Wednesday, November 24, 2010

The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine is extending an extraordinary
subscription offer to homeschool families. U.S. and Canadian residents
can receive a one-year print subscription and a FREE Homeschooling
with Heart tote bag, FREE Schoolhouse Planner of your choice, and FREE
E-Book: Cranberry Christmas for just $19.95. One-year subscriptions
start with the winter issue. It makes a perfect gift for yourself and
a friend. There are a limited number of tote bags available from
November 24 through midnight on November 29-once they're gone, they're gone! Hurry and grab this tremendous value today! It's over $80 in
free gifts--one of them the gorgeous Cranberries & Cream tote bag

I can't speak highly enough of the TOS Magazine. It is one of my absolute favorites. Receiving the latest edition in my mailbox is like a small taste of Christmas morning to me . . . a present just waiting for me to unwrap it and start reading. The magazine alone is worth the money. To get all of these free gifts too . . . well, that is just icing on the cake.


How about some freebies while you wait? Here are some great free homeschooling resources.

Disclaimer: I will receive a $20 TOS coupon for posting this ad. The above is just my opinion. Please remember that opinions may, and do, vary.

Monday, November 22, 2010

A Young Scholar's Guide to Composers - A Review

A Young Scholar's Guide to Composers

$29.95 - CD-Rom Book
$34.95 - Paperback Book

Melissa E. Craig and Maggie S. Hogan

Bright Ideas Press

To Purchase:
Guide to Composer's

Age Range: Grades 4-8

Other Products Available

Brief Intro:
This course provides a close-up look at famous composers, their music, and their times, with special attention to character traits and Christian testimony (or lack thereof). Even the musically challenged will enjoy this course! It’s perfect for grades 4-8 but is easily adaptable for younger and older students. Minimal teacher prep will return maximum enjoyment! (from the website)

For more information, click here. Sample pages are also available.

In-Depth Look:

When it came time for the TOS crew to review products from Bright Ideas Press, they gave us a few choices. I decided to review this book about composers. It was a topic that I feel my children could benefit from. So I decided to give it a go.

I have heard, as most of you probably have too, that exposure to classical music has an impact on brain development, especially in younger children. Some even suggest playing classical music while you are still pregnant with your baby. Recent studies show that taking music lessons improve brain development and memory. So, I wanted to make classical music more a part of our lives and our curriculum.

So far, I hadn't done much about it. I did buy a CD that introduces children to the classics. And every now and then, I turn on the classical station in the car. But not much more progress had been made. That is why, when this book was suggested, I picked it.

When the book arrived, I was glad to see it. It has a pleasing appearance: nice size, paper-back, two-tone pages, musical notes in the borders. Its appearance invites you to open it up and visit a while.

It is designed as a full year's curriculum, 32 weekly lessons. It is also designed to cover one composer over 3 days.

Day 1 -
*Listen to the recommended selections. (2 or 3 times the first day)
*Read the lesson.
*Fill in the note-taking pages or answer the Student Review Questions.

Day 2 -
*Listen to the recommended selections again.
*Fill in the Composer Info-Card.
*Color in the timeline.
*Match the composer to his place of birth.

Day 3 -
*Listen to the recommended selections again.

The composers are divided into the musical time periods, from Baroque to Contemporary. The composers bios are each a few pages long (most are 3 to 4). Students will learn about the composer's childhood, marriage, children, whose music they were influenced by, who was influenced by their music, what they were best known for, their faith in God, and other interesting facts.

Some examples:

- Chopin had this to say of England, "Their orchestra resembles their roast beef and their turtle soup; it's strong, it's famous . . . but that is all."

- Despite the fact that Verdi produced biblically themed operas, we know he did not have a good opinion of Christianity.

- A classmate of Debussy described him as "uncommunicative, not to say surly; he was not attractive to his friends."

So you see, you learn not only about the composers' music, but also about their lives. This adds interest and depth to the study, in my opinion.

I like the extra stuff, in addition, to just reading the lessons. It helps make it more interesting and helps the facts to stick.

Some of the extras:

- Links to YouTube videos of the composers' compositions.

- Review pages for each composer, usually 10 questions. Fill in the blanks, multiple choice, true or false, etc.

- Coloring sheets. Extremely nice, detailed pictures of the composers.

