Tag Archives: Elementary

Pattern Explorer Beginning from The Critical Thinking Co. ~ a Crew review

Pattern Explorer review

Miss J is interested in numbers and seems to find patterns intriguing. She also enjoys logic puzzles. We like to encourage that as much as we can. So, when Pattern Explorer Beginning (Grades 3-4) popped up in the possible reviews,  we knew it would be a good challenge and engage her interests. (I like it when I am not wrong.) This book from The Critical Thinking Co. has been a fun item to add to our weekly work.

For this review, we received a digital copy of the ebook. This is a download that is password protected and can be saved to your computer. You can then print as many copies as you might need. This is par for the course with The Critical Thinking Co. and one of the many reasons I really like them.

The-Critical-Thinking-Company-logo

I printed out all of the worksheet pages for Miss J and put them in a folder. Having used several other products from this company, we have found this is the best way to go about it for her. She has all of the pages to work on as needed and she doesn’t need to access the computer any more to do her work.

The solutions are still on the computer so if we can’t figure something out, computer access will be needed again. So far so good, though. The book also has some hints for when the solution is not yet desired but a slight push would be helpful. This will be a great help if we get stuck along the way. These hints are on completely different pages than the solutions so there is no chance of accidentally seeing the answers.

Miss J is completing two to three of these exercises a week. This is quite a good brain challenge, actually. The pacing is left up to the teacher to determine, as students tend to be ready for abstract thinking at different times. These patterns are intended to help students move from concrete to abstract thinking.

The book consists of 84 pages, the last one of which is a sample of another book. There are 40 exercises that work through five pattern themes, so there are 8 of each type in rotation.

pattern explorer number ninja

This is an example of one of the Number Ninja pages. I had her mark the operation needed to solve each problem.

  1. Pattern Predictor – Finding the patterns and determining what is coming up in the pattern
  2. Equality Explorer – Decoding equations to find the value of different symbols
  3. Sequence Sleuth – Determining what comes next in the sequence, whether numbers or symbols
  4. Number Ninja – Solving puzzles to find hidden numbers or functions
  5. Function Finder – Discovering the hidden connection between numbers in patterns

The pages rotate through these five types of puzzles. Miss J has completed two of each type so far. Pattern Predictor has seemed to be her favorite. It is recommended that the student work through these in order since the difficulty level does grow slightly with each new appearance of the rotation.

pattern explorer pattern predictor

Watching her work through each of the types, I see her really struggling with some of the puzzles. The reason? Her multiplication and division skills are still not super strong. So it is a challenge. These pages are definitely helping strengthen the skills, though. Even in the few weeks we have been using Pattern Explorer, her ability has grown.

Does she love it? Not particularly but her pride in having figured things out is apparent. And she is excited when she completes a page. She doesn’t ask for it like she does the Mind Benders books we have used from The Critical Thinking Co. but she doesn’t fight about pulling the pages out. And to me, that is a win.

20190408_111657

Would I recommend this series of Pattern Explorer books? Yes. Without a doubt. Getting in math thinking and reasoning skills in ways that are not the same old problem/solution, equation/solution is a great thing. And these definitely fit the bill.

If it sounds interesting, The Critical Thinking Co. is offering readers a 15% discount AND free shipping when you use the coupon code: TOSCREW19. It expires 12/31/2019.

And if you want to read about other products we have used, you can check these out:

  • Something’s Fishy At Lake Iwannafisha – an extended project working on forensic sciences (review)
  • Editor In Chief – learning to find and fix errors in passages (review)
  • Mind Benders – a series of puzzles in logical thinking to solve (something we picked up locally)
  • Math Analogies – a series of analogies to work through; not something we reviewed though you can read reviews of it from the year we reviewed Editor In Chief

Blessings,
Lori, At Home.

Other Homeschool Review Crew members have been using other products from The Critical Thinking Co. They are:

Pattern Explorer Beginning (Grades 3-4)
Elementary Math Games (Grades 3-5)
Critical Thinking Detective – Vocabulary Book 2 (Grades 5-12+)
Dare to Compare: Math Level 2 (Grades 6-7)
Middle School Math Games (Grades 6-8)
Building Writing Skills – Essential Tips & Techniques (Grades 6-12+)
Vocabulary Virtuoso PSAT-SAT Book 1 (Grades 8-12+)
Vocabulary Virtuoso PSAT-SAT Book 2 (Grades 8-12+)

Click on the image below to head over to the Crew blog and read about other families’ experiences with these products.

