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,

ladybug-signature-3 copy

 

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.

DA725930-D944-4E6D-90F0-82831650BB03

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.

F38F932E-6C1B-46AA-B6C5-4FB7C6E24AD4

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,

ladybug-signature-3 copy

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,

ladybug-signature-3 copy

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).

musik

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.

D818D968-D0E8-42A6-B171-CCA14DB5E700

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.

geckos

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,

ladybug-signature-3 copy

Simply Coding (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.

If you’re interested in having your kids learn some basic computer coding, the Coding for Kids Annual Membership from Simply Coding might be for you. Designed for kids 11-18, the course includes interactive content, videos, chat help from the staff, and projects. Mentors are available for chat help from 9am-6pm central time M-F, and they offer email support on the evenings and weekends.

Through the course, which costs $149 per year for one student or $229 for a family account for up to 3 students (there’s a 10-day free trial if you’re unsure it’s something your kids will be interested in), youth learn to code their own video games, websites, and apps. The course includes roughly 300 hours of content. While appropriate for beginners (so long as they know how to type – though not required, it does make it easier), Simply Coding goes above and beyond other entry-level coding curricula out there.

Simply Coding aims to give kids real-life coding experience in their younger years. A lot of kids want to (or think they want to) work in IT and coding as adults, but few of them know what that really means in regards to the dedication and training necessary. Simply Coding gives them a taste of the dedication required for a fraction of the price of a college course – or worse, an entire degree that they then don’t want to use. And with Simply Coding, the student has something to actually show for their work at the end – something that, if they were right and they do want to go into IT as a career – just might give them a resume piece for college applications.

The entire course is actually made up of 9 courses, totaling nearly 3 high school credits. You can see the breakdown in the graphic below:

coding 1

There is lots more information on Simply Coding on the Homeschool Review Crew Blog today, including other reviews linked up there. I highly encourage you to check that out!

Blessings,

ladybug-signature-3 copy

Reading Eggs (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.

You might recall that Dragonfly, my 4-year-old has been learning to read this summer. He’s super excited, and I want to encourage that hunger to learn, so I was really interested to have him review Reading Eggs from Blake eLearning Inc. I’d heard of Reading Eggs before (if you’ve homeschooled little kids for any length of time, you probably have too), but never really tried it, so this was an adventure for both of us. 
31B9411C-55FE-4678-9584-14558401851E

When you set up the account, there’s one log-in for your family, but each child has their own “map” within the account. When you get logged in, you choose the student and where you want them to work. There are 4 levels of reading: Reading Eggs Jr (ages 2-4), Reading Eggs (ages 3-7), Fast Phonics (ages 5-10), and Reading Eggspress (ages 7-13). We also got access to Math Seeds. I had Dragonfly start at the beginning of Reading Eggs. I probably could have (maybe even should have) had him start partway up since he’d learned quite a bit previously, but it made sense to me at the time to start at the beginning since the program was an unknown quantity to us. 

Reading Eggs is available as a website (on a phone, tablet, or computer) as well as an app (phone or tablet). I didn’t realize at first that there was an app available, so we used the website. When I learned about the app, though, I downloaded it right away to my iPad. I was able to log in using the same credentials as the site, and all of Dragonfly’s progress was there. That was great, because now we don’t need to log in every single time anymore. Since then, we have used the app exclusively. 

The program itself is really fun. Each lesson consists of about 10 different activities/games, all centered around a specific letter or sight word. The first activity always introduces the sound with a fun song, usually sung by mascot Sam the Ant. Then the letter (or word) pops up in different places on the screen and the student clicks or taps on them. The final activity of each lesson is reading a book that focuses on the letter of the day. This is usually a little 4-8 page booklet that has single words, each beginning with the letter. There is an option to have the book read to you, which you can turn off with a little toggle switch at the top of the screen. We always left it on.

The games in between the first and last one each time vary somewhat. I never really counted them, but there seemed to be about 10-12 total games on an (approximate) 8-game rotation. This means that the games get repeated a lot, just with different letters. But don’t take that to mean that it was boring or repetitive, because it definitely wasn’t. And even if it was, kids at this age thrive with repetition anyway. But even for me, as the teacher/monitor, it still felt pretty fresh each day. Obviously, there were some games that I liked better than others (and my preferences were usually based on what was easier for him to succeed at!), but all of the games were fun and really pushed the letter sound of the day. Let’s take a quick look at a few of the games.

Listen for the sounds: The child sees two pictures and has to determine which one has the sound of the day in it (for a single letter, the sound should be at the beginning; for another type of sound, it just has to be in the word).

A415D448-DC88-497F-B12F-648B8EBF62A0Picture Match: There are six pictures taking up most of the screen, and six words down below. When you click on a word, it is read to you and you drag the word to the correct pictures. This is done twice with the same words, but they get mixed up between.

Word Blending: Sounds are shown, each in a bubble. The sounds are read, then blended into a word, and the child repeats.

Frog Hop: There are many iterations of this game, but the concept is the same. The sound or a word with the sound is shown amongst two others and your child chooses the correct one. They do this ten times to get the frog all the way across the pond.

