Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Maestro Classics: Peter and the Wolf ~ Review


Maestro Classics Stories in Music provides wonderful stories combined with beautiful symphony orchestra music.  Each CD is a combination of music and educational information which includes ideas on what to listen for and how to listen.  These delightful stories are designed for children ages 5 and up. 

About Maestro Classics Stories in Music

Each series has three significant benefits:

  1. To expand listening horizons ~ the series of recordings introduces the listener to an orchestra's magical sounds and
    awe-inspiring power, and helps them understand that music can be dramatic, can paint pictures, and is often filled with humor.
  2. To hone listening skills and accumulate musical memories ~ the musical discussions will sharpen listening skills of children and adults alike, the discussion of the story will promote conversation about human values, and the musical work will leave each listener whistling a new tune.
  3. To encourage adults and children to listen to music together ~the very young will listen for the story, the slightly older child will enjoy the music, and the adult will be surprised how much he/she has learned.

Maestro Classics sent our family Peter and the Wolf ($16.98) to listen to and review.   The CD included a 24-page program book and 7 tracks: the life of the composer, a Russian Peter, The Magic Maestro Talks about Peter and the Wolf, Peter and the Wolf without Narration, Invitation to Grandfather’s Party and Kalinka ~ dance along.

Maestro Classics ~ Stories in Music also offers the following stories:

  • The Tortoise and the Hare
  • The Story of Swan Lake
  • Juanita The Spanish Lobster
  • Casey at the Bat
  • Mike Mulligan and his Steam Shovel
  • The Sorcerer’s Apprentice

Our Thoughts

We all enjoyed the story and music.  Emily and I both found that the booklet included was very helpful in identify the different instruments used.  Emily enjoyed completing the activities included in the booklet.


The additional tracks really helped the story come alive and enriched out learning experience!  We have enjoyed listening the to the CD over and over!  I plan on ordering Mike Mulligan and his Steam Shovel for Aiden and The Story of Swan Lake for Emily.

Find Out More

You can listen to samples here.  Individual CDs are available to purchase from Maestro Classic for $16.99 or you can purchase three CDs for $45.00 (these CDs are so worth it!). 

To see additional reviews by the Homeschool Crew click here.

This product was given to me for review purposes, and I do not have to return the product to the vendor. I was not paid for this post. All opinions expressed in this post are mine.


Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Construct-it Early Builder {Guidecraft Mom Review}

imageWe are big fans of building tools.  They always seem to inspire creativity and my kids are more likely to show teamwork when they are building together.  We received a Construct-it Early Builder set from Guidecraft and it has been a hit! 

The Construct-it Early Builder set includes 160 pieces ~ which was enough pieces for the kids to build multiple things without having to tear their creations apart.  The tools and pieces where just the right size for Aiden’s hands! 

                    IMG_4778 IMG_4764

The Construct-it Early Builder set is recommended for ages 4 and up.  The kit includes pictures of things you can build with the kit, such as a lawn mower and windmill.


Our Thoughts

My kids LOVE the Construct-it Early Builder set!  I really thought that Aiden would be the one building with set, but Emily has spent more time playing and creating!    IMG_4773

This has been another winner from Guidecraft!  The pieces are well made ~ and they have been tested in our house!  It has been fun to watch the kids as they come up with new ways to use the building set.

                    IMG_4767 IMG_4769

Find Out More

The Construct-It Early Builder Set is available through the Guidecraft website and also Amazon. Recommended age for the Construct-it Early Builder is 4+.


Mama Jenn is hosting this months Guidecraft giveaway until January 21st, so head over to win!

As a Guidecraft Mom blogger, I was provided this product to review. I was not paid for this post and all opinions expressed in this post are mine.


Monday, January 10, 2011

Easy Classical Early Modern History Schedule ~ Review


As part of the Homeschool Crew I received a digital version of Easy Classical Early Modern Age History Schedule to review.

About Early Modern History Schedule

  • Intended for grades K – 6
  • 106 pages
  • Cost:  Notebook version $35.95 or Digital version $29.95
  • Includes day by day lesson plans for 36 weeks
  • Easy reference list of icons used in daily schedule
  • Schedule includes list of suggested curriculum choices, book list, and materials shopping list
  • Includes sheets to enhance learning (step by step how to draw sheets)

The schedule was structured around the recommendations of Susan Bauer’s book The Well Trained Mind: a Guide to Classical Education at Home.  It is adaptable for kinesthetic, visual and auditory learners.  The weekly schedule covers history, writing, geography, projects, read aloud books, and a quiz.

My Thoughts

I am a very visual person so I was immediately impressed with the way in which the schedule is laid out.  It includes a list of all the curriculum items and books and a separate list of supplies needed during the year.  Everything is in one place so I can print out the lists and check off the items as I purchase them. 

