Category Archives: TOS

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. πŸ™‚

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.

Project Passport: Ancient Rome ~ a Crew review

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

Hands-on history is a fabulous way to help students get involved in and bring to life the stories of the past. History is nothing more than a story and how we tell it will make or break a student’s enjoyment of it. Home School in the Woods has created a number of hands-on history programs to help bring to life these stories that our students need to know. We have been blessed over the years of being on the Homeschool Review Crew to get to use a number of these programs and this year, we have been able to use another of the Project Passport World History Studies (Grades 3-8) with Miss J, who just finished up her 6th grade year. Project Passport: Ancient Rome is just one of five different Project Passport programs that bring the ancient world to life for students.

Project Passport: Ancient Rome is available as a digital download, making it immediately (or almost) available upon purchase. I got my download link and was able to download and save it to the hard drive of the desktop computer with no problems. I then unzipped the file (and renamed it so I could find it again!) and opened up by clicking on the start icon. This opened the program up in a browser window and I was able to easily navigate the program from there. The first time you do this, it will feel a bit overwhelming because there is a lot of wonderful information there. Just start at the top and work your way down through the files and read as you go; things will make sense.

Note: You will need to download on a computer that can open applications. It does not work easily on a Chromebook or a tablet in my experiences. I have gotten my Chromebook to work but it takes a lot of effort and it helps to already know how to access it the easier way.

So, what are you going to find in Project Passport: Ancient Rome? Everything Roman. Seriously! Not just history about people and places and battles and rulers. You’ll also learn about architecture, food, clothing, legends, social systems, law, philosophy, money, the arts, religion, transportation, and more. Using minibooks and other hands-on paper projects, writing, audio, hands-on creative art projects, and reading, the student will learn about all aspects of ancient Roman life. There is something for every learning style and the ability to tailor which projects to use and which to skip to keep the study fresh and inviting.

We started with the set-up. I printed off the binder cover and Miss J colored it and put it in her binder. We keep a 3 ring binder for these studies because there is a lot of information to print off for each lesson, called a stop. The information to be read gets each stop going and we keep those as a sort of textbook. We keep the papers in the binder by stop and put page protectors in to keep the minibooks together. Also, creating a binder allows for some printing to be done in batches ahead of time, instead of needing to print each stop when it is time to start working on it.

Stop 1 was getting everything going and getting familiar with the set-up of the program. If you are familiar with Project Passport, this step is a bit easier. We print off the Guide Book Text and the Travel Itinerary for each stop and put them in the binder. After that, we printed off the Snapshot Moments timeline and assembled it. We got the map of early Italy printed and assembled, adding to it the required elements. We made the Romulus and Remus minibook and read it.

Stop 2 kept it moving as far as history went as we dove into the early kings. We printed off the needed documents and projects. We added to the timeline but skipped the newspaper. We assembled the Seven Kings of Rome booklet, reading and following the recommended suggestions for completion of it.

Stop 3 through Stop 25 are all followed this same way. We pick the items of interest and help and choose those we want to skip. Sometimes I have let the girls choose, sometimes I choose. Regardless, there is so much packed into each stop that learning happens at breakneck speed, it seems.

One of the final items in this study is a game to print and assemble. In the past, Miss E (now 17) was the student using these and she did not love games. However, Miss J (age 12) is the student studying ancient Rome and she loves games. Did I mention that Miss J loves games? We will definitely be creating the game this time around. It is titled “All Roads Lead to Rome.” She will love it!

One of our favorite parts of these Project Passport studies has been the audio tours. These are short audios to listen to that cover a particular topic. In ancient Rome, the audios are labels “Legends,” “Africanus,” “Rubicon,” “The Forum,” “A Day at the Races,” “Actium,” “Pompeii,” and “An Ecclesia.” These are really interesting sounding and I can’t wait to get to them with Miss J.

The other favorite part of the Project Passport studies is actually a part that you can purchase separately as a whole or by part – the timeline. Miss J has adored time lines and we have used several of the timelines from Home School In The Woods as supplements to or the main part of our history curriculum with her. The individual sets of the timelines are:

Individual Timeline Set (Grades K-12)

When we used the timeline as our main curriculum, I would spend some time searching out short videos (1-3 minutes) for each figure we were going to put on the timeline. After finding the piece for the timeline and sticking it in place (we just used a piece of tape), we would watch the video I found and talk about how it related to other pieces we had already placed on the timeline or what would be coming up soon on the timeline. It was a fun way to do our history for the year and it engaged Miss J quite deeply.

