Wednesday, September 26, 2012

REVIEW: Family Favorites Songbook for Teachers and CD Combo by Music Together

My family has been trying out the Family Favorites Songbook for Teachers and CD Combo by Music Together.


Music Together® Family Favorites

 Music Together Family FavoritesSongbook for Teachers

Family Favorites Songbook
for Teachers


This companion songbook to the award-winning "Family Favorites" CD is designed especially for all those who work musically with children, whether in preschools, homeschool settings, early elementary classes, church groups, or clinical settings.

This songbook will show you how to create a musically rich environment where children learn to move rhythmically, to sing, and to develop listening and improvisation skills through playful, developmentally appropriate activities.

Each song is followed by “teacher pages” that outline suggested activities for a variety of settings. All song activities and teaching tips are based on the Music Together teaching practices which have been perfected over two decades by thousands of teachers, parents, caregivers, and children all around the world.

Music Together Family Favorites CDMusic Together Family Favorites CD

Music Together Family Favorites features nineteen (19) of the best-loved songs from the nine (9) Music Together song collections. This CD has won eleven awards including a Parents’ Choice Silver Honor award and includes a 32-page booklet with fun music-making activity suggestions for every song for use at home, in the car, or in the preschool classroom.

Listen to song samples

Download Individual Songs (MP3)

*  Buy CD with booklet - $14.95

*  Download Album (MP3) and booklet - $9.99
Music Together Family FavoritesCD and Songbook ComboMusic Together Family Favorites CD and Songbook Combo

(Save $5 when you purchase the CD & songbook together!)  

You can save an additional $2 with code “SCHOOLHOUSE” at checkout.  

Let me start by saying that this combo pack is just plain fun!  I am using this with my 8 year old daughter, Haylee, and my 4.5 year old son, Holden.  I, too, am joining in on the fun of this with them!  Smile  This set really gets us moving and letting the music flow through us.  That being said, let’s look more closely at what exactly this is.

The Songbook for Teachers is broken down into 3 main sections.  The first section explains the Music Together approach…their philosophy, an explanation of the kinds of songs and activities included, tips on how to work with instruments and props, and suggested adaptations for children with special needs. 

The second section contains the sheet music for the 19 songs contained on the CD.  With each song sheet, there is an explanation of the song’s background along with suggested activities to work on with various ages. 

The third section is a reference section that gives information about the various Music Together programs offered for different age groups using licensed materials.

The Family Favorites CD itself comes in a tri-fold case and contains 19 fun songs for your children to enjoy.  Affixed in the center section of the case is a sturdy booklet that devotes a page to each song with detailed suggestions for activities and ways that kids can play along to the music with a variety of noise-making accompaniments.  The styles of music vary greatly, giving a broad exposure to different sounds.  The one common thread in most of the songs, though, is a distinctive rhythm that is easy for kids to pick up on.  This is the key, as this set is intended to be used with basic rhythm instruments.  Those can be actual instruments or homemade noise-makers, and either one works just fine with this.  Children are encouraged to listen for the rhythm and explore different ways to play along to the beat.  You can also use props such as scarves and parachutes as a means of moving to the music. 

Now for the fun part!  My kids simply adored this music.  We began each session with the “Hello” song where you insert your children’s names into the song as a way to welcome them into the session.  Then we’d select a couple of songs to listen to and pass out various rhythm instruments we happened to have lying around, such as maracas, rhythm sticks, triangle, tone block, sandpaper blocks, shakers, and jingle sticks (like tambourines).  We also happened to have colorful scarves from a music set I had around for the kids when they were toddlers.  We all got up and danced together and used our instruments to explore the beat of the music.  We ended each session with the “Goodbye” song, and we found this predictable method of beginning and ending each session was a great way to transition in and out of the lessons.  Otherwise, the kids could have danced and played all day! 

The suggested ways to dance and play along in the booklet contained in the CD were really great.  The instructions are clear and easy to follow.  My daughter, especially, loved to sing along to the songs using the sheet music contained in the teacher’s songbook.

I think what I liked best about this set is that the lessons (which I prefer to call sessions) are so largely unstructured.  Sometimes too much structure to this sort of thing saps out the fun that is naturally found in the music itself.  I love that it allowed my children to explore the sounds, sing, dance, and play along as they so desired without a right or wrong way to do it.  This made it less like the music classes I remember in public school and more like the fun we like to have at home in the free nature of our homeschool. 

