Monday, February 27, 2012

TOS Review: K-5 Learning



We’ve been using an online program as a supplement to my 4th grade son’s reading. It’s called K5 Learning and I was introduced to it through the the TOS Homeschool Crew.

K5 Learning isn’t an all inclusive program, it is meant to be a supplemental program that helps children who are struggling in the areas of reading, math, or spelling. It’s just a way to give them a little extra boost by helping them focus on the area(s) in which they’re struggling. Kind of like an afterschool tutor, only cheaper and more convenient. Since it’s web based it’s available whenever your child has the time or desire to spend working on it. Also, It’s fun, so they’ll enjoy it while learning, instead of just feeling like they’re doing more school!


The cost for K5 Learning is $25 monthly ($15 for each additional child) or $199 yearly ($129 each additional child). I would recommend that you take advantage of their 14 day trial just to see if this will benefit your child.

K5 offers four reading and math programs

K5 Reading covers phonemic awareness, phonics, sight words, vocabulary and reading comprehension

K5 Spelling is an advanced vocabulary program with a database of over 150,000 words

K5 Math aids student in learning math concepts in multiple areas  including time, money, algebra, data analysis, and geometry

K5 Math Facts uses mastery to help child retain all the important facts of addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division

(All four of these are all included with your single subscription)



In my opinion this program is perfect for busy parents because it’s 100% independent and its safe. No chat, ads, or external links. My son worked with K5 Learning but not nearly as much as I would have liked. He is really working hard with reading these days and he felt like this was just more work. However, I’m not giving up on K5 Learning. I will still encourage him to log in and work as often as possible, especially on days that I can’t invest a full amount of work on his reading program. I think K5 is a good option for any child needing a little extra work in one of the above mentioned areas.



If you would like to see what other TOS Crew members thought of this program, click here.

**Disclaimer: As a member of the TOS Homeschool Crew, I received this product free of charge, in exchange for my honest opinion/review. For more honest reviews from real homeschoolers, visit the TOS Crew website.


Friday, February 24, 2012

TOS Review: Reading Eggs


My kids have been spending quite a bit of time on the computer lately. In fact, lately, they are choosing the computer over the TV more often than not. So what’s got my kids situated at the computer with mom happy to have them there? Reading Eggs!

Reading Eggs is an online reading program designed to help children ages 3-13 on their reading journey. They do this through many activities which include songs, games, and rewards.

There are several pricing options available for Reading Eggs but the best value is $75.00 for 12 months. You can check out the other options available including a month by month plan, by visiting the pricing page.


My children were able to complete two maps which means they advanced past 20 lessons. Each map has 10 lessons and offers different areas to explore and learn in each. In all there are 120 reading lessons and 96 spelling lessons. These lessons are designed to be played more than once, since repetition builds fluency.


Reading Eggs begins with learning/reviewing a few of the letter sounds while building words, and practicing them until they become automatic. They also learn to put the words into sentences and by the time they finish the second map (20 lessons) they have covered several sentences and even a couple site words. Below is a screen shot of the ‘test’ they are given before advancing to the next map.


I really like the method Reading Eggs uses to teach reading because they break the words down by sound and have the child build the word(s) using different methods which engage the child's eyes, ears, and hands (I don’t know if this is considered an Orton-Gillingham based program but it definitely incorporates portions of it.)

So I’ve already mentioned that my children LOVE Reading Eggs. They BEG to play it daily, hourly even. In fact when I opened it to begin writing my review, they came running. However, that in and of itself, isn’t enough for me to put my badge of approval on it. But, I found nothing offensive about this program and thought they did an excellent job teaching and reviewing the concepts. I give it a thumbs up!

All of that being said, I will now give the ugly part of my review. Reading Eggs, for some reason was not very effective with helping my children learn to read. In a way I feel like it’s more my kids than the program itself. I didn’t use it as a stand alone program, instead I used it as a supplement to their reading lessons. My daughter is only 4 years old so I don’t really expect her to take off and start reading right now. I know some do, but mine probably won’t. My son is 6 years old but is really struggling to blend those letters into sounds into words. I’m not pushing him too hard, and am really hoping eventually Reading Eggs will be the fun nudge that moves him into the land of reading. And although they still aren’t sounding out cvc words with ease, they are able to sound out some and they can actually spell more than they sound out.

