Our 50 States

background of United States map with title stating A Middle Schooler's Study of the 50 States. At Home: where life happens is in the bottom right corner

We are tackling the fifty states once more but in a different way. Miss J wants to find out some specific things about the states so we are being quite direct in this study. Since we have a done a couple of state studies in the past, she doesn’t want to focus on the same things.

So, learning goals specifically are:

  • all 50 state names (done)
  • all 50 state abbreviations (done)
  • locate all 50 states on a blank map (done)
  • state birds, flowers, trees (done)
  • state nicknames
  • state capitals
  • state landmarks
  • state flags
  • important historical locations
  • important people

We will be utilizing the following resources:

National Geographic’s Our Fifty States

The Glorious American Songbook compiled by Cooper Edens

From Sea To Shining Sea compiled by Amy L Cohn

National Geographic’s website on states https://kids.nationalgeographic.com/geography/states

a website focused on the states 50states.com

I created a page for each state that she will fill in that includes a spot for each of the learning objectives she is working on and put it in a paper folder with 3 prongs to keep everything together.

The plan is to work on one state each day and then have one day where she explores the states ont he websites. She is also playing on her Stack the States app daily for a few minutes. She does this outside of school times because she thinks it is such fun. (BTW – best free app ever! So glad we were able to get it when it was free several years ago but it would totally be worth the purchase.)

Lori, At Home.

January 2022 Books

open book outline with words My Reading Lately at the top; background is aqua at the top blending to offwhite at the bottom. Words At Home: where life happen in bottom right

I am going to try to be better about sharing what I have read or am reading each month. I finished 4 novels in January and have almost finished a biography. I also read several children’s books with Miss J for her school things and we have just finished her first of a series of four books for science.

My Books:

Surprised By Joy by C.S. Lewis – This is an autobiography. It is quite raw and is his recalling of his youth, which shaped so much of his life. Lewis was sent to several boarding schools during his youth, all of which shaped him. Lewis’ purpose in this autobiography is to show how he was turned to athiesm and then converted to Christianity. It is quite raw in some places so beware and preread before handing this to a student. You will want to know some of the hardships he endured to guide discussions about it. I am really enjoying it and have just a couple of chapters left.

Barefoot Dreams of Petra Luna by Alda P Dobbs – This is the story of a young girl during the revolution in Mexico and her journey to safety with her grandmother and younger siblings. She has to make many difficult choices and they are constantly on the run and in fear. It is a look at the sobering life many face during times of war around them. I enjoyed this one a lot.

Stolen Prince of Cloudburst by Jaclyn Moriarity – I thought this fantasy book about another world full of magic and magical creatures was fun. Finding your gift is really the theme of this one. It was after I read it and was putting it on my Goodreads list that I saw it was book number 3. It is such a well-written book that it stands alone well. Truly enjoyable.

Where The Desert Meets The Sea by Werner Sonne – This novel is about the land of Palestine at the end of WWII, when the fighting between the Jews looking for Zion and the Arabs wanting to keep the land they had and the British trying to be the mediators was heating up. It is a good historic look at the war between the Jews and Arabs in the Holy Land and the complications that the British occupation caused.The story talks about those who were fanatical about their beliefs as well as those who could see other sides of the issues and wanted everyone to get along. The hearts show through well and I did enjoy seeing how the sides clashed and got along in various ways and places. The characters were interesting and enjoyable to follow. There is a lot of violence, though not graphic, in the story, which is accurate for the setting. It does make it a harder book to read, though. It gave me additional information on the continued strife in that area of the world. A tough but interesting read.

The Flight Girls by Noelle Salazar – This story is about the difficulties female pilots faced during WWII. The focus on the experience of these particular ladies was interesting to me. The main lady was posted as a flight instructor in Hawaii and was in the air when the attack on Pearl Harbor happened. This changed the course of her profession and we follow her through those changes, hopes, and heartbreaks. Flying with the WASP program allowed her a lot of joy but also brought challenges she never thought possible. This is a story of struggling through the difficulty and continuing on when so many things get in the way but always finding hope and courage to take the next step.

