Learn with Zane

We were a little tickled when we learned that we were chosen for this review.  We knew it would be an easy name for us to remember, Hunter has a great friend named Zane.  :) 

Now, after this review, I feel like we have two friends named Zane, and one of them has the last name Education.


What is Zane Education? 

Zane Education is an online learning website created for the whole family, especially those with visual learners. It is also helpful to those who have families with special needs. Learning can will happen away from the textbook with Zane Education.

Zane Education combines informative video clips to watch, and online interactive quizzes to help parents determine if their child is understanding the subject matter.

This video learning site is quite extensive.  Our review period has barely afforded us the time to view all that is available….. the video catalogue is 41 pages long!

There are videos available in the following subject areas and for the following grade levels:

We enjoyed watching the subtitled videos, all the videos…. even those that weren’t in our age range.  We watched lots of Science videos that were geared for older students, we loved them and even tried to take a few of the older tests.  Let’s just say that these tests are not wimpy tests.  I had to step in and finish taking the test for Hunter, and I flunked them…. there were words on that quiz I couldn’t pronounce!  When your children pass these online quizzes, they will really know their stuff!

All of the videos contain subtitles to help a child with their reading skills.  I understand the idea of that………  but something tells me that for my kid…. he isn’t looking at the words….. he is just watching the show.  I guess the theory is that just the subliminal sight of the words helps to improve reading.  I am not sure I completely buy into that theory for my child, but if you would like to read more research and decide for yourself, you can go here to read more.

Zane Education is committed to bringing a complete and comprehensive educational choice to homeschoolers for an affordable price. 

With the exception of the online subtitled video library which is a Premium Service, all of the other resources/ videos provided on the website are free to use after a user has completed the Registration form for a free Basic Membership. And yes, even the Math videos (without subtitles) are free to use.  This Basic Membership Level would be a great place for you to begin if you would like to experience the website for yourself.

They offer the following Membership Levels:

  • GOLD MEMBERSHIP provides access to the videos for all topics at just $17.99 per month or $197.89 per year.
  • SILVER MEMBERSHIP provides access to the videos for all topics in a particular Age/Grade at just $12.99 per month or $142.89 per year.
  • BRONZE MEMBERSHIP provides access to the videos for all topics in a particular Subject at just $8.99 per month or $98.89 per year.

Each Membership Level is good for use with your ENTIRE family, regardless of how many students you have. 

Zane Education is currently offering a  35% discount on the purchase of any annual 12-month Gold, Silver or Bronze Membership subscription.  This discount is valid through until the end of August 2012.  Use the coupon code:  ZE643HSM  at check out to obtain your discount.

Overall, we liked using Zane Educations Visual Learning Website.  It was easy to navigate, videos were easy to find by grade or subject level.  It was a great way for use to have learning through the summer months without having to plan, organize and teach the lessons myself.  During the school year I can see us using the site as a resource to learn additional information that might not be covered in our usual studies.

Please visit the Zane Education website to see the extensive resources that are available to help you and your child succeed.

Disclaimer:  I was given access to Zane Education’s full premium website ( Gold Membership) for one year, free of charge, for the express purpose of this review.  No other compensation has been received, all of the above opinions are based on the use of this program within our homeschool environment.



it is Super Duper easy to build listening skills!


I know I am the only parent with a child that “doesn’t listen”. I am convinced that I am the only parent who tells their child to do three things and they can never remember the list, they somehow thought I said play with your Lego’s between pick up your room and bring out your dirty laundry, and go outside between finish your math and empty the dishwasher!

Wait…….. What was that? That happens at your house too?

I am so relieved! I thought it was only me!

Now that I know you share my angst over a child who has trouble following a list of instructions…. I am very happy to share with you a great game that will help your child build and improve their verbal recall and auditory comprehension.


Hear Builder Auditory Memory Game is a fun way to build listening skills. Created for optimum use by the K-8 crowd…. in our house we found all age levels, even dad, crowding around the computer to watch and play. We reviewed the HOME EDITION of this game and it is available for purchase for $69.95.  You can use the Home Edition CD-Rom game with up to four students, and customize each one’s level of play.

