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Project Passport: The Middle Ages ~ a Crew review

The Middle Ages

Home School in the Woods is a hands-on history company that we absolutely adore getting to use. Each time we receive a product from Home School in the Woods, we know we are going to be immersed in the history of the era or place that we are studying. We are never disappointed. Project Passport World History Studies: The Middle Ages has been a fabulous study and Miss E is looking forward to continuing on with it.

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Home School in the Woods is a family run company that is dedicated to creating hands-on products for learning history. A visit to the blog of Home School in the Woods will show you just how rich the love of history is in this company. One things that I really like about the products is the enrichment options that are included. Living book lists are often included as one of the pages in a product but you don’t have to wait to get your hands on a list – visit the blog and read about adding living books to your studies. You can also find a post about teaching different styles of learners – a fabulous post if you have a kinesthetic learner or an auditory learner. And these product work great for teaching different learning styles. Read on to see more about Project Passport. 

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Project Passport: The Middle Ages is one of five world history studies in this series, which is intended for grades 3-8 but can easily be adapted. They include Ancient Egypt, The Middle Ages, Ancient Greece, Renaissance & Reformation, and their newest one – Ancient Rome. You could also purchase a bundle of all five. Each of these studies is meant to immerse the learner in the culture and time period being studied. This happens through timelines, reading, listening, lapbooks, maps, writing, drawing, cooking/baking, crafting, and more.

The Middle Ages comes as a downloadable, zipped file. You must unzip it before trying to use it. Then, after it is unzipped, one of the files is titled Start. Double click that and the program will open up in a browser window. Start there! This is by far the easiest way to figure out the series and projects. From there, you will be able to just work your way down the program, working through each stop. As is hinted at by the name Project Passport, the program takes you through many stops, just like a tour would. There are over 50 projects and activities to immerse the student in The Middle Ages. 

Topics and activities include:

  • Introduction (setting up some of the main parts that will be used throughout several stops along the tour)
  • BarbariansThe Middle Ages (1)
  • Family Life
  • Clothing and Food
  • Community
  • Crime, Punishment, Entertainment
  • Towns & Guilds
  • Merchants, Trade, & Exploration
  • Science & Invention
  • The Arts
  • Education
  • Medicine & Disease
  • The Church
  • The Crusades
  • Knights
  • The Vikings
  • Wars

As you can see, it is a fairly thorough trip through the age and life. In the 25 stops along the way, the student learns much about The Middle Ages.

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Miss E, 15, has been using The Middle Ages and absolutely enjoying it. We are treating this as enrichment; it is not serving as a high school credit. She will work for 3 or 4 hours at a time, listening to the audios and working on her chosen activities and keeping them in a binder. We have learned through the years of using the Project Passport series that we cannot do every single activity. It is too overwhelming. That also means that not every project is a good fit, so it feels like busy work and the student doesn’t learn anything from it. Miss E was given the choice of what she wanted to complete, knowing 20190706_100105

that she will complete enough on each stop to thoroughly understand the topic. We can do this with her as she has shown herself to be trustworthy in the way she handles schoolwork. 

To get started, we taught her how to download the files onto her laptop and unzip the files. Then, she set off to work. I did help her print the PDF files for the projects she was working on but she had the instructions and information she needed to tell me what to print and how many, then to put each piece together. She has completed 10 stops, I believe, working hard. She enjoys this so much that she would choose to work on this in her free time. Home School in the Woods just makes history so much fun with their hands-on products.

Image of a stop and related files

Itinerary imageFor each stop, Miss E would read the history of the topic on her computer (Guide Book Text); we did not print these. She would then open up the instructions (Travel Itinerary) and set to work on the projects she had chosen. Each stop included her adding pieces to her timeline. She would read the postcard for the ones that had it, choosing not to print them. Then she would maybe make a castle or read about the different guilds. Even when she chose not to create one of the projects (such as the board game), she would print out anything that might be good reading (such as the different types of occupations). Each stop was a little different but that variety adds interest. There are pictures along with each project to help you know what the finished project should look like.

hands-on history

We have used several products from Home School in the Woods and recommend any of them. You can read about the products we used by visiting our blog posts:

As you can see, Home School in the Woods is a company that we enjoy using and highly recommend.