Critical-Thinking-Math-Vocabulary-Writing-Skills-The-Critical-Thinking-Co.-Reviews

3-Crew-Disclaimer-2016

Pathway to Liberty ~ a Crew review

Pathway To Liberty Review

History can be such an interesting study when approached with enthusiasm but by the same token can be a boring subject when approached from a flat, disinterested viewpoint. Pathway to Liberty Homeschool Curriculum takes more of the first approach and we are enjoying it more each week. We received levels 2, 3, and 4 of Pathway to Liberty’s World History from Pathway to Liberty’s History Curriculum. I asked for this level as it moved us forward in our study of history; we had been recently talking about the American Civil War.

Pathway to Liberty was founded by homeschool mom Jayme MacCullough. She found, while teaching her own students, that the curriculum choices she had did not meet her personal standards and desires. These included biases and what she described as incomplete or revised histories. To combat this, she began studying the principles on which America was founded and true liberty. Out of this study came this curriculum.

 

Pathway to Liberty consists of four years, which cover from creation through the 21st century. The four years, in order, are:

Year 1 – Pathway to Liberty’s Universal History,
Year 2 – Pathway to Liberty’s The Middle Ages,
Year 3 – Pathway to Liberty’s US History,
Year 4 – Pathway to Liberty’s World History

Pathway to Liberty

There are four levels for each of these years. These grade levels are approximate. My 9th grader used level 4 and we found it be not any more difficult than the level 3 materials, though it did use different source materials. The recommended grades per level are:

Level 1 – Kindergarten through 3rd grade
Level 2 – 4th grade through 6th grade
Level 3 – 7th grade through 9th grade
Level 4 – 10th grade through 12th grade

We received World History. This has been an overall good study so far and we are looking forward to continuing with it. I expected a more world-wide centered view from the curriculum. It is very US centered, though it does look around the world some in light of the fact that there are so many wars to cover. We have covered WWI pretty well at this point, and while we did talk about some of the causes of the war and the parties involved in it, the level 2 and 3 books really focused on the US presidents during that time rather than a wider world-view of the war. This is not bad, in any way, just not quite what I was expecting.

Pathway level 2 and 3

We have enjoyed reading the source materials for Pathway to Liberty. For levels 2 and 3, we are using books from the Joy Hakim’s series A History of US. Level 4 is using The Century by Peter Jennings and Todd Brewster. These are well-written materials that are age appropriate, though I wouldn’t mind seeing the level 3 source a bit more challenging as much of the level 2 and level 3 materials are exactly the same.

Pathway level 4

Pathway to Liberty book and video

There are also plenty of videos to watch that come from various sources on YouTube. There is a Pathway to Liberty channel on YouTube that has most of the videos linked there in a playlist. We did have to do searches for several videos and at least one would no longer play from the playlist but it was easy to find what we needed.

pathway-weekly-plans.jpg

Each week, the teacher guide and the student workbooks have the weekly overview plan. The material is exactly the same in both places, and in the student workbooks.  It gives the scripture for the week, the principle, and the leading idea. There are four lessons of materials for the week and each level has its own column showing what they are to do for each lesson. There are also some additional assignments for writing, expanded history reading, and vocabulary. We utilized the vocabulary but have not yet assigned additional readings or writings.

Pathway to Liberty workbook being used

Each day’s lesson consisted of two or three activities. Most days included a reading and completing some pages in the student workbook. Many days included a video also. Lesson 2 added the word study for levels 2, 3, and 4 each week, though we are skipping it for level 2. My girls added their vocabulary words, either doing a couple of them a day or choosing to do them all in a single day.

Each student workbook had a daily banner that stated which lesson it was, the topic and which level and week. Then it gave the instructions for that day, followed by the questions to answer. The teacher’s guide includes all four levels and the suggested answers for the student workbooks.

The time the daily materials took varied greatly. Some days it was just 30 minutes or so. Others, the videos were an hour or more long by themselves. When you added in the rest, the student could easily spend two hours on just history. This wasn’t a problem as the girls seemed to really be enjoying the study and we had some fabulous discussion. It just isn’t a clear cut amount of time to be spent and day to day can vary greatly.

Pathway girls working

I am now going to let the girls say a little (Or a lot!) about their thoughts on the program. Note please: some of the issues they mention were bothersome early on but we figured out how to work around them. Specifically, the issues that could have been caught by a different editor, we fixed by just handing the girls a highlighter and telling them to highlight any time they found something. This added in a language arts element to our history study! 🙂 I will come back at the end and add a couple more thoughts of my own.