I think the fact that they offer the music and accompanying booklet as a download for $9.95 is a great value.  Your family would have hours upon hours of enjoyment from just that item alone, and with the additional $2 discount using the code SCHOOLHOUSE, it’s a value that most everyone can afford. 

If you can afford to spring for the complete hard copy combo set, you won’t be disappointed.  You save $5 by purchasing the combo set over purchasing the items separately, plus the additional $2 discount I mentioned above. 

The bottom line is that this product is the “good stuff” that kids really enjoy and look forward to having as part of their school day.  We have been doing these sessions first thing in the morning after breakfast so the kids can get their wiggles out before we sit down to our schoolwork.  It’s a great way to start the day on a fun and positive note!

(Be forewarned if you have may notice lots of fluff on the carpet in the first few photos, along with my dog in the corner of one shot.  This is because my yellow lab went nuts barking and ripping stuffing out of her toy while we danced and played our instruments.  She did this every time we played!  I don't know if it was our lack of musical talent or the fact that we were dancing around like crazy people, but she sure joined in on the fun, too!  LOL)

Check out what other Crew members have to say about these products by clicking the banner below.


I received the combo set free of charge for review purposes, but all opinions are mine and reflect my family’s honest use of the products.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Soccer Day - 1st Games

My kids had their first soccer games yesterday with the new homeschool sports league.  It was an absolutely BEAUTIFUL day.  I forgot my sunblock because I had moved it to a travel bag for Busch Gardens the day before.  So you guessed it...hours spent in an open field means major sunburns!  We all had scorched faces and chests.  Yuck!  My face hurts so badly!  I got the tops of my knees pretty badly, too.

Haylee played defense really well.  Her team got creamed, but she did such a great job of defending her position that it didn't even matter.  She was much more focused on her job than last year, and that was great to see.  She loves soccer.

Holden played defense, as well.  He occasionally had trouble staying attentive when there wasn't much going on in his zone, but he had fun, and that's all I'm after.  When he got a chance to go after the ball, he didn't hold back, and he had a great time.

Hayden was placed as center defense.  His game was tied up, so they went into penalty kicks to determine a winner.  He was chosen as the 5th kicker for his team.  It remained tied up until his turn to kick.  All eyes were on him, and I could see the concentration in his face...he knew the game rested on his shoulders.  He went for it and pocketed the ball in the back left corner of the net.  SCORE!  He made the winning goal.  That was a great way to end his first game with the new league.  He's been trying really hard to do his best and make a positive first impression.  He's doing great.  He really likes his coach, and things are working out great for him.  It was nice to see him working hard on such a big field. 

So all in all, it was an awesome first game for all of them!  I swear I will bathe us all in sunblock next Saturday!  LOL.

Until then...

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

REVIEW: Native America Once-a-Week Unit Study by Homeschool Legacy

I was so fortunate to get to review the Native America Once-a-Week Unity Study by Homeschool Legacy.

Native America Once-a-Week Unit Study Who says learning can't be FUN? Discover many of America's Native American nations and their very different lifestyles with this fascinating Once-a-Week Unit Study.
  • Fascinating, NO PREP, 6-week unit study
  • Appropriate for grades 2-12
  • Enjoy family devotionals that focus on kindness, bravery, reverence, peace, generosity, and honesty
  • Children choose from a wide variety of quality, library reading selections that focus on various regional nations and span a four hundred year period of time
  • Enjoy quality, family read-alouds
  • Get to know the Northeast Woodland, Southeast Woodland, Southwest, Plains, Northwest Coast, and California/Plateau/ Great Basin Indians of North America
  • Meet a famous Iroquois Indian who had a profound affect on the Founding Fathers and our United States
  • Introduce yourselves to some famous Native Americans
  • Enjoy some classic poetry and Native American music
  • Study the science of anthropology
  • Make some Native American food
  • Make a Cherokee Indian children's game
  • Explore geography
  • Enjoy educational, family field trips
  • Discover the “ancient cliff dwellers” and their present day descendants
  • Learn Indian Sign Language
  • Watch documentaries
  • Enjoy quality language and research assignments
  • Create Indian arts and crafts
  • Enjoy Family Movie Nights that revolve around your unit study
  • Have some fun with "Stump Your Dad Trivia"
  • Do you have a Boy Scout in your family? He will earn his Indian Lore Merit Badge while completing his unit study assignments.
  • Coming Soon! American Heritage Girls will soon be able to earn their Native America Merit Badge.

