Wednesday, May 30, 2012

TOS Crew Review: Dive Into Your Imagination


Dive Into Your Imagination is a production company started by Annie Crawley, an underwater cinematographer and educator, who hopes to change the way a new generation views the ocean. Because we "protect what we love", says Annie, the goal of Dive Into Your Imagination is to help people of all ages fall in love with our ocean!

While the goal and purpose of the educational videos and guides is to help people of all ages fall in love with the ocean and its beautiful creatures, it's not all pretty pictures and basic information. By engaging the wonderful tool of Imagination within the context of learning pertinent facts and starting in-depth conversations, these videos and the corresponding Educator Guides become a relevant and useful tool in a classroom or homeschool setting.

Great effort has been put into gathering together a set of activities and curriculum that meets up with the CCSS (Common Core State Standards) not only in the area of Science, but Math and Literacy as well. Furthermore, the lesson plans are also designed to achieve benchmarks for the Mid-continent Research for Education and Learning, and Ocean Literacy Standards. Yep, not only is Annie passionate about getting us all to LOVE our oceans, she's also passionate about providing relevant curriculum that meets or exceeds our expectations and provides a fact-based platform for learning to have that Love relationship!

We were sent a copy of the DVD "Who Lives in the Sea?" and given access to the corresponding educator guides pdf files for grades PreK/K and 1-3. Both individual guides have over 300 pages each, containing a wealth of information and ideas. Each chapter corresponds with a portion of the video and includes a list of required materials, objectives, character education, treasure chest of vocabulary words, imagination play script, classroom activity stations (really cool!), extension ideas (including lots of suggested books!), CCSS alignment, and more!

Educator Guides

If you have children who are interested in knowing more about sea creatures, have a classroom of curious kids that you want to give sea-life unit studies to, or have an interest in spreading love for our oceans to the grandkids in your life, this might be a great resource for you!

The Who Lives in the Sea DVD is part of a series. Each DVD is available for $19.95.
The Educator Guides are available as a printed version for $299 (for the set of two grade level guides pertaining to each DVD) or as individual PDFs for $69.95. As a special for the Homeschool Crew and The Old Schoolhouse Magazine and followers Annie Crawley (of Dive Into Your Imagination) will provide a set of PDFs with purchase of the DVDs FREE of charge! When you place your DVD order, just let her know in the notes that you are a Homeschool Parent! What a great deal!

With products from books to DVDs to colorful greeting cards, there is something to engage the hearts and imaginations of everyone in the Dive Into Your Imagination store!

We found that watching through the video straight through was an enjoyable rainy-day activity, though the overall feel of the speech and songs had more of a preschool feel than an elementary feel. We did watch this several times before diving into one of the chapters of the educator guide for grades 1-3. By that time, the kids were very familiar with dolphins and coming up with answers to the discussion questions was automatic. The kids had a blast pretending to be scuba divers and then pretending to be a pod of dolphins! I was very pleased with the conversations we had about how there are stories of dolphins protecting humans, "So why don't humans protect dolphins?". They enjoyed the activities and worksheets, and I found the Educator Guides to be thorough, arranged well for ease-of-use, and of top quality. I'm not sure what format the printed version of the guides is, but if the pdf version is any indication, you won't be disappointed if you make that purchase for your classroom.

To read what other TOS Crewmembers are saying about Dive Into Your Imagination: Who Lives in the Sea? and other DIYI products, go to the Crew blog post here!

Disclaimer: As always, I was provided with this product free of charge in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

The Blue Ribbon Awards!

How exciting to come to the end of the year and be able to present to you ~ 
the 2011-2012 TOS Homeschool Crew Blue Ribbon Award Winners!

As the 2011-2012 Crew year comes to a close, we are once again presenting awards to our vendors. The awards are known as the TOS Homeschool Crew Blue Ribbon Awards. The following vendors are the recipients of the award this year. Click on their name to check out the Crew reviews!

