Category Archives: curriculum

Romantic to Victorian Age Poetry Set ~ a Crew review

Poetry set from Memoria Press

My middle daughter really enjoys poetry. Finding her often reading or writing poetry, this review seemed a natural extension of her interest. Memoria Press has sent us the study set for Poetry Book Three: The Romantic to the Victorian Age Set.

Miss L has been working with this set, which included the poetry anthology, the Student Book, and the Teacher’s Guide. In addition, we have needed a notebook for which we are using a simple composition notebook. Each of these pieces are indeed necessary for the study as designed by David M. Wright.

poetry study anthology

The poetry anthology is The British Tradition: Book Three – The Romantic to the Victorian Age (1785-1901 A.D.). It is a comfortable softback book that is about 9×7 inches. It is broken up into two sections – the Romantic Era and the Victorian Era. Each section begins with an introduction to the era and its poets. The Romantic Era covers eight poets, including Robert Burns, John Keats, Thomas Grey, William Wordsworth to name a few. Many of the poems are well recognized, such as Rime of the Ancient Mariner and Ode on a Grecian Urn. The Victorian Era includes poets such as Elizabeth Barrett Browning, Robert Browning, Robert Louis Stevenson, Rudyard Kipling, and Emily Bronte. The poetry includes well known selections such The Charge of the Light Brigade, Sonnet 43 (by Elizabeth Barrett Browning), and The Land of Counterpane. The anthology is solely a book of poetry, plus the introductions. It is beautiful with black and white illustrations on almost every page. This book alone would be a lovely poetry book to add to any collection.

Poetry anthology for Memoria Press Poetry Set

 

The anthology works in conjunction with the student book Poetry Book Three: The Romantic to the Victorian Age Student Guide, Second Edition. This book is not consumable and guides the student through each poem with questions, discussions, vocabulary, and background information. The poems mostly follow the same pattern of four stages – Pre-Grammar/Preparation, Grammar/Presentation, Logic/Dialectic, and Rhetoric/Expression.poetry study student book

  • In the Pre-Grammar/Preparation stage, one or two questions are given draw out prior knowledge and help them understand the poem.
  • The Grammar/Presentation stage presents Reading Notes and Words to be Defined. The Reading Notes generally has words that are a bit different that our common usage or facts and background that will help the student understand the poem. The Words to be Defined section is just that – words and their definitions. There are also Comprehension Questions in this section that include things like rhyme scheme, meter, the use of imagery, and other ideas.
  • The Logic/Dialectic stage Socratic Discussion Questions to force the student to dig deep into their abilities to think and reason, struggling with abstract thoughts.
  • The Rhetoric/Expression stage has the student summarizing the poem and focusing on the Central One Idea.

Student Book for Memoria Press Poetry Set

 

Not every stage was included in every poem. Especially with some of the shorter poems, the Logic and Rhetoric stages were not included.

Lastly in the Student Book, at the back, you will find a master list of the Words to be Defined, information on how to memorize a poem, and a rhetoric essay template.

poetry study teachers guide
The Student Book works hand in hand with the Teacher’s Guide. The Teacher’s Guide has the same questions and information as the Student Book. Each page has an exact copy of the Student Book with a border of the answers to each of the questions or discussion points. The back of the book also includes reproducible tests for each poet along with an answer key. The Teacher’s Guide is very handy and I would not recommend trying this program without it.

Teachers Guide for Memoria Press Poetry Set

How We Used This

We have been using the program every day. Each day, Miss L works on one or two parts of the Student Book with the current poem.

On the first day of a poem, Miss L would work through the Pre-Grammar stage, writing the answers to the guiding questions in her notebook. She would then read through the Reading Notes. Next, she wrote the Words to be Defined in her notebook along with the definitions of each. She then read the poem.

Student notebook work Memoria Press Poetry Set

On the second day, she would read the poem again and then write the answers to the Comprehension Questions in her notebook. She almost always needed some help here because there is no instruction in the book for meter or rhyme. We had to look up an online resource to help us figure out what the meters are or what the answers in the Teacher’s Guide meant for the meter.

 

The third day, Miss L and I would tackle the Socratic Discussion Questions. She had her Student Book and I had the Teacher’s Guide. We only had one copy of the poem, though, so it kept getting passed back and forth as we discussed ideas and words directly from the poem.

The fourth day, Miss L and I would sit together and work on the Rhetoric stage. She would write her summary in her notebook and I would give her the rest of the information. We found the Central One Idea very difficult and unclear. So, I generally just fed her the information and she would copy it down into her notebook.

As I stated, not every poem has all of the stages so sometimes, she would only spend two days on a poem.

Thoughts On The Program

The program is labeled as grade 8+. I have an advanced 7th grader working through the program and she has needed a good bit of help. She loves poetry but this program has challenged her. A lot. I definitely consider this a high school level program.