PRICE:  $17.95 with FREE SHIPPING on orders of $50 or more!

Let me start by saying that we are totally new to the whole unit study concept.  I’ve heard of them, I’ve had friends who used them even exclusively as their homeschooling curriculum, but I have never purchased or tried to do one myself.  I’m the regimented, box-checker type of homeschool mom.  I tend to use boxed curriculum or public school textbooks and supplements and plan everything out to the day for the whole school year in advance, so I never even imagined we’d ever have time for an “extra” like this in our homeschool.

My 3rd grade daughter, Haylee, is doing an introductory study of American History this year, which involves studying Native Americans throughout the year.  My 8th grade son, Hayden, is doing an in-depth study of American History this year, so he is also reading a fair amount about Native Americans.  Because of their age difference, I’ve not been afforded a lot of opportunities to combine their studies in any subject over the years.  I thought this unit study might just change all that, so I decided to give it a try.

Not only did this unit study allow them to work and study together, but it has made me a believer in how much fun this type of study can be!  To give you an idea of what to expect, I’ll take you through our first week’s experiences with this unit study.

First, the text gives you a suggested schedule of how to lay out the study for each day of the week.  The once-a-week concept refers to only doing the more involved activity portion one day a week, while doing snippits in conjunction with your regular curriculum on the other days.  It also gives you a suggested reading and video list each week.  There are LOTS of choices, so there would surely be some on the list that would be available to you at your local library. 

The very first week asked us to study the Northeast Woodland Nations.  We were instructed to read aloud The Song of Hiawatha (which we easily found online) and discuss the family devotional, which is provided in the study.  It suggested some photography to view for art appreciation and asked us to read a biography about the true Hiawatha to see what he contributed to the Iriquois Nation.  It also asked us to research the Iriquois Confederacy.  In our search, we came across this wonderful page online that fulfilled that research and expanded upon what we were learning in the unity study itself.  It was a wonderful free resource that talked about many of things we’d read about and helped tie it all together.  If you chose, this was also an opportunity to have your child use the research to write a composition, but I wanted to keep this fun, so we just discussed it.  I found that the kids got really into it, so that was enough to satisfy me that they were learning in a fun way!

Then the study suggested that we listen to some Native American music online while completing some art assignments.  For this, I went to Amazon and played clips of Native American music while they worked on the art projects.  That was fun, too!  The study explained about wampum - what is was, and how it was used.  Then my daughter and I worked together to make purple dye and dye some “wampum beads” made of ditalini pasta to make a wampum bracelet.  She thought that was pretty cool.  She wasn’t feeling well that day and had a fever, so the quietness of this activity was perfect for her.

While we worked on that, my son and I discussed the meaning behind the Iriquois Belt pattern that is now the Iriquois Flag.  He and I were both fascinated by that, and he worked on drawing and coloring in the pattern using purple and white colored pencils.  This helped solidify the meaning in his mind so that he could explain it to his dad later in the evening.

The study suggested you make an anthropology chart on poster board to show facts about how each of the Nations lived…what natural resources they had, their food, materials used in their homes, clothing, and weapons, and their means of transportation.

Then for our life skills/family night activity, the study told us about “the three sisters” plants that sustained the Northeast Woodland Nations and gave us recipes for preparing Three Sisters Iriquois Soup and Native American Fry Bread.  We saved the cooking portion for the weekend so I could get what I needed for the recipes.  We were all looking forward to trying them!  We’ve attended local annual Native American Pow-Wows in the past because my husband’s family has Cherokee roots, but we’d never tried the food before, so we weren’t sure what to expect.  Boy, were we in for a treat!  I will say that it took most of my Sunday afternoon to prepare these dishes.  It definitely involved some preparation and lots of dishes.  But it was so worth it!  The soup was delicious, and even my very young children ate it.  And the fry bread was SO very yummy!  Most of us ate ours with honey drizzled over it as the recipe suggested, but my daughter had hers with powdered sugar.  The best way I can describe it is that it’s definitely a cousin to a funnel cake, only better because it has a denser bread dough texture and isn’t as greasy. It was definitely a treat!

While we worked through these assignments, it also dawned on me that the way these Native American Nations are broken up in the weekly studies lines up very well with the History Pockets offered by Evan-Moor in book form or by download from  I already had these printed out as a planned supplement for my daughter’s studies this year, so I grabbed the History Pocket on the Northeast Woodland Nations and used the activities right alongside the first week of this unit study.  I know many homeschoolers have these books in their home libraries, so I wanted to mention that it paired very nicely with this product!  The activities seemed to marry nicely with the wonderful activities suggested in this Once-a-Week Unity Study from Homeschool Legacy!

