Tag Archives: high school

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Blessings,
Lori, At Home.

CTCMath is still our go-to ~ a Crew review

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Weekly email report sample.

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

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

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

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

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

Blessings,
Lori, At Home.

Project Passport: Ancient Rome ~ a Crew review

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Individual Timeline Set (Grades K-12)

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

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

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

Blessings,
Lori, At Home.

Please visit our other blog posts about HSITW products.

Timeline Collection

U.S. Elections Lap-Pak

Project Passport: Ancient Greece,

Project Passport: Ancient Egypt,

Project Passport: the Middle Ages,

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

 Á La Carte Erie Canal,

 Á La Carte WWII timeline,

 Á La Carte quilling,

Lap-Pak: The Wonders of the World, and

Make-A-State.

Baggin’ The Dragon Online Math Supplement ~ a Crew review

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Why this might not be for you –

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

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

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

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

Blessings,
Lori, At Home.

Careering by Tamara S. Raymond ~ a book review

Disclaimer: I received a complimentary copy of this book for the purpose of review.

As our children reach high school age, many questions begin to form in our minds. What are they going to be? How are they going to get there? What are their goals? Sometimes, we as parents and our students need some guidance to follow to help our students find the right path. So, how do we do that?

Tamara S. Raymond has given us some of that guidance with her book Careering:The Pocket Guide To Exploring Your Future Career. This is a simple guide that will direct questions, thoughts, and ideas to help students clarify where they should explore for their future. This is a 4″ x 5″ softback book with 85 pages. It is not merely a read and do book but rather one to consider, think on, and complete.

This is a workbook style guide with 8 steps (chapters), plus a preface, an introduction, and an afterward. In working through this guide, the student will explore the following:

  • What is Careering?
  • How to begin careering
  • Opportunities to explore different career options
  • Key Resources
  • The power of networking
  • Applying
  • Interview skills
  • A new job – now what?
  • The final step

The writing is uncomplicated and gives a simple-to-follow pathway along the process of exploring ideas and options for the future. With the space to make notes, write lists and brainstorm ideas, this booklet becomes unique for the student utilizing it. In addition to exploring careers, this book helps students hit the basics of landing a job – resume, interviews, networking, and more.

This is not a one-size-fits-all guide. I had hoped it would give us some new ideas and options of exploring the future with my soon to be high school senior. We had already followed the majority of the suggestions in this book and were looking for additional resources. So this is a starting place and it is not an exhaustive list of all the options or ideas. But it is a great place to start.

If you have a high schooler who is uncertain about what they want to zero in on in their education, this book will start them down the path of learning and exploring options and ideas. It will direct them in how to create some opportunities to decide if something is right for them. There is space within each of the steps to make notes, write lists, and create the information needed to evaluate options.

Careering:The Pocket Guide To Exploring Your Future Career is a wonderful starting place for looking at career options and narrowing the field down into manageable bits to evaluate. I would recommend it for students and parents who are just beginning this process. It may just be the spark that lights a fire.

Blessings,
Lori, At Home.

Easter With Older Children

Easter often means cute dresses, egg hunts, and bunny crafts. But when your children get older, that changes. It also looks different when you celebrate the death, burial, and resurrection of Christ all the time, not just at what the world has named Easter. Christ’s church celebrates Christ all the time, not just for this one week of the year, and that is what makes Easter so different for us. We spend this time in a special convention with other believers the world over celebrating the work our children have done all year long serving the Lord. This weekend is the Lads to Leaders Annual Convention!

Lads to Leaders is an organization that started some 50 years ago and is dedicated to helping the young men and women of the Lord’s church become his servants, his hands and feet, here on earth. It helps the young men and women find their areas of interest, talent, and growth. Whether it be service, leading songs, reading scripture, teaching, helping, media, or any number of other areas, or all of the areas, the students grow in their abilities to serve. This year, our girls have grown through teaching, serving others, leading songs, reading scripture, studying the Bible for Bible Bowl (Hebrews), studying for the Pearls test (topic: Better Than, actually that’s the whole year’s topic), making power points to be used by teachers, writing blog posts, working on puppet scripts, studying the debate topic (baptism), creating artwork and photos, and so much more. I am certain I have missed some things the girls have worked on. And it is all dedicated to growing in God, knowing God and His will better, and being more dedicated to serving Him.

Here are two of the things the girls did this year – Blog post 1 and Blog post 2. Since I don’t know if they have been finalized in the judging yet, I am not attaching any names to them still. 🙂

Here is post I wrote a while back about what Lads to Leaders is and what the girls worked on that year.

