Category Archives: TOS

Math Rider ~ a Crew review

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Blessings,
Lori, At Home.

Redwall Study Guide from Progeny Press ~ a Crew review

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The study guide closes with final project suggestions and ideas.

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

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

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

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

Blessings,
Lori, At Home.

Teach Sunday School Bible Breakdowns ~ a Crew review

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

Teach Sunday School is a company that creates printable Bible study materials, including this one – Bible Breakdowns. They have created a number of materials that we have used previously, including Books Of The Bible At-A-Glance and Easter Escape Room. I have found these materials to be neat, compact, and effective in sharing the information they are intended to. In choosing the Bible Breakdowns, I have not been disappointed, finding them useful for the purpose I had in mind when I saw them.

Bible Breakdowns has both an Old Testament pack and a New Testament pack. We were given both for the purpose of this review and both have come in handy. There is a single page for each of the books of the Bible, except for Matthew which is broken down into so many subdivisions that it includes 2 pages. Each book includes a heading that notes the name of the book, whether it is Old Testament or New Testament, and which book of the Bible it is. (Job for example has 18 and OT to designate the 18th book of the Bible found in the Old Testament.) It has a short written summary next. This is followed by how many chapters there are, the type of book it is, the date it was written (or approximate date), the period of time covered by the book, and the author. Then it is broken down by chapter and verse, with each break given a subject or theme. Job includes 7 sections. Finally there is a list of a few of the most popular verses from the book, including their ranking within the book and within the whole Bible.

These are very similar to the Bible-At-A-Glance pages yet they organize the information differently and highlight different parts. As you can see in the image below, much of the information is the same – book placement, author, date, etc. But the Bible-At-A-Glance page does not include the chapter and verse breakdown that is in this set. This set allows the user to have a checklist of what to read and a helpful subject or theme for what will be read. This can really assist in keeping one on track and moving forward. And some books are much easier to read when you know what the theme is of what is coming up. You can see this comparison below.

So, how do you use these? I am using them a couple of different ways.

First, our Bible bowl book this year is Joshua. So all three of the girls have a copy of Joshua to keep with their materials for that. When we really settle into the studying for that, I will be asking them to check it off as they daily read, as I expect them to get through Joshua 6-8 times during our study. Each time through I’ll ask them use a different color pen to mark the passages so they can see progress clearly.

Second, I have printed it all off on half-sized sheets and included them in the mini-3 ring binder that I have with the Bible-At-A-Glance pages, also from Teach Sunday School. This is a resource I keep on our bookshelves for use at any time. I have recently had my daughter who was working through Proverbs take a look at this resource. We have often picked it up to help us get an idea about a book of the Bible we are studying.

Third, our 5-8 grade students at Bible class (my youngest is in this group) are reading through the Bible chronologically. I’ll be sharing the pages for each of the books she reads as she goes through. She has already started both Genesis, Exodus, and Job.

These really have quite a wide variety of uses. If I were teaching the 2nd-4th grade class at church this quarter, I would carry this with me each time we started a new book, just to have another way to view the book we were starting. Overviews are such a great way to get a handle on the start of a new book each time.

There are many great ways to use this resource from Teach Sunday School. I highly recommend that you visit their website to order the download for the product or, if you are looking for more ideas on how you might use it, visit the Homeschool Review Crew to read about how other families have been using this Bible resource with their family.

Blessings,
Lori, At Home.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

getting help on the Periodic Table of Elements

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

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

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

Mastering Logic & Math Problem Solving

Pattern Explorer Beginning (Grades 3-4)

Something’s Fishy at Lake Iwannafisha

Editor In Chief Level 1

Surfing the Net: Science

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

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

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

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

Blessings,
Lori, At Home.

Math Essentials for middle school ~ a Crew review

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.

Be sure to visit the Homeschool Review Crew to read about other families’ experiences with Basic Math Skills Rescue Parts 1 and 2.

Blessings,
Lori, At Home.

The Fallacy Detective ~ a Crew review

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! 🙂

Blessings,
Lori, At Home.

Be sure to visit the Homeschool Review Crew to read about how other families have used The Fallacy Detective and Archer and Zowie, a sci-fi book about friendship.

Help Your Kids Learn & Love The Bible ~ a Crew book review

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

Danika Cooley has written some neat curriculum for Bible study that I have used in a few different ways and groups over the years. So, when her newest book, Help Your Kids Learn and Love the Bible, published by Bethany House Publishers, came up for review, I jumped at the chance to read it. I have found over the years that Mrs. Cooley presents no-nonsense ideas and straight-forward talk on the Bible amid creative ways to apply the content. I was not disappointed in her approach with this book.

Mrs. Cooley’s focus, in all of her writing, is about raising our families to know, understand, and live the word of God. She has put her knowledge of stumbling along this road with her own family down on paper so that you and I can benefit from her hard-won information. She shared, very plainly, her successes AND her failures so that, maybe, I won’t find the same pitfall. This book is easy to read and feels almost like having a cup of tea and talk with someone who cares about your family.

Help Your Kids Learn and Love the Bible is a softback book of about 5″ x 7″. It contains 198 pages divided up into three parts, plus an introduction and conclusion.

