Wednesday, October 18, 2017

The Ultra Safe Safety Scissors & The 3 Step Pencil Grip Training Kit from The Pencil Grip, Inc.: A TOS Crew Review

The Pencil Grip, Inc.
The Ultra Safe Safety Scissors  & The 3 Step Pencil Grip Training Kit from The Pencil Grip, Inc.

The Ultra Safe Safety ScissorsThe 3 Step Pencil Grip Training Kit

We have had many little hands around here...  The Ultra Safe Safety Scissors  & The 3 Step Pencil Grip Training Kit from The Pencil Grip, Inc. are a few tools that have helped them master some important skills.

The Ultra Safe Safety Scissors are designed for ages 3 and up.  These are truly ingenious - the safety shield prevents a child from cutting themselves, while letting them use an effectively sharpened scissors.  I wish I had these when my kiddos first started... The "safe" scissors were always so dull they wouldn't cut, but the "real" scissors were dangerous for their uncoordinated hands!

They also have a lever that helps them open after being shut, and are easy to hold.  These are great tools for helping build your child's coordination and hand strength too.

The Ultra Safe Safety Scissors

The 3 Step Pencil Grip Training Kit  is an effective way to get your child holding their pencil correctly from the beginning. (Where were these back when we started?!)  These are our favorite pencil grips.   By transitioning through the 3 soft plastic grips, you can teach proper pencil grips that will help their writing forever.

Not sure why you want a pencil grip?  Check out these helpful sheets you can download on their website  -  I know we've had some bad habits in the past that have created writing stress.  Pencil grips really do help with more than just learning how to hold correctly.

The Training Kit comes with 3 brightly colored, non-latex, squishy plastic pencil grips.  These can be used in sequence.   

Step one: The Crossover Grip - this one has a "superhero cape" over the fingers to hold them into the proper position.  

Step two:  The Pinch Grip - this starts the transition with partial "wings" to allow for more freedom.  It also gives your child a chance to see where their fingers are on the pen or pencil.

Step three: The Pencil Grip Original (a long time favorite) - this grip is the "graduation" of pencil grip training.  It can be used for writing comfort as long as your students wants/needs it.

The Pencil Grip, Inc is our "go-to" site for tools to help our creativity.   Stay tuned... our review for another great product from them - Kwik Stix is coming soon!

Find The Pencil Grip, Inc on Social Media:

Twitter: @thepencilgrip

Hashtags: #hsreviews #pencilgrip #safetyscissors #preschoolsupplies

Ultra Safe Safety Scissors & Pencil Grip Training Kit {The Pencil Grip, Inc. Reviews}

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Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Reading Eggs: A TOS Crew Review

Reading Eggs
Reading Eggs*

Reading Eggs

PLEASE... Can we do Reading Eggs?   This has been a common question lately.  Bentz Test Laboratory has discovered that reading is fun!  

Reading Eggs is an online, self-paced program that focuses on helping build your child's reading and comprehension skills by using a variety of online resources like games, songs and rewards.

There are several different levels, depending on your student's skill:
  • Reading Eggs Junior is designed for your preschoolers - ages 2-4.  It uses a variety of read-aloud books, alphabet games and more to get your child focusing on letters and the sounds they make.
  • Reading Eggs is for ages 3-7, uses a self-paced program to get your children excited about readingThey can complete a variety of activities and earn golden eggs as a reward!
  • MathSeeds is a great program for ages 7-13 to practice and perfect math skills.
  • Reading Eggspress helps your younger readers in grades 1-6 to practice their reading skills.  A simple placement test helps put them in the correct spot.  Both of my testers (grades 3 and 4) are in this level.  The program is full of games, activities, online books and more that help your child learn to love reading.  
This program is based on solid research and focuses on building essential reading skills through phonics, sight words, spelling, vocabulary and comprehension.  But, it's so fun - they had no idea they were really learning!

Each of my testers had their own dashboard, thankfully - it's just one login for me to remember :-)

From this screen, they have a variety of options.  They can practice skills like spelling, play games and compete against others, complete lessons to earn golden eggs, visit the library, see their targets, play games in the arcade or even  go "shopping" at the mall.

Their placement in the program is determined with a short quiz, and their "map" of lessons is customized for them. Even though my testers are in Reading Eggspress, they have different maps.

Here is a glimpse of a lesson.  This one is called "Cover Story" and they get to answer questions based on a cover of a book.

The English Skills section offers lesson with short videos, followed by questions and a test to see what they have learned.   

The rewards, which are "purchased" with golden eggs earned while completing lessons, are the key for my testers!  They loved getting to "shop" for items for the apartments.  I may need to monitor them in the future...  They had a blast creating their avatar as well. 

Another area my testers really enjoyed was "The Stadium".  In this area - they can choose to practice or to compete against others.   They can choose spelling, grammar, vocabulary or usage.  The competition looks like a race.  As they answer questions, they move forward.  The faster they answer, the faster they go!

 Vs the World - other players are added for you to compete against. 

 Yeah!! 2nd Place!

The program also offers online books, with  over 2,000 leveled readers, to help build reading confidence.    They can choose to go to the library - and then choose from different genres.

Parents have access to detailed reports on student progress and many printable resources as well.

This program is mobile device friendly, so you can take it with you on the go.  They offer a Free 2 week trial.

Reading Eggs

My testers really LOVE this program.  It's very easy to use and fun as well.  I love that they are practicing their reading skills independently!

