Learn music at home


This was our family’s second opportunity to review Kinderbach, an amazing way to learn Piano at home.

We really just have a great time learning piano this way.  Our primary reviewer was Jeremiah, he is Four and a perfect fit for Kinderbach’s target market of 2-7 year olds.

This is the most gradual learning product I have ever seen marketed.  It is broken down in easy to understand video lessons that are great at keeping the attention of young ones.  It slowly builds on the previous lessons until there is mastery of the notes and the different rhythms of each type of note. It does more than teach piano, it teaches music.

We enjoyed the multi-sensory approach to Kinderbach’s teaching.  Jeremiah sees the lessons, hears the lessons, can write or draw in the Lesson Books,


and he uses his body to clap, stretch, stomp, and wiggle to the different rhythms of the notes.  My older son also finds the names of the Notes being taught as characters, help him remember where they are, as he practices his more traditional piano lessons.

The one thing we found hard to do was, play along on the piano with the lesson.  Our family computer is a desk top and the piano is in the next room.  Last year we had a laptop, and it was easier to just hook that up wirelessly in the next room.

I think that this program would be a great investment for a homeschool co-op. It would be a wonderful way to create a class for all the younger siblings to attend while their brothers and sisters learn other subjects.

I am excited to tell you that Kinderbach is making their product available on multiple mobile devices.  Lesson one is fully compatible with the iPad.  It makes me wish I had an iPad so I could have used it!

Kinderbach is very affordably priced at $20.00 a month for all 7 levels of their music curriculum.  Visit their website to learn more about their DVD product and their yearly pricing for home use and for school use.

You may access a 30% discount when you purchase Kinderbach at Home.  Use the Product Code:  TOScrew2012  This discount is good until 2/2/2013

Make sure you check out the other reviews at the TOS Homeschool Crew Blog and see how other families used and enjoyed this product.


Boys in the kitchen?


This family of 6 is heavy laden with testosterone filled boys.  Boys who love to cook.


I’m not kidding.   My younger boys love to cook. Their love of cooking is why I knew they would love this great kitchen from Guidecraft.  They would be able to play and create endless imaginary dishes and I might actually get some work done in the real kitchen!

Now don’t get me wrong…. it wasn’t just imaginative play where they were pretending to be the Doogie Howsers of the Culinary World.  They fired up those burners and assassinated some evil villains and space aliens too, melting them in a potion of liquid hot death….

That is the beauty of imaginative play.  Minds creating, unleashed, full of endless possibilities.


The boys (ages 4 and 9) absolutely loved this Kitchen.  It’s claims to foster imaginative play were delivered on 1000%.  It will provide hours of fun in the cold snowy months to come.

If we can get the boy out of the oven, that is……


Since the family is made up of more than one…. and more than one person is involved in the review process…. we need to take the time to hear from Daddy the assembler, and mommy the chief financial officer and see how they weigh in on the Guidecraft, Hideaway Country Kitchen.

While the Kitchen itself is created for use by those ages 3 and up,  the words “some adult assembly required” should come with a disclaimer.  It should read, “structural engineers please apply”.  The directions are only pictures, and they are not the clearest of explanations.


Daddy is a MacGyver and made it work…. but many of the components did not fit together as designed. Here is a picture (drawn on an envelope) where he shows how the holes in piece “A” did not properly align with holes “I” and “J” and the screws had to be put in at an angle.  Also contained in this rendition,  he shows on piece “A” the need for a deeper dado so the piece containing the clock could slide in properly.


One part was, out of the box, broken.  The glue was not attached and it just separated as soon as you closed the oven or dishwasher doors.

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Don’t worry though.  MacGyver fixed it.  It won’t move now.


Daddy’s view:

As he assembled the product he kept a list of notes (he is such a good reviewer’s helper!)  Here are some of his thoughts as he traveled along in the 4 hour process  of putting it together.

  • He was disappointed in the over-all craftsmanship, especially the MDF and not “real” wood that it was made out of.
  • He didn’t like that it was manufactured in another country.
  • He thought that no instructions or parts list had been included with the product.  After following the one paper that was included with the product, and printing out the directions via the website.  He found the directions in the box marked hardware.
  • When he tightened the hinges into the side rails…. anything past finger tight, the MDF started to split.
  • The screws were not of the highest quality, as many of the heads were off-centered.
  • No extra screws were provided and one came without even being “punched” with a phillips head, we had to use one of our own screws
  • Holes in many locations were misaligned and you had to install screws at an angle

In general, from the wife/photographer position….. He seemed very disappointed with the whole manufacturing and assembly processes.  He did say that power tools were pretty much a necessity.

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Mom’s thoughts:

I really like the portability of it.  It folds easily (hence the name HIDEAWAY) and it was nice to be able to store it in the closet when we didn’t want to have it in the living room or kitchen.  The knobs are realistic, but noisy, and those days when you are trying to talk on the phone or work on reading with another child….the words “STOP CLICKING THE KNOBS” have been known to fly from my mouth.

It is very cute.  I really am a sucker for the bead board look.  That alone could win my heart….. Smile

I was disappointed with  the lack of craftsmanship and flaws that we found during assembly.  The quality that is conjured up by the mere mention of Guidecraft toys didn’t seem to follow in both arrival condition and into the assembly process of this particular product.  Pieces were marred and scratched, and the laminate chipped even before my two energetic boys ever laid a hand on it.

