Thursday, November 19, 2009

Gymathtics DVD from Exploramania

I was sent a DVD from the company Exploramania, to review as part of the TOS Homeschool Crew. This 30 minute DVD incorporates "multi-sensory learning techniques to meet the different learning needs of children." This particular DVD titled "Exploracise Gymathtics" combines exercise and education using auditory, visual, and kinesthetic senses. This company will be coming out with several new products over the next few months.

Exploracise Gymathics has also won several awards from Dr. Toy, AEGIS, Telly Awards, and many others. As a Health Educator myself, I was looking forward to this review. The day the DVD arrived I popped it into the DVD player and within minutes, my three girls loved it! I was not moved to participate, but my children did watch it three times in a row and had fun with it.
The DVD combines math facts while exercising. For example, they move their arms to form congruent circles etc... The math facts target 2ND- 5Th grade levels, so just a bit above my children's level, but they did enjoy the movement. The topics on the DVD begin as "Shape stretches" for the warm up; then onto "Counting Calisthenics" which include counting multiple aerobic movements; next is "Pattern Power" repeating pattern exercise and then finally the "Well-Being Wind Down" which are relaxing stretches and a cool down all while discussing healthy lifestyle choices. I did enjoy the scenery in the final segment, it looks like they are at a beach resort.
If this is something you think your family may enjoy, you can visit the website at and order the DVD for $24.99. The website also has other DVDs and learning materials available. It's worth a look!

This has been a TOS Homeschool Crew Review. As a member of the Homeschool Crew, we are given homeschool-related items and asked to write honest reviews. The items are provided to us by the companies, but we are not paid for our reviews.

Monday, November 16, 2009

AVKO Membership Review

As part of the TOS Homeschool Crew, I was sent a one year membership to AVKO, the site can be found at If you live under a rock, as I do, you may not have heard about this organization, but apparently seasoned home school parents are well aware of AVKO.

For those sad rock dwellers, I will enlighten you as to what AVKO is and why you may want to look into becoming a member. On the surface, actually on the website, 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, spelling, handwriting 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."

Sounds nice, right? Avko's philosophies and methodologies are "Orton-Gillingham" based ( I really have no idea what that means, but I figured I would include it so you can google it), using a systematic and multi sensory approach to teaching the language arts. AVKO firmly believes that studying and lessons should take place in short frequent sessions; daily reading and writing are important for engaging in the language and becoming fluent.

The AVKO website has a vast amount of information for teachers/ parents who may need guidance/ educational materials for children who are struggling or floundering in the Language Arts subjects. The site has many great resources concerning Dyslexia, and many great books for those of us who need to teach a child that doesn't quite learn within the same parameters as other children. AVKO's spelling lessons are based on a cirruculum called "sequential spelling" (fyi)- Sonlight uses this as their spelling curriculum.

The AVKO site does offer freebies, so if you were not sure you wanted to become a member, you can go check out the site and get a feel for the teaching method used/ materials available. Once you become a member you will have access to over $400 worth of e-books. A basic membership costs $25 per year and includes e-books such as all 10 volumes of the "Patterns of English Spelling" as well as the book "To Teach a Dyslexic". You also receive a 25% discount on all printed AVKO Materials.
The Deluxe Membership is $100 for the year, it includes access to all materials/ benefits of a basic membership as well as read- only access to all AVKO curriculum materials (except for sequential spelling and engaging Language Kits) as well as access to AVKO's newest e-books.

I think becoming a member of AVKO would best suit the needs of a parent who has a child that is struggling to learn Language Arts. This site is a great resource for those who are seeking help teaching in this area. I don't have a child who is struggling in this area at this time, however, I see the value in a site like . As an educator, you want to fill your teaching tool box with as many tools as you can, AVKO provides you those tools. As I said earlier, the site is loaded with information, go check it out, if you think this may be exactly what you need, the membership is worth the price. I don't think there is such a thing as too many good resources.