This unit study continues in week 2 with the Southeast Woodland Nations, week 3 with the Southwest Nations, week 4 with the Plains Nations, week 5 with the Pacific Northwest Coast Nations, and finally week 6 with the California/Plateau/Great Basin Nations.  Each week of this study continues to be just as interesting and engaging as the first, and we look forward to continuing to use this product in the coming weeks, stretching it even further with the additional materials that I have on hand. 

I can’t say enough good things about this Native American Unity Study!  I loved how it brought all of us together to work on a topic that could be shared by all at varying levels of involvement and difficulty.  I feel like we all learned from it in a meaningful way, and the hands-on activities helped to solidify in their minds what they had learned in our studies.  This is a versatile product that can certainly be used independently or as part of a larger study you may be doing on Native Americans.  I definitely recommend it, and I hope you enjoy it as much as we have!

Check out what other Crew members had to say about this and many other Once-a-Week Unit Studies by Homeschool Legacy by clicking the banner below.


I received a digital copy of this unit study for free for review purposes, but all opinions are mine and reflect my family’s honest use of the product.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

REVIEW: Fitness 4 Home School Core 1 Physical Education Curriculum for K-8 by Family Time Fitness

I was so fortunate to be able to review the Fitness 4 Homeschool Core 1 Physical Education Curriculum for K-8 by Family Time Fitness.

The program is designed to create a fun and engaging atmosphere for fitness. The 260 planned lessons teach you everything you need to know with minimal preparation time, and the lessons are also designed so that they do not require a large investment in equipment.

Our program is the only professionally planned comprehensive curriculum for Physical Education and Athletic Development designed with the needs of the parent in mind. Our PE curriculum works for any homeschool because it is easy to follow, can be customized to any schedule, and can fit in almost any space, outdoors or indoors. It’s even easier to follow with our tips for integrating physical education, progress logs and instructional videos.

The Fitness 4 Homeschool program is structured to be integrated into your teaching a minimum of three days per week, but we strongly recommend five. It takes 30 to 45 minutes each day, and we’re certain that it is so fun and engaging for the whole family that it will be the highlight of your student’s day.

The 260 lesson plans utilize repetition, but they are also progressive and sequential. The program is designed for all age levels and abilities, and because we believe that the learning process is most valuable with family engagement, the lessons are designed so that the whole family can join in the lessons.  

What is included in the Fitness 4 Homeschool Package?

The Fitness 4 Homeschool Curriculum includes a startup guide, PDF lesson plans, video demonstrations, assessment tools, reminder emails, lifetime curriculum and video updates, access to online webinars and certificates of completion. One curriculum purchase can be used for all your children, and we never charge any subscription fees or annual renewal fees.  

Startup/Training Guide - The Startup Guide is a guide for parents and includes an introduction to physical education, information on what to expect from the program, safety information, how to integrate physical education into your curriculum, teaching tips and equipment information.  

Lesson Plans – Each of the 260 professionally planned lessons arrives in PDF format and includes a List of Supplies, Warm-Up, Activity, Cool Down and Suggested Outdoor Activity. Each exercise is described in a detailed, user-friendly format for easy access. Each lesson provides 30-45 Minutes of physical activity. If you do all the activities that is over 7800 Minutes of activity a year! If you do the suggested outdoor activity you get an additional 10-15 of physical activity. 

1-Page Summaries– Each lesson has a One-Page Summary to facilitate easy printing and portability. The summaries keep you from printing all 900+ Pages of Lesson Plans.  

Video Demonstrations – Each exercise includes a demonstration video with real kids doing the exercises. There are over 200 instructional video demonstrations available to you with this curriculum, and you are guaranteed lifetime access to these videos as we update them.  

Assessment Tools – We provide tools to help track progress of the basic fundamental movements. Other downloadable tools include nutritional logs and meal planners for a comprehensive fitness approach.  

Encouragement Emails – During the first year of your course, we send you reminder emails each week day to keep you and your children motivated on your fitness journey. We also always include nutritional and fitness tips in the emails.

Online Webinars – You have access to our regular online webinars and our webinar archive for further in-depth instruction and tips on the curriculum.         
The entire Fitness 4 Homeschool package with lifetime access to all program updates or revisions is available to your entire homeschool family for just one payment of $57. Online schools, Co-op pricing and licensing programs are available.

