## Math Apps for All Ages ~ Math Galaxy 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.

I don’t know about your kids, but my kids love having iPad time. I have to be pretty strict with them, because they would spend all day watching movies and playing games if I wasn’t. When I found out about Math Galaxy, I requested this review so that I could “reclaim” some of that time for productivity. I selected apps for each of my three school-age kids (3rd Grade Math, Pre-Algebra, and Algebra), as well as 2 supplemental apps (Word Problems Fun and Addition and Subtraction Balloon Pop). Part way through the review period, I received an email from the founder of Math Galaxy letting me know of new app they’d just released, Preschool Math, so I downloaded that one for Dragonfly (4 years old). I will talk about each one in turn here. Math Galaxy also offers ebooks, and I will touch on those at the end of this review as well.

### 3rd Grade Math

This was for Grasshopper (surprise, surprise – he seems to be becoming a large part of my blog these days!). He is technically only in 2nd grade, but I thought he was fairly advanced in math, so I wanted to try this with him. The screenshot above shows the main menu, and each of those categories has many lessons. For example, “numbers in base 10” has lessons in adding, subtracting, estimating, and place value. “Operations and Algebraic Thinking” is mostly multiplication and division. And so on.

Because this was officially above his “pay grade,” we stuck mostly with the Base 10 category. As I had hoped, he really enjoyed it. He needed a bit of instruction because we haven’t used base 10 blocks much (he knows the concept of place value, he just didn’t recognize the blocks), but then he was off and running.

### Pre-Algebra Fundamentals

Scorpion has been working through Pre-Algebra this year, so I requested this as a supplement for him. Because he’s done some pre-algebra already, he jumped around a bit, spending time mostly in Decimals and Word Problems.

Scorpion tells me that the program was neither too easy not too hard. It covered the material well and was enjoyable to work through. He would recommend to other students as a good option for extra practice.

### Algebra Fundamentals

Ballet Boy has done Algebra I off and on (usually depending on what curriculum we have at a particular time), so he, like his brothers, had a bit of a jump start on his app. He picked up where he left off in previous math book, Linear Equations. He had to be reminded somewhat about the math, but it came back to him quickly. He too quite enjoyed using the apps.

### Preschool Math

Dragonfly is 4, and he’s at the age where he’s really interested in learning. He was so excited to get a math program of his own, and he’s been the one to actually use it the most! Because he’s only 4 still, I haven’t done a whole lot of formal education with him. For this reason, we avoided things like Matching Sums and focused instead on keeping things fun with Tracing Numbers and Froggie Count. His favorite activity was Tracing Numbers, specifically the 5. I’m not entirely sure why, but he gravitated to the 5 every time.

### Addition and Subtraction Balloon Pop

This app is pretty much exactly what it sounds like. Choose the difficulty of problems you want to work, and then pop the balloon with the answer to the problem at the top of the screen. This is more game than work, and my kids treated as such – Grasshopper loved it!

### Word Problems Fun

This app is an adventure game for one to four players. You select a player and move around the board, exploring “caves” and answering math problems along the way. The screenshot above is from just “inside a cave,” where we’ve just answered the problem correctly and now have the option of going inside properly. This wasn’t our favorite app.

### Ebooks

In addition to these apps, we also received over 30 ebooks from Galaxy. The books are large workbooks full of practice worksheets. I didn’t use these as much as I wish I could have, but we did use a few pages from the ones that matches our studies.

Each worksheet is a riddle. There’s a question and a series of boxes along the top, and math problems in the bulk of the page. Students solve the problem and then find the correct answer from the answer bank, each of which is assigned a letter. Put the letters in the boxes to solve the riddle. (For example: What do you give a snake at bedtime? A good night hiss.)

The ebooks were fantastic to have on hand to quickly print off some extra practice for the kids, especially on days when I wanted them to go screen free. My only complaint is that the answer page for each one came directly after the work page, unlike most books where you get a book full of worksheets followed by all the answer keys together. That’s not really a big thing; in fact, as I think about it while I’m writing at this moment, it’s probably just that it was an unfamiliar way of doing things for me, and therefore I didn’t like it much.

Overall, we have had a good time working with Math Galaxy over the past few weeks, and I’m so glad to have had the opportunity to do so!

Blessings,

Math Galaxy has tons of different apps, and members of the Homeschool Review Crew are reviewing them all this week. Some members are even focusing more on the ebooks than the apps (which, by the way, are available only for Apple, not Android). I highly recommend you head over to the Crew blog to learn more about the huge variety of apps and books offered by Math Galaxy!