Hear Builder works in five different skill areas, it will develop skills in the following areas:

  • Memory for Number ( 3-7 digits )
  • Memory for Words ( 3 – 5 words )
  • Memory for Details ( 1-4 details )
  • Auditory Closure ( sentence completion)
  • Memory for WH  information ( those who, what, when, why, and where, questions, 2-4 sentences/ 2-4 questions)

Playing this game has given Hunter some tools to help him remember long strings of numbers,  He really likes all the word games and I have seen great improvement in his predictive reading skills.  We learned that he remembers his number sets better if he sings them.  Both the Word games and Number games come with Memory Strategies that will build confidence and skill as your child uses them.

When I told him that we were going to be reviewing a game that helped build listening skills, he balked.  He looked at me and with his razor sharp wit, sarcastically bantered, “You asked for this so I could listen and obey better, didn’t you?”   To which I replied, “No, but I am hoping it is a glorious side effect.”  In true pre-teen fashion he rolled his eyes at me and began to play the game….. his first session lasted nearly an hour and a half.    It sucked him in and he forgot it was a learning game.

He enjoyed himself so much! I have heard him shout ” I am a lean, green, listening machine!”  as he gets levels correct, and moves through the game.

One cautionary note to parents who may start with an older child.   Do not set the level of play in the game to all levels.  Hunter was frustrated at about level 13 in the numbers game when we did that.  I went in and created a new player with a beginner level, and the game was much easier for him to adjust to.  Make sure you start slow so you don’t frustrate your child on the first day.

If you are looking for a self paced, non threatening way to build your child’s verbal recall skills,  Hear Builder Auditory Memory Game is my recommendation.

To receive a 30% discount on Hear Builder Auditory Memory Home Edition follow this link and enter the following coupon code. http://www.superduperinc.com/products/view.aspx?pid=HBHE366

Coupon Code:       BLGAM30            Coupon Expires 8/31/12

Many of my fellow Crew Mates reviewed different products from Super Duper Publications.  Please follow the link below and see if there are other products that may bless your family as you homeschool.



I received a copy of Hear Builder Auditory Memory Game ( Home Edition ) free of charge, expressly for the purpose of reviewing this product.  NO other compensation has been received.  All of the above opinions shared are a result of using this product in our homeschool environment.



Learn to type with Keyboarding for the Christian School

Hunter is always after me to be on the computer.  He wants to play games and to type, trouble is, he isn’t very good at the typing part.  We had a nice time using Keyboarding for the Christian School a complete typing curriculum created to help you teach your children how to type using today’s technology; the Keyboard.

We reviewed Keyboarding for the Christian School, Elementary Version, the cost is $12.95 and is designed to be used for grades K-5.  We learned the basics of Keyboarding with the help of Miss Mabel the ladybug.  The Elementary Version is available in both regular and large print.

I liked the pace of the lessons.  We did not feel overwhelmed with what they were asking us to type. Hunter was able to move through a lesson in about a half an hour….  the last exercise of each lesson being the one that took the most time.

It was a blessing to see my child typing more than just rote words, but verses and biblical truths. This is a curriculum we will use over and over through the elementary years to help build speed and typing fluency.

If you have older students that need to learn how to type, or perhaps just improve their speed, Keyboarding for the Christian School, costs $15.95 and was created to be used by students in the 6th through the 12th grades. You may view sample lessons HERE.

Please visit the Keyboarding for the Christian School website to see the Teachers Tools and other courses they have available to help your child type and understand how to use their computer keyboard.

Keyboarding for the Christian School is an e-book.  That means you download it to your computer and can use it over and over and over.  We printed out the pages for the lessons we would work on that day.  I think it was very beneficial to Hunter to learn how to type from a piece of paper and not just something from his own head.  I have heard that other members of the Schoolhouse Review Crew used their e-books in a variety of ways over the past weeks.  To find out more about how each family used this product in their own homeschool follow the link below.

Click to read Crew Reviews
 ***** Disclaimer******

As a Schoolhouse Review Crew member I was given a download of Keyboarding for the Christian School, free of charge, solely for the purpose of this review.  No other compensation has been received.  All opinions above were based on our use of this product in our homeschool environment.