Please do not hesitate to contact one of our founding members at (979) 209-0778 to discuss why a physical education curriculum is right for you and how our Fitness 4 Homeschool package can meet your needs.  

Retail Price $199,  NEW LOW - Web Price $57   

There is an option to upgrade to a Platinum Package which includes more.  You can view the details of that here.

My kids play homeschool sports year-round and are generally very active, so I’ve never felt compelled to seek out a purposeful physical education program in the past.  But over the last 8 months, my husband and I have both taken steps to become physically fit, engaging in regular, rigorous exercise on a daily basis.  We have seen ourselves transformed and have taken an active interest in healthy nutrition, as well.  Our healthier habits have begun to rub off on the kids, and they’ve shown interest in exercising with us.  So when I was given the opportunity to review this program, I felt this was a good opportunity to provide them with exercises appropriate to their ages and abilities.

When I received the PDF file, I began printing out the lessons.  I was really shocked at how extensive a program this really is!  I punched the pages and bound them with plastic comb binding into several thick books of lesson plans.  There is a LOT of material here to cover!  It was clear that this was going to provide us with lots of activities throughout the year.

Next, I made a list of the very basic equipment needed and found everything in one place at Five Below.  The expense was minimal for my 3 kids.  I purchased 3 hula hoops in appropriate sizes, 1 playground ball, 3 jump ropes, 2 packs of 3 cones, a stopwatch, and a drawstring equipment bag to keep it all together.  These are items that lots of families already have on hand.

The kids were very excited to try this out!  They got up extra early with eagerness to start their days with a P.E. lesson.  My kids are 13, 8, and 4.  Though my youngest was on the lowest end of the recommended age range, I just let him participate to whatever extent he was willing and able.  His attention span wasn’t quite there with the others, and he got tired more quickly and often acted silly, but I was content to let him have fun and participate in the ways he desired. 

First, we sat down in front of the computer.  Although I had printed out the lesson plans, I was duly impressed to find that each of the exercises includes a link to a video demonstration of how to do each one correctly.  For that reason, I found it convenient to work from the digital version of the text from that point on, or at least until we were familiar enough with the exercises.  (There’s such a variety, though, that we continue to look some up each day.  At some point, though, I expect that we will be able to follow just the printed text.)  We watched the demonstrations together and made sure everyone understood the instructions.  Then we began the lessons indoors.  It was still quite hot outside when we began the program, so we did as much inside as was possible before finishing up outside with the outdoor activities. 

I was surprised at the amount of repetitions required for children, but the kids followed the program just as it was laid out.  It clearly provided them with a real, honest-to-goodness workout!  Again, I felt impressed with all that went into the program!  The kids really enjoy the activities, and it definitely gets their wiggles out!  It provides us with a great way to start our school days, for sure.  This was one of the side benefits that I was hoping to gain!

To give you an idea of how effective the program is at providing good, solid exercise, I have to tell you that the day after their very first lesson, they all began to complain of mysterious soreness in their thighs, and none of them seemed to know from where it had come.  My eyes lit up with the realization that it was from their exercise the day before!  When I shared this with them, they all had a good laugh, realizing that was indeed the case!  So as much exercise as they get from playing sports, they clearly were not getting a full body workout until they began this program!

I can tell you from watching them that all of the repetitions made the exercises very challenging for them!  I could see they were getting a great cardiovascular workout with each lesson.  Now that our soccer season has begun, my 13 year old has told me that many of the exercises they are doing with this program are ones they are being asked to do at soccer practice, as well.  So it’s clear that this program is also conditioning them well for soccer.

I love that the program offers such a variety of warm-ups, activities/games, outdoor activities, and cool-downs.  The combinations of activities are switched up each day, so the program never seems to get old. The bottom line is that the kids are having fun AND getting fit.  The program recommends that you use the lessons at least 3 days/week but preferably 5 days/week.  With soccer practices, gym classes, and soccer games on 3 days a week already, I’ve chose to incorporate these lessons 2 days/week.  That gives them 5 out of 7 days of the week with organized, purposeful exercise.  That’s the beauty of any homeschool program, though, isn’t it?  We are able to adapt any curriculum to meet our family’s own needs.

