Category Archives: Elementary

One Question a Day Journal for Kids: 365 Days All about Me ~ a book review

I voluntarily reviewed a complimentary copy of this book which I received from the author. All views expressed are my honest opinion.

I adore this journal! One Question a Day Journal for Kids: 365 Days All about Me by MaryAnne Kochenderfer, PhD. is just an adorable start to creative writing for youngsters. Aimed at ages 6-9, boys and girls alike will enjoy writing about their likes, dislikes, and imaginations gone wild.

Journaling, or simply writing down thoughts and ideas, is a fun and creative way for students to get into the habit of putting their own words on paper without it being graded or for someone else to read. It allows students to feel safe in being expressive and creative, even outrageous, with ideas. Freedom to be as detailed or as vague as desired that moment is a wonderful way for students to just let the words flow. Prompts, or simply “setting the stage”, opens up that door and allows the creative juices to flow.

One Question a Day Journal for Kids is a comfortably sized book for students ages 6-9, though I can truly seeing this work a tad bit younger depending on the student or a couple years older for a struggling writer. Or even at the older end of the age range for a student who just wants to create a book about their own ideas and thoughts. There are 365 prompts but they can be completed in any order desired by the writer. After all, authors like some freedom, right? Writing about what strikes the fancy on any given day will create better writing. So, allow the freedom.

The book starts with a short introduction to the journal writer, noting that it is all about the person answering the prompts. It is that person’s journal so make it work in a way that fits that person best. Great advice!

Each day is number (Day 1, Day 2, etc.) and has a space to put the date. Then there is a short question to answer that is just a sentence or two long. These range from “Imagine you are as small as an ant. What would the world look like to you?” to “What was something you did today? Try to make it sound exciting (even if it wasn’t).” “Would you rather”s and imaginative creatures, dream classes to dream animals, there are so many unique and exciting prompts for students to answer! Each prompt includes 3 lines for students to write their answer.

This journal really becomes a part of the writer as it is completed. Each day, it tells a little bit more about the special person filling it in. What a wonderful gift for later in life. Hopes and dreams! I can see this being a treasured keepsake.

Many youngsters will love this journal. You may even have a youngster who is a bit younger than the stated age and who is not yet independently writing. Don’t let that deter you! Just allow the child to narrate and you scribe their answer. What a great way to see the child’s growth. You could even do a question a week and allow the book to grow with the child. There are so many ways for this to be used! I wish my girls were not so much older. I still may try to get them to complete some of these just to see what they would do! I can see my youngest (she’ll be 8th grade next year) using this in some way to keep her creative writing going. Writing is not her favorite thing but quite a few of these prompts would get her imagination running!

One Question a Day Journal for Kids: 365 Days All about Me by MaryAnne Kochenderfer, PhD. is definitely something I recommend looking into. This will be a wonderful journal to look back on and will show you things you don’t know about your student now. Check it out. It is for purchase on Amazon. (Not an affiliate link.) Visit the author at Mama Smiles – Joyful Parenting or on Facebook.

Blessings,
Lori, At Home.

The Manger Mission ~ a nativity book and activity set review

Disclosure: Many thanks to The Manger Mission for providing this product/product information for review. Opinions are 100% my own and NOT influenced by monetary compensation. I did receive the product in exchange for this review and post.

Nativity sets are such a common and joyful part of the Christmas tradition for us. We enjoy having a number of these out each Christmas season and having a variety of styles. One thing we noticed when our girls were young is that playing with the nativity set is something they did almost daily and really enjoyed. We kept a kid-friendly nativity set where they could reach it and play whenever they wanted. The Manger Mission: A Family Christmas Tradition written by Kristin Vazquez and illustrated by Hannah Santi is just such an activity set with a hardback storybook to go with it.

The Storybook – The Manger Mission

This is a lovely little storybook about about 6″x6″. This hardback book is a fairly muted color scheme of teal, gold, grays, and white. It matches they activity set beautifully. The story introduces the three wise men, modeled on the story from the Bible found in Luke that tells of an unknown number of men, also unnamed, who traveled to Judea to find the king that was foretold in prophecy from the Old Testament. (This Bible account is noted at the end of the story.)

The story is of the three wise men recounting their journey to see the newborn Christ while they are being moved daily by the children of the home for their yearly reenactment of that journey with a nativity set.