This has been a TOS Homeschool Crew Review. As a member of the Homeschool Crew, we are given homeschool related items and are asked to write honest reviews. The items are provided to us by the companies, but we are not paid for our reviews.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

America's Heritage Education Review

As a member of the TOS Crew I was sent a CD version of social studies/ civic K-12 Lesson plans titled "America's Heritage: An Adventure in Liberty." The CD is valued at $150.00 but the American Heritage Education Foundation (AHEF) has made it available to educators (in homeschools and public/ private schools) for free. There are two forms of "America's Heritage" the CD, which is free, and a printed binder version, which costs $19.50 to cover printing and shipping. All the AHEF asks is that you write to them and let them know about your experiences using the resource. This helps them continue support for teachers and social studies/ civic education.

According to AHEF the information correlates with NCSS and Core Knowledge national social studies standards. "American Heritage" has been proven to increase student performance in history objectives in schools which use this resource.

I love the fact that the "AHEF is dedicated to the understanding and teaching of our Nation's factual and Philosophical Heritage to promote constructive citizenship and freedom, unity, progress, and responsibility among our students and citizens." This material is so necessary, while I was logging onto the computer to write this review, I read an article about the health care bill, ugh! Visit or call 1-713-627-2698 for more information.

I am very impressed with the lesson plans offered for the Elementary school aged Children. Not only does the CD offer background historical information on every topic, the lessons are engaging and interesting. For example, the unit on Thanksgiving is under the Theme Unity. There is historical background given as well as a story and then other educational activities to tie all the information together.

I strongly urge all parents to obtain this CD. I do not think many public schools teach to this scope on History, in fact, the public schools are so mired in political correctness, that much of this information is simply not taught. Homeschools and private schools have a fantastic opportunity to utilize this resource to train up a generation of citizens who can look back to the roots of our heritage and go forward in freedom.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Virginia Soaps & Scents Review

A few weeks ago, I received a package in the mail from a company called Virginia Soaps & Scents. My mail box is located at the end of my road and I typically pick up the mail when I am on my way out to go to town. So this little box from Virginia Soaps & Scents took a ride with me while I ran my errands. At one point, while I was waiting in my car, I opened the box because I was curious about this new product. The smell that began wafting through my car was amazing!
Inside the box was 3 bars of Pure Handcrafted Soap each was 1.75 oz in size, one was Coconut Lemongrass scented, another was Oatmeal, Milk and Honey scented and the third was Fresh Orange scented. The bars are pretty and the small size is called the bed and breakfast bars. The usual bars of soap are 4.75 ounces. Another sample was in the box as well, it was a Ginger Lime scented Shampoo Bar as well as a Laundry Soap Kit. The Laundry Soap Kit makes 1/2 gallon of Laundry Soap and is great if you ever wanted to begin to make your own laundry soap but didn't want to make the initial investment in the Borax and washing soda.

There was also a letter from the creators of Virginia Soaps & Scents, Roy & Richelle Spargur explaining their company, products and how Virginia Soaps & Scents was formed. They are a homeschooling family of 9 children, 5 graduated and 4 still being taught at home. Three years ago the Spargur family suffered the tragic loss of their youngest Granddaughter in an accident. After months of grieving, the family began to take comfort in doing the familiar things and homeschooling provided a framework for daily life. It began with a unit study on Colonial Life in Virginia (where the family resides) and there was a lesson on soap making. The family made a one pound batch of lavender soap and they were back to making fun as a family again and they didn't want it to stop! What began as a lesson in soap eventually led to the birth of Virginia Soaps & Scents. Sounds like the story line of a great movie right?

The soaps are lovely and smell great! They are made with all natural ingredients and contain no added chemicals for hardening or lathering properties. I loved how the soaps smelled, especially when I used them. I did get razor burn on my legs when I showered with the sample soaps, but I checked out the website and they offer soaps specifically for shaving, which I will purchase, because I really enjoyed how soft my skin was after using the soap. The Shampoo Bar is an olive oil based soap and also contains Castor oil. I was a bit skeptical at first but was very surprised to see how much the bar lathered like liquid shampoo. I used the bar for a few days and found my hair really needed conditioner, so I went back to my usual shampoo, but noticed a difference in how my hair looked. It seemed smoother and not as frizzy. I happened to read on their website that you can use the shampoo bar as a clarifying bar and this was the perfect solution for me. Once a week, I use the shampoo bar and have really enjoyed smoother, shiny hair.