A129A32D-FE8E-468D-A2AC-41107506CD7ADot to Dot: Touch the spots in order to create the letter of the day.

Word building: The final sound(s) are shown along with a picture and three possible starting sounds. The child chooses the correct one.

Letter Grid: In a 6×6 grid, there are 6 of the letter of the day (in different fonts). The child finds them all. The game is repeated with the capital version of the letter.

This is just a small sampling of the different games; as I mentioned, they go on something of a rotation from lesson to lesson. With each game, the child is allowed 3 mistakes. If they succeed with fewer than three errors, they can move on. With the third error, they are automatically restarted on the game.

At the end of the lesson, your child is awarded with some sort of creature that hatches from an egg on their map. This creature is based on the letter of the lesson (Pram Lamb for the “am” sound, for example). Each lesson took Dragonfly about 20 minutes to complete.

So what did we think? We love it! Dragonfly is always asking to do Reading Eggs. Seriously, not a single day goes by when he doesn’t ask to do a lesson (even the weekends). That’s a raving review if ever there was one!

Blessings,

ladybug-signature-3 copy

 

 

Make sure to hit the Homeschool Review Crew blog for more Reading Eggs reviews!

Homeschool Easy Full Year Curriculum (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.

We have homeschooled our kids from the very beginning; none of them have ever attended a public (or private) school. For nearly that entire time, I have wanted to try a “everything provided, open and go” curriculum. So when the opportunity to review Homeschool Easy, I practically begged to be chosen. Homeschool Easy provides full curriculum for grades 1-5, so I chose the 3rd Grade Entire School Year Curriculum for Grasshopper (who is 8 now).

HSE big

When I first got access to the product, which is digital downloads, I immediately went to my computer and clicked the appropriate link. This took me to a folder which contained all of the worksheets needed for the whole year’s lessons. It was very easy to download them and place each subject in a folder within the “Homeschool” file on my desktop, and then to open and print each week. The 3rd Grade curriculum contains 32 weeks worth of lessons in the subjects of grammar, math, history, science, reading, book reading, and writing. We have been using all of them except math (because our current math curriculum is working so well I didn’t want to mess with it) and book reading (because Grasshopper is still building up to novel reading).

homeschool easy logoEach week, usually on Sunday evening, I get on my laptop and open the files I need. The various subjects are broken down into weeks; some of them are broken down into months and then weeks, but in the end the PDFs are all weekly. I open the weekly PDF and print out the pages. Then I write the dates we’ll be doing each page at the top, hole punch them, and put them into Grasshopper’s binder. After we’d been working on the curriculum for a couple of weeks, I asked him if he wanted me to organize the pages by subject or by date. He chose by date, so that’s how they’re in the binder right now. When we finish the school year, I’ll likely rearrange them into subjects since that’s more standard, but for now I want to keep things working for him as best as they can. It’s one tiny way he can have a bit of control over his school day.

The worksheets are very self-explanatory. It’s not completely hands-off on my end, but there are moments that are, and that frees me up to work with Dragonfly (4) on some of his lessons. Or to fix lunch, or deal with the baby, or assign things to the teenagers… but I digress. Let’s get back to the worksheets, shall we?

IMG-5561We usually start our day with Grammar. Grammar is my jam, and I love teaching it to my kids, so I’ve always done it first, even when the big kids were little. With many curricula, 3rd grade is the first time they introduce formal grammar (I don’t know for sure if that’s the case with Homeschool Easy because I haven’t seen the other years), so it starts quite basic. The first two weeks are all about different types of sentences (statements, questions, commands, and exclamations). It expands from there into word types, parts of sentences, proper comma usage, and more, but it starts slow. I support this method; the basics are super important, and it’s best not to rush them in something as important as grammar. Grammar is the most teacher-heavy of the subjects we did.

Third Grade history is all about America. The first month teaches Patriotism, and then it moves on to “normal” American history from there. The Patriotism lessons teach all about the flag, the bald eagle, the Statue of Liberty, and more. There’s even a short project assigned in which students research about their own state. In the second month, you dive right into the beginnings of America, starting with a bit of Native American history. The history lessons are each started with a video lesson which can easily be found on YouTube. After watching the video, there are questions to answer. I typically had Grasshopper watch the video on his own and then we worked together on the questions.

IMG-5563Science is much the same as history: watch a YouTube video and answer questions. The first three months are all about the Solar System, and my son has learned quite a lot about things through the videos that have been assigned. He’s gone over the order of the planets (which require a different mnemonic device than the one I was taught in third grade due to the demotion of Pluto), rocky planets vs gas planets, the approximate sizes of the planets, and a whole week on just the sun. When we finish the Solar System unit, there will be a month of Energy and Light, followed by 4 months to finish out the school year with Animals and Habitats.

Writing is done two days a week instead of five, and it consists of a writing prompt question (Did you enjoy your summer break?) and many lines for the child to write on.

Reading is the most diverse of all the subjects in Homeschool Easy. Each week has a list of sight words, and they are used in various activities all week long. There are flash cards to print out and go over each day as well as the worksheets. Worksheet activities include fill in the blank, crossword, word search, and two days of comprehension.