- Bingo and Jeopardy! game forms

- Directions for making a Folderbook. Kind of like a lapbook, but more simple.

- Lots of great resources for a more in-depth study of some of the individuals covered in the book.

- Useful websites for more information.

- Composer Cards. These are really cute and can be used in the folderbook.

- Illustrations for the composer cards.

So this book is so much more than just the lesson. It is a well-rounded classical music curriculum. I am impressed with it and plan to continue using it.

The recommended age is 4th - 8th grade. But I think it is a bit much for 4th. It is a lot of information ( dates, new vocabulary words, unfamiliar cities and names). I don't think my 3rd grader is going to retain much of it. But I think it is worth it to expose her to the information and then return to it again in a few years. My 6th grader will get more out of it now, and then will get a review in a few years.

Would you like to read more reviews?

Disclaimer: I received the Guide to Composers free of charge, as part of the TOS Homeschool Crew. The above is just my opinion. Please remember that opinions may, and do, vary.

Monday, November 15, 2010

TOS Magazine Sale

Put 2 and 2 together and save up to 60% on a one-year sub

On Monday, November 15, the price for a one-year U.S. or Canadian print subscription to
The Old Schoolhouse Magazine is $10.

On Tuesday, November 16, the price goes to $12.
On Wednesday, November 17, the price is $14.

Each day they will add $2 until Saturday and Sunday, when the price is $20. At midnight PST on Sunday, November 21,
the price goes back to its regular level.

Plus, every 12th customer to purchase a subscription gets a tote bag.
Every 14th customer to purchase a subscription gets a copy of the E-Book: The 2010-2011 Schoolhouse Planner.
Every 16th customer to purchase a subscription gets a $25 gift card to the Totally TOS category in the Schoolhouse Store.
This excludes Molly Green and Download N Go.

As an added bonus, the highest ticket of the day on Monday, November 15 through Wednesday, November 17, will win
a $200 gift card to the Schoolhouse Store. This can be used for any company in the Store,except
Download N Go.

So, put 2 and 2 together and shop early! The earlier you grab your one-year new or renewing
subscription, the better the price you'll pay. Plus, you could receive one of the bonus gifts.
Or, you might be the highest ticket of the day!

If you are eligible for a bonus gift, you will receive an email from a member of the Schoolhouse Store team.

Patchwork Quilt Kit - A Review

Product: Patchwork Quilt Kit

Price: $11.99 (Regularly $14.99)

Company: Corps of Re-Discovery

To Purchase: Quilt Kit

Age Range: Approx. 8 and up

Other Products:
Various hands-on activities related to American Indian, pioneer and colonial, frontiersmen, and leather working. Check out the discontinued and special items category.

Brief Overview:
Enjoy making a doll quilt using the same techniques the pioneers did.
Kit includes coordinating cotton fabric, backing and batting, plus complete instructions. - from the website

The kits are manufactured in the United States.

In-Depth Look:
I have always thought quilting was such a neat skill. There is just something about a homemade quilt. There is often a story behind it. Scraps of cloth from a baby's first outfit, a daughter's Christmas pjs, or a son's favorite shirt. Pieces of their lives and their history transformed into a quilt to be shared for years to come.

For the past few years, I thought about learning how to make a quilt. But one problem is that my sewing skills are limited to very basic hand-sewn mending. Definitely nothing to brag about. And the other problem, I learn best by watching someone else do it . . . and I don't have any close friends or family that quilt (at least not to my knowledge).

So, when I received the quilt kit I didn't know if I was happy about it or not. I liked the idea of making a little baby quilt. But I wasn't so sure I could figure it out just using a small sheet of instructions.

My daughter has taken 2 hand sewing classes at our homeschool co-op. She has learned a lot and is at least my equal at it now. But the difference is she actually enjoys it. She offers to mend clothes, designs her own patterns, and was very eager to try the quilt.

So I considered having her make the quilt. But I didn't feel like I could do a fair review on the quilt unless I made it myself. And I decided that it would make a nice gift for my daughter's upcoming birthday.

The instructions were detailed enough. Step-by-step instructions. And some illustrations. The paper instructs you to sew a 1/4inch from the edge, not more and not less. Nice, neat, even. Which would be beautiful, but I don't have that level of sewing skill. It also suggests that you iron each patch that you sew. But, I hate ironing.