After all the time they spent on Reading Eggs and with me doing their regular reading lessons the only word they seem to get (without sounding it out) is c-a-t spells cat! They can read it and spell it. It’s a little disheartening but I know every child learns at their own pace. Well, I take that back, they both know *at* and *am* pretty well too. We’ve only been at it about 3-4 weeks so I’m hoping things will improve with time. I know Reading Eggs can’t hurt them and I’m hoping it’ll work it’s magic and every thing will click into place soon. The key will turn, the light will come on, and BOOM they’ll be reading chapter books! I’m probably a little dreamy but I prefer that to reality sometimes Smile

Would you like to try before you buy? Click for a FREE TRIAL.

Would you like to read some of the other reviews? CLICK HERE.


**Disclaimer: As a member of the TOS Homeschool Crew, I received this product free of charge, in exchange for my honest opinion/review. For more honest reviews from real homeschoolers, visit the TOS Crew website.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

TOS Review: All About Reading

Recently my family was lucky enough to be chosen to review two All About Learning  products: All About Reading  Level 1 and the Deluxe Reading Interactive Kit. These two products actually go together but the Deluxe kit isn’t necessary to complete the program. This is All About Learning's brand new program designed to help children, with or without reading struggles, learn to read easily and effectively. I used this program with my six year old son and my four year old daughter.

The Deluxe Reading Kit I received came with everything you see below.
I feel really blessed to have been given an opportunity to look over this program and try it out with my children for two reasons. First, we had just completed a pre-reading program that introduced the letter sounds, so the next obvious step for us would be to begin blending. Second, this program teaches the way I believe my children need to be taught, using multi-sensory methods that are straight to the point, with lots of review, and not overshadowed by flash and bling. You know what I mean by that, lots of distracting colors and busy worksheets that take away from the real task at hand, learning to read.
Learning to read is such a vital, yet difficult task for many children that, in my opinion, every program should be taught with the idea that the child learning, may not fit the cookie cutter mold. In other words, you may have a struggling reader on your hands and not know it until you’ve been using the typical phonics program, that only 80% of the students are able to learn to read with, for quite awhile. By then you’ve wasted valuable time with the child and, unfortunately,  you may have to go back to square one.
The All About Reading program uses all five of the key components of reading:
  • Phonological Awareness
  • Phonics and Decoding
  • Fluency
  • Vocabulary
  • Comprehension
---> The Level 1 Kit is $99.95 and consists of a teacher’s manual, student packet and three hardback readers
--->The Interactive Reading Deluxe Kit for Level 1 is $48.95 and it includes the Letter Tiles and magnets, a cute Tote, Phonogram CD, Reading Divider Cards, Star Stickers, and Reading Review Box (**Note I love all the bells and whistles that come with a deluxe anything but if money is an issue, there are other options available besides this deluxe kit, such as the Basic Reading Interactive Kit  ($28.95) or getting just the Letter Tiles ($11.95). This program is worth the investment, but you don’t have to get everything).

Before you Begin

There is a little bit of time involved initially because you have to pop out all the cards and letters and even put magnet's on the backs (We purchased a magnetic dry erase board for $15 and we keep our letters on this board, this was the company’s recommendation). I did my prep work while watching TV and riding in the van so it wasn’t too bad. After that the prep work is basically over. You open the book and go each day. It’s laid out in a very easy to understand and follow plan. I LOVE that about this program!

How it’s Supposed to Work

The All About Reading Level 1  program has 49 lessons. The first two lessons are slightly different but after those are complete you will follow this basic 5 step plan:
  1. Before You Begin: This is your prep work. Usually not much here to do.
  2. Review: You review what you’ve taught thus far
  3. New Teaching: Using the letter tiles, activity sheets, fluency exercises and/or reader you will teach the new concepts. (By lesson 5 your child will be reading out of their cool hardback reader, “Run Bug, Run!”) The activity sheets are kind of fun without being overwhelming. My kids enjoy the variety and we use them over and over for review purposes. (You can see a picture of one of these activities below “Feed the Monster”)
  4. Read-Aloud Time: Spend 20 min reading to your child (So important! I love that they schedule this in!)
  5. Track Your Progress: The easiest part, and my kids favorite part, adding a star to their progress chart for completing a lesson
    Feed the Monster
A cute review game that uses bones with words for the kids to read and ‘feed the monster’


