TOS Review: Captain Bayley’s Heir (Heirloom Audio Productions)

Heirloom Audio Productions Have you ever wanted to travel to the Wild Wild West? Did you ever wonder what it was like to travel to unsettled areas and deal with the adventures you would find there? If you have, you definitely want to check out this review of Captain Bayley’s Heir from Heirloom Audio Productions, because it will take you right there!

Captain Bayley's HeirFirst, let me say, we have reviewed for Heirloom before and are always pleased with what they have to offer. In fact, I have a few expectations now whenever I get to listen to their audiodramas: 1. a stellar cast: Yes, they have amazing talent for all of their stories. From Brian Blessed, who features on the majority of their recordings, to others like Jade Williams and Ian Porter, you are getting a top-notch performance from everyone! These people really seem to LIVE their characters, which helps you get totally lost in the story. 2. Amazing soundtrack/sound effects: whoever does the sound recordings for Heirloom should be commended! Their sound effects/music/etc are always on point and perfectly suited to whatever is happening in the story. Like, if you close your eyes, you really feel like you are there!

So, without giving too much away, this particular story, based on a classic GA Henty novel, features the story of Frank, an English lad falsely accused of theft when it comes to his inheritance. He flees to America to escape the charges and encounters the Captain on his journey. In addition, he travels across the country in the heart of the Gold Rush, ecountering raids, stagecoach robberies, buffalo and more along the way. Of course, he alos encounters the Lord and learns a lot along the way.

So, why do we love Captain Bayley (and the other audiodramas from Heirloom) so much?
Mainly because it is pure, wholesome family entertainment. You can listen to this with kids of all ages (the first one of these I reviewd, I think my youngest was 11, now he’s 16) and never have to worry about what is going to be said. We enjoy saving the CDs for road trips when we can all listen together, but you can also put them in a CD player at the house. The chapters are conviently divided, so it is easy to pick up right where you left off each day!

Also, these audiodramas are just plain exciting! I have two boys who are now older teenagers and they have spent many years listening to these, and they always find them entertaining. As a homeschool mom, I appreciate the historical content, because I can see how you could easily use this story as part of a larger unit study/history study if you wanted too.

In additon to the CDs, you also gain access to bonus content which includes a study guide. I always enjoy these study guides, because even though we primarily use the audiodramas from Heirloom for entertainment, I still like to know my kids are getting something else from listening, you know? The study guide includes discussion questions from each chapter which range from basic recall to questions that require a lot of synthesizing information and drawing conclusions. We use these strictly for discussion, but you could absolutely have older students write their answers to them if you wanted.

Helpful vocabulary and background information is also included as well as Bible studies related to the story. On the whole, the study guides help take Captain Bayley from an exciting audiodrama to a real teaching tool. If you want to access the extra materials you need to sign up for the Live the Adventure Club which is a new feature Heirloom offers that allows you to connect with other people listening to the same story you are, gain access to extras and more. I know, sometimes you don’t want to sign up for one more thing, and to be honest, I get that, but it’s worth it.

In short, we totally enjoyed this product! To learn more, connect with Heirloom Audio on social media here:

Heirloom Audio on Facebook

Heirloom Audio on Twitter

Heirloom Audio on Instagram

To see what other members of the crew thought of this product, click here:


Captain Bayley's Heir {Heirloom Audio Productions Reviews}Crew Disclaimer 


TOS Review: MyFreezEasy Freezer Meal Plan Membership {MyFreezEasy}

As a busy mom, finding time to cook every night is hard enough. But now that my husband and I decided to open a small business, and I work several nights a week, it’s even harder. However, I still want to make sure my family eats healthy meals at least most of the time. I’ve heard about “freezer cooking” before, and wanted to try it out,but it seemed so complicated. When I got the chance to try out the Freezer Plan Membership from MyFreezEasy, for this review I figured I would give it a try.

The premium membership included access to a variety of different plans each month. Choose a specific type of plan like the Slow Cooker Plan, the Gluten Free Plan, the all beef or pork plan, and more. Each plan gives you the indgredients and directions to make 5 meals. You can simply download the PDF file, print the shopping list, and come back and start cooking.


You can also build your own custom meal plan (which is what I do), selecting up to five recipes from a variety of plans and receiving your own customized PDF. If you wanted to, you could download a new plan for each week. The recipes offer a nice variety of meats and vegetables while some are just for meat and you can make your own veggies when you cook the meal. Vegetarian recipes are also included.

Apricot chicken prep

Apricot chicken prep

For my first set of recipes, I choose the slow cooker Beef and Black bean chili, which was a one-dish meal, Cuban Pork, slow cooker Green Chile Chicken, Lemon Dijon Salmon and Apricot Chicken. Most of the recipes I chose came from the Paleo category, because I do not eat a lot of carbs myself, and it is very easy for me to whip up some mashed potatoes, pasta, or rice to use as a side for my family.

Beef and Black Bean Chili

Beef and Black Bean Chili

When you choose your recipes you can also choose your portion size, so, in the case of the slow cooker meals, I choose a portion of 8 because I like to make a double batch in my slow cooker so we can eat for two days off of one meal. I like this feature because it does all the calculating for me and I don’t have to try to double everything in my head!

Cuban Pork Chops

Cuban Pork Chops

As far as putting the meals together, I was worried it would be really complicated, but it turned out it wasn’t. The website has helpful videos to show you examples of assembling meals, and the PDF really lays out the instructions step-by-step. I spent about two hours prepping my meals one morning in the kitchen (while I had that night’s dinner already going in the crock pot). I have a feeling I will get faster at this as time goes on.