Lightning Literature and Composition ~ A High School Course

Photobucket Great literature unfolds a page at a time….. and so should the lessons. I have thoroughly enjoyed using Lighting Literature & Composition ( recommended for grades 10-12) by Hewitt Homeschooling.

We were able to review their British literature: Mid-Late 19th Century Student Guide and Teacher’s guide. We focused on the poetry section in Lesson 1 by Alfred Lord Tennyson, since many of the selections were included in the book. As I write to you we are in the midst of doing Lesson 2; reading Silas Marner by George Eliot.

The student text begins with a very healthy introduction, which I recommend you read. If nothing less, it will be a refresher of what you may have learned in your own literature studies and it will help you to brush up on your terms and how to apply them as you teach your student. Reading the Poetry section was especially helpful to me. College was a long time ago, I had forgotten things like Assonance ( the repetition of vowel sounds) and the section on Meter ( the measurable rhythm of the words) was a great help.

The introduction on writing a paper gives the student a clear and concise target to shoot for as the write. There are great guideline questions to help them self edit and re-write. My daughter found the pages on Fluidity of Language and Pronoun Confusion helpful. It helped her understand why some of her college professors were marking things differently than others as she had turned in her papers last year. I helped me as a parent to know how to better critique my younger students and offer assistance to them as I read what they write and prepare for college papers.

The Teachers Guide has a nicely organized schedules for you to use, both semester and weekly for a full year long course. There are grading tips and sheets, as well as all the answers to the comprehension questions throughout the student text. I will keep it real and let you know that I am very grateful for comprehension questions, especially where poetry is concerned. Some times I read through a poem and then say… ” What? What did that just say?” and having the questions in the student text helped us through the poetry.

We are very much enjoying reading through Silas Marner…… we are reading it aloud and going through the discussion questions as a family. Discussing them as we meander through the summer, staying indoors to read and escape the near 110° heat. Even my younger children are learning the finer points of plots and sub plots and better understanding what a climax is within a story.

I look forward to continuing on using this literature guide through the summer. I think we will purchase the Early- Mid 19th Century book next! I would highly recommend this course to those who are looking for an affordable comprehensive High School Literature course. All the guides and books are available for $52.86. Just the Student and Teacher guide alone are available for $33.90.

Please take the time to read the other reviews on the many different products that Hewitt Homeschooling has to offer by clicking the link below.  

As a member of the Schoolhouse Review Crew, I received Lightening Lit and Comp from Hewitt Homeschooling, free of charge, for the purpose of this review. No other compensation has been received.


Exploring God’s Creation


When you are out and about running errands are you ever caught by surprise at the wonder and beauty around you?  Have you ever sat a stop light in town and just glanced up to see the most amazing colors in the sky; greater than any artist could imagine?

Photobucket Photobucket








When was the last time to stopped to admire the dew on a spiders web or the intricate weaving of a birds nest?

Creation Illustrated is a family run magazine that desires to share with you the beauty and wonder of the world we live in.  Each article is full of wonderful color photographs that let you see nature up close.  The articles are well written and come from a variety of contributors.  Each article has scripture to share with us what God says about the planet he created. It isn’t just a magazine for your children.  It is a magazine the whole family can enjoy and discuss.

The photographer in me loved this magazine.  The photos made me want to grab my camera and start shooting.


I really enjoyed the Genesis Cuisine section.  The recipes are easy to follow and great to make as a family.  My kids and I enjoyed the Mint to be Green Smoothie from the Spring Edition, oh!, and the Grilled Grapefruit and Green Dressing was delicious!


If your family would like to try this magazine.  I would love to offer you a free introductory copy. Subscriptions are available for this quarterly publication for $19.95 a year, $37.95 for 2 years, $ 53.95 for 3 years.  If you live outside the US please visit their website:  www.CreationIllustrated.com for the rates that would apply to your location.




as a Schoolhouse Review Crew Member, I was sent a full year worth of Creation Illustrated for the purpose of this review.  No other compensation has been received.


enVision Math

Pearson Education has developed homeschool curriculum for students in Preschool through the 12th grade.  You can find them on the web at PearsonHomeschool.com.