Favorite Reading Instruction Product: Reading Eggs / My Review
Favorite Writing Product: Write Shop
Favorite Language Arts Product: Progeny Press
Favorite Social Studies Product: TruthQuest History / My Review
Favorite Science Product: Amazing Science / My Review
Favorite Math Product: Math Mammoth
Favorite Online Math Product: Math Rider
Favorite Foreign Language Product: Visual Latin
Favorite Fine Arts Product: Artistic Pursuits
Favorite Christian Education Product: Apologia: Who Am I? / My Review


Favorite Preschool Product: Before Five in a Row
Favorite Elementary Product: All About Reading
Favorite Middle School Product: Write with WORLD
Favorite High School Product: Excellence in Literature
Favorite College or College-Prep Product: Excellence in Literature


Best Online Resource: Reading Eggs / My Review
Best e-Product: Heritage History
Best Homeschool Resource: Apologia: Educating the Wholehearted Child
Best Book, Novel, or Magazine: Apologia: How to Have a HEART for Your Kids / My Review
Best Children's Book: Amazing Animals by Design
Best Game or Toy: Northstar Games: Wits and Wagers and Say Anything
Best Hands-On Resource: Pitsco Education


Best Resource I Didn't Know I Needed: eMeals
Best Customer Service: K5 Learning
Most Adaptable Resource: Creek Edge Press
Most Family-Oriented Resource: Northstar Games: Wits and Wagers and Say Anything


Kids' Choice (favorite of CHILDREN ages 0-12): Reading Eggs / My Review
Teens' Choice (favorite per the TEENAGERS): Pitsco Education
All Around Crew Favorite: Visual Latin    

Each winning vendor has received this wonderful award to display with pride:

  Congratulations to our winning vendors! We hope you will sail with us again!  

Many Crew Members are blogging about these awards as well. Click below to see what they have to say! Powered by Linky Tools Click here to see the Crew Blog Posts...

TOS Crew Review: CapJaxMathFax


Say that ten times really fast! "CapJaxMathFax!".

Yep, say it and you'll get a little bit of the picture CapJaxMathFax is trying to convey - building lightening quick response times to the boring old math facts your kids need to learn!

CapJaxMathFax is a computer program that "Supercharges math fact memorization" by offering a performance/reward based drilling exercise of the four basic math tables: addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division. It works with essentially any math curriculum to help your child not just familiarize themselves with the math facts, but to give them confidence in their ability to recall them with lightening quick accuracy.

The program itself is quite simple and easy to use. No fancy animated characters flying around the screen (Yay!) or even multiple screens for multiple areas. CapJaxMathFax is a program that completely focuses on getting your child proficient in the four math tables and does away with all the fluff!
As the educator, you can set the number of problems in a set and then the program automatically generates problems at random at the level that your child is at. No repetition, no flash cards, no monitoring to make sure they're working with the right set of questions.

CapJaxMathFax is rewarding based on performance and proficiency. Each problem is given only at the prompting of the student (it's not automatic so the student does not feel like there is a timer ready to go off in between problems!), the response is recorded, then an immediate positive statement if the problem was answered correctly or a "try again" if the answer was incorrect. The response is timed and displayed back to the student when the correct answer is given. If the student answers correctly on the first try within 3 seconds (adjustable to suit student), it's a Super Answer!

Students can play for practice or can play for ratings. The rating is based on a points system and gives the student a visual of the progress they are making. In addition to that, you can separately purchase a set of "Merit Badge" buttons to pin on backpacks or shirts to really make sure the student feels rewarded for their work and getting the recognition that gives forward momentum!


We used this program with our 2nd grade son, Joshua. I really liked the simplicity of the program and the way it waited for him to be ready to move on to the next problem and prompt the computer before moving forward. He could go as fast or slow as he needed to and there was always that pause of recovery time in between problems that reduced the stress of anticipation. He LOVED it when he got a Super Answer! within the 3 second time limit and enjoyed watching his ratings go up. I found that his drive to watch his ratings go up made him want to keep going and going until he got a better rating, but then he'd be sick of it and not want to do it at all for several days. Using it in smaller intervals more consistently is recommended for exactly that reason! Of course, you can always set smaller goals than the 1000 rating to reward the students with something more tangible and encourage that consistent use that really makes the difference!

I've heard from several other homeschooling moms in just the past month that as they arrived at the end of the school year they were finding their child was not as proficient in the four basic math tables as they needed to be! If you find yourself saying the same thing, look no further than CapJaxMathFax!

In fact, CapJaxMathFax has provided a free evaluation for YOU to try them out and see how fast your child improves on their math facts!

Go HERE to get CapJaxMathFax downloaded on your computer now for $29.95 (one year annual license for up to 10 students)
Or have them ship the software to you for $35.90 + shipping!

Merit Badges are available for purchase for $4.00 w/free shipping!

To read what other TOS Crew Members are saying about CapJaxMathFax, check out the Crew blog post HERE!

Disclaimer: As always, this product has been provided to me for use in my own homeschool with my own family free of charge in exchange for an honest review and nothing more. All opinions here are my own.

Wednesday, May 09, 2012

Elayna is FIVE!

Hard to believe our little Sunshine girl is 5 years old now! 
She's not a baby any more! Even Josh and Emmy say she's now a "big kid" and can be on their team because she's FIVE. 
Well, she still likes to snuggle with her Momma, so I guess I'll let her be 5 and try not to think about what life is going to look like when she's 15.
She is such a blessing to us, and her greatest joy is found in helping me in the kitchen and helping her Daddy feed the dogs or clean out the garage. A few weeks ago she even wrestled a couple of truck tires on rims from one corner of the garage all the way out the door. And she's such a little peanut!
Small but Mighty!
Our little Sunshine Girl.

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Thursday, May 03, 2012

Spring Break: According to Evie Claire






"Nigh-night?...Blankie?...Bottle?..." (repeat x10 because we left all bottles/sippies AND the blankie AT HOME! Oops.) 

"Home?...Room?...Nigh-Night?" (again, repeat x100 for every night we were away. The girl does NOT like to be away from her bed and routine!) 

 "Tchee-Tchee?!" (cookie) 


"Sotchee?....SOTCHEE!!!" (socks) 




"Tchee-Tchee?!" (cookie) 
NA-NUH!!!!" (banana) 

"DOW!!!" (cow) ( + every horse) 

"Cheee!" (Cheese - every time the camera came out)






"HOME! ROOM!!! YAY!!!......Na-nuh?"

~Evie Claire
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Wednesday, May 02, 2012

Spring Break: According to Elayna

"I went in the cave with Momma and Daddy and my baby sister and Emmy and Josh. And we went in a house that was really long and has doors (*hotel) and went in our car to eat. We went this way (pointing) and then we eat! I brought all my stuff! My blankie, my pillow, and all our stuff, and lunch!

My favorite part of the trip was playing with Levi.

I didn't like going in the cave because I was coughing. So we went back home.

That's the end!" ~Elayna

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Tuesday, May 01, 2012

Spring Break - According to Emmy

"We went to Mammoth Caves and went to two sleepovers with Gramma Macomber. And we went to the Shiloh Battlefield.

At Mammoth Caves we went into the big, big quiet room. I wanted to catch a bat, but I looked for them all around and there was none! I want to go back to Mammoth Caves and see Levi, too!

My favorite part of the trip was seeing my cousin Levi.

I caught a lot of army worms and I caught a butterfly, but I didn't get to keep any of them. :(  I really wanted to keep them and bring them home with me.

I liked everything about our trip and when we were sleeping in that room where we were at, I woke up in the middle of the night and thought, 'Oh, we really are at home!', but we were at the hotel room!

Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha!!!!

The End."  ~Emmy

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