I have made my own laundry soap before and so I was familiar with the process of making the Laundry Soap. I have found that us Corbett's are a messy bunch of people and need to take stock in stain remover! I enjoy the clean smell from the laundry soap, and while I can't use it on my kids cloths because the stains just won't come out for me without using pretreatments, I have found that it works great on towels and other laundry that doesn't see as much action!

Check out the website at to view the full product line and the reasonable prices. I am a table leader at my local MOPS and I am planning on purchasing the Bed & Breakfast Soap sampler, it contains twelve 1.75oz bars of their best selling soaps for $18.00. I plan on wrapping each bar and giving one to each of the moms who sit at my table as a little Christmas gift so they can have a bit of pampering. They have special scents for Christmas also, so think stocking stuffers etc... I noticed they have bars for kids, so I may also purchase some soaps for my daughters as they love things like that in their stockings. They also sell individual bars, maybe pamper the Sunday School teacher a bit or my mother and sisters. I like to support companies like Virginia Soaps and Scents, they make a great product and seem like a great family!

This has been a TOS Homeschool Crew Review. As a member of the Homeschool Crew, we are given homeschool related items and asked to write honest reviews. The items are provided to us by the companies, but we are not paid for our reviews.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

ABC Teach Website Review

As a member of the TOS Crew I am sent some pretty neat products, and ABC Teach falls into my "neat product" category! Actually ABC Teach is a website, find it here: I had never heard of it, not surprising since I had never home schooled prior to this year, but in my opinion, this is the jack pot of teaching tools! The website has some free downloads, but you can purchase a membership for $3.33 per month (which I did after reviewing this site). The members of ABC Teach have access to 35,000 printables and worksheets with more being added weekly (they notify you by email once a week with all the new materials). You also have access to 6,500 pieces of clip art; oh the endless possibilities of clip art...... anyway.

The site also has custom worksheet generators to tailor materials specific to your home school topics. For example, if you are wrapping up a unit study on a specific topic but want to practice some of the new words with the kids, you can custom make worksheets in spelling, cross words etc... The possibilities are literally endless, and if you are really creative, you may not need to look any further than for what you need. The website was the winner of the 2007 Teachers' Choice Award.

The site is very user friendly and it has a search engine to help you find what you need quickly. I liked that it offered many of the worksheets in black and white or color. I have spent literally hours on the site just exploring and looking into what would be fun and applicable for my children. The site also breaks down the topics under the directory for ease of use too. An example of some of the topics are: Art & music, Book Units (the books are great too; for example, Amelia Bedilia: you read the book and the site has follow up activities and worksheets ready to be printed and tailored to the story); other topics include Holiday and Seasonal activities, Handwriting (which I LOVE because when they are learning how to write they can't get enough of the handouts to practice on!). The site also divides topics by age and grade and goes from preschool through high school to help you print out what you need specifically for your child. You can preview the site to see if you would like it and then you can really get an idea of the vast amount of resources members have available at their fingertips. I only named a few of the topics listed under the directory, you can check it out yourself when you visit the website.

So far I have downloaded 4 games for my preschooler. Each game was either a matching game, counting game, or a sorting game. I searched the site and found games with butterflies and ladybugs and trains and printed them out since I knew they would appeal to her. I will share with you one example of what I did with my printouts: I took a file folder and cut, pasted and laminated one set of the butterfly matching game pieces on the inside of the folder. I then cut out the matching pieces and laminated them as well. I attached a bag to the folder to keep all the loose pieces together and viola! she has a matching game that I made just for her! It made her day! I am currently scouting the site for Thanksgiving Theme ideas.

As I said before, I have spent hours on the site and really am impressed with the resources. If this is something that you think you would like, I highly recommend it, and the price is very reasonable.

This has been a TOS Homeschool Crew Review. As a member of the Homeschool Crew, we are given homeschool related items and are asked to write honest reviews. The items are provided to us by the companies, but we are not paid for our reviews.