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2 In Homeschool Product Reviews/ Homeschooling

Indian In The Cupboard E-Guide by Progeny Press // A TOS Crew Review

Having a child who struggles with reading comprehension makes reading especially challenging. There are many frustrations not with the reading itself, but in the understanding of what is being read, the meaning behind it — all things comprehension. We have been looking for visual aids to assist with reading comprehension, and were pleased for a chance to review the Indian in the Cupboard E-Guide from Progeny Press.

Literature Study Guides from a Christian Perspective {Progeny Press Review}

About Progeny Press

Progeny Press is a faith-based company which makes Study Guides and Interactive E-Guides for literature from lower elementary through high school.  Each level has several great literature titles to choose from. Their mission is to “To teach our children to think clearly, to understand literature, and to rely on the scripture for truth and values, and enjoy themselves while they do it!”

About The Indian In The Cupboard E-Guide

For the purpose of this review, I received one Indian In The Cupboard Interactive E-Guide which was downloaded in PDF format to my computer. I also received a separate PDF download of the Answer Key.  Each chapter in the E-Guide contains:

  • Vocabulary
  • Characterization
  • Questions (taken from each chapter)
  • Thinking About The Story
  • Dig Deeper

*The book is not included and needed to be purchased.

How We Used The Product

I assigned my son 1-2 chapters to read a day, about twice a week. Some chapters are longer than others, and some of the E-Guide content is longer than others.  What I love about the E-Guide is that it is interactive, meaning my son was able to type and save his answers directly on the screen as he worked through it. Here are a couple of screenshots of completed pages. Please excuse the image quality.

I allowed my son to answer the questions as he read, rather than making him wait until he completed the reading and try to remember what he read. For the most part, he did well with the vocabulary and majority of the questions. He did struggle with some of the questions, putting his answers into the write words, as well as some of the Digging Deeper, which has to do with scripture.

As far as the book itself, he really enjoyed reading it.

Final Thoughts

I think the Progeny Press Interactive E-Guides are a wonderful way for children to study literature. For my son, we definately enjoyed using it, although we didn’t finish it. I am going to be purchasing additional Interactive E-Guides to incorporate into our next school year. I will be trying out the middle elementary level, since my son is still a bit behind in comprehension skills.

If you are a looking for a fun and interactive way to learn literature, give the Progeny Press Interactive E-guides a try. They are easy to use and your child will enjoy reading and learning along with the help of the guide.

For more about Progeny Press, visit them on Facebook or Twitter.

Be sure to stop over and read what other Crew members have to say about this fabulous product!

Literature Study Guides from a Christian Perspective {Progeny Press Review}

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1 In Homeschool Product Reviews/ Homeschooling

Help With Focus And Comprehension with Forbrain – Sound For Life Ltd // A TOS Crew Review

This year has been quite a transition for us as it is our first year homeschooling. One of the things we are working on is slowing down, focus and comprehension. Sometimes it’s hard for my ADHD middle schooler to sit and focus on school work for more than 15 minutes at a time.  I was so excited when Forbrain – Sound For Life LTD sent me a package with their bone conduction headset!


Forbrain – Sound For Life Ltd Review

What is Forbrain?

Unlike most headsets where the ear piece sit inside the ear, this headset is placed behind the head and the earpieces rest on the bones just in front of your ears, near the cheek bones. It comes with an attached microphone and several mic covers which are great to swap out for sanitary purposes when more than one person is using the head set.

Forbrain uses high frequency vibration to create and process sound. It blocks out excess noise, isolating and amplifying the user’s voice, which gives the nervous system quite a sensory workout. It also enhances long vowels and other sounds which are critical to building language skills. The resulting sound is delivered through bones and cone conduction, not the ears or air conduction, to the nervous system and brain. Since one’s own voice is the source of Forbrain’s functionality, it is great for reading, singing, chatting — virtually anything that uses your own voice!

Here are some of the ways that Forbrain can help:

Reading and Writing
Verbal or Short Term Memory
Attention and The Ability To Stay On Task
Concentration and Focus
Speech, Pronunciation and Fluency
Motivation, Self-Esteem and Self Confidence

How We Used The Product

My son wore the headset for about 15 minutes each day for a period of about six weeks. When he first put it on, he did not like the vibration of the headset at all. He is highly sensitive to both sound and touch. It took some coaxing to getting him to wear it for the full 15 minutes each day, and we had to work up to that, but after a while, he was pretty comfortable with it and said that it didn’t bother him anymore.

He used the headset while working on his reading comprehension and other school work.

The first thing my son noticed was that his voice seemed very loud to him. We turned the headset down a little bit from the recommended mid range and tried again. It was better, but for the most part, my son needed to talk a little softer in order for his voice to be heard in a more normal tone. Also there is a difference in how his voice sounds with the distance of the microphone from his mouth. The first photo shows his optimal position, while the 2nd shows it a little too close.

While working on his reading comprehension exercises, he did note that he appeared to be able to concentrate better, because he couldn’t really hear anything else “going on in his head” but his own voice. I haven’t noticed a huge improvement in his comprehension skills just yet, but I have noticed that he appears to be sitting for longer periods of time without getting antsy while reading, and he appears to be reading slower and really concentrating on what is coming out of his mouth.