Julia, age 10, using level 2 – 

I liked the reading on the Wright brothers but I did not like the other ones as much. I learned a little in each reading that I didn’t know before. The videos were interesting but many of them were long. Overall, I didn’t like it too much. Spelling mistakes, scriptures marked wrong, and things like the lesson headings being in the wrong place made it hard to tell where the next lesson was or when one ended or what I was supposed to be doing.

Louisa, age 12/almost 13, using level 3 –

I felt like this was a good curriculum, even though I have a balanced opinion on it. There were several inconsistencies within the lesson plans – what they would state in the weekly plan would be different from what was on the day’s work. There were several grammar mistakes and noticeable typographical errors. These were a source of annoyance for me but could potentially cause confusion.

I don’t think anyone in our family found the first required book (Chain of Liberty) helpful or beneficial to the learning. The way the questions were worded made it hard to tell what they were asking for. Many times what they were asking for turned out to be a word-for-word repetition of several sentences or more, which my sister and I found hard to replicate. I feel like this book was not beneficial and could easily have been removed from the curriculum and the curriculum would not have suffered.

I really enjoy the in-depth word studies that are done every week.  Each week we are made to create a paper on a specific word that is relevant or helpful to the lesson or principle we learn about that week. I find these to be helpful and enjoyable at the same time and would not complain if a second word study was added to the curriculum each week. One step in the process of the word study is to record scriptures that are relevant to the word. One thing that makes the word study slightly tricky is when the word you are studying is not included in a Bible’s concordance, but with a little bit of creativity and the use of a synonym, the scriptures are attainable.

Pathway level 3 vocabularyThere is a list of vocabulary word which each study is asked to copy out, define, and review each week. Each week the words are different and the number differs from level to level. Even though the study asks us to do this, there is no designated space for this. Since the rest of the curriculum is clear for this sort of thing, I was disappointed to see that there was not a specific space in which we were supposed to complete this step, and I was confused as to when to do it and where to document them. I enjoyed coming up with definitions for these words.

A bunch of the curriculum had online videos to go along with it. When I watched the videos, they were of a lower quality than I expected (Me being a spoiled 21st century kid!). There were a large quantity of videos, many of them almost an hour long. It was also a bit hard to navigate the website (YouTube) to figure out which videos I was supposed to be watching, since all the levels had videos in the same place. Sometimes it was unclear in the curriculum which video I was supposed to be watching.

I enjoyed the different elements that this curriculum brought to studying history. It had me writing things, which had me working on penmanship. It has a strong Biblical aspect to it. It encourages study of the scriptures. It has online resources and videos, as well as books with quality source material. Overall, I think this is a good curriculum which I enjoyed. I am confident that others would, too.

Elizabeth, age 15, using level 4 –

It was a fantastic program. The videos were interesting and the book “The Century” was interesting. I have learned a lot. I didn’t know much about WWI until I started watching the videos and reading the book. Now I know a whole lot more. I love the word studies. They are fun and I think they are very useful.

I personally did not see a reason to have the week’s scripture, principle, and leading idea. There wasn’t a connection for me to the lessons.

I did not like how the first three videos I had to watch were cut because they were cut in the middle of a word most of the time. There were several spelling mistakes in the workbook, including Corrie Ten Boom’s name. There were also a number of punctuation mistakes. These mistakes bother me, especially when they are on things like Bible verses or important people’s names.

Pathway level 4 written assignment

When I have to write something, there are large spaces between the lines. This makes it hard to write and takes up so much space that there are often not enough lines for the assignment. 

I also did not like the first book that we were assigned to read. It (Chain of Liberty) was biased and opinionated. I personally don’t agree with probably half of the book. I didn’t understand some of what was in there. Both of my younger sisters had to read the book, also.

While I think the word studies are a fantastic thing to do, it didn’t feel like the word studies were well thought out. I have done five of them. Three of these five were not in the Bible and yet I had to find verses for those words. I ended up having to work with synonyms for these words and still I only came up with one verse for one of the words.

Overall, this is a really good program. If you start after the first book that we had to read and edit the workbooks, this would be outstanding. I would enjoy continuing on with this program. The history that I was working on before was really fun but I think this is teaching me a whole lot more. I wasn’t getting very in depth before and now I am learning even little details that I probably would not have learned with the other program I was doing. I think other high schoolers would enjoy the program, as well.