I think the lessons in this program are fun and engaging, all while providing my children with the opportunity to learn about physical fitness and ways to keep themselves healthy and strong.
We have enjoyed this program so much, and I am seriously considering purchasing the optional workbooks that are offered by Family Time Fitness to accompany this fitness program.  The workbooks help children familiarize themselves with the terminology of fitness and nutrition through pencil puzzles and fill-in types of worksheets.  I think they’d make a great addition to this overall fitness program.  I also have my eye on their high school fitness strength training program as my oldest enters high school next year. 

My overall impression of this product is that it is a well-researched, well-thought out fitness program for kids that keeps them active and engaged.  I would definitely recommend it for children ages 4-13.  With free lifetime curriculum and video updates, you simply can’t beat the value this program offers.  We will definitely continue to use this product so the kids can continue to benefit from the healthy fitness habits it instills in them.

To read what other Crew members had to say about this fitness program, click the banner below.


Although I received this e-book free of charge for review purposes, all opinions are mine and reflect my family’s honest use of the product.

Monday, September 10, 2012

REVIEW: Lots and Lots of Penguins and Their Happy Feet DVD Set by Marshall Publishing

I had the great pleasure of reviewing the Lots and Lots of Penguins and Their Happy Feet 2-DVD Set by Marshall Publishing.  The set included Lots and Lots of Penguins and Their Toe-Tappin’ Feet (75 min.), Lots and Lots of Penguins in the Wild (50 min.), and a bonus DVD called Party Like a Penguin.




It's time to Party Like A Penguin! If you love Penguins we guarantee you are going to love, Lots and Lots of Playful Penguins including Penguins In The Wild and the FREE Bonus ANIMATED MUSIC DVD - Party Like a Penguin!!

 From emperors and kings to fairies and rock hoppers, these cute and cuddly tuxedo look-a-like creatures are everybody favorite birds and you’ll love watching them over and over again in this brand new DVD collection!

You’ll laugh and sing along as you watch them hip-hoppin’ along on the ice and the snow to some of the most entertaining songs ever produced by award-winning musician, James Coffey. Plus, you’ll want to jump out of your seat and dance along with our fully animated penguins to the hottest beat south of the border in the animated hit music video, - Party Like A Penguin!

Lots and Lots of Playful Penguins, features some of the most incredible video footage of penguins in their natural and captive habitats you’ve ever seen!  Listen to their calls and cries - its absolutely fascinating! Plus, you'll also learn interesting facts and trivia about all 17 kinds of penguins from around the world.

Then, as a special bonus you'll see other cold-weather creatures like polar bears, seals, and wild birds, and you’ll also see rare views of the majestic scenery of Antarctica.

Lots and Lots of Playful Penguins and Their Toe-Tappin' Happy Feet truly is lots and lots of fun for young and old alike so waddle right in and have a peek, we guarantee you'll love it!  


LOTS and LOTS of Penguins In the WILD - LENGTH: 50 MINUTES

Here they come, the most fascinating and popular birds on earth in Volume 2 of Lots and Lots of Penguins! This time, we take you up-close and personal as our cameras travel into the wilds of Antarctica, Australia and other scenic penguin areas in the Southern Hemisphere to capture Penguins In the Wild. You will journey right into the untamed world of penguins as you see and hear them in their natural habitats like never before.

See a birds eye view of what its really like to be a penguin. Better than a webcam, our professional cameramen go face-to-face to see what its really like to be a penguin. You will see penguins nurturing their babies, feeding young, building nests and habitats, playing, swimming, hopping on rocks, waddling around and much, much, more!

The natural sounds are incredible as you hear all the singing, squawking and grunting of these incredible creatures and other animals that share their territories. There is no narration or music to interfere with the incredible, never before seen sights and sounds you will experience in this unique video. It is a fascinating program guaranteed to be a favorite among young and old alike!

You can view the television ad and see short clips from the videos there.

The first DVD we chose to watch together was Lots and Lots of Penguins in the Wild.  This was about 50 minutes long.  At first, I was skeptical because there is absolutely no narration or music to accompany the video.  It’s certainly not your typical National Geographic type of documentary presentation.  However, we found that to be a positive thing!  The videos were up close and personal and not shot from long distances.  The only sounds were that of the penguins themselves in their natural habitats, and the whole thing gave you a “day in the life of a penguin” type of feeling.  It wasn’t overly edited, and it was almost as if we were right there observing the penguins ourselves. 

