The Humble Calculator (Triad Math review)

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

I grew up using a Texas Instruments scientific calculator, and I’d be willing to bet many of you did as well. What I bet most of us don’t know, however, is the sheer amount of power that humble machine has. Enter Mastering the TI-30Xa Scientific Calculator: Augmented Intelligence for all 21st Century Students from Triad Math, Inc. In this course, which is a combination of video lessons, a work text with problems to solve, and the calculator itself, students learn all about the nuances and extraordinary power this calculator has.

The main dashboard

When we first got access to the course, I gave the book to Ballet Boy (17) and emailed him the login credentials for the video lessons. Then, he worked on the course independently each day. From my perspective, the course was very easy to navigate. When we logged in, it was easy to find the right course, and then to scroll down through the lessons. The interface kept track of where you left off, so it was a breeze to move to the next lesson correctly. I did the first few lessons with my son, and I found the teaching to be very clear and easy to follow. The questions in the textbook went well with the lessons.

A screenshot from the video for lesson 1

Each lesson consists of a pretest, the video lesson, practice questions (available as PDFs within the course or as a separate book, as we received), and a post-test. The post-test is identical to the pretest, except it’s taken after the lesson to make sure the student has learned the material. Each lesson also has a forum, but we didn’t utilize those. 

Here are Ballet Boy’s thoughts. 

I’ve been using the Texas Instruments calculator for a few weeks now and let me just say: this calculator is AMAZING! It’s the only calculator I’ve used that was actually useful for math. All calculators do math, of course, but I’m not in third grade so one that does more that multiply and divide is a welcome sight. I have yet to come across an equation or geometry problem that isn’t made easy with this tool. The calculator even does trigonometry with a few clicks of a button. It also has three memory banks for doing complex word problems. I have done entire math lessons without even scratch paper.

Additionally, the course has many video lessons and a work book that go with it to help you understand every button one step at a time. The videos are super easy to understand and follow along with. What I will say is when you’re watching them, “Dr. Del” is a lesson behind when he tells you what lesson number you’re on so that’s confusing at first, but only a small bug.

All in all I have no problems with the class, only praise. Highly recommended!! 

Make sure to head over to the Homeschool Review Crew for more information!



LeapFrog Academy (review)

Disclosure: I received this product free through the Homeschool Review Crew.

If you’ve had little kids any time in the last 20 years (maybe more), you’re likely familiar with LeapFrog® . I remember borrowing LeapFrog DVDs from the library 12 years ago when my teenagers were small, but I’d largely forgotten about them until the opportunity to review their website and app, LeapFrog Academy®, was presented.

LeapFrog® is a learning resource for kids ages 3-6. Even though I technically only have one child in that age range, I had three of my kids get accounts. Bumblebee is 2 1/2, Dragonfly is 5, and Grasshopper is 8. They have all been having loads of fun with the app over the past few weeks!

Bumblebee isn’t quite ready for much on this app. He’s almost at the 3-year suggested age, but because he was such a slow talker, we’re focused more on increasing his vocabulary and working on preschool milestones unrelated to reading (counting, colors, etc). Despite that, I tried working with him a little bit on the “regular” lessons portion of the app, but it was just too much. But that was okay! LeapFrog Academy® has simpler things like videos for just that situation. In fact, he’s watching the ABC song video as I write this review.

Dragonfly is currently an early reader. He’s been working through another reading app for the past several months and knows many sight words as well as loads of simple words. With this background, he was able to to have a lot of success with LeapFrog Academy®. But that’s not all this app has to offer! While my previous experience with LeapFrog® was mostly alphabet and reading, this time around I’m discovering that it’s much, much more than that! Besides reading, there are sections that deal with health, science, math, and more. It really is an all-inclusive preschool/Kindergarten supplementary curriculum.

Grasshopper was above the age range for this app, but I knew he would feel left out if he didn’t get an account, and I was right. He has also been working on the app using the first grade level (the highest it goes). It’s very similar to the Kindergarten map, but harder questions and games. He also has been loving it!