Blessings,
Lori, At Home.

The Homeschool Review Crew has been using several of the products from Home School in the Woods, including:

Please click on the image below to read more reviews.

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Crafty Classroom USA Bundle ~ a Crew review

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When the USA Activity Bundle Pack came up for review this year from Crafty Classroom, I knew it was a product I wanted to use. It is a fun way to approach learning about the United States. The bundle includes three PDF files:Screenshot 2019-07-17 at 12.45.08 PM

  1. USA State Birds
  2. USA 50 State Mazes
  3. USA Activity Pack

50 state mazes

USA 50 STATE MAZES

20190629_151857This file includes one maze for each of the 50 states. The maze is in the shape of the state. In the process of working through the maze, the student views the shape of the state and can become more familiar with it. Each maze is challenging yet fun. I do believe that the size at which you print these will make a difference in the challenge level. I printed them at half-size, two to a page and made a booklet out of it. This definitely added to the challenge of the mazes but it was fine for my 10 year old.

50 state birds

USA STATE BIRDS

The realistic art cards for the state birds includes a picture of the birds that are the symbol of a state (so less than 50 since several are shared by states), space to write facts about the bird or describe the bird, and a set of small cards with the name of the bird on one and the picture of the bird on the other. I again printed this half-size and made it into a booklet. I am not fully happy with this version of it. The writing lines are a better size for Miss J at this size but it makes it harder to color the bird with all its markings. Also, in a booklet form, we cannot cut the smaller cards out to use in a matching game. Miss J really wants me to take this to a printer and have it printed in color for the matching cards.

50 states activity notebook

USA STATE-BY-STATE ACTIVITY NOTEBOOK

This PDF file contains one page for each of the 50 states. Each page asks the student to identify several symbols for the state. There are several activities for each state.20190710_153706

  • a flag to color
  • a place to color the state on a map of the US
  • a map of the state to mark the capital, rivers, lakes, and mountains (if desired)
  • a place to mark the state abbreviation, the state # of when it joined the union, it’s nickname, the state bird name, and the state flower name
  • a picture of the state bird to color
  • a picture of the state flower to color
  • lines to write a fact or two about the state

We pulled a book about the 50 states off of our shelf to use with this activity. Each state has it’s own few pages so it works easily.

The State-by-State Activity Notebook also includes two games at the end of the file. One is USA Bingo and there are several bingo boards to print and use. The other game is Roll Across America, a board game where you would roll a die and move a certain number of spaces. You will need to provide the markers for the bingo game and the die and pieces for the board game. Both games provide variations to learning the states and/or capitals and facts about the states. These would be fun games to have printed out larger than I printed the rest of the file.

We have been using the program informally this summer. Every few days Miss J will pick up one of the booklets and work for a bit on it. She has really enjoyed the mazes. She has done several at one sitting a few times. She has also enjoyed the USA State-By-State Activity Notebook. She spent quite a bit of time working on each state that she has completed. I have allowed her to skip the writing part since we are being informal this summer.

I do plan to use these a bit more formally when we start school in a few weeks. I plan to have her complete three states per week, completing the page in USA State-By-State (include the fact writing), doing the maze if it is not already done, and completing the page in the bird book (if it isn’t already done since some of the states have the same state bird).

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Miss J’s thoughts:

I like this, even though I am not really far. I really like the mazes. The state facts were really fun. It was kind of helpful having a book to do it with. It would have been harder without the book. I really liked the birds and flowers and stuff. There wasn’t really enough space for me to write a fact about the state because there were so many facts to choose from. It would be wise to add another page to the state of just lines to write facts on.

My Thoughts:

This is a neat set to use to highlight the US. We had planned to take a trip this summer through several states and I was going to use this for her in each state we entered. (Plans change when home air conditioners need a major repair, though.) As far of the use this fall, I am going to have her trace our Mega Field Trip from last fall and find each of those states.