I would like to see more instructional information included. As I stated earlier, we needed to find some additional resources to help us do the basics with the program. I had no idea what “trochaic tetrameter with catalexis, with a few lines in iambic tetrameter” meant. The word scancion was unfamiliar to me but was used in almost every lesson. (It means the rhythm of a line of verse, in case you don’t know either.) The description for the program did not indicate that the poetry series needs to be completed in order; in fact, the descriptions for all of the books in the series are extremely similar. However,  these things have me questioning whether that is indeed true, as this is called Book Three.

Overall, I think this is a fabulous program when adapted for your student and her needs. We did adapt some of this, not requiring some of the writing and eliminating the Central One Idea by the time the review period had come to a conclusion. I believe we have both learned a lot about formal poetry.

We are going to further adapt this as we continue on with it. Miss L has chosen to continue with this program but our modifications will fit her a bit more personally. She will now focus on each poem for two days. The first two days of what I described above will be the study for each poem. We are dropping the Logic and Rhetoric stages for now. Perhaps we will revisit those when she is in 10th or 11th grade. For now, we are going to focus on the poems, their language, and their imagery. Miss L will really enjoy that.

We are also looking forward to studying Elizabeth Barrett Browning and Robert Browning, as we will take a trip to the Browning Library here in town during those poet studies.

Want even more Memoria Press? You could also read our previous review of First Form Latin from Memoria Press or one on their Traditional Logic program. We have also used their 6th grade Literature Set and their Greek Myths program.

Blessings,
Lori, At Home.

Please visit the Homeschool Review Crew to read about other families using products from Memoria Press. In addition to different poetry sets, families have been reviewing phonics and Latin program. Click the banner below to head over to the Crew blog.

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ARTistic Pursuits Inc. ~ a Crew review

ARTistic Pursuits art instruction

The youngest of the giggly girls adores creating works of art and so when the opportunity came up to review one of the K-3rd Grade Level, Volumes 1-8 series from a beloved vendor – ARTistic Pursuits Inc. – she was very excited.

We were given the option to choose which of the eight levels we were most interested in. Volume 1 gives a solid art foundation with vocabulary and techniques and then volumes 2-8 go through the different historical periods in chronological order.

  • Art for Children, Building a Visual Vocabulary, K-3 Vol. 1
  • Art of the Ancients, K-3 Vol. 2
  • Art of the Middle Ages, K-3 Vol. 3
  • Artists that Shaped the Italian Renaissance, K-3 Vol. 4
  • Art of the Northern Countries, Renaissance to Realism, K-3 Vol. 5
  • Art of the Impressionists, K-3 Vol. 6
  • Art of the Modern Age, K-3 Vol. 7
  • Art in America, K-3 Vol. 8

Each of the volumes 2 – 8 also focus on a different medium. For example, we have been using volume 8 which focuses on techniques using graphite pencils and colored pencils. Other volumes work with chalk, clay, textiles, collage, sculpting, watercolor, and printmaking, to name just a few of the mediums and techniques this series addresses.

On the ARTistic Pursuits website, you will find an image that shows each of the volumes side-by-side. It puts the volume number, the title, the time period, and the art materials emphasis from the book in an easy to compare chart. There is also a sample video lesson for you to watch.

While the level of this series is listed at K-3, I have found that it is also a solid series for those a bit older because it is working on techniques. Each volume comes with a two discs – a DVD and a Blue-ray – that have video lessons. These lessons come up every few in the book and are clearly marked. This is the only place where an older student might feel like the series is below them as the videos are clearly made for students on the younger end of elementary ages. As I said though, there are so many good techniques and ideas taught, that this is a solid series for those a bit older who would benefit from this.

art video lesson

The beauty of the video lessons is that it is shown clearly how to use the materials. When discussing dark and light, the instruction is on a drawing a mountain goat and the darker and lighter portions are discussed on the video. Also, in talking about how to sharpen colored pencils, there is a visual to look at as the audio explains that there is wax in colored pencils and so after you have sharpened one or two, the sharpener doesn’t work as well. You need to sharpen your graphite pencil in between colored pencils so that the wax build-up on the blades is removed. I have gone 40+ years without knowing that, thinking I just wasn’t pressing the colored pencils into the sharpener hard enough. Yet, one minute in video lessons from Art in America, K-3 Vol. 8 got me information that has made a world of difference when using colored pencils!

So, why did we choose Art in America, K-3 Vol. 8? We have been studying American history this year and so I felt this volume would work well with our history studies. We are moving faster through the art book than the history periods but we are learning a lot and are able to correlate some of the artist studies with things we have studied or are going to study. One of the pieces of art work featured in the book is A Boy with a Flying Squirrel (Henry Pelham), 1765 by John Singleton Copley. The information that accompanies this artwork helps us see yet another way that some colonists showed their wealth, as portraits were for the wealthy in the American colonies. And in studying what he is wearing and what is around him, we see more of that wealth. This fell right in with some of the discussions we had about wealth vs poverty in the American colonies, especially after visiting Colonial Williamburg. We could imagine this piece of artwork hanging in the mansions we visited but no so much in the smaller homes and boarding houses. This is just one example of how this fits so well. The project to go along with this was for the student to create a portrait. So, I sat for a while as she drew me working.

artwork 4

All of the volumes in this series focus on a time period and a part of the world so I imagine all of them will fit in nicely with a historical study. I am thinking we will be studying world history next year so I may be getting the other volumes to accompany that study.