We found that the lack of narration sparked some wonderful conversations and interaction amongst ourselves.  The kids and I discussed the differences between the various types of penguins, and we talked about their behaviors and interactions with each other and their young.  We got to see adults feeding their babies and how they entertained themselves.  It was truly fascinating!  Before we knew it, it was over, and we had really, really enjoyed the whole thing.  So although I initially perceived the lack of narration to be a possible negative, it actually turned out to be the unique thing that made this video really special, and I would highly recommend it!

To accompany the video, which is indexed by the penguin species, you can print out a Study Guide that gives interesting facts about penguins and details of each species.  You can find that study guide at the bottom of this page.  I just copied and pasted it into a Word document, formatted it so it was easy to read, and printed it out front and back on just a handful of pages so we could learn more about the different species as we watched the videos together.

The second DVD we watched was Lots and Lots of Playful Penguins and their Toe-Tappin’ Feet.  This one was about 40 minutes long (though it mistakenly says 75 minutes on the package).  It includes the Party Like a Penguin music video, which is what comprises the third bonus disc, as well.  This DVD was really fascinating and fun!  It shows all 17 varieties of penguins and gives interesting facts about each one.  It discusses their size, tells you how many exist and whether or not they are endangered, lets you hear their natural calls, and shows them swimming and living in their native habitats.  I can definitely forsee that my family will be watching this video again and again!  You can download song lyrics to the songs in this video here.

The third bonus DVD, Party Like a Penguin, has just the music video on it.  The video features computer animated graphics of penguins doing a dance to accompany the song which is really catchy and fun.  It’s definitely dance party music!  My 4- and 8-year olds had so much fun dancing along with this one!  I believe they’ll be having fun with this for some time to come, as well.  I picture them having their neighbor friends over to dance along with them!  This video lasts about 2 minutes and loops over and over again until you turn it off.

The DVD’s can be purchased individually:
1.  LOTS and LOTS of PLAYFUL PENGUINS and Their Toe-Tapping Happy Feet DVD
Regular Price: $19.95, Web Sale Price:$12.95
2.  LOTS and LOTS of PENGUINS In The WILD DVD - Nature's Noble Knights
Regular Price: $19.95, Web Sale Price:$9.95

You can save by purchasing the set:
Regular Price: $39.90, Web Sale Price:$19.95
We did have some technical difficulties in that the DVD’s would not play on all of the DVD players in our home, but they did play on 2 out of 3 machines.  The other one seemed to not be able to read the format, so I really think it was a formatting-related issue.  You may want to inquire about compatibility before purchasing.  I know some other reviewers had similar issues and were sent replacement discs, so that shows the vendor certainly has caring and responsive customer service if you should encounter any issues.
I can’t express how very much we enjoyed this whole set!  It has a lot of educational value as well as a fun factor for the younger set.  I think it would make a great addition to any homeschool and a wonderful holiday gift, as well. 

I’m so impressed that I just went ahead and ordered the Lots and Lots of Monster Trucks DVD and the Extreme Motorsports DVD for my almost-5-year-old son for Christmas.  He'll be so excited!  What's more, Marshall Publishing is offering FREE SHIPPING (USPS First Class) on any order with code TOS27!!!  Take advantage of this amazing offer while you can!  It saved me nearly $8 in shipping, and that made my day!
Check out what other Crew members had to say about this and other products from Marshall Publishing by clicking the banner below.
I received this DVD set free of charge for review purposes, but all opinions are mine and reflect my family’s honest use of these products.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

REVIEW: Math 911 by

I had the opportunity to try out the Math 911 program by  This is a downloadable software program that allows you to practice your high school level math skills with instant feedback.

Math911 is intended for students who are convinced they can’t do Algebra. As student concerned educators, you and I have to deal with the challenge of reaching ‘at risk’ students who have experienced many years of failure with Algebra. You're also faced with the challenge of finding effective, affordable tutorial software. That's why I developed Math911. Since 1989, Math911, nee Algebrax, has been helping educators like you. As a member of NCSM, NCTM and NASSP, and a teacher of Mathematics since 1963, my experience ensures getting a proven partner with trusted service. Check these features: With a Mastery Learning approach your students are never graded for wrong answers, only correct responses; they work at problems until they ‘get it.’ Topics are arranged by chapter, section and levels. Within each level are all the types of problems that identify the concepts that your students must know in order to be successful in Algebra including Graphs and Word Problems.
  • All problems are algorithmically generated.
  • 10 minute learning curve.
  • Step by Step solutions.
  • Only Free-form answers.
  • Dynamic Grade reports on all screens.
  • Needs no internet connection.
  • Can be networked.
  • Free Home Use For Teachers
  • Free Upgrades
  • Free Install on New PCs
And if you sign up now for a low cost annual site license, I'll include free use with summer homework programs, free use with after school programs, free student home privileges, free keying to your textbook, and free bonus modules for Pre-calculus and Statistics. Call me now and enjoy the savings later. Professor Martin Weissman 1-347-528-7837

New! Unique! “Algebra In A Flash” flash drive version; works great on school laptops and allows students to continue at home. Great for 1:1 classrooms.

