Tools of the Trade: My Favorite Knitting Needles

I learned to knit almost 5 years ago. (I can’t believe it’s been that long!) My husband gave me the gift of sending me to a class at a LYS (local yarn store) for Valentine’s Day in 2016. I shopped at that same store fairly regularly until they closed last year when the owner moved out of state. Whenever I went in there, the employee who had taught my class always raved over how I’d taken to knitting “like a duck to water.” The cost of the class was small: one pair of knitting needles and one skein of yarn from their shelves. With those purchases, the class was free (there was a $20 fee if you brought your own needles and yarn). So with the help of the employees, I chose a nice pair of size 8 (5.0 mm) knitting needles and a robin’s-egg-blue skein of yarn.

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interchangeableI still have those very same needles today. And all of my needle purchases since then have been the same brand and line. What are they? Knitter’s Pride Dreamz, a polished wood needle with unmatched smoothness and pointy tips. Each size of the Dreamz needles is a different, beautiful color for easy identification. (Ironically, the two sizes I use most often – size 8 and size 10 – are almost the same color and I have to differentiate them by feel.) I was so enamored by my very first pair of needles that I’ve never bothered trying any others. I’ve expanded my collection over the past 5 years – I now have a set of interchangeable circular needles, many sets of single pointed, and many sets of double pointed needles, as well as two pairs of fixed circulars – but I’ve always purchased Dreamz.

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Blessings,

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Amazing Names! (CrossTimber 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.

 CrossTimber review

Have you ever explored the meaning of your own name? What about your children’s names? CrossTimber has a variety of products to help you on your way to learning the special messages behind each and every name. I was fortunate to have gotten to select 5 Name Bookmarks, which was perfect because I have 5 children! They were also so generous and allowed each reviewer to choose a name to incorporate into their AmazingName Print Activity Sheets. For these, I chose my almost-11-year-old niece because her birthday was coming up (it’s next week, actually).

The ordering process for the bookmarks was super simple. I did it on my phone (quicker and easier than setting up the computer), and was easily able to find the style choices. They have many, many options from animals (butterflies, safari animals, birds, horses, and more) to outdoors (flowers, sunrises/sunsets, the beach, and more) to people (babies, couples, occupations, music, and more) to spiritual (inspirational, symbols, lighthouses, and more). Once you’ve chosen your image, you get to also choose what kind of quote you want on your bookmark: a Scripture reference, an author quote, a presidential quote, or a character quality quote. If you’d prefer, you have your own custom wording put on the bookmark in place of the quote for an extra charge of just $1 (base price for the bookmarks is $3.99 each, which is very reasonable – that’s about what you’d pay for a bookmark in any bookstore, and those aren’t personalized).

CrossTimber bookmarks

When you order, your names won’t be smudged! But these have my kids’ real names, not their online names.

The best part was going through all the selections with my boys and letting them each choose the design they wanted!

Ballet Boy (17), whose real name is Irish/Celtic, chose a Celtic design with a presidential quote.

Scorpion (14), whose name is Polish, chose a ram with an author quote.

Grasshopper (8), who has a strong Biblical name, chose a tiger with a presidential quote.

Dragonfly (5), with his German name, chose a lighthouse with scripture.

And Bumblebee (2), who has a beautiful Scandinavian name (to match mine and Will’s Scandinavian heritages), got elephants with an author quote. He’s small enough to not need a bookmark, so I chose my favorite animal for his, and I’ve been using it myself! I’ll give it to him one day when he’s older.