## Diorama

My husband recently got a new pair of shoes that came in a really nice box (hello, Nordstrom!), and he have that box to Grasshopper for the express purpose of making a diorama. After he read the Boxcar Children books, Grasshopper decided that he wanted to make his diorama of a scene from the first book. He chose the scene where the kids are having a picnic supper and they find the dog that adopt and name Watch (because he will make a good watchdog).

We started by rereading the section. Then Grasshopper tried his hand at drawing the dog, but he was extremely unhappy with the way it turned out (“it looks like a slug with legs!”), so I helped him out. I’m not much of an artist myself, but I was able to look at the picture in the book and put lines in equivalent places on a sheet of paper. We also made a “blanket,” and Grasshopper painted the inside of the box to blue for sky and green for grass. He also made pictures of food for the blanket, and we worked together on the blueberry bush. I sent him outside with a big brother for a few minutes, and they gathered some real grass and pine cones for the diorama as well. When they came back in, we put everything together.

First, we glued the grass to the bottom, then added the blanket. For the pieces that would stand up, we made sure to leave tabs on the bottoms when we cut them out. When it was time to attach them to the diorama, we folded the tab over and taped the tab to the bottom of the box. It still didn’t work super well (we had to make sure the bigger pieces were leaned against one of the walls), but it gave us a place to start.

All in all, this was a really fun project! It was great to be able to take a book he had read and reinforce the story with an art project.

Blessings,

## Learning About the Past: Book 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.

I’ve read a few YWAM Publishing books in the past, but always with my older boys. I was excited when the opportunity arose this time because Grasshopper (7 years old) is old enough to listen. We chose from the Christian Heroes: Then and Now series, Corrie ten Boom: Keeper if the Angels’ Den. I chose this book for two reasons. First, Corrie ten Boom was used as a sermon illustration by our pastor at church a few weeks ago (around the time we were selecting the book we wanted to review). Second, Grasshopper and I had read another true story from the WWII era this school year (Sadako and the Thousand Paper Cranes), and he wanted to learn more.

About YWAM Publishing

YWAM Publishing started in 1972 as an outreach of YWAM (Youth with a Mission), printing and distributing gospel tracts during the Munich Olympics. Within the first year, they had expanded to books, distributed all throughout the Eastern Bloc countries. Now located in Seattle, they have over 300 titles of their own. They also work as distributors for other Christian companies, selling books, DVDs, and resources for homeschooling families.

YWAM Publishing’s Christian Heroes: Then and Now series has 49 books, and their Heroes of History series has 29 titles. Many of these also have study guides to make the biographies into a complete unit study.

About Corrie ten Boom

Corrie ten Boom was a watchmaker in her father’s at-home clock shop, the first woman of the trade in the Netherlands. She was misdiagnosed with tuberculosis as a teenager and spent 6 months in bed because of it (turned out to be appendicitis). As a young adult, she created many clubs for other young men and women in her town; within just a few years one of her clubs had grown to many hundreds of members and their annual performance drew an audience of more than 1000.

The Germans invaded Holland in 1940, when Corrie (properly, Cornelia, makes after her mother) was 48. They promptly shut down her clubs. Two years later, in 1942, a woman showed up on their doorstep, claiming to be a Jew in need of help. Casper, Corrie’s father, agreed immediately. He read the Bible twice a day, every day, to his family and believed with all his heart that the Jews were God’s chosen people, and he would therefore do anything he could to help them. This the ten Boom home, Beje (bay-yay), became known as The Hiding Place.

On February 28, 1944, all of the ten Booms were arrested after having been outed by a Dutch informant. Her father and sister, Betsie, died in custody.

After the war, Corrie was released and became a world traveler, public speaker, and author. Her most famous book is The Hiding Place. She died on her birthday in 1983, at age 91.

How we used it

As suggested, Grasshopper and I read (well, we are still reading) this book together. I didn’t use the full study guide (of which I received a digital copy), but I have been utilizing the comprehension questions with him. He was very wary about starting to read the book, but from the very first paragraph he was hooked. He has asked to read more regularly since I convinced him to start listening the first time. In summary, YWAM Publishing biographies have found a new generation of love in my family!

Blessings,

Members of the Homeschool Review Crew are reviewing a variety of YWAM biographies this week, from both series. Make sure to click through and learn more!

## Dollar Tree DIY: Spring Welcome Sign

I had so much fun making my winter welcome sign, that when the weather got warmer, I wanted to update the look outside our home. So I headed over to the local Dollar Tree store to find something I liked. What I came away with was a butterfly-shaped sign that said Happy Easter. Because I had a basic idea of what I was going to make before I even set foot in the store, the image and wording on the sign didn’t matter to me. Here’s what I did.