The weekly schedule is broken down Monday through Friday and then broken down by each subject, making it easy to see what daily tasks need to be completed.  Monday is typically when a new topic is introduced, so that day has a good bit of reading to do.  The nice think about the schedule is, you can change it to fit your family and each child’s attention span.  Our family loves to read so we wouldn’t have any difficulty completing the assigned reading.  At the end of the weekly schedule is sticky note of the items you will need to purchase for next week ~ once again a great visual!

Overall, I think the schedule is thorough, easy to use, and includes some awesome curriculum suggestions! 

Find Out More

You can view sample pages of Easy Classical Early Modern Age History Schedule by clicking the links below:

To purchase the notebook version ($39.95) or the digital version ($29.95) click here.

Easy Classical also has available Complete, Main, Science and additional History Schedules for K – 6.

To see additional reviews by the Homeschool Crew click here.

This product was given to me for review purposes, and I do not have to return the product to the vendor. I was not paid for this post. All opinions expressed in this post are mine.


Friday, January 7, 2011

See-N-Read ~ Review

See n Read

I was intrigued when I found out that I would be receiving a reading tool from See-N-Read.  I decided to check out the website to see what I would be receiving and once I started reading about the research that went into the product and its purpose, I couldn’t wait until we received our reading tools!

What Are See-N-Read Reading Tools?

They are transparent reading tools available with a clear window (See-N-Read) or open window (MemoryMark), so you can highlight text as you read.  imageSee-N-Read tools clear window help you concentrate on the text and move easily to the next line ~ without loosing your place, which increases fluency and comprehension.  The products helps early readers with left to right eye movement and filter distractions, such as pictures.

See-N-Read reading tools were researched for three years in the fields of reading, dyslexia, visual and cognitive processing and tested in the classroom for 2 years.

The products are available in two sizes:

  • Book 3 1/2” x 5” – for small books and chapter books
  • Document 3 1/2” x 8 1/2” – for large books and documents

My Thoughts:

What an amazing little tool!  The product has helped my daughter, who is often overwhelmed by all the words on a page in chapter books, focus on one line at a time.  We have also used it with her math worksheets to help her work on one problem at a time ~ no more skipping problems! 

I have been using the MemoryMark product while reading (and highlighting) my Bible and it has been a tremendous help.  I find that I don’t skip ahead and stay focused on what I’m reading.  If I happen to be interrupted while I’m reading, the product helps me keep my place and not end up reading the same passage over and over.

Find Out More:

You can order See-N-Read products here.  See-N-Read (one book size) is available for just $2.99.  They also have a product called eSee-N-Read to use with your PC.

To see additional reviews by the Homeschool Crew click here.

This product was given to me for review purposes, and I do not have to return the product to the vendor. I was not paid for this post. All opinions expressed in this post are mine.


Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Math Facts Now! ~ Review

imageNormally when I try and get my daughter, Emily, who is in second grade to practice her math facts, I am meet with groaning and moaning.  The first time we used Math Facts NOW my daughter actually said she was having fun!

What is Math Facts NOW!

Math Facts NOW! is a program available by download or CD-ROM ($15.95) that is used to drill addition, subtraction, multiplication or division facts.  Once you decide which math facts you want your child to practice you enter the following:

  • Which number tables you want practice (1-12)
  • How many problems you want in each lesson (with a minimum of 5)
  • How long the student has to answer each question
  • How many times the child will reenter incorrect answers (minimum of 2)
  • The program also gives the option of giving the student a reward if they complete the lesson with no errors ~ a big hit in my household!

imageThe program keeps tract of the problems your child has difficulty with and gives them the same problem numerous times throughout the lesson.  You can print progress reports to see how the student is doing and what areas they need more practice.

My Thoughts

Just the fact that my daughter said she was having fun while practicing math facts makes me jump for joy!  I’m sure that the possibility of a reward when she completed the lesson with NO ERRORS had a great deal to due with her love of the program, but I’m fine with that!  The program is not fancy, but it does what it promises ~ practices math facts and drills and gives the student extra help in week areas.  It has been a great addition to our math curriculum!


  • You decided what your child needs to practice ~ very customizable!
  • When you child is given a problem they got wrong previously it gives them a heads up to BE CAREFUL!


  • You can give rewards when your child completes a lesson with no errors.
  • Printable reports showing the child’s progress.
  • The program can grow with your child from addition to division, so it will last for years (K-6)!

Find Out More

Visit Math Facts NOW! to purchase the CD-ROM or download for $15.95.  Want to try it for free?  You can give it a try online or download a trial version here.