As everyone remembers, last year (2020), Easter looked quite different. Here’s what I wrote about our quarantine Easter.

And here is a recap of our Easter from 2019, complete with Lads to Leaders convention and our own Easter celebration after that.

This weekend, while many are doing egg hunts or have spent the week making palm fronds, we have been and will be focusing on Bible, songs, debate, art work, media presentations, and so much more that directly impacts the Lord’s church. We are blessed to have such a strong church to be a part of and to spend the weekend with so many others who are dedicated to Christ.

Our prayer this week is that you are able to spend your time in something strong and meaningful that strengthens your faith and leads you into a closer relationship with God, through Jesus.

Blessings,
Lori, At Home.

Linking up at the Homeschool Review Crew for the weekly challenge.

Indoor Games for middle and high school

Now that our girls are getting older, our games have changed. We still really like games but what the girls like to play has shifted to some more complicated and/or differently challenging activities. This past two weeks has really given us the opportunity to engage in some fun indoor games, as we were unable to leave our house for 12 days. (Thanking the winter storm and central Texas’ ability to handle it. 🙂 )

One of our newest favorites is from Finders Seekers. This is a subscription company with at-home, escape room style boxes each month. We received a 3 month subscription as a gift at Christmas and I just renewed it on a month to month basis. I don’t know if we’ll keep it very long but we’ll do at least one more. We have explored Toronto, looked into the fabled life of Anastasia Romanov, and dallied in the National Parks. Next one to come is supposed to Machu Pichu. Looking forward to it.

Forbidden Island is a cooperative game that we enjoy playing. It doesn’t take too long and it is fun working together to do gather the four statues and get off the island before we get stranded. It isn’t difficult and we enjoy it.

Haunted Mansion is one that Miss J loves to play but she has to get her dad to play with her because I don’t enjoy it at all. It is based on a choose your own adventure book and follows much the same format, choosing different actions from the cards and going where that choice takes you. It is a cooperative game, also.

Prime Climb is a math game that Miss J likes to get out. It works on math facts and prime numbers up through 101. You can use addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division in all sorts of combinations to make your way to 101. We have a good time and I do feel like she is learning a lot each time we play. The strategy combined with working the equations to get the most out of each move can be a lot of fun.

Maestro Mastery is a new one that we have played a couple of times. It is a fun one and the full review is coming up soon.

Mancala is a fun marble game that we were told originated somewhere in Africa. A friend had her dad make us this game board when we got married and it has had a whole lot of use and laughter over the years.

Guess Who – this one came from a fast food restaurant years ago but we have kept them around and the girls enjoy playing with them. They are small and my “getting older” eyes definitely struggle with it sometimes but we still enjoy it.

Another strange one Miss J and I enjoy is a curling game. It’s little stones are plastic with a marble and they glide over a smooth plastic alley. Fun and simple.

We keep a lot of games around and we play them often. Other favorites include Go Fish, War, Slap Jack, Uno, puzzles of all sizes, Dixit, Connect Four Launchers, Scrabble, and Boggle. Miss J also loves to play her Bird Bingo game. There are tons of others, I am sure, but these are the ones that come to mind and we play most often. What are some of your favorite games for middle school and high school? We could always add to our collection. . .

Blessings,
Lori, At Home.

This is being linked up at the Homeschool Review Crew as part of the weekly blogging and social media challenge. Head over to read about other families’ favorite indoor games. Find a new favorite!

Visit the Homeschool Review Crew Round Up for more great posts to read.

Schedule Options (MS & HS) – a day in the life Crew challenge

How many different ways are there to schedule schooling options? As many as there are subject variations, I imagine. I thought I would share a couple that are working well for us. I have three children and each of them is working on a different schedule.

High School – 11th grade with dual credit for two classes a semester

This student is a slow-starter but a hard worker. She is forcing herself to get up to an alarm and get moving every weekday, even when she doesn’t have to. Last semester, she worked on a fairly traditional schedule. But this semester, she came to me and asked if she could work hard on one subject a day, planning to complete at least a week’s worth of work on the subject. She had a sound reasoning as to why she thought it would work for her. So, she scheduled math one day, biology one day, and literature one day. She is doing history and sign language through dual credit and so is working on those more than one day a week. She does her physical education daily (dance), also. But the beauty of this schedule is that it is what she sees as being a strong way to work on it for her and so she will work hard at it.

