Step into Reading (book review)

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

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

116474E7-BDC3-49B3-B27D-355FE8B22D5A

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Blessings,

ladybug-signature-3 copy

 

 

 

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

Learning to Read: review of PRIDE Reading

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.

This post contains affiliate links.

Reading is usually a very difficult thing for students to learn. I’m on my third go-round, and it’s the second time it’s been tough (my second son practically taught himself). With Grasshopper, my 7-year-old, we’ve tried many different programs with varying degrees of success over the past year or two. Our most recent curriculum is PRIDE Reading Program, and for the first time, it seems like he’s making real progress. 

4C919F20-CEA4-443B-89A9-A4EDA7A136B2

When we first got word that we’d been chosen for this review, I sat down with him and did the placement test. This was basically going over letter names, sounds, and blends to see what your child already knows so that you can order the right level for them. He tested at the PRIDE Yellow Book Program Kit – Level 1. This is the second out of