Apricot Chicken

Apricot Chicken

So, how were they? Well, my family loved everything I made from my meal plan. One change I did make was upping the called for spices a little, because my family loves spice and flavor, but it’s cool that you can make adjustments as you go. Also, getting the meals prepped and in the bag was easier than I thought. If you want to, you can use the printable labels for your bags, but I just wrote the name of the meal on the bag with a sharpie marker.

Apricot Chicken

Apricot Chicken

When it comes time to cook, you simply thaw the meal (and you can even thaw it in water for about 20 minutes if you forget to pull it out, which may or may not have happened to me), place it in the dish or slow cooker, and let it cook! Let me tell you, this was so easy on the days when I was running around doing stuff for the business and homeschooling and everything else. It made me feel so good to know that a healthy dinner was already prepped and ready to go at home.

Cuban Pork

Cuban Pork

MyFreezEasy offers different levels of memberships, ranging from $7-10 per month or $77-95 dollars per year, so you can choose the level that suits your family. The Premium membership that I got feels so worth it! Learn more by connecting the MyFreezEasy on social media:

FreezEasy on Facebook

FreezEasy on Instagram

FreezEasy on Pinterest

To see what other members of the crew had to say about this product, click here: Freezer Meal Plan Membership {MyFreezEasy}Crew DisclaimerSave



TOS Review: FlipStir Puzzles (Enlivenze LLC)

FlipStir Puzzles Reviews

Who doesn’t love a good puzzle? As a kid I could spend hours putting puzzles together. Horse puzzles were my favorite. My boys enjoy a good puzzle every now and then, but like a lot of things from my childhood, they tend to get bored after a while. However, the FlipStir puzzles from Enlivenze LLC put a new twist (literally) on puzzle-solving. For this review, we got to check out the Statue of Liberty puzzle.

FlipStir Puzzles Reviews

First of all, FlipStir puzzles are fully 3D and you don’t use your hands to put the pieces together like you do in a traditional puzzle. Instead, each puzzle comes in its own self-contained plastic tube. The challenge is to put the pieces together using a stick inserted in the tube, and shaking, turning, and flipping the tube itself. Sound a little crazy? It was, and quite fun and challenging.

The picture of the completed puzzle is included on a sticker at the bottom of the tube, so you can use it as a reference. The statue of liberty puzzle that we did is considered a Level 2 puzzle, so it’s a little harder than the Level 1 puzzles. Well, for me at least, it was really hard! It reminded me of the games you play on your phone where you have to tilt the screen just right to get the ball to roll into the hole. You have to get things lined up just right to make it work.

Each member of my family had a different approach to solving the puzzle. I am a shaker. Basically that means I just shake the tube back and forth, trying to get the pieces to line up (at least most of them) and then I try using the stick to finish the rest. My youngest has a style similar to mine, but he’s a lot more patient than I am. My oldest son and hubby take a more careful, analytical approach, carefully trying to move each piece into place.

So far, my hubby and my youngest have gotten the farthest with the puzzle, but none of us have solved it yet! I think the challenge is what makes it so much fun. I think this is a great party game. My cousin and her family were visiting us recently and my youngest got it out and everyone wanted a chance to try it. It was hilarious watching people as they worked hard to solve the puzzle. I could also see this being a great way to keep kids occupied on road trips, or on busy days when you have to run a lot of errands. The puzzle itself is small enough to fit in a backpack or tote bag, and since it is self-contained, you don’t have to worry about the pieces spilling everywhere.

There are several FlipStir puzzles to choose from, so the entertainment possibilities are endless. To learn more, connect with Enlivenze and FlipStir on social media:

FlipStir on Facebook

FlipStir on Twitter

Enlivenze on Facebook

Enlivenze on Twitter

To see what other members of the crew thought of the puzzles, click here:
FlipStir Puzzles Reviews

Crew Disclaimer



TOS Review: MaxScholar

MaxScholar Reading Intervention Programs Review

Although we take summers off from official school, I am always looking for ways to incorporate spelling, vocabulary and other subjects into our curriculum that are easy and painless, especially for summer learning. Spelling in particular is one area that my youngest son still needs a lot of work (even as a middle school/high school student). However, doing an additional paper and pencil curriculum on top of our regular work is often met with complaints, while computer-based learning meets much less resistance. For that reason, I was excited to check out the MaxScholar Reading Intervention Programs from MaxScholar.

I received a MaxGuru subscription, giving my son access to variety of programs to help build his reading, vocabulary, spelling, and even geography and music skills. We started with MaxReading at an 8th grade level. The program begins with a pre-test that assesses comprehension and reading skills. After completing the test, students do regular activities at their level, progressing through levels as their skills improve. Lessons are short and manageable, perfect for my restless boy. He also found the topics interesting, with a lot of them being related to pop culture and people he recognized (in his words, he wasn’t reading a bunch of “boring, irrelevant” stories). We did daily practice with this three days per week, which we will continue through the summer. I really like the fact that MaxReading automatically adapts to your child’s reading level without you having to do anything.

MaxWords is a phonics-based program that again, offers multiple levels for students. Students at the older levels can practice syllabication, Greek and Latin Roots, and more. The syllabication activities also allow students to build their reading fluency with a timed reading. I really liked the Greek and Latin roots part of the program which teaches kids a variety of roots and then offers multiple games and activities that allow them to really work with the roots until they understand them.