Block schedules are not a new thing. I remember as an elementary school teach using block schedules for math and language arts. The high schools have done this before also. Their schedule is not typically one subject a day but they block it into larger chunks of time, maybe 3 subjects a day, so that the students can get on a roll with an idea or concept and not have it cut off just as they start to understand. So, after listening to her reasons, I was thrilled to see her taking the time to consider, come up with a sound argument for her idea, and present it to me logically. Her ideas was granted permission so long as we see sound progress.

High School – 9th grade working with a boxed curriculum

This student is a go-getter to the max! She is one who embraces everything being done as well as possible. (I work really hard not use the word perfectionist with her!) She is working on a combo of daily work with a looping schedule. With a looping schedule, she is working for a set amount of time completing one lesson after another down the page of the curriculum guide. When she hits the end of the day, say Monday, she jumps to the top of Tuesday’s column and starts there, whether or not it is Tuesday. These are subjects like her history, writing, reading/literature, Bible, and science. Her math, Bible, physical education (dance), foreign language, and violin are daily work. She does each of these and then starts in on her loop for the day.

This has worked well for her. She makes continuous progress without getting overwhelmed at the sheer volume of materials. She will earn 11, yes 11, high school credits when she completes these courses. No wonder she felt overwhelmed trying to hit every subject every day and was spending hours and hours on it. She is not moving at one the pace of the curriculum guide – 1 calendar week = 1 curriculum guide week – but she is making strong and happy progress. It’ll take a bit longer than one year to get through the curriculum but that is okay. She’ll earn more than one year of credits for it.

I do probably need to address Bible for her since it is both in her loop and her daily schedule. For the loop schedule, it is whatever is assigned in the curriculum. They have several Bible items for the student to work on, earning a Bible credit with this curriculum. She also works on several projects and studies for church, as well as teaching one of the Sunday classes for preschool. So she works on Bible Bowl, Pearls (book study), debate, memorizing scripture, other Lads to Leaders materials, or Sunday school prep on a daily basis for a large part of the school year.

Middle School – 6th grader

This is one smart cookie who gets easily distracted. She finds things really interesting but can then get just as interested in something else. She is working on an eclectic curriculum. She is doing well with it. She works 4 days a week, doing each subject every day. She has a daily checklist in a spiral that she uses to help keep her on track. She has math (online), history (includes literature, vocabulary, and writing), science, Bible, sign language, and physical education (dance). She spends a good bit of time each day on her curriculum, often because she gets distracted or doesn’t concentrate. Hers is a “check everything off each day” schedule.

We also spend a good bit of time finding fun, short videos on things she is interested in to watch. She helps me cook and do laundry (sometimes on the laundry) and she loves to read (finally!!). She enjoys spending time with people and helping out. She has started spending quite a bit of time drawing for fun. All of these are learning opportunities, too. So, when I feel like this child isn’t spending enough time on “learning,” I remind myself of all these other things that she does that are also learning, just not out of a book.

Final Thoughts

My purpose in sharing this is to remind each of us that we are different. Even our children are different. As they get older, they can have more say in what works for them. Yes, I am still responsible in making sure that what needs to get done is getting done. I can, however, allow them the freedom to help decide how to tackle it. Just the other night (at 11:20 PM!), the two older girls were working together, evaluating each other’s Powerpoint presentations and teaching each other how to do some background work, edit and transition work, and copyright notifications for images used. I don’t have to worry about whether they are learning as I can see it, day in and day out. Or night in and night out as the case may be! 🙂

Go with your gut and find non-traditional ways of schedule so that your students are successful. After all, isn’t that what it is about?

The Homeschool Review Crew bloggers are writing about their take on a day in the life of a homeschooler. Head over to the post to find the links for the other bloggers additions. Linky is at the bottom of the post.

Blessings,
Lori, At Home.

Economics Class by Boundary Stone ~ a Crew review

Disclaimer: I received a FREE copy of this product through the HOMESCHOOL REVIEW CREW in exchange for my honest review. I was not required to write a positive review nor was I compensated in any other way.

Economics is something that is beneficial for everyone to know. Understanding the process by which goods and services are created and traded/received is a fundamental part of our society and world. Boundary Stone has created an online course paired with an in-print book for a high school economics class.

Economics Online Course Bundle has several components – an online portal with videos, daily check lists, quizzes, reviews; a digital PDF teacher’s guide; a hardback textbook. The course also asks for two additional books. Access is for 12 months but the course is designed to be completed in one semesters with daily lessons.

The main text is Basic Economics, A Natural Law Approach to Economics. It is a hardback text written by Clarence Carson and Paul Cleveland. It is over 370 pages and contains the main information for the course. There are three sections to the course: The Framework of Economics, The Production and Distribution of Goods, and the Politico-Economic Systems.

