Monday, November 16, 2009


Exploramania sent me a free DVD to review. GyMathtics has won several awards, including Dr. Toy's 10 Best Active Products. We were pretty excited to check it out! Not only is GyMathtics a fitness video, but it has a mathematical twist as well! When we first popped in the DVD, it took the boys and me a few minutes to get into the groove. It was pretty difficult to read the menu on our t.v., but when we finally got going, I started "working out" with Ms. Carrie (hey, great name!) and her on-screen helpers.

The program includes
Shape Stretches Warm Up
Counting Calisthenics
Pattern Power
Well-Being Wind Down
Babyman really enjoyed watching and dancing with GyMathtics. It took Butterbean (8) and Middleman (4) a while to get up and take part! Normally they love active videos, but they both thought this one was a bit silly. Since the program is geared for 2nd-5th graders, I thought it would have been nice to have more of that age group appearing in the video (it looked to me like just one was of that age). I found the screen to be a bit busy at times, with the exercise portion shrunk down, and math-related graphics appearing. In my opinion, the exercise and math weren't as cohesive as they could have been. I felt at times they were disconnected with each other. I also felt the Wind Down voice-overs had absolutely nothing to do with the rest of the DVD!

Exploramania has a really cute website, so be sure to check it out! You can view a snippet of the GyMathtics video there. I think the overall idea was great, but our family, as a whole, didn't enjoy it as much as some families might. You can order your GyMathtics DVD for $24.99.
Don't just take my word, see what other reviewers have to say!


"AVKO is a non-profit, 501(C)3 membership organization that focuses on the development and production of materials and especially techniques to teach reading and spelling, handwriting (manuscript and cursive), and keyboarding. AVKO is dedicated to teaching everyone how to read and spell, regardless of their mild to moderate learning disabilities, dyslexia, poverty, or opportunity."

I had the opportunity to review this company as they have given me a free one year membership to their website. I find the website to be a bit overwhelming. It seems like it would be helpful to own AVKO's Sequential Spelling in order to really get into the site. However, I did enjoy perusing the oodles of free Ebooks! With your $25 a year membership, you will receive these Ebooks for free:

You will also get access to the member's section, discounts on AVKO materials, Don McCabe's (AVKO's Research Director) workshop recordings, pretests and placement tests and supplemental materials (which is why it might be helpful to own Sequential Spelling).

I recommend you check out AVKO yourself and see if the membership works for your family!
To read what other reviewers have to say, click below!

Monday, November 9, 2009

American Heritage


American Heritage Education Foundation sent me a free CD to review titled America's Heritage an adventure in liberty. My CD included lesson plans for Elementary, Elementary in Spanish, Middle School and High School. As my oldest is technically a third grader, I will focus on the Elementary level for this review.

The Elementary curriculum contains fourteen units including (but not limited to!) Colonial America, Thanksgiving, The Star Spangled Banner and The Pledge of Allegiance and Creed. The units contain exerpts from speeches of famous Americans, poetry, and activity suggestions for teachers and students focusing on the four themes of American Heritage; freedom, unity, progress and responsibily.

The worksheets & memorization tools, games & puzzles, read-alouds and even creative dramatics practically ensure fun learning of our important past. Our children also had the opportunity to brush up on our patriotic voices, as lyrics to many beloved songs are included. (hmm, maybe we'll remember the words when Mommy sings our National Anthem at the Pinewood Derby next year!)

There are some fantastic printables in this neat packet. I particularly enjoyed the President cards (hey, we need a current one, though), and The Star Spangled Banner unit. We plan to use the Thanksgiving lesson as a miniature unit study in the coming couple of weeks.

I think both teacher and students are bound to learn something through this all-American curriculum. It would be a great companion to any study of America.

Now for the best part. The CD version of this outstanding K-12 Teacher Lesson Plan Resource is FREE! If you'd like a printed bound edition, you'll need to pay just $19.50. We cannot wait to delve into it further!

To read what others think, check out our Crew Blog!

Friday, November 6, 2009

Bright Ideas Press - A Young Scholar's Guide to Composers

As part of being a reviewer for The Old Schoolhouse Magazine, I received a free digital copy of A Young Scholar's Guide to Composers from Bright Ideas Press. "This course provides a close-up look at famous composers, their music, and their times, with special attention to character traits and Christian testimony..."
I have been looking forward to receiving this study so that I might incorporate more classical music study in our homeschool days (and because I LOVE to listen to it!). For years, I have used classical music in my preschool classrooms and in my home to promote calmness and healthy brain activity. A Young Scholar's Guide to Composers has been a great addition to our growing knowledge of music past and present.

Throughout our test run of A Young Scholar's Guide to Composers, we learned about composers from the Baroque, Classical, Romantic and Contemporary Periods. We read about Vivaldi, Haydn and Mendelssohn, to name a few. We read about the lives of these great people, and were provided with lots of resources to reinforce what we learned.

Bright Ideas Press includes tons of hands on activities in their appendix. So although I thought the reading sections were a bit above my boys' heads, we enjoyed the time lines, coloring pages, composer cards and suggested listening links. As we grow, we will definitely take advantage of the note taking pages, Student Review Questions, maps and quizzes.

My primary goal has been to introduce a variety of classical music and the names of the great composers. Over time, as we study more about these musical masterpieces, this composer study will prove to be a great asset.

To find out more, please check out the Bright Ideas Press website. To purchase your A Young Scholar's Guide to Composers (recommended for grades 4-8) for just $29.95 for the CD-ROM version or $34.95 for paperback, you can do so here.

Want to know what other reviewers thought? Click on the banner below!

Thursday, November 5, 2009


Yeah, I finally got Babybug's (my 10 month old niece) dress done! Here she is in all her ladybuggie cuteness!