Back to me, now. We have really begun enjoying this curriculum. It took a few weeks to catch our stride with it but have come to like it quite a bit. Is it perfect? No but nothing is. I would highly recommend starting in week 3 and just skipping the first recommended book (Chain of Liberty) and the “links” discussions. We found it to be a highly biased book and we had to have some pretty in-depth, serious discussions with the girls about the reality of the world we live in and the government that is over us.

 

While Pathway to Liberty is intended to make it possible for a family to all study history together, we did not find it to work that way. Students are reading different source materials and watching different videos. They have different vocabulary words and work at different speeds. They are, however, all working on the same ideas and so when one girl asks a question, all of them can pay attention and learn something and contribute to the discussion themselves. For some families, this may work beautifully as a family study.

Overall, I really like this curriculum. The history is solid and uses solid source materials. It has also opened up some fabulous discussions for our family. We definitely can recommend this one.

Blessings,
Lori, At Home.

Be sure to click on the banner below to read what other families thought about Pathway to Liberty and how the curriculum worked for them.

Pathway-to-Liberty-History-Curriculum-Reviews-201093-Crew-Disclaimer-2016

Riding the Wave of Unexpected Interest

Riding the Wave

Tonight we had a large wave of unexpected interest. (pun intended for those of you who know that we have experienced 48 hours of nonstop rain at this point and it is forecast for the next 7 days at least; also in light of the question we investigated)

In what, you ask? Well, floods. Flash floods in particular.

A friend on social media sent a message to ask if we are okay since there is some serious flooding to our southwest. We are fine but it brought up a discussion with Miss J about flash flooding. At Home Dad and I had very different immediate definitions of flash flooding. I grew up in the mountains and deserts where flash flooding came from rains up in the mountains and swept down through dry arroyos. He grew up in central Texas where the flash flooding he was familiar with had to do with debris jambs on rivers.

Question after question came and was answered as best we could. But it is hard to understand the dangers and damage of flash flooding when you have not seen them. So, At Home Dad went to YouTube. The search brought up some really interesting videos. And we watched. There was some excellent explanations on some of the videos, as well.

(Well – I was going to direct you to some of the videos we watched but it seems YouTube is acting up and won’t show me any videos right now. Maybe later?)

In the course of watching these, there were some videos that brought up sink holes. Of course, we had to go view those and see what sink holes were. Those videos were also interesting, though not grabbing for Miss J.

But guess what?

Yep. Another idea related surfaced that we watched – mega monster waves. Those really big things that I have been blessed to never see except on video. So, we watched several of those.

All in all, it was about an hour spent talking about waves and the power of water and how dangerous it can be. Video can explain when words just won’t do sometimes. It shows power and might and danger from a safe place. Lots of learning happens like this. Ride that wave. Engage in the conversation. Seek out those moments. They occur all the time but we don’t always intentionally deal with them.

In the process of trying engage these kinds of questions and interests, we will be making peanut butter and honey bread soon. You read that right – the question was asked after lunch today if you could make a peanut butter and honey flavored loaf of bread for sandwiches. So, we’ll try that out soon. Miss J had some really good ideas about how to approach it.

Blessings,
At Home.

Want to find more ways to support riding waves of interest? Join SchoolhouseTeachers.com. They have over 400 courses that can help you feed the interest of your students. (This is an affiliate link. If you click through and purchase, our family will receive a small commission.)

Stretching the Mind

Stretching the Mind

When we were prepping for the school year, we visited a local education supply store. We were looking specifically for some history materials but were enjoying the browsing process. You know – looking at the different curriculum and options and enjoying the “shiny” of it all.

Miss J saw the cover of a book and pulled it out. She sat right down with it and started reading and solving problems. She did not want to put it down. She asked us very nicely if we would buy her the book so she could work all of the puzzles in the book. So we did. (Bonus: it was on sale! So we bought the one for the next level, too.)

The book she wanted: Mind Benders Level 3 from The Critical Thinking Co.

She has consistently worked through the book at two to four puzzles a day. She would spend her complete day on them if I would let her! We have, however, found that more than three or so and they get harder to solve. Not because the puzzles are that much harder but because her brain has been stretched about all it can take for the day. So, we do try to limit her to two.

Each puzzle has a series of boxes to mark up to help you eliminate possibilities and mark the right answer when you find it. The puzzles each have about three or four clues but they aren’t the straight-forward kind. You really have to think about the words used and the hints hidden in them. Then you have to interpret that into the grid you are filling out.

The puzzles vary in topic from grades to professions to positions on sports teams to sibling relationships. They are fun and really encourage brain stretching and growth. What started out as a splurge to encourage her with something she found interesting looking has turned into something much larger and very helpful. I have seen her reasoning skills grow and her ability to think things through grow, as well.