The illustrations, of course, are modeled on the activity set. In the story, the three wise men figures are taken out of the box and are excited to start their yearly reenactment to get to the manger where Jesus lay. They talk about the different places the children place them, each day a little bit closer to the destination of Jesus’ manger. It is a sweet little story.

The Activity Set

The activity set contains 12 pieces. Each piece is comfortable suited for a child’s hand and is a piece of shaped wood. They wood is painted and the covered with a protective coating. They are coordinated with the storybook. The pieces include:

  • Shelter/Cover/Barn
  • Joseph and Mary
  • Jesus
  • 3 wise men
  • 3 animals
  • a shepherd (mine had 2 but the purchase site shows 1)
  • an angel

Notes

This is a fictionalized story that is based on the Bible, though it does incorporate a lot of the tradition of man. This includes giving names to the wise men, likely based in a denominational tradition, and noted a specific number of wise men, again based solely on tradition and not the Bible account. That does not men this is not an incredible activity set that can bring a lot of meaning to your family. This daily motion of the wise men can start at any time during the holiday season if you would like to use it that way. It could also be just a beautiful, fun activity set for the children to have fun with.

The story is fine but I did not find it super engaging. If my children were still in the age range for this, we would read the story at the beginning and then just have the activity set for the girls to play with whenever they wanted. Whatever works for you family would be just right.

This is a beautiful, engaging activity set that can add a lovely tradition to your holiday season or a play time for your children or grandchildren. It is definitely worth investment. Do remember that they are painted wood, though, so a teething child or one who likes to chew on things could damage the pieces.

This is a recommend from me. My girls are even excited to have this new nativity set to add to our collection this year and they are 17, 15, and 12. 🙂 Visit https://www.themangermission.com/ to purchase your own set or one for a gift and start a new tradition.

Blessings,
Lori, At Home.

Math Rider ~ a Crew review

Disclosure: I received this complimentary product through the Homeschool Review Crew.

Sharper Edge International Pty Ltd has brought a simple, intuitive math practice game to market with MathRider. This downloaded game is a way for students to practice math facts that is fun for middle to upper elementary aged students. It covers the four basic math operations – addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division. MathRider truly focuses on the simplicity of practice while still adding in an element of fun and play to keep interest.

MathRider is a game where the student is a horseback rider trying to complete a quest. The quests vary from time to time and from operation to operation. The student rides the horse through a scene with various shaped gates to jump. Each gate has a problem underneat it. The student must type in the answer on the keyboard and press Enter. Each correct answer to a fact allows the horse to jump the gate. As the student’s speed increases with the answers, so the horse’s speed increases. A slower answer slower the horse.

At the end of the ride, there is a summary shot that comes up. It indicates correct answers with a green bar and missed answers with a red one. The height of the bar also indicates length of time taken to answer the question.

As would be expected in a quest-based game, there are multiple items that can be won. A student can see the progress through any given quest with the quest map which marks progress with a red line.

Because MathRider is a downloadable game, you have access to it almost immediately after purchase. Additionally, it is a permanent licents, yours forever after that. There is no required upgrades or continued subscription. Multiple students can have accounts on the game at the same time. It will run on a Mac or PC but not a Chromebook or mobile devices.

A nice feature of MathRider is the statistics page. This page shows you what questions have been attempted and color codes the master level on it. Green indicates mastery. Red indicates no mastery. There is a range of hues between those that indicate where on the spectrum a student’s master of that question is.

An example on this one is 4×7. The 28 is a red box. When you click that, it brings up an animated showing of the answer in pictorial form as well as numeric writing. See next picture. This page has a lot of information on it, including overall standings with what has been attempted. Under top challenges, you can see the top 3 questions that have been a struggle for this student. There is also a bar indicating improvement.

Overall, this is one of the better fact practice games we have tried. My daughter is 12 and thought she would really like it after trying the trial of the program. After she had done it several times, though, she got bored with it and felt it took too much time for her since she just wanted to practice the facts she struggles with. That could be a variation on there that I didn’t fine and that would be great. I think if we had tried MathRider several years ago, she would have loved it (as would have our middle giggly girl) and begged to use it daily. It just wasn’t a good fit for a middle school student. I would highly suggest checking out their free trial if you are needing something to practice math facts.