Home School in the Woods has so much to offer for history. Hands-on history will always be a more engaging way to learn than just reading from a typical textbook. So, add in some hands-on history, even if you are using a textbook. The combination will be a winning on, bringing new interest and excitement to learning what has impacted our lives, even today.

The Homeschool Review Crew has been utilizing the Individual Timeline Set (Grades K-12), the Project Passport World History Studies (Grades 3-8), the Time Travelers U.S. History Studies (Grades 3- 8 ), Maps Combo-Pak (US & World Maps), Lap-Pak: Wonders of the World, Activity-Pak: The Old Testament, and Activity-Pak: The New Testament. Hop over to the Review Crew’s blog post about Home School In The Woods to read the reviews from different families about how they utilized these hands-on studies in their homeschools.

Blessings,
Lori, At Home.

Please visit our other blog posts about HSITW products.

Timeline Collection

U.S. Elections Lap-Pak

Project Passport: Ancient Greece,

Project Passport: Ancient Egypt,

Project Passport: the Middle Ages,

Time Travelers: US History Studies – The Industrial Revolution Through The Great Depression

 Γ La Carte Erie Canal,

 Γ La Carte WWII timeline,

 Γ La Carte quilling,

Lap-Pak: The Wonders of the World, and

Make-A-State.

Wise Up: Wisdom In Proverbs ~ a Crew review

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

I had been looking for a Bible study to do with my middle schooler daughter. We went through a Hebrews study last year and she enjoyed it a lot. So, when Wise Up from Positive Action Bible Curriculum came up for review, I took a really good look at it. It is a study of the wisdom found in the book of Proverbs in the Bible and is recommended for middle school and up. Themes run the gamut of wisdom, from home life and honoring parents to freedoms, responsibility, and attitudes. It covers submission and obedience, learning and serving God’s will, and what is truly success.

Wise Up: Wisdom In Proverbs came as a set with a student manual and a teacher manual. It includes 35 lessons (enough material for a school year) and sample schedules for 3, 4, or 5 day a week studies. The student manual is a softback book and the teacher manual is a large 3 ring binder.

The student manual is intended to be used by a single student and is a consumable resource. You will need one for each student involved in the study. Each lesson has its own set of pages in the student manual with questions of all levels for the student to answer. There are suggested days for assigning the student work in the sample schedules but the student can complete the student manual at whatever point in the lesson the teacher determines it is best suited.

The teacher manual contains information on the purpose of the study, as well as scripted lessons, target truths for each lesson, strategies for teaching, notes to help, and testing materials. There is also a page for logging the suggested memory work. This is a large, heavy 3 ring binder with almost 400 pages in it. I found myself taking the pages out that I needed for the current lesson so I didn’t have to move the binder around too much.

The teacher manual has a lot of information for the teacher to read through before beginning the study. I found it a bit overwhelming and it took me a couple of weeks to figure out how I wanted to approach this study with my middle school student. The answer key in the teacher manual is helpful but it also caused me a good bit of confusion. The answers are designed to work with all translations, which means it doesn’t really work with any translation well. Several of the suggested answers didn’t make sense with the NIV1985 translation that we were using. Even pulling up side by side translations online was unhelpful.

Inside the teacher guide showing the strategies and some of the teaching materials.
Inside the teacher guide showing answer keys for the exercise, corresponding to the student guide.

So, what did we do with this study? We used it, and will use it this fall, completely different than the suggestions in the teachers manual. As set up, it was too slow and shallow of a study for my daughter. Instead, we are focusing on a single lesson in a single day. We are not doing the memorization recommendations and we are working through the student manual together in discussion. (See the previous paragraph for information on the translation, which is why we are doing it together in discussion.)

We used the Bible app on the Kindle a couple of times in trying to match some of the answers to a version of the Bible.

We really enjoy studying the book of Proverbs and talking about the wisdom to be found there. We snuggle up together on the couch or side-by-side at the table with the Bible, the student book, and the teacher pages for the lesson. I paraphrase the scripted teacher lesson (so that it makes sense for my daughter) and we talk about it and the target truths for the lesson. Then we open up the student manual and tackle what is there. I found it common to skip some of the questions each lesson as it was often repetitive.

I believe that this is a program best suited to a full classroom situation, rather than a homeschool. It doesn’t flow well for a single student and the scripting/strategies/testing from the teacher manual seem burdensome for a single student. There is a lot of review time built into each lesson, especially in the 5 day week schedule. This type of review and pacing is necessary when you have a large number of students but with just one student, I have seldom found it was needed.

