Tag Archives: Elementary

Math Success (CTCMath) ~ a Crew review

Math Success with CTCMath

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

CTC-Math

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

question bank wizard

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

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

Blessings,
Lori, At Home.

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

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Matific Galaxy (math practice) ~ a Crew review

Matific Galaxy review

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

 

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Blessings,
Lori, At Home.

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

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Hands-on Science with Supercharged Science ~ a Crew review

Supercharged Science

If your students are anything like my girls, science that can be either really exciting or teeth-pulling stressful. We have been having some really excellent science days lately with Supercharged Science. The online science curriculum we have been working with has options for K-12 (and beyond). I am so glad we are going to have access to the  e-Science Homeschool Science Curriculum for a good bit longer because we are having some good fun with it. Oh, and learning science, too!

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Aurora Lipper is the founder and educator for the online classes. With the tremendous science background Mrs. Lipper has, your students get to say that they are taking science from a rocket scientist. And they are! Mrs. Lipper knows her materials very well and does a great job presenting them in a way that keeps the student’s attention while filling their heads with the knowledge they need for the topic.

The online science space for Supercharged Science can be navigated by grade level or by topic. You can choose either one and you can easily jump back and forth between the two navigation options. You have a single login for your family and so from there, they each will go to where their current work is located.

If you are navigating by grade level, you will see an image for each grade level, K-8. High school level material is found in the topics. Under each grade level is the list of the concepts taught in that level. Some of the concepts are found in multiple levels as the material increases in depth and some of the hands-on activities/experiments are repeated in different levels since the material is appropriate in multiple places. The placement of materials is based upon Mrs. Lipper’s experience as an educator and the national science standards.

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If you are navigating by topic, you click that at the top of the screen and it will take you to a list of all possible topics. There are total of 26 units. If you are new to science, or formal science, there is an overview of science and an introduction to the scientific method. There is also a unit on science fair projects, one on math activities, and one on teaching resources. Add in all the units on electricity, chemistry, physics, and other expected science topics and that’s a ton of materials!

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The units, whether accessed by level or topic, contain basically the same materials:

  • written introduction
  • video introduction
  • shopping list for hands-on activities/experiments
  • reading downloads
  • experiments with a video for each one
  • downloadable student worksheet and exercises for each experiment (often one for younger students and one for older students)
  • exercises for each part of the unit to check understanding

reading and exercises

How We Have Been Using Supercharged Science

When we received access to the program, I logged in and became familiar with how to navigate the program. (We reviewed this program previously and the navigation is the same at this point. However, see my note at the end of the review on the soon-to-be-released new site with better navigation.)

Screenshot 2019-05-27 at 5.52.42 PMThen Miss J and I sat down together and I let her just explore the options. We looked at grade level and then at topics. I let her watch some of the videos and look at the possible experiments. After looking at the grade five level, she decided that she wanted to do some things with gravity and magnetism. So, she started working on Unit 1: Mechanics through the topics menu. I bookmarked the main page of this for her, with her name next to Supercharged Science, so that she could easily find where she was.

Miss L sat down on her own and explored the options. She chose to work with Unit 10: Electricity. She really wants to tackle Unit 14: Electronics but realized that it would be good to have the background of electricity first. So, she has been working through that unit first. She also has the unit bookmarked with her name on it so that she doesn’t have to click through many pages to get to where she is in the unit. We have updated the pages a couple of times as she works through the unit so there is less clicking needed. (It looks like the number of clicks that will be needed is going to be a bit less on the new site.)

Miss E has been watching the videos on the high school level Unit 15: Chemistry 2. She did a chemistry class this year and so seeing some of that chemistry put into use has been a great extension of her course. She watches probably two experiments per day. Since this is “bonus” work for the chemistry class she took, she is not doing the worksheets.

Mechanics: 

This unit covers force, gravity and friction. There are 9 experiments to go with force. There are two teleclasses and three experiments to go with gravity. There are seven experiements to go with friction. We work on science 4 days per week and we generally do one video and experiment per day. We are in the friction section now and it has been a blast getting here.