So, I decided to do it my way. And then see how it turned out and report it to you. I did mark the 1/4 inch border on each square, but I definitely didn't have nice and neat seams. They were kind of crooked and not spaced evenly. I also refused to iron between patches. I did this because I wanted to see if it would still turn out nicely. Because if I were to make a quilt in the future, I know the seams wouldn't be perfect and I would still hate to iron. :)

Well, I think it is coming along nicely. I have spent hours hand-sewing my quilt patches and it looks pretty. Not perfect, not professional. But pretty.

At first I didn't enjoy it. Did I mention that I don't like hand-sewing. (And I don't know how to sew with the machine.) But as I moved along with the project, I did get the hang of it and my speed increased. And even as an amateur, I now feel that this kit has given me the instruction and confidence I need to feel like I really can make a quilt. I don't know that I would ever make a full-size quilt. Not sure I have that much desire or patience. But I think I could make a baby-doll size quilt. I like the feeling of satisfaction and accomplishment. And I think they would make wonderful gifts for my daughters and nieces.

I like the concept of these kits. One, for anyone interested in learning how to quilt. Two, for the historical significance. It helps you to feel more a part of the "olden days". Corps of Re-Discovery offers several different kits from American Indian, pioneer and colonial, frontiersmen, and leather working. The kits include most everything that you will need. For the quilt kit, I received everything I would need except for the needles.

I highly recommend the kits from Corps of Re-Discovery. But I would suggest that you pick one that interests you. Such as not picking the quilting kit if you dislike hand-sewing and ironing. :)

Would you like to read more reviews? Some crew members received different kits.

Disclaimer: I received the quilt kit free of charge, as part of the TOS Homeschool Crew. The above is just my opinion. Please remember that opinions may, and do, vary.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Book Collector - A Review

Product: Book Collector


$24.95 - Standard Edition

$49.95-Pro Edition

You can try Book Collector for free, but it is limited to 100 books.

Company: Collectorz

Where to purchase:

Age range: Teen - Adult

Other products available:
Music Collector

Movie Collector

Comic Collector

Game Collector

MP3 Collector

Photo Collector

Brief Introduction:
Catalog your book collection, simply by entering the ISBN number either by hand or by scanning it.

In-Depth Look:
I have the opportunity to try out Book Collector from Collectorz. Collectorz offers several Collector Software choices, including for music and movie.

I found it simple to enter my books into the program. Simply enter the ISBN number. Book Collector will look it up for you . . . pulling a good bit of information and automatically entering it under your book's title. It looks very nice and "official".

-Front Cover


-Publishing Company

-Publication Date

-Number of Pages


-Brief Description

Some of the information is your personal stuff.

-Collection Status (In collection or For sale)

-Wishlist (Wanted or On Order)

-Not in Collection

-10 Star Rating Scale

-Title Sort (Enter an alternate title to help title sort the way you would like)

The file for each book has lots of genre categories to choose from or you can add one. I have added some - children/storybook, children/holiday. It also has a long list of subjects. The program will select some for you and you can choose some more. These work like keywords to help you search for different topics and see which books you have available on the particular subject. For example, "Friend for Little Bear" selects the keywords




-Juvenile Fiction/General

So if my family is doing a unit study on islands, I can search for "islands" on Book Collector and it will pull up a list of all the books that have the keyword of "island".

What kind of things can you use this program for? Well, here are some ideas.
1. Insurance purposes
2. Keep track of books on loan to friends and family
3. Have access to the list so that you don't buy duplicates at the store
4. Organize by categories and keywords to quickly search for different topics
5. Make a wish list

I entered some books into the program and played around with the functions. It is a neat program with some cool features. It isn't something that I would use. I'm not that organized. :) But some people are. A friend of mine keeps all of his movies in a spreadsheet, so that visitors can choose the movie they would like to watch. Another friend keeps all of his video games listed in a spreadsheet so that he can easily see if he already owns a certain one. If you have a desire to do any of the these things, then this program is an easy-to-use solution. Very user-friendly with lots of automated features based on the ISBN.

If you would like to read what my crewmates thought, click here.

Disclaimer: I received Book Collector free of charge, as part of the TOS Homeschool Crew. The above is just my opinion. Please remember that opinions may, and do, vary.