Miss J had been working on a middle school level chemistry course using several books I located for her. After completing that, I found a series of 4 books from Usborne that I purchased for her to go through. She has really been enjoying them. She is currently on the 3rd one and will finish the 4th by the end of May pretty easily.
The series is Kitchen Science: The Complete Collection published by Kane Miller. It is a set of four books: The Math of a Milkshake, The Chemistry of Cola, The Biology of a Banana, and The Physics of Popcorn. Each of the books, as is indicated by the titles, handles a branch of science or math. The books have been a lot of fun, with tons of unique tidbits of information that were interesting. They have presented a lot of ideas, some in depth, some fairly simply. They have been a great exploration of each of the branches of education they address. They all have lots of experiments, some of which we had already done and some we had not. The books had a good balance of reading, quizzing, and doing.
I found these books to be fantastic for middle school, as they push the envelope of known information in a way that has generally resulted in Miss J wanting to find out more about it. We have pulled additional books to complement the learning because she wanted more. Rabbit trails that produced more in depth learning.
The depth of information definitely requires a parent to be around to help with some of it but they are manageable for student led learning. If you have a middle school student and are looking for an overview course that will help students really learn about the different parts of science and math, these are great. There is plenty of material for a year-long course in my opinion, especially if you are doing all of the experiments, quizzes, and tests. This is a recommend from me.
I was not asked to write this and I purchased these materials myself. I am not a Usborne consultant but will happily connect you with Leslie (who I purchased these through) if you would like to order these or something else.
I’ll be honest. We don’t get nearly enough time in the sun. The girls’ extra-curricular activities are indoors. Their exercise is indoors. It is difficult for them to do schoolwork outdoors when they have to spread out quite a bit with books, notebooks, pens, pencils, and more. So, outdoors is just not as common a place for us to spend time.
We recently took advantage of the spring break for dance and headed to The Dallas Arboretum and Botanical Garden for a field trip. (Yes, even high schoolers get field trips!) It is springtime so the tulips, daffodils, and hyacinths were in full bloom. The tulips were the big draw for me and they were beautiful! We also saw some cherry trees in bloom and several other flowers. There were some gorgeous topiaries in the shapes of peacocks with the tails done in blooms. We saw plenty of water features and enjoyed the sunshine. It was a lovely few hours of sunshine, walking, and family time.
It was a joy to spend this time with the whole family and the girls really enjoyed it, too. And that’s not just their mom speaking hopefully. They said it over and over. They were glad we spent the time and money to do this outing, even if we were all tired at the end of the day.
We are tackling the fifty states once more but in a different way. Miss J wants to find out some specific things about the states so we are being quite direct in this study. Since we have a done a couple of state studies in the past, she doesn’t want to focus on the same things.
So, learning goals specifically are:
all 50 state names (done)
all 50 state abbreviations (done)
locate all 50 states on a blank map (done)
state birds, flowers, trees (done)
important historical locations
We will be utilizing the following resources:
National Geographic’s Our Fifty States
The Glorious American Songbook compiled by Cooper Edens
I created a page for each state that she will fill in that includes a spot for each of the learning objectives she is working on and put it in a paper folder with 3 prongs to keep everything together.
The plan is to work on one state each day and then have one day where she explores the states ont he websites. She is also playing on her Stack the States app daily for a few minutes. She does this outside of school times because she thinks it is such fun. (BTW – best free app ever! So glad we were able to get it when it was free several years ago but it would totally be worth the purchase.)
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:
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
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.
The youngest of the three giggly girls has been working on Ancient Rome this year for her history and literature. We had a diorama to build of the Senate House from Ancient Rome. It is called the Curia Julia and she has worked hard on this for a couple of weeks now.
The project came from Home School in the Woods. We are using Project Passport: Ancient Rome. She is about halfway through now and has learned a good bit, had a lot of fun with hands-on work (including creating a Roman feast which I need to post about), and we have been using the Memoria Press book Men of Ancient Rome as her literature to read alongside this study. It has been an interesting companion.
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.
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.
Disclosure: I received this complimentary product through the Homeschool Review Crew.
As we prepared for this fall, my youngest daughter asked to be taken off of the computer math program we had been using and to be able to do her math from a printed book. It was really good timing because Math Essentials had just come up for review with their prealgebra program. Basic Math Skills Rescue Parts 1 and 2 is a two book set of softback, consumable workbooks. Together, these two books set the stage of a strong foundation for algebra, creating an algebra readiness for the student.
Creator and master teacher Richard Fisher knows that success in math relies on readiness for the upcoming ideas and concepts. In designing Basic Math Skills Rescue, he deals with what he terms the Critical Foundations of Algebra. He feels that success in understanding these ideas will result in long-term math success. There are three areas to deal with – whole numbers, fractions, and some areas of geometry and measurement. These are all addressed in this two book set.
