Category Archives: Elementary

Home School Navigator ~ a Crew review

HomeSchoolNavigatorfinal-3-3

Home School Navigator is a company who has created a full curriculum for elementary language arts for the home educator. Home School Navigator Reading and Language Arts Curriculum encompasses reading, writing, grammar, poetry, and more. At the more advanced levels, there are also interactive notebooks. 

Interactive Notebook Hugo Cabret

I had two students that used this program – Miss J (3rd/rising 4th) and Miss L (6th/rising 7th). Let’s take a look at Miss L’s use first.

Miss L used this program mainly for the interactive notebooks. There were a couple of titles on the Level Indigo novel list that are on our long-term reading list for Miss L so we decided this would be a great way to tackle a couple of them. We knew that the daily language arts and grammar work would be below her ability level so while I did have her take a look at the word study for Level Indigo, we chose not to use the rest of the materials.

The idea of a word study is something I really like. Taking a word down to its main parts and figuring out how that is used across various words is a great way to increase vocabulary and strengthen word usage. In general, across several levels, I felt this was just too simple. We did two weeks worth of the word study in Level Indigo before I decided that it just was not advanced enough for Miss L. We also worked through the first two weeks worth of work, but in the end, I did feel she already knew enough of the information that it did not make sense for her to continue using the entire curriculum.

Level Indigo

She did tackle the interactive notebook for the novel Holes. The interactive notebook is simply a lapbook. It is something that is built into Homeschool Navigator subscriptions or you can purchase them individually. Once you have access to the file, you simply print out the PDF. Each page tells the student which chapter(s) of the story to read to answer the questions for the notebook. Then the student can cut that out, glue it into the notebook, and write their answer. We chose to cut them out and stick them onto blank pieces of paper and staple together for a single novel interactive notebook, rather than putting them into a composition notebook or spiral to put several together.

Interactive Notebook Holes

Miss J used the whole program. I thought she would use the Green Level but found it was too simple. So we decided that she fit better at the Blue Level. The daily lessons took anywhere from 30 minute to an hour and half, depending on how long the videos she was supposed to watch took. The follow screen shot is for month 1, week 2, day 1. (Yep – that is how the lessons are set up and to me, that is cumbersome.)

Screenshot 2018-05-23 at 10.38.01 AM

You click on Read Aloud and it drops down to show you what the activity for that day for that part of the program is. This is how you access each part of the program. If there is a video to go along with it, there is either a YouTube link (for the books being read aloud) or the video is embedded, as you can see below.

Screenshot 2018-05-23 at 10.39.44 AM

Each needed worksheet is also linked right there in the program, where you would need it. This is really quite helpful. If you know you are going to use the whole program and will need all of the worksheets and activities, there is also a way to print off all of the work for the entire month at once. That is a great time saving feature if you are using the whole program.

read aloud video

Miss J used the complete weekly lessons for two weeks. At that point, we decided to pick the parts that fit her best, as much of this curriculum was still too simple for her and she needs more hands on activity, rather than worksheet activity. We tended to not use the videos, choosing instead to teach the concept myself. We also did not use a lot of the worksheets, choosing to focus on the idea and talking about the idea.

Level Green

The writing portion sometimes relates to the idea that is being studied and sometimes is a prompt for the student to follow. The computer skills practice is almost always up to the parent to decide how they are going to practice. It does not include a program but rather says “Practice computer skills.” for the daily assignment. We used an email program for this as the girls love to email their family and penpals. Also, the parent will need to assist the child for independent reading, though there is some guidance at the beginning of the program on how to choose a “just right” book.

 

This is a great curriculum for –

Homeschool-Navigation-Product-ImageIf you are looking for a complete language arts program, this is it! This truly has everything you need with very little parent preparation needed. Your student will cover read alouds, study characters and part of the story, poetry, writing, reading, typing, character traits, and other skills. It is all neatly packaged on a single website with links to the materials needed. There is a printable teacher guide to help you know day to day what is needed and it can be printed out or you can access it online as a PDF. There are scope and sequence materials available to help you plan out your year, or at least know what all has been covered. The website will track what your student has completed and you can upload materials they have finished to compile a portfolio. (I used the check off to show completed but did not upload to the portfolio, so I cannot comment on that feature.)

This program begins around late PK/early kindergarten skills and goes through approximately fifth grade skills. The interactive notebooks can go much higher depending on how your student reads and comprehends.

interactive notebook Hugo

For us –

We will not continue using the program. I was disappointed in the novel notebooks, as they did not challenge the girls, though they did cover some things that most lapbooks don’t seem to cover for novels (for example, Holes had her compute how much dirt had to be removed for each hole to be the right size).