The first step was, of course, finding a sign whose basic shape I liked. I avoided the rabbits because I wanted “spring,” not “Easter.” The glittery butterfly was just right. I also spent a few minutes in the craft section looking for embellishments. I’d seen the wood “hello” back in the winter (almost got it for my winter sign, in fact), and I knew I wanted that for the greeting. I also picked up the purple paint because I couldn’t remember which colors we had at home.

When I got home, I took the two pieces of the sign apart. I rather liked the pink glitter, so I just set the outer frame aside for later. The center, where it originally said “happy Easter,” I coated with Mod Podge and then pressed a piece of butterfly fabric that I had on hand already over it. Then I covered the top in glue as well and put it in the oven on “warm” to dry.

While the glue was drying, I painted my “hello” sign with the purple paint. When I brought the butterfly out of the oven, I carefully trimmed off the excess fabric. I didn’t have an exacto knife, so I just had to use scissors. It would have looked nicer with a sharper blade, but it’s pretty decent anyway.

Once everything had dried and the fabric was trimmed, I used more Mod Podge to attach “hello” to the center of the butterfly, then replaced the smaller butterfly back into the frame, and it was ready to hang!

I so enjoy making these signs, and as much as I love my winter and spring versions, I’m excited to come up with something new for summer too.

Blessings,

## Product Review: Connections Stationary Kit

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.

Grasshopper, who you met earlier today in a Meet the Family post, enjoys writing letters. His favorite person to write to was my dad, and even though Grandpa died earlier this year, I want my son to still enjoy writing letters. It was for this reason I asked to review the Connections Stationary Kit (the misspelling is intentional) from Byron’s Games.

Grasshopper was really excited to see the kit when it arrived, and for good reason. It includes everything your child needs to write and send letters (except the stamps). Included in the box is

• 25 printed sheets of stationery paper
• 25 matching envelopes
• 36 envelope-seal stickers
• 2 ink pads (pink and blue)
• 1 “thank you” rubber stamp
• 1 pen

I was very impressed when I first opened up the kit. The box feels very high quality, and inside everything is neatly placed in its spot. It comes with a plastic tray very much like what you’d find inside a board game, so that all the items can stack inside the box while not being disastrous and “ugly.” This tray also helps keep the kit organized even as your child uses some of the supplies. The paper and envelopes themselves are also very high quality. It’s not just printed computer paper in there; the stationery paper is thick (no bleed through from the pen), but not like card stock. If you’ve ever used purchased stationery, you know what I’m talking about.

Grasshopper wrote letters to my parents (mom and stepdad) on one sheet, which we forgot to photograph before mailing. He also wrote a note to one of his dance friends, thanking her and her family for coming over for dinner (before coronavirus!). He hand delivered that letter. This is the note you see in the graphic above. The envelope is the actual one he used; I just covered up her name for privacy (which is the reason for the off-colored box). This particular little girl (she’s 6) has a huge crush on my son, so he indulged her a little bit by using a heart sticker on the back of the envelope.

We treated the letter writing a bit like copy work. We worked together to dictate a letter, which I wrote down on regular paper. Grasshopper then took a piece of his stationery and the page I wrote, then copied the letter down on the nice paper. On top of being a good way for him to practice his handwriting skills, it made him feel good when he was able to successfully write a legible note that made sense.

My son has really enjoyed using this kit. He’s been very picky about who is “worthy” of a letter because of the limited number of sheets he has, but that’s not automatically a bad thing; he’s using discernment and being very careful about not wasting his resources.

Byron’s Games also makes the Continent Race game, and some of my fellow crew members are reviewing that this week as well. If you’re looking for a fun way to teach or reinforce geography, I recommend you head over to the Crew blog to find out more.

Blessings,

## Meet the Family: Grasshopper

Grasshopper is my third born son, and he is 7 years old (our gap baby).
He’s been getting a lot of face time on the blog lately due to homeschool curriculum reviews.

His interests include Netflix, dancing (he does a boys’ tumbling class and Irish), embroidery, building puzzles, playing games, and drawing. Just this week, he learned to thread his own embroidery needle, so that’s opened up his ability to do that craft a lot more easily.

Recently he’s been making friends with kids in the neighborhood, but we’re putting a slight hold on that right now due to social distancing recommendations/requirements in our state.

He enjoys eating chicken and pizza. He also loves to help in the kitchen. His favorite fruit is oranges and his favorite vegetable is cucumbers (though that’s technically a fruit too).