Part One: You’re The Leader

Okay – this one is an obvious one but we don’t always claim this role the way we should in Bible study. I really like the way Mrs. Cooley approaches some of the big excuses people use for not delving in deeply to the bible with their young children. Straight forward responses in a way that is relatable. Working right into the heart of the matter – priority – Mrs. Cooley gets your time schedule and your habits worked on right from the start. No excuses, time scheduled, ideas presented.

Part Two: Faithful Reading

The information in part two deals with topics such as where the Bible came from and how it came about, the message of the Bible, and what it does for us when we read it faithfully. Where the Bible came from does deal with some big words that our children need to know and understand. Mrs. Cooley does a great job of defining those and helping us define them for our children. The chapter titled Keeping the Message in View brings up large themes that are carried through the books to be on the lookout for and practical ideas for your kids to utilize to focus, such as cheat sheet cards with questions to think about. I also enjoyed the Profitable Discussion chapter because it is again, some very practical ways to begin discussions about what is read in the Bible. I do not agree with the catechism recommendation. God gave us His word to answer questions. Answers should be straight Bible verses if you are going to work on memorizing answers to questions, rather than what man has created as the answers to questions and filled with interpretation. Doctrine should be straight from the Bible.

Part Three: A Daily Walk

Once again, Mrs. Cooley delves boldly into keeping your daily habit of reading and studying the Bible as a family up front and center. This section really has some practical ideas of how to read, how to pray, memorizing, and keeping up the habit when life throws a few wrenches your way.

Overall, I did enjoy this book. I feel as though it is more of a practical read for those with younger children, though she does address how to do some of this with teens. We have 3 girls – 12, 15, 17 – that are all very active in many things outside of the home. The practicality of these ideas have been something that I would have loved and benefitted from 10 years ago but struggle with today. Between the girls activity and my husband’s non-standard work schedule, I have yet to be able to put into practice any of the ideas. I plan to reread some of the chapters and see if I can find a way to apply them to our family. I would love to do a family Bible study so I have to find a place for it, perhaps moving some other thing when we get off of the summer schedule. As Part One says – I’m the Leader. 🙂

Be certain to head over to the Homeschool Review Crew blog to read what other families have done with their schedules after reading Help Your Kids Learn and Love the Bible by Danika Cooley, published by Bethany House Publishers.

Blessings,
Lori, At Home.

Fermentools ~ a Crew review

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

Fermented foods is something I thought I would dive right into but have found myself languishing, even after having such a success with it the first time around last year. However, with a second chance at a review, I decided to try again and see if I could ferment a love for these healthy foods. Fermentools makes it so easy! With the starter kit, I picked it up again to see if I could love it.

The Fermentools system is easy peasy. It is almost foolproof, actually. The starter kit comes with everything you need to get started except for the jar. The components include:

  • 1 Stainless Steel Lid – stainless steel, corrosion resistant lid to last a lifetime
  • 1 Glass Fermentation Weight – Made to fit inside your standard widemouthed Mason jar, won’t react with your food
  • 1 Air Lock.
  • 1 Rubber Stopper
  • 1 Rubber Canning Gasket.
  • Himalayan Powdered Salt – Himalayan sea salt contains 80 trace minerals (healthy for you!), ground fine
  • Instruction booklet

With all this unpacked, I just needed to locate a wide-mouth glass jar. I grabbed the only wide-mouth we have, a quart, to get started. This time around, I attempted two different recipes. Both were easy enough to get going but I botched the first one.

I started with carrots, because we had quite a few in the fridge. I peeled and scrubbed and followed the directions but something must not have been quite clean. I got icky mold at the top of the jar and the carrots were slimy when I opened it after 4 days, which was the recommended time from the recipe on the Fermentools website.

I didn’t have others to try again, so I looked at what I had to work with. I had some bell peppers and onions so I decided to do a modified Israeli salad, which I have enjoyed making several times since I was introduced to it during the previous Fermentools review. I chopped my bell peppers and onions and put them in the brine and let it sit for a day and a half. It was perfect when I opened it. I ate some of it right away and put the rest in an air tight container in the refrigerator. I enjoyed the salad several times over the next few days.

Now, Fermentools may not be for everyone and I fall somewhere in between the love it and just not quite right for me. Part of that is my shopping habits. I am not a gardener so I don’t have a ton of extra produce sitting around. I have to plan ahead for a batch of anything fermented and I don’t do a great job of that. But I know some who do well at that and I know some who have tons of garden produce so that needs done up somehow and Fermentools is just right for that. In fact, while I was working on eating my yummy Israeli salad, my mom told me she had just started a big batch of sauerkraut using her Fermentools lids. She got a big set after my previous review and she has used them a good bit. Maybe I need to make some more sauerkraut. I enjoyed that.

Anyway, I recommend checking out Fermentools. They have high quality materials that make the fermenting process not so daunting and, dare I say it, even simple. Definitely worth a look.

And don’t forget to visit the Homeschool Review Crew blog to read about what fermented foods other Crew members worked on during this review. I know at least one family tried ginger ale so maybe I need to get that going today to have a surprise for the girls.

Blessings,
Lori, At Home.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Blessings,
Lori, At Home.

CTCMath is still our go-to ~ a Crew review

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Weekly email report sample.

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

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

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

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

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

Blessings,
Lori, At Home.

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