I can see a lot of benefit in this study and we will continue using it with the modifications we have made. If you are looking for a program that is all laid out for you, that includes written work and testing, and you would like something spread out over a few days or a week, this is for you. It is written for just that.

Please visit the Homeschool Review Crew to read additional reviews on curriculum from Positive Action Bible Curriculum. Other families were using either Wise Up or 5th Grade – Possessing the Land.

Blessings,
Lori, At Home.

Baggin’ The Dragon Online Math Supplement ~ a Crew review

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Why this might not be for you –

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

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

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

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

Blessings,
Lori, At Home.

Pursued To Eternity book ~ a Crew review

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

Stories can often convey ideas and influence thoughts that we as people struggle to articulate. Pursued to Eternity shows us just that. This is a fictionalized story, though it is so well written that it can pull you in and make you want to research more about the people in the story. This short story is an easy read and is within reading ability for most middle school students and up.

John Riley is the author of Pursued to Eternity. He wrote this story to mix the truth of salvation and apologetics (defending the truth of the Bible) with fictional story lines that intersect. The story is written with the purpose of defending the Bible and bringing truth to those who doubt the Bible. The idea of evolution is addressed in the story, as is the idea of an old earth. One of the main characters is an athiest but God is pursing him, thus the title of the book.

The story line spans several locations and several centuries, bringing the old to the new through geology and archaeology. But first, there is an introduction that addresses ideas of time, pursuit, eternity, and history. Bible references are throughout but are particularly common in this introductory section.

Connor Bridges and Alan Bridges were brothers. The book starts with a retrospective from Connor Bridges. He begins by telling us who his brother was and that he died a few month prior. And Connor is rejoicing because Alan turned from athiesm to Christ right before his death. And then Connor tells us the story.

It begins centuries ago with the story of a dinosaur hunt. We follow the hunt to see that the wounded creature took a man to his death with it. Next we are in Egypt about 1000 years later. We follow the story of Egyptians who sympathized with the Hebrew slaves and helped them secretly. The man and his family have to quickly leave the city when it is suspected that they had been found out as helping the Hebrews with food, medicine, and money. After they leave, though, God does something even more amazing – the ten plagues are upon the Egyptians. The daughter of the family that has escaped to the desert is keeping a record of all this in her diary which she hides in a clay pot in the sand before the family is discovered and punished with death for treason.

Jumping forward in time to 2020, we find the Bridges family going through their lives with the two brothers at odds over beliefs. There is a great discussion included of Conner talking to Alan about why he believes the Bible and science are on his side. After this discussion, Alan announces he is leaving for a new job in Kenya. The family is concerned.

Conner’s life continues on as he goes about teaching biology. His students are smart, interested, and questioning. They ask him tough questions that the school boards has forbidden him to respond to with anything other than the teaching of evolution. Outside of school, he met his students one day and he encouraged them to pursue their questions and told them he would help guide them but all work must be their own. The students start a website of questions that the science curriculum doesn’t answer for them. They research it. They want to know.

Well, because Conner is connected to the students, he ends up facing termination from his position for it. Despite so many in the community supporting him and his students, he loses his job. But all is not bad – he is able to join Alan in Kenya. And wait until you read about what they find!

This all adds together to create a compelling story that is easy to read but has a lot of depth to the Biblical truths it teaches. The Biblical references are clearly noted so that the reader can double check them for truth and it makes for a strong apologetics storyline.

I found that by the end of the story that the characters felt very real and I wanted to go searching to find out more about the “finds” in the story. Of course, it is fiction so the characters weren’t real, nor were the archaeological finds. This is well written and can provide a good foundation with simple reading for someone struggling with the teaching of evolution, big bang theories, and athiesm. Will it be the only thing needed? No. You have to be involved with the new students learning about God but this is a good little book that can head them in the right way through a fictional story that has a lot of Bible truth in it.

If you would like to know more, you can visit the website for Pursued to Eternity.

You can also visit the Homeschool Review Crew to read about what other families thought of this short novel with a fictional setting and apologetics storyline. I encourage you to do so.

Blessings,
Lori, At Home.