The Framework of Economics discusses basic economics, natural laws and the impact on economics, government and some of the history, society and morality, and property. These ideas and concepts are all placed in a historical framework and this part of the text reads like a history book. Section II gets into goods and how we make or receive goods, the market and how it reflects society, money, inflation, pricing, and much more. Titles of chapters in Section III include Manorial-Feudal System, Mercantilism, Free Enterprise, Corporatism, Welfarism, and Communism.

The online coursework has a checklist for daily work to help keep the student on track and moving forward. It is a numbered list of what is to be read, videos from Paul Cleveland, some linked YouTube videos, some linked articles to read, questions to be answered, quizzes to be taken, or unit tests to complete. There are also activities that are added in sometimes.

The online dashboard has a lot of information to help students stay on track. The left hand side has drop down menus that allow you to click on your next lesson and head directly there or something you have previously completed if you need to do a review. The top section has a percentage complete for the course so you can see at a glance how far you have come. It also has arrows to simply move forward or backward one lesson. With a linked PDF of the text, online review questions, and a place to mark complete when you have done each of the numbered parts of the lesson.

I have found the text to be an interesting read, though I disagree with the general tone of a large part of the discussion. It has challenged me to consider what I have been taught, to do my own research and reading, and to think about some of the concepts and ideas presented. I would recommend a parent or teacher take a look at the text before handing it to the student so that they are well aware of the outlook of this program. I have learned a lot and will continue on through the book, though my students will not be using it at this time.

Please visit the Homeschool Review Crew to read more reviews on the program from Boundary Stone.

Blessings,
Lori, At Home.

Learning Math Online ~ a Crew review

Disclaimer: I received a FREE copy of this product through the HOMESCHOOL REVIEW CREW in exchange for my honest review. I was not required to write a positive review nor was I compensated in any other way.

Math learning can be challenging. Math teaching can be challenging. MathandAlgebra.com is an online subscription that can take the challenge out of it all.

Presented in a combo online/offline format, the goal of MathandAlgebra.com is to help student learns math in a fun and accessible way. This increases not only skill but also confidence. The instructor is Rick Fisher, a math teacher with over 30 years of experience. He has been able to help many students increase their math skills by using his classes for 20 minutes a day.

MathandAlgebra.com has four available classes – Basic Math, Advanced Math, Pre-algebra, and Algebra. A subscription provides access to all four of these courses to work through at your pace.

Each lesson is composed of just a couple of steps. First, Miss L would watch the video. Each video is fairly short; most of the videos we watched were less than 5 minutes. These videos have Mr. Fisher’s voice teaching the concept while you see him writing on the white board. Students are encouraged to copy the exercises as he teaches. Miss L wrote them in her notebook with each page dates and the lesson number included.

showing work complete on left and the video for the current concept
at the bottom of the page you have access to the worksheet and answer key, as well as the place to mark your lesson complete

Next, access the worksheet. It can be viewed online or printed. We did some of both. Work through each of the questions. Again, Miss L wrote them into her notebook.

Once the student has answered all of the questions, the answer key can be accessed. Grade the worksheet at this point. Miss L had to correct any missed questions. Unfortunately, if a question is not understood, there is not an annotated explanation of the answer. Hopefully, the parent assisting can figure out what was missed. So far, in the algebra class, we did not hit any that I could not understand.

Miss L worked through the first few weeks of the algebra course. It came along right after she finished her pre-algebra work. There was not a placement test of any sort, so she had to begin at the start of the course. If you know your student well, you could probably have them skip over parts at the beginning of the class, especially if they are just coming off a course that covered those exact same concepts.

The interface is fairly easy to use. You can see what lessons have been completed in working on the course by the green checked circles. Also, if you have completed the lesson, than the “mark complete” at the bottom is grayed out. The student can easily know where to start each day by remembering to click that “mark complete” when they finish checking each worksheet.

The simplicity of this course is appealing. It doesn’t have lots of bells and whistles and jumps straight into what is needed to be learned for that lesson. Watch the video, do the worksheet. After completing the unit, take the quiz. Move on to the next one. Straight-forward.

The teacher/parent does have access to a simple report listing what quiz the student took on what dates and the grade received. The daily work is not graded online. That is graded by the student or the parent/teacher. If you want to include it in the overall grade, you will do that on your own.

If you are looking for a straight-forward, online math program with a video component, this might be a good fit for you. It is just that. Math taught without bells and whistles to confuse things.

Want to see what other families thought? Visit the Homeschool Review Crew to read additional reviews.

Blessings,
Lori, At Home.

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