Miss J enjoys hands-on and so this is obviously just right for her. She likes to see things done for her (the video to go along with each experiment is perfect for this) and then she likes to do them. She has found most of the experiments are able to be replicated, though not as easily as the video makes them look. (But isn’t that a great lesson – try, try again?)

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Some of her favorite lessons have been the barrel roof, the paper airplanes, and the simple hovercraft. She has also done several experiments with balls (dropping them, throwing them, comparing them).

 

While those demonstrated concepts well, the real fun comes when you make something. We made a simple compass, made a paper clip fly, and registered the minute movements of the earth’s electromagnetic field with a machine we made.

 

She even used static electricity to move objects.

Each of these lessons varies widely in the amount of time required. If you are viewing a teleclass, the video can be close to 50 minutes. If you are doing a simple experiment, like the one we did about force using a rope, it can be just a couple of minutes for the video and five more for the experiment. Some days, you can easily get in more than one experiment and that is why the shopping list is great. You can use it to gather all the materials you need for the unit before even starting the unit. That saves time in the long run because no one likes to spend time gathering materials for the experiment when the student is ready RIGHT NOW for the experiment.

Electricity:

Miss L has been able to do most of this unit on her own, though some of the experiments she has skipped because I couldn’t find the right materials (that I KNOW we have some where). *See note above about the shopping list and gathering materials prior to the unit.* She works very independently so I am not exactly sure just how far she has gotten in the unit. She does one video and experiment each day. electricity experiment 1

This unit has two lessons: circuits and components, and robotics. In the circuits and components sections, there are 13 experiments. In the robotics section, there are 15 experiments. Miss L has made some interesting looking contraptions with her experiments, some of which have worked well and some which have not. For one that did not work we were able to determine that it was probably due to the humidity levels (over 90% that day) so she plans to try it again soon. It is a good lesson for the student to have to figure out why something isn’t working like Mrs. Lipper says it should. Lots of lessons are learned that way.

Chemistry:

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This unit includes 2 lessons. The first has one teleclass and nine videos. The second has one teleclass and 38 (yes! 38!) experiment videos. Many of the videos in this unit are for things we cannot do at the house so it is amazing to have good videos of the chemical reactions and excellent explanations of the results that are being seen.

Miss E spends about 20 – 30 minutes on this each day. Because we are using this as an extension of her previous chemistry class, I am not requiring the worksheets or exercises from her.

Overall Thoughts

This is an exciting online science program with solid explanations and clear examples. With all of the visual examples of the concepts being show in the experiments and then being able to do most of the experiments, this truly is a science program that teaches and shows the concepts. The students are truly able to see and understand better because of this.

When we reviewed this previously, it was just as good of a program but it didn’t fit us as well. The girls were younger and so it took a lot more preparation on my part (gathering materials and deciding what videos to watch, etc). I had to do all of the navigating and they didn’t always want to work on the same materials. With them older and more independent, this is a much better fit. I don’t know that this program will peter out of use as it did before since the girls are each working on something that is of interest to them. They all seem to be getting much more out of it this time around.

Note on New Site

There will be a new Supercharged Science site introduced soon. The content is all going to remain the same. There will still be all the same parts of each unit and the worksheets and videos will all still be available as they are on the current site. The new site will have easier navigation and is easier on the eyes. There is less of the stark white and more soothing blue, which makes it a pleasant experience. The girls and I have been given a sneak-peek at the new site and I really do like the way it is going to be set up. It will make navigation easier. We will still bookmark each girls’ part of the site in a different bookmark so they can get to their own unit easily but overall, it is much easier to go from place to place and to get to the worksheets or videos or whatever you need within the unit. Be looking for this new site to roll out soon.

Blessings,
Lori, At Home.

A number of families from the Homeschool Review Crew were given the opportunity to try out Supercharged Science.

Head over to the Crew blog to read about their experiences.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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