Now if I could find something for impulse training. 🙂

On to level 4 of the series . . .

Blessings,
At Home.

ARTistic Pursuits: Art for Children, Building a Visual Vocabulary ~ a Crew review

K-3 art book cover

Creating is always a welcome activity and when I heard about the new video lessons from ARTistic Pursuits Inc. for their K-3 level books, I was very intrigued. The series is ARTistic Pursuits Art Instruction Books with DVD and Blu-Ray; we received Volume 1 of the series – Art for Children, Building a Visual Vocabulary. When all of the books are released, there will be a total of eight (8) books.

instructional discs for K-3 art

Art for Children works with the student to teach them variety of words related to art creation. The book is a hardback book that is printed in full color. There are 18 lessons total. Six (6) of the lessons are video only lessons and 12 of them are text only lessons. The book comes with two discs for the video lessons – one is a DVD only disc and one is a Blu-ray. Both discs contain the exact same information and the video quality is the same.

Through the book, students will explore several different areas of art and discover how artists see the world. They will experience composition, imagination, oberservation,  and communication. They will work with shape, form, and texture while studying landscapes, still life, animals, and portraits.

The book begins with a page letting you know what materials you will need for all of the projects. There is also a short explanation of the teaching philosophy for ARTistic Pursuits.

video and book

Each of the video lessons have a single page in the book so that you know where they belong. There is materials information and a couple of steps to follow but there is no instruction written for these lessons. I think this is a shortcoming of this book. You must watch the video in order to complete the video lessons so if you don’t have access to a video player or your disc gets broken, you no longer can complete this lesson.

The video starts with an introduction by hostess Ariel Holcomb. The introduction is followed by instruction and examples by art teacher Brenda Ellis. All you see of the instruction is a video of the artist’s hands with a voice over for the instruction. It is very good instruction on how to use the materials for the lesson and the steps to follow for the project in the lesson. It is concluded with a review of the information and steps to take. Then you are to go create the project on your own. This is where having written instructions would be really helpful. For the paper folding lesson, I had to stand there with the remote control in my hand, pausing every few seconds after each instruction on how to fold the animal’s head. It worked but it was not simple.

working on a special day painting

The text lessons are fantastic. Each text lesson includes an introduction to the idea covered and is then followed by a reproduction of a work of art by a master. For example, in the texture lesson the work is The Sunflower 1906-07 by Klimt. This master work is studied and some questions are asked to help the student really focus on the art. Then the student’s project is set out for them to complete with images to help guide the student.

Each text lesson includes some preparation notes for the teacher/parent. The materials tend to be found in the midst of the lesson, rather than clearly at the front, but they are there.

Each lesson, whether video or text, can be done in about 30 minutes, depending on how much effort the student desires to put into the project creation. The lessons are designed to do approximately one lesson per week. We were able to make it through most of this book, as it was a joy to do more than one lesson a week. We often did one lesson a day and I had to stop her to get other work done.

Miss J just finished up her 3rd grade year; she is 9 years old. I chose this book for her in order to get the instructional videos of the use of materials. It was good to have some instruction on how to use the specific materials. Sometimes Miss J felt they were fine and other times she felt as though she were too old for the instruction.

 

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

We have used ARTistic Pursuits Inc. in the past and I like the instruction that is included. I like the fact that master works are included and that students have freedom in how they apply the concept to their own work. This is not a program where they study line and then everyone draws the same thing. They might study line but then the student is encouraged to find a new place where they see the ideas of line used and create their art from that new thing. This is great for solidifying the concepts for the students.

working on her artwork

Final Thoughts:

Overall, I have mixed feelings about this ARTistic Pursuits Inc. program. I like the format but it could use some tweaking. I don’t know that I would purchase the program because to get the entire series would take a commitment, though I am interested in the idea behind the focus on culture in the other volumes of the series.

Blessings,
At Home.

Read more about ARTistic Pursuits and their K-3 art program by clicking the banner below. Other families used volumes 2-4.

ARTistic-Pursuits-Art-for-Children-Homeschool-Reviews3-Crew-Disclaimer-2016

Home School Navigator ~ a Crew review

HomeSchoolNavigatorfinal-3-3

Home School Navigator is a company who has created a full curriculum for elementary language arts for the home educator. Home School Navigator Reading and Language Arts Curriculum encompasses reading, writing, grammar, poetry, and more. At the more advanced levels, there are also interactive notebooks. 