Another way this series is fabulous is that it is very adaptable to your schedule and your needs. We have been doing between 1 and 2 lessons a week. They are easy to do and, in our volume, we can take them with us easily if we are schooling away from home for some reason. We did more than one lesson at the dance studio, including one that looked at shape. She drew the shape of the windows on the building.

artwork 8

Each lesson includes a title and a listing of which lesson it is. Also, if it is a video lesson, it is stated at the top of the page. Then, there is a box under the title that lists the needed materials for the lesson so they can be gathered prior to starting the lesson.

The video lessons require watching the video to get the instruction on how to use the materials and how the assignment will work. Then, there is a recap in the book for the video lesson.

The written lessons begin with prep notes that the teacher might need to help get set up or grab, such as a photograph to work from or a plant to draw. They might need to take a walk outside or have you sit for your portrait. There is then a short study of an artist. We have read about Rembrandt Peale, John James Audubon, and have upcoming artist like Charles Demuth and Charles Burchfield. Next, there is a piece of artwork created by the artist and information about the piece. The pieces are reproduced in the book in full color. There are also questions for each piece to help the student really think about and focus on the piece.

After studying the artwork that illustrates the ideas of the lesson, the student has the lesson written out. Here is their list of materials in the written lesson, as well as what they are to do. There are examples of the steps drawn in the book and an example of student piece for that assignment. Then the student does their own piece.

In volume 8, their work includes light and dark

artwork 7

lines (drawing a favorite stuffed animal)

artwork 5

shape

artwork 6

shape and details

artwork 3

or adding color.

artwork 1

One thing that I have always liked about ARTistic Pursuits is that they leave a lot of the decision making up to the student when it comes to exactly what the student’s artwork will feature. They give the assignment such as drawing strong lines but allow the student to choose what object they will draw. This allows the student to have choice and say in what their artwork will be about. This personalizes their work and helps create a connection to the piece.

Art in America, K-3 Vol. 8 works on techniques with graphite pencils and colored pencils. This includes creating lines, color, light and dark, shadow, layering color, and so much more. The 18 lessons cover a lot. At the end of the book, there is a list of the objectives for each of the 18 lessons. And at the end of the each lesson, the piece of artwork is something for the student to be proud about.

artwork 2

We were able to review Art for Children, Building a Visual Vocabulary, K-3 Vol. 1 last year. It was as enjoyable as volume 8 has been. The videos and the book work the same way in both volumes, though the first volume focuses on building vocabulary and multiple techniques rather than on a time period and a narrowed focus on materials. It was a good, solid foundation for the other volumes. I had some reservations after using just volume 1 last time. Having used another volume, I find I have grown to like the format and the focus on a time period. I feel like I understand the series as a whole better now and like that it starts with the foundation and then narrows focus. It is quite a monetary commitment to get the entire series but I do feel like the materials is quite well done and really adds quite a bit to our history study this year.

Miss J’s Opinion:

All of the lessons are very good. I like the book. I like that it is art and I think others would like that, too. I learned how to draw things more like they look, such as a circle light hanging.

Okay, so she didn’t have much to say this morning about the book but it is one of the first lessons she asks about each day. I think it is fair to say that she really likes this book and is more than happy to keep creating art with Art in America, K-3 Vol. 8, part of the series K-3rd Grade Level, Volumes 1-8 from ARTistic Pursuits Inc.

Blessings,
Lori, At Home.

The Homeschool Review Crew families have been using all eight volumes from this series. Be sure to visit the Crew blog to read the reviews of other families using the other volumes. Just click the banner below.

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Homeschool Complete Unit Studies ~ a Crew review

Homeschool Complete post image for unit studies

Unit studies are these wonderful packages of study that combine several different core areas of study under one topic. Homeschool Complete offers a number of different
Unit Studies that are packed full of learning and fun. We have just finished up two unit studies, having used John Adams (a one-week study) and Pioneers (a three-week study).

Homeschool Complete is a curriculum choice that has seen success. Created by Debra Arbuthnot, these studies are what she used to homeschool her own children. Her children have now graduated college and she is sharing her successful curriculum with others. In addition to her family education, Mrs. Arbuthnot has 27 years in public and private education.

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Homeschool Complete offers stand alone unit studies, complete year-long curriculum options, reading curriculum, and bundles of these products. Visit the website to take a look at all that is offered.