When you first open the app, you choose which child is working, and from there you can decide which section to work on (lessons, videos, etc). The app automatically assigns them a grade level based on their age – preschool, Kindergarten, or first grade. Grasshopper and Dragonfly worked pretty much exclusively in the map (which is the lessons portion of the app), and Bumblebee watched the videos, like I mentioned before. To be perfectly honest, I didn’t watch/help the kids every time they used the app, so I don’t have a complete understanding of the ins and outs, but I do know that it follows a treasure map-style progression. The character moves through the map when the child taps on the different parts of the path, and when they get to a lesson (delineated by a large icon on the map’s path), they have to complete it in order to move on. When they finish a single lesson, a bridge appears to allow them to move forward on the path. When they complete a map, they are given a new piece of their pirate ship. None of my kids have completed their pirate ships yet, but Dragonfly especially is super excited each time he gets a new piece.

My kids have been loving the LeapFrog Academy® app! They never argue when I suggest they work on it, and I love that they’re spending a portion of their screen time learning. I definitely recommend LeapFrog Academy® for kids this age. You won’t regret it!

Make sure to read more reviews from the Homeschool Review Crew too!


The Reading Game (review)

Disclosure: I received this product free through the Homeschool Review Crew.

Reading should be fun. If it’s not, kids will rebel against the process of learning it (ask me how I know…). So I’m always on the lookout for products that help in that goal, and as such I was really excited about getting to review The Reading Game, 2nd Edition from Allsaid and Duun, LLC.


I have two kids who are on the spectrum of “learning to read.” My 8-year-old, Grasshopper, is one who’s rebelled against reading. (He’s just like his oldest brother in that regard.) My 5-year-old, Dragonfly, is super excited about learning to read – in fact, he had mastered some simple words when he was still 4. (He takes after his second oldest brother.) So something that would make the idea of reading fun for both of them seemed like a win in my book.

Contents of The Reading Game:

  • Six decks of 60 cards: Skunk, Snake, Bear, Penguin, Unicorn, and Zebra
  • Six sets of 3 flashcards that match the animal decks
  • Six books that match the animal decks
  • Game play instructions

The Reading Game is very similar to the age-old game of Memory, but with a twist. It comes with 6 decks of cards, each assigned a color and an animal. Each deck of cards has six sets of 5 pairs of words, and they are numbered on the backs. So for example, your kids start with the Skunk deck, which has sixty cards. 10 of these have a 1, 10 have a 2, and so on. Because there are 10 cards of each number, that’s 5 words with which to play Memory. You start with level 1 of the Skunk deck. You can have basically an unlimited number of kids (within reason, of course), but you do need one person who is a strong reader already (parent, teacher, etc). Just like in regular Memory, kids choose 2 cards. They need to read each word on the cards. If the words match, the child keeps the cards. If not, they put them back and the next child takes a turn. When the teacher feels like the students have mastered the words in the 1 series, they add in the 2s, then the 3s, 4s, 5s, and 6s.

IMG-7325As they move through and master the words, there are flashcards for each deck (3 per deck – 1s and 2s; 3s and 4s; and 5s and 6s). These flashcards create sentences from the words they’ve worked on in those sets – only those words. And when all six sets from an animal group are mastered, the child is ready to read the matching book, and then move on to the next animal to repeat the process with new words.

Grasshopper, Dragonfly, and I played the game a few times a week. I started them both at Skunk 1, and we gradually moved up as the boys mastered the words. Grasshopper (8) was able to move more quickly than Dragonfly, but they both made incredible progress as we played. As we continued to add word cards, the kids quickly realized that they had better luck if they chose their cards with the same numbers on the back. (This was obvious to me, but they were very pleased when they “discovered” it themselves.)

When it was time to read the book because they’d done so well with the card game portion, the boys were a bit intimidated (especially Dragonfly – he’s done lots of reading of individual words but not much in the way of full stories). But when they could do it, they were so excited! And I was so proud of them too.

We will absolutely keep using The Reading Game. It is a wonderful resource for teaching kids to read – or for encouraging struggling (or rebelling) readers if that’s what your family needs.

