Tag Archives: TOS

CrossTimber Name Meaning Gifts ~ a Crew review

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

Names are important. Names are personal. We did not choose our girls names based on meaning but I know many people who spend a lot of time choosing their children’s names based on what they mean. Sometimes those meanings are Biblical; sometimes those meanings are cultural. Both can be influential. CrossTimber Name Meaning Gifts are all about bringing that purpose and meaning to a beautiful gift. We received two of their products for the purpose of this review: the 8×10 Plaque print and the personalized AmazingName Print Activity Sheets.

Having reviewed CrossTimber in the past, I knew a bit about the quality of their name plaques and we chose to order one for our family surname. My girls all have their 5×7 plaques on their walls so we picked a beautiful print for our family room. We chose the Autumn Harvest print with our family name. The colors are vibrant and are very pretty. It includes a beautiful cursive name with an origin culture. There are three meanings included plus a Bible verse that relates to the meanings.

We thought our name was from a different culture than CrossTimber came up with but that was an interesting thing. It was fun to find out something new and different, without knowing for certain either way. (We know for a fact that our family name is hard to trace.) The meanings were fun to read and the girls got a kick out of the ideas. The Bible verse is a great life verse for anyone to choose and the fact that CrossTimber chose it to go with our name is pleasing.

The AmazingName Print Activity Sheets were a fun addition for this review. We had Miss J’s name put on these. (As we don’t use her full name on here on purpose, I have cropped pictures to show only the first letter of her name for these pictures when I need to. The sheets all actually contain the whole name.) There are plenty of activities included that range over a wide group of ages. Included are mazes, word searches, coloring pages, picture searches where the child’s name is embedded in different fonts in the picture, copywork with Bible verses, print and cursive exercises with the child’s name, and other activities.

From beginning to learn to print letters to enjoying challenging mazes and word searches, there is something there for all ages of children. I would guess these would go over well for children from ages 3 to about 11 or 12. Miss J is 11 and she found plenty to enjoy in them. There were a number of activities below her level but that was just fine. We are considering ordering some of these sets for some girls we know who might really enjoy them. They could be a fun, simple Christmas gift for these friends.

If you are looking for meaningful gifts for a birthday, holiday, or other special occasion, consider CrossTimber. Their gifts are beautiful and can be very encouraging for others.

Visit the Homeschool Review Crew to read about the name meaning gifts that they ordered from CrossTimber, from 8×10 plaques to personalized bookmarks to personalized name cards.

Blessings,
Lori, At Home.

Bible Studies from Julie Naturally ~ a Crew review

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

Living a life for Christ begins with knowing the word of God. Spending time in the Bible can be guided many different ways. Two studies from Julie Naturally have been a part of guiding my daily time in the Bible recently. I have been using the Faith Journeys Bible Study Series: Romans bundle and the Faith Journeys Bible Study Series: Philippians.

Julie Naturally is the company run by Julie Polanco. She is striving to use her site and resources to help Christian homeschooling families. There are four parts to the Julie Naturally site – homeschooling, holy living, wholistic health, and homesteading. You can explore these, including her blog. But I am going to direct you to the Bible studies found in her shop. This is what I was using – Romans Bible Study Bundle and the Philippians Bible Study.

Romans Bible Study Bundle

This bundle included a downloadable and printable PDF of the Bible study of Romans, a downloadable/printable PDF of the coloring pages and memory verses, and access online to a video introduction to each of the 8 weeks of the Bible study. Each week of the study has a short video introduction, about 2 chapters to study for the week, and 6 days of study questions and discussion points. In between each week’s set of questions is a coloring page and there are memory verses for each week to print also.

coloring page from Romans study

Each daily study has a passage of verses to read and ponder. The daily questions are related to the reading. The questions range from basic information recall to considering background to apply the concepts to the world of today. Some of the actions for the daily study include prayer and spending time considering how God is working in a specific way. According to the website, this study is appropriate for an older teen or woman. Plan to spend about 15 or 20 minutes daily on this study if you work at the pace Julie planned.