The older kids have been using their bookmarks in school books. Grasshopper and Dragonfly have been mostly just looking at theirs a lot (we hung them on the wall for safekeeping until they’re at the point where they need a bookmark). And as I mentioned, I’ve been using Bumblebee’s in the book that I’m reading right now. The bookmarks are a very nice quality. My only issue thus far has been that the plastic coating they put over the top didn’t last very well; with normal use it bubbled and peeled away from the printed paper. It wasn’t that big a deal to just pull it off when this happened, though, and even without it, the bookmarks have held up well. They just don’t have that shiny look anymore.

activity pages 1The activity pages are pretty neat too. When you order, you have a choice to submit any name you like, and you can choose to have the pages printed and mailed to you for $6 or emailed as a downloadable and printable PDF for $3. I thought my niece would think they were pretty cool, maybe a bit silly but still fun because they had her name built in, but I was wholly unprepared for her reaction. When I gave her the envelope and she pulled the pages out, she paused to process what she was looking at. Then she got the biggest grin on her face and said, “This is so cool!” She was visiting us (along with her mom, brother, and sister) at the time, and I gave them to her a little while before they had to leave. She proceeded to spend the rest of the time (30-45 minutes) doing the different activities and raving about how much she loved them. I got the biggest hug when she left!

Overall, CrossTimber is a pretty cool company. I highly recommend their products for a supremely personalized gift! (And by the way, they have many items besides prints – you can get mugs and music boxes too, and they also do stuff besides name meanings. For orders with 3 or more items, they offer discounts, too.)

Check out the Homeschool Review Crew for more reviews. Some of us got bookmarks, some got name cards (like bookmarks, but business card sized), and some got an 8×10 name plaque. All are beautiful! (I reviewed the name plaque a couple of years ago. Feel free to check out that review if you’re interested.)

Blessings,

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Boundary Stone High School Economics (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.

Please enjoy this guest post from Ballet Boy!

I am a homeschool student. I am also 17 years old. This means that I’m nearing the point to think about graduating. For me, that doesn’t mean a diploma. After talking with my dad, I decided to pursue a GED instead, and that means I will need to take a GED test. A key part of this test is economics, so I was very pleased to find out that we had the opportunity to review the Online Economics Course Bundle from Boundary Stone at just the right time.

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The course is a combination of online videos and a physical textbook. When I was getting ready to start the course, I decided to go through a couple of the video sessions first. The videos have a different tone than the textbook. However, both are excellent. My favorite of the videos I watched was the first section of the tax series. It had a very interesting way of framing how to think about taxes and how to explain them. I liked that it felt very “real world” as opposed to simply stating facts. There was a lot more realism than I expected, and it let off a very fun vibe. It broke down taxes by demonstrating all of the different places taxes come from and what those taxes are for, as well as how to calculate how much of a certain pay grade will be taxable. It also got into different types of tax (sales tax, flat tax, income tax, etc). I also liked how these sections were broken into bite-sized pieces. They fit all of that into a video that was only about 15 minutes long. Each section of the introduction video was then expanded into a video of its own for further clarification. Even though each topic was expanded upon separately, none were neglected in the first video. I consider it to be one of the most satisfying introduction videos I’ve ever seen, regardless of topic. It really did a good job getting you excited about the subject at hand.

The textbook has a very different tone than the videos, as I mentioned above. But it was just as interesting. The videos are more of a pragmatic approach, whereas the textbook really gets into the “why” of economics. It was interesting reading through it and seeing the places where it tied economics into the Bible. One of the ways it does this that I found particularly noteworthy was when the book was answering the question “Why Basic Economics?” (which is the title of the first chapter). It basically said, and I think this is true, that in the Garden of Eden mankind was given the mission of dominating the Earth and organizing it. Since Adam and Eve were also instructed to populate and fill the Earth, that would mean leaving the Garden, even though the Garden provided everything they needed. Thus was created the idea of work to fulfill a purpose – as well as the realization that one cannot accomplish all of the work that needs to be done alone. With this concept came the need of camaraderie of working toward a common goal an in turn, the need for a currency – whether through actual money or simply bartering using items. It was a very elegant way to explain the why as opposed to the general “well, we have it so you might as well learn how it works” or “the reason we have money is to buy things and pay bills.”

This program is full of little nuggets of information and delightful ways to answer questions that you haven’t asked since you were a little kid. All in all, I would say this is a stunning program. Having gone through just a little bit of it so far, I feel very comfortable recommending this. I am sure that by the time I finish the entire course, I will be more than ready for the economics portion of my GED test.