Find out what my fellow crew members thought of Math Facts NOW here.

This product was given to me for review purposes, and I do not have to return the product to the vendor. I was not paid for this post. All opinions expressed in this post are mine.


Monday, January 3, 2011

Positive Action for Christ ~ Review

Image Source,Photobucket Uploader Firefox ExtensionI have been eyeing the Bible curriculum from Positive Action for Christ for a couple of months, so I was felt very blessed when I found out I would be receiving their 2nd Grade curriculum, Finding God’s Promise to review as part of the Homeschool Crew.

What I Received:

  • Teacher’s Manual for 2nd Grade ($33.95)
  • Student Manual for 2nd Grade  ($12.95)
  • Introductory notes for homeschoolers with suggestions on how best to use the curriculum with one student, multiple grades or with a Co-op or Church (free).
  • Scope and sequence with week by week details of materials covered from K – 5th grade (free).

What the 2nd Grade Curriculum ~ Finding God’s Promise Covers:

The curriculum takes you from the life of Moses through the book of Exodus.  You can preview the scope and sequence here.

The teacher's manual includes:

  • 35 lessons (one per week)
  • Target truths (objectives)
  • Teaching strategy section
  • Weekly character traits
  • Practical applications
  • Interesting stories
  • Ideas for puzzles, skits, artwork, buzz groups, and discussion
  • Lesson Plans for 3, 4, or 5 day schedules
  • Completed student's manual answer key pages
  • Reproducible weekly quizzes with answer key
  • Scripture memory program

The student's manual includes:

  • Vocabulary sections
  • Words for songs in music curriculum
  • Puzzles, artwork, and maps
  • Life application sections
  • Attractive full-color format
  • Various levels & thinking skills
  • Material usable with any Bible translation
  • Scripture memorization sheet
  • 155 pages

How We Used the Curriculum

I decided to use the curriculum for both my kids, Emily (2nd grade) and Aiden (preschool).  The teacher’s manual includes lessons plans for 5, 4 or a 3-day week.  We used the curriculum plan for a 4-day week and included many of the suggestions from the introductory notes on how to use the curriculum with mulitple grades.

Since we do our Bible time in the morning, while we eat breakfast, I do the daily reading and let Emily look up Bible verses and read them.  While Emily was working on the workbook pages, I let Aiden color.  Emily often read and taught Aiden about the worksheets she completed.

My Thoughts

This curriculum has been the perfect fit for our family!  The introductory notes were very helpful in making this 2nd grade Bible curriculum work for both my kids.  I love that everything is laid out for you ~ no searching for activities and character traits to go along with our Bible reading.  Emily and I were both impressed with the colorful and fun worksheets that go along with the lessons.  I really can’t say enough about this Bible curriculum, it includes everything I have been looking ~ character traits, fun ideas to go along with the lessons, and verse memorization!

Find Out More

You can see a sample of the teacher’s manual here and the student manual here.   If you would like to purchase Finding God’s Promise for 2nd Grade click here.   Positive Action for Christ also has available a music CD or tape to go along with the curriculum.

To see additional reviews by the Homeschool Crew click here.

This product was given to me for review purposes, and I do not have to return the product to the vendor. I was not paid for this post. All opinions expressed in this post are mine.


Saturday, January 1, 2011

Paper Mache Bear Cave

I am very excited to be writing a new feature at Totally Tots called What’s in the Tub?  My first sensory tub post will be up tomorrow morning.  This month our theme is bears.


To keep the bears nice and warm while they are hibernating I made a paper mache cave for the Bear Sensory Tub.

What You’ll Need:


  • brown paper bag cut into strips
  • newspaper
  • balloon
  • container to set the balloon in
  • 1 cup of water
  • 1/2 cup of flour
  • container to mix the paper mache paste
  • brown, black, and white paint
  • paint brush
  • plate to mix plate

What You’ll Do:

  1. Cover the area where you are going to work with newspaper.
  2. Mix the flour and water in a container
  3. Blow up the balloon to the size that you want your bear cave.
  4. Place you balloon in a container with at least half of it exposed. 
  5. Dip the strips of paper into the flour and water mixture, removing the excess paste and layer over the balloon.  IMG_4650
  6. Cover 1/2 to 3/4 of the balloon, forming a cave.  Make sure you leave an opening for your bears to get in the cave.IMG_4652
  7. Allow the paper to dry.
  8. Pop the balloon and trim the edges so your cave will sit properly on the forest floor.
  9. Once your cave is dry you can paint it.  I mixed brown, black and white paint to make a stone color. IMG_4660

Want to check out the completed Bear Sensory Tub?  Head over to Totally Tots tomorrow morning.


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