Fun Writing with Creative Word Studio ~ a Crew review

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

Writing – it can either bring excitement or dread, depending on experience and enjoyment. Dread used to be where Miss J lived on this one. She wanted to write but she didn’t enjoy the processes that we had been working through. We have tried several programs but this one just may stick longer than a semester. Creative Word Studio is just that – a way to deal with words creatively. Their creative writing program is simple yet productive and Miss J has been enjoying using Sparkling Bits of Writing Book 1.

Sparkling Bits of Writing Book 1 is aimed towards 5th and 6th graders. Sparkling Bits of Writing Book 2 is aimed at 7th and 8th graders. Miss J just completed 6th grade and, even if she won’t admit it, has been really enjoying Sparkling Bits of Writing Book 1. It is the first thing she chooses to do every day in her school work AND I don’t have to tell her to start her school. Now part of that is likely maturity but I attribute a good deal of it to the fact that she has found something she looks forward to doing.

Creative Word Studio is a family business. Andrew and Jennifer Yoder founded the company to develop a creative writing curriculum that they saw a significant need for. With an education background, there is a fresh approach to the writing processes found with the company. You can also find tips and ideas for all sorts of writing on their blog, such as this post about poetry.

Sparkling Bits of Writing Book 1 is the book that Miss J has been using (and secretly enjoying – just catching that smile she tries to hide when we talk about this is tons of fun for me). The consumable book is softback with laminated paper covers and a spiral binding. Each student needs their own book. The Introduction is written directly to the student and then there is a page of instructions, which are really just a heads-up for what the lessons will look like. The book contains 75 lessons. At about 2 lessons per week, this could take you through an entire school year. We have actually been doing one lesson a day, so four lessons per week. I told you she liked it! πŸ™‚

So, what types of writing will the student do? It generally follows this order of lessons: free writing, mini writing lesson, reading response, mini writing lesson, mini writing lesson. Free writing is just that – writing freely for a period of time about whatever comes to mind. The reading responses are to excerpts from literature such as The Secret Garden, The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, Man-Eaters Don’t Knock, or poetry such as “Snow” by Lucy A Martin. The mini writing lessons may have them working on wording, paragraphs, onomatopoeia, or using a thesaurus. Lots of variety!

The lessons are unique and different. Many people would likely call them prompts but the format is different and instructive instead of completely open ended, as most prompts are. For example, one of the lessons is about writing a conversation. But it has to be a conversation between 2 inanimate objects. There is an example conversation written by a student and then some ideas of the objects that students might want to choose from. They can always choose their own but this way, they won’t get stuck on what to choose.

Another example was the question “What matters to you?” As with all assignments, there was a student sample to get an idea of the assignment. The student was given the instruction of selecting a shady circle of lawn and taking at least 5 minutes to think before starting to write. Well, it was rainy that day so Miss J chose a comfy place to sit and write. She then wrote about what she felt mattered most to her.

Each assignment page has the lesson number and type. There is a place for the student’s name and the date. The assignment and sample writing are given. This is followed by the page being lined. The back of every page is also lined so there is plenty of space for the student to write.

I love that Jennifer Yoder acknowledges for the students that sometimes you get stuck in your writing and that is okay. In the instructions, she actually tells them that if they get stuck to just keep writing “what shall I write next, what shall I write next . . . ” That is such a practical and helpful suggestions because all too often we tell the kids they can come up with something and maybe, just maybe, they truly can’t at the moment. This gives them permission to struggle a bit but to not quit. And honestly, it is what I do sometimes, so it really resonated with me.

Another bit of Sparkling Bits of Writing Book 1 that I like is the freedom to not finish out to perfection a piece of writing. As a writer, you don’t always love everything you write. Finishing a piece you don’t like is hard. Not every piece in this book is suggested as a “Gold Piece.” A Gold Piece is one that is suggested for editing, revising, and rewriting a final draft for grading. Even this is something that can be modified. But, again, I like the freedom of noting that just completing the first write is sometimes enough. The rubric for grading a Gold Piece is inside the back cover of the spiral.

I found this to be a fresh and unique feeling approach to creative writing. It is appealing to my reluctant writer. And I have already seen growth and change with this. Please visit the Homeschool Review Crew to read the reviews from other families who have been using Sparkling Bits of Writing Book 1 and Sparkling Bits of Writing Book 2 from Creative Word Studio.

Blessings,
Lori, At Home.

Cross Seven Music Memory Tool ~ a Crew review

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

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

The Homeschool Musical Memory Tool includes the following subjects:

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

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

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

cycle year 3 subject videos

cycle year 3 weekly videos

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

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

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

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

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

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

Blessings,
Lori, At Home.

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