Thank you, Boundary Stone, for providing such a great product!

Blessings,

Ballet Boy

Make sure to visit the Homeschool Review Crew for more reviews this week!

Drive Thru History: Bible Unearthed (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.

Have you heard of Drive Thru History® Adventures before? We’ve used a few of their videos in our homeschool in the past, and my kids quite enjoyed them. Well, they have a brand-new course now called Bible Unearthed, and for the past few weeks, Scorpion has been digging into Biblical history with this video series.

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The course includes 12 videos as well as some supplementary material to go along with them. Because Scorpion was the kid who watched these videos, I’m going to give him a moment to tell you about them:

The videos are about archaeology and how it’s useful today. They go in depth in how it’s been used in the past to solidify Bible stories. They spend a lot of time talking about the history of archaeology as well as real artifacts that have been used in the past. There are parts of each video where the hosts explore real-life archaeological sites. Some of the sites are places like David’s temple. This was the first ever evidence that King David was a real person, not just a biblical (fictional) character. When they finish showing the on-site footage, there is a secondary portion with the hosts having a sort of round-table discussion about what they saw. They often look at artifacts that have been previously found, like the Rosetta Stone, rather than finding new things themselves. They don’t find a lot of new things themselves; it’s mostly just exploring, but it’s interesting nonetheless.

The course content is:

drive thru history

  1. What is Archaeology?
  2. The Impact of Archaeology
  3. Locating Archaeological Sites
  4. The Life of an Archaeologist
  5. What is being discovered today?
  6. Archaeological Mysteries
  7. Top Discoveries in Bible Archaeology
  8. Getting Involved in Archaeology
  9. Trends in Archaeology
  10. Weird Archaeology
  11. Accidental Discoveries in Archaeology
  12. What is left to be discovered?

The series is hosted by Dave Stotts and Randall Niles of Drive Thru History® Adventures along with archaeologist Dr. Titus Kennedy. Each episode includes its own PDF of the “digging deeper” section, which includes things like Bible memory verses and optional hands-on activities (like map making).

Each of the videos runs about 15 minutes, and my son tells me that they were about half and half between exploration and table talk. We didn’t really use the curriculum, but I could tell that he was learning just from the videos from the way he was talking about the course with me after he’d finished each video. I think he rather enjoyed having an “easy” class that he found interesting, and it gave him a few minutes of time each day when he could simply relax while still “working.” Because I received lifetime access to this course, I might have both of my high schoolers go over the entire course in its entirety for a history credit in the next year or so. I think it would be a fantastic resource for that! With some modification, this course would also be a great unit study for middle school students, and using the videos alone would be a great jumping off point for some fantastic family discussions.

There are a total of 84 reviews for Drive Thru History® Adventures this week; please click over to the Homeschool Review Crew site for more of them.

Blessings,

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Math and Algebra (review)

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

Scorpion is a tough kid to teach math to. He struggles a lot, and I often feel like a bit of a failure when I realize some of the things he doesn’t know well that I think he should be able to do quickly and easily. We’d been using another online math program, and he was doing reasonably okay with it, but he wasn’t advancing as quickly through the lessons as his brothers were. So when the opportunity to review MathandAlgebra.com came up, I thought, Maybe he needs a different approach. So I applied for the review on his behalf.

math and algebra 1MathandAlgebra.com is another online math instruction system, and is put out by Math Essentials. It uses the same teacher, Richard Fisher, and a very similar format. The main differences are that A) there isn’t a physical textbook and B) it’s got a wide variety of levels in one program (there are 4 courses, to be exact: basic math, advanced math, pre-algebra, and algebra). Let’s talk about the system for a few minutes.

When you first log in, you’re taken to what’s called the Group Leader console. This is basically like a teacher dashboard. Options to look at here include My Students (a list of the students registered on your account), My Account (where you can monitor payment info and orders), My Dashboard (where you can see how far into each course you or your student are), My Courses (where you can select a course to work on), and My Profile (where you can adjust your username, password, and contact info). Everything except for My Courses is basic enough that what I put in parentheses is all you really need to know about them.

Our Course

math and algebra 3As I mentioned, Scorpion (age 14) is the student I had work on MathandAlgebra.com. Because I could tell based on our previous math experience with him this year that he had a lot of holes to fill, we started with Basic Math. This turned out to be the right course of action for him; it’s challenging him enough that it’s not a waste of time, but it’s not so challenging that he’s getting overly frustrated.

Each lesson starts with an instructional video taught by “America’s Math Teacher,” Richard Fisher. These are all fairly short, running in the 4-10 minute range. When the video is over, students then scroll down and download (really just open, though, not truly download) the corresponding worksheet. This is a series of problems that correspond with the lesson being taught. Work is done on a separate sheet of paper. When the student has solved the problems, they (or you) can then refer to the answer key to correct their work. The answer key can be found on the same page as the video and the worksheet download. It’s a download link identical to the worksheet one, except it’s labeled “key.”

Basic Math has 85 different lessons, all following the same format as what I described in the previous paragraph. The lessons are broken down into units:

  • Whole Numbers
  • Fractions
  • Decimals
  • Ratios, Proportions, and Percents
  • Geometry
  • Number Theory and Algebra
  • Integers
  • Charts and Graphs
  • Probability and Statistics
  • Word Problems

Each unit has a different number of lessons, usually in the 8-12 range. And then at the end of each series of lessons, there is a quiz. At the end of the entire course, there is a final quiz.

IMG-6797Scorpion worked on this as his main math curriculum over the past month, and I’m happy to say that I can see drastic improvement in his work. There have been a few lessons in which he got 100%. I don’t think that’s ever happened with him, so this is fantastic news! Literally the only thing we had an issue with was the whole “doing the worksheet on separate paper.” His handwriting isn’t the best, so it was sometimes tricky to correct his work – I had to really pay attention to where he’d written each problem in order to make sure I saw his actual answer. It didn’t occur to me to just print out the worksheets until I started writing this section – if it had, that would have been a lot better for us! Now that it has become something I’ve thought of, I will definitely be doing this for him from now on, because I really do want him to continue with this program. Did I mention that he’s gotten 100% on some of the lessons?!

Make sure to head over to the Review Crew blog to find out more about MathandAlgebra.com!

Blessings,

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Tools of the Trade: My Favorite Crochet Hooks

When you’re creating, it’s important to be happy with your tools. If you’re not, you’re not likely to want to continue creating. When I learned to knit in 2015, I took a long break from crochet. When I picked it up again about a year and a half ago, I wasn’t entirely sure I was going to want to do much crocheting; I just had gotten a hankering for a specific project. So I bought the cheapest set of hooks I could find, which were (I think) $2.79 for 4 hooks. They were plain white plastic, and they worked pretty well. I made an entire blanket using one of those hooks (actually 2 or 3 blankets, I think).

When I realized that I was going to want to continue crocheting regularly (as well as knitting), I decided to buy a slightly more expensive hook. I’d heard good things about the Clover Amour crochet hooks, and I really wanted to try them. Problem is, the set is about $75, and I didn’t really want to invest that kind of money. So when I needed a new hook (in a size I didn’t have) for a project, I opened up my JoAnn app and looked at the coupons. I don’t remember the exact deal I got, but suffice it to say that I got a pretty good deal on ONE Amour hook. It was less than $4. For that price, I could afford to experiment.

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So… after all that backstory (that probably didn’t matter!), let’s talk briefly about the Amour hook itself. It is a pretty standard length for a crochet hook, and has an ergonomic handle. Each size has a different colored handle, so it’s easy to spot the different hooks at a glance. The shaft and hook are metal (at least in the smaller sizes that I mostly use – E through J), but it’s a very smooth, brushed metal. (Upon further research, I see that they’re made from “polished aluminum.”) The yarn glides over the hook effortlessly. I find myself able to crochet very quickly using these hooks. Those two criteria mean that I LOVE THESE HOOKS! Ever since I crocheted my first stitch with one (no joke), I knew I never wanted to use another hook again. And I haven’t.

I mostly crochet blankets and toys, so I don’t have (or need) the whole $75 set. I currently have 4 Amour hooks (sizes E, G, I, and J – actually I have two of the I hooks because one got lost and I won’t crochet with any other anymore, so I bought a new one and then found the other). I can’t recommend these hooks enough. For a budget-friendly hook (they run about $8 each at JoAnn, and you can almost always find a 40, 50, or 60% off coupon on their app), they really can’t be beat.

Blessings,

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Happy Birthday, Ballet Boy!

My oldest son recently turned 17! He is such a joy to have around, and I’m glad he’s mine.

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We celebrated his special day by having a few close friends over for dinner and a murder mystery party. I found one online that was very simple to put together – just print and read, basically. It was a huge hit with his friends!

Happy birthday, Ballet Boy! Here’s to many, many more.

 

Ruby Dress pattern

I posted about the Ruby dress I designed and made last week, but I hadn’t yet written out the pattern. Well, now I have, so I wanted to post it here so other people can have the opportunity to make this cute little dress!

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Full disclosure: I tried to find people to test knit for me and didn’t get any takers, so this pattern hasn’t seen anyone’s eyes but mine until now. If there are any mistakes (which I don’t think there are, but you never know), please feel free to let me know so I can adjust them.

I did not include a pattern for the flower because I didn’t write one. Any crochet or knit flower (or even a decorative button or felt/silk flower) will do. You could even leave the dress plain, but I think the flower adds a little “something special.”

Here is the pattern.

Ruby

Knit Toddler Dress

Size 12-24 months

Gauge: 18 stitches and 26 rows using larger needles in stockinette = 4 inches

Yarn: Worsted or chunky, whatever you like to get gauge. I used Caron Latte Cakes in the color Strawberry Flambe, which is labeled as a “chunky 5,” but felt reasonably thin (worsted) to me.

Needles: Any to get gauge, plus one set a couple sizes smaller. I used size 8 for the ribbing and size 10 for the rest. Interchangeable circular needles are preferred because of the rapidly increasing skirt. It starts small (a 16” or 20” cord will do) but increases to double its size, so you’ll need up to a 40” cord before you’re done. You’ll also need a cable needle as well as a set of DPNs in the smaller size.

Construction: Dress is knit top down starting with the collar, which is worked in rows. A button is added at the end to close the opening. Then it uses raglan increases for the shoulders. Once the sleeves and body are separated, you’ll knit a couple of inches. Then a garter stitch band is knit, followed by the skirt, which increases rapidly for the open, flowy feel. Cables are knit in the skirt between the wedges of increase.

Using smaller needles, cast on 68. Turn work.

Work 1×1 rib (k1, p1) for 1 inch. Work in rows, not in the round.

Increase round: Place marker and join for working in the round. Increase 4 stitches evenly as you knit one round.

Marker setup: Knit 12 (back left), place marker, knit 12 (left sleeve), place marker, knit 24 (front), place marker, knit 12 (right sleeve), place marker, knit 12 (back right).

Setup round 1: *knit to one stitch before marker, yarn over, knit two, yarn over* Repeat from * to * until one stitch before last marker (8 stitch increase). Be careful not to increase at the beginning of round marker.

Setup round 2: knit around

Repeat these two rounds a total of 8 times. You should have 144 stitches on your needles.

You will now work even (no more increasing) until your yoke measures approximately 5.5 inches from the cast on.

Separate body and sleeves: Knit to first marker. Place all stitches between first and second marker (the sleeve) on hold using waste yarn or a stitch holder. Using backward loop method, cast on 4 stitches. Knit to next marker, then repeat the process of placing sleeve stitches on hold. Knit to beginning of round.

Bodice: Knit every round until work measure approximately 2 inches from the underarm.

Waistband: Work in garter stitch (knit 1 round, purl one round) for 8 rounds, or until your belt measures 1 inch.

Increase for skirt: KFB (knit front and back) into every stitch

Marker setup: Knit 10, place marker, *purl 2, knit 8, purl 2, place marker, knit 20, place marker* Repeat from * to * around. Knit last 10 stitches. This establishes where your cables will go, as well as the increase points of the skirt.

Round 1: Knit to first marker, *purl 2, C6B, purl 2, yarn over, knit to one stitch before next marker, yarn over, knit 1* until last increase marker. Knit the last 10 stitches (being mindful not to increase at the BOR).

C6B: Move three stitches to cable needle, hold in back of work, knit 3 stitches, knit 3 stitches from cable needle.

Rounds 2-3: Work as established, knitting the knits (and YOs) and purling the purls all the way around.

Repeat Rounds 1-3 until your piece measures about 17 inches from the shoulder to the bottom (or 1 inch shorter than what you want the total length to be). You may need to switch to a longer cable as you go.

Switch to smaller needles and work 1×1 rib for 1 inch. Bind off.

Sleeves: Pick up sleeve stitches from waste yarn using DPNs (or magic loop if you prefer) in the smaller size. Knit one round.

Work 1×1 rib for 6 rounds. Bind off. Repeat on other sleeve.

Weave in ends and block your dress. Then find a pretty little girl to put it on and share your pictures with me on Instagram @ladybugdaydreams!

I am working on developing this dress in larger sizes, so stay tuned for that – though it will likely be quite a while. If you’re a knitter who’s interested in helping me out by making this dress in other sizes, contact me and we’ll work something out!

Blessings,

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Musik at Home (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’m not much of a music person. I know that’s probably not a popular thing to say, but it’s true. Given the choice, I’d sit in silence before I turned on music any day of the week. I (usually) find it oppressive and aggravating. I would never choose to do a music class in our homeschool because I wouldn’t enjoy teaching it, and that disdain would simply push the thought from my mind. But I know that I’m the anomaly, and I know in my heart of hearts that it’s not fair to the people around me to push that view. So I signed up to review Musik at Home. Using the Musik at Home Membership, I have been able to introduce my younger kids to some very basic music education, and it’s been lovely.

The courses in Musik at Home are divided up by age range. You can choose a course for Babies and Toddlers (birth to 24 months); Mixed Ages (1-5), Preschoolers (3-5), and Family Music for ages 4-7. Each level has 6-9 video lessons which each last under half an hour (perfect for younger kids and their short attention spans!). Some of the lessons ask you to use super basic musical instruments like shakers or drumsticks as well as a scarf or large piece of fabric. You can easily substitute things around the house for these (a plastic container filled with rice for the shaker, sticks from outside or wooden spoons for the drumsticks…). There are also dancing and singing activities. It’s really easy to navigate the website and find the best category, and then lesson, for your child(ren).

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Even though the classes are quite short, they incorporate a lot of different activities within each one – again perfect for keeping young children engaged. My kids (2, 4, and 8) really enjoyed the Mixed Ages class. Even the baby was able to mimic what he saw on the screen during these lessons, and it was super fun to watch him get so excited about the classes. The older kids really liked using the sticks to bang on stuff the most, but Bumblebee (the baby) loved to dance and twirl.

If (on the off chance) you’re like me and aren’t that into music but you still want to give your young children a gentle introduction to the topic, I recommend giving Musik at Home a chance. I don’t think you’ll regret it.

Make sure to head over to the Review Crew blog for more information and additional reviews.

Blessings,

ladybug-signature-3 copy

NatureGlo’s eScience (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.