$40 off student special. Regular $49.95 now only $9.95. Click on this link:

At Google checkout use promotion code:homeschool

Special Back To School Free Offer. No Rebate Necessary. No Credit Card.

Complete Introductory Algebra Course. Click Here. Download, Install, Run. Free Tech Support: 347-528-7837 (Select SAVE then RUN)

After install look for the Math911 desktop icon.
Version 12.8.27
August 27, 2012 (XP, Vista, Windows 7 Compatible)

You may need to right click and 'Run As Administrator' if you have Vista or Windows 7.
math911 quick upgrade CLICK HERE

The FREE download of introductory algebra includes:
  • Intro to Whole Numbers
  • Addition & Subtraction
  • Multiplication Factors
  • Division of Wholes
  • Intro to the Integers
  • Combine
  • Integers
  • Multiply Divide Integers
  • Combine Like Terms

I tried out this product for myself.  My 13 year old is learning Algebra I this year, so I figured it was high time I brushed up on all those higher math skills I haven’t used in at least a couple of decades! 
I downloaded the free version of the program that gives you access to Introductory Algebra only, and then I emailed Professor Weissman with the set of 4 activation codes from inside the program.  He sent me another set of 4 codes to enter in order to upgrade the program to the premium version, thereby giving me access to the additional subject materials such as Intermediate Algebra, College Algebra, Trigonometry, Pre-Calculus, and Statistics.  I requested the Network Version of the program so that I could load it onto my network hard drive and access it from all of our individual laptops on that external network hard drive.  This became a bit more complicated, but Professor Weissman was very responsive via email and even called me on the phone to walk me through the issues I was having with getting the remote access to work.  Eventually, through his diligent attention, we were able to get it activated properly and accessible from a separate laptop.
One really positive thing about this program is that it is regularly updated on their website, and as a customer, you have continuous free access to the latest updates.

The next step was to sit down and use the program!  I found it pretty easy to use, though very bare bones in its presentation.  As it states on the website, there are no frills, fancy graphics, or animations in this program.  It has the look and feel of an old DOS-based program.  If you have multiple users, you can each set up an id and password, and you need to write it down, as it’s randomly generated by combining your initials with the date you select.  It will store your data for each user and keep track of your progress through each subject.  You can start at the beginning or anywhere within the subject by selecting the section # where you’d like to go.  The “grade” indicated is really more of a progress indicator and should not be viewed as a traditional grade, as the program does not accept any wrong answers.  It will have you continue until you achieve the right answer.  When you input an incorrect answer, you can try again, or look at the answer or the step-by-step means of getting to the correction solution.  Eventually, every answer is right, so it will always show 100% for any completed section.

The idea behind this program is that it teaches through use…if you don’t know the answer to an equation, you can view the steps to the solution and thereby “learn” how to do it.  I don’t personally view that as sufficient initial instruction, so I wouldn’t recommend it as a program to “teach” a math subject.  I view it as more of a program for practicing concepts you’ve learned in the past.  To learn through looking at the solutions would take a certain kind of student, so I don’t see it as being a good method of teaching.

For purposes of practice, though, I think this is a great way to brush up on your skills.  I had some vague recall of the subject matters, and was able to bring that knowledge back to the forefront through the use of this product.  It’s relatively easy to use and simple to switch between subjects.
With the current sale price of $9.95 for students, I think it’s a great value if you’re looking to get in some extra practice for your children or to brush up on your own math skills.

You can also take a look at some screen shots from within the program to get an idea of how to maneuver within the program. 

I would definitely recommend that you go ahead and download the FREE Introductory Algebra portion of the program so you can try it out with nothing to lose.  Then if you like what you see, you can pay to upgrade to the premium version to unlock the other math subjects.  There’s nothing to lose by giving it a try!

You can check out what other Crew members had to say about this product by clicking the banner below.


I received a free download and premium activation of this product for purposes of the review, but all opinions are mine and reflect my family’s honest use of the product.