He is technically in 2nd grade, but because he’s so far behind in reading (though picking up!) and so far ahead in other areas, I’m not putting much stock in that number.

He is the sweetest, most sensitive boy I’ve ever met. He’s not afraid to show his emotion, and of all my boys, he’s the most likely to show extreme respect to others (except Scorpion; he likes to push his big brother’s buttons for some reason).

So that’s my 7-year-old in a nutshell.

Blessings,

## Venturing with God in Congo (book 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.

I love the work that missionaries do, so I was pleased to accept a review for Venturing with God in Congo, a book from Conjurske Publishing.

The book is a very nice feeling, matte finish hardcover book spanning 290 pages. Even my non-reading 4-year-old was fascinated by the cover. “What are those eyes?” “Is that a python?!” So even though you’re not supposed to judge a book by its cover, I’d say the publishers nailed it with this cover. And the inside is just a beautiful as the outside, with an African savannah scene on the end pages and easy-to-read font for the text.

The book opens with a quote from Darrell Champlin (the main subject of the book and late husband of the author, Louise Champlin) about missions, followed by the table of contents, pronunciation tips for the foreign (Lingala) words, a timeline of events, and map of Congo.

Unfortunately, I’ve been very busy lately, so I assigned this review to Scorpion. Being a 13-year-old boy, he wasn’t especially wordy, but here is his review:

Venturing with God in Congo is a fascinating book about Darrel Champlin, his family, and how they grew to become some of the most famous men and women in the Congo. It takes place in the mid-1950s and 1960s. It goes into great detail on all of the wonders of the great African jungles, which I personally love.

It has a photo gallery with real photographs from their adventures. It’s full of fantastic adventures and riveting storytelling, combining to make this an amazing, inspiring book. I would recommend this book for any young missionary, or just as a fun read. Please enjoy Venturing with God in Congo.

After looking briefly over the book and reading my son’s thoughts on it, I am looking forward to reading it myself!

Blessings,

As with all Homeschool Review Crew reviews, there are loads more people talking about this book this week. Please click over to the Review Crew site to find out more.

## The Continuing Adventures of Captain No Beard (book 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.

A couple of years ago, my two littlest kids (at the time) and I had the pleasure of reading and reviewing the first book in the Captain No Beard series. When the opportunity presented itself recently to choose 4 books from Carole P. Roman’s assorted series, there wasn’t even a question regarding what to choose: more of the Captain No Beard adventures! These are definitely our favorite books by Carole P. Roman.

My kids (ages 4 and 7) have asked to read these books over and over again, and because they are so fun, I absolutely obliged them.

Book 2 is Pepper Parrot’s Problem with Patience, and in it Pepper, a new character, has trouble telling her left from right. This causes her much grief, to the point the other characters can barely stand to be around her from all the wailing (screeching, really, since she’s a bird). With a bit of guidance and the old “your left hand makes an L” trick, Pepper learns to tell the difference and more importantly, how to show herself grace when things aren’t as easy as she wishes they were.

Book 3 is Stuck in the Doldrums, and this book takes the crew to the beach. While there, Alexander, aka Captain No Beard, has no problem reminding everyone that he is the captain… he is too bossy! The entire crew gets frustrated with him, prompting him to stomp off on his own. When his ship is attacked, he needs his crew more than ever, and realizes that even though he’s the Captain, each member is important.

Book 4 is Strangers on the High Seas, and we meet baby Cayla for the first time. Captain No Beard doesn’t want much to do with her, but when the Flying Dragon (his ship) is attacked, Cayla has just the weapon to save them all.

The final book we received is book 5, The Treasure of Snake Island. It starts out on a “red sky” morning, and Polly (formerly Pepper) tells the other pirates that this means the afternoon will most certainly be stormy. She knows this because she read about it in a book. Once the storm calms, the conversation turns to snakes, which First Mate Hallie tells the crew she really doesn’t like. Paying her no mind, Captain No Beard pulls out his map and discovers they are near Snake Island. The crew finds the island and docks the ship, then gets off and begins searching for the famous “treasure of Snake Island.” They find the X and start digging, and as the story ends back in Alexander’s bedroom (as all the Captain No Beard books do, because the crew is really his stuffed animals and the ship is his bed), he, Hallie, and Cayla find the treasure chest, and it is full of books!

My boys and I have loved reading these books together the past few weeks, and I’m so glad to have been able to add them to our home library.

Blessings,

Carole P. Roman writes lots of children’s books, not just Captain No Beard. Members of the Homeschool Review Crew are promoting a wide variety of them, so make sure to check out the other reviews!