Interactive Notebook Hugo Cabret

I had two students that used this program – Miss J (3rd/rising 4th) and Miss L (6th/rising 7th). Let’s take a look at Miss L’s use first.

Miss L used this program mainly for the interactive notebooks. There were a couple of titles on the Level Indigo novel list that are on our long-term reading list for Miss L so we decided this would be a great way to tackle a couple of them. We knew that the daily language arts and grammar work would be below her ability level so while I did have her take a look at the word study for Level Indigo, we chose not to use the rest of the materials.

The idea of a word study is something I really like. Taking a word down to its main parts and figuring out how that is used across various words is a great way to increase vocabulary and strengthen word usage. In general, across several levels, I felt this was just too simple. We did two weeks worth of the word study in Level Indigo before I decided that it just was not advanced enough for Miss L. We also worked through the first two weeks worth of work, but in the end, I did feel she already knew enough of the information that it did not make sense for her to continue using the entire curriculum.

Level Indigo

She did tackle the interactive notebook for the novel Holes. The interactive notebook is simply a lapbook. It is something that is built into Homeschool Navigator subscriptions or you can purchase them individually. Once you have access to the file, you simply print out the PDF. Each page tells the student which chapter(s) of the story to read to answer the questions for the notebook. Then the student can cut that out, glue it into the notebook, and write their answer. We chose to cut them out and stick them onto blank pieces of paper and staple together for a single novel interactive notebook, rather than putting them into a composition notebook or spiral to put several together.

Interactive Notebook Holes

Miss J used the whole program. I thought she would use the Green Level but found it was too simple. So we decided that she fit better at the Blue Level. The daily lessons took anywhere from 30 minute to an hour and half, depending on how long the videos she was supposed to watch took. The follow screen shot is for month 1, week 2, day 1. (Yep – that is how the lessons are set up and to me, that is cumbersome.)

Screenshot 2018-05-23 at 10.38.01 AM

You click on Read Aloud and it drops down to show you what the activity for that day for that part of the program is. This is how you access each part of the program. If there is a video to go along with it, there is either a YouTube link (for the books being read aloud) or the video is embedded, as you can see below.

Screenshot 2018-05-23 at 10.39.44 AM

Each needed worksheet is also linked right there in the program, where you would need it. This is really quite helpful. If you know you are going to use the whole program and will need all of the worksheets and activities, there is also a way to print off all of the work for the entire month at once. That is a great time saving feature if you are using the whole program.

read aloud video

Miss J used the complete weekly lessons for two weeks. At that point, we decided to pick the parts that fit her best, as much of this curriculum was still too simple for her and she needs more hands on activity, rather than worksheet activity. We tended to not use the videos, choosing instead to teach the concept myself. We also did not use a lot of the worksheets, choosing to focus on the idea and talking about the idea.

Level Green

The writing portion sometimes relates to the idea that is being studied and sometimes is a prompt for the student to follow. The computer skills practice is almost always up to the parent to decide how they are going to practice. It does not include a program but rather says “Practice computer skills.” for the daily assignment. We used an email program for this as the girls love to email their family and penpals. Also, the parent will need to assist the child for independent reading, though there is some guidance at the beginning of the program on how to choose a “just right” book.

 

This is a great curriculum for –

Homeschool-Navigation-Product-ImageIf you are looking for a complete language arts program, this is it! This truly has everything you need with very little parent preparation needed. Your student will cover read alouds, study characters and part of the story, poetry, writing, reading, typing, character traits, and other skills. It is all neatly packaged on a single website with links to the materials needed. There is a printable teacher guide to help you know day to day what is needed and it can be printed out or you can access it online as a PDF. There are scope and sequence materials available to help you plan out your year, or at least know what all has been covered. The website will track what your student has completed and you can upload materials they have finished to compile a portfolio. (I used the check off to show completed but did not upload to the portfolio, so I cannot comment on that feature.)

This program begins around late PK/early kindergarten skills and goes through approximately fifth grade skills. The interactive notebooks can go much higher depending on how your student reads and comprehends.

interactive notebook Hugo

For us –

We will not continue using the program. I was disappointed in the novel notebooks, as they did not challenge the girls, though they did cover some things that most lapbooks don’t seem to cover for novels (for example, Holes had her compute how much dirt had to be removed for each hole to be the right size).

Language arts is a difficult area for us to find a single program that fits. With girls that read and comprehend fairly complex ideas, this just wasn’t a solid fit for us. The material needed to be more of a challenge for Miss J, even after we pulled some worksheets from Level Indigo to try her on.

