Category Archives: TOS Homeschool Crew

Andrea Carter and the Trouble with Treasure


Sometimes a book really surprises me, and this one did.  I had a chance to review it as a member of TOS Homeschool Crew, and honestly, I didn’t expect much.  I’m not a huge fan of series books, and most of the time, Christian fiction leaves too sweet a taste in my mouth.  After I began reading this book, though, I realized that Andrea Carter and the Trouble with Treasure is exactly the kind of book that I would’ve enjoyed as a upper elementary-aged student or young teenager, and even as an adult, I found it engaging and entertaining.  Written by Susan K. Marlow and published by Kregel Publications, Andrea Carter and the Trouble with Treasure is a part of the Circle C Adventures series.  This is a summary of the series from the Kregel Publications website: 

Readers ages 8–14 have fallen in love with Andrea Carter! But how could they not? The 1880s are exciting times and Andi can’t seem to stop getting into trouble on her huge cattle ranch near Fresno, California. By the time she turns thirteen, she’s had more fun than most kids have in a lifetime. And the fun doesn’t have to stop! Now available in a handy slip case, all six of Andrea’s Circle C Adventures will keep kids reading for hours.

Despite the fact that I read book number five in the series, I had no problem picking right up with both the characters and plot;  Marlow does a good job of reintroducing characters with little fanfare but enough detail to satisfy those who are unfamiliar with the story.  The individual title I read has just the right amount of adventure for the target age range–it’s suspenseful but not scary.  Christianity is presented as a natural part of the title character’s life, so there are no “preachy” parts at all in the story.  As a young girl, I loved horses and historical fiction, so this series of a girl who lives on a ranch and gets into all sorts of scrapes would’ve been just the thing for me.  The Circle C Adventures series even has its own home on the web, and it’s full to the brim of fun things like book trailers, free study guides, and more!

Andrea Carter and the Trouble with Treasure is available for purchase from the publisher, from the Circle C Adventures website, and from other bookstores.

To read more reviews about this fun series, check out TOS Homeschool Crew blog.

Time 4 Learning

PhotobucketAs a member of TOS HomeschoolCrew, we were given the opportunity to use the preschool component of Time 4 Learning , which is a complete online educational program that is even touted as a homeschool curriculum.  Let me first admit that using the computer for instruction is a weakness of mine.  By weakness, I don’t mean that I rely on the computer too much; instead, I mean that I don’t use it at all, except as a time filler (and who really needs one of those?).  The little people at the House of Hope don’t get a lot of screen time at all, and I want to keep it that way for as long as possible.  I guess you could say that I’m philosophically opposed to it, so that puts any computer-based program at a disadvantage around here from the outset. 

With that disclaimer out of the way, let me say that Time 4 Learning is a very thorough program in terms of scope of materials covered.  For preschoolers alone, these are the offerings.  Keep in mind, too, that this is the PreK2 level; PreK1 is similar. 

Each of these subjects offers several opportunities for learning through video clips, matching activities, memory match game, ordering activities, read-aloud stories, and more.  The screen shot below shows the activities available for the subject of insects. 

Obviously, this was more appropriate for Louise than for Lulu.  Still, though, many of the skills presented in the PreK programs are ones Louise has already mastered, as well.  The girls enjoyed working on this together while I prepared lunch for several days, but honestly, they would have been just as happy doing anything else on the computer.  One advantage to Time 4 Learning is that it does track the students’ progress and provide parent reports, but keeping up with these records is not something I’m willing to do while my children are so young.  I’m certain I would not pay the monthly $19.95 for one child and $14.95 for each additional child for this service.  However, for families with older children or children who need extra help in any given subject, this would be a bargain when compared to more expensive tutoring programs, etc. 

Again, given my predisposition to not use such programs, I am not the best judge of this service.  Time 4 Learning is a huge program which I have not thoroughly investigated.  I would encourage you to visit the Time 4 Learning website and perhaps watch a lesson demo to see for yourself if it would be a good fit for your family.  You may also check out TOS HomeschoolCrew blog for more reviews of this product

I accessed this service free of charge for review purposes.