## Step into Reading (book 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.

I wrote recently about Grasshopper and how he’s finally getting excited about reading. To go along with that, I was excited to be able to offer him The Boxcar Children Early Reader Set from Albert Whitman & Company.

For this review, we received four beautiful, case-laminate hardcover books: The Boxcar Children, Surprise Island, The Yellow House Mystery, and Mystery Ranch. Each one is based on the original Boxcar Children books by Gertrude Chandler Warner. Because Grasshopper is still not fully comfortable enough reading on his own yet, we read them together. To get him warmed up, I read the first page, but then he took over and flew through the books with flying colors.

The first book, The Boxcar Children, sets up the whole series. It tells the story of Henry, Jessie, Violet, and Benny Alden, and explains that they are orphans. The opening scene is of the four hungry children outside a bakery looking for some food and a place to spend the night. That ends up not working long term (or really even short term), so the children move on quickly. They find an abandoned train car, and while Henry works for Doctor Moore, Jessie and the others make the boxcar “home.” Doctor Moore learns more about Henry and his siblings, that they are orphans who are avoiding their grandfather (the only family they have) because they think he is mean. One day, Doctor Moore introduces the children to his friend, Mr. Henry. The kids think this is hilarious – Henry, Mr. Henry. As time goes on, Mr. Henry earns their trust and only then is revealed to actually be James Henry Alden – the children’s grandfather. The kids are thrilled that their grandfather is not mean after all, and they go to live with him. The book ends with them all at his house, and he’s brought their boxcar to his backyard for the children.

The other three books don’t seem to need to go in any particular order, so we read them in Grasshopper’s preferred order.

In Surprise Island, Grandfather gives the children a big surprise: their family owns an island, and they get to spend the summer there on their own! Grandfather shows them the barn where they live for the summer, then he gets on the boat and goes back home. The children are excited to have many adventures on the island! They end up finding many things from clams to shells to broken pottery, to… their cousin Joe. When Grandfather comes for them at the end of the summer, it’s decided that Joe will live them from now on.

We revisit Surprise Island in The Yellow House Mystery. This time, the children find an old yellow house and when they ask Grandfather about it, he tells them that his friend Bill used to love there, but he just up and disappeared one day. The children explore the house, where they find a note that alludes to the fact that Bill borrowed some money from Grandfather, lent it to someone else, and then couldn’t repay the funds. The note says where to find the repayment, so the kids go on an adventure to that location. When they get there, they find Bill! And the box where the money was supposed to be, and though many years have passed, the money is still there. Bill is excited to be able to repay Grandfather and move back into the yellow house.

Mystery Ranch finds the Aldens at Grandfather’s sister’s ranch in Centerville. Aunt Jane is sick and lonely, so Grandfather suggests the children visit her so they can cheer her up. On the train ride there, Benny meets a nice man who shows him their travels on a map. To their surprise, this Mystery Man gets off at the same stop as them. But then they don’t see him again. After many days of taking care of Aunt Jane and her ranch house, she reveals to them that some men have tried to buy her home from her. They also find a hut on the land that looks like it has been occupied recently. They take this information to the sheriff, who introduces them to Mr. Carter – the Mystery Man! It turns out that Aunt Jane’s ranch is also home to some rare rocks, and Mr. Carter is an expert in such stones and has been hired by Grandfather. He determines that Aunt Jane’s rocks are indeed valuable, so a team is brought in to excavate, which saves the ranch.

We have really loved having these books to read. They are perfect for the stage Grasshopper is at now, and I am thrilled that he is excited to read books! And I imagine that in 3-6 months, when he is ready for his first novel, we’ll be getting a Boxcar Children mystery from the library!

Blessings,

Please be sure to visit the Homeschool Review Crew for more information and reviews on these charming books.

## Meet the Family: Scorpion

It took me a while to get this post done because my second son took a long time deciding what he wanted his nickname to be.

Meet Scorpion.

He is 13 years old, and his main interests are dancing (ballet, tumbling, and Irish) and animation. He has been taking tumbling class for 3 years, Irish for 1 1/2, and ballet just since September. He recently started being super into animation thanks to free iPad apps. He makes at least one new animation each week. We bought him the “king of all animation books” (according to my husband), and he’s been reading that like crazy. It’s written by “Frank and Ollie,” two of the original Disney animators, and Scorpion has learned a lot from it. It’s clear he’s been reading it carefully because his animations are getting better and better the more he reads and learns.

He is also a voracious reader, though not as much as he used to be. Sometimes when I don’t have time to read a book that we need to review, he will write those posts for me. His first one will be later this week.

Blessings,