In addition to phonics, vocab, and reading, students also get to practice reading skills in the context of reading about people and places. In MaxPlaces, students can explore a number of countries by reading a short passage, highlighting important parts of the text, and then answering a series of questions about what they read. It’s setup is much like the reading portion of the program, but this gives kids a chance to learn some geography and history. We were already studying Australia, so this was a great addition to that. I really really like the highlighting because, as a former English teacher, I find that older students often have a difficult time discerning what is important in the text. Many times I had students who would highlight entire paragraphs! Being able to pick out the most important parts of a passage will help later on when students need to take notes and write research papers!


MaxBios is set up the same way, but in this portion of MaxScholar, students learn about famous people like athletes, musicians, historical figures, people in business, etc. Again, my son was just excited that even though he had to do “work” at least he got to read about people from this century if he wanted to!

MaxMusic offers a chance to build grammar and music skills in a really fun way. It provides lyrics from songs from current and famous older artists, and asks students to identify parts of speech, recall words, and even gives them a chance to play the song on a virtual piano. This part was probably the most fun for my son, and I can’t overlook the fact that he was having fun while practicing grammar, a subject that usually results in a LOT of stress, arguing, complaining and tension for the two of us!


If you look at MaxScholar and think it’s only for younger children, let me tell you, you are wrong. They have tons of age-appropriate activities for older kids too, and they also offer a ton of games on top of all the other stuff! My son built his vocabulary while playing hangman, and would sometimes log on just to play if he got bored. They also offer an App for smartphones so you can access MaxScholar on the go!

If you are looking for a fun way to work in some learning activities and supplement your curriculum I would definitely recommend you check it out. It’s a great way to provide some extra practice on important skills, or, like I said, use it as a summer program. To learn more, connect with MaxScholar on social media here:

MaxScholar on Facebook

MaxScholar on Twitter

MaxScholar on Pinterest

MaxScholar on Google+

MaxScholar on LinkedIn

MaxScholar on YouTube

To see what other members of the crew thought of this, and the other programs we got to check out, click here:

MaxScholar Reading Intervention Programs Review

Crew Disclaimer






TOS Review: Hey Mama! Schoolhouse Planner

Hey Mama! Schoolhouse Planner 2016-2017 ReviewI don’t know about you, but I love paper and pencil planning. I know a lot of people like to use digital planners or stuff they can download and print, but, just like I enjoy reading physical books and magazines, I LOVE having a printed planner to write it. So, I was really excited to get to review the Hey Mama!Print Schoolhouse Planner 2016-2017 from The Old Schoolhouse.

First of all, the planner itself is beautiful. The spiral binding is really strong, which is important because I hate when the spirals wear out while you’re using something. The color scheme is gorgeous too, and it’s full of great pictures. It offers full calendars for 2016-2018, which are really useful for planning out your school year in advance. I like to go in and circle all of our breaks, holidays, and other days off before I start planning the year so I can get an idea of the time frame.

It also offers calendar pages from July 2016 through 2017. I really rely on these to keep track of everyone’s schedule, from my hubby’s work days, to church commitments, to homeschool group days and birthdays. The blocks on the page are large, so you can record a lot of different things, and there is a blank space on the side where I like to keep track of my reviews for the month.

You can further break down your planning with the weekly schedule. These pages have blocks for planning for up to five people. On Sundays, I break out the planner and fill in the boxes for myself, my kids, and my hubby. I write down any appointments/commitments we have that week, my oldest son’s work schedule, and also what is on the menu for each day. That way, every morning, I can check the planner and know exactly what needs to be done.

But that’s not all the planner has to offer. Each month, you get a beautiful devotional message, as well as a place to record notes for the month. The planner is also loaded with useful information for moms like how to care for a cast-iron skillet and how butter churns work. I look forward to reading these and they usually make me smile.

Another page that I find really useful is the curriculum planning sheet and goal sheets. These allow you to record your planned curriculum for the year, as well as goals for each child in several areas including academics, spirituality, physical goals, life skills and more. I find that plotting out my goals for the year before I get into shopping for curriculum and planning out our days helps me to focus.

Now that I have one graduated high schooler and another who is in high school, I also really appreciate the transcript page as well. This allows you to record high school credits, which is so important. Trust me, you don’t want to have to put together a transcript from scratch when your child is about to apply to college. There are also pages to record attendance, books read for the year, and more. At the back of the planner they also offer some awesome reference pages that list things like the Presidents in order, a timeline of inventions, a list of writing prompts, and the states and capitals.

If you love physical planners as much as I do, you don’t want to miss out on this one. Even though we just finished school for the summer, I am already excited about planning for next year! To learn more, connect with The Old Schoolhouse on social media here:

The Old Schoolhouse on Facebook

The Old Schoolhouse on Instagram

The Old Schoolhouse on Twitter

The Old Schoolhouse on Google+

To see what other members of the crew had to say about this planner, click here:

Hey Mama! Schoolhouse Planner 2016-2017 Review

Crew Disclaimer

TOS Review: Devonian – GREEMU

Greemu Devonian ReviewAs much as I hate to admit it, I am getting older, and while my mind tries to tell me this isn’t true, my body definitely disagrees! I am always on the lookout for natural ways to fight the signs of aging, particularly on my face. For this review, I was excited to check out GREEMU from Devonian. An alternative to Emu Oil, GREEMU is distributed by Koru Naturals, a company dedicated to bringing natural home and beauty products to their customers.

Made of Shea Butter, Macadamia Seed Oil, Palm Oil, Sunflower Seed Oil, and Rice Bran Oil, GREEMU can help combat fine lines and wrinkles on your skin and help reduce split ends and add shine to your hair. The 4-ounce bottle holds plenty of product, as you only need to use a little at a time, and I think it could easily last me for months. It comes with a card that shows the breakdown of the lipids and how they stack up to Emu oil. As a plant based product, GREEMU is perfect for people who want the benefits of using Emu oil without using something that includes animal products.