Be sure to read more reviews on the blog of the Homeschool Review Crew from families with students at other ages to see how they got along with MathRider.

Blessings,
Lori, At Home.

Redwall Study Guide from Progeny Press ~ a Crew review

Disclosure: I received this complimentary product through the Homeschool Review Crew.

Progeny Press is a company who seems to be best known for their literature guides. They have a large line of literature study guides to help students dive into good stories and learn from them. We were given Redwall Study Guide e-guide for the purpose of this review. The Crew also reviewed Wagon Wheels Study Guide (grades 1-3), Cricket in Times Square Study Guide (grades 4-6), and Frankenstein Study Guide (grades 10-12). Redwall is targeted for students in grades 6-10.

The downloadable Redwall Study Guide came in an email, as it would after purchase. I had to download it to my computer. It is an interactive file meaning the student can type their answers directly into the PDF file and save it as their own copy. When we have used the e-guides in the past, my active and easily distracted child did well with it on the computer. My students who prefer to work quietly on their own or with me prefer to have it printed. Either way is possible with the e-guides.

Each study guide from Progeny Press contains the same general format with the material specific to the story. The guide contains some general information for the teacher, an introduction of the authors of the guide, and a synopsis of the story. There is also an author introduction and background information on the story. Then you jump into the meat of the guide. Next you’ll be given some suggested activities to set the stage for the story. Redwall’s Before You Read activities included exploring the idea of fantasy stories, considering protagonists that are animals, and setting up to create a map of Redwall Abbey as the story is read.

Then you get into the book. Redwall has three parts and the guide is set up to follow those. Most guides follow the chapter breakdowns of the book. Redwall’s three parts are The Wall, The Quest, and The Warrior. Each section contains the following:

  • Vocabulary
  • Questions
  • Thinking about the story (more questions on a higher taxonomy level)
  • Digging Deeper (most of these apply a bible verse to be considered)
  • A writing assignment or class discussion, and
  • Chapter activities

Some chapters include an additional part such as looking at dialect or author techniques like cliffhangers.

The study guide closes with final project suggestions and ideas.

As noted previously, we received a downloadable PDF. This is internet linked for some of the resources so you do need to be aware of that, particularly that it links to Pinterest for ideas and suggestions.

Summary of Redwall: This is a fantasy story about Redwall Abbey and the animals that live there. When the rat hoarde decides to invade and take over, the animals must band together. But without the famed sword of the warrior hero of the abbey, they are unsure of whether they can hold out. Matthias will be certain to lead them to victory but can he find the sword that is do desperately needed?

My thoughts on the story and guide: It is a fine story but it was not an enthralling one that had me on the edge of my seat. My girls would not get into this story much at the age range of this particular study guide. The story would have been super appealing when they were in upper elementary but not as middle school or high school students, though it would fit fairly well into a middle ages time period study. I think this one would work best as a read-aloud story for middle elementary students or a independent read for an upper elementary. I don’t know that the study guide really supports these ages though, as it is designed for middle school and high school.

If you are looking for solid, easy to use literature study guides, Progeny Press could be just the resource you need. Visit the Homeschool Review Crew to read about how the other families utilized these study guides and about the stories.

Blessings,
Lori, At Home.

Independence for PK and early elementary students

As a parent, one of the things we are always striving to teach our children is independence. In as many areas as are appropriate at the time. I was clearing out some things earlier today and came across the task trackers we used with two of the girls when they were little. These were simple and allowed them to be a bit more independent in their house and school tasks. It also gave them a bit of the freedom desired to choose what to do next.

The girls were in their princess phases at the time so I purchased a couple of pieces of scrapbook paper with their favorite princess. I laminated the ones with the princess and a coordinating one for each child. I also purchased small velcro dots. Out of the coordinating color of paper, I cut as many small squares as I was going to list tasks. I put a small soft velcro dot on both sides each square. I then lined them up on the princess page and added a small hook dot where each square was going to go. I used a wet erase marker to write the tasks on the laminated squares and them put them on the princess base. When a task was completed, the child could turn the square over.

To make this more accessible for a PK child, you could draw simple pictures for each item instead of using words.