Basic Math Skills Rescue Book 1 includes work with whole numbers and integers, fractions, and decimals and percents. Basic Math Skills Rescue Book 2 includes work with geometry, problem solving, and some more specific pre-algebra concepts. Each book is designed for a single student to work in and includes several helps at the back as well as an answer key.
Each page has a short review section up top. This is followed by a short teaching example and two sample questions to complete together. Following the samples, there are a number of questions for the student to work independently. It ends with a word problem to solve. As noted, the answer key is in the back of the book to check work. If needed, there is also access to online instructional videos to help teach the concept. The access information for this is in each book. We have not utilized these videos since she is wanting more one-on-one help this year but it is great to know they are there if she needs help when I am unavailable.
There are some really well thought-out parts to Basic Math Skills Rescue. Every lesson includes review so you never completely drop a concept until it is the main focus again. Each lesson seems to flow smoothly into the next concept focus, never big jumps in ideas that leave a student confused. The flow of each individual lesson makes sense. Each lesson is self-explanatory but does not make it hard for a teacher to guide the lesson. There are tests for each section. There is also a “resource center” at the back of the book.
The resources at the back of the book will come in quite handy as she gets into more complicated ideas. Included at the back are a glossary of terms and examples, a list of important symbols, a multiplication table to 12s, a table of common prime numbers to 1013, a table of squares and square roots, and a table of fraction/decimal equivalents.
My 7th grader has begun in book 1 and often tackles it while she eats her breakfast. This is a solid review for her of whole numbers at this point. Each concept generally has two lessons on it. She is completing one or two lessons a day at this point. As we move into concepts she is less familiar with and needs more help, we will move to a single lesson each day. Because there is not a lot of white space on each page to work the math of the problems, she also has a notebook in which she writes her problem and does the work. She then transfers the answer into the book. Using the answer key at the back, we check the work together.
If you have seen my review of previous math products from Math Essentials, you will note that they have a book titled Mastering Essential Math Skills. Because we have reviewed it before, I was quite curious to see how it relates to Basic Math Skills Rescue. Mastering Essential Math Skills Book 2 (the one we reviewed and aimed at middle and high school students) covers the same topics as our current review. However, it is all in a single book and has only one lesson per concept. Additionally, there are two speed drill wheels in the review section. I do think those are fabulous and would make a great addition to this book, also. Because it is moving twice as fast, Mastering Essential Math Skills is better suited to a student who is reviewing or is fairly familiar with chunks of the concepts and just needs a bit of review help.
I enjoy reading about what families have chosen for their student’s curriculum. I assume that others enjoy reading about what we have chosen.
Miss J is 12 to start her 7th grade year. She is extremely social. To say the pandemic has been tough on her is an understatment. She thrives on hugs and talking to others. She loves to read and has spent the past 3 months reading over 40 books that her oldest sister recommended. She enjoys hands on learning and desires to be a chef or baker when she is older. Her desire after high school is to attend culinary school. I share all of this because it drives our choices for her.
Math – We are changing from CTCMath to a book based program this year. We decided this right before Math Skills Rescue Books 1 and 2 came up for review on the Crew. So, this is what she is working through. It is essentially a pre-algebra program. I don’t know for sure but I think this will likely take the better part of 2 school years to get through. I could be wrong and she could fly through some of it. We are still in the early stages of the program. Our full review will be up in a couple of weeks. Until then, you can look at what I have shared about it so far on social media.
Language Arts: Creative Writing – We are using the book we reviewed a few months ago, Sparkling Bits of Writing Book 1, because it was a fun writing process without stress for this girl. She struggles with her writing, not because she doesn’t have ideas but the process of taking thoughts and turning them into something on paper is hard. This book was so fun that it eased that process for her. We are continuing it. She will be working on this two times each week.
Language Arts: Literature – She will be reading literature that goes along with the period of history that we are in. I really like the books from Memoria Press on people from history periods. So, if I can get my hands on them for each time period, this is what she’ll read. Right now she is reading Famous Men of Rome. (This review was the whole package; we are just using the student text.) I like these books because they are story based while still being a solid biography. They provide interest for the person and it backs up her history program. I will also pick and choose a few other books to do as a read aloud with her because she enjoys that.
Language Arts: Grammar/Spelling – It’s NOT Greek To Me. We were supposed to be on a review for this program and I was disappointed when that option dissipated. We are still using the program, though we do not have the digital teaching slides to do with it. (The teaching slides came on a thumb drive that we could not use on the technology we had. We do not have brand new computers and it wouldn’t work on the Chromebook, a desktop running Windows 7, and a new computer running Windows 10. The teaching slides were on PowerPoint and they would not work with Google slides. So….) It works the students through 12 lesson of Greek morphemes (roots, prefixes, and suffixes) that are common in English. It is a lot of writing so we are taking it slow – at least 2 weeks per lesson. She is working on this 2 times in a week.
History – Miss J will be working through the studies for the ancient civilizations from Home School In The Woods. She will do them out of order since she was already working on Project Passport: Ancient Rome for a review. She will continue on that and when she is done with it, she’ll pick one of the others. This hands-on history program is a good fit for her. She can skip the parts that are heavy on the writing and do the other parts and still get the information. Picking and choosing parts is good. We will also utilize other books or videos, including Drive Thru History. (We are watching Ancient Rome lesson 1 now through SchoolhouseTeachers.com.)
History – Some of the time periods will have people for which we have a person in the Figures In Motion books. When we find those, she will cut the person out and assemble the flexible figure to add to her folder of people.
Science – The Critical Thinking Co. has sent us a book of science crossword puzzles. Miss J is doing one of these puzzles a day for now. In a couple of weeks, we will go back to the kitchen chemistry and science program I designed for her. We will add a few books around mid-school year to the experiments part. The kitchen chemistry is a lot of fun for her. She does get to choose which experiments to do but she has to do some reading as well. The books I chose for it cover a lot of chemistry ideas in a way that Miss J really relates to since she loves to cook and bake and be in the kitchen. You can see some of our activities by visiting these links: ice cream, can experiment, burning a nut, or a freezing experiment among many others.
Thinking/Logic – Miss J is working through The Fallacy Detective. You can read our review of it to learn more. She only works on it once a week and does one lesson each time.
Guitar – She really wants to learn to play the guitar. We have tried a couple of things but we are working with a video course from The Great Courses this year. We’ll see how it goes.
Dance – She is dancing quite a bit this year – 4-5 days per week. She is studying multiple styles and participating in Junior Company.
That’s about it. I am sure we’ll do some other things that will really impact her learning but this is the start and the outline. It is a good solid bit of learning.
Disclosure: I received this complimentary product through the Homeschool Review Crew.
In this crazy time of information being thrown at us from all angles with all types of bias in it, knowing how to evaluate it is an asset we cannot afford to skip teaching our children. Nathaniel Bluedorn and Hans Bluedorn, authors of The Fallacy Detective, gave us a great teaching resource for just this purpose. This soft back book contains 38 lessons on how to identify bad reasoning and to spot common errors in reasoning. Knowing these reasoning pitfalls can help not only in identifying them but also in avoiding them ourselves.
A fallacy – what is it? A fallacy is an error in logic or reasoning. The Fallacy Detective addresses a number of fallacy types and groups them into four categories – avoiding the question, making assumptions, statistical fallacies, and propaganda. Within each of these categories, there are several different fallacies addressed. These include red herrings, faulty appeal to authority, hasty generalizations, fear, pity, loaded questions, circular reasoning, straw man, and so much more. In addition to the four categories, there is an introduction, a section on using your mind, a game, and an answer key.
Each lesson includes an explanation, some examples and how to consider them, and a section of exercises for the student to work through. The answers can then be checked against the answer key at the back of the book.
We have used this particular logic book with 2 students now. And it has gone 2 very different ways, as you would expect. My middle child used this book in conjunction with another book by these authors as part of a logic and debate credit in her 9th grade coursework. She is quite independent so she read each chapter, completed the exercises in the book, and then checked her work. Any that she did not get an answer in agreement with the answer key, she brought to me. We discussed her answer vs. the answer key. Her logic was often faultless, picking up on a few inconsistencies in the answer key. If she could justify her answer to me, I gave her full credit for it. She worked through this book at about 3 lessons per week. It definitely helped her in her debate abilities when evaluating what the other side was presenting.
My youngest child is currently using The Fallacy Detective. She and I are doing the reading out loud together. I then read the exercises and she answers them with me. Writing is not a strong point for her so I am not requiring that from her with the book. The thinking can be quite challenging and when your student struggles to put thoughts to paper, that just amplifies difficulty and frustration while losing the purpose of the exercise. So she is answering out loud. We then check each answer against the answer key, talking about where the given answer explanation differs from her own thinking. I am not giving a correct or incorrect for her answers. We are completing one lesson per week at this time. When we go back to full school, I expect to bump it up to two lessons per week, planning to complete this before Christmas.
I like this program. It includes a lot of cartoons, including reprints of one of our favorites – Calvin & Hobbes. These comic strips are great representations of many of the ideas that the authors are trying to get across. There are also fun illustrations done in grey scale. The writing is not complicated and is intended to help students understand how others are presenting information to them. It helps equip the students to sift through the barrage of media to pick out the falsehoods being presented to them, locating the important bits. This is a necessary skill in today’s world and work places. This is a good place to start on this skill.
Just a fair warning, though – it may make your student a much stronger opponent when they present their ideas to you AND when they disagree with something you present to them. Beware! 🙂
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:
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.