I felt the composition of the GREEMU oil was consistent with other oils I have tried. It did not feel too greasy when I applied it on my skin and it absorbed quickly. As with the Emu oil, I used this on the fine lines on my forehead first, and I felt that after a few weeks of consistent use, the lines were a lot less deep than they were when I started (I had been using my Emu oil consistently until I ran out not too long ago, and let me tell you, it did make a big difference). I like the GREEMU because it also left my skin feeling smooth and soft and was odorless. I applied it at night before going to bed, but if you don’t wear a lot of make up, you could probably put it on in the morning.

I also tried it in my hair to see if it would help tame my flyaways (my hair gets pretty frizzy in this Florida humidity). I typically use an Olive Oil based product to shine and tame my hair after blow drying because it is one of the few that doesn’t give it that stringy, greasy look, but, I am happy to say, the GREEMU oil made my hair shiny and left it feeling soft, but not with that “unwashed” feeling.

Overall, I am very happy with this product. I like the natural ingredients because my skin is naturally oily and sensitive and I find that other products tend to make me break out. I also like how it made my skin feel. I’ve started to use it on my hands at night too, and when I wake up in the morning they feel so soft! I would definitely recommend this if you are looking for natural skin care. The bottle costs around $10, but like I said, you only need to use a little at a time, so I think it’s a great value because one bottle will last a while. To learn more, connect with Koru Naturals on social media here:

Koru Naturals on Facebook

Koru Naturals on Pinterest

To see what other members of the crew thought of this product, click here:
Greemu Devonian Review

Crew Disclaimer

TOS Review:

Exclusive High School Diploma ReviewWhile it is extremely hard for me to believe, my oldest will be graduating high school at the end of next month. This is incredibly exciting, but it also takes my breath away. We are very fortunate that our state homeschool association offers a big graduation ceremony that you can sign up for, and he is SO excited to have a formal event for all of our family to attend. I am really excited that for this review, I got to order the Exclusive High School Diploma from to give him when he graduates. It is absolutely beautiful, and I know it is going to be a very special way to commemorate his high school journey.

First of all, the Exclusive Diploma offers you a variety of options so you can totally customize the design to meet your needs. It features a thick, padded cover that looks and feels absolutely professional. You can choose from different colors like blue, green, and red, but we went with the standard black. You can also choose from four different seals to go on the front. The seals and lettering are embossed and feel really smooth when you run your hand over them. We choose the “Soli Deo Gloria” seal because we wanted something that honored the Lord, and we also liked the Latin wording. Other seals recognize private education and classical homeschooling.

After choosing the outside, you customize the inside of your diploma with the name of your school and your student. From there, you get to decide on the wording of the diploma. The company offers four wording options, that range from standard state wording that recognizes the completion of high school, to college prep wording that acknowledges challenging coursework, to faith-based wording focused on both the student’s coursework and God’s hand in their lives. We went with the “Thanks to God” wording, because our schooling was faith-based and we wanted to express our thanks for the opportunity to school our son at home.

You also get to choose another seal for the actual diploma. This one comes in full color and is gorgeous. You can choose a different seal than the one you put on the cover, but we went with the same one, and I think it’s beautiful. The diploma itself is printed on nice, heavy-duty paper and you get to choose between ivory parchment or cream colored stock, we went with the cream. I think it gives it a nice antique look. You can also add a verse to the diploma (we chose Proverbs 3:5-6) if you want at no extra cost.

Additional options for extra fees include adding an honors designation to the diploma, printing your child’s name on the cover, illuminating the letters of the school name, and adding a tassel. We didn’t choose any of these, but I feel like, for $48.99, the diploma we got is beautiful. Honestly, when it came in the mail and I looked at it, it made me cry. does a beautiful job with these!

Besides the Exclusive Diploma, they also have other diplomas that start at a lower rate, and they offer a number of other items like class rings, graduation announcements, photo albums, and gifts. They sent a sample of their announcements, and I can see that the same high-quality work goes into them that goes into their diplomas. They are also printed on high-quality paper with beautiful designs, and I am really thinking about ordering some this month to send out.

If you have a high school student, I would definitely suggest you take a look at what has to offer. Even if they aren’t graduating yet, bookmark their page for when the time comes. Believe me, it’s going to happen sooner then you think, and they offer amazing products for a great price! I can’t wait to watch my son cross the stage and receive his diploma. I know I’m going to cry, but that’s okay. And I’m glad he’s going to have a beautiful diploma to hang on his wall. I will definitely return to order another one in three years when his brother graduates!

To learn more, connect with on social media here: on Facebook on Twitter on Pinterest

To see what other members of the crew had to say about the diplomas they received, click here:

Exclusive High School Diploma Review

Crew Disclaimer

TOS Review: Stopmotion Explosion

Stopmotion Explosion Review

Sometimes you just like to have a little fun, and maybe encourage your kids to explore a creative avenue that might turn into a future career. Both of my boys have at one point or another, considered film animation as a direction to follow. They used to use digital cameras to take tons of pictures of their toy cars and turn them into 30-second movies. So, we were excited to check out the Stopmotion Explosion Animation Kit for this review.

Stopmotion Explosion Review

The animation kit comes with an HD video camera, a CD with software that you install on your computer, a quickstart guide, and a 290-page book all about animation. In addition, the Stopmotion Explosion website offers video tutorials to help you get started. The program is easy to install and I just put it on my laptop. My son was eager to start playing with it right away, so he set up the camera and started taking some shots.

He was so excited. He really didn’t have any trouble getting started with the software all on his own. However, after filming his first show with his army men, he realized how much footage he was going to need to create a film and decided he wanted to start a little smaller, and also read the book!

