Tag Archives: Middle School

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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Stopmotion Explosion ~ a Crew review

Stopmotion kit

We are not a huge technology family. We don’t look for the latest things on the market and we don’t go for expensive cell phones. We are not tech-y, you know? When the opportunity was presented to review the Stop Motion Animation Kit, I just didn’t know whether to even try or not. After all, it felt overwhelming to me. But I presented the idea to Miss L and she was excited to get to try Stopmotion Explosion. It is right up her alley!

The Stop Motion Animation Kit is a set that gets anyone ready to begin creating stop motion videos. Stop motion is when a video is created by taking any number of still images that show minute changes in position, strings them together quickly, and creates a video out of that. Think a digital flip book. Did you ever have one of those? We had one that had a cartoon of the Road Runner in the corner of it and you flipped fast to make Road Runner run. This is like that only done digitally.

Stopmotion Explosion has created a kit to get newbies like us headed in the right direction. The kit includes

  • a 1080p HD video camera with microphone, manual focus and flexible clip;
  • CD with animation software (though you can download it from the website, also, with the book to provide the code word neeeded);
  • a quick start guide; and
  • a 294 page book full of history, tips, ideas, and instruction.

In addition to the kit, access to the internet will be needed if you want to access the step-by-step video tutorials and other materials available on the website or if you need to download the software. There are minimum requirements for the computer operating systems so be sure to check that before purchase.

The recommended age printed on the kit is 13+. This would be a great age for independence with the kit, though an 11 or 12 year old could probably use it if they are fairly tech-savvy. Younger than that and adult assistance will be needed, particularly in getting the software set up or in trouble shooting if issues occur.

Using the Kit20190308_201414

We were able to get started fairly easily with the kit. The Quick Start Guide is enough to help get the software loaded and figure out a few of the troubleshooting things that come up early on (like how to focus the camera or getting an image to show up from the camera – yep, had both of those and found the question right there in the booklet).

Once we had the basics figured out, Miss L just wanted to play with it and see what she could do. She had been thinking about ideas since we had asked for the review so she was ready to at least try. We decided it was best to just start with playing around, rather than try to make this a very formal process. So, she opened the software and starting capturing images. She used the bigger book to answer a couple of more detailed questions and we went to the website for some help, also.stopmotion software

One of the issues we had was that our software quit. (I have not yet figured out why that happens but it didn’t stop the creative process – just slowed it down.) So, I headed over to the Stopmotion website and guess what? Right there was a video showing how to grab those already captured images and move them into the software once it was running again to pick up right where it had left off. The only thing here was that the video showed a different version of the software than we had, as the import feature looked really different. Not a problem, though. It was enough information that I was able to assist Miss L in getting those images back to the software so she could keep going.

She figured out just how wonderful some of the features are, like the onionskin. It allows you to superimpose the previous image over the one you are about to take so you can see how your change looks before capturing the image. This was something she use. A LOT! It allowed her to make those changes as small as she saw them in her head.

Animate ANYTHING and Make MOVIES

20190416_084925This is the title of the 294 page book that comes with the kit. It can also be purchased separately. It is full of information, tips, ideas, and helpful things for stop motion video. It is not really designed as a class but could very easily be made into one. The book starts with a short history lesson. It then takes the reader through “actors”, creating stories, making sets, different cameras, lighting, and more. There are some chapter that address specific video sequences such as flying or fighting.

It would be very easy to make this into a high school elective credit but creating assignments to go with each chapter. For the one on different actor options, have the student come up with a certain number or to create an armature using the instructions in the book. The student could write a story script in the chapter teaching about that. Backdrops, lighting options, and more – each of these could have several assignments that build on each other and create a good solid film credit for high school electives. This book is so full of hands-on options that it could easily keep the student working creatively for quite a while. This is a great book!

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While Miss L has not read the book all the way through, it is something she has picked up a few times and read interesting parts of. It gave her some good ideas and spurred her on when she got stuck. We are planning for Miss L to go back through the book and actually read it later on this summer, when we are doing “fun school” stuff and have some extra down time. She has some ideas and would like to work on it.