Philippians Bible Study

The study of the book of Philippians is a 4 week study. It does not include a video component for each week. It could be coming later as it was mentioned in the introductory pages but it was not available when I was using the study. As with the Romans study, there are daily readings of a prescribed set of verses and the discussions are related to these verses.

The discussion includes questions of various depths, background information, and statements designed to provoke thought and application to daily life and the world around. According to the introduction to the study, each day’s reading and discussion in under 20 minutes.

My Thoughts

Both the Romans study and the Philippians study did not feel deep and challenging for me. I found that it took me about 5 minutes a day in the Philippians study to read and answer the questions. In the Romans study, it took me closer to 10 minutes because the readings were longer. I prefer my daily study to be 30-45 minutes or longer.

The videos were difficult for me to follow because her speaking style was not as organized as I prefer when working on a Bible study. The quality was similar to a live video from social media, including issues with the reception in week 3 where there content is missing at about the 7 minute mark.

I found that the daily discussions had some interesting points that I had not considered before. For example, Philippians starts with a discussion about leadership in the church. It was a good, thought provoking point. There were a few of these throughout the study. Overall, I found the questions to be recall level questions or to be worded so that I was unsure what was being asked for. If you are going to print the study, I recommend printing two pages of the study per page because there is a lot of blank space on every page, much more than is needed for writing.

I would have greatly appreciated a leader’s guide to go along with this so that I could figure out where she was going with some of the discussions. Several times, I left questions blank because it was unclear what she was considering.

I added the words from Philippians 4:8 to each of the shapes in this coloring page to help me focus on that verse.

I did enjoy the coloring pages in the Philippians study. I liked that the coloring pages in the Romans study had scripture on each one, though it wasn’t stated on the page where the scripture was found.

It was not a favorite study for me and I don’t feel like it would take my girls deep enough into the text. I can really see this being good for others. I found that there were some very good ideas covered in these studies. If you are a fairly new Christian or a younger teen, I can see these studies being appropriate for you. They are also appropriate if you are looking for a simple daily study that doesn’t require a lot of effort or in depth study.

Be sure to visit the Homeschool Review Crew blog to read about others who have been using these studies from Julie Naturally.

Blessings,
Lori, At Home.

Economics Class by Boundary Stone ~ a Crew review

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Blessings,
Lori, At Home.

Bible Unearthed by Drive Thru History ~ a Crew review

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

Biblical archaeology can shed a lot of light on the word of God and help us understand the place in history of people and events. Drive Thru History® Adventures has been shedding light on the Bible through their videos for a while now. After the success of such series as The Gospels and Acts to Revelation (links take you to our reviews), the company realized that it would be interesting to share more about what goes on behind the scenes for Drive Thru History and feature archeaology.

We were given early access to a program series that Drive Thru History® Adventures will be releasing soon – Bible Unearthed. This program features Dr. Titus Kennedy, who is the main archaelogical researcher behind the Drive Thru History programs. Along with him, we meet Dave Stotts (of course) and Randall Niles, a writer for Drive Thru History. These three men take us through various parts of understanding the importance of archaeology and its impact on the Bible and history.

Bible Unearthed is accessed for us through the Drive Thru History® Adventures site. This curriculum site is a subscription site and requires internet access. The program is a 12 part series. Each video is supported by articles, worksheets, Bible readings, and suggested activities to help students understand the content and history. The videos run somewhere around 15 minutes each, give or take a couple of minutes. The course guide recommends each family decide how best to approach the curriculum and gives a possible schedule suggestion that covers one “adventure,” or video, per week and hits all of the included activities/readings.

The format for this series is very different from previous Drive Thru History videos, but that should be expected with a subject so very different from previous series. This is almost a relaxed discussion between 3 friends, with Dr. Kennedy taking the lead and giving the most information. As he is the archaeologist, that makes sense. He covers the following topics in the 12 part series:

  • What is Archaeology?
  • The Impact of Archaeology
  • Locating Archaeological Sites
  • The Life of an Archaeologist
  • What’s Being Discovered Today?
  • Archaeological Mysteries
  • Top Discoveries in Bible Archaeology
  • Getting Involved With Archaeology
  • Trends In Archaeology
  • Weird Archaeology
  • Accidental Discoveries in Archaeology
  • What’s Left To Be Discovered?

The focus in this series is about the impact of archaeology on understanding the ancient world, particularly the Biblical world. From the Tel Dan Stele, to the excavation of a palace of King David, to the Rosetta Stone, the connections between today and the artifacts and excavations of the ancient world bring this understanding. Each of the episodes talks about a different aspect of archaeology and touches on different people and places and artifacts. This keeps each episodes fresh and new yet ties them all together as some of the people, places, and artifacts come up over and over.

The dashboard for this course is simple to use and follow. It moves you from one episode to the next or you can cancel the auto play and utilize the different pieces of the curriculum. When you log in each time, it is easy to see where to begin, as the completed pieces have a check next to them. You can go back to whatever previous piece of the material you might be interested in. The worksheet and answer key are downloadable and printable. There are still articles being added to this course, so it is recommended to continue checking back for new additions. The articles are linked; you can click on the article title and it opens in a new tab.

one of the articles for Digging Deeper

We have found this series to be interesting and insightful. We have watched the episodes together and enjoyed them. I have read the articles and followed the curriculum myself, to add to my understanding of the information. I would certainly recommend this series to anyone wanting to learn more about archaeology, especially ancient history or biblical archaeology. It would not serve as a full high school course on its own, in my opinion, but would be easy to pair with additional resources to round out the course. (A book by Dr. Kennedy is recommended in the course guide.)

We were able to view the videos on the TV by opening the site on a smart phone and casting it to the TV. The whole family could watch then. I also watched a few of the episodes on the laptop when I was prewatching or rewatching episodes by myself or with Miss E, who is devouring the information in this series as much as I am.

Want to know more? Visit the Homeschool Review Crew blog to read more reviews on Bible Unearthed, the soon-to-be-released series from Drive Thru History® Adventures.

Blessings,
Lori, At Home.

Learning Math Online ~ a Crew review

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Blessings,
Lori, At Home.

Math Sprint by Byron’s Games ~ a Crew review

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

Math is a skill that takes practice and repetition. Games are a fun way to learn and practice. Byron’s Games has combined the two in Math Sprint  – The Mental Math Game. This board game is designed for 2-8 players and is marked for ages 7+. (However, if students are learning addition, they are ready for this game so students as young as age 4 or 5 could easily play.)

Byron’s Games is a company that is named after the main creative power – Byron. Byron was only 6 years old when he had an extensive hospital stay. During that time, he was fascinated with the Olympics and geography. That manifested itself in the creation of his first original game – Continent Race. (Read our review of that game.) Since then, he and his family have founded a company that carries Continent Race and other items and just released its second original game – Math Sprint  – The Mental Math Game. A portion of the profits is returned to select children’s charities.

Math Sprint  – The Mental Math Game is a board game that can be a quick 30 minute sprint or a longer distance race. It is appropriate for students learning their beginning math facts up through students who benefit from a review of math facts. There are even blank cards that can be used to create more challenging problems to solve. This adapatibility makes it a great classroom or homeschool or family fun night game.

Math Sprint comes with the board (which is a running track with 8 lanes), 258 cards with 2 math problems on each, 10 dry erase cards, 1 dry erase marker, 8 runner playing pieces, and instructions. It is tucked into a sturdy box. Each of the player pieces corresponds to a picture in the instruction booklet, allowing students to choose one that has similar interests to them. The “runners” have interests of chemistry, games, baseball, gymnastics, tricks/magic, soccer, basketball, and dance. This allows the student to get more involved in their game.

Game play simply involves moving forward each time a math question is answered correctly. There are multiple distances that can be chosen, each affecting the length of the game.
– For the shortest game, choose the 100m dash. This works well for the youngest players, for the shorter games time/length, and for the first time playing while learning the game.
– The next distance is 200m and it is good for older players or players who want a longer game time. It also allows for more variation in the game.
– The longest marked distance is 400m. It is for the most advanced players and for the longer game times. Again, it allows for additional variation.

The card deck comes with 258 cards that each have 2 problems on them. They are color coded for addition/subtraction facts and multiplication/division facts.

There are different colored cards for the challenge cards. These included some double digit addition and subtraction problems as well as some word problems. The wild cards were also color coded and each included an event (getting blown off track, for example) and an advancement or backwards movement.

These cards are where a lot of the variation can be created and where the game can be focused for individual students.Variations can come through mixing in the wild cards and the challenge cards. You can also use multiple distances for multiple ages or use the blank cards to write more difficult mental math problems. You could do a relay race with older and younger students working together. The initial rules have a correct answer worth 2 spaces; you can vary that and allow the student to choose an easy question worth 1 space or a harder question worth 2 spaces. You can vary the deck used for students, pulling out specific fact cards you want worked on. The possibilities for variation grow as the game becomes more familiar.

Miss J is 11 and is fairly strong in her basic addition and subtraction facts. Her multiplication and division facts could use some strength. We played with the multiplication and division cards. We kept it to the upper numbers (sixes through twelves) so that she was working the facts she struggles with having memorized. She did not enjoy having the wild cards in the deck so we did not use those. We played a couple of variations of the game, including one where I had to go around the board 2 times and she had to go around once.

While the game is marketed as a game for all ages, it definitely suits the students in the elementary age range the best. Mental math in this game refers mostly to memorizing math facts in addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division. And this is exactly what is needed for the elementary ages. With the runners having hobbies that the students can relate to, Math Sprint  – The Mental Math Game will be a hit.

Be sure to visit the Homeschool Review Crew to read additional reviews from families with other aged students who have been playing this game in their homes. Also, Byron’s Games has released an app for Continent Race that is available in both Android and iOS operating systems. I have been playing it on my phone and really enjoying it. This free app will help players learn the regions and countries of the world.

Blessings,
Lori, At Home.

Learning Tech and Coding Skills with Simply Coding ~ a Crew review

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

Simply Coding is a company that has created a huge number of classes over topics related to learning to write code for computers and learning technology skills that will benefit everyone. Coding for Kids Annual Membership gives access to everything on the website for one year. They have a 10 day free trial to find out more. But let me tell you about the company, what they offer, and our experience.

Simply Coding is a company that was born out of the understanding from the founders that everyone needs to have a background in technology and some basic code writing skills. Computer science is growing and changing before our eyes and these guys recognized it. Setting up a “summer camp” for their nieces and nephews, they tested their idea and curriculum. Thus, Simply Coding was born and it continues to grow and thrive through summer camps, in school and after school programs, and with online pathways.

The mission of Simply Coding is this: to prepare youth with the core principles of how all software is created so they can feel confident and able to contribute to technology of the future.” – on the About page from the website

In order to fulfill the mission, Simply Coding has over 40 courses that members can access. The site says it is for ages 11 – 18 but there is a lot on there that adults could benefit from, also. There are four areas these courses fit under:

1 – Simply Coding – how to work with various code languages, building websites, using Java, creating games and apps, and more.

2 – Simply Media – classes on photography, videography, different Adobe programs, and more.

3 – Simply Tech Essentials – different application programs, particularly Microsoft but also Google applications and Prezi, plus some general introductions to computers

4 – Simply Tech4Kids has a number of options that will help younger students get into some different technology areas that might be more interesting than the programming websites and such. This includes electronics, blogging, photography, and keyboarding skills, in addition to creating a YouTube channel. Lots of interesting things that I wish we had found earlier! This seems to be materials directed more towards the younger end of the age range for the Simply Coding site.

With the variety of materials on here, it seems there would be something for everyone. The classes run in different formats, depending on what you are learning. I started the photography course and it is simple. An instruction video runs (a few minutes up to 10 minutes per video) and then there is a short quiz to see if you were paying attention. After a few videos, it was time to upload some projects. I was disappointed that I couldn’t go further without uploading projects because I was wanting to learn more about photography but I don’t have a DSL camera. Since I couldn’t upload the projects, I could not continue. Maybe sometime soon. . .

Miss J is 11 and thought that learning to code a simple website would be fun. She started the Intro To Websites course. It us a fairly straight-forward navigation but you must be on a computer that you can download and save to. Which means this is not a portable program for us but we knew that ahead of time. 🙂

Each section of the lesson lists what it is at the top and you can navigate there through a sidebar to get to where you were working. You read the instructions and the work in the box on the right to complete the task being asked for and see what it does. This clear example is very helpful. If you need a video to teach you what is on the screen, the green button top center will do that for you. This was helpful for Miss J several times as she worked with the program because she just had a difficult time following the instructions. They just didn’t make sense to her. These video reviews really helped.

While this is a great skill to have, it quickly became obvious that Miss J was just not going to enjoy learning to code. This was not a good fit for her. I also struggled with using this program but it had more to do with my time at home on a computer that could work with their coding program.

Simply Coding is a strong company and the way they handle instruction is very good. The variations in styles of instruction varies with instructor and course, which is good. Different courses need different styles of instruction. The video based instruction runs from a video of the actual instructor (photography), to a video of animated instructors (Blogging For Kids), to an audio over a video of the computer screen showing what actions need to be taken for that programming/coding step (Intro to Coding). This variety does a good job of fitting the type of audience the course is aimed at and the type of instruction actually being given/what is needed.

Many students will benefit from Simply Coding and the courses they offer. There is much to be gained from this site and we are going to continue to explore some of the other course options that are not programming. Perhaps one of the girls will want to use the Blogging For Kids course, which is only 5 modules. Or maybe the photography or keyboarding classes.

Any family can gain much with the many different options available on Simply Coding for learning any number of technology-based things.

Be sure to visit the Homeschool Review Crew to read about other families experiences with Simply Coding because a lot of them have had great success with this company and it was a terrific fit for their tech interested students.

Blessings,
Lori, At Home.

Reading Eggs for all things reading (plus some math) ~ a Crew review

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

Reading Eggs is an online program that many are familiar with. It is hard to go very long in the online education world without coming across this program from Blake eLearning Inc. There is a reason for this – their products do a very good of just what they are supposed to do: support students in the many different aspects of reading (aka language arts) and math (for their math component). I was so pleasantly surprised last time we used the program and we were pleased to take a look at it again this summer.

Reading Eggs site has programs for ages 2-13, depending on the child and family choice. These programs can be accessed through an internet browser or their new app, including iOs and Android apps. We typically use the browser but I have downloaded the Android app and it works pretty well. There are five programs in the Reading Eggs company:

1: Reading Eggs Junior – ages 2-4: toddler games, songs, and activities designed to build pre-reading skills such as alphabet knowledge and phonetic awareness

2: Reading Eggs – ages 3-7: games, activities, and books to work on reading and language arts skills such as reading comprehension, phonics, spelling, and vocabulary

3: Fast Phonics – ages 5-10: helps instruct students in all 26 letters of the alphabet and the 44 sounds in English while reinforcing reading and spelling (Note on site says it moves more quickly than Reading Eggs so they recommend not trying this any earlier than age 5)

4: Reading Eggspress – ages 7-13: students build skills in reading comprehension, spelling, and vocabulary while reading real books

5: Math Seeds – ages 3-9: students work on their core math skills and problem solving skills

There are so many highly engaging activities that the students really seem to stay involved in the learning process and are motivated to do their best by an integrated reward system. This reward system allows them to earn eggs for payment towards upgrading their avatar, the avatar’s home, and pets. This is a safe online place for the student to learn while playing.

Miss J has used this some this summer to keep her “thinking cap” on. She is working at a 6th grade level and is 11 years old. She has worked in the Reading Eggspress portion of the program. As you can see, she was on 150 for this screenshot.

She enters and chooses the lesson to work on for the day.

We required one lesson to be completed each time she logged in before she could do any of the other games or spend time on her avatar and home. These lessons could be really quick (15-20 minutes) if the book she was working with wasn’t too challenging. Most times, though, it took a bit longer than that.

Each lesson had multiple parts to it, as you can see on the left hand side of the image below. For examples, on lesson 150, she had to look at the cover of the story and answer questions based on the cover. She had to do a dictionary activity and then work on “who, what, where, and what.” Following that, there was an activity on making inferences and a fill in the blank acticity. Next she had to work on words in context and a reading comprehension activity. Finally, she had to complete a quiz related to all of the previous activities. If she was unable to complete them all during her time, it would allow her to pick up where she left off so no work was lost.

She didn’t mind it too much but it definitely was not as engaging for her this year as it was last time we used the program. She did like the races that she got to do on spelling and word forms in the stadium after she finished her lesson and she absolutely adored getting to play with her avatar’s home. But, she is definitely at the upper end of the appeal for Reading Eggs.

One thing I plan to have her use more often this fall is new to the Reading Eggs family. In Math Seeds, you will find Mental Minute. This is a one minute challenge of math facts. This is an area that most students need to shore up a bit so we will be having her log into this area once or twice a week. She will need to work in both the addition and subtraction section, as well as the multiplication and division area.

Between the programs that have been around for a long time with Reading Eggs and their new ones such as Fast Phonics and the Mental Minute, there is a good bit to continue challenging your student from their very young preschool years up through their middle school years. Add to it the easy access for the parents to see what kind of growth is being made and this is a great program. As you can see, growth is shown from the dashboard in various areas.

The Homeschool Review Crew has had a number of families using Reading Eggs from Blake eLearning Inc. You can read reviews of their experiences with students of all ages by visiting the Crew website and choosing several other reviewers to read.

Blessings,
Lori, At Home.

Writing Class for Middle School – IEW ~ a Crew review

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

One of those companies that I have heard about for a very long time is Institute for Excellence in Writing® (IEW). Their reputations as a strong writing instruction program is just a given in most circles of home education. But I was intimidated! The program was overwhelming to me to look at and think about the required prep for. That has definitely changed! Structure and Style® for Students is their new, redesigned writing program and it is so easy to implement! I am sold.

We received the middle school level of this program for this review. Structure and Style® for Students Year 1 Level B is where we began with our 6th grader and while it took a bit to get into (due to the student, not the program), it has been a good fit. We received everything we needed to get started except for a pen/pencil and some blank notebook paper. The program comes with:

  • student pages and binder
  • teacher’s manual, and
  • access to the streaming video with “forever” access

This is a video based teaching structure with Andrew Pudewa. Mr. Pudewa teaches a class on the video. This is a class with live students that has been recorded for our benefit, to see real students using this material and for our students to get the benefit of a live class setting. Each video is about an hour and a half but is set up in the lesson plans to viewed over 2 class periods.

During each class period, Mr. Pudewa has the students interacting, writing, and taking notes. From there, he gives some specific writing assignments to be completed throughout the remainder of the week. The lesson plan runs for 4 days but can be stretched to 5 easily enough. We have even had to stretch it longer, which I’ll explain in just a bit.

Each week, the instruction is based on well-researched source texts, such as the example below, that IEW has put together. They have done their own research and writing so that parents can know that these source texts are quality materials. There are printed copies of this in the student pages and each week the student is given organization tips to help them learn to keep materials in order and easy to find.

A full piece of writing is completed each week of this 24 week course. This creates quite a strong set of writing by the end of the course. It begins with learning about a key word outline and creating this. Some of the outline is done during the class video and the rest is completed without the video. By the end of the course, the student is writing formal critiques. The entire set of styles that will be addressed in the 9 units includes:

  • Note Making and Outlines
  • Writing from Notes
  • Retelling Narrative Stories
  • Summarizing a Reference
  • Writing From Pictures
  • Summarizing Multiple References
  • Inventive Writing
  • Formal Essay Models, and
  • Formal Critique

In addition to writing, vocabulary is a strong component of this course and is integrated well into the teaching class. No need to separate it out. Additionally, grammar is discussed creating a seamless inclusion of these parts of good writing. If you need more, they recommend adding Fix It! Grammar, another IEW product, to your class day.

Student Pages and Binder –

The student sets up the binder on the first day of the course, following the guidance given. Instructions are written to the student and are clear. Once the binder is set up to start, new organization instructions follow throughout the video lessons and at the end, as needed, to help the student learn to stay organized.

Teacher’s Guide

The Teacher’s Guide is spiral bound and contains all the information the parent/teacher needs to support the student through the video based class. There are clear reproductions of the student pages in the Teacher’s Guide, as well as gray boxes that provide additional information for the teacher. Some of these boxes include complete information on what Mr. Pudewa writes on the white board during the video and I have found these very helpful. I don’t sit down with Miss J for this class without my copy.

example of gray box in the Teacher’s Guide next to the student page reproduction

Streaming Videos

The videos will be found in your online portal through the IEW website. When you purchase the program, you create an account with them. You then have lifetime, 24/7/365 access to the videos through your account. You visit their website, login, and click the tab that includes you SSS videos.

tabs on my IEW account

Mine says SSS-1B Video since we are in Year 1 of Level B. Click that, select the lesson you are on, and off you go. There is a white mark partway through that shows you where to break between day 1 and day 2. You cannot see it in the screenshot below. Each part of the lesson run 30-45 minutes.

Video for lesson 4

Our Use and Thoughts

I have been very pleased. It takes a long while for Miss J to work through the lessons but she has come to enjoy them. Mr. Pudewa cracks a lot of jokes and that is something that Miss J doesn’t love. She calls it “misuse of jokage” but she laughs just the same. 🙂

The Teacher’s Guide claims that it takes between 30 and 45 minutes to work through each day’s materials but we have found it take a lot longer, especially since there is often a bit more to do after the videos are finished and they are often 45 minutes. Our solution is to have her work at completing the day’s materials on day 1 and day 2. We minimize other things if need be and she takes a couple of breaks since writing (the physical process AND getting words out of her head onto paper) has always been a challenge for her. She doesn’t necessarily have a problem, it has just not come easy to her. For the other two days on the lesson plans, she can take a day or two longer if needed. Since there are checklists on her weekly outlines, it is easy to see what she still needs to do for the lesson at any given point.

This is especially important to give her time since she has finally decided that her writing (the physical putting words to paper) is important and she wants to have good cursive. This last writing assignment took her 6 pages to write out. So, I gave her plenty of time to do her best. And it provided good, solid, high-quality writing.

I am very pleased with this IEW product and so glad they have come out with this new version of their writing program. As I said, with the old program, I was intimidated by it all as an adult. I couldn’t bear to share that intimidation with my girls but Structure and Style® for Students is a VERY accessible program that the student can enjoy being a part of. It has been a great fit for Miss J and I am pleased to recommend it to others.

The Homeschool Review Crew has been using this program at all three levels – A, B, and C – with their students for the past few weeks. Those who used Levels A and B are sharing their thoughts about it this week. Level C is going to be delayed just a bit but they should be joining the linkup before too terribly long. Click over to the Crew blog to read more.

Blessings,
Lori, At Home.

Timeline Collection ~ a Crew review

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

hands-on history with timelines

Home School in the Woods is a hands-on history company that you will likely have heard of, especially if you have been following this blog for long at all. We were introduced to HSITW early on in our homeschool journey and quickly knew it was a company whose products we were going to enjoy using. We have reviewed a number of their products but there was one that we just hadn’t gotten yet – Timeline Collection: A Collection of Historical Timeline Figures .

HSITW Timeline Figures

Timelines are included in many of the products from Home School in the Woods, especially their Time Travelers U.S. History Studies series and their Project Passport series. So we have many dedicated timelines but every one in a while, we have a need to create a timeline or have the thought that a timeline would go really well with what we are working on. Enter the Timeline Collection. This will be just what we need to be able to create a timeline for any study we are doing, regardless of the subject or time period.

The Timeline Collection is just that – a collection of timeline figures. This downloadable file (comes as a zip file that you will need to extract the files from) gives you more than 1300 figures to pick and choose from for your convenience. This collection supplements any history work you are doing with figures representing people, places, and events. Each figure is available in two sizes and two formats. There is a with text or without text option, as well as the option to print for a notebook size timeline or for a wall size timeline. You can see below the size of a figure with text when printed for a notebook.

Timeline Figures for notebook

The collections are grouped in a few different ways to make searching for the figure you need easier. The following categories are used:

  • Creation to Christ,
  • Resurrection to Revolution,
  • Napoleon to Now,
  • America’s History, and
  • 80 Bonus Figures

HSITW Timeline Figures CD 1 start

There is also a file that contains all of the figures as individual, high-quality GIFs. This allows you to enlarge or reduce the figure as needed. These can then be used for making notecards, games, coloring pages, books, and more. Additionally this file contains the listing of images both alphabetically and chronologically and by different classifications. These classifications include large categories such as World War I and narrower categories such as US Statehood or artists. A few of these are shown in the screenshot below.

HSITW Timeline Figures category examples

We have been using the notebook sized figures from the Creation to Christ section to supplement our history text for Miss J, in 6th grade. While her curriculum does have a timeline, it is very limited in scope. This has allowed us to supplement that timeline with a more in-depth, comprehensive one that pulls a lot of history together visually. I am printing out the pages one sheet at a time and coloring them since she isn’t in a coloring mood right now and that isn’t the focus. She then is cutting them apart, reading the text, asking any questions (leads to some additional research and rabbit trails which are always a good thing!), and then placing it a timeline notebook that we have had laying around the house for years. We are not worrying about the date spacing and just keeping figures in order for this timeline.

20200805_215752

Timelines have been how we have studied a couple of different time periods in history and for Miss J they have been just what she needed. We would look up a short video of the person, place, or event to watch. We would related it to what came before, since we were working in chronological order. Then she would place the figure on the timeline in the correct place. We would spend about 30 minutes a day doing this and it was a pretty enjoyable and thorough history program for upper elementary for her. Home School in the Woods timelines were perfect for that and it is what we used. The Timeline Collection will make that even easier the next time we decide to do that type of a survey study.

HSitW-LOGO-website_360x-2

While timelines are an amazing way to study history, there is even more to it. This being an election year,the study from HSITW on elections is a great addition. We have used it previously and I plan to pull it out again when we start back to school in September. (We started our “summer break” this week.) Miss J will use that to take a look at the elections process and our system for government. Take a look at the blog post from HSITW about this study they created and also the product itself.

Please visit our other blog posts about HSITW products. Other than the U.S. Elections Lap-Pak, we have reviewed

Any history study will likely find a supplement product or a full-on unit study product from Home School in the Woods. Do check them out. Their hands-on history studies cannot be beat. Also, head over to the Homeschool Review Crew to read more reviews on the Timeline Collection: A Collection of Historical Timeline Figures  and the other products families were using over the past few weeks. These include
U.S. Elections Lap-Pak
Benjamin Franklin K-2 Lap-Pak
Time Travelers U.S. History Studies
Make-A-State Activity-Pak

Blessings,
Lori, At Home.

HSITW Timelines

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