The author of this program, Marie Rippel, suggests doing five short lessons each week. Let your child determine the length of the lesson. If after 10 minutes they seem to not be paying attention or showing much interest, find a good stopping point and end your lesson for the day. If your child is older you may want to do two 20 min sessions per day. Another idea, for little kids especially, is to set a timer for 15-20 minutes and get as much done as you can in that amount of time. Always begin your day with 2-3 minutes of reviewing their cards, then move on to where you left off.


Making it Work for Us

So that’s how it was designed to work and it really does work that way, but I thought I’d add more detail and share some of the changes I had to make to suite my kids.
If you notice in the top picture there is a yellow box, this is for storing the phonogram and word cards. Each day we review about 10 of these and once they can read the word or say the sound without hesitation, the card is moved to the mastered pile (we haven’t moved many of the words but they know their phonograms really well). The magnetic board is where the kids use the tiles to build words, this is part of the Orton-Gillingham method of using multisensory (sound, sight, and touch) tools to teach reading and spelling.
One of the main purposes of Orton-Gillingham or multi-sensory learning is to engage the three main pathways of learning, which are visual, auditory, and kinesthetic. In doing so the child is taught in the way they were created to learn best (whether it be visual, auditory, or kinesthetic) and they are more likely to retain what they learn when they learn it all three ways simultaneously.
Since the blending wasn’t really ‘clicking’ with my kids I sort of paused after a few lessons and worked on practicing our blending using the multi-sensory approach. This is what we are doing:
I will choose one of the words in their word stack and decide whether I want them to spell it or read it, then we follow these steps for each:
-For spelling a word I will say the word and have them repeat it after me. Then they will build the word by saying each sound and pulling down the corresponding letter tile. I then have them touch and say each letter sound and then blend the sounds to see if they spelled the correct word.
-For reading a word I will build the word with the tiles and have them touch each individual tile while saying it’s sound and then run their finger under the word and blend it together.
We also had M&M drills. They took turns drawing a card from their word stack and if they could read it correctly they received a reward
All About Reading 003
The reward for a correct answer…
All About Reading 009
This worked amazingly well!!!

As I stated earlier, the blending process has proven to be really difficult for my kids so we are just going at our own pace. I know some will be able to complete a lesson in one day (it’s definitely doable if your child can blend easily), but I didn’t think it was the best for us, so we decided to take several days for each lesson. I want blending to be easier for them before we continue adding more and more words for them to recognize. We already have a pretty hefty stack and they have to sound out each of these (with difficulty).
**Update: 5 days after writing this review I was working with my 6 yr. old son and as we worked through his fluency chart, he began sounding and blending almost effortlessly. He was able to correctly blend the majority of the words, phrases, and sentences on the page. This is the first time he’s been able to have a long reading lesson with no frustration (he is easily frustrated with anything that is the least bit challenging for him). This is truly amazing because we have dyslexia on both sides of our family and I have seen several early signs of it in him. Praise the Lord! This is more than wonderful! My 4 yr. old is doing okay but it hasn’t really clicked like that for her…yet Smile If I could just get her to read the words from left to right I think it would happen for her too.

The Highlights of My Review

What you will get with All About Reading is a very easy to follow plan to teach even the struggling reader how to read without becoming discouraged (that means you too!). By starting with Level 1 or even Pre-Level 1 your child will get everything he or she needs in order to become an avid reader, there are no gaps in this program.
As a parent I couldn’t ask for a better program to teach my child to read. The Teachers Manual was laid out beautifully without a lot of extra details that would cause me to want to shut it and put it away. It has just the basics that I need to achieve my lesson for that day. I could simply glance at it and go. After doing a couple lessons you kind of get an idea of what’s happening next and it becomes even easier. Love it!

We really enjoyed the fun, simple activities that can be carried out easily without a lot of pre-planning. This is a picture of one of my older boys helping his younger siblings with phonogram and word BINGO. We’ve already made some nice memories. Thank you All About Learning!