The computer interface was not intuitive for me and took a lot of work to access. The girls could not access it themselves, which made the program less appealing. We also had some issues with sound, though I understand they are fixing this issue as quickly as they can by re-recording the videos that have issues.

online language arts

Overall –

Take a look at Home School Navigator. They have a really good concept and the workings of it are smoothing out daily as they correct some of the interface issues. The material they include is really good if it is a fit for your child. There is a sample lesson for each of the color levels on the site to help you find the right fit for your family. The ladies who created this really want children to succeed and will work with you to find the right fit for your family.

Blessings,
At Home.

Other families from the Homeschool Review Crew have been using this and have shared reviews over the various levels they have used. I highly suggest reading more reviews as I know this program has been a great fit for many of the families. Just click the banner below.

Home-School-Navigator-Homeschool-Reviews-13-Crew-Disclaimer-2016

Exploring Creation with Human Anatomy and Physiology ~ a Crew review

We have been using Exploring Creation with Human Anatomy and Physiology
in the past month or so. This is another very good science program from Apologia and we are pleased to review it.

Written by Jeannie K. Fulbright and Brooke Ryan, M.D., this program is a great and easy program to use. I was impressed that Mrs. Fulbright ensured that her information was accurate by having a co-author that was an M.D.

Apologia-Anatomy-Family

We received:

  • Exploring Creation with Human Anatomy and Physiology Text
  • Exploring Creation with Human Anatomy and Physiology Junior Notebooking Journal
  • Exploring Creation with Human Anatomy and Physiology Notebooking Journal
  • Exploring Creation with Human Anatomy and Physiology MP3 Audio CD

reading text

Let’s start with the text. Exploring Creation with Human Anatomy and Physiology Text is a hardback text. It is full color textbook and is not too heavy. The pages are sturdy without being too stiff to easily turn. The print is of a good size and is easily read by these “old eyes” of mine. The text is written to the student so it is not difficult for an elementary aged student to understand. It is intended for the student to be reading the text, allowing them to more engaged.

The text is broken up periodically by some blue lettering that is a time for the student to review what was just covered. Whether it be a narration assignment or a written one, it is intended that the student take just a few short minutes to help cement the information better in their understanding. This allows the student to improve their ability to clearly and effectively learn to communicate their learning.

skeletal system activity

Throughout the chapter, you will also come across Try This! These are hands-on activities that go with the reading just finished and allow for the student to participate in the scientific method. For example, when we had read about the purpose of bones, there was a Try This! activity that had the student make a clay figure and try to stand it up. edible cellsThen they added toothpicks in place of some of the bones and tried to stand it up again. This time, with “bones” in place, the figure stood. What a great visual and hands-on activity that shows exactly how bones and the skeletal system benefit the body. The number of activities vary in each chapter and the types of materials needed will vary as well. Some only need things from around the house (such as a tape measure for comparing arm span to height) and others will need quite a few things that you might not have sitting around (such as lemon jello and lots of different candies to make an edible cell). These hands-on activities are what take this program from another good text to one that is over-the-top fantastic.

Each chapter closes with a What Do You Remember? section of questions. These are questions designed to jog the student’s memory and help them recall information. There are answers to these in the back of the book. There is a reminder of the notebooking activities to go along with the chapter or suggestions of some to do if you prefer to make your own notebook. There is also a Personal Person Project. This project is pretty cool. It has the student make their own person shape and overlays to show each of the systems that are studied in the text. The Notebooking Journal has the pieces for this project with the plastic overlays printed in color to glue down on top of the person’s shape. We decided we wanted to be able to see single systems and also to overlay several at once so Miss J created a little pocket on the page next to the person and will leave her different systems pieces there.  

The Exploring Creation with Human Anatomy and Physiology MP3 Audio CD that is available has been very interesting. It is read by the author so it has purpose and inflection and understanding that a “hired” reader just would not accomplish. Mrs. Fulbright’s voice is calm and pleasant. It is a pleasure to listen to her. This audio book includes the entire text of the course. The CD is best used with the student listening while viewing the text and following along. Mrs. Fulbright explains this early on the CD. It is helpful for most students who are using the audio to also have the visual to reinforce what is being talked about. Also, there are times when Mrs. Fulbright refers to diagrams and images in the text. If the student does not have those to view, the understanding will be hampered.

image of controller for audio book

image of control for CD on the computer

The audio CD would be of great benefit to a student that struggles with reading and comprehension, especially of scientific texts with so many new words and pronunciations. This would be of benefit to a student who is an auditory learner, as well. I can also see this being useful to a visual learner because the student is following along while someone else is reading. Thus, they are getting the visual while not having to struggle with pronunciations. We have had audio books for texts before and they were dry and boring. This is nothing like that. If you have a struggling reader, this might be just the thing.

Note that this is an MP3CD, not a regular CD. It must be played in an MP3CD-compatible CD player or on a computer.

We received two notebooking journals to go along with the study

Generally speaking, the regular journal has more writing than the junior one does and the lines are printed differently. For the junior notebooking journal, there is generally the three-line formation for the student to write on. Not always but for a number of the activities. The junior notebook also has coloring pages for each chapter while the regular notebook does not. Both journals are spiral bound and designed to complement but not replace the text; you must have the text but the journals will provide additional practice with the information.

Each chapter in the text has a corresponding section in the notebooking journals. The beginning of the chapter section in the journals is generally fairly open for the student to write about what was learned or better understood in that chapter. This space also includes boxes for the student to illustrate things of interest or worth remembering. Following this, there are different activities. There are scripture copywork passages that enhance the chapter and each one is generally in both print and cursive so that you can choose which style is best for your learner. The copywork is longer in the regular notebooking journal than it is in the junior notebooking journal. There are sometimes fill in the blanks or perhaps a crossword puzzle. There are matching activities and vocabulary work. There are also miniature books that are pulled out from the back of the notebooking journal, completed, and then placed with the chapter. You will also find project pages, more to explore suggestions, and field trip sheets. There are a lot of different ways to track and reinforce the learning.

working in junior notebooking journal

Each of the notebooking journals have a lot of activities for each chapter. It is definitely a place where you can complete them all but it may not be best for you to do so. I have one daughter who does everything in the regular notebooking journal. My youngest daughter is working in the junior notebooking journal and she does not do everything. It really depends on your student and how they learn.

The front of the notebooking journals is where you will find a suggested schedule for the anatomy and physiology program. Their suggested pace is two lessons per week. At this rate and following their schedule of activities, it will take 28 weeks to complete the program. Each lesson takes approximately 4 days/2 weeks to cover. It is restated here that you do not need to feel compelled to complete every activity. Pick and choose those best suited to your learners.

We have found that the junior notebooking journal actually has more learning for the anatomy and physiology course. If I were going to be purchasing this for my middle school student and my elementary student, I would purchase them both the junior notebooking. Below you can see a comparison of the same “pages” of learning in the two journals.

notebooking journals comparison

We used this two different ways. My 9 year old used it approximately 4 days per week, because we found early on that two days a week was taking too long for my daughter’s attention span. We did every single one of the Try It! activities, mostly as we came to them. Sometimes they had to wait for a different day or until the end of the reading. We read the text together and she did the blue review sections out loud. After doing our planned reading for the day, she would open up her junior notebooking journal and complete her activities in it. We prefer to do a little bit every day so this worked well for us and allowed us some flexibility in our plans. We broke up the schedule that was printed in the notebooking journals into two each and it has worked well. It provides a good bit of reading and activity, without overwhelming, and takes between 30 minutes and an hour. If it weren’t broken up, I think that 1 -2 hours of science work would be too much for my 9 year old.

mummification of apple slices

My 11 year old has been using it, also, though with the regular notebooking journal. She knows that she has to do everything on the week by the end of the week and is a very independent learner. She has generally done her reading all at once and then done the activities and the notebooking journal over the next 3 days. It has worked well for her since she prefers to get up and get her work done early on in the day. If your child is self-directed and an independent learner, this format works well.

We have enjoyed every Apologia review we have been blessed to participate in and we tend to fully complete them. If you would like to read about other product from Apologia that we have used, please visit the following posts –

Exploring Creation with Astronomy
Field Trip Journal
Writers In Residence
Ultimate Homeschool Planner
iWitness books
Flourish
What On Earth Can I Do?

Blessings,
At Home.

Please check out additional reviews and how other families used this program by clicking on the Homeschool Review Crew banner below.

2-Click-Here-to-Read-More-Reviews-2016Facebook:  www.facebook.com/apologiaworld    Tag:   @apologiaworld

Twitter:  www.twitter.com/apologiaworld      Tag:   @apologiaworld

Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/apologia/            Tag:   @apologia

Instagram:  www.instagram.com/apologiaworld            Tag:   @apologiaworld

Google+:  https://plus.google.com/105053356034237782125

YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/user/apologiaworld

3-Crew-Disclaimer-2016 

%d bloggers like this: