Category Archives: reviews

Math Success (CTCMath) ~ a Crew review

Math Success with CTCMath

If you know much about our family, and most homeschoolers it seems, math can be a struggle and a challenge. However, the Family Membership we have been reviewing from CTCMath has been a game changer, giving us access to all levels for all three girls for 12 months. One thing we all know is that people change as they grow and mature. Our children are no different. The last time we tried CTCMath (about five years ago), it was not a good fit. However, it is the perfect fit for all three of the girls this time around and I could not be any more pleased.

CTC-Math

CTCMath is an online subscription program. It is video based instruction with online, interactive questions, printable worksheets, quizzes, tests, and online question bank options to help students all learn at their maximum ability. The customer service answers emailed questions very quickly. (We had a question about a video and their response was received within a few hours.)

The student dashboard on CTCMath is where students access their materials for the day. Each student has their own login and password. The student logs in and, if assigned a task, can just click on tasks and head on to the lesson and questions. If they have not been assigned a task, it takes quite a few more clicks to get to the next set of instruction materials (especially since it seems to still think the girls are all five years younger than they are). Still, the girls are all able to maneuver to their lessons, click the lesson, and off they go.

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They each watch the video, stopping it to take notes and write down examples as needed. There is also a PDF of the examples from the video if you would like to print that. It is found just under the video and is titled “Lesson Summary.” Then, how they answer quesitons varies a bit since they are at such different levels. Miss J, at the 5th grade level, has online questions so far. She is given a single problem on the screen and then selects the correct answer for it or enters the correct answer for it. It is automatically graded.

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Miss E is working on Geometry. She has a set of online questions to answer. Then she is given a worksheet, as well. We can print that worksheet or she can copy the problems onto a page and note her answers. She then has an answer bank to choose her answers from and a set of boxes that she has to enter the corresponding letter for the correct answer. After finishing that, the system automatically grades her answers, showing her where she missed and giving her the opportunity to view the solutions. (Solutions cannot be viewed until it is attempted at least once.)

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Miss L is working on Basic Math & Pre-Algebra. Her set up is the same as Miss E’s.

The lessons are short and to the point, teaching exactly what is needed to understand the concept being taught. There is no fluff and there is just enough practice on the concept for the girls to feel like they understand it without having to do a whole lot of excess. These straight forward lessons have really helped the girls get to the core of learning and understanding math.

As for me, I really like the parent/teacher side of the program. I can see everything the girls are doing. It tells me when they log in and log out. It tells me what they work on. It tells me their score on the lesson. I get a weekly emailed update on the girls’ week and how they did, just in case I haven’t logged into the parent side recently. I can save that PDF report if I need documentation.

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As a parent, I can edit my student’s material to be appropriate. I can decide what the passing level will be. My girls have an 80% pass level. I can adapt that and I have. It actually started at 90% but when the Geometry work only has 6 or 8 questions and you miss one? Well, that got really frustrating really fast. So 80% it is. And it works well.

Another feature I like having is the ability to delete a score and have the student redo it. There was one day where one of the girls was just off. She got a lousy score on her daily work and it was the only thing that was not 100 in her row. She was miserable over that. I was able to visit the User Guide and find a video about what to do with that sort of thing. I was able to delete it and let her have another go at it since it was an unusual thing for her. She redid it another day and was able to happily move on.

There is a neat feature on the program that is fairly new – Question Bank Wizard. This allows you to select the lessons your student needs practice on. It automatically generates a set of questions for the student to practice with. You determine how many questions you want it to generate or how many minutes you want the student to practice. Next you determine if you want easy, harder, or a mix. You then have it generate the question bank. You can order the questions, moving them up or down in the series. This is a really nice feature for a student who is struggling in a particular area or two. It is available up through Algebra I. I hope the rest of the high school topics are coming soon.

question bank wizard

There is a User Guide online that is composed of a number of different videos to help you see how to do certain tasks, such as scheduling tasks for the student, using the Question Bank Wizard, or adding students. They are easy to follow and very helpful. This is the place to start if you decide to check out CTCMath, as their Getting Started video was very helpful. There are several other features, such a printable checklists and exporting data, that may be helpful to you.

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CTCMath has been an wonderful change for our family. The girls all asked if this could be their math curriculum for this year. No discussion necessary – it is done. I am so pleased with CTCMath. Please check them out.

Blessings,
Lori, At Home.

Families on the Homeschool Review Crew have been using CTCMath for the past couple of months. Click on the image below to see what their experiences were like.

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Library and Educational Services ~ a Crew review

Library and educational services

We have had excellent experiences with Library and Educational Services LLC in the past and were more than pleased to have an opportunity to work with them again. The company does a fabulous job of curating their options, making sure that the materials they offer do not contradict the Bible and offer much in the way of education. Whether you are looking for Bibles, DVDs, CDs, or books, this company has options that are 30-70% off of retail.

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We were asked to pick one book from the Who Was . . .? What Was . . .? series. We also got to choose one of the Lifehouse Theater Audio productions and a few options from their library binding hardback series. We had a good time looking through the options and choosing titles that sounded very interesting to us. Our selections were:

  • What Was Hurricane Katrina?
  • Lifehouse Theater’s production of Pride and Prejudice
  • Great Life Stories
  • Ye, Yucky Middle Ages
  • Careers In Forensics
  • True Ocean Rescue Stories

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The Who Was . . .? What Was . . .? title that we chose was What Was Hurricane Katrina? Miss E knew a bit about it but thought that she wanted to know more. She was excited to have the option to choose this book to read. Their wonderful prices make choosing more of these books to read very tempting. After all, each of the stories gives you a load of facts written in an engaging, interesting manner that keeps the reader’s attention. While Miss E is quite a bit older than the target age for this series, they are an easy read that is packed full of information.

20190706_135708The title chosen for the Lifehouse Theater is Pride and Prejudice. This is a physical CD and is a dramatized production of the story based on the 1813 Jane Austen novel. Running approximately 73 minutes, it is fully dramatized with multiple voices for the various characters. It tells the story of the Bennet family with 5 girls. The story tells of the humor and flightiness of the young ladies in the realm of love and romance during a time of serious, intentional social conventions and constrictions. Bringing out prejudice and misunderstandings, this tale stays fairly close to the true story. It is a very solid way to introduce this story to youth and with the many voices involved, it really helps the listener understand the interactions and situations that come up in the story. Lifehouse Theater productions do a great job of introducing many classics.

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We also got to choose a number of books from the collection of Reinforced Hardcover Library Binding Nonfiction titles. These are all hardback, bound books with the solid binding quality that is found in library books. We were able to search through by topic and even by grade level, allowing for easier ways to see options that fit our needs and interests. Each of the girls chose something that sounded interesting.

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Miss E chose the Great Life Stories series, a set of three biographies for older readers. This set included a biography on JRR Tolkien, Marie Curie, and Clara Barton. Each book is well-written and packed with factual information on the person. There are many primary sources cited and the text is supported with photographs. They make a fabulous addition to any study on these people but also are wonderful for just reading for interest.

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Miss E also asked for Ye, Yucky Middle Ages. This is a set of four books about the Middle Ages, which she was studying this summer. The set includes the titles Ye Castle Stinketh: Could You Survive Living in a Castle?; Don’t Let The Barber Pull Your Teeth: Could You Survive Medieval Medicine?; Sweaty Suits of Armor: Could You Survive Being a Knight?; and There’s a Rat in My Soup: Could You Survive Medieval Food? Each book takes on a different aspect of life in the Middle Ages and being bluntly clear about the challenges that folks living in that time faced. It was an extremely different time and there is much there that would make it difficult to stay alive. It was a very interesting time and the series is helpful in understanding much mre about their lives.

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Miss L asked for the series about forensics called Careers In Forensics. The series covers the different parts of learning forensics. After a study a couple of years ago, she has 20190722_202226found this line of science interesting so this series jumped out to her. The titles include: Careers in Ballistics Investigation, Careers in Fingerprint and Trace Analysis, Careers in Explosives and Arson Investigation, Careers in Criminal Profiling, and Careers in DNA Analysis. Each of these covers the application of the particular field of forensics and how it is applied in crime scene investigations. Included are such things as training, certification, types of evidence, and gather that evidence. There are also real-life cases discussed that include how the evidence from this field of forensics was used.

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Miss J has been interested in real life disaster stories and the people that survived them. So we chose True Ocean Rescue Stories for her. It covers several disasters in the ocean and the rescues that happened to save the people. These sinking ships, wrecked ships, and dolphins helping surfers. These stories were not quite as fascinating as we expected but still brought our attention to different stories we didn’t know.

Library and Educational Services LLC has so many options and these few that we received this time around barely touches the surface of what they have to offer. There is much, much more on their website and in their catalog than I can touch on here. I am looking at ordering some of the Light Keepers 10 Girls books, as my oldest really enjoyed these when she was about my youngest’s age. Be sure to visit the Review Crew to read about what other families chose and see some of the other options that Library and Education Services has available.

Blessings,
Lori, At Home.

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Miss J didn’t want me to know she was reading True Ocean Rescue Stories. She got caught! 🙂

Visit the Homeschool Review Crew to read about other families’ experiences with ordering from Library and Educational Services and to see what other books are available. Click on the image below to visit the Crew site.

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Project Passport: The Middle Ages ~ a Crew review

The Middle Ages

Home School in the Woods is a hands-on history company that we absolutely adore getting to use. Each time we receive a product from Home School in the Woods, we know we are going to be immersed in the history of the era or place that we are studying. We are never disappointed. Project Passport World History Studies: The Middle Ages has been a fabulous study and Miss E is looking forward to continuing on with it.

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Home School in the Woods is a family run company that is dedicated to creating hands-on products for learning history. A visit to the blog of Home School in the Woods will show you just how rich the love of history is in this company. One things that I really like about the products is the enrichment options that are included. Living book lists are often included as one of the pages in a product but you don’t have to wait to get your hands on a list – visit the blog and read about adding living books to your studies. You can also find a post about teaching different styles of learners – a fabulous post if you have a kinesthetic learner or an auditory learner. And these product work great for teaching different learning styles. Read on to see more about Project Passport. 

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Project Passport: The Middle Ages is one of five world history studies in this series, which is intended for grades 3-8 but can easily be adapted. They include Ancient Egypt, The Middle Ages, Ancient Greece, Renaissance & Reformation, and their newest one – Ancient Rome. You could also purchase a bundle of all five. Each of these studies is meant to immerse the learner in the culture and time period being studied. This happens through timelines, reading, listening, lapbooks, maps, writing, drawing, cooking/baking, crafting, and more.

The Middle Ages comes as a downloadable, zipped file. You must unzip it before trying to use it. Then, after it is unzipped, one of the files is titled Start. Double click that and the program will open up in a browser window. Start there! This is by far the easiest way to figure out the series and projects. From there, you will be able to just work your way down the program, working through each stop. As is hinted at by the name Project Passport, the program takes you through many stops, just like a tour would. There are over 50 projects and activities to immerse the student in The Middle Ages. 

Topics and activities include:

  • Introduction (setting up some of the main parts that will be used throughout several stops along the tour)
  • BarbariansThe Middle Ages (1)
  • Family Life
  • Clothing and Food
  • Community
  • Crime, Punishment, Entertainment
  • Towns & Guilds
  • Merchants, Trade, & Exploration
  • Science & Invention
  • The Arts
  • Education
  • Medicine & Disease
  • The Church
  • The Crusades
  • Knights
  • The Vikings
  • Wars

As you can see, it is a fairly thorough trip through the age and life. In the 25 stops along the way, the student learns much about The Middle Ages.

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Miss E, 15, has been using The Middle Ages and absolutely enjoying it. We are treating this as enrichment; it is not serving as a high school credit. She will work for 3 or 4 hours at a time, listening to the audios and working on her chosen activities and keeping them in a binder. We have learned through the years of using the Project Passport series that we cannot do every single activity. It is too overwhelming. That also means that not every project is a good fit, so it feels like busy work and the student doesn’t learn anything from it. Miss E was given the choice of what she wanted to complete, knowing 20190706_100105

that she will complete enough on each stop to thoroughly understand the topic. We can do this with her as she has shown herself to be trustworthy in the way she handles schoolwork. 

To get started, we taught her how to download the files onto her laptop and unzip the files. Then, she set off to work. I did help her print the PDF files for the projects she was working on but she had the instructions and information she needed to tell me what to print and how many, then to put each piece together. She has completed 10 stops, I believe, working hard. She enjoys this so much that she would choose to work on this in her free time. Home School in the Woods just makes history so much fun with their hands-on products.

Image of a stop and related files

Itinerary imageFor each stop, Miss E would read the history of the topic on her computer (Guide Book Text); we did not print these. She would then open up the instructions (Travel Itinerary) and set to work on the projects she had chosen. Each stop included her adding pieces to her timeline. She would read the postcard for the ones that had it, choosing not to print them. Then she would maybe make a castle or read about the different guilds. Even when she chose not to create one of the projects (such as the board game), she would print out anything that might be good reading (such as the different types of occupations). Each stop was a little different but that variety adds interest. There are pictures along with each project to help you know what the finished project should look like.

hands-on history

We have used several products from Home School in the Woods and recommend any of them. You can read about the products we used by visiting our blog posts:

As you can see, Home School in the Woods is a company that we enjoy using and highly recommend.

Blessings,
Lori, At Home.

The Homeschool Review Crew has been using several of the products from Home School in the Woods, including:

Please click on the image below to read more reviews.

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Crafty Classroom USA Bundle ~ a Crew review

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When the USA Activity Bundle Pack came up for review this year from Crafty Classroom, I knew it was a product I wanted to use. It is a fun way to approach learning about the United States. The bundle includes three PDF files:Screenshot 2019-07-17 at 12.45.08 PM

  1. USA State Birds
  2. USA 50 State Mazes
  3. USA Activity Pack

50 state mazes

USA 50 STATE MAZES

20190629_151857This file includes one maze for each of the 50 states. The maze is in the shape of the state. In the process of working through the maze, the student views the shape of the state and can become more familiar with it. Each maze is challenging yet fun. I do believe that the size at which you print these will make a difference in the challenge level. I printed them at half-size, two to a page and made a booklet out of it. This definitely added to the challenge of the mazes but it was fine for my 10 year old.

50 state birds

USA STATE BIRDS

The realistic art cards for the state birds includes a picture of the birds that are the symbol of a state (so less than 50 since several are shared by states), space to write facts about the bird or describe the bird, and a set of small cards with the name of the bird on one and the picture of the bird on the other. I again printed this half-size and made it into a booklet. I am not fully happy with this version of it. The writing lines are a better size for Miss J at this size but it makes it harder to color the bird with all its markings. Also, in a booklet form, we cannot cut the smaller cards out to use in a matching game. Miss J really wants me to take this to a printer and have it printed in color for the matching cards.

50 states activity notebook

USA STATE-BY-STATE ACTIVITY NOTEBOOK

This PDF file contains one page for each of the 50 states. Each page asks the student to identify several symbols for the state. There are several activities for each state.20190710_153706

  • a flag to color
  • a place to color the state on a map of the US
  • a map of the state to mark the capital, rivers, lakes, and mountains (if desired)
  • a place to mark the state abbreviation, the state # of when it joined the union, it’s nickname, the state bird name, and the state flower name
  • a picture of the state bird to color
  • a picture of the state flower to color
  • lines to write a fact or two about the state

We pulled a book about the 50 states off of our shelf to use with this activity. Each state has it’s own few pages so it works easily.

The State-by-State Activity Notebook also includes two games at the end of the file. One is USA Bingo and there are several bingo boards to print and use. The other game is Roll Across America, a board game where you would roll a die and move a certain number of spaces. You will need to provide the markers for the bingo game and the die and pieces for the board game. Both games provide variations to learning the states and/or capitals and facts about the states. These would be fun games to have printed out larger than I printed the rest of the file.

We have been using the program informally this summer. Every few days Miss J will pick up one of the booklets and work for a bit on it. She has really enjoyed the mazes. She has done several at one sitting a few times. She has also enjoyed the USA State-By-State Activity Notebook. She spent quite a bit of time working on each state that she has completed. I have allowed her to skip the writing part since we are being informal this summer.

I do plan to use these a bit more formally when we start school in a few weeks. I plan to have her complete three states per week, completing the page in USA State-By-State (include the fact writing), doing the maze if it is not already done, and completing the page in the bird book (if it isn’t already done since some of the states have the same state bird).

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Miss J’s thoughts:

I like this, even though I am not really far. I really like the mazes. The state facts were really fun. It was kind of helpful having a book to do it with. It would have been harder without the book. I really liked the birds and flowers and stuff. There wasn’t really enough space for me to write a fact about the state because there were so many facts to choose from. It would be wise to add another page to the state of just lines to write facts on.

My Thoughts:

This is a neat set to use to highlight the US. We had planned to take a trip this summer through several states and I was going to use this for her in each state we entered. (Plans change when home air conditioners need a major repair, though.) As far of the use this fall, I am going to have her trace our Mega Field Trip from last fall and find each of those states.

This is a neat set that has so many possibilities. There is a lot that could be done with it and it can be adjust and modified to fit the age you are working with and the need you have.

A couple of years ago, we reviewed another product from Crafty Classroom – their paragraph writing program titled How To Write A Paragraph. There are lots of other products available so be sure to visit the shop.

Blessings,
Lori, At Home.

Be sure to visit the Homeschool Review Crew to read about other products from Crafty Classroom that were being used for summer learning. The products include:

R.E.A.D. Curriculum Notebook K
R.E.A.D. Curriculum Notebook Gr. 1
Interactive Math Curriculum Notebook K
Alphabet Letter of the Week Curriculum Notebook
Bible Letter of the Week Curriculum Notebook
Sight Word of the Week Program
Pattern Block Activity Bundle
Fables & Tales
USA Activity Bundle Pack

Click on the banner below to go to the link up for Crafty Classroom.

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Simply Music ~ a Crew review

Simply Music makes beginning piano simple.

Simply Music is an online program designed to teach students of all ages to play the piano by ear or sight (not reading printed music). We have access to their (free) program Music & Creativity – Foundation Course. Music & Creativity immerses students in the actual process of creating music while learning. It is a hands-on program that has the student playing from the first lesson.

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Miss L, age 13 and with several years of violin in her background, used this program. She has been teaching herself to play the piano by ear for a while now using a 49 key electric keyboard. We had hoped this program would be a good fit for her, teaching her to apply her current musical knowledge to the piano/keyboard.

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The online piano program was developed to get the student playing right away. The video instruction features Neil Moore at a piano with a camera angle that shows what his hands and fingers are doing at the keys. This makes it easy for the student to hear and see what he is doing and imitate what he does. He gives instruction with words, drawings to show shape of musical movement, and showing his hands and the keys.

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Example of the drawings that help students learn the movement of a phrase or song.

Simply Music is successful in getting the student playing right away. The first lesson is a song composed by the instructor. This simple tune is one that Miss L could do after hearing it once. We then used the provided accompaniment (instruments and vocals for you to choose from) to play along with. For some, this will raise the level of enjoyment – getting to play as the soloist with a professional  backup group.

These online music lessons cover a variety of ideas, topics, and styles of music. From simple songs to blues, from gospel to some simple classical excerpts. The discussion is helpful and will slowly move the student forward. Using diagrams, chords, and by showing on the keyboard, the student learns the language of music and begins simple playing examples.

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The video lessons run between about 2 1/2 and 16 minutes long. These take the student through various key combinations and songs. There are ideas and concepts covered, also. While many concepts are covered with great explanations, the instructor does not give the formal terms to go along with the learning. For example, when he covers chords, he doesn’t use the quality of the chord, only the name – A chord, B chord. It would be so simple to add that in (major, minor, diminished) and to call it a triad, also.

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As you watch the video (you’ll need to register for the free course and have internet access), you will play along on your own keyboard. Once you have played it, have practiced as much as you want, and have used the reference materials (printed and/or audio files of the song and accompaniment), you mark the lesson complete at the bottom of the page and move to the next lesson.

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Completing a lesson can take as long as you need it to. If you are loving it and practice all the time, you can move through the lessons very quickly. If you are in the middle yet have a lot going on (as in summertime!), you can work on it steadily and move through a lesson or two a week. Or, you can take several weeks to get your fingers solidly doing what they need to and move on slowly. It is totally up to you.

This program was both exactly what we expected and totally different than we expected. Mr. Moore has a wonderful way of describing music in such a way that you know exactly what he is trying to get across. He truly knows music and how to share it in such a way that the student can understand. He plays music well and his love of music comes through clearly.

That being said, we knew it was likely to be difficult for Miss L to use this program since she has some background in music learning, ear training, and music reading. What she found difficult with the program was actually the style of music. The songs are created to teach a specific idea or hand movement. They are exercises, even though the exercises have an orchestration and/or vocals. It is not a style of music that people will intentionally listen to over and over or use to show off piano skills.

I also felt like the program was missing many opportunities for instruction early on. It would not have been hard to add the formal music terms in at several places. Since I believe music training should prepare people for a lifetime of loving music, the knowledge gained at any given point should be transferable to other styles and performances of music. This transferability seems to be lacking in this program – the knowledge is not transferable to be able to create and perform other music.

online piano lessons for the beginner from Simply Music

Miss L’s Thoughts:

The instructor was very entertaining. Many of his concepts and musical terms were a little below my knowledge, though I have not played piano before. I understand that this program was designed to be used by younger students. I felt like the part I have covered was pretty easy. Where I started at and where I got to was extremely easy. This is definitely not my style of learning.

Final Thoughts:

I think this is a good program and an excellent fit for beginners. Mr. Moore makes music accessible for everyone. He is clear, repeating himself as necessary to really make sure the student understands. He provides hands-on learning that will appeal to many. It is a program that can be tried out for free. So why not give it a try?

Blessings,
Lori, At Home.

Be sure to visit the Homeschool Review Crew to read about what other families thought about the Simply Music Music & Creativity – Foundation Course. Click on the image below.

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The Heart Changer (book) ~ a Crew review

 

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Books that get their start from a person or idea in the Bible can be a unique way to Screenshot 2019-07-09 at 7.13.01 PMimagine what things might have been like during that time. The Heart Changer is one such book. Written by Jarm Del Boccio, Author (who is also a SchoolhouseTeachers.com teacher), the story imagines what life would have been like for the people mentioned in II Kings 5. This is what most people know as the story of Naaman and the healing of his leprosy.

It is a good idea to start by reading the Bible story so that you are familiar with the history before beginning this fictional recounting. The author has done a good job of keeping the details of the setting and time as accurate as possible but it is still an imagining of people and places. Historical fiction such as this does a wonderful job of helping the reader understand much more about the time and people, while still keeping the history as accurate as possible. Since the story in II Kings 5 is not highly detailed, it allowed Jarm Del Boccio, Author, to image parts that don’t affect the Biblical integrity of the story.