The Animate Anything and Make Movies book that comes with the program is incredible. I think it’s a fantastic book for anyone interested in animated films. It features 17 chapters on topics ranging from building sets, to lighting, to sound and editing. The parts about how to create special effects were particularly exciting. I really liked the fact that the book got into the techniques of making animated films, explaining the details of what composition is and why it is important in filmmaking, because I felt like it was really teaching my son skills while also allowing him to have a lot of fun.

There were a few things that we learned along the way, like making a full animated film takes a pretty long time and a lot of patience. My son (and now his older brother, who after watching from the sidelines for a while is also interested in this!) is still working on a plan for a Lego film. The two of them are actually sitting down together to come up with a script and then make plans for the scenery, visual effects, and everything else they need. In the meantime, they are experimenting with the camera to learn more about how to use it and what it can do with short images and series of shots.

I kind of like the fact that while my son was really excited and ready to jump right on this from the start, after using it, he now wants to take his time and really dig into it. I mean, I haven’t seen him this excited about learning something in a while. He’s really exploring this in depth on his own, and learning so many concepts. Maybe one day he will grow up to work on animated films in the future!

Check out this short video he made so far:

We really enjoyed the Animation Kit from Stopmotion Explosion! To learn more about it, connect with them on social media here:

Stopmotion Explosion on Facebook

Stopmotion Explosion on Twitter

To see what other members of the crew had to say about this product, and the other products we got to check out, click here:

Stopmotion Explosion ReviewCrew Disclaimer

TOS Review:

HelpTeaching ReviewOnline learning websites are a great way to supplement your teaching, especially when things get busy. With an 8th grader and high school senior, I am always looking for ways to bring in some more challenging content (or in some cases extra help) for certain subjects. For this review, we got to check out the Pro Plan from, and it turned out to be a big help for a number of reasons.

Help Teaching offers a huge bank of lessons for grades Kindergarten on through high school with videos, practice activities, games and tests designed to help kids learn all kinds of topics in Language Arts, Reading, Math, and Science. Some of the videos are made by the company, others are from Khan Academy,, and Bozeman Science. There are lessons on a variety of topics. For my boys we focused on grammar (modifiers, verbals), reading (irony, propaganda, hyperbole), and math (probability, geometry), and my youngest wanted to check out some of the science just because he’s like that.

Now, once you set up a parent account, you go in and set up your classroom and add students. Then, you assign lessons by emailing the student the link to the lesson. This was pretty easy for us as my boys are older and familiar with email and everything. All they had to do was go into their email, click on the link and start the lesson. As the teacher, I could log on, review what I had assigned, and watch their progress. This came in very handy as I had a few last minute trips come up this year and I had to leave my youngest with my hubby. Since I’m the one in charge of school, it was simply easier for me to assign work from Help Teaching for the time that I was gone. That way, I could log on from wherever I was at the end of the day and make sure he was getting his work done or reassign or change things as needed.

Another option on the Help Teaching website is to create your own tests based on content you’re teaching. You can make any kind of test you want, from short answer to multiple choice, and they even have a bank of questions you can choose from and a library of images to use if you wish. This is a handy tool, especially when you have older students. After a unit study, you could easily put together a short test or quiz if you wanted to, or you could create practice tests to help your child prepare for a bigger test.

HelpTeaching Review

The site also offers a number of printable worksheets. I found the study skills worksheets and graphic organizers particularly interesting, but they also have a ton of stuff for math, science, language arts, and even art, music, and seasonal activities. Even after using this for a few months, I still feel like I haven’t gotten into everything it has to offer and I think it’s going to be something I come back to and keep finding new reasons to love. Honestly, for less than $25 a year, I think is a great addition to any homeschool because it’s one of those things that will just make those hectic, crazy days easier, and also offers a lot of tools that they continuously update.

To learn more, connect with HelpTeaching on social media here:
Help Teaching on Facebook

Help Teaching on Google+

Help Teaching on Pinterest

Help Teaching on Twitter

To see what other members of the crew thought of this product, click here:
HelpTeaching Review

Crew Disclaimer

TOS Review: Brinkman Adventures

Brinkman Adventures Season 3 Review

Excitement! Adventure! And a little bit of danger. These are the kinds of stories my boys love. And I love introducing audio dramas into our lives, because then we can all get lost in the story. So far, we have loved every Brinkman Adventures series we have had the chance to listen to, so we were excited to check out Season 3 for this review.

Brinkman Adventures Season 3 Review

We were fortunate enough to get to review Season 2 of The Brinkman Adventures last year and my boys enjoyed it so much that they begged me to get the next season, so I was really happy to get a chance to review this one. The new season is packed with a bunch of new adventures, but in the familiar Brinkman format.

The 4-CD set contains 12 stories that will keep your family on the edge of your seats. In total, they offer over five hours of storytelling, conveniently broken up into tracks, so you can start and stop when it works for you. Typically, we would listen to these during times when my kids were working on art or writing projects, one track at a time, a couple of days a week. They also work really well for road trips! The stories are based on real stories, dramatized in incredible fashion. Honestly, the voice talent used to bring the stories to life is just superb. The way the actors portray the characters is never overdone, and the music and sound effects completely draw you into the story. From the moment we started each episode until the end, we felt like we were there.