During this review period, we used two of her unit studies – John Adams and Pioneers. These studies are set up on a four-day per week schedule but you can adjust it for five-day weeks if that is what you do in your home. Alternatively, there are some suggested activities and reading that would allow to you go further with the study if you would rather do that on day five of your week.

Each study includes all of your core materials – reading, writing, math, science, history, fine arts, and PE. Every day does not include all of these areas but most are covered every day. To complete everything on each day’s activity list take around 2 -3 hours, depending on how much you adjust and your own children. We skipped the math in both of the studies because our daughter is at a different place in her math skills than these studies include. Even with that, we often spent an hour and a half – 2 hours on the study each day.

If you are a bit intimidated by the thought of covering everything with one study, have no fear. There are pages at the beginning of the study on how to use the study and the guide, how to approach teaching new skills, and tackling calender time if you use it in you home (it is included in the study). There is a complete skills list and a complete materials list, including having it broken down by lesson, at the beginning of the PDF.

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John Adams is a one week long 54-page unit study covering, you guessed it, John Adams. In this 3rd-4th grade level study, there were picture books to read and discuss, writing activities, historical adventures to learn, biographies to read, weather to talk about, and so much more. From singing patriotic songs and doing some physical activity to working on workbook pages (included in the download of the study), there is a variety of activity for each day.

Homeschool Complete Adams study and worksheet

We did have to make a trip to the library for this study to get the picture books, but, hey, we love trips to the library! We found the main picture books for the study, as well as couple of additional ones to keep around. We also substituted the chapter book for out-loud reading because it did not correspond to the study and was a character my daughter did not like. We gathered a few supplies, like crayons and pencils and the printed worksheet, and started off.

Homeschool Complete Adams study

Each day we would work through a picture book. Then we would work through the activities for the day. These included working on contractions, recalling information from the book, reading a non-fiction passage and writing answers to questions over it, creating art work to go with an event, creating a Venn diagram to compare two people, writing paragraphs and poetry, and movement activities.

 

By the time the week was out, we had a pretty good grasp of the life of John Adams, his wife Abigail, and the work he did as President. It was a good study.

Homeschool Complete Pioneers

Pioneers is a 3-week study for grades 3 through 6. At over 150 pages, it is packed with all your core materials and a bundle of activities to help your student experience life on the prairie. This study has a main book – Little House on the Prairie – that you will need to obtain separately. With the addition of a few materials for activities such as baking vanity cakes or making ice cream or growing crystals, you’ll have three weeks of fun reading and activity to learn about life during the pioneer times.

 

I did much of the reading out loud for Little House and then we used it as the jumping off point for the lessons after that. There are comprehension and discussion questions to go along with each reading of three to four chapters. Then there are worksheets, included in the PDF download, to further thought and practice writing. Each worksheet has some cursive practice and some words to work with in reading, spelling, and/or alphabetizing. Most have a short passage to read and then answer questions about, practicing full sentences. In these, we discussed weather, grasshoppers, and temperatures, to name a few. Miss J created graphs, mapped travel, labeled parts of grasshoppers, practiced reading charts, and worked on the long jump. She also work on music rhythms and time signatures.

Each day was a new variety of things to do and ways to do them. It was a good variety and kept things fun and interesting for her. We were able to take a couple of the activities and modify it to be able to go outside and work when the weather was nice. We found this study to be very adaptable and easy to use. With everything included for you, you can use just this study and feel confident that you are covering plenty of material with your child.

Homeschool Complete worksheet modification eboard

Thoughts On Homeschool Complete Unit Studies

The unit studies are so full of activity and learning! You won’t be disappointed. Do recognize that your child may fall at a different understanding level for some of these. For example, the Pioneers study is listed for 4 different grade levels. There is no way the math in that study can work for all 4 levels so be prepared to adjust for your own students. But that is the beauty of these unit studies. They are so full of activities, that skipping a few things or modifying them doesn’t diminish the quality of the study. It still is full of core study activities centered around a theme.

Some of the activities don’t quite fit clearly into the theme but that is to be expected when you are trying to create a truly comprehensive unit study. An example is that for PE one day, there was a discussion of flexibility. Not a bad item to discuss and the activity was kind of fun for my girl but it didn’t really fit into the theme. Doesn’t matter – we covered PE that day!

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All in all, I really like these unit studies. They are packed full of materials, ideas, and activities to keep the students engaged and interested. They material is flexible and can be adjust easily as needed to fit your family. There is enough material included in the downloadable PDF files that you wouldn’t miss it. You can even choose to pay for the unit study to be printed and shipped to you if you would prefer that route.

COUPON AVAILABLE: Use the code CREW2019 and can get 10% off your order until 3/31/2019.

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A while back, we also used the unit study on Soccer. I did not write a review here on my blog for it but you can find it on the The Old Schoolhouse Product Review page.

Blessings,
Lori, At Home.

Homeschool Review Crew families have used a number of the unit studies as well as different grade levels of the All-Inclusive Curriculum. Please click through the banner below to visit the main post to read more reviews of Homeschool Complete.