Language arts is a difficult area for us to find a single program that fits. With girls that read and comprehend fairly complex ideas, this just wasn’t a solid fit for us. The material needed to be more of a challenge for Miss J, even after we pulled some worksheets from Level Indigo to try her on.

The computer interface was not intuitive for me and took a lot of work to access. The girls could not access it themselves, which made the program less appealing. We also had some issues with sound, though I understand they are fixing this issue as quickly as they can by re-recording the videos that have issues.

online language arts

Overall –

Take a look at Home School Navigator. They have a really good concept and the workings of it are smoothing out daily as they correct some of the interface issues. The material they include is really good if it is a fit for your child. There is a sample lesson for each of the color levels on the site to help you find the right fit for your family. The ladies who created this really want children to succeed and will work with you to find the right fit for your family.

Blessings,
At Home.

Other families from the Homeschool Review Crew have been using this and have shared reviews over the various levels they have used. I highly suggest reading more reviews as I know this program has been a great fit for many of the families. Just click the banner below.

Home-School-Navigator-Homeschool-Reviews-13-Crew-Disclaimer-2016

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Making Edible Cells

edible cells

We have been working on a review for Apologia’s Exploring Creation with Anatomy and Physiology. One the appeals of this curriculum is the hands-on learning that is built right into the curriculum.

Recently, we made an edible cell. Cells are the first lesson in anatomy and physiology and this really helped the girls see what all is part of these tiny little building blocks that we cannot see with our eyes.

Using jello as the cytoplasm and various candies to be the different parts of the cells, the girls created an edible cell. After we reviewed what each of the parts was and its job in the cell, the girls ate the cells. I thought they looked too, um, interesting to eat. They, however, thought the candy and jello looked too yummy to not eat. Edible cells, it is then.

This is a don’t miss activity with this curriculum. If you buy the pre-assembled kit that includes everything you need for the hands-on activities, you are good to go and can just open the packet for this lesson. You’ll have the jello and candy you need. It included almost enough to make two complete cells. We had to rummage around the kitchen to find a few bits of candy for a few of the things but overall, it was a simple and fun (and evidently yummy) activity with that pre-assembled kit.

Blessings,
At Home.

Watch for the review coming in just a couple of weeks with the Homeschool Review Crew.

Art with Let’s Go Geography

We are still enjoying working through Let’s Go Geography. We don’t stress over our pacing. Some weeks we do three countries; some weeks, it gets left off. It is always interesting and fun, though, and we are really enjoying it a lot still. I hope Year 2 is out when we are ready for it.

I just thought I would show you some of the art pieces that have been completed in relation to Let’s Go. Miss J absolutely enjoys the art part of this and it is good for her to have this time. I sometimes forget that she is still young and doesn’t need to have all the book time that her older sisters do. Besides the fact that she is a hands-on learner All. The. Way. It sticks with her when it is hands-on so these projects are great for her.

If you are looking for a simple geography program that has lots of skill, take a look at Let’s Go Geography. It is a great curriculum that is simple yet very effective.

Blessings,
At Home.

Bird Books

bird books for unit study

We created a bird study for Miss J. I decided it would be good to share some of the book resources with you that we used. I will be linking to this in an upcoming post on the unit study itself so be watching for it.

bird books on Audubon

We specifically made it a point to talk about John James Audubon and the influence he had on nature studies, and bird studies in particular. These were two very interesting books about him and his work.

The Boy Who Drew Birds by Jacqueline Davies

Capturing Nature: The Writings and Art of John James Audubon edited by Peter and Connie Roop

bird books set 1

These are some of the reference books we picked up at the library.

Backyard Birds

Smithsonian Bird Watcher

Bird – a DK eyewitness book

If You Were a Bird by S. J. Calder

bird books set 2

These books were chosen because they hit on a specific theme or idea we were covering such as nests or the birds we were likely to see based on where we live.

Learn About Texas Birds

Backyard Birds Texas by Bill Fenimore

Birds Build Nests by Cathryn Sill

About Birds: A Guide For Children

bird books set 3

And these were directing some of the more detailed information and questions for the study.

Exploring Creations with Zoology 1: Flying Creatures of the Fifth Day by Jeannie Fulbright

Look Up: Bird Watching in Your Own Backyard by Annette LeBlanc Cate

What’s That Bird? Teacher Key from Memoria Press

These books, by themselves, make a pretty thorough bird study. But, if you want to go further with it, check out the upcoming post about the unit study that Miss J just finished.