I did not put up every task every day. If I didn’t need the child to complete a task that day, I turned it over to start the day. And, as they graduated from one type of task to another, I just used a wet paper towel to wipe off the label and then wrote the new task on.

This was simple and worked really well for a good long while. It can also work in place of a workbox if you are interested in that but don’t really have the space.

Blessings,
Lori, At Home.

Science Vocab with The Critical Thinking Co. ~ a Crew review

Disclosure: I received this complimentary product through the Homeschool Review Crew.

Vocabulary can be a tricky thing, can’t it? Sometimes is just sticks with us while other times, it just seems to leave our heads as quickly as it enters. This is why I like activities that utilize vocabulary without it seeming like drill and kill. The Critical Thinking Co.™ has a book that we have been using that is a great fit for this – Science Vocabulary Crossword Puzzles.

The age range for this workbook is grades 4-6 but it has been a nice fit to start out the school year for my 7th grader. It is not super challenging in the grand scheme of things but it is getting her focused and she is really enjoying it. Because of how the clues are written, it is challenging her to recall vocabulary words from a great variety of science areas. This is helping bolster her science knowledge.

The book is an 8 1/2 x 11 softback book with perforated pages to make them easy to remove from the binding if desired. Photocopying of the material within one home for multiple children is allowed. We did not do this. Miss J utilized the book as is, writing directly in the workbook. There are 8 major topics covered in these crossword puzzles: living things; earth’s land, water, and resources; weather; solar system; matter, energy and force; human body; science and scientists; inventions and discoveries.

The crossword puzzles are designed with ample space for each of the letters. There are the typical set of puzzle clues for across and down. There is a choice box with answer options to choose from. At the back of the book, you find a completed puzzle for the answer key. There is also a list of the vocabulary words for each puzzle at the back of the book.

Miss J has been completing one puzzle each school day. She is allowed to choose which one she will do. This has proven to be a fun way for her to expand her vocabulary and to challenge her recall of known information. We require her to answer as much as possible from memory before asking for help or looking for help online or in books.

getting help on the Periodic Table of Elements

This does not by any stretch of the imagination constitute a complete science curriculum but it is a fun, simple enrichment activity or review. It is a fun way to start a year or to introduce a topic area. It could be a jump start for a research project or a rainy day activity. A sick child could do a lot with a book like this, also. With so many options, this is a resource that I can easily recommend.

The plants crossword jump started some research on trees, specifically sequoia and cyprus. She spent some time researching and reading about old trees.

The Critical Thinking Co.™ has a lot of options to choose from. In the past, we have reviewed:

Mastering Logic & Math Problem Solving

Pattern Explorer Beginning (Grades 3-4)

Something’s Fishy at Lake Iwannafisha

Editor In Chief Level 1

Surfing the Net: Science

We also bought and used Mind Benders Levels 3 & 4. Can you tell we have been pleased with many things from The Critical Thinking Co.™?

The Homeschool Review Crew has had families utilizing several different products from the The Critical Thinking Co.™ In addition to the Science Vocabulary Crossword Puzzles, families have used

Building Thinking Skills® Beginning 2
Tell Me a Story
Science Mind Benders®: Animals
Understanding Fractions
Vocabulary Virtuoso: Mastering Middle School Vocabulary

Please visit the Homeschool Review Crew to read more about each of these products.

Blessings,
Lori, At Home.

Greg Landry’s Homeschool Science (4th grade & up) ~ a Crew review

Disclosure: I received this complimentary product through the Homeschool Review Crew.

After math, science may be the most intimidating courses to teach high schoolers. Online classes are a great way to access someone else’s expertise in this area and Greg Landry’s Homeschool Science is one place to begin. There are a variety of course set ups to choose from and courses to pick, all presented from a Biblical worldview. The Crew families have been working with one of these three options:

1 – Virtual, interactive homeschool laboratory courses such as biology, chemisty, and physics. These are self-paced and you start at any time.

2 – Self-paced 4th-7th grade one-semester classes that include anatomy and physiology, biology, chemistry, physics, and earth/space science.

3 – Self-paced 7th-12th grade half-semester classes are generally seven weeks of lessons and include a wide range of topics, including Exercise & Sports Physiology, Biochemistry / Microbiology, Embryology / Endocrinology, Earth & Space Science, and Study Skills / Measurement / Lab Reports / Graphing.