Other Books Consulted and Used but not read cover to cover –

The Complete Book of Who’s Who In The Bible by Philip Comfor and Walter A. Elwell

The Complete Book of When and Where In The Bible and Throughout History by E. Michael and Sharon Rusten

I am certain there are others but these are the ones I wrote down. 🙂

With Miss J, we just completed The Math of a Milkshake which is the first of 4 books we are using for her chemistry/science this spring. She started it in November since she had completed the previous kitchen chemistry books I had scheduled out for her. She started Chemistry of Cola today.

We have read a couple of short children’s books to finish up Ancient Rome and begin the study of US states. She had requested this change since she wants to learn the capitals and nicknames for the US states. So, we have several books we will consult daily for that including National Geographic’s Our Fifty States, The Glorious American Songbook compiled by Cooper Edens, and From Sea To Shining Sea compiled by Amy L Cohn.

I think that is my main set of reading for January. We’ll see what February brings. I have an Elisabeth Elliot biography on my stack, as well as a book on mistakes in history. Should be exciting to read. What’s in your stack?

Lori, At Home.

Have Courage Today – guest post for Lads to Leaders entry

Do you have courage?

When you think of Joshua, what kind of person do you think he was? When you think of David, who do you think he was? What about Moses? Peter, Paul, John, or Jesus? What is one character trait that every one of these men had?

They all had courage. More specifically, they had courage because God was on their side.

David told Goliath to his face that he would triumph because David had God on his side. 

1 Samuel 17:45“Then David said to the Philistine, “You come to me with a sword, with a spear, and with a javelin. But I come to you in the name of the Lord of hosts, the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defied.” 

We have God on our side too. There’s a song I like to listen to by Matthew West. It’s called Not Today, and the first verse and chorus read like this:

Yesterday, you came knockin’ at my door

Sellin’ me lies like every other time before

Can’t believe I let you in

Fallin’ for your tricks again

Yesterday your grip had me paralyzed

One foot in the grave, winner of a losin’ fight

You called me by my shame

Now, I know that’s not my name

I listened to you yesterday

Now, I need you to hear me say

Not today

The father of lies will not have his way

Yesterday, guilt had me diggin’ my own grave

Sin had the final say

But not today (not today, no)

No, not today (not today, no)

The first verse jumps right in, talking about the way Satan likes to trick us. He likes to make us think his side is better. Sometimes he succeeds, when we give in to temptation, even if we know we are wrong. The lyrics say “yesterday” I was in the wrong, but “Now, I need you to hear me say, Not Today.”

In the chorus of the song the artist says yesterday he was living in sin, but today he will not let himself stay in that place of darkness. 

The second verse (followed by the chorus) says:

The question is not, “Will I ever get knocked down?”

But, “Am I gonna let your games keep me on the ground?”

If you think I’m gonna just give in

If you think I’m gonna let you win

Well, not today

The second verse, while it is shorter than the first verse, is just as important. It is a self-empowerment of sorts. The artist is using this line as a mantra to help himself resist Satan’s temptations. Although we sin, we have to repent, learn, and get back up again.

Finally, the bridge of the song goes like this:

I’ve been bought by a price

All my sins washed away

If you come at me again

You’ll hear my defender say

Not today

 What was the price? The price was when Jesus died on the cross for all of our sins.

That had to take courage. Jesus prayed in the Garden, asking God to find a different way to fulfill His plan. When nothing changed, Jesus willingly went to the cross and gave up his life for us.

The washing away of our sins comes when we are baptized in His name. Once we are baptized, God is truly on our side forever. Even when we sin, Satan cannot keep a hold on us, because we are in God’s family.

Here are a few more verses where these writers demonstrated their courage and faith in God.

Psalm 23:4“Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil; For You are with me.”

2 Timothy 1:7“For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.”

1 John 4:18“There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves torment. But he who fears has not been made perfect in love.”

Exodus 14:13“And Moses said to the people, “Do not be afraid. Stand still, and see the salvation of the Lord, which He will accomplish for you today.”

When God is with us, we can have courage, just like Joshua and Jesus did. Choose to have courage today.