Blessings,
At Home.

 

Resources to enrich The Hidden Village

 

resource list post cover

Soon, I will be sharing with you a review of this new book from Bonnie Rose Hudson. She is an amazing writer whose works show us new worlds and lead us to experience people and places we didn’t know about before. The Hidden Village is just such a book. In fact, it is about that very thing. I have pulled these videos together to share with the giggly girls in order to enrich our own reading of the book and to help us understand more about the place and culture of the story and its characters.

The book is set in India, in the part that is known as the state of West Bengal. The village is situated at the southern end of this section, near the Bay of Bengal.

 

MANGROVES

Just a few videos to pick and choose from about mangroves. The place where the story takes places is a mangrove forest and that is very different than any forest my girls have ever seen. So I found a few and we probably will not watch all of them all the way through. But, I did like certain things about each one so I chose a variety.

 

 

 

JUTE

In the book, the family cultivates and harvests jute. So, what better way to understand the work that goes into the harvest of this product than a couple of videos.

 

MARKET

The character talks about visiting the market and what they are able to get from the markets. I imagine this one is still very different from what they experienced in the book but it still gives a bit of an idea to the girls.

 

VILLAGE

I found this interesting. It would be more like the village the main character lives in and not the village that was hidden. Still, some pictures are helpful in understanding more about them, even if it is not as primitive as the book setting.

 

SARI

A sari is a style of dress that is worn long and over one shoulder. These are often colorful and vibrant. The best way to see a sari is to do a search online. Many of what I found were very fancy, not at all what I would imagine the girls and women of The Hidden Village would wear.

INDIAN RHINOCEROS

You can read up on this magnificent animal and see some images pretty easily online. Here is a nice information page about it that gives very readable information on the rhinoceros, an endangered animal. This herbivore can grow very large and is a solitary animal.


MONGOOSE

This little mammal is very small, only about 6 or so inches. It eats both plants and animals, making it an omnivore. They appear much like a weasel but are very agile like a monkey. There are a few images on A-Z Animals and there are plenty of others online.

 

And that is the end of the list. There are probably more that I could pull together and I might. But for not, these are the ones that are specifically mentioned at the end of the book in the section on exploring the world of West Bengal, India.

Weekly Science Lesson

simple weekly science lessons

We have had a lot of fun recently using a weekly science lesson from a company called Mystery Doug. Each week we get an email with a link to a video answering a question. We watch the video and then, if even one of the girls is interested in learning more, we do the extension activities when they are offered.

This week the question was about the skeleton – why do our skeletons have so many bones? The short, five minute video was a neat illustration of the human skeleton and its function. It doesn’t take long for the video and we have really learned a lot of interesting things from these videos.

company name

Sometimes, there is an accompanying hands-on activity. This week, it was making an artistic rendition of your own hand so that it looks like an x-ray. It was lots of fun and Miss J did a great job with hers.

We have found that the video do so well that the topics pop up in conversations often. For example, the other night, we were talking with grandparents about the trees changing colors. Miss J popped out the explanation for the change in colors and shocked everyone at the table (the other two girls had missed that particular video lesson). She was quite proud of the fact that she knew something no one else did. Great way to increase self-esteem, as well.

If you are looking for a short and simple addition of science to your week, check out Mystery Doug.

At Home.

Hands-On History from Home School In The Woods ~ a Crew review

 

When learning something that is full of ideas and images, such as history, hands-on learning brings a concrete element to it. Home School in the Woods (HSITW) is a hands-on history company that brings some understanding to ideas, elements, and cultures that we cannot get without a tactile activity. We have had fun this summer with some relaxed learning about our home state of Texas through HSITW’s new product, Make-a-State Activity.

Hands-On History Activity-Paks: Make-A-StateMake-A-State is a part of the Activity-Paks series. Other titles in the series include:

*The Old Testament
*The New Testament
*Composers
*Artists

HSITW is a company focused on bringing history to life through hands-on activities and informative readings. Each of the products in the HSITW lines are well-researched and well-written. The information is written at a level that upper elementary students and older are generally able to read and understand it on their own. However, with just a little bit of help, even younger elementary students are very capable of using and learning with all of the HSITW products that we have used over the years.
(Project Passport: Ancient Greece, Project Passport: Ancient Egypt, U.S. Elections)

Hands-On History Activity-Paks: Make-A-StateMake-A-State is a Activity-Pak that can be used to study any state in the U.S or Washington D.C. The activities all work together to create a lapbook that includes more than 20 mini projects. All together these projects will give an overview of the chosen state. Most of the topics are generic in theme, allowing it be created specifically for your state. These topics include things like the agriculture of the state, the industry, the climate and the government. Also included are projects about the wildlife, the state song, and sports teams. From the history of the name of the state to the native peoples that live there, many topics are similar from state to state. Creating a tourist brochure and a mini newspaper are a couple of the projects that take a tad bit longer but are well worth the increased efforts.