Capturing images and Creating videos

Miss L has created two videos at this point. She figured out that she had to have a stabilizing element for the camera. Using a suggestion from the book, she created a stand for it from blocks.

camera

After getting it sturdy, she started capturing and has created two videos at this point. Check out her work so far.

I am sure there will be much more use of the kit in the future. End of study projects can take on a whole new meaning. Creating a literature summary or filming a science video – all options have a new possibility now. I can’t wait to see what she and her sisters come up with.

Blessings,
Lori, At Home.

There have been some pretty amazing videos created by other students using the Stop Motion Animation Kit from Stopmotion Explosion. Visit the Homeschool Review Crew blog by clicking the banner below to find other videos to view.

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My Family For The War ~ book review

My daughter found this book at our library book sale the other day. In going through her pile and deciding what to purchase, she chose not to get this one. So I picked it up and looked at it. I knew immediately that I would need to read this book so I bought it. 

Warning: I’m putting this here so it doesn’t get missed. There is some language in chapter 3 of this book. It is a scene where the Germans storm a Jewish home in the middle of the night and the language the Germans use is rough. It is only a short amount but there are several strong words used. Additionally, in the first few chapters, there are some scenes where some violence occurs – a group of children beating up another child severely and the Jewish father being beaten when the German invade their home.

Summary: This is the story of young girl, she is 10 at the start of the story in 1939, living in Germany. Franziska Mangold is of Jewish heritage. Her family has been Protestant for over two generations. She knows who she is and doesn’t quite understand why she is suddenly being considered a Jew. The times get rough and she has to endure many things. When she is beaten up, her Jewish friend takes her to his house. While there, she experiences some of the Jewish religious customs that she doesn’t know. Her friend questions her about who she really is but she doesn’t know how to answer.

After her father is arrested, her family struggles. In talking with a Jewish friend, Franziska finds out about the kindertransports that are being arranged by others in Europe to help save the German children. She excitedly tells her mother about that and how her friend will be saved. Her mother then gets her on one of the transports, to her dismay. She ends up in England and living with a Jewish family who takes very good care of her.

The problem is that she is now experiencing very deep dismay and confusion about who she is and how she should be living. She begins to question her beliefs, her understanding, and who she is at the very core. She comes to care deeply for the family she is living with yet still aching for her own family. She is torn and feels like she is betraying those she loves. Then she is ripped from that family and sent to live with yet another that is farther inland. That is yet another difficulty. Eventually she is able to be reunited with the original Jewish family from London. The war goes on and she stays with them for the remainder of the war. All in all, she is with this family for 8 years, almost half her life. She loves them and feels strongly attached. When the war ends, she has more struggles ahead of her to figure out who her family is and where she belongs.

Thoughts:
This is a tragic story that is probably more accurate than I can imagine. This story shows the blessing and tragedy of humanitarian efforts like the kindertransport. Children’s lives are preserved but their beings are ripped and torn with no understanding about where they belong. What difficulty!

I thoroughly enjoyed this story and have already recommended it to a number of people. It is probably appropriate for middle school and up, especially for those doing any kind of a WWII study. It is not a true story but I can imagine that it pretty well reflects the growing up and coming-of-age of many children from Germany and other countries so badly affected by the German war movements in the 1930s and 1940s. 

It gives a unique perspective on how the children would have been affected, hurt, and struggled. It is a difficult but wonderful story.

Blessings,
At Home.

The Critical Thinking Co.™ ~ a review

Over the past few years, we have had the privilege to review a few different products from The Critical Thinking Co.™ We have truly enjoyed them but I think the product we received this time around has been the trump card. Something Fishy at Lake Iwannafisha was a blast to work through.

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Miss L has recently been reading a science book on forensics. When The Critical Thinking Co.™ review came up, I jumped at the chance to ask for Something Fishy at Lake Iwannafisha because it would follow the book she was reading perfectly, providing a nice and tidy wrap-up project for her forensics study.