I really felt like All About Learning was committed to seeing my children and me succeed. I spoke with them on several different occasions about my children’s individual weaknesses and needs and each and every time they responded in a quick and helpful manner.
Make sure you visit the All About Reading website, there are tons of downloads, samples, and useful information to help you determine whether this program will work for your family. And I will say they offer a sweet guarantee:
When you purchase through us, you get our "Go Ahead and Use It" one-year guarantee. You have one full year to try out our programs. If you find that any of the curriculums do not meet your needs, simply return the materials at any time within one year of purchase for a full refund of your purchase price.
In addition, you'll get lifetime support, so if you ever have a question, we're here to help!
If that doesn’t make you want to give this company a try I don’t know what will Smile
So if you didn’t get all the info you wanted from my review head on over to the crew blog for more reviews.
**Disclaimer: As a member of the TOS Homeschool Crew, I received this product free of charge, in exchange for my honest opinion/review. For more honest reviews from real homeschoolers, visit the TOS Crew website.

Monday, February 20, 2012

TOS Review: Beeyoutiful


Beeyoutiful has given me the opportunity to review a couple of their products and I must say, I have been very pleased with these natural alternatives. This is an overview of what they believe, straight from the ABOUT US tab on their site:

At, we believe that each individual is responsible for their own health. It is not a doctor's responsibility to keep you in good health. Instead they are a tremendous resource, especially for those times when urgent care is required. But, they are only one of many resources. And the tools they use, while powerful, are not the only tools available. But a tool is worthless unless one knows how to use it.

We have found a lot a tools that have worked very well for our families, and made Beeyoutiful a repository for those tools, as well as the information to effectively use them. As we learn more, we share more. Our goal is to eventually carry every natural product that we use. We're not there yet. We may never be as we are constantly being exposed to new and great products. As much as is in our power, we want to aid others in obtaining and maintaining good health.

Our mission is to do good to all men. Please let us know how we're doing!

  The two products that I have been using daily since I received them a month ago, are the Milk and Honey Facial Bar and B.A.L.M. lip moisturizer.


Milk and Honey Facial Bar


  This was a cute little beehive bar of soap that lasts a long time. In fact I’ve used it twice daily for weeks and it looks like it’s been barely used at all. It’s made from bee products (honey, propolis, pollen, and wax) along with goat milk. I still enjoy washing my face with this cute little bee hive each day, it just feels good. It has little speckles that work as an exfoliate. My skin feels really soft and clean after washing with this.

The website claims this product will repair sores, fight acne, soothe chapping, and balance uneven or oily skin. I had a few small pimples pop up when I first started using it, but they eventually cleared up. As for clearing up oily skin, it most definitely did help with that. It’s nice to use something that I know is natural and good for my skin. 

The cost for this bar is $10, but if you purchase in bulk you can receive discounts up to 20%




  I received the peppermint version of B.A.L.M. (Beeyoutiful All-natural Lip Moisturizer) and I am in love! Anyone who knows me, knows that I always have a lip moisturizer within reach. I have them in my purse, coat pockets, and all over the house. Since receiving B.A.L.M. none of the others stack up (and believe me, I have ALL the brands, thanks to my couponing) I will go out of my way to find my B.A.L.M. instead of using the stick that’s within my reach. If I’d been given the choice I probably would have taken the orange flavor, but after trying the peppermint I am glad to have it instead of orange! It’s so refreshing!

B.A.L.M. is made from these natural ingredients: grape seed oil, shea butter, beeswax, and essential oils.The cost for B.A.L.M. is $3 or 3 for $2.70 each.

A variety of Beeyoutiful products were reviewed by the TOS Crew so be sure to visit the crew blog post for more reviews.


**Disclaimer: As a member of the TOS Homeschool Crew, I received this product free of charge, in exchange for my honest opinion/review. For more honest reviews from real homeschoolers, visit the TOS Crew website.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Spring, Winter, or Both??


Yesterday we worked in the yard almost as if preparing for spring. It was 60 degrees and sunny. A fun day for sure!




And then there’s today…



…we’re at 2 inches and it’s still falling


The kids couldn’t wait until morning so they’re having a nighttime snowball fight



We’ve been waiting all year for a good snow and it came on the eve of our snow tubing trip…hope we’re still able to go

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