Some of the stories are total nail biters. They take you from settings like Ecuador, to Alaska. And the people in the story face real dangers, like the threat of jail, the Taliban, and yes, even death. That is one thing about both seasons of the Brinkman Adventures that I will say. Listening to them really got my kids to think about the very real dangers that some missionaries face. We meet missionaries at our church, and my children are familiar with the work that many of them do. But, for some reason, listening to these stories like this really brought the reality of the lives they live to something tangible to my children. In the first episode, you get introduced to a young man, who gives up a very comfortable life, and the support of his family, to deliver bibles in a country where being a Christian could get you killed.

When his father disowned him, my younger son was really heartbroken. He couldn’t imagine a family turning their back on their child for answering God’s call. This is something that led to much discussion, and prayer, for us. Another story my son found really exciting was Man Up, a true story that happened to Mr. Brinkman’s brother-in-law and tells about God’s amazing provision. All of the stories in the Brinkman Adventures will point your children back to the Lord and provide plenty of talking points for you and your family, as well as offering wholesome entertainment for all ages! We love listening to these and my kids are already asking about season 4! I would definitely recommend checking them out. They are available as a CD set or an MP3 download.

To learn more, connect with the Brinkmans on social media here:
Brinkman Adventures on Facebook

To see what other members of the crew thought of this product, click here:
Brinkman Adventures Season 3 Review

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TOS Review: Apologia Educational Ministries

There is nothing like planning for a new school year. And I am a huge planner! I know a lot of people like to plan on their computers, but for me, there is just something about a good, old-fashioned paper and pencil planner. (I feel the same way about books! I am still a page turner too.). So, for this review, I was really excited to check out The Ultimate Homeschool Planner from Apologia Educational Ministries. They randomly sent out planners to crew members and I received the one with the pretty yellow cover!

Apologia Ultimate Homeschool PlannerSo, first impressions: the planner is wonderfully put together! I love the lilac color of the binding and the pockets on the inside are really convenient. The pages inside echo the same color scheme as the cover, and inspirational quotes decorate the pages. The very first page is a two-year calendar that runs through 2017, giving me a convenient monthly snapshot of the coming year. I can easily mark of holidays and school vacations in one sweep, and keep track of things like birthdays and other events.

From there, the planner offers a few pages that explain the purpose of some of the special pages in the front, such as the family priorities page and the yearly and monthly planning pages. The author suggests a yearly planning retreat, which I think sounds awesome! For me, this looks like a day spent at the library or coffee shop, books and schedule in hand. I started with the family priorities page and the goal setting page for both of my kids, because I feel like I can’t really plan subjects and schedules until I get a feel for our overall goals.

One of my biggest priorities for this year is planning for my oldest son’s high school graduation! EEEK! I can’t believe we are actually at the end of his homeschool journey! It is absolutely exciting and kind of heartbreaking at the same time!

When focusing on individual goals, I was looking at the last few credits I needed to get done for my oldest, while also looking at the specific skills I really need to address for my youngest as he prepares to enter high school. From there, I moved into the yearly planning pages, which have blank columns that allow you to number the days. From there you can write down recurring events (like Co-ops), holidays, vacations, and other non-movable events. I like the idea of sketching your whole year out at once like this because you do get a picture of exactly how much time you have for school, which does help you to be more realistic in your planning. (I don’t know if you have ever had a problem with wanting to do TOO much in a school year, but sometimes I see so many cool ideas, I just want to try them all! LOL)

After that, it’s easy to progress to the monthly and weekly planning stages. They have blank monthly calendars with plenty of space to record field trips, doctors appointments, meetings, dance classes and anything else you need. Then, the weekly planner really breaks things down with space for you to record your personal Bible reading plan, prayer requests, and outreach plans for the week, and your “battle plan” which is really a place for you to list your personal goals (mine were things like “get up by a certain time” “get to the gym at least 3 days per week” etc.) and a special “Fighter Verse” which is explained in the instructions to the planner. The other side of the sheet has space to record special moments from the week and evidences of God’s Grace. I thought this was really cool, because how many times do moments like this happen, but they go by without us really taking a moment to recognize them?

Writing down my goals each week really does help to keep me on track! Something about writing things down makes me feel like I have to be accountable.

After years of struggling, my youngest is finally, finally doing well in grammar, so I wrote that down as a success!

This planner has a ton more to offer, including pages for daily lesson plans, a gradebook, space to record field trips, reading lists, and so much more. I think it’s amazing and I think it’s going to be my go-to planner for years to come! The Ultimate Homeschool Planner costs $29.00 and you can learn more by connecting with Apologia on social media here:

Apologia on Facebook

Apologia on Twitter

Apologia on Pinterest

Apologia on Google+

To see what other members of the crew had to say about this planner, click here:

Exploring Creation Field Trip Journal Review

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TOS Review: Koru Naturals

Koru Naturals ReviewI love the idea of using all natural skin care products, but I will be honest, I don’t spend a lot of time in the kinds of stores that sell them. And I often find them to be cost prohibitive. However, I am always open to trying them out, and I LOVED the Emu Oil and Restorative Balm I got to try from Koru Naturals last time, so I jumped at a chance to review some new products, including their Skin Clear Cream, Manuka Honey Propolis Soap, and their Argan Oil and Sandalwood Hair Tonic.

 Koru Naturals Review I’ll start with the Skin Clear Cream, which my 17 year-old son used himself. It is designed to treat skin conditions like acne, which is a problem that he struggles with. We use one of those three-step programs for his face, and we have a prescription from his doctor, which helps, but his back was an area of concern, and we were looking for something to help with that. The prescription cream is quite expensive, and filling it to cover his face and back is a little out of our budget. The Skin Clear Cream from Koru contains raw Manuka Honey and steam-distilled Manuka oil as it’s main ingredients, as well as thyme, Burdock root, Canadian Aspen Bark, and Kawakawa and Harakeke. The combination of ingredients help to improve the acne, act as an astringent, and have anti-inflammatory properties.