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IXL for online, individualized learning ~ a Crew review

When it comes to online learning, a personalized fit is key. IXL Learning has that personalization and came to us for review at a time when we were looking for some fresh ideas.

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IXL is an online program that requires a subscription, a computer, and internet access. We are using the full annual membership and that gives us access to all grade levels and all subjects. This is a really good thing for us since we have a student in late elementary, one in middle school and one in high school. There truly is something for each of them with IXL.

IXL is a comprehensive curriculum for the elementary levels in math, language arts, science, and social studies. What this means is that the subject and skill areas covered is comprehensive – everything you would need for those levels. It is comprehensive in math and language arts all the way through high school. Science and social studies are available through 8th grade. There is also a Spanish class to take that covered many areas of the language.

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IXL is not a complete curriculum in that it does not include the teaching necessary for students to understand the concepts/skills if they don’t already know them. A parent/teacher would need to be available to preteach or teach when questions are missed. In a previous review, this is how we used IXL and it worked well. We used it to teach the skills the girls needed help with as they went along. They also used it to practice those things they already knew or could pick up easily.

HOW IT WORKS

When a student is ready to work in IXL, they log in. Each student has their own profile but it is under a central login. The student then chooses which subject area they are going to work in. After clicking, say, language arts, the student then chooses the grade level to work on and the specific skill area within that subject. So, Miss J might choose math, grade 4, and patterns. It will then begin her work.

She will read and answer questions. As she answers correctly, the questions get progressively more challenging, requiring the students to think harder to get all the way through the question set. This dynamic system keeps the questions fresh and the student working hard at mastery. When a questions is answered incorrectly, the program gives them an explanation page. It gives the correct answer, the answer the student gave, and a step-by-step explanation of the correct answer. The student must read through that or have someone read and explain it to them. There is not a “read to me” option and there are no video explanations with additional examples to help grasp the concept.

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Each question set has a goal. For many it is to reach 100. For others it is to answer a certain number of questions correctly. As they near the goal, it becomes a challenge zone, which is a key to the student that the questions are getting more difficult and they will have to work harder.

Alternatively, there is a second way to approach using IXL. When a student first begins, they can take a diagnostic test. Each question on the test is designed to narrow down the skills the student needs to work on, honing in on specific areas. The more questions the student answers, the better the program can identify needs. This is very good. However, you need to know that ahead of time because it otherwise becomes the never-ending test. It doesn’t stop, as far as I can tell. It just keeps honing. You can just have your student stop after a certain period of time you choose or answer a chosen number of questions.

Once the diagnostic test is stopped, there are recommendations made for the student. These recommendations do change when a different child clicks into their account. If the child has not taken the diagnostic test, they will still receive recommendations based on what they have worked on. The child can choose to tackle the recommendations or just go on to what they want to work on. The recommendations include all subject areas.

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HOW WE USED IT

IXL patternsMiss J is 10 and working at a 4th/5th grade level. She is using the program mostly for math but also doing some science, social studies, and Spanish. She is using the program almost every day for her math. She works for about 30 minutes on math each day, which takes her through 2 – 3 skill areas. Once a week, I sit down with her to go through Spanish. This is more of a review for her at these early stages, working on letters, numbers, and such. It does eventually become more conversational but she has to learn to spell the Spanish words for things before we move too much further with it. In science, she is exploring the gems and minerals part of the topics about once a week. And she is working on the American History topics once a week with me, also.

Miss J loves that she is getting some little “prizes” when she reaches certain goals – answer 100 questions or spend 2 hours on math. I also receive an emailed certificate for each of those goals. I can print that out or just show it to her online.

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Miss L is in 7th grade. She has had some math topics that she has struggled with. We have used IXL math as a review for her. I have given her a list of topics/skill areas that I want her to practice. She gets on and work through that list. I have seen those skill areas, as well as her general attention to detail in math, grow through using IXL.

IXL Learning for history FBMiss E is in high school. She has been using IXL to work on some of the history topics that relate to the project she is working on. She is creating cards related to the big happenings in American history. She used IXL to see how her retention was and to challenge herself in her memory. She has looked at some of the math topics, as well. They are relating to her math book very clearly and so when she needs some review or extra practice on math skills for algebra, she can log in here.I

WHAT I LIKE

IXL science personalized learning pin

I like that there are an abundance of topics and skill areas for the girls to work on. I like that there is something for everyone. I like the variety of question styles and answer options, such as the picture choices when working on minerals. And, I like that I can see progress.

There is a parent/teacher side to the site that gives you all sorts of diagnostic information. You can see how long any one student has worked in a given day or week. You can see the exact skills and questions they worked on. You can see if they need additional work. You can also see their progress. I like that this exists and can see how I might use it sometimes but I am not using it a lot. I do, however, see the benefits of this and am thankful it is there for those parents/teachers who want and need to see these for grades and planning.