For this review, we recieved the self-paced half semester class in Embryology/Endocrinology. My 12th grader thought it sounded sort of interesting and would add some unique study to her time in the summer break when she worked on whatever she desired. So, this was picked up as a choice to be used in the few days and weeks when she was home and not busy. I have also been watching these videos myself. These are fairly flexible in how they are used, though the videos suggest one lesson per week, making this a 7 week course.

Each lesson includes a video presentation (for which you need a free Canvas account – instruction on this come with the course instructions) and a PDF download of the study guide/worksheets for the lessons. The actual course work is fairly straight-forward. Watch the video, take notes (lesson 1 is on how to take notes and study), complete the study guide for the lesson, and you’re done for the lesson. This does not include reviews or tests, so if you are desiring those, you’ll need to create those yourself.

Most lesson run between about 25 and 30 minutes. The screen is basically a split screen. 2/3 of the screen is the slides that are being discussed in the prerecorded lecture. The other 1/3 of the screen is split between the recorded video of the instructor giving the lesson and a chat box that is used to type in words that he wants the students to see the spelling of. (I found the chat box helpful since I did not know or understand some of the words that he used. This was a very helpful way to be able to follow and take accurate notes.)

The PDF downloads included a graphic in color that was labeled according to what was being discussed in the lesson. This was followed by a black and white graphic that was not labeled. Then a page of questions for the student to answer after watching the video. The final part was a blank page where the student is encouraged to be creative and draw/write/design/doodle something that helps them think through the information for the lesson.

What I found most helpful was to watch the video with the labeled PDF graphic in front of me and a piece of paper to take notes on. Then, I would label the black and white graphic after the video was over. (It was recommended that the student try to label everything without looking and then go back and use the labeled graphic to check it and add in anything that was forgotten. Then it was recommended that the student color it to help cement the graphic in memory.) Following the graphic, I would answer the relevant questions for the lesson. I did not personally do the creative page of the PDF worksheets but I would definitely be encouraging my student to do so.

The Embryology/Endocrinology course is 7 videos, 6 of them on topic and the first one on taking notes. The specific topics include female reproductive anatomy and fertilization, fertilization through birth, fetal circulation & changes at birth, endocrinology, the pancreas, and endocrine responses to physical activity.

Accessing the program itself and maneuvering inside the program is simple. This was my first experience with a course on Canvas and I like it. Very simple. As you can see above, the dashboard is clean and simple with everything you need right there and clearly marked.

The video contains interesting information. The instructor’s voice is not very animated and that does make the videos a tad harder to watch. In addition, there is a very busy background for the instructor in the video with several lights and moving things. That is a distraction. Overall, though, I found the videos to be solid. I especially enjoyed the lesson on the heart/lung circulatory system, covering the heart blood flow before birth and after birth. I had no idea that the heart circulation changed so dramatically at birth. It was really quite interesting.

These half-semester courses are well done and would serve as great lessons for those student who need somewhat shorter courses or perhaps niche topics that are of interest to them.

Visit the Homeschool Review Crew blog and linkup to read about the experiences of other families using the different types of courses for upper elementary, middle school and high school from Greg Landry’s Homeschool Science.

Blessings,
Lori, At Home.

CTCMath is still our go-to ~ a Crew review

Disclosure: I received this complimentary product through the Homeschool Review Crew.

We have been using CTCMath for our main math curriculum for several years now. It has been enough years that I would have to go back and count them. It fits our needs so well that we have used it for elementary, middle school, and high school math classes. One subscription is good for a year for your whole family at all levels. Can’t beat that deal!

CTCMath is a full online math curriculum for kinder-12th grade, including calculus. They are so confident in their teaching processes and curriculum that there is a money back guarantee on the program. CTCMath believes in teaching and learning through traditional methods and thus is not aligned with common core. They are based our of Australia and so a few of their processes are a bit different than I know. But that just provides additional teaching points, right? More than one way to solve a problem is not a bad thing.

The website does take a bit of maneuvering but it is not burdensome. It is fairly intuitive and easy for kids to learn how to access their own lessons. It does not immediately open up to the next lesson for each student. Each student has their own login information (remember it is all in one price for the whole family). Once the student logs in and gets to the lesson, it is open and go.