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The Story:

The story begin with a young girl named Miriam, the name chosen for the servant girl in II Kings 5. Her village is being invaded and she is captured. She is given as a gift to the commander, Naaman, who was wanting a young girl to assist his wife. She is taken to Syria where 20190709_174438she is to serve. She struggles with some of the other servants who resent her presence. She remembers the loving training her mother gave her and treats everyone with kindness, even when they are doing less than that for her.

Eventually, she settles into the home. One day, she overhears that the commander is dealing with leprosy. She tells her mistress that there is a prophet in her home country that could help; the Lord could heal him. They eventually listen to her and travel back to her home town. After a time, Naaman is able to see Elisha and get the prophet’s instruction. He is upset that it is a menial act in a dirty river. He is convinced by his servants that he would do it if it were a much greater thing so why not do this simple thing. Naaman does and is healed. The story ends pretty quickly after that, with a little bit of wrapping up of Miriam’s story.

This is an interesting way to look at the history from the Bible, though it is important to recognize how much of it is imagined. The story is an enjoyable read and is appropriate for upper elementary through struggling high school readers. Addressing issues of loss, hurt, and forgiveness, this is a story that many readers will enjoy.

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Teacher’s Guide:

On The Heart Changer website, you can access a teacher’s guide by clicking on the white box that says “Teacher’s Guide.” The guide has a wonderful interview with the author, providing insight into the appeal of the story and how it came about. There is a section on getting to know Miriam with some information about who she was imagined to be and then asking the reader to consider some questions and ideas about Miriam.

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There is a section on names and their importance, asking the student to consider different names from the story and from the Bible.

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There is also a section on researching time and place. This is a helpful bit if a research paper is going to be written.

Also included are a few questions about the heart, a couple of Syrian recipes, and a page for notes. The guide is simple but effective in helping students dig deeper into the ideas and themes of the story, as well as applying those to their own lives.

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Miss E’s thoughts: (age 15)

I really liked the idea of this story, the setting of Naaman’s leprosy and finding out who The Heart Changer post imagethe servant girl might be. It is a great idea and I was really looking forward to reading this. However, I was a bit disappointed. It was missing a rich character development and there were too many secondary characters that had no significant purpose in the story.

I also wanted to get to the actual Bible story and see how it was portrayed. The Bible story part felt really short. I know that in the Bible it was only a few verses, so there was not tons of material to go off of. Still, I expected that to be featured more prominently.

This was a good fiction book, without enough basis to call it historical fiction. It was a little young for me, but for a younger reader, or a delayed reader it would be excellent. I think that it would also be a good fictional resource for introducing the Bible story of Naaman’s leprosy.

I don’t think that I had ever read a book set directly in a Bible story. I’ve read a few set right before or right after, and they were really good. With only this book to base off of, I don’t know which I prefer, but I don’t think that I will be completely closed to reading another book like this one.

Blessings,
Lori, At Home.

Be sure to click the image below to visit the Homeschool Review Crew and read more reviews of The Heart Changer from other families.

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Matific Galaxy (math practice) ~ a Crew review

Matific Galaxy review

Once in a while, we end up with a program that just captivates one of the girls’ attention. Matific Galaxy has done just that. This online math practice program is such an enjoyable way to practice math that when Miss J asks to play computer games, this is where she goes. She will easily spend as much time as I will let her practicing math on the Matific Galaxy site.

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Even when she gets stumped, she doesn’t mind asking for help since she is having so much fun. We started her off on the 5th grade level since she is a rising 5th grader. I figured it would give her a bit of a challenge but if it was too hard, we could easily go back down a level and truly call it practice. Even the hard stuff she is enjoying. I don’t remember her being frustrated with this once.