While we were expecting the cream to be thick, it had an almost milky consistency, so we found out the hard way that you need to be careful when you open the container. It has a woodsy, earthy smell that I found very appealing. My son applied the cream each night after he took his shower, on his back and shoulders. After using it for several weeks straight, we did notice a big improvement in the overall redness and appearance of his acne (no, he would not let me take pictures. He is a teenager. 🙂 ). He told me the cream felt warm when it went on, and I noticed it left his skin feeling very soft and smooth. This one container has lasted us for a month, which I think is pretty good, and he has asked if I will order another. For $19.50, I feel it is pretty reasonable, so I think I will.

 Koru Naturals Review

The next product on the list was the Manuka Honey Propolis Soap, which I tried myself. Made of Manuka Honey and Propolis, the thick golden bar has a soft, sweet scent. The ingredients in the bar offer moisturizing and protective properties for the skin and is a nice, gentle overall cleanser. I replaced my regular body wash with the soap and was very happy with the results. First of all, my husband commented on how nice I smelled when I got out of the shower, and I liked how the soap did not dry out my skin. Most of the time when I use a bar of soap my skin is left feeling really dried out, but with the Manuka Honey soap, my skin was soft and smooth. This little bar only costs $7.90, and by the looks of things, it’s going to last for a really long time, so I think it looks like a great buy.

 Koru Naturals Review

The final product I got to try was the Argan Oil and Sandalwood Hair Tonic. The tonic is a combination hair product and aromatherapy oil. Some of the ingredients include: Argan Oil, Sandalwood, Grape Seed Oil, Citrus Bergamia Oil, and Pink Grapefruit Oil. The oil itself has a pleasant, citrusy scent. Designed to help reduce frizz and add shine, the oil is a great addition to any hair routine. I have naturally curly hair and I live in the humid climate of Florida, so fighting frizz is a regular job for me. I used the hair tonic on my in-between days when I didn’t wash my hair (washing every day dries my hair out, so I typically wash every third day). I only had to use a couple of drops, and run my fingers through my hair, focusing mainly on the ends, to get the desired result. I found that the product did a great job of controlling the frizz all day long. While it is an oil, it didn’t leave my hair feeling or looking greasy. The tonic costs $12.20 for a 4 oz. bottle.

Once again, I was very pleased with all the products we got to try from Koru Naturals. If you would like to learn more, connect with them on social media here:
Koru Naturals on Facebook

Koru Naturals on Pinterest

To see what other members of the crew had to say about these products and the other stuff we got to try, click here:
Koru Naturals Review

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TOS Review: Review no 2

I love a good family movie night. So I was really, really excited to get to review the movie Little Boy from Actually, when the previews for the theatrical release of this movie came out, my youngest son (14 years old) wanted to see it in the theater, and it came out on his birthday, but none of the movie theaters nearby had it playing, so he was disappointed. When I found out I got to do this review, I kept it a surprise until the movie arrived and he was SO excited!! Review no 2

Little Boy is set during World War II in a small town and focuses on a family with a young boy (Pepper, also known as “little boy” and the main character) a mom, a dad, and an older brother. Pepper and his dad have a very special relationship. Pepper is really, really little, his mother is worried he might even be a midget, and he suffers relentless teasing at the hands of other kids in town. He and his father are very close, going to movies at the local theater, reading comics, and spending lots of time together. His father runs an auto repair shop with the help of Pepper’s older brother London and a local man, who doesn’t have a place to live and stays at the shop.

Once the war starts, London wants to join up and go fight for his country, but he is turned down because of his flat feet, so their father joins up instead, which kicks off the main story, Pepper doing everything he can to bring his father home. Now, I don’t want to give away the entire plot of the movie if you haven’t seen it, so I’m going to try and highlight what we took away as we watched it instead.

First, this is billed as a Christian movie, and it does have a Christian message, but if you are worried about it being overly heavy-handed, I would say you have nothing to be concerned about. Pepper does go to see his local priest at the beginning of the movie, and that is where he gets the idea that with the faith of a mustard seed he can “move a mountain” and bring his father home. However, the message is beautifully woven within a well-written and well-acted story. You will see some familiar faces in this move, including Kevin James (from one of our favorite shows, King of Queens) and David Henrie (from Wizards of Waverly Place) among others.

We loved watching the friendship unfold between Pepper and Mr. Hashimoto. Both of them were outcasts in their town, but for different reasons. In fact, when we studied World War II, we spent a lot of time talking about the discrimination Japanese people faced during the time they were in the internment camps and when they came back. At first, Pepper only interacts with Hashimoto to finish his list and help his father, and Hashimoto has no interest in the little boy, but eventually, they both develop a mutual love and respect for each other.

Another factor is how Pepper learns to stand up for himself and to find value in who he is and not his external size. At first, the town laughs at his efforts, but as they witness his unshakable faith, they come to believe too.

Of course, I have to warn you, this move is a tearjerker in every single sense of the word. And the end will leave you speechless. I cried, both my sons cried, even my husband’s eyes were sweating. But oh my goodness, it was absolutely heartwarming, exciting, and touching. I would absolutely recommend this as a great family movie night film, but it is emotional, so you might want to keep it for your upper elementary aged children and up. To find out more about this movie and the other movies FishFlix has to offer, connect with them on social media here:

FishFlix on Facebook
FishFlix on Twitter
FishFlix on Pinterest
FishFlix on Google+
FishFlix on YouTube

To find out what other crew members thought of this movie and the others we got to check out, click here: Review No 2

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TOS Review: Super Teacher Worksheets

Sometimes your kids need a little extra practice on a concept, or you just want a fun activity to celebrate the seasons, or give yourself a much needed break from the regular routine. Sure, you could spend time scouring the internet for resources, but with limited time, it would be so much more convenient to have all of that stuff located in one place. So, I was happy to get a chance to review an individual membership from Super Teacher Worksheets. This website has a ton of resources available across multiple grade levels and subjects, right at your fingertips!