You can see the student dashboard here. To access these lessons after she logged in, she clicked on high school, then geometry, the Part 3, then circles. Then she chose the next lesson that wasn’t complete. You can see her completions here. The grade is an average from the number of times it has been completed.

Each lesson is a single new concept and begins with a video. For the younger grades, it is typically just a few minutes (less than 5). As the concepts get a bit more complex, the videos do get longer (some up to 15 minutes for high school). Each lesson includes a PDF summary of the concept and the examples worked. This can be printed off or used directly from the computer. This was extremely helpful when a student was struggling with how an example could be applied to a question being worked.

In this high school geometry lesson, you see that they are viewing the video. The PDF summary is found below the video. There is a questions tab next to the video tab. This lesson does not have a worksheet to complete but that would have a tab next to the questions tab if it were included in the lesson.

After the video, there are online questions to answer. These are automatically graded. The default standard is that the student get 90% correct. This is a tough standard when there are sometimes only 6 or 7 questions. Thus one mistake would fail the student. A reset to 80% worked well for our family. That reset was easy to do from the parent dashboard.

In the middle school and high school courses, there were also worksheets to complete with additional questions on the same concept. Sometimes we have found these to be too burdensome for the student to do on the same day as the video and online questions. (She was taking over 2 hours per math lesson and still struggling with the concept.) Other times, we have found that the worksheet was not needed because the student really understood the concept with just the online video and questions.

Are you catching the vibe here? This is a really solid curriculum with a ton of flexibility. I have only touched the tip of the iceberg on the customization available. The reason I’ve only hit that much is that we don’t use a ton of the features because simplicity works for us. But there is so much more!

  • You can schedule weekly check-ins where the student completes an online set of questions review previous topics.
  • You can create a worksheet that works on a particular topic that you student is struggling with.
  • You can have your student repeat a lesson as often and as many times as needed so that it is well understood before moving on.
  • Your student can work at his/her own pace and never fall behind.
  • You can access this program at any time, on any device.
  • You do not have to be online at a scheduled time. If the student works best at 10:30 PM, that’s okay. (Well, it is fine for the program. If you are like me, you might not work so well at that time if the student starts struggling. Ask me how I know!)
  • You can schedule which lessons are attempted each day by setting a task list for the student.
  • Or, you can simple work through the lessons in the order that they are on the course listing. (This is what we do.)
  • Your student can do a diagnostic test and you can then use that to set the parts of the topic the student needs to work on.
  • Or, you can use the diagnostic test as a final test for the course.
  • Worksheets include an answer key that shows the work for most questions and is only accessible after the student has entered their answers.
Parent dashboard view where you can create worksheets, assign tasks, and keep up with student progress. You can also access the student lessons without affecting their work or scores from here.

I can go on and on. One feature that I really like is having a parent dashboard where I can access the courses to see what the student is working on. When one of my girls struggle, I can go in and get to the exact lesson to watch the video and work the questions without it affecting their scores at all. I can find the struggle and then be better prepared to help the next day.

Weekly email report sample.

I also get a weekly update that shows how many times each student logged in and how they did for the week. (This is a week where the girls were gone to camp so they did not access the program at all.)

I will say that I am thankful to have a husband who understands math because in some of the upper level courses (Algebra II for sure!) our oldest daughter needed additional help outside of the video. He could do that without having to watch the video. It was great that he could help her and he even learned some new ways of doing things. Frustration can definitely creep in with math for this daughter but another bonus of CTCMath was that she could move to a different course or topic for a while when it got too overwhelming. She took right at 2 years to complete Geometry and Algebra II. She went back and forth a bit between the two courses. It was wonderful to have that ability since it helped minimize her frustrations. We could only do this because CTCMath allows us access to everything K-12 with a single subscription.

My youngest daughter? She loves math. She loves that she still gets streamers on the screen with CTCMath when she gets 100% on her lesson. This means she is still striving hard for that perfect score. And she likes the simplicity of the lesson video. She grabs her white board to work each problem and can complete a lesson at the 6th grade level in about 15 minutes. She will often do 2 lessons or complete the questions over and over just because she likes it. A win in my mind.

CTCMath has a mission for the students to be successful and the program is set up to guide the students to that success while truly understanding math concepts. There is so much with CTCMath that it is impossible to touch on it all. So what a wonderful thing that you can try it out for free. Visit the website to learn more.