All in all, there are some great things about IXL. It is a solid program for review or to work alongside an active parent/teacher. It is worth checking out.

If you are looking for a Spanish version of the site, there is one available. If you are in another country, it also possible for you to receive the site with the appropriate math skills for your area. It should redirect you automatically to the IXL site for your country.

Blessings,
Lori, At Home.

The Homeschool Review Crew had many families using IXL Learning for the past few weeks. Reading several reviews will help you understand more about the benefits and flexibility of this program. Please read more of the reviews by clicking the banner below.

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A Site With Something For Everyone: SchoolhouseTeachers.com ~ a Crew review

This review contains affiliate links.

If you have read much of my blog at all, the name SchoolhouseTeachers.com comes up a lot. We use this site for tons of different reasons because there is SO MUCH there. When you purchase an Ultimate Annual Yearly Membership, you have access to everything.

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What does this mean? For the single price (which is currently on sale for Crew followers! see later in the post for the code), you get access to every single thing on the site. This includes curriculum, review materials, printables, planners, meal plans, videos, encouragement, World Book, specialized sections for specialized needs, and tons more. This access can be for one person or for the entire family. The price does not change.

There are currently over 450 courses on SchoolhouseTeachers.com. This ranges in age from preschool materials to those for adults. We are using things from all over the site, it seems like.

My high schooler enjoys using the Daily Writing and This Day In History writing prompts. She uses these every day and follows those prompts. She has a notebook full of interesting writing samples because of the variety of materials there. She doesn’t write every single day but when she does, there’s no stopping her. Today, she wrote over a page on Laura Ingalls Wilder.

Another course my high schooler is using is Speech. She doesn’t love this course but it has been a good one for her. She is working on it two days per week and some of the assignments take her several days worth of work. It is challenging, such as asking her to create and present on a product she would create after having her watch an episode of Shark Tank.

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She started off her chemistry class on SchoolhouseTeachers with Friendly Chemistry. She understands so much chemistry and she is really thriving with it.

My middle schooler is using Elements of Literature. She is currently reading and writing about Peter Pan using this course. A lot is packed into each of these lessons and she is now working on writing a story with the characters she has created over the past few weeks.

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The middle schooler is also using Drive Thru History American History for her current history explorations. The videos are solid information and she prints off the review sheet to go with each one. She prints it prior to watching the video so she can read through it to know what to listen for in the video. These are wonderful videos that teach so much.

My elementary student is using Daily Puzzlers. This is a new one for her to help continue the critical thinking she loves so much. The strategy for this is great for also challenging her spelling.

I am using one of the printable and editable planners to keep track of my girls education this year. It is wonderful to be able to print exactly what I need and to edit and personalize it to my needs. I pop it into a three-ring binder and can then add to or change as needed. From the weekly pages to the calendars and the monthly notes, this planner is just perfect for me.

Don’t forget that there are also some additional resources that you have access to when you become a member of SchoolhouseTeachers

  • World Book – There is an access code and link for members of SchoolhouseTeachers to be able to go to World Book online. There are spaces that are directed at different ages or topics. There is a search function and fabulous timelines. Readers, advanced non-fiction books, and more is all available for members of SchoolhouseTeachers.
  • Video Library – Members of SchoolhouseTeachers also have access to the wonderful video library. There are many videos that are related to the courses but Right Now Media access is also a part of this. There are well over 400 videos to be accessed. Parenting, faith, kids, science, history, and the list goes on.
  • Members Forum – This is a place where members can go to chat and encourage each other, ask questions, or get advice.

There is so much on the site that I felt like I should share, again, about this fabulous resource. If you haven’t yet, now is a great time to check it out. The price for Crew followers cannot be beat. I don’t know that I have ever seen it lower. Please check it out. I don’t think you will regret it.

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Blessings,
Lori, At Home.

Click on the banner below and go read other reviews from Crew families, many of whom have been experiencing SchoolhouseTeachers.com for the first time. They have all found different parts of the site a good fit for their families and you might find that, too.

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GrammarPlanet ~ a Crew review

GrammarPlanet online

A new website to assist with grammar is available – GrammarPlanet. This site is a complete grammar, punctuation, and usage curriculum. GrammarPlanet is truly a complete curriculum, including formal parsing and diagramming of sentences.

The folks behind this free program (free version supported by advertising) want everyone to learn how to correctly use the English language and so they have created this curriculum. This program is based upon the teaching methods of Analytical Grammar, which has been on the homeschool market for around 20 years.