Something Fishy at Lake Iwannafisha is designed for students ages 5th grade and up. It is a full criminal case for the student to investigate, studying reports and applying forensics knowledge to solve the crime and make informed decisions about who should be the Person of Interest for the case. It can be done individually or in a group setting.

working on Something's Fishy

Miss L tackled this on her own, with help from her “assistant” – At Home Dad. He has fairly extensive knowledge of crime scene investigation, gathering evidence, and forensic knowledge application. He was a very valuable assistant and made us realize that this would definitely work better in a group setting in order to have others to bounce thoughts and ideas off of, though this individual setting worked fine.

Something Fishy at Lake Iwannafisha
This is about a crime that needs solved. There was a fire that brought to the attention of the authorities a bundle of counterfeit money, a body, bullets and guns. What happened at Lake Iwannafisha? Who is the dead man? Why was there so much cash in the cabin? Where did all the money come from? All these questions and more will be solved by the investigation into the crime(s) committed at the fishing cabin. Or at least that is the goal. However, not all questions will have neat, clear answers.

lots of evidence to work through

Miss L started out by reading the information about different types of forensic evidence and how each type is gathered and used. The forensics evidence part should be focused on pretty well before tackling the actual case, as knowing a good bit about this is helpful in deducing information at times. Miss L read through it but did not ask any questions. In hindsight, it would have been good to spend a bit of time with her, making sure she understood it. We did got back to it often and she needed those pages to reference throughout the investigation.

Miss L, as lead investigator, was given the crime scene report and a page to guide her in taking notes on the report. From there she could ask for any type of report that she thought would help. There were lots of helpful reports for the case, but there were also a couple of “dummy reports” in there – reports that had no true impact on the case. As she noted different names, she would ask for the witness statement for that person. This got her started in thinking through the possibilities and making connections.

reports list

Witness statements were just one of the many types of reports that she could ask for. There were finger print reports and reports on counterfeit money. There were ballistics test, medical reports, anthropological reports, DMV reports, and more.

This does require lots of copies or using your book. The Critical Thinking Co.™ has a generous copyright policy that allows the original purchase to make copies for their home or classroom. The pages are perforated to make them easy to remove from the book if you need to. In order to ease the making of copies of the reports, The Critical Thinking Co has tried to make the PDFs available online. I found in trying to use this resource, though, that only the first page of any of the reports was in the file. So, I still had to make copies from the book. It was easier to do them all from the book, though if the files online were complete that would be such a time saver! Perhaps that can be easily fixed.

examining the crime scene report

It took Miss L approximately 9-10 hours to work through this case on her own with some input from her assistant. This included spending an hour or so on learning about forensic science and the different branches of it. The writing of this forensics case study was very well done and enjoyably challenging.

This is a product that was truly interesting to work through. It was completely different than anything we had ever used and was a perfect final project for the forensics unit.

Blessings,
At Home.

There were multiple products being reviewed during this Crew run from The Critical Thinking Co.™ Check out each of their products that were part of this review series –

Understanding Pre-Algebra

Critical Thinking Detective Book 1 

Something Fishy at Lake Iwannafisha

Critical Thinking Detective: Vocabulary

Dare to Compare Level 1

Vocabulary Riddles Book 1

There is currently a coupon available to the readers of the Homeschool Review Crew. Through 12/31/2018, you can get free shipping PLUS 15% off any size order when you use the coupon code TOSCREW18. You can also get free Critical Thinking Puzzles – a $75 value – delivered weekly to your inbox. Sign Up Now!
https://www.criticalthinking.com/toscrew

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Read the reviews of these products or other families who work on the case file for Something Fishy at Lake Iwannafisha by clicking the banner below.

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CodeWizardsHQ ~ a Crew review

CodeWizardsHQ review

Writing computer code is not something I really expected Miss E to get interested in but the introductory class she participated in from CodeWizardsHQ created a new interest for her. Reviewing the class gave us a good introduction to their computer programming curriculum, which is a good fit for anyone interested in learning computer programming, whether a homeschool student, a public school student, or a private school student.