I was able to review their 4th grade edition of enVision Math.  You can purchase a homeschool math bundle from them for 99.00  Each bundle contains a student text book, a CD ROM version of their teachers text book, and a Mind point Quiz Show CD.  Please visit their website to see individual pricing.



The student text is divided into twenty different teaching units, some of which include:

  • Multiplying by 2-digit numbers
  • Understanding fractions
  • Operations with decimals
  • Area and Perimeter
  • Transformations, Congruence, and Symmetry
  • Probability

My thoughts:

The work text is definitely a non-consumable product, it is not intended to be written in by the student.  Your student will need to copy the questions onto a new piece of paper, which is not the end of the world, but it is time consuming.

I would have preferred to see more review of topics through out the book.  It seems to me that a subject is introduced and covered and then moved on from.

Hunter wasn’t too excited about the Quiz Show CD……  he did it the times I asked him to, but he didn’t seem engaged with it to the point he asked to do it independently, and he usually likes most computer based games.

All in all, it is a text book.  Just like they use in a brick and mortar school.  If you are interested in making sure you are covering the material needed for a year of school, and you don’t seem to need much review, then this math product might be a fit for your family.

While it was colorful, and easy enough to teach from.  I just didn’t feel like it had enough substance to it for concepts to be grasped through doing them more than a hand-full of times.  Unfortunately, enVision Math was not a fit for our family.

Please take the time to read other Schoolhouse Review Crew Members have to say about this, and other products by Pearson Homeschool as you prepare for your upcoming school year.



As a member of the Schoolhouse Review Crew, I was given the opportunity to review enVision Math 4.  The product was provided free of charge expressly for the purpose of this review.  All of the above opinions are a result of using this product in our homeschool.  No other compensation has been received.



leave the textbook behind and read a book!

I love to read books.  Even more, I love reading books to my kids. 

A major component of our Curriculum over the years has been the reading lists from Ambleside Online.  I prefer real live books to textbooks, any day.

The trouble with booklists on the internet, is the finding of the books.  I have spent HOURS, upon HOURS searching for books in print, or for the correct downloadable format for us to read.  When my Kindle came along, I would search and search the free book lists to find the ones that we might need in the right format to download.

Heritage History eliminates the need for all that hunting around on the internet.  Many of the books we have searched for are easily accessed on these discs.  I appreciate how they are broken up into themed collections, making it very easy use.


We reviewed the Young Readers Collection.  These books are meant to be started in the 4th grade, especially if you are going to be using Heritage History through the High School years.

Do not be afraid to use this collection with younger children as read aloud material. My Four Year Old enjoyed listening to books from this collection.



Being the introductory collection, the selections are easy-to-read and cover many historical periods, providing a broad introduction to Western Culture.  You will find short stories from American, European, Ancient, and Biblical history.

Disk Includes 86 books, Recommendations, and a Teacher’s Guide

Both the Recommendations and Teacher’s Guide were helpful, there were a few tips in there I hadn’t thought of.  I appreciated that the disk contained more than one version of the book.  I could read it in PDF on my laptop.  I could sync it with my Kindle and read on the go, and if we ever get an iToy, I can use that version as well. 

If you are a lover of living books, these collections will be invaluable to you as you teach history to your children.


Young Readers Collection sells individually for $24.99, a very reasonable price for the time it will save you in hunting around the internet.

The entire 5 volume set ,The World History Collection, is available for $99.99, a savings of $25, over individual purchases.

You may visit their website at http://www.heritage-history.com/ for more information and to see the extensive library they have available.

TOS Homeschool Crew Members reviewed portions of the entire World History Collection.  To read about their experiences, click here.

****** Disclaimer******

As a TOS Crew Member, I was selected to receive the Young Readers Collection from Heritage History, free of charge, and for the purpose of this review.  No other compensation has been received.  All of the above opinions are a result of using this curriculum in our homeschool.


He is learning to love writing

I just love. love. LOVE. Write Shop Junior.