Easy to use, it is aimed at students aged 10 and up. This is a fairly solid age to begin. We did try to have Miss J use it but at age nine, she was not ready for this program so I took over her account to see how the program worked. Miss L is using it and at age 12, she is able to benefit from the program. Challenging? YES! But she can do it.

student dashboard 2

So, how does this work? Let’s use me for an example, here. Each student has their own account with their own login. When I am ready to work, I login to my account and then click the bright green button in the upper left that says “continue progress.” That takes me right to where I left off last time and I can continue on. Each unit begins with a set of notes to print and a video to watch. This video is interactive and pauses periodically to have the student answer a question, ensuring attentiveness during the lecture. After the video is over, the student clicks the button to move them into the practice questions.

screen shot of video

Each practice is a sentence. The student reads the sentences, ensures they understand it, and then begin parsing, or marking, the sentence – nouns, adjectives, articles, pronouns, etc. This is done on the computer with a point and click setup – click the word you want to mark and a pop-up box appears with the choices in it, click your choice and the pop-up disappears but your choices is now marked above the work in the sentence. After you have marked everything you feel is needed, you click the continue button. You get immediate feedback on what is correct or incorrect.

sentence example with selections madeselections popup

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Continue on through the practice sentences until the program has determined you understand enough. Then it moves you on to the test. The test is the same set-up as the practices. If you have mastered enough of the unit test, then you will move on to the next unit. This program is a dynamic program, designed to give you more practice questions if you are struggling and fewer if you are answering correctly.

test image of question

It is recommended that the student be working on this program around 15 minutes at a time, every other day. This is to allow the brain to focus and really absorb the material.

At this time, there appear to be 13 units. The schedule on the website indicates that there are plans for 60 units when all is said and done. You can see this schedule by visiting the main website page and scrolling down to the bottom right. In the question “How does it work?” there is a link for the unit outline.

Now for the nitty gritty – do we like it? Yes and no.

Yes

  • this is a rich, challenging, growth-producing program. The units are rigorous. They do not allow for half-way and GrammarPlanet pushes the student hard. There is no easy way out with this program.
  • If you want to strengthen your English language skills so that you become a better writer and more confident in your usage, this program is going to be right for you.
  • If you are seeking a formal and classical usage program that will teach diagramming and all the skills that go along with that, this program is what you are looking for.
  • Resetting the unit is an option when the student is struggling and needs to repeat from the beginning to view the video again.
  • Notes are available for reprinting or viewing (opens in a PDF) while in the practices.

No

  • It is difficult to begin this program when you have not had already had a rigorous grammar program but understand a good bit about the subject. Even with the nouns, there are words used in a way that is different than I have ever been taught, or taught my girls. Add in things like the pronouns and it is a whole new world. I understand that there are not “different rules” that govern these things but it certainly feels that way when you get things wrong that you feel certain you understand.
  • It is frustrating to the student to be told over and over that they have gotten all of the questions, or even most of the questions, in a set wrong. When this happens, the student is locked out of the program until it is reset or unlocked by the parent or teacher managing the account. Requiring this gives additional teaching a chance to happen.
  • It is a difficult program to work through when you do not have an explanation of why you got something wrong. We referred back to the notes, over and over, but still end up guessing about why things are marked wrong a lot of the time. It is difficult for this program to be able to give individual feedback but at the same time, not having that kind of feedback means that there is no growth in understanding of the mistake so it will not be made again.

GP OK ku revision

Overall Thoughts –

  • You need to check this program out. GrammarPlanet is free and it might be just right for your family. If you love it, you might want to pay for the upgrade so that you don’t have to deal with the advertising that helps keep the program free and your students can focus on their learning.
  • View the welcome video on the page to experience an interactive video and learn more about the program.
  • There is a link on the main GrammarPlanet page at the top for Frequently Asked Questions. Definitely check that page out as there is some information there that is not covered in this review.
  • Miss L will probably continue using this, at least for a bit, if she still continues to make progress. We will discontinue it when the frustration overrides the progress made.

Visit their site and see what they have to offer. It just might be the program you are looking for.

Blessings,
At Home.

Please visit the Homeschool Review Crew anchor post to read additional reviews of what some other families thought about this program. There are a wide range of families using GrammarPlanet so please visit some of them.

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Take a Look at Curriculum ~ 5 Days of Homeschool Encouragement

Take A Look Tuesday
Curriculum is such a personal choice – not just from parent to parent but child to child. Each child may need something completely different for the exact same subject and grade level. That can be challenging. But I have found that taking a look at things others have used and reading their honest comments about it can help get me some ideas to discuss with my girls and give them options.

When it comes to curriculum, we have some non-negotiables. But there is plenty for them to have a say in and help make the decision of. So, as I go through this list, I’ll share with you the input that we had and the input the girls had. Maybe it will give you some encouragement to include your children more as they get older, giving them more say in what they are interested in.

morning time

Morning Time –
This is a non-negotiable time. We sing a hymn and work on Bible memory work. We do some folk music and poetry. And we have at least one read aloud going on. For now, that is plenty. Our hymn comes from Hymns of Faith, which is an Ideals book. We also have several hymnals that we keep in our stack for use. The Bible memory work is from the KidSing cards. They are important things from the Bible and memorizing where to find different things. For example, Acts 2 covers the birth of the church and Hebrews 11 is about faith. Acts 20:7 gives us the example of Sunday worship and preaching and I Timothy 3 discusses the qualifications of elders and deacons. We are using Diana Waring‘s history through music to do folk music for now. We are currently using the one about Laura Ingalls Wilder’s musical experiences. Our poetry work is coming from Poetry Memorization from IEW. Our current read-aloud is A Tree for Peter by Kate Seredy. These are all things At Home Dad and I chose for us to do as a family.

