Quest for the King’s Crown (review)

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

Words in green are direct quotes from my son

This post is rather bittersweet as it the very last review I will write for the Homeschool Review Crew. The Crew is shutting down after this year, and this represents the last review they will ever sponsor. Please enjoy.

Grasshopper, who is 10 now, was a late reader. For a long time, he just wasn’t interested. But once he put in the work and got good at it (around age 8), he’s been an avid reader. He was super excited to have the opportunity to read Quest for the King’s Crown from Focus on the Family. We received a paperback copy of the book.

Though this is the seventh book in the Last Chance Detectives series, it stands alone; students don’t have to have read the first six in order to understand the plot.

The Last Chance Detectives (Mike, Winnie, Ben, and Spence) meet in a diner and are talking about how nothing exciting ever happens to them. So they decide to go to the desert to investigate something. While there, they decide to go swimming at a pond and then Winnie says, “There are snakes in that pond. You better be careful.” Then Mike says he sees a snake. Instead, they find a skeleton in the waterfall. They call the police to come and investigate it. They find out the skeleton is over 400 years old! So they take it to a scientist who finds a piece of paper in its hand. They decide they should take it out because they don’t want to put the skeleton into a freezer and the museum people can’t get there for a week. I haven’t read what the paper says yet, but I think it’s going to tell them about some sort of treasure!

I think this book is definitely worth having gotten for this review. I really enjoy reading it. The chapters aren’t too long; I can read one in about ten minutes. I’d say the words are about medium difficulty, meaning that kids about 8 and up should be able to handle reading it on their own. Younger kids should be able to understand the story if a bigger person reads it to them. One of the things I liked most was that each new chapter starts on the right side page. It might seem silly, but I felt like I was making faster progress through the book by having some of those blank pages. I think if I could choose any of the books in this series, it would be this one. I think the story is really good and I’m always very excited to read the next chapter. Even though I think that I will like this one the best, I really want my parents to buy me the other books in the series!

As you can see, this book has been quite the hit in our home. Even though I sometimes have to remind him to read a chapter in the evening, once he gets started he usually will read two or three of them because he just can’t put the book down. And he was kidding when he said he wants the rest of the books; he’s asked me to buy them for him more than once as he’s been reading this one.

Make sure to click through to read more reviews from my fellow Homeschool Review Crew colleagues.


Making Voice Memories (The Voice Library review)

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

My kids just love audio books. They always have. So imagine their excitement when they had the opportunity to create their own audio books with The Voice Library! With The Voice Library – Audio Book Creator, it’s super easy to create your own audio memories.

The program is available either online or through the app (for both Android and Apple). I used the app because it just fits into my lifestyle much better. It was very easy to select the plan to purchase. There are options available for one year ($24.95) or 4 years ($78) and they work with Shop Pay if you need to split your purchase up over four months (purchases over $50 only). Once I got my year purchased, it was super easy to then download the app to my phone, sign in using the account I created during the purchase process, and start recording!

It’s super easy to add a recording to your account. Just click “add new recording” within the app, give your new file a name, and start recording! It’s as easy as listening to an mp3 – really! Simply press record, start speaking (or singing, or reading…), and press stop when you’re done. The app quite literally does everything else. There is no editing required, and you don’t have to figure out where you stored your files afterwards. They’re all right there in your account. It really is super user-friendly.

We used this mostly as a supplement with the kids’ regular school subjects. I had Grasshopper (10), Dragonfly (7), and Bumblebee (4) record a few of their reading assignments so they could listen to their own voices and hear some of the ways they needed to improve their reading. The added benefit is that now we have their voices on recording for posterity.

The kids had so much fun listening to their own voices. Each of them was so interested in hearing themselves on the recording. They didn’t go through the normal “that’s not me!” but they did find their own voices funny and fascinating. It was pretty cool to watch their reactions as they listened. And it did help them to practice their diction better having heard the way they actually speak. It would be a great tool for speech therapists to guide their patients in proper pronunciation.

Another fantastic way to use The Voice Library would be to visit a grandparent or great-grandparent and do some interviews with them. As awful as it is to think about, those older generations won’t be around forever, and it would be really cool to record their stories in their own voices and make an amazing family keepsake for future generations to have forever. We haven’t the opportunity to do that yet, but it’s on my short list of things to do with this software.

Make sure to head over to the Homeschool Review Crew and read more reviews to find out how others used The Voice Library in their homes!


Practicing Math and Science with Brilliant (review)

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

Math and science skills, while arguably aren’t automatically necessary in the “real world” (especially the advanced courses), are still rather handy to keep sharp, especially for us homeschool parents. That’s why I’ve been using the Brilliant app for the past few weeks (instead of having assigned it to my high schooler). With my Premium Subscription, I can access all of the courses through the website or the app; I opted to use the app because I prefer the convenience of my phone over the computer.

I completed two courses over the weeks of the review period: Logic and Everyday Math. I chose Logic as my first class because I really enjoy doing logic puzzles (you know the kind – where you have a grid and a series of clues and you have to figure out “who is married to whom, their wedding month, and what their pet is” for example). I thought that by taking the Logic course on my Brilliant app that I would learn some skills to help me solve those puzzles more easily as well as have some fun.

The Logic course consists of 18 lessons and over 135 concepts and exercises. The entire course uses the same characters, though it does add more as you move through the lessons. It’s based on a group of robots, and there are a huge variety of things to solve using that group. As the lessons progress, humans and androids are introduced, and eventually you’re using concepts like “what you don’t know can actually be quite helpful” to figure out which character is what type of being. The end lessons are actually quite difficult as some of the clues they give you are untruths and it’s your job to figure out which information you can trust and which you can’t in order to get the answers right. I enjoyed the challenge for the most part, but some of those later lessons were a bit too hard to be fun. That does not mean, however, that they weren’t useful! I may not have gotten the answers correct when it was hard to wrap my mind around the information being given, but I still learned the concepts thanks to the “show explanation” feature.

Everyday Math has 9 courses with over 100 concepts and exercises, and I found this course much easier than Logic. The name of the class is quite appropriate, as these are things I use nearly every day in my normal life (not just in homeschooling!). It covers things like fractions and percentages, exponents and place value. These are things that are super helpful to know and understand even if you’re not a mathematician or an engineer. If you cook meals for your family, you use fractions. When you’re grocery shopping and want to calculate a sale price, you use percentages. So this course was very useful in that it helped me to further cement the concepts of everyday math in my mind. And because these were the types of things that I enjoyed learning back when I was still in school (I didn’t hate math like so many others did), I didn’t find the course difficult at all. And I’m the type of person who enjoys easy things and gets frustrated over difficult things, so this was a great course for me.

Overall, I have really been enjoying spending ten minutes a day working through a class on the Brilliant app. I am currently working on the Probability Fundamentals course, and it’s easier than Logic but harder than Everyday Math, so I’m quite enjoying that one too. I definitely see myself using this app on a daily basis all year long.

Make sure to head over to the Homeschool Review Crew to find out more!