Make sure to read more reviews on the Homeschool Review Crew. Also on the Crew blog, there’s a giveaway for The Reading Game. Five lucky winners will each win a copy, so please head over there and enter today! (Open to US addresses, ages 18+ only. Giveaway runs March 8-15, 2021. Void where prohibited.)


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Failure Free Reading (review)

Disclosure: I received this product free through the Homeschool Review Crew.

For the past few weeks, Grasshopper (8 years old) has been working with the Failure Free Reading Home Edition. As a kid who’s struggled with reading, I thought it might be helpful for him.


When I first received access to this program, it was easy enough to set up the account. There are two options for student login: with a picture or without one. I set Grasshopper up using the “with a picture” option. This means that when you click “log in,” you only have to type the password. From there, a grid of pictures is on the next page and your student has to choose the correct one associated with their account to complete the login process. Once we had that set up, the first thing the program had us do was the placement test.

I liked how all throughout the placement test process, we were reminded that it wasn’t a big deal. It’s important, obviously, but it was okay for students to get some of the answers wrong – that’s the point of a placement test, after all. This test was long. It took us 2 schooldays to get through it, and that was with me helping him heavily. There would have been no way Grasshopper could have made it through the test at all without my help.

But we did make it through, and Grasshopper was put into a vocabulary building section of the program. We used the program 3-4 days a week, except for the week we didn’t have WiFi because of the winter storms. (We were lucky to never have lost power, but our internet was down for an entire week, which caused problems for homeschooling.)

The word building part of the program introduces lots of new words (I think 5 per week, but I never actually counted them), and they are complicated words, especially for a child. I think that’s great though. The words are vocabulary that an older teen or adult probably use regularly, but are new and difficult for a younger child (think obstinate, recalcitrant, and other words like that). This is perfect for a vocabulary program! Each day, the process is a little different from the day before, but all the lessons build on one another.

IMG-7270First, the word is introduced. The program doesn’t require your student to know the words or be able to read them in advance – good thing for a vocabulary lesson! It will read everything out loud to them. The student should listen to what’s being said and examine the word carefully as everything is happening though. They’ll need all the information about each word that they can absorb during the lesson. When they feel comfortable with this, they can click continue to move on to the next step.

IMG-7271After learning and hearing the word (and hopefully examining its spelling), a synonym and definition is introduced. For most of the words, I found the synonym to be more helpful than the definition. And for words with multiple (but similar) definitions, I thought the voiceover reading was a bit too quick between the definitions. They tended to run together too much for my taste. But my son didn’t seem to have any qualms over the speed, so maybe it was just me. Again, here students should examine the screen and really focus on the word and its definition(s).

IMG-7272The next step is comprehension – using the word in context. The program gives a sentence using the word and the student’s job is to determine whether that word has been used correctly based on the context of the sentence. This comes in handy because in later lessons of the week, a paragraph is provided using all the words of the week (these can be a bit clunky and unnatural; imagine a 3-4 sentence paragraph incorporating 5 vocabulary words). Having had a bit of introduction to sentences with the words already makes that a bit easier to wrap young minds around.

IMG-7273Remember before when I said students should examine and memorize the word? That’s because they’re going to be asked to type it correctly before the day’s lesson is over. This will happen with each word of the week.

These steps repeat for each word. And this is all on the first day of the new list. Activities change throughout the week, but they all use the same set of words.

So what did we think? I’m a bit torn, honestly. First of all, I thought the placement test was way too hard. Maybe that’s because my son doesn’t care about reading (he takes after his oldest brother in that regard), so getting through it was like pulling teeth. But when we did, and we were able to move on to the actual lessons, it was smooth sailing. I liked the vocabulary aspect. I don’t think it provides “failure free reading,” but I think it is a fantastic resource for vocabulary words.

Make sure to read more reviews from the Homeschool Review Crew, too.


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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.)


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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.


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!


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.


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.


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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 came up, I thought, Maybe he needs a different approach. So I applied for the review on his behalf.

math and algebra 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 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!


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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).


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.


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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.


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.

komodo dragon

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.


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.


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.


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