Every-so-often something comes along and you just know it was tailor-made for your child.  That is how I felt with WriteShop Junior, Book D.  This writing curriculum just clicked with our 4th grade son, Hunter.  It was easy to understand and prepare for, and easy to comprehend and learn from.  It instilled a sense of confidence in Hunter, who up until 6 weeks ago would have run from the table, as if on fire, if I had asked him to write a paragraph, let alone a page.

This curriculum was created for 3rd, 4th and the reluctant 5th grade writers in your family.  Lessons are clear and concise.  I never felt lost in the Teachers Book.  It was clear where to begin each day and what days of the week to cover the work on.  Each daily lesson is divided into 30 minutes segments to teach.  They are fully scripted to ensure I would cover all the bases.  Prep time would run me about 30 min to an hour (depending on how detailed I was), every two weeks.


The most time consuming portion of the program, for me, was setting up the Grammar Folders.  I did them all in one day, and it took several hours to get them trimmed, stapled, labeled and the bookmark portions laminated.  That said, Hunter loved those things, I had trouble keeping him from filling them all in at once!

The main stumbling block to Hunter’s writing has been his spelling.  It is pretty bad.  He always seems to get papers handed back to him covered in corrections.  This has always been discouraging for him.  WriteShop Junior, Book D, involves him in his editing.  No longer am I the big, bad, evil, wielder of the red pen.  He starts each editing project out by looking for the excellent work he has done and this softens the blow when he starts with his red marker on those spelling mistakes.  With each lesson he spells a bit better each time.

After all the editing, he was so proud of his published papers, he would tell us all 6 kajillion times what each and every sticker signified on the finished product.

Thank you, WriteShop for revolutionizing writing in our home.

WriteShop Junior, Book D sells for $39.95, and included the student worksheets, and all the pages needed for the Grammar Folders.  The Teachers Guide is $34.95.  You will want the Teachers Guide, Trust me…. it is where all the teaching comes from, you would be lost without it. Another item, and it is listed as optional on the website….  but in my opinion is the biggest time saver in the world…  The Time Saver Pack.  It sells for $13.95 and it is worth every penny.  Printed on sturdy colored card stock, all you need to do is cut and use or poke and play…  No hunting for paper and hoping you have the ink.  It will dramatically reduce the prep time you will need before every lesson.

WriteShop has graciously offered up a discount to you if would like to purchase their curriculum before the start of the new school year.  To receive a 15% discount on WriteShop Primary, and WriteShop Junior products (including e-book versions) use the coupon code CREW15 at checkout.  This coupon is valid until June 15th 2012.

We reviewed the product in it’s traditional print version, some of my fellow Crew Mates reviewed the e-version of WriteShop and share their opinions on our Crew Blog.  Be sure to stop by and read the reviews to see if there is a level of WriteShop that will work best for your family.


As a member of the TOS Homeschool Crew, I received a copy of WriteShop Junior, Book D, and the Time Saver Pack from the WriteShop, free of charge, solely for the purpose of this review.  I was in no way obligated to gush fervently about their product.  That happened naturally in the course of using it daily and seeing results with our student.  I don’t receive any extra special stuff, or monetary compensation (rats!) for writing a nice review, just the satisfaction of a job well done, and the ability to keep an amazing product for our personal use.


Building your homeschool library


I love Libraries.

I love the smell of paper as it ages in a book. I love the quiet hum of adventure that I feel when we walk into our local library. If I had a million dollars, I can envision a room in my home with walls lined from floor to ceiling; containing good wholesome books for my children to read. I would pass hours, if not days, there…… tucked under blankets, sprawled across sofas and wing backed chairs, traveling to places that only my imagination can go.

Trouble is, books cost money and for many homeschooling families, like mine, that live on a budget, cost is the single most prohibitive part of building that cozy homeschool library that lives in my mind.

That is why I would like to share with you a website; one that hopes to help me build that library of my dreams. Photobucket They offer quality new and used living books, at bargain prices. I can search by curricula, and find books for Five in Row, Tapestry of Grace, Beautiful Feet, Sonlight, Ambleside Online ( that’s the one we use!) and more. They have a wide selection of Vintage & Hard to Find Books, to compliment your child’s learning. I really enjoyed looking around their website. It was easy to use, and very easy for me to find many of the books I have spent HOURS online looking for in the past.

Their newsletter, is short and too the point. It isn’t overly cluttered with information making it hard to see what it is you might want to know more about. Best of all, IT’S FREE! They included a free e-book and activities to do with your kids during the month, along with a bit of encouragement.

With their FREE Membership, I have the opportunity to earn book points and stretch my homeschool dollar. I receive notification of great sales, before they happen, which is important to families that have a budget. I have access to their book search feature for help in finding that hard to locate book. There is also a way for me to bless others, I can buy from their Helping Hands section, and part of the proceeds will be given to Compassion International.

I hope that you will stop by Homeschool Library Builder in the month of May to receive 25% off everything in the entire store, and start building your library today!

**** Disclaimer *****

This review was written as a member of the TOS Homeschool Review Crew. I received access to Homeschool Libraries Newsletter in advance of their May Sale. I was also offered a promotional code to use for an additional discount should I choose to purchase a product from their website.(though not required as part of this review) … All for sharing my opinion about their website with you. No compensation or physical product has been received for this review.


Writing for the real world



It is one of those things that we want our children to do well. Have any of you run into a child that just detests the written word?  You know, the child that cries, whines, feigns the flu, begs to clean their room, ….. anything to get out of having to write you a well formed sentence, or heaven forbid, a paragraph.

This aversion to writing can creep up early and for my son (4th grade)  it is because writing something down takes too much time.  He would rather be playing than writing me a paragraph about the book he just read.  I remember with my older two children that in the middle school years we spent many hours learning how to write.  My goal was for them to be able to articulate themselves well upon their arrival into college, and with one in college at 16, I guess I did alright.

I would like to share with you my experiences with a new writing curriculum, geared to students in the middle school years.  The publishers of God’s World News and WORLD Magazine have developed a very engaging writing program.


It does something that other writing programs miss.  It engages the students by allowing them to write about real things they experience everyday.  This isn’t a curriculum that has them writing about bugs, or the weather, or their favorite color; this curriculum has them writing about what messages an advertisement is trying to send them.  Rather than teaching adverbs and adjectives by just explaining the written words on the page,  Write with WORLD uses pictures and asks the student to describe what they are seeing as specifically as possible…. then building to the point where sentences are used to create vivid visual images for the reader. It approaches writing from a journalistic point of view, while teaching grammar and mechanics in a very conversational style.

If you would like to see the full table of contents the curriculum covers, you may find it here.

I used Write with WORLD with my 4th grader.  He has very little writing composition skills.  The material that we covered together was a bit of a reach for him in some areas of reasoning, but he met the challenge head on.  I might have had to rephrase a few questions for him from time to time, but with discussion and working together he was learning, and excited to learn more….  he would often say, “ Mom, can we do the writing one now?”

I think that this curriculum would be great for those families with children in grades 4-9.  It would be very easy to work on this curriculum as a group.  The daily capsules (lessons) are quick, and require very little pre- prep time.  You could spend about a 1/2 hour a week prepping for the weeks work, and it would be easy for you to ask an older child to skim through the teachers book and gather what might be needed. The book often refers a student to find an article in WORLD magazine to work from, we do not subscribe to that magazine, and had no trouble at all finding alternate articles or photos from other sources.

View a Sample Lesson

I would like to offer a suggestion to the creators; providing a table of contents or a materials list for the teachers book stating how many articles or other things we might need for each lesson, would certainly improve it’s functionality for busy homeschool parents. 

Pricing is currently set at $95.00 for the student and teacher book.  Both are NON- consumable, a student uses a separate journal to record their work.  Non- consumable books tend to take the sting out of the price, you know you can use it again with another student or sell it later to recoup some of the cost.

I encourage you to wander over to the TOS Homeschool Crew Blog, and see what other parents are saying about their experiences with Write with WORLD.



as a TOS Homeschool Crew Member, I was sent Book 1 of Write with WORLD’s middle school writing curriculum.  I was sent this book free of charge, solely for the purpose of this review.  No other compensation has been received. 

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