To start, the teacher section has a ton of useful things like printable lesson planning pages ( a huge bonus for me since I haven’t gotten a planner yet) a printable gradebook, awards, charts, calendars, and more. All you have to do is print them out, punch holes in them, and put them in a binder. Worksheets are organized by subject, and there are a plethora of math and reading worksheets in particular. You can find everything from multiple digit addition, to fractions, word problems, geometry, and algebra. For reading, there are basic reading comprehension worksheets, some fun readers theater scripts (these are great if you’re teaching multiple kids) and even worksheets and activities designed to go along with some specific chapter books.

My son enjoyed the logic activities, and I know we will probably use some of the holiday activities this year as well. I also used a lot of the grammar for extra practice (because that is one area my son definitely needs to work on) and the cursive handwriting as well. We haven’t gotten into the 50 states practice yet, but it is something I plan to look at later. They also have some cool science worksheets you could use as part of a unit study if you wanted to.

Another part of the site that I liked a lot was the worksheet generator. It allows you to input your own information to create all kinds of worksheets like word searches, fill-in-the blanks, multiple choice, matching, and even math worksheets. This is really useful for creating review and quiz activities based on the subjects you are learning in your regular studies. We have been doing a unit study on Daniel Boone in our social studies and I created some word searches and other activities using info from that study on Super Teacher Worksheets to go along with that. I think this is a very valuable tool in and of itself.

While a lot of the worksheets on the website are intended for grades K-6, some of the math is for the upper levels, and with the worksheet generator, you can easily customize this to just about any grade level. A cost for an individual membership is $19.95 per year. For me, access to Super Teacher Worksheets is a huge benefit for our homeschool.

To find out more, connect with Super Teacher Worksheets on social media here:
Super Teacher Worksheets on Facebook

Super Teacher Worksheets on Twitter

Super Teacher Worksheets on Instagram

Super Teacher Worksheets on Pinterest

To find out what other members of the crew had to say about this program, click here:
Super Teacher Worksheets Review

Crew Disclaimer

TOS Review: Heirloom Audio Productions

With Lee in Virginia Audio Drama Review

Sometimes you just want to sit back and be entertained, and forget that you are learning. That’s why I was excited to review With Lee in Virginia from Heirloom Audio Productions. The audio drama features an all star cast that includes the likes of Kirk Cameron, Sean Astin, Brian Blessed, Chris Anthony, and more. Set during the Civil War, the story focuses on teenager Vincent Wingfield, a Southerner who joins the cavalry of Northern Virginia and finds himself fighting alongside well-known generals like Robert E. Lee and Stonewall Jackson.

I have reviewed other audio dramas from Heirloom, and I have always been impressed at their first-rate productions. With Lee in Virginia is no exception! We listened to the CD during our family trip to North Carolina, and my whole family was soon caught up in the drama. First of all, this is one review my husband always looks forward to. My family loves history, and Heirloom makes it so exciting. The actors make the characters absolutely come alive, and the story, script, and sound effects get you so caught up in the action, you feel like you are actually there in the story!

We felt like we were fighting along with Vincent during the battles, and we felt for him when he lost his friends. We sympathized with him when he got caught and sent to a prisoner camp in the North, and cheered when his faithful servant came to rescue him. A faith-filled and righteous young man, Vincent got in trouble for coming to the aid of a slave who was being mistreated by a neighboring plantation owner, but Vincent even went so far as to help the slave escape from his master, even though he was risking his own life, reputation, and home to do so. Throughout the story, you see Vincent struggle with the idea of slavery, and what he reads in the Bible, and through everything he faces, Vincent works hard to stay true to what he believes.

I don’t want to give away the whole plot, but I will tell you that this is one exciting adventure that will make a great addition to any Civil War unit study and is fantastic for the whole family. In addition to the CDs (which ran around two hours of listening time) you get downloads of a study guide, soundtrack, poster, MP3 version of the audiobook, a printable copy of a quote from Robert E. Lee, and a beautiful color version of the GA Henty novel in eBook form.

The study guide includes background information on GA Henty as well as info on Robert E. Lee and Stonewall Jackson. There is also a map that shows the division of the states during the war, the location of major battles, and other places of importance in the story. The audio drama itself is divided into sections, or chapters, and the study guide follows these chapters. Each section has questions that ask listeners to recall events from the story, and then questions that challenge them to go deeper and think about things like character’s motives and the consequences of their actions. Sometimes students are instructed to look up verses in the Bible and apply them to a situation in the story as well. There are also vocabulary words related to the story. The study guide ends with a Bible study that we did as a family.

I found the study guide to be very helpful for the story. If you have younger children, you could do all of this orally. For older students, you could certainly assign some of the questions as written work.

The cost of the 2CD set for With Lee in Virginia is $29.97, or you can get the MP3 download version for just $20.00. I continue to be impressed by Heirloom Audio Productions, and I look forward to what they release in the future. To learn more about this adventure, connect with them on social media here:

With Lee in Virginia on Facebook

Heirloom Audio Productions on Facebook

Heirloom Audio Productions on Twitter

Heirloom Audio Productions on Google+

To see what other members of the Crew thought of this product, click here:
With Lee in Virginia Audio Drama Review

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