This is a neat set that has so many possibilities. There is a lot that could be done with it and it can be adjust and modified to fit the age you are working with and the need you have.

A couple of years ago, we reviewed another product from Crafty Classroom – their paragraph writing program titled How To Write A Paragraph. There are lots of other products available so be sure to visit the shop.

Blessings,
Lori, At Home.

Be sure to visit the Homeschool Review Crew to read about other products from Crafty Classroom that were being used for summer learning. The products include:

R.E.A.D. Curriculum Notebook K
R.E.A.D. Curriculum Notebook Gr. 1
Interactive Math Curriculum Notebook K
Alphabet Letter of the Week Curriculum Notebook
Bible Letter of the Week Curriculum Notebook
Sight Word of the Week Program
Pattern Block Activity Bundle
Fables & Tales
USA Activity Bundle Pack

Click on the banner below to go to the link up for Crafty Classroom.

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Simply Music ~ a Crew review

Simply Music makes beginning piano simple.

Simply Music is an online program designed to teach students of all ages to play the piano by ear or sight (not reading printed music). We have access to their (free) program Music & Creativity – Foundation Course. Music & Creativity immerses students in the actual process of creating music while learning. It is a hands-on program that has the student playing from the first lesson.

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Miss L, age 13 and with several years of violin in her background, used this program. She has been teaching herself to play the piano by ear for a while now using a 49 key electric keyboard. We had hoped this program would be a good fit for her, teaching her to apply her current musical knowledge to the piano/keyboard.

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The online piano program was developed to get the student playing right away. The video instruction features Neil Moore at a piano with a camera angle that shows what his hands and fingers are doing at the keys. This makes it easy for the student to hear and see what he is doing and imitate what he does. He gives instruction with words, drawings to show shape of musical movement, and showing his hands and the keys.

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Example of the drawings that help students learn the movement of a phrase or song.

Simply Music is successful in getting the student playing right away. The first lesson is a song composed by the instructor. This simple tune is one that Miss L could do after hearing it once. We then used the provided accompaniment (instruments and vocals for you to choose from) to play along with. For some, this will raise the level of enjoyment – getting to play as the soloist with a professional  backup group.

These online music lessons cover a variety of ideas, topics, and styles of music. From simple songs to blues, from gospel to some simple classical excerpts. The discussion is helpful and will slowly move the student forward. Using diagrams, chords, and by showing on the keyboard, the student learns the language of music and begins simple playing examples.

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The video lessons run between about 2 1/2 and 16 minutes long. These take the student through various key combinations and songs. There are ideas and concepts covered, also. While many concepts are covered with great explanations, the instructor does not give the formal terms to go along with the learning. For example, when he covers chords, he doesn’t use the quality of the chord, only the name – A chord, B chord. It would be so simple to add that in (major, minor, diminished) and to call it a triad, also.

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As you watch the video (you’ll need to register for the free course and have internet access), you will play along on your own keyboard. Once you have played it, have practiced as much as you want, and have used the reference materials (printed and/or audio files of the song and accompaniment), you mark the lesson complete at the bottom of the page and move to the next lesson.

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Completing a lesson can take as long as you need it to. If you are loving it and practice all the time, you can move through the lessons very quickly. If you are in the middle yet have a lot going on (as in summertime!), you can work on it steadily and move through a lesson or two a week. Or, you can take several weeks to get your fingers solidly doing what they need to and move on slowly. It is totally up to you.

This program was both exactly what we expected and totally different than we expected. Mr. Moore has a wonderful way of describing music in such a way that you know exactly what he is trying to get across. He truly knows music and how to share it in such a way that the student can understand. He plays music well and his love of music comes through clearly.

That being said, we knew it was likely to be difficult for Miss L to use this program since she has some background in music learning, ear training, and music reading. What she found difficult with the program was actually the style of music. The songs are created to teach a specific idea or hand movement. They are exercises, even though the exercises have an orchestration and/or vocals. It is not a style of music that people will intentionally listen to over and over or use to show off piano skills.

I also felt like the program was missing many opportunities for instruction early on. It would not have been hard to add the formal music terms in at several places. Since I believe music training should prepare people for a lifetime of loving music, the knowledge gained at any given point should be transferable to other styles and performances of music. This transferability seems to be lacking in this program – the knowledge is not transferable to be able to create and perform other music.

online piano lessons for the beginner from Simply Music

Miss L’s Thoughts:

The instructor was very entertaining. Many of his concepts and musical terms were a little below my knowledge, though I have not played piano before. I understand that this program was designed to be used by younger students. I felt like the part I have covered was pretty easy. Where I started at and where I got to was extremely easy. This is definitely not my style of learning.

Final Thoughts:

I think this is a good program and an excellent fit for beginners. Mr. Moore makes music accessible for everyone. He is clear, repeating himself as necessary to really make sure the student understands. He provides hands-on learning that will appeal to many. It is a program that can be tried out for free. So why not give it a try?

Blessings,
Lori, At Home.

Be sure to visit the Homeschool Review Crew to read about what other families thought about the Simply Music Music & Creativity – Foundation Course. Click on the image below.

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The Heart Changer (book) ~ a Crew review

 

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Books that get their start from a person or idea in the Bible can be a unique way to Screenshot 2019-07-09 at 7.13.01 PMimagine what things might have been like during that time. The Heart Changer is one such book. Written by Jarm Del Boccio, Author (who is also a SchoolhouseTeachers.com teacher), the story imagines what life would have been like for the people mentioned in II Kings 5. This is what most people know as the story of Naaman and the healing of his leprosy.

It is a good idea to start by reading the Bible story so that you are familiar with the history before beginning this fictional recounting. The author has done a good job of keeping the details of the setting and time as accurate as possible but it is still an imagining of people and places. Historical fiction such as this does a wonderful job of helping the reader understand much more about the time and people, while still keeping the history as accurate as possible. Since the story in II Kings 5 is not highly detailed, it allowed Jarm Del Boccio, Author, to image parts that don’t affect the Biblical integrity of the story.

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The Story:

The story begin with a young girl named Miriam, the name chosen for the servant girl in II Kings 5. Her village is being invaded and she is captured. She is given as a gift to the commander, Naaman, who was wanting a young girl to assist his wife. She is taken to Syria where 20190709_174438she is to serve. She struggles with some of the other servants who resent her presence. She remembers the loving training her mother gave her and treats everyone with kindness, even when they are doing less than that for her.

Eventually, she settles into the home. One day, she overhears that the commander is dealing with leprosy. She tells her mistress that there is a prophet in her home country that could help; the Lord could heal him. They eventually listen to her and travel back to her home town. After a time, Naaman is able to see Elisha and get the prophet’s instruction. He is upset that it is a menial act in a dirty river. He is convinced by his servants that he would do it if it were a much greater thing so why not do this simple thing. Naaman does and is healed. The story ends pretty quickly after that, with a little bit of wrapping up of Miriam’s story.

This is an interesting way to look at the history from the Bible, though it is important to recognize how much of it is imagined. The story is an enjoyable read and is appropriate for upper elementary through struggling high school readers. Addressing issues of loss, hurt, and forgiveness, this is a story that many readers will enjoy.

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Teacher’s Guide:

On The Heart Changer website, you can access a teacher’s guide by clicking on the white box that says “Teacher’s Guide.” The guide has a wonderful interview with the author, providing insight into the appeal of the story and how it came about. There is a section on getting to know Miriam with some information about who she was imagined to be and then asking the reader to consider some questions and ideas about Miriam.

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There is a section on names and their importance, asking the student to consider different names from the story and from the Bible.

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There is also a section on researching time and place. This is a helpful bit if a research paper is going to be written.

Also included are a few questions about the heart, a couple of Syrian recipes, and a page for notes. The guide is simple but effective in helping students dig deeper into the ideas and themes of the story, as well as applying those to their own lives.

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Miss E’s thoughts: (age 15)

I really liked the idea of this story, the setting of Naaman’s leprosy and finding out who The Heart Changer post imagethe servant girl might be. It is a great idea and I was really looking forward to reading this. However, I was a bit disappointed. It was missing a rich character development and there were too many secondary characters that had no significant purpose in the story.

I also wanted to get to the actual Bible story and see how it was portrayed. The Bible story part felt really short. I know that in the Bible it was only a few verses, so there was not tons of material to go off of. Still, I expected that to be featured more prominently.

This was a good fiction book, without enough basis to call it historical fiction. It was a little young for me, but for a younger reader, or a delayed reader it would be excellent. I think that it would also be a good fictional resource for introducing the Bible story of Naaman’s leprosy.

I don’t think that I had ever read a book set directly in a Bible story. I’ve read a few set right before or right after, and they were really good. With only this book to base off of, I don’t know which I prefer, but I don’t think that I will be completely closed to reading another book like this one.

Blessings,
Lori, At Home.

Be sure to click the image below to visit the Homeschool Review Crew and read more reviews of The Heart Changer from other families.

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Matific Galaxy (math practice) ~ a Crew review

Matific Galaxy review

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

 

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Blessings,
Lori, At Home.

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

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Jump In – a writing program ~ a Crew review

Writing is something that has come naturally for Miss L yet it is something that she needed guidance and stretching with. Writing poetry, writing stories, creating cards, retelling events – it was all fairly comfortable for her to do. But, there is more to writing, composition, than just the creative edge of it. There is structure and elements to it, as well as different styles yet unexplored for Miss L, that she could use some guidance in. Jump In, 2nd Edition is a new edition of a program that I used with the oldest giggly girl a couple of years ago for learning composition in middle school.  Sharon Watson is the author of this program and it is a delight for youth to work with. Writing with Sharon Watson has produced yet another outstanding program that encourages students to write, to understand the process of writing, and to do well with writing by just “jumping in.”

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We received the digital version of this program for this review. It came as a PDF file. We received both the student textbook and the Teacher’s Guide. Each is a different file.

The Jump In, 2nd Edition student textbook is 292 pages long. It is designed for the student to write their answers and work right onto the page. Miss L enjoys working with the computer and so she used the Fill & Sign option on the PDF reader to type her answers onto the PDF. She then saved it each time she had completed her day’s work so that we had a complete copy of her work. There were some activities that it was better to print so we did print a few of the pages.

example of typing answers into the PDF

example of typing answers into the PDF

 

The student textbook is written directly to the student. There is a Table of Contents and the they are off, jumping right in. The first section, Get Your Feet Wet, has a few skills and gets the student writing in easy bits and pieces right off the bat. The first section is designed to help ease the student’s concerns about writing and help them evaluate what they like and don’t like about writing. It changes the process a bit from the expected. Each section has a number of “skills” and the first section has three. These skills are the small bites that, when put together, create a complete piece of writing.

explaining how they have changed the process

explaining how they have changed the process

The students will work on writing about opinions, persuasive writing, cause and effect,  newspaper articles, narrations, poetry, and more. There are a whole host of styles here for the students to explore with Jump In. And each one of these styles takes the student through it skill by skill. The number of skills in each style ranges from 6 to about 17, depending on what has been taught previously that applies to the writing being developed.

Table of Contents

After the final style of writing, there is a section titled “My Locker.” This section contains checklists and worksheets that the student has used in different sections of the program. There is a page on the steps of the writing process, one with proofreading tips, and one titled “Mistake Medic.” There is a book report form and the worksheet for writing a paragraph. The final important part is the Index. This can help a student use this program long into the future by being able to look up how to write a certain style and getting the tips and tricks Sharon Watson gives in Jump In.

worksheet on Create Your Own Paragraph

worksheet on Create Your Own Paragraph

And, they have thought of everything. Knowing how quickly sources can change, the lesson for creating a works cited page is online. The text tells the student to visit the website for the lesson so that it can be kept up-to-date in this world of every changing technology. What a great idea! No more obsolete texts.

cover of the Teacher's Guide

The Jump In Teacher’s Guide is 123 pages long. It is so much more than an answer key. You do get the answers for each of the skills in the student textbook but prior to that you get a whole lot more. There are three different schedule options – 1 year, 2 year, and 3 year schedules that you can use to help guide you in setting the schedule for your student. A competent, confident student can use the 1 year schedule while a young student will likely be better suited for the 3 year schedule.

Following some random facts (98 lessons called Skills plus 19 more that are assignments and worksheets; “moments of humor may pop up randomly”), there is a list of all of the writing projects or assignments in the program.

some of the assignments to be done including opinion essay, persuasive essay, and cause-and-effect persuasive essay

some of the assignments to be done

Then we get to The Teacher’s Backpack. This contains many of the materials found in the student textbook under My Locker. Plus, we get additional Do’s and Don’ts for different styles AND it is noted on the pages where it is located in the student’s materials.

As a writing teacher, one of the most intimidating parts for me is grading the writing. Sharon Watson removes that intimidation for me by giving us pages of sample essays and grading grids (rubrics or scales). There are sample essays for giving an A, B, C, D, or F. But not just the essay is there. She also includes an explanation of the things that were done well and where improvement could be made for each essay. This is super helpful.

The grading grids are fabulous, also. Not only do we have the example, but we have the rubric which takes out the guess work. Each piece of what should be included in a high-quality essay is listed along with how many points should be given for that skill. (These are found at the end of the guide.)

grading grid for opinion essay

Grading Grid for an opinion essay

There are Ten Minute Writing Plunges included. There are enough plunges (prompts) to be able to use a plunge four days a week each week of the year. They are labeled by month and there are some guidelines to help determine when it is best to utilize these plunges. There is a lot of flexibility with these. These will provide good breaks from the workbook or give some warm-up writing when working on assignments.

The answer key portion of the Teacher’s Guide is well labeled. You can find exactly what the student should be doing with answers to the daily lessons, writing assignments, and schedules. Even when there is no specific answer, there is enough information included for each answer that grading is easy.

example of the answer key showing a skill and what the student must do for that skill

Example of the answer key

Miss L’s Thoughts:

I felt like the amount of instruction given made what I was supposed to do very clear. I like that there are intriguing prompts. The way I was encouraged to do things and the way the examples were given made a lot of sense. As a PDF, this was easy to get to and use. I do think other students would enjoy and benefit from this program.

My Thoughts:

This is a quality program that is adaptable and flexible, making it easy to work with what your student needs. It is easy to use. Miss L completed one skill a day, about three days a week with more time dedicated to the final writing assignment in the style. Opinions was not a simple style for Miss L to start with. But, we felt like it was important to work through the styles in the order presented so that the skills can build one on another.

This is a high quality program that empowers the student to work hard while learning skill by skill what is needed to write strong, effective works. Whether a young 6th grader or a high-schooler who needs a bit of help with writing, this program will provide the encouragement and support the student needs to become a strong writer.

Visit the Writing with Sharon Watson website to get a sample of Jump In, 2nd Edition.

Also, if you are looking for a high school literature course, take a look at the review we did of Characters In Crisis. It was a great program for high school that my oldest giggly girl really enjoyed.

Blessings,
Lori, At Home.

Please click on the banner below to visit the Homeschool Review Crew and read more reviews. Many families have been using Jump In so you can read how it worked for their students.

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The Kingdom Code (financial education) ~ a Crew review

The Kingdom Code review

Financial education is something that should not be neglected yet is often not considered as important as other subjects. At the Teach Them Diligently convention held in Waco, TX, we stumbled across a little gem of a company – The Kingdom Code. They offer a course in financial education through the formation of a business run fully by the students and working on personal and business budgeting in the process. Their The Complete Starter Kit  looked so wonderful. We were unable to purchase it that weekend but definitely had it in our sights for later this year, hoping to find a place to have it fit in our fall schedule.

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When we got home and I opened up my Homeschool Review Crew email, I found that The Kingdom Code was the next vendor we were being asked to take a look at. Now that is not a coincidence! We were very excited, especially my 15 year old daughter who had two business ideas in her head that she wanted to figure out what to do with. We were thrilled to be chosen to be on this review.

The Kingdom Code is a company that was designed to help educate students at a young age about budgeting, spending wisely, managing money, and running a business. What a great idea! Geared towards grades 3-6, it can easily be adapted to work for older students. If you are looking to make it a high school credit, you may decide you need to add an additional budgeting book to it but there is a lot of meat to this program all by itself.

All three of the girls decided that they wanted to work through the program after it arrived and we were happy to accommodate that as we understand the importance of learning to handle money wisely. And the earlier, the better. We receivedThe-Kingdom-Code-Complete-Set

There are free lesson samples available on The Kingdom Code website.

The Kingdom Code textbookThe textbook came as part of The Complete Starter Kit. This 240-page, spiral bound text has 27 lessons that are recommended to be taught no faster than one lesson a week, through two sessions. There are a number of features that I find to be a huge asset. Each lesson has a different character focus, such as seeking wisdom, having courage, showing honor, or being thrifty. This is a code of honor that Kingdom Code Kids are encouraged to follow and is put into a Biblical context, with a focus on trusting in God to guide and provide. There are Bible verses in each lesson to help students frame the information in a Godly manner. There are studies of people who have created businesses and done well with them, highlighting that success but not ignoring the failures and struggles along the way. There are letters from “Aunt Jimmi” which helps students see the idea that is being talked about in the lesson and putting real life experiences to it. There are discussions, worksheets, additional research, and so much more!

Two pages from The Kingdom Code text

Each lesson follows approximately the same set-up. Starting with a proclamation, the students begin their worksheets, have a quest for the clue (often historical in content and leading to the character focus of the week), learning the code of honor, applying that to their business or life, marking the treasure map and then going through some On Your Own activities. There are a few other parts of lessons that will come in but these are the main ones.

Two pages from The Kingdom Code textFollowing the On Your Own activities is a recap of the Kingdom Keys for the lesson and then some additional Bonus Code Work. These are activities to help the student internalize the ideas even more. Some of these are hands-on and some are more abstract. For example, you might write a jingle to remember the JOEYS letters for budgets, write a letter of encouragement, take a trip to the bank, make a flipchart or have a discussion. Each lesson also includes vocabulary words that are important to financial matters and the Code of Honor, including words like financial, entrepreneurs, taxes, pride, and perseverance.

The Kingdom Code Teacher's Guide coverThe Teacher’s Guide is a black and white set of 132 pages, hole punched and ready to go in a teaching binder.  After the listing of what all is included and A Note to the Teacher, there is an Introduction that gets you started with step-by-step instructions. This walks you through the purpose of each part of the lesson and each of the additional materials that go with the program. (These additional materials are found in the Student Packet.) It is a bit intensive up front to set it all up and get familiar with the program.

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Lesson example from the Teacher's Guide for The Kingdom Code

Next in the Teacher’s Guide you get the lesson plans. These are extensive lesson plans and are set up for two sessions per lesson for most lessons. This gives you a full year’s worth of financial curriculum. Each lesson gives you the objective, learning goals, and essential questions, a list of materials, any suggestions or reminders, and the two days worth of lessons. There are specific instructional materials for each part of the lesson and each activity for the lesson. It is very thorough. You also have the answers to the worksheets and suggested enrichment. At the end, there are some assessments and feedback cards, with a few other blank forms that may be needed.

The Kingdom Code map for progress tracking.

The Student Packet is intended for use by one student as the materials are consumable. This is where you find the worksheets to go with each lesson. There is a map for tracking progress by using stickers. There is a set of stickers to use with setting up the budgeting part of the program. There are flashcards to help students learn and remember the vocabulary for each lesson, noted with the lesson number. This is where the “rubber meets the road” so to speak – these forms, notices, worksheets, and vocabulary become the part that is carried with the student throughout their lifetime. The instructions for setting it all up are found in the Teacher’s Guide.

There are several forms and notices available on the website for those who have purchased the curriculum and are customers of The Kingdom Code. These include calendars, ledgers, income statements, and more.

The Kingdom Code JR Budget Kit

The JR Budget Kit is a small package that includes a budget poster, a sticker set, six coloring pages, budgeting percentages page, and instructions on using the budget kit. It is a simple way to begin budgeting and helping students learn to allocate money. It uses the same budgeting allocation as the business kit, only does not include putting money into the business. It is appropriate for very young students with guidance from parents.

The Kingdom Code Coloring Book20190616_210334

The Kingdom Code Coloring Book is a 32-page book of coloring pages for students that may be too young for participating in the business part of the program but are listening to the lessons. They can color pictures of bible verses, knights, treasure boxes, budgeting shields, and more. It could be very good in combination with the JR Budget Kit for younger students, though some of the pages are the same.

All of this comes together to be a practical application of financial literacy. We started really strong with the program and everyone is pleased with it. It is not difficult to teach, nor is it difficult for older students to work through on their own, though they will need guidance along the way. We have spent two days per lesson so far and feel that it is a fairly comfortable pace during full school days. Days can include reading text, discussion, brainstorming, or completing worksheets, among other activities We slowed down when it came time to really figure out what business was going to be pursued to get that solidly in place.

The Kingdom Code activity

The focus of The Kingdom Code for the first business is a service based business. This is a great idea for younger students but it was a difficult thought for the older girls when they already had ideas for goods based businesses. But, after we took an extra couple of days to think about what service based might look like (not everything has to be mowing lawns or cleaning houses), some good ideas were come up with. Miss E realized that she was actually already do a service-based business – sign language interpretation.

Miss E signing to a player at a baseball game.

Miss E signing to a player at a baseball game.

She took this idea and will be working further with it. It was quite a realization to discover that, without the formal recognition and paperwork, you are already working as a volunteer business. She is planning on teaching her younger sister sign language this coming year and that will be where she takes this program next – applying the business building materials to her job as sign language interpreter and instructor. We had planned to have someone teach Miss J anyhow, so Miss E will be earning pay for this service.

We are pleased with the program and plan to pause with it for the remainder of the summer as the girls’ camps, missions, and conventions are starting. But, come fall, this will be on the curriculum list for high school, middle school, and elementary. I plan to have Miss E read a book on personal finance that we really like, as well as write a paper or keep track of budget for a few months, in order to grant her a high school credit.

Miss E looking at the Student Packet.

Miss E looking at the Student Packet.

I am going to close this out by letting Miss E have your ear/eye for a bit to give you her review of the program.

Miss E’s review:

I really liked this curriculum. I think that our whole family wanted to do the goods based business first rather than the service based, but I enjoyed the first few lessons just the same.

Something that I would change would be the worksheets for preparing your service business. I don’t see any reason to come up with 5 different businesses, then narrow it to 3 without even doing anything with them, and then working out the barest minimum of a plan for all 3. I personally had minor problems with the service based because our family’s schedule during the school year is full of commitments and on top of that, a number of my commitments were service jobs that I did not charge for.

I do understand that the curriculum was not designed for a high school freshman like me, but I think that it would work with a little bit of tweaking. The material was a little bit easy for me, except for figuring out a service based business. I would enjoy seeing a higher level KCK curriculum.

One thing that I really enjoyed about this is that it brought God into everything. Again, it was not talking about God on my level of comprehension, but a younger level. To be honest, I never really thought about what to do with the money once you had earned it. Obviously, you spend some for the business, give some to God, and save some, but I never thought about how much goes where.

I really want to learn about managing money and a business because I might want to own a business someday. Or I might sell bracelets or something. And even if I don’t, it is still a really good thing to know.

As you can see, this appeals on many levels and is guidance that is much needed in our society. One of the things I was blessed with growing up is strong financial stewardship examples. At Home Dad and I have talked often about the best way to pass Godly financial stewardship on to our girls. The Kingdom Code is helping in that goal.

I also have a code for you to use when ordering to receive 10% off of your order on The Kingdom Code webside. I do not know for how long this code will be good so don’t hesitate in using it. This is a worthwhile curriculum.

Coupon Code:  10TKC33

Blessings
Lori, At Home.

Be sure to click on the banner below to visit the Homeschool Review Crew to see what other families thought about The Kingdom Code
program.

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