9th Grade Curriculum 2018

9th Grade
Math – No Nonsense Algebra – algebra I program that is both book and video based. At Home Dad did the majority of the evaluation of this program but with the video aspect, Miss E was okay with it. We knew that she wanted video based learning but that wasn’t so advanced that she couldn’t understand it. So far, so good.
Science – Friendly Chemistry – She loved this program and asked if there was a follow-up to it. When I did my research, we found that we had completed about 1/3 of the actual program. So, I contacted the company to find out what we needed to continue on and it arrived yesterday. She is very pleased to tackle this course and she chose it. Obviously we had the final say but it was easy – begging to do a chemistry program? We’ll take it.
History – timeline – We decided that everyone would tackle American History this year. For Miss E, we found timeline books that give dates and events from about 1100 to the present time. She is using these to research each event and write a summary of the important information from each one. She has a notecard binder (a cute little thing!) that she is keeping her notecards in. So, this gives her both history, research, and writing experiences.
Language Arts – She is finishing the Characters In Crisis book from last year. Then she will take on Learning Language Arts Through Literature – American books (Gold Book). She attempted Grammar Planet but that kind of fell through for a number of reasons (review next week). She is also completing a daily writing assignment from the Daily Writing and This Day In History prompts on SchoolhouseTeachers.com. She has loved the writing and is keeping it all in a single notebook. Again, she has to research for a lot of the history prompts so she is hitting several areas that she needs skills in. She wanted to do some daily writing this year and when we came across these prompts, she feel in love with them. Do note – we had tried these before and they were a complete fail. So this is something she grew into – don’t give up if your child doesn’t like the writing early on. Maybe it will come. She loves it so much that she writes every day, even Saturday and Sunday, most days completing more than one prompt.
American Sign Language – She adores sign class with Mrs. Pat and is looking forward to it again. She chooses sign but Mrs. Pat chooses the curriculum course.
Logic – Miss E is not terribly excited about the Logic course from Memoria Press that she is continuing but it will be beneficial to her in the long run so we are enforcing this one.
Speech – When told she needed to work on a speech class, she wasn’t excited. Until I showed her the class from SchoolhouseTeachers.com. She is really liking the speech class offered there and I know it will benefit her when her debate class begins meeting in the spring.
Latin – Miss E is working on PictaDicta, a website based program for learning Latin vocabulary. So far, she isn’t loving it but this is a call I made that she would do and continue. I believe she will be tackling Latin once more before too much longer through Memoria Press’ First Form Latin so we are starting back to it with this program. Review to come.
PE – Miss E is taking 5 – 6 hours of dance a week so this is a solid PE credit for her and she loves it! Ballet, tap, and jazz are what she is taking but she enjoys tap most.
Code for Teens – I thought she had a pretty full course load until she asked if she was going to get to continue this book. Well, when I said something about not scheduling it, she was very disappointed. So guess what? We changed course and added it back in.
Extras – She also wants to take voice lessons, so we are looking into that right now. We’ll see. Another option that she is really considering is volunteering at the library during her sister’s violin class.

What happens when you schedule the courses that the student is interested in? Yes you may get some pretty long looking lists but guess what? When they are interested and their input is given weight, they feel valued and things just work better. Our original list looked quite different for the first year of high school. But, by taking her input into consideration and having conversations with her about her needs and requirements, we came up with a program for her freshman year of high school that makes tons of sense and is of interest to our daughter.

Definitely, I encourage you to have conversations with your students about their course of study. Take their ideas under advisement and pay attention. They may be telling you a whole lot more about themselves than just what book looks interesting.

With this getting so long, I will share our 7th grade and 4th grade curriculum choices in another post. (Hope I don’t forget!)

Blessings,
At Home.

There are more than 40 homeschool moms writing encouragement posts today on this Take A Look Tuesday – from school rooms to curriculum to a bundle of ideas, go take a look! I encourage you to visit the anchor post for the Crew and also some of the ladies’ blogs to gather more encouragment to yourself. You can do that by the linky on the Crew blog or by visiting some of the blogs below.

Nicole @ Bless Their Hearts Mom
Patti @ Truth and Grace Homeschool Academy
Rebekah @ There Will Be a $5 Charge For Whining
Rodna @ Training Children up for Christ
Stacy @ A Homemakers Heart
Tess @ Circling Through This Life
Wendy @ Life at Rossmont
Yvie @ Gypsy Road

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