Want to know more about how other families have utilized this program in their education? CTCMath can act as a supplement or a full curriculum so visit the Homeschool Review Crew to read about how it has worked for other homeschooling families.

Blessings,
Lori, At Home.

Baggin’ The Dragon Online Math Supplement ~ a Crew review

Disclosure: I received this complimentary product through the Homeschool Review Crew.

Many times there is a need for additional support with math and a game would be just the thing. Enter EdAlive and their online app Baggin’ the Dragon Maths Online. The program is available for ages 5+.

EdAlive is a company that has launched online programs that are research based and contain adaptive learning to really focus the content the student is working with. All of their newest programs include real-time, automated, and adaptive learning, multi-player content, and built-in reports. Research has found these elements to be instrumental in best practices for learning. They also know, however, that there is a need for specific content to be addressed. Baggin’ The Dragon has this option available as well.

Baggin’ The Dragon Maths Online has four different options, actually, for presenting content.
1) Using the adaptive learning content with all content
2) Using adaptive learning with specific content
3) Manually selecting questions with specific content
4) Playing the game with adaptive learning

So, what is the game that adapts to student’s understanding?

The student clicks New Game. The player then selects an option for a quick game (I didn’t find it any quicker than other options), hosting a game, joining another player’s game, or going against the computer. These all seemed to be about the same to me as I played. After selecting the game, the game board appears with the character piece shown. The character piece can be changed with a click of the mouse over the image prior to selecting which type of game is going to be played.

The game board appears and the die starts rolling. The student clicks on the die for their move. Then the other player(s) rolls and moves. A box telling the student which adaptive level the math question is selected from appears with the value of the correct answer shown. The question then appears and the student answers it.

A correct answer will grant the student additional points that can be beneficial for shopping (in the forms of the game other than quick game) for things that can help them win against other players or the computer. An example is this shield. As you can see, it costs 60 strength points but it is always on and it protects you against things like the hunting dog your opponent my have or choose to buy with thier points.

These points also go towards rewarding the student with hero cards. You do not get to choose which hero cards you earn.

These are the hero cards I had earned after 2 games. One game was the quick game and one was against the computer.

At the end of the game, 21 turns or rolls and questions, a report will pop up showing what content questions were attempted and whether they were rightly or wrongly answered.

You can also access additional reports from the parent dashboard. Also available on the parent dashboard are certificates to print as they are earned and options to set or lock content.

So, what are the benefits of this game supplement for math?

  • You can choose which curriculum to align it with. Depending on where you are, you get a different set of options for curriculum correlation. In the US it is Common Core State Standards and the EdAlive Curriculum. The range of curricula covered is: The Australian Curriculum, NAPLAN, NSW Syllabus 2014, The Victoria Curriculum, NZ TKI, UK National Curriculum, and US Common Core State Standards.
  • The game format will appeal to a large number of students.
  • The variety of questions keeps things interesting and students will not tire of the same type of question over and over.
  • Hero cards can be motivating to earn.
  • Being able to play with others online is exciting for some students.
  • Swords, dragons, courage, knights – these appeal to many students and will make the math practice fun.
  • Mixing the difficult questions with simpler questions allows success when a student is struggling.
  • Over 10,000 questions of all levels of difficulty
  • Adaptive learning allows students to concurrently experience difficulty mixed with simpler topics in Addition • Subtraction • Multiplication • Division • Fractions • Percentages • Ratio & Proportion • Numeration • Shape • Space • Measurement • Geometry • Data • Statistics • Graphs • Probability • Patterns • Algebra
  • Incorrect answers are handled gently with a second chance at the solution.
  • Younger players who are on lower levels can play against older players with higher math levels since each plays their own level on the same game board.

Why this might not be for you –

  • It does require internet access and screen time.
  • It is a bit slower than I would like to work through each player’s turn and the game. But I could just be impatient. (Been known to happen.)
  • The jumping back and forth between question types can be a challenge for a student to stay engaged with, especially when one needs scratch paper to work and the next is a question that can be done almost without thought.
  • You like to have interaction with your student as they are learning or practicing. You would have to sit beside the student while they answered questions or played the game.
  • It might not be right for your student if this student is distractable, likes to talk to others while playing games, or doesn’t like slow moving games. My 6th grader did not enjoy this game. She fits all of the above statements. While she does like to play online games some, she likes it to be with someone else she can talk to.