Do you have courage?

photography credit: Elizabeth Hooten

5 Biographies That I Enjoyed

If you’ll remember, I posted a bit ago about the place that I think biography should have in education. You get a full-out experience when you read the words of someone who experienced the time or events included. It is not a simplified or watered-down version of what went on. Sometimes, biographies are hard to read. Other times, they are simply the most enjoyable thing I have experienced for a while. These biographies I am going to share with you include both the autobiography and biography, including one written by a compiler. Both have their place and both are interesting, challenging and expanding the reader’s understanding.

My Survival: A Girl On Schindler’s List by Rena Finder with Joshua Greene

This is the true story of Rena, a Jew during WWII. Her family was forced into a ghetto by the Nazi’s. She and her mother were sent as slave labor to a factory owned by Oskar Schindler. Schindler used his wealth and position to keep Jewish workers fed and safe and healthy. One day, despite his position, his workers were deported to Auschwitz. With great personal risk, Schindler managed to liberate his workers, including Rena, and bring them back. A story of hope amidst chaos and despair, this is a wonderful story for anyone to read. It is well-written and is accessible by about grades 4 and up. It would make a beautiful family read aloud.

Playing With The Enemy by Gary W. Moore

This is the biography of Gene Moore, the author’s father. Gene was a baseball prodigy who was a teenager at the beginning of WWII. He was the hero of all the people and towns around his small town in rural America. He was drafted by the Brooklyn Dodgers but WWII cut that short. In order to hopefully keep them safe, Major League Baseball set up games throughout the war theaters for the ball players to help lift the spirits of the soldiers. After a time, the baseball team was sent to act as guards for a top secret POW camp. They spent their time there making friends with the Germans, understanding that none of them really hated the other; they were all just doing their jobs. So they played baseball. The aftermath of all of this caused real pain but real healing. The unexpected of this story is what makes it such a joy to read. You will see WWII from a completely different perspective than ever before with this story of the belief and hope of human kindness.

White House Ladies: Fascinating Tales and Colorful Curiosities by Webb Garrison

This was a fun collection of short anecdotes on the First Ladies. Filled with stories of hospitality to daring, and fearlessness to sorrow, this was an interesting book to read as it brought to life some of the most important people in the history of the US. Most Presidents had a lady – a wife, daughter, or relative to act as hostess – beside them during their time at the helm of the US and these ladies dealt with a lot. These stories help us see their humanity. With the short anecdotes, it is a book that can be read in bits and spurts without missing any of the story or purpose.

Mao’s Last Dancer by Li Cunxin

Li Cunxin was growing up in extreme poverty in northeastern China during the reign of Mao. Madame Mao had decided to create an abundance of fine art in the dynasty and searched the land for those most fit to be trained. Li Cunxin was torn away from his family at the age of 11 as part of Madame Mao’s cultural program and sent to a ballet school. The mix of emotion with this was difficult – no longer was Cunxin starving but he was not able to see his family, either. Life at the Beijing school was difficult but Cunxin grew to become one of China’s most talented and known ballet dancers. In his position, he was able to first visit the United States in 1979. Two years later, he defected, the dramatic event making news around the world. This is the story of beauty and art coming from a life behind the Communist curtain. It is a look at what is behind that facade of government care that you won’t see from the news. It is something that everyone should see. Beauty rises from ashes sometimes and this is a beautiful example of that. (**A note that a movie was made from this book and at the time of this writing, it is available on Amazon Prime.)

Velvet Meets The Iron Curtain: The Autobiography of a Czech Dancer by Jiri Sebastian Voborsky
(This purchase link is through Ballet Magnificat! This is the dance company that Jiri has worked with for the majority of his time in America that uses dance to take the love and salvation of Jesus around the world. https://www.balletmagnificat.com/gift-shop/velvet-meets-the-iron-curtain )

This Autobiography of Jiri Voborsky is a stunning look at an athiestic culture and what can come from one who loves God so much that he quietly but firmly shares that love in the realm around. Jiri grew up in a family that believed that anyone who relied on faith, of any kind, was a sign of personal weakness. There was no need for God in their lives. Jiri was born under the realm of Communist Czechoslovakia in the early 1970s. He went to school and lived under this governmental iron fist. When he was entering high school, he wanted to study dance. He was able to pass the entrance exam for both the dance school he wanted to attend and the other high school he had to attend in order to be allowed to also study dance. He worked hard but had a mind of his own. He participated in the revolution that brought down the Iron Curtain in Czechoslovakia. He was able to graduate both high schools but in the process was introduced by one of his teachers to Jesus. This slowly but certainly changed the course of his life. The story of Jiri’s life shows how the one true God can orchestrate life to bless and allow the blessing of others in turn. Jiri was able to visit America, with many of place where God’s hand can be seen. He eventually settled here, working with Ballet Magnificat! taking the love of God around the world through the media of dance. It is a beautiful story.

These are just a few of the options out there for biographies to bring to life what someone’s world was like, what they encountered, and allow us to see the truth of what is beyond our own vision. If you have a favorite biography, please leave me a comment so I can add it to my reading list.

Lori, At Home.

Be Strong and Courageous: Letting Scripture Come Alive ~ a guest post for a Lads to Leaders entry

“Write what you feel.” We’ve all heard that before, right? I’ve found it to hold true in my own life, in this case as well. I’ll be honest – I had trouble writing this article at first. Our theme is “be strong and courageous,” from Joshua. It’s used several times throughout the book, with one party encouraging the other. “Be strong and courageous” is a very direct command. Unlike some other themes that have been used before, the lesson to take from it is crystal clear; easy to figure out. Joshua and the Israelites were able to be strong and courageous because they had God on their side. With God on our side, we too can be strong and courageous just like them. Case closed. What was there to write about?

Then came today. I had to go to the dentist today to get three fillings done. Now, this may not be a big deal for a pro, like my sister, but it was for me. It was my first time, and I was really scared, mostly for the shots they would have to give me. You see, I have a pretty good pain tolerance – except for in my mouth. There are a lot of nerves in there…although maybe not as many as there were bouncing around in my head. I was really nervous. I read some Scriptures on the way there, trying to find some comfort. I really liked reading Philippians 4:6-7, “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.”

Well…I wish I could say that I wasn’t anxious after that, but that’s not true. I tried to stay calm – it’s just a couple cavities, right? I knew that God would be with me, and that it was really no big deal, but when I sat down in the chair I heard Christian music playing, and shed a few tears. It all turned out alright, of course, but while I sat there, I thought about our theme for this year. It’s easy to talk about “be strong and courageous,” isn’t it? It has long been a favorite. It’s right in that safe spot we like so much – comfortable Scriptures, that make us feel happy and brave. It’s uplifting. It’s inspiring. It’s hopeful. It looks great on the cover of a bright Bible journal.

And…sometimes that’s where we leave it, right? On our Bible bag, or T-shirt, or sparkly phone case. Sometimes the actual reality of a verse can get lost in the shadow of its glamoration. I struggled with what to write about “be strong and courageous,” because it’s Christianity has been so commercialized. “We can be just like Joshua. We too can be strong and courageous when God is with us.” It almost seems…surface level. When you remove the commercialization of it, the calligraphy, and the sparkles, you don’t see it as the magical invincibility it’s marketed as. You’re left with just a verse. And then, as the Velveteen Rabbit, is when it becomes real. It becomes living, breathing Scripture.

I had a hard time writing about it, because I didn’t feel it. Words are powerful. But they are infinitely more so when you can feel them. These words, “be strong and courageous,” didn’t mean as much to me until I had to put them into practice. Put them into practice! Let the Scriptures be alive and active for you. Can you feel that peace from God in your life?  Not ‘can you quote Psalm 23’? Not ‘do you have a tote bag with Joshua 1:9 on it in swirly letters?’ Use the words of God to help you “be strong and courageous.” It doesn’t have to be only for the biggest, toughest challenges you face. If you’re afraid of it, God wants to hear about it.

“Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.” -Philippians 4:6-7

So instead of leaving the Scriptures in the Bible, carry them with you, and let them carry you through all life’s challenges, small or bigger, so that you can “be strong and courageous,” more than just on paper.

Linger – 2022

Word of the Year is such a fadish thing that I kind of wonder about participating. But this word has been sitting in my head for a while now and it was just reinforced yet again.


What does it mean to linger? According to the Google search definition, it means “stay in a place longer than necessary because of a reluctance to leave.”

Looking it up in the Webster’s 1828 dictionary you get :

1. To delay; to loiter; to remain or wait long; to be slow.

2. To hesitate; to be slow in deciding; to be in suspense.

3. To remain long in any state.

Isn’t that a beautiful idea – to stay in something for a long time that is interesting, unique, beneficial, etc?

I am determining that I need to linger more this year. I need to linger in God’s word. I need to linger in relationships. I need to linger in learning. I need to linger in peace and patience. I need to just slow down and experience, to hesitate, to stay and observe.

This is somewhat along the lines of intentionality but speaks more to the actual moment of being involved. Being intentional is a bit more about planning and thinking ahead. Lingering is about being present in the actual moment and taking the time to really be a part of it all.

In the scripture writing group I am involved with, a member recently posted about an interview she did with a brain expert. This expert noted that there is about a 20 second lag between your eyes seeing and your brain processing it or taking “significant notice” of it. That means, if I take time to linger over the message from God that I am writing down, my brain will notice more of it. I can see the same of any experience. Slow down and linger in the moment. Let your brain catch up. Find that joy that you might have otherwise blown past.


Blessings in 2022,
Lori, At Home.

The Manger Mission ~ a nativity book and activity set review

Disclosure: Many thanks to The Manger Mission for providing this product/product information for review. Opinions are 100% my own and NOT influenced by monetary compensation. I did receive the product in exchange for this review and post.

Nativity sets are such a common and joyful part of the Christmas tradition for us. We enjoy having a number of these out each Christmas season and having a variety of styles. One thing we noticed when our girls were young is that playing with the nativity set is something they did almost daily and really enjoyed. We kept a kid-friendly nativity set where they could reach it and play whenever they wanted. The Manger Mission: A Family Christmas Tradition written by Kristin Vazquez and illustrated by Hannah Santi is just such an activity set with a hardback storybook to go with it.

The Storybook – The Manger Mission

This is a lovely little storybook about about 6″x6″. This hardback book is a fairly muted color scheme of teal, gold, grays, and white. It matches they activity set beautifully. The story introduces the three wise men, modeled on the story from the Bible found in Luke that tells of an unknown number of men, also unnamed, who traveled to Judea to find the king that was foretold in prophecy from the Old Testament. (This Bible account is noted at the end of the story.)

The story is of the three wise men recounting their journey to see the newborn Christ while they are being moved daily by the children of the home for their yearly reenactment of that journey with a nativity set.

The illustrations, of course, are modeled on the activity set. In the story, the three wise men figures are taken out of the box and are excited to start their yearly reenactment to get to the manger where Jesus lay. They talk about the different places the children place them, each day a little bit closer to the destination of Jesus’ manger. It is a sweet little story.

The Activity Set

The activity set contains 12 pieces. Each piece is comfortable suited for a child’s hand and is a piece of shaped wood. They wood is painted and the covered with a protective coating. They are coordinated with the storybook. The pieces include:

  • Shelter/Cover/Barn
  • Joseph and Mary
  • Jesus
  • 3 wise men
  • 3 animals
  • a shepherd (mine had 2 but the purchase site shows 1)
  • an angel


This is a fictionalized story that is based on the Bible, though it does incorporate a lot of the tradition of man. This includes giving names to the wise men, likely based in a denominational tradition, and noted a specific number of wise men, again based solely on tradition and not the Bible account. That does not men this is not an incredible activity set that can bring a lot of meaning to your family. This daily motion of the wise men can start at any time during the holiday season if you would like to use it that way. It could also be just a beautiful, fun activity set for the children to have fun with.

The story is fine but I did not find it super engaging. If my children were still in the age range for this, we would read the story at the beginning and then just have the activity set for the girls to play with whenever they wanted. Whatever works for you family would be just right.

This is a beautiful, engaging activity set that can add a lovely tradition to your holiday season or a play time for your children or grandchildren. It is definitely worth investment. Do remember that they are painted wood, though, so a teething child or one who likes to chew on things could damage the pieces.

This is a recommend from me. My girls are even excited to have this new nativity set to add to our collection this year and they are 17, 15, and 12. 🙂 Visit https://www.themangermission.com/ to purchase your own set or one for a gift and start a new tradition.

Lori, At Home.

The Importance of Biography and Memoir in Education

The beginning of November brings, in a normal year, the local library booksale. Our family looks forward to this and the girls save money to purchase interesting books and support the library. This year, I picked up only biographies or memoirs. How did that happen? I don’t know. I didn’t even pick them all up in the biography section. But it got me to thinking about how important this genre is in education and how neglected it seems to be.

History is important. I think we can all agree on that. But with the teaching of history come the need to narrow the events to those deemed most important by whoever is creating the study/text/unit/etc. By necessity, history as a discipline picks and chooses what to look at because you can’t cover it all. This also means that, intentional or not, a bias influences what is included or not. Try as you might, no one can cover everything with no bias involved.

For this reason, there needs to be more. And that more comes in the form of biography and memoir. These two types of writing allow us to see into the lives of real people experiencing real events in real time. Yes, you will still encounter a bias but it is the bias of the person who witnessed and was hurt/helped/affected by the events in the story. It is the story of that person and those around. It is personal and important. And what you will find, when you dive into the genres of biography and memoirs is that you will get more information than you will ever find in any kind of textbook.

Memoirs, in particular, are fascinating to me. They are rich with detail and information about the events of history but they tend to show us a whole lot more about how those events affected people. When you view the events of WWII through the eyes of a child who was rounded up and sent to a concentration camp, you feel and understand a whole lot more about it. When you read about WWII through the story of a Major League baseball player whose life was deeply altered by the events of his life there, you have a deeper and richer understanding of it all. Reading about life behind the Iron Curtain, the propaganda of Communism, and how difficult and frightening it was growing up there, you see the world around you quite differently.

I did not grow up reading biographies. In fact, I don’t really know if any at all were included in my education growing up. I probably did but I don’t remember them. What I do know, is that now they draw me in and I find myself with a deeper, richer, more sympathetic view of history and the events of history. We can never see the events as clearly as the people who lived through them did. But, by choosing to include biography and memoir in your studies, you will enrich your life and the lives of your students, making them more aware of the world around them.

I do plan to write some posts about the books I picked up at the booksale because they are fascinating. I got them just a couple of weeks ago and I have read them all. I encourage you to read more of these genres and enrich your historical understanding.

Lori, At Home.

The Beautiful Garden of Prayer ~ hymn

I wanted to share with you this lovely hymn. It has been running through my head quite a lot this week. I find it interesting when I know a hymn that my husband doesn’t or vice versa. This is one I grew up with. At least, I think I did since I can remember it from way back when. Prayer has been something I have been engaged in a lot lately. I always pray but I have been spending more time in the garden of prayer recently. This past week in particular there has been a good bit on my mind so I am spending time sharing it with God, who already knows what I am coming to Him with. As this hymn says, there is a light of His presence when you are with Him in prayer. He has hope and peace to give when you are praying. His blessings abound and He is able to sharing them with His children in the beautiful garden of prayer. Don’t neglect it. He’s waiting.

The Beautiful Garden of Prayer

words: Eleanor Allen Schroll
music: James H Fillmore
copyright 1920

1 There’s a garden where Jesus is waiting,
There’s a place that is wondrously fair,
For it glows with the light of His presence
’Tis that beautiful garden of prayer.

O the beautiful garden, the garden of prayer,
O the beautiful garden of prayer!
There my Savior awaits, and He opens the gates
To the beautiful garden of prayer.

2 There’s a garden where Jesus is waiting,
And I go, with my burden and care,
Just to learn from His lips words of comfort
In the beautiful garden of prayer. [Refrain]

3 There’s a garden where Jesus is waiting,
And He bids you to come meet Him there,
Just to bow and receive a new blessing
In the beautiful garden of prayer. [Refrain]

Lori, At Home.

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.

Lori, At Home.

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