There are also some projects that are designed to be specific to your state. These include a recipe, the motto, and the state bird and flower. There is also a map to create for your chosen state that you can personalize or mark in a way that fits what you are emphasizing for your state. Not to be forgotten, each state also has a state quarter that is designed to well-represent the state and there is a project to show that off, too.

Lastly, there is a folder game included to help learn about all of the United States. There are three versions of the game included and a set of double sided cards to cut out. Depending on what you are wanting to focus on, you use a different game board but the cards stay the same. Here’s a video of me attempting to explain the variations and how I put them together in a single file folder.


How We Used  Make-A-State:

We chose to use this Activity-Pak as a family. Since we are planning some field trips after the weather cools down to some places related to the history of Texas, we decided to use this as a fun summer projects. And it was well enjoyed. There were several days when the first thing that the girls wanted to do was to work on a mini book or two from Make-A-State (even before breakfast).

We divided up the projects and each of the girls chose something that she was interested in to work on. We used the included information sheet about Texas to get some of the information from (such as for the timeline). We also used the internet to do some research, mostly accessing a known Texas history and information site. For many of the images we needed, we used a Google search for black line coloring pages and printed them at a reduced size of about 30%.

Over the course of several days, working an hour or two a day, we completed the project. We finished it by placing each of the mini books onto blank paper and putting it into a three-prong folder. This way it can sit on our bookshelf easily and as we add to out states collection, they will all be similar. Here is a quick video showing you how it looks put into the folder.

A Couple of Notes:

We have not found a good double sided tape to use for these projects. We have also found that glue sticks don’t work for most of them. White glue really would not work due to the required drying time. So, our solution is to use tape. If you know my girls, you know that we have a deep love of tape. 🙂 Tape works really well and can hold up to the strain that some of the folds put on the projects.

We have become pretty familiar with Home School in the Woods and the ways in which their projects work. There is a bit of a learning curve with this company but it is well worth taking the time to beat that learning curve. Each project in a pack is put together a bit differently to create variety. This means that each project needs a little bit of thinking to put it together right. There are detailed instructions included but, honestly, it still takes some thinking to put some of them together. There are always images included of the completed project and those are terribly helpful.

Printing can also be tricky. You do have to know your own printer. Due to the differences in printer, each page of a project is presented to you separately with printing instructions (print 1-b on the back of 1-a, or something like that). You do need to read through those and print them as instructed to make the projects easier to put together. If you are like me, each time, I have to experiment a bit to remember which way to take the first page out and put it back in the printing drawer to get it printed in the right direction on the back. But, again, it is well worth taking the time and effort (and sometimes paper) to figure it out. My youngest still remembers working on Project Passport: Ancient Egypt from, what, 3 years ago?

A-La-Carte Options:

Home School in the Woods has recently introduced an a-la-carte option for some of their projects. This is a way for you to grab and use one or two of the projects, without having to commit to a longer study of the topic. Perhaps you are reading on a subject and your student shows an interest, you could head over to HSITW and see if there is a single hands-on project to do related to that topic. Or it could be a jumping off point. For example, here is a post about the mini unit study we did last week on the Erie Canal based off of the a-la-carte projects HSITW is offering (free at the time of this writing).

 

Thoughts:

This is a company that we enjoy a lot. Their products are well-researched, well-put-together, and lots of fun. Add to that the retention of information, and this hands-on history company is one worth looking into for your history needs.

At Home.

There were 100 families using products from Home School in the Woods. Click the banner below to read about what they thought from the product lines that were reviewed:

Time Traveler American
*New World Explorers
*Colonial Life
*The American Revolution
*The Early 19th Century
*The Civil War
*Industrial Revolution through Great Depression
*World War II

Lap-Paks
*U.S. Elections
*20th Century in America
*Wonders of the World
*Benjamin Franklin
*Knights

Activity-Paks
*The Old Testament
*The New Testament
*Composers
*Artists

Timeline Trio

 

Hands-on History {Home School in the Woods Reviews}

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