “Master the SAT Class” on DVD  for $59.95, the textbook, College Prep Genius for $49.95, and the class workbook for $19.95.  For more information or to order these materials see the College Prep Genius link above.

Keep or Pass?  These stories were interesting enough to keep my daughter wanting to read more.  She learned lots of new words.  I have to admit, however, that she did ask when in real life she would actually use many of the words.  The Vocab Cafe books are a better option for increasing vocabulary than staring at a list of words.  Although not done with all 4 books, my bookworm wants to continue through all of the books.  That makes me smile--getting started on them met a bit of attitude because of fear that they would be like a textbook.  We liked the books and will probably read through them again a few times.   We'll keep these to use again later in college testing prep too since the bookworm is only 14.  The books are worth the price and reading time if you're trying to boost vocabulary skills.  Thanks Vocab Cafe for a fun way to learn some valuable information!

Interested in what other TOS Review Crew members thought?  Click here .

Disclaimer:  As a member of the TOS Homeschool Crew I received a free set of 4 Vocab Cafe books from College Prep Genius to read in order to provide this review.  I did not and will not receive further compensation.  All comments and opinions are my own.  I am not obligated to provide a positive review.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

The Christmas Lodge - DVD Review and Giveaway

Christmas Lodge - A DVD Review and Giveaway

Thomas Kinkade

It seems that every year there are a number of new Christmas movies.  We recently watched our first one for the year.  Here's a bit about the Christmas Lodge DVD from Thomas Kinkade. 

"A place where a heart-warming past and loving future meet for one remarkable group of people."  (That's how the beginning for the synopsis of this movie reads.) 

Picture a trip to the mountains, an unplanned visit to a favorite childhood place, and the renewal of faith and discovery of love.

Mary is a young woman who happens upon a hurt little girl while on a weekend trip to the mountains.  When Mary takes the girl home she finds herself at Christmas Lodge, a place where Mary's family and grandparents went for Christmas during her childhood.  Unfortunately the lodge is in need of many repairs.  Mary decides to help the owner restore the lodge to it's previous condition.  During the restoration process Mary renews her faith, finds her one true love and is reminded about the importance of family and true holiday spirit.

We really enjoyed this movie.  It is very family-friendly and contains no offensive language or scenes.  The scenery is beautiful!  The acting and filming were superb.  This will be a new favorite Christmas movie at our house.

Visit the Official DVD Website for Christmas Lodge here .  You'll find more information about the movie, meet the cast, go behind the scenes and find a print offer for the Christmas Lodge picture by Mr. Kinkade.  You can also see a trailer for the movie!

"For an uplifting story about the importance of faith, family and the true holiday spirit, go to the Christmas Lodge."
You can order the DVD online from Amazon or Walmart, or purchase it where inspirational films are found.

For more information about the Christmas Lodge artwork click here

Lucky you, I get to give a copy away!  If you'd like to enter to win this in time for Christmas here's what you need to do:

1. Visit the Christmas Lodge website then leave a comment here about something that looked interesting about the movie or the artwork.
2.  For another chance to win follow me on Google Friend Connect and leave a comment here. (or tell me you already follow)
3.  For a third chance to win comment about one of my other reviews that you found interesting.
4.  For a final entry, leave a comment here telling me the name of your favorite Christmas movie.

(A winner will be chosen randomly from all entries at noon on November 15th.)

Good luck and Blessings to all who enter!

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received one or more of the products or services mentioned above for free in the hope that I would mention it on my blog. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

The Person I Marry - A TOS Review

The Person I Marry – Things I’ll Think About Long Before Saying “I Do”  

Written by Gary Bower
Featuring the Oil Paintings of Jan Bower

Storybook Meadow Publishing Company
7700 Timbers Tr.
Traverse City, Michigan 49684
Phone: 231-941-0899
Orders: 888-898-3207 * Fax: 231-947-8903
**A Bright Future Book
Printed and bound in Canada
ISBN-13: 978-0-9704621-7-6
ISBN-10: 0-9704621-7-4
All Ages

Visit Bower Books
Click here to see book reviews

We recently received a free e-book version of the sweetest book I've read in a very long time.  Let me tell you about The Person I Marry by Gary and Jan Bower.

Gary Bower has written this story in verse form, and Jan Bower has done beautiful oil paintings to illustrate the ideas in the book.  This wonderful book is about all of the things to think about before getting married--the important "internal" stuff.  The story begins with a girl going to a wedding and being captivated by the dresses, tuxes, rings, candles, curls and floral bouquets.  The girl's very wise mom sits and tells her daughter about the "who" rather than the "what" that makes a great wedding.  She reminds her daughter that the person you marry is the important part of a wedding.

The girl then ponders all of the important internal qualities to consider about the person she'll marry including qualities such as:  sincerity, kindness, courteousness, graciousness, tactfulness, optimism, perseverance, ability to laugh, joyfulness, patience, respectfulness, faithfulness, belief in God as the supreme Creator--loving God first and her second, moral purity, modesty, integrity, and many others.  She thinks that a true believer who is prayerful and hungry for God's word is a very important part of the high standards to be met because the vows made in marriage are meant to be kept.  The book finishes with a place to list the things to work on and look for in the "The Person I Marry".

My daughter and I really liked this book.  The verse form is engaging and thoughtful.  The paintings are beautiful!  This book gave us a lot to think about and discuss before my children marry.  I look forward to discussing this book again as my children are older.  This would be the perfect gift for anyone with a child old enough to be considering relationships and marriage.  I suspect we'll be purchasing this book for the children of several of our friends.

Would you like to see what other TOS Review Crew members thought?  Click here .

Disclaimer:  I received a free e-book copy of the above-mentioned book to read in order to prepare this review.  Opinions and comments are my own.  I did not and will not receive other compensation for this review.  I am not obligated to provide a positive review.

Gary and Jan also have a number of other books including:  There's a Party in Heaven!, Tessa's Treasures, Wyatt's Wagon, Ivy's Icicle, Cody's Castle, I'm a Michigan Kid!, Michigan Kid Passport, and The Michigan Kid Coloring and Activity Book.  They have 12 children and four grandchildren.

Gary Bower is also a storyteller, and an encouraging and entertaining speaker.  To find out how he can serve your group, call 1-888-898-3207.

Some Great Links

Blog Button photo BlogButton_zps9d4cfbd4.jpg Mama Jenn