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TOS Crew Review — See the Light

April 22nd, 2011

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I am not an artist by any stretch of the imagination. I can sometimes appreciate fine art when walking through a gallery, but I cannot begin to draw much more than a stick figure. So, our art instruction for our kids must come from elsewhere. I can handle the macaroni frames of early elementary years, but after that they lose me.

Fortunately, I don’t have to do this on my own.

Product: See the Light Art instruction DVDs

Details: A 9 volume DVD set with a total of 36 lessons taught by Master Artist Pat Knepley. Each lesson takes about 15 minutes and are designed to be watched once a week with follow up activities engaging the student until the following lesson.

Price: $99.99

What we loved . . .

  • Great for beginners of all ages. As I mentioned, I am not an artist, but I enjoy doodling and attempting to make nicer looking stick figures. Well, this DVD series brought us well beyond that. Even just in the first four lessons, which include a lot of introductory material, we all learned some new techniques and perspectives that improved our sketches. We watched this as a group from my kindergartner through my eighth grader and myself as well. Her teaching style seemed  a little “young” for my eighth grader, but the content of the teaching itself was suitable for his level. It seemed perfect for my fourth and sixth graders especially.
  • Biblical integration. Pat Knepley did a beautiful job of bringing Scripture and scriptural concepts naturally into the lessons. Her passion for art meshes easily with her faith and she shares both in this video series.
  • Perfect for once a week use. The 15 minutes of instruction in each lesson teaches a new concept and then gives the students ways that they can practice mastering the technique until the next week’s lesson. My kids really developed a greater enthusiasm for drawing while watching these videos and  have spent quite a bit of time outside of what I required of them practicing what she has taught.
  • Not a lot of supplies needed. She sticks to the essentials early on. All we needed was pencil and paper. We did also pull out a couple apples and a shoe, and there were other supplies that she discussed, but most lessons all you need is a pencil and paper. I can do that. 🙂

Some considerations . . .

  • Full year is costly. For all 36 lessons it would set you back around a hundred dollars. That is a lot of money. However, I did really like this resource and it is probably worth that to actually have an artist in your home teaching for 15 minutes each week. You can’t ask her questions, but you can see her work and watch and re-watch the episodes as often as necessary.  And, when you compare the price to a local art class or co-op class you really can’t beat the price.
  • Sometimes I felt like she went a little too fast. While most of the time I felt her pace was right on, or even a little slow, when she was adding the finishing touches to her pictures I felt like I looked down to compare it to mine and hers went from a rough contour line drawing to gallery worthy material and I’m not quite sure how she did it with so little effort. I watched it again of course, but realized that good art requires an eye for it as well.  We need a lot more practice to get close to her level, and we need to realize that she has spent a lot of time and has a natural ability that allows her to see what she needs to create a great finished product. Some of that is learned, but I don’t know that all of it can be. So, maybe it was a matter of a skill gap not necessarily the speed of her teaching.
  • Short lessons. With only 15 minutes to cover the daily lesson, she doesn’t cover much in any one lesson. This is good because you can really take your time practicing one technique or habit at a time, but some kids might get bored having such a small task to work on for a whole week. I would almost like her to show each technique a couple times in each lesson using a different subject each time, but there is enough there to build from for the most part.
  • Uses mostly her own art samples. It was encouraging to see her great work as examples and know that we were learning from someone that knew what they were talking about, but we also like to incorporate art appreciation into our art lessons. If we continue with this I would need to continue to seek that out on my own.

See the Light has put together a great program that is really well suited for the beginning artist. If you have struggled to find an easy way to bring a great art program into your home, I would encourage you to check out these DVDs and maybe even take time to give their free samples a try.

For more TOS Crew reviews on this product, check out the TOS Crew blog.

Disclaimer: This product was provided to me free of charge through See the Light as part of my participation in The Old Schoolhouse Homeschool Crew. I received no additional compensation and the opinions expressed here come from my personal experiences and sincere thoughts.



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TOS Crew review — Math Tutor DVD

September 8th, 2010

I distinctly remember pre-algebra. It was eighth grade and a small class. I don’t particularly remember the material, but I remember the boredom of it all. I also recall giggling over the students that fell asleep in that class. The drool, the nodding heads, etc.

Now, my kids don’t sit in a traditional classroom, and they have not yet fallen asleep on me in class, aside from the four month old. We do now and then struggle with the boredom of a particular topic, and I am always on the lookout for new approaches and materials.

Math Tutor DVD offers a helpful resource for either parents that struggle with the teaching or students that struggle with the learning of some of the more challenging math concepts.


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Product: Math Tutor DVD — Pre-Algebra and the calculator tutor TI83/TI84

Details: The Pre-Algebra offers 5 hours of instruction on important pre-algebra topics including real numbers, absolute value, working with integers, and the order of operations. The Calculator tutor takes you through 8 hours of how-to’s from a basic overview to matrices and interest calculations. These calculators do far more than most people are aware of or know how to use them for.

Price:$26.99 each DVD set

What we loved . . .

  • See it before you buy it. On the site you can find recorded testimonials and sample videos so you can get a feel for the teaching style and format of the videos.
  • Thorough. These video sets are long, but they pack in the information. He starts basic and grows from there to explain complex topics easily enough for most upper elementary students (and most middle aged non-math minded students) to grasp.
  • Not stuck in his topic. Clearly, the teacher, Mr. Gibson, has a vision for teaching beyond just a video series. With a background in engineering and working for NASA he understands the real need to master math. He teaches not just to get through a subject, but for real life learning.
  • Broken down into good sized segments. The bite-sized chunks these lessons come in are just right for a daily math lesson or to pull out when you need a little help.

Some considerations . . .

  • No-fluff. These videos involve a math teacher and a white board (albeit with many colors of markers). No flashy movies or cartoons, just real life, teach ’em how it is math instruction. Some kids might view this as boring, since you can make any school subject only so exciting.
  • Not a complete course. And not priced or marketed to be. These products can help you with targeted areas in conjunction with your regular math program.
  • Long. Eight hours of calculator instruction is a lot of teaching. I never knew all you could use this for, so it isn’t wasted time, but WOW, that’s a lot of time spent on a calculator.

Math Tutor DVDs cover many topics with the same solid teaching. If you are looking for a supplementary help for some tricky areas in math, check out these and other videos that they produce.

For more TOS Crew reviews on this product, check out the TOS Crew blog.

Disclaimer: These DVDs were provided to me free of charge through Math Tutor DVD as part of my participation in The Old Schoolhouse Homeschool Crew. I received no additional compensation and the opinions expressed here come from my personal experiences and sincere thoughts.