IMG-5562The two subjects we didn’t do are Book Reading and Math. Book reading assigns two chapter books each month. Each day has the child read 1-2 chapters and answer a few comprehension questions.

Math is pretty basic, and honestly, looked more like second grade stuff than third grade stuff to me (with the exception of the multiplication unit). It would have been very easy for Grasshopper to whiz through most of those lessons without even breathing hard.

Overall, I’ve been pretty happy with the Homeschool Easy curriculum. I love not having to worry about what to teach. That, by far, is the most stressful part about homeschooling for me. It’s not the actual teaching – it’s the planning and the worrying about “is it enough?” With a full curriculum like Homeschool Easy, I don’t have to worry anymore!

Make sure to head over to the Homeschool Review Crew blog to learn more about Homeschool Easy. Check out a few of the other reviews while you’re there – my fellow members have been reviewing all five of the grade levels.

Blessings,

ladybug-signature-3 copy

Curriculum Review: CTCMath

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.

What if you could have one math curriculum for all of your children, no matter what age or skill level they were? With a 12-month Family Membership to CTCMath, you can have exactly that! Let’s take a brief walk-through on how it works.

IMG-6072

The first thing you need to do after you sign up is log in to the parent account. From here, you will set up a separate account (with username and password) for each of your children. This is really easy; all it asks for is your child’s first and last name, a username, password, and the score for which you allow your children to move on to the next topic (ours is set for 80%, which is the default). You can even have the program assign you a random username and password if you like. After that, most of the work is done on the student accounts, but of course you can log in to your parent portal at any time to check on your students’ progress. The parent dashboard shows you at a glance which students you have set up under you, their average score for all lessons as well as how many lessons they’ve completed, and the last 30 action items for all of your students (combined, not each). Action items are things like “Ballet Boy logged in,” “Scorpion viewed the counting to 100 lesson,” “Grasshopper scored 82% on the counting to 100 lesson,” etc. You also have the option of receiving a weekly update email which gives you all of this information right to your inbox each Sunday evening.

The student accounts are a bit different. Once you’re logged in as a student, it’s time to choose the lessons. I have 4 kids using the program right now: Ballet Boy (16) is doing Algebra 1; Scorpion (13) is doing Pre-Algebra; Grasshopper (8) is doing 2nd grade; and Dragonfly (4) is doing Kindergarten.

ctc 3You can see from this screenshot that there are many, many lessons. Each lesson belongs to a category, and you move through the categories one at a time. Each category builds on the last one, so it’s recommended to do them in order. This is Dragonfly’s dashboard, and I didn’t start him on the program right away, so he hasn’t completed as many lessons as his brothers.

ctc2Once you choose a grade level and category, the screen changes and you’re shown the list of lessons for that category. Simply click on a title to be taken to that lesson.

Each lesson consists of video instruction and an interactive worksheet of questions. The videos range from about 2-6 minutes long, and include narration from company owner and math teacher Pat Murray (a dad of 10 from Australia). The lessons use a sort of digital white board to show the concepts; Mr. Murray’s face never appears. He speaks the instruction and the images change as necessary to help with the explanation.

ctc 4For example, in this screenshot from the Kindergarten lesson “Counting and Colors,” he goes over the different colors for the children. The lesson then moves on to the “counting” portion, and he explains how sometimes you need to count only parts of a group. How many blue cars are in this picture? for instance. Once the child has finished the video (and feels like they understand the material), then they can move onto the questions portion of the lesson. As I mentioned before, this is mostly just a digital, interactive worksheet. There are questions related to the material just taught, and the child answers them. They’re told right away whether they got the answer right or wrong, and at the end of the lesson are given a score out of 100 (straight percentage system). If they get above the designated “pass” score, they’re given the option to move on to the next lesson. If they don’t, then they need to try again (and possibly go over the video once more too). When all of the lessons for a specific category are complete, students are awarded a certificate with a “medal.” There are four levels of medal: Platinum (if they get 100% on every lesson), Gold, Silver, and Bronze. I don’t remember the exact breakdown for when each medal is awarded, but it’s either at 5% or 10% marks.

ctc 5So what did we think of the program? Everyone but Scorpion has loved it. Ballet Boy has done a lot of hodge-podge curriculum when it comes to Algebra I, but I think (hope) we’ve found one that will finally get him to the end of the subject so he can move on to other math. Grasshopper and Dragonfly like it so well that they’re both doing multiple lessons per day, always hoping to earn a “gold medal.” I have full confidence that they will each get 2 school years done in the 12-months of our subscription. But Scorpion… Math has never been his strong suit; he’s more a literature guy through and through. And his scores in this program prove that. But that doesn’t mean it’s a bad program or that he’s not learning – I absolutely know that he is because his scores are slowly improving. I’m sure that with continued diligence working through the program, he will absolutely learn the material needed to get him through his 8th grade year and be ready to start high school next fall (2021).

I feel like I have barely scratched the surface of what CTCMath has to offer (which by the way, is a full, traditional [non-common-core] math curriculum from Kindergarten through Calculus), so please visit the Homeschool Review Crew blog to read more reviews and get more information.

Blessings,

ladybug-signature-3 copy