What Am I? A Collection of Short Stories


The company that created the All About Spelling curriculum and Beehive Reader 1 (which is being renamed Cobweb the Cat) has produced another reading book, and as a member of TOS HomeschoolCrew, we had a chance to review an advanced copy.  This reader is similar to the first volume, only this volume contains longer stories.  This reader is designed to go along with All About Spelling level 2, but it can be used successfully without the curriculum.



This book contains multiple lines of text on each page, but other than being more difficult, it is very similar to the volume 1, level 1 book.  Lulu read the first story in What Am I? with no problem, and despite her protests, I think she enjoyed it.  It is an engaging story entitled “The Bench” which details all of the interesting things that happen to and on a bus stop bench.  The story is only seventeen pages long, with half of those pages being illustrations with no text.  The stories do get progressively longer later in the book. 

I feel about this book just about like I did the Beehive Reader 1:  it’s a great beginning reader, but it’s not much different than another other beginning phonics-based reader out there.  If we were using the All About Spelling curriculum, I might be more inclined to think it’s worth the $19.95 it will sell for, once it is released.  If you’re in need of phonics-based readers, though, this is definitely one to have on the shelf. 

Check out TOS HomeschoolCrew blog for more reviews of this product

I receieved this product free of charge for review purposes.

Balance Benders by The Critical Thinking Co.

PhotobucketI received a copy of the beginning volume of Balance Benders:  Logic and Algebraic Reasoning Puzzles by Robert Femiano to review for TOS HomeschoolCrew.  This book is published by The Critical Thinking Company, and it is but one of a boatload of resources produced by this compnay.  The volume of Balance Benders we used is marked for grades 2-6, so I was not very optimistic that my kindergartener would be able to complete any of the puzzles.  However, as so often happens, I was pleasantly surprised that she was able to complete the first exercise with little trouble.  In fact, she enjoyed it!  The whole concept behind this book is that of recognizing equal statements that are based on a balance or scale that contain symbol(s) that are equal .  I will be the first to admit that I’m not as knowledgeable about “logic and algebraic reasoning” as I should be will be one day, but I sincerely want this to be a part of my children’s education.  This is definitely a resource that I plan to hold onto for future use, and at $10 a volume, I would definitely consider purchasing the more advanced volumes in the future.
For more reviews of this and other Critical Thinking Company products, check out TOS Homeschool Crew blog!

This product was sent to me free of charge for review purposes.

Children's Bible Hour::Seasons of Faith

As a member of TOS HomeschoolCrew, I have been blessed with the opportunity to review a great resource from Children’s Bible Hour Ministries.  The Seasons of Faith illustrated book series is a series of books based on Children’s Bible Hour radio scripts.  According to the CBH website, “[T]hese stories teach core truths of the Bible so that kids can easily apply them to their lives. Each book focuses on a season of faith-developing topics.”  The books are paperback and include a “read along CD” narrated by “Uncle” Charlie.  (Regular readers here know how much we love audiobooks here at the House of Hope, so these were very welcome!)  The stories illustrate Biblical principles and are kid-friendly.  So far, my girls and I have listened to Braving the Storm, which is the story of a young boy whose family has been dealt a series of difficult blows.  His grandfather helps him come to understand how such difficult times are the times to grow down deep roots in Christ.  I have also listened to Seventy Times Seven, which is the story of a boy who learns what it means to forgive as Christ has forgiven us.  Both stories are very practical and realistic in that they are about events that could really happen (and often do) in the lives of children.  Each story ends with the plan of salvation that is presented similarly to the way it is presented on the website.  These stories are very evangelistic or discipleship-oriented.  While I would not categorize these as fine literature, they do remind me of something I would’ve watched or listened to as a child in children’s church or youth camp.  I am more than happy to add them to our audiobook collection.  At $10 per title, these book-and-CD sets are comparable in price to any other that you would purchase. 

Be sure to visit the CBH website for a host of resources, including a video of the making of the Seasons of Faith series!

Visit the TOS Homeswchool Crew blog to read more reviews of this product.

This product was sent to me free of charge for review purposes.