Find Reading Eggs Social Media:

•   Facebook:
•   Instagram (handle): readingeggs
•   Twitter: @readingeggs
•   Pinterest:
•   YouTube:

Hashtags: #hsreviews #readingeggs #learntoread

Reading Eggs

Reading Eggs

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Here we go again...

Senior year... I love it, and I hate it -  It's exciting to see the rewards of all our hard work (yes, it's been my hard work too!)

But, it's bittersweet... every day is a "last".  Every acceptance letter or college visit for him, means "he's leaving soon" for me. 

But, I wouldn't want it any other way - he needs to fly from the nest to really find what God has in store for him.

This year,  I'm celebrating loudly, and crying quietly.  God is GOOD!

Shameless bragging on how homeschooling pays off!

Boy Baylor or Chick Baylor?  Can you tell which one I am secretly cheering for... hint, picture size matters!

Thursday, October 12, 2017

Brinkman Adventures Season 4 from Brinkman Adventures: A TOS Crew Review

Brinkman Adventures
Brinkman Adventures
Brinkman Adventures Season 4 from Brinkman Adventures

Another family favorite!  We have been listening to Brinkman Adventures Season 4 from Brinkman AdventuresWe spend plenty of time in our van, and what better way to spend those hours?  We love listening to these exciting audio adventures.

Brinkman Adventures come with 12 edge-of-your-seat audio stories.  It's 4 CD's with 5 hours of listening!  Each episode is around 30 minutes, so it's perfect for our drives around town. 

This series follows the adventures of the Brinkman family, a large, modern-day missionary, family that travels around the world.  They introduce you to many real-life missionaries along the way.  The Brinkmans are a big family, and many of the family members are the voices in the audios.  We love the idea of our family being travel the world as missionaries as well!

The audio is well done with excellent sound effects.  They really draw you into the story.  We began listening in Season 3 and couldn't wait for Season 4 (especially since our Season 3 set was stolen from our van...I pray they were blessed when they listened!)  This season takes you around the world - from the Congo to Russia to Cambodia. 

From heart warming family stories - births and weddings, to daring hippo escapes, witch doctors, and prison these stories captured our imagination and engaged our hearts.  The stories will inspire and enlarge your perspective on the world and make you want to get involved with what God is doing! 

One episode - "Heart Song" was very impacting.  The true life story of a Russian man imprisoned for his faith.  Our family had just heard this story at our church recently.  I love how these stories bring hope, and show us God's truth.  We have had many great discussions as a result of listening together.

They are a wonderful way to encourage your children's hearts and minds.  The mission of Brinkman Adventures is to "inspire, motivate, and promote the next generation of Christian world changers"  - exactly what I am working for as well!

In addition, their website is filled with information - you can read the Real Stories behind the audios, find curriculum to use with the audios, and even preview some episodes!

We can't wait for the next season, it's available now!

Find Brinkman Adventures on Facebook 

Brinkman Adventures Season 4

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Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Family Membership from CTCMath: A TOS Crew Review


Family Membership from CTCMath 

Nothing makes a homeschool mom cry more than math... but, I have a solution to the tears!  We have been using our Family Membership from CTCMath - and homeschool families get  - 60% off + 6 bonus months.  (Or, try a free trial!)   Dry your tears, and start cheering, math help is on the way!


CTC is a online subscription program with access to over 1400 core curriculum math lessons from Kindergarten to Trigonometry! 

We have been using this program for the past several years for all my testers... grades K-12. 

The Family Membership allows up to 10 students.  YEAH!  Finally a program that works for my entire family.

This program is very easy to use.  As a parent, you can log in and customize the level for your child, set the minimum percentage correct to advance, and even get weekly email progress updates.

I like being able to see all my student's progress in one place.  

When your student logs in, they can decide which topic they wish to work on (or on which lesson you assigned in your parent dashborad)  You can pinpoint particular skills.  They can easily see which topics they have mastered, and which may need some more work.  Lessons can be repeated as needed.

We like to use CTCMath as a supplement and reinforcement alongside our regular program.  This is working wonders on improving their math skills!

It's hard to find supplemental programs for high school math, but they are all included in CTCMath's subscription.

My testers have worked in most of the levels. 

Within each grade - topics are listed.  Each topic offers diagnostic tests to help determine exactly where the student is, and what they need help with. 

Each lessons offer short video explanations/demonstrations of the skill being taught.  Most of these are under 10 minutes and can be paused, and replayed. 

After watching the video, the student answers questions to determine mastery.  I have set 80% as our passing grade.  If they need to repeat a lesson, they can.  This is a great way to help them target and master skills without just moving on.

Many lessons offer printable worksheets, but my testers always prefer the computer time to another worksheet. For grades K-8,  CTCMath can be used as core curriculum, they do recommend it as a supplement in the more advanced grades. 


Another great feature is that we can move around from grade to grade, or topic to topic.  My testers mainly use this to keep reviewing skills they have learned.  It's also been helpful for them to see slightly different presentations of problems, something that they can't get in a regular program.

CTCMath offers a variety of subscription programs - individual, family, monthly or yearly.  I highly recommend it as a great value for a big family like mine! 

Social Media Links:
CTCMath (US and Canda)

Maths Online (Australia Only)

Hashtags: #hsreviews #homeschoolmath #mathtutorials #videobasedmath #onlinemath


See what other members of the Crew thought here

CTCMath Online Math Tutoring {Reviews}
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