CodeWizardsHQ was begun by a dad who saw his daughter struggling to learn to code with the resources that were currently available. So he create the platform and classes that he knew would make it possible for students to really learn how to write computer code, understanding what they were actually doing.

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What Is CodeWizardsHQ?

CodeWizardsHQ is a comprehensive code curriculum. It consists of 9 courses that are 12 weeks each, followed by a capstone project. This curriculum takes the student through real-world programming with project-based learning. The course is a live, on-line course with instructors who have real-world coding experience (read that: a day job in coding) and a heart for teaching others how to write code.

live class slide show

So what makes CodeWizardsHQ different from what is already out there? When taking a course from CodeWizardsHQ the student is working with a small class (8 or fewer students) and an instructor. The instructor can see what the student is doing, as they are doing it and can make real-time corrections when the student is having a problem. 80% of the class time is spend writing code and seeing it work. The real-time interaction between the instructor and students makes this unique in the world of online code education.

CodeWizardsHQ has scheduled classes that you can register for and these classes are beginning in May. If you are looking for classes for a homeschool student, you can register for what they have scheduled or you can get your friends or co-op together and work with the company to find a time that works for you. There is a special homeschool pricing based upon the number of students.

CodeWizardsHQ classes give you a one hour live class per week. The student has access to the code writing platform 24/7, email support (same day), one-to-one assistance when needed, weekly progress updates, and class recordings. In addition to this, the student will have web space to use for their projects, an online student community, and a certificate of completion for each completed course.

There is a Facebook group for parents who are interested in their kids coding.

The Class –

screen with slides and chat

The class Miss E took was a special introductory class. It was only one hour, not a part of their 12 week courses. Her instructor was Ms. Lynn, a front-end web developer who has worked in the field for 20 years. Ms. Lynn talked to Miss E and her classmates about HTML code – what it was and what it did, its value to the internet world. Then she had them look at some code and talked about what each part of it did. After a bit of explanation, she had the students begin to work with the code, writing the parts they needed to, editing where necessary.

The students in the class were creating a comic strip with 9 panels in it. Ms. Lynn walked them through how to manipulate the code. They changed backgrounds, images, and text. Anytime a question arose, the students could use their microphone to talk with Ms. Lynn in real-time, getting a real-time answer, or they could use the chat box on the class to ask the question and get an immediate answer. As they worked, Ms. Lynn could see what they were writing for their code and interact with them on any changes they needed or wanted to make. At one point, Miss E had a question about removing a text box. Ms. Lynn was able to help her make that change quickly and easily. A self-paced or video based course would not be able to do that.

By the end of the one hour class, the students had finished a good part of the comic. If they hadn’t, they could still continue working after the class because they had access to the coding platform. The platform makes it easy to share their finished product as well. It was as easy as clicking a button to share the finished product on Facebook or Twitter. And just copying and pasting the web address meant it could be shared with others.

Comic screenshot

When we first heard about the class, I will be honest – we were not excited. It did not appeal and we did not really want to have to figure out how to manage a live class. But, we did. When the time for class arrived, Miss E had just gotten home from the dentist (not a “fun” cleaning visit – one of those others where fillings had to be done) and so she was already feeling less than energetic. However, we got her logged on and she was ready to participate. What we found was that she enjoyed it. A lot. As the one-hour class time ticked by, she giggled more and was more energetic and excited about what she was doing. She understood more about the process behind the code and how it worked. As she figured out how to place figures or to eliminate lines of code she didn’t need, things clicked and her smile grew (even with half of it being numb). She truly enjoyed it and by the time we finished, she was asking if this was something we could afford to enroll her in and if so, could Ms. Lynn be her instructor (I have not explored the answer to that). Now we are considering this new interest seriously.

back end - or written code - for the comic

The back end – written code – for Miss E’s comic. This is what the class taught her how to do.

Miss E’s thoughts:
It was cool! We could talk to her (Ms. Lynn – instructor) and she could talk to us like a real class. Or we could use the chat box. I didn’t have to rely on you (Mom) to maybe fix my problem or maybe make it worse. It was fun and I’d like to learn more.

My thoughts:
This is not going to be an inexpensive new interest but it is one that would serve her really well in the future. This set-up – the live class with a qualified instructor – is of great value and benefit in the process of learning how to write computer code. The personal interaction will make all the difference between struggling to figure it out on your own (and likely giving up when it doesn’t work) and truly learning to understand how those lines fit together to make something work. CodeWizardsHQ is a company that I will be keeping in mind.

Blessings,
At Home.

Want to learn more about the program or find out the thoughts of other parents? Want to know what other students who took the class thought? Visit the Homeschool Review Crew to read more reviews by clicking the banner below.

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Z – Middle School Book ~ Blogging Through the Alphabet

Z

We are at the last letter for this round of ABC Blogging or Blogging Through the Alphabet (whichever you prefer to think of it as).

Z

Oh, this one was actually kind of easy to find a book for.

Zlatas diary

Zlata’s Diary: a child’s life in Sarajevo by Zlata Filipovic
introduction by Janine Di Giovanni
translated  with notes by Christina Pribichevich-Zoric

I have tried to persuade my girls to read this one and have not yet succeeded. I may end up assigning it just to get them to take a chance on it.

This is a true diary, along the lines of Anne Frank. Zlata is 13 at the start of the diary, right before Sarajevo was blockaded and war broke out in 1991. Zlata’s family were not poor but money did nothing for them when there was nothing to be had. These are the thoughts that fill the head of a young girl who should be running around, visiting friends, and having fun, yet cannot leave the “safe room” in the building for fear of the shelling and shooting. As the war continues, thing deteriorate further and Mimmy (the name of the diary) is a friend when no others are there. Zlata is able to be evacuated safely a couple years into the war and so her story – and the story of so many other children trapped in war zones – is able to be heard. It is a tremendous read, full of life and emotion.

I will take a couple weeks break from the ABC series but will be back when the new round starts.

Blessings,
At Home.

blogging-through-the-alphabet-300x300

The ABC linkup is hosted by Hopkins HomeschoolDoodleMom’s Homeschooling Life and Biblical Womanhood.

My previous posts in the series:

A – All-of-a-Kind Family and Adventures of the Little Wooden Horse
B – Ballet Shoes and A Bear Called Paddington
C – Counting by 7s and Cheaper By The Dozen
D – Door In The Wall & D’Aulaires’ Book of Greek Myths
E – The Endless Steppe & Ella Enchanted
F – Family Tree & Fog Magic
G – Great Turkey Walk & The Great Brain
H – Half Magic & Horse Diaries
I – Indian in the Cupboard & Island of the Blue Dolphins
J – Journey to America & Julie: An American Girl – 1974
K – Kite Fighters & Key to the Extraordinary
L – Little Women & Long Way From Chicago
M – Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle & Mistakes That Worked
N – North Child & Number the Stars
O – One and Only Ivan & Our Only May Amelia
P – Pollyanna & Prism of Wings
Q – Quanah Parker & Quake!
R – Robin Hood & Rilla of Ingleside
S – Sisters Grimm & Singer of All Songs
T – Thick as Thieves & Twinkle Tales
U – Under the Lilacs
V – Valkyrie & Voyage on the Titanic
W – War That Saved My Life & Wonderful Wizard of Oz
X – Xander and the Lost Island of Monsters & Betty Before X
Y – A Year Down Yonder
Z – Zlata’s Diary

Exploring Creation with Human Anatomy and Physiology ~ a Crew review

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

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

Apologia-Anatomy-Family

We received:

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

reading text

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

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

skeletal system activity

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

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

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

image of controller for audio book

image of control for CD on the computer

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

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

We received two notebooking journals to go along with the study

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

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

working in junior notebooking journal

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

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

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

notebooking journals comparison

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

mummification of apple slices

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

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

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

Blessings,
At Home.

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

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