One of the things I was anxious to see if Forbrain would help with is stuttering. He doesn’t have a big stutter, but when he gets overly anxious or in a hurry he tends to stutter more. Because he reads slower and his words seem more pronounced while using the headset, it appears as if there is a small improvement in that area.  If anything, the headset is reminding him to “take it slow” and that alone is a huge improvement.

Our Final Thoughts

Overall, I am very pleased with the small improvements I’ve seen in my son. I do think that we need more time to really know if the headset will help him with his reading comprehension struggles. We look forward to using Forbrain during the Summer and in the Fall.

If you have a child with an Auditory Sensory Disorder, ADHD or speech impairment, you may want to give Forbrain a try.

To read other testimonies of how Forbrain is helping other children, but sure to click over and read the other Crew Reviews. Just click the image below.

Forbrain – Sound For Life Ltd Review

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1 In Homeschool Product Reviews/ Homeschooling

Help With Reading from MaxScholar // A TOS Crew Review

My 12 year old son does not enjoy reading. It’s more about his struggles with comprehension than with reading. I was excited for the opportunity to use an online resource to assist my son with reading comprehension. MaxScholar offers a variety of activities for students to improve reading skills with their MaxScholar Reading Intervention Programs.

MaxScholar Reading Intervention Programs Review

About MaxScholar

MaxScholar is a thorough, multi-sensory, reading and language-based program. It uses different methods that help students improve their reading and language performance scores. MaxScholar is adaptable to both school and home settings and has helped thousands of students with their reading and language skills.

The programs offered through the MaxScholar Reading Intervention Program include:

Pre-K Phonics – Designed for pre-Kindergarten students (ages 3-5) to provide the foundations for learning to read.

MaxPhonics – A multi-sensory approach to teaching phonics. Effective for children ages 5-7 or others who need this type of intervention.

MaxReading – Teaches reading comprehension strategies for students who are below grade level in their reading skills.

MaxWords – Teaches prefixes, suffixes, Greek and Latin roots, syllabification and spelling rules. Students will increase their vocabulary by 16,000 words by using this program.

MaxMusic – Uses music and games to engage students who otherwise might be uninterested in reading and learning.

MaxVocab – This program is MaxScholar’s dictionary, and offers thousands of definitions and interactive games to expand students’ vocabulary.

MaxPlaces – Students get the chance to explore the world in this program.

MaxBios – Introduces students to famous personalities through biographies. Each biography is set up in a timeline structure and teaches chronological ordering skills.

How We Used The Program

For this review, I received a one year license to MaxScolar’s MaxGuru program, which includes all of the programs listed above. Our primary focus was on MaxReading. I was looking forward to seeing if the processes outlined in this online reading intervention program would help him.

Both the parent and the student receive their own login. This is a screen shot of my son’s login dashboard:


Screen Shot 2016-06-07 at 11.08.25 PM

After entering MaxReading, you have your choice of choosing one of the selected readings, or changing the chapter and picking a different reading. For this passage, my son chose the topic of Household Chores, and the reading passage of Cleaning Your Room. This is what the passage looked like before my son started to read:



As my son moved through the passage, there are vocabulary words in gray which he could click on to see definitions, how they are used in sentences, synonyms and antonyms.


Next he read the passage and used the highlighters to choose the topic, main idea and important details of the passage.

For this example, I am using a passage my son accidentally clicked “done” on before he was finished so you can see a side-by-side view of a low-scored passage next to the correct, highlighted one. I do wish he had had the ability from that point to start again, but we were not able to find such a feature as the passage had already been scored.


Afterwards, there is a short writing summary and questions to answer based on the passage.

After completing the reading, highlighting, writing and questions, the student receives a final score. My son scored a C on this passage, mostly because he didn’t complete it so he didn’t have the best understanding of the passage before moving forward.


From here, the student has a choice to play games, redo the chapter, or move on to the next chapter. This is where the student could start over and redo the passage for a different grade.

From the parent dashboard, I can access full reports and check my son’s progress throughout the program.

Screen Shot 2016-06-07 at 11.42.31 PM

Screen Shot 2016-06-07 at 11.43.57 PM

Overall, my son still needs some work on his reading skills.

Final Thoughts

I am pleased with the MaxScholar Reading Intervention Program. I believe that with continued use, my son will improve his reading and comprehension scores.  We are looking forward to continuing on with MaxReading throughout the summer and into next year, as well as using some of the other programs that came with our one-year license.

For more information about MaxScholar and the programs it offers, visit them on Facebook, Twitter or Pinterest.

Be sure to read what others are saying about MaxScholar by clicking the graphic below:

MaxScholar Reading Intervention Programs Review

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2 In Reviews & Giveaways

Phil Wickham “Children of God” CD Review

We are huge Phil Wickham fans in our house. We own most of his albums and why we don’t own them all I have no idea. My son, who is a worship leader at our church, has been very inspired by Phil’s music and lyrics.

I was so excited for the chance to receive Phil’s newest release, Children of God, for review.

Screen Shot 2016-06-06 at 9.25.35 PM

This is Phil’s first release since 2014 when he underwent surgery to remove a vocal polyp and entered into a year of vocal rest. Instead of allowing this intense season of surrender to completely bring Him down, Phil used it as a season to rest and submit to the Lord. Out of this time came a new sound, one that brought forth a new sound with renewed energy as He gives God all the praise and glory for His complete healing in the midst of a hard season.

Every single song on this album has become  a new favorite of mine, which means I love it! Phil’s poetic and intimate lyrics will draw you deeper into the Father’s love.

The album starts out with Doxology/Amen, which just really brings you into the presence of God and gives you time to search your heart and surrender to all that He has for you.

The next song, Better Than Life, talks about the enormity of God’s love and how it really is…BETTER THAN LIFE!

One song called The Secret Place, featuring Madison Cunningham, especially touched me. As a busy wife and mom who spends most of her days working, I long for the secret place where it’s just me and God. This song took me there. It’s rich in beautiful lyrics that will grab your heart.

Your Love Awakens Me is one of my most favorite on the album. This song’s theme is freedom and salvation and it will have you up on your feet dancing for sure.  You will be reminded of the cross and all that God did for you. You can watch the official music video for this song below:

Children of God will propel you to new heights and greater faith and you surrender to Him and realize His great love for you. I highly recommend that you add it to your collection. It will bless you tremendously.  You can purchase it on iTunes or  Amazon.

For more about Phil Wickham and The Children of God Album visit his website here.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received one or more of the products or services mentioned above for free in the hope that I would mention it on my blog. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

0 In Homeschool Product Reviews/ Homeschooling

Hey Mama! Print Schoolhouse Planner 2016-2017 from The Old Schoolhouse // A TOS Crew Review

As a busy mom who holds a full-time job outside the home and homeschools a middle school boy, it is imperative that I plan ahead for success. While I’ve always used electronic planners in the past, I have been enjoying getting my feet wet with paper planners. Today, I want to share all about the Hey Mama! Print Schoolhouse Planner 2016-2017, a new school planner from The Old Schoolhouse.

Hey Mama! Schoolhouse Planner 2016-2017 Review
Hey Mama! Schoolhouse Planner 2016-2017 Review

About The Hey Mama! Planner:

This planner is a soft cover, spiral bound booklet of 192 planner pages. It is a very nice size, measuring 9×11 and includes 2016-2018 calendars, as well as monthly calendar and notes.

Some of the extra features included in the planner are homeschool forms, such as:

Weekly Planners
Monthly, Semester and Yearly Goal Sheets
Attendance Chart
Book Log
Curriculum Planning Sheets

Some of the items in the planner that will be most helpful to my student are:

36 General Writing Prompts
Story Starters
A list of the 13 Colonies by Date
Timeline of Inventions
U.S. Presidents and their Wives
Branches of Federal, State and Local Governments
United States and Capitals
Academic Transcript
Checklist and Skills Learned

How I Used The Planner

This planner runs July 2016 through June 2017. When I realized my son’s current calendar ends after June, I was excited to begin adding things to the Hey Mama! Planner, if even only a few things. We are not technically year-round homeschoolers, but we do work on different things throughout the Summer, as well as continuing to review homeschool products that come our way.

One of the first things I noticed about this planner was how much room there is to write on the calendar pages. Most of the calendars I’ve used in the past do not have adequate space to write down all of the assignments for each subject on a given day. The Hey Mama! Planner give you lots of space to write.

The first thing I did was add my son’s summer vacations to the calendar. He has a couple of exciting things coming up in July, and I wanted to remind myself of when he is going to be gone and unavailable to work on assignments.


The next thing I did was turn to the September calendar to add the one class that I know he is continuing on with for sure in the fall and which we already have curriculum picked out for. I put in all of his lessons for that course through September and will continue to make additions for the remainder of the school year.


Next, I turned to the Books I Read This Year pages and began to write in some of the books I remember my son reading this year. I will finish populating this and use the additional sheet in the Planner for the 2016-2017 school year.

Lastly, I found the Curriculum Planning Sheet to be helpful as I begin to plan which curriculum I’ve already purchased for next year and which I am considering.

Aside from all of the wonderful planning pages which will make my life so much easier on the homeschool front as well as just life in general, sprinkled throughout the planner are Hey Mama letters. These are encouraging letters to all the mamas. I’ve read through a few and they really encouraged my heart.


My Final Thoughts

I’ve really enjoyed going through the Hey Mama! Planner and familiarizing myself with all that it has to offer. I know that it will really help me as I continue to work with my son during the summer, as well as planning for our next full school year.

*Special Offer*

Right now through July 15th, you can purchase the Hey Mama! Schoolhouse Planner for just $19, which is $10 off the regular price.  Just click the image below and use the coupon code “CREWCODE” at check out.

Coupon Code Hey Mama Planner 2016 2017

You will soon be on your way to a successful and organized summer and upcoming school year.

Be sure to read more reviews by The Crew to see what others think about this wonderful planner and how it’s working for them. Just click the image below.

Hey Mama! Schoolhouse Planner 2016-2017 Review

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