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Science has the possibility to be tricky, especially as your kids get older. We use a textbook for Ballet Boy (16), but Scorpion (14) isn’t quite ready for that particular text. So when I saw that there were review slots open for NatureGlo’s eScience MathArt & Science Course Bundle, I applied. The course is completely digital, and there are 25 different unit studies for ages 10 and up. I let Scorpion look over the lesson options when we first got access and choose which one he wanted to work on first. He chose the one on Komodo Dragons.

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IMG-6383The Komodo Dragon study in NatureGlo’s eScience includes 7 lessons:

  • Main lesson slideshow with study guide (this is sort of like the syllabus for the course)
  • 10 amazing facts about Komodo Dragons
  • History connection (a short video with questions about Joan Beauchamp Procter – fascinating lady)
  • Geography connection (a lesson on the Indonesian islands)
  • Art connection (how to draw a Komodo Dragon)
  • Literature connection (read an Indonesian folk tale)
  • Creative writing (write your own version of that folk tale)

Some of these lessons take a little longer than others (the writing one, particularly), and for that reason some of them would spill over into multiple days for us. Generally speaking, though, Scorpion was able to work through one lesson each time he sat down. I had him work an average of twice a week, so he was able to finish this unit study in under a month. He liked it so much that when he finished, he chose to continue in the Herps Explorers series and moved into Frogs, Geckos, Chameleons, and More.

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This second unit study is much longer than the first one. The Komodo Dragons study is considered to be a “one lesson” unit, while the Frogs (etc) study is classified as a 6-week study. It wasn’t until I got into that study with Scorpion that I realized we probably moved a bit too slowly in the Komodo Dragons study. Comparing the “one lesson” to the “6 week course,” I could see that each of the 6 components in the latter have the same number of lessons, so I’ve had him start logging in each day to work on science instead of just a couple times a week.

The lessons in the Frogs study are not the same as in the Komodo Dragons study. The Frogs, because it’s broken down into six individual lessons each with its own focus animal or group of animals, pulls different “connections” (art, literature, etc) in throughout the six weeks (and therefore during a different animal focus) rather than all being present in each animal’s lessons. This keeps things from becoming predictable, monotonous, and overwhelming. Over the course of the six lessons, though, all of the components are there – as well as much more, as you could probably guess based on the longer length of the study.

Animals covered in this study are: Frogs and Toads; Dwarf Geckos and Chameleons; Geckos; Giant Salamanders; Turtles; and Marine Turtles. At the end of the six lesson course, there is a review and a certificate of completion.

bubbleology

Animals aren’t the only options for lessons on the NatureGlo’s eScience program, though. For example, there’s one on Bubbeology, which is another “one lesson” course. When I opened up that one, I could see easily how that would be done in just one lesson (as opposed to seven, like what we did with the Komodo Dragons). There are only two things in this lesson: the overview and “projects, activities, and videos.” I didn’t see any of the “projects,” but there were some pre-lesson questions/activities listed in the overview lesson. Grasshopper saw me looking over the lessons to write this review and expressed some interest in the Bubbleology one, so even though he’s below the age range I’ll probably find some of the videos listed on YouTube for him to watch.

Beyond the science aspect of NatureGlo’s eScience, there’s the MathArt aspect. We haven’t explored that very much, but the concept strikes me as pretty awesome. As it sounds like, it’s a way of combining math and art in the real world by looking at things like patterns in nature, architecture, plant growth, and more. It also teaches about the Golden Rectangle and Fibonacci Numbers.

So, what did we think overall?

From Scorpion:

I liked the topic of the Komodo Dragons study. It was pretty straightforward and didn’t take me too long per lesson to finish. I liked that it covered a lot of different subjects within one topic. I haven’t done a unit study since I was a little kid, and this reminded me how fun they can be.

From Mom:

The content of the lessons is really good, and well thought out. I had a bit of frustration in the logging in process each time because moving from the log in page to the courses list isn’t very intuitive, and sometimes required me to log in twice. But once we got the hang of exactly where to click to avoid having to do that, I thought the program was awesome!

Click through to the Homeschool Review Crew blog to read more reviews from other families.

Blessings,

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