Baggin’ The Dragon is compatible with all major browsers. It can be used on Windows PCs, Apple Macs, Surface Tablets, iPads, Chromebooks and other Android tablets. It is an app that is fully delivered via the web so there is no need to download anything. It is available 24/7 wherever you have an internet connection.

Homeschoolers, there is even a special page for you to read more about how EdAlive works to support you with your student’s instruction. It includes information on curriculum, all programs, and discounts and special group buys to get a great price.

Please visit the Homeschool Review Crew to read about what other families experiences have been like with EdAlive. There were reviewers for Baggin’ the Dragon Maths Online, for Volcanic Panic Reading Success Online, and for Words Rock Online.

Blessings,
Lori, At Home.

Cross Seven Music Memory Tool ~ a Crew review

Disclosure: I received this complimentary product through the Homeschool Review Crew.

Music is a fabulous tool to use for students to memorize material. My daughters all caught things so much faster when we used music and singing is constantly heard around our home. Cross Seven has created a tool to help students with their memory work. The Cross Seven Ventures – Homeschool Musical Memory Tool is intended to help students utilizing a classical education program or as a supplement to other curriculum options.

The Homeschool Musical Memory Tool includes the following subjects:

  • Scripture
  • Hymns
  • Timeline
  • History
  • Science
  • Math
  • English Grammar
  • Latin
  • Geography

Cross Seven’s program follows the typical 4-year classical education cycle and is aligned to the Claritas Publishing curriculum. Each year of the cycle has 28 weeks of videos in each subject area. The videos are all short (from about 15 seconds to a minute or two) and many repeat the memory sentences within the single video.

After purchasing a subscription, the videos are available on the Cross Seven website or can be accessed on Roku TV, Apple TV or Amazon Fire TV. The set-up instructions on the Cross Seven website are simple to follow and allowed us to set up the channel on our TV quickly. You can navigate by cycle year and topic or by cycle year and week. There is also a timeline section.

cycle year 3 subject videos

cycle year 3 weekly videos

We were most interested in the hymns (as I said, we love to sing), scripture, and the science (particularly the chemistry sentences in the Cycle 3 year). I was hoping to use these to supplement what we were currently are doing. The hymns are a combination of melodies we know and melodies we don’t. It was kind of interesting to hear what others sing for some of the hymns. The scripture uses melodies and translations different from what we typically use and so these were not as useful as I had hoped. The chemistry videos were simple sentences set to music. Actually, this is what all the subject areas seem to be – a simple sentence set to a chant or melody.

This program will be most useful for those who are using this particular curriculum. It will align exactly and be set so the memory work is just a play and go feature. It will also work really well for other classical education curriculums. When using it as a supplement, you have to find the topic you want to view. The search feature on the TV channel was not helpful for this as I searched several topics (for example: chemistry and atoms) and got no results, though I know there is a particular song containing the word atom. You can see what is in each section and cycle on the website.

Our daughter was at the upper end of this range (suggested for K-6) and we are not using the classical curriculum. We did not find this as helpful as we had hoped. Part of it was not finding things to align with what we were doing. I believe it would be helpful for the songs to be done with children’s voices, as this is aimed at children’s memory work, rather than a highly trained, adult, female voice, which is much harder for children to sing along with. That would great increase appeal to those at the upper end of the age range.

Please do note that there are pledges included in the opening section of the website that not all Christians use. I would not want my girls accessing those. I did not see them on the TV streaming, though I could have missed that. The website navigation is a bit different than the TV access. You can still access by cycle and then by either subject or week, as you can see in the image below. You also have access to some fun links. This includes things like a reading list to go along with topics, a game to print and play, and a whole host of YouTube video links related to topics covered each week of the cycle.

On the website, there is a parent dashboard where you can add students. This is how you can track student’s progress through quizzes. We did not utilize this feature.

This program is one that can find a lot of application and use in the classical education arena. If you are using the Claritas Publishing curriculum or any classical education curriculum, you should visit the Cross Seven site to learn more and also visit the Homeschool Review Crew to read about what other families have thought about this program and how it worked for their families.

Blessings,
Lori, At Home.

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