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Matific Galaxy is available worldwide in a huge variety of languages. It is not American and thus is not aligned with anything in the US (such as Common Core) YET it does a great job of teaching the math skills the students need. With a research-based spiral curriculum, this is a challenging and encouraging supplement. They list all of the skills taught in each grade level right on the website, with the opportunity to try one of them before purchase.

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Matific Galaxy is an online subscription. It requires internet access and a paid subscription. You can choose a single grade option or a multi grade option. The material goes up to 6th grade. Each student must have a separate account as it tracks individual progress. There is a 25% discount for each additional student according to the website.

There is not a placement test that I could locate.  Since the skills are listed on the website, it was fairly easy to make a determination of where to begin. It is easy enough to move them up or down grade levels if needed.

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The student will login and it is easy to get right to work. The student works through different episodes. Each episode has a cute little pixelated character that shows progress within the episode. Each completed activity earns more pixels to complete the character. You can see the difference here with the completed character and the one being worked on.

 

The activities are fairly straightforward. Miss J’s favorite are the activities that work on geometry. She has really enjoyed those. It will ask her to identify the number of sides or the number of vertices or some other identifying attribute and then click on shapes that match that. Within each skill area, there are just a few question so that it doesn’t wear the student out or frustrate them when working on a challenging skill. I believe they ranged from 3 to 7 questions per skill.

 

If it was a computation skill, there is a calculator that comes up on the screen to help the student figure their answer. This was helpful in some of the multiplication skills. Miss J still needed paper and pencil or whiteboard and marker for many of the skills she was working on. She had not worked on multiplying decimals or adding fractions before so this was one area where she needed help from one of her big sisters or a parent. We had to teach the skill and then she could practice it. While it meant the game took a tad bit longer, it was a great way to keep doing what she was having fun with for math and still get in the teaching of new skills and concepts.

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One of Miss J’s favorite parts was taking care of the characters after she had earned them. Each character continues to want care – cleaning, toys, and food. When you do this for the characters, more coins are earned which allows more clothing or accessories to be bought for the character. While this has nothing to do with math, it is something that Miss J enjoyed about the program. AND, she could replay the math games to earn more also. Miss J did this often as she wanted to earn more coins to buy the characters the things they wanted, like new handkerchiefs or hats or construction equipment.

 

There are reports that allow you to see where your student is excelling or struggling and the reports are simple to read and understand. There is the activity highlights report that tells you how much has been completed and the average of scores for overall categories.

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The Results by Topic report breaks the categories down by skill area and gives the percentage correct. It also gives a comparison of the average for all students using that level of Matific Galaxy.

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There is also a report that breaks the skills down further by the assignment within each episode. Screenshot 2019-06-24 at 10.12.42 AM

You can select to receive a weekly update via email to get reports how the student is progressing, if the weekly time goal was met, and other information.

If the student is struggling, you can access a few worksheets that correspond to some of the skills. They are not simple to get to for the homeschool teacher as they are found on the classroom part of the site but they can be sent via email one by one for the topics where more help is needed. I was looking at what was available for work with decimals and found this one that I had emailed to me. I can then print it out for Miss J when she is working on that skill.

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This has been a wonderful program to have come across. I imagine in just another week or two, Miss J will have completed all of the grade 5 skills. This is because she will spend, easily, 4 hours a week on the program as opposed to the suggested 45 minutes per week. That’s okay with me as she is really increasing her math knowledge at great speed.

I plan to have her go back over the skill areas where she didn’t have above 80% since this is where her greatest challenges are being shown. Most of these are where she had to be taught the skill to complete the game and so she struggled a bit. Not a problem! She can tackle them again in order to earn more for her characters. A Win-Win!

After she gets those averages up, I plan to move her on to the 6th grade skills. Why not? If she loves it and is learning, why hold her back? This program is a huge hit and I feel no hesitation in recommending it.

Blessings,
Lori, At Home.

Please visit the Homeschool Review Crew blog to read about the other families who have been using Matific Galaxy. Just click on the banner below.

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