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Even with the flaws.  The boys don’t care…. they love it.  They have made meals for “The Hulk”, played restaurant, and alternated between server and cook.  Their imaginations are running wild and growing with each day.

Priced at $200.00, I would guess this places the Hideaway Country Kitchen out of the reach of many two income families, not to mention those that homeschool and tend to live on a very tight budget (like mine).  That being said, it is still priced low enough that with forethought and budgeting, a family could save for the product, hopefully it would be in better condition than ours was, and they could enjoy it for many years.

The company does state on their IN-BOX literature to please contact the retailer or place of purchase in the event that you need a refund or exchange.  It is very clear that they intend to stand behind their product, and assure that customers are satisfied with their purchase.  ALWAYS a great thing to find in a company!   They also offer a very WIDE range of products please visit their website to see if there is something there to spark the fires of imagination for your children.

For this family, it would likely not be something we would have sought out to purchase on our own for use at the house.  I have thought of purchasing one for the Nursery at church, and still struggled with spending $200.00 for a toy.

Maybe I’m just a tightwad……


Please don’t just take this family’s word for it.  25 other families reviewed this product.  Please take the time to read their reviews on the TOS Homeschool Crew page and take them into consideration before you form an opinion about this product.

****We received a complimentary Hideaway Country Kitchen from Guidecraft for the purpose of this review.  No other compensation was received. I am not obligated to furnish only a positive review. Thank you, Guidecraft, for your generosity in making your product available for TOS reviewers.****


Learning with little ones

Ever get something…. and the more you read it, you say to yourself….  Yes.  Yes!  YES!  This exactly what I have been looking for!!Photobucket

   That was my experience after receiving and reading Before Five in a Row.  I kept reading and reading, becoming more excited with each turn of the page.  I almost wanted to hug the book!  It was exactly everything I wanted Pre-School to be. Relaxed. Delightful. Inquisitive. Fun.

Before Five in a Row is designed for children ages 2-4.  It takes great children’s literature and weaves activities built on each book, into your everyday activities. 

When my now High School children were in Kindergarten, they had a teacher who was amazing.  I remember sitting in the back of the class, watching in wonder at all the activities she could squeeze out of a book.  It is something I knew they had to teach you in teacher’s school, and it was something I longed to recreate in my own home, but was never quite creative enough to pull it off.

Fast forward 12 years and 2 more kids later and I was blessed with this great book.  It was the most amazing “AH-HA!” moment for me.  I suddenly had the perfect tool to squeeze great fun out of a book.


Jeremiah, age 4, was my primary helper in experiencing this product.  I dare say he loved the fact that we set aside time to read and play a couple of times a week.

Our first book we read was Jesse Bear, What Will You Wear? by Nancy White Carlstrom.  While we read this book over and over for a week we looked at the pictures and talked about the changes we saw in the time of day.  We talked about colors, patterns, and combinations.  Not just in math but in our clothes.  We will not talk about the Sunday I let him pick his own Combination of clothes and he wore a blue polo shirt with a gold striped tie….LOL… 

The next book we explored was Blueberries for Sal by Robert McCloskey.  This book came along the week we were learning about the letter ‘B’.  Pretty neat huh?  Cuz’ I am the mom I can schedule neat stuff like that… Smile .  The bonus part of the deal was that blueberries were on sale at the Farmer’s Market so we had a flat of our very own berries to play with.  We ate them while we read.  We added them and subtracted them while we ate them.  We talked about bears, and mountains and bushes.  Mommy drooled over Sal’s mom’s kitchen stove….but that had nothing to do with the fun we had with this book.

In addition to being a book that offers lots of interesting ideas to help bring literature alive by nurturing the innate curiosity of little ones,  Before Five in a Row has an amazing Part Two, to the book.  I like to think of it as the Teacher’s Manual to early childhood learning.  It is crammed full of ideas that will help your child learn through creative, yet mildly directed, play.  Ideas for Poetry, Music, Large and Fine Motor Skills.  How to incorporate learning into a trip to the Store…. and so much more.

I absolutely and completely recommend this book to anyone with a child Kindergarten aged and below.  I only wish I had known about this book years ago so that Hunter (9) could have enjoyed it when he was younger.  ( He does play along with us when we read and do some of the games though….sshhh just don’t tell his friends)

If you would like your very own copy of this book.  It can be found exclusively offered at Rainbow Resources. The cost is $35.00 and for the many years you will use this book, I find the price to be quite fair. 

Just in case you are worried about finding all of the 24 books that are listed within Before Five in a Row, I can assure you that they shouldn’t be hard to find.  I was able to find the majority of them at my local library for no cost at all.  If you would like to purchase these books for your own home library, here is a reasonably priced list.

Visit the Five in a Row website to see the great products that they offer for older children in their Five in a Row, and Beyond Five in a Row curriculums.

Never take just my word for a homeschool product that you see on my blog.  Many families spend time with these products.  Stop by The Old Schoolhouse Review Crew blog and see how this product worked or didn’t work, for them.

See you soon!  Happy Schooling!

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We were given a copy of Before Five in a Row, free of charge, in exchange for an honest review.  No other compensation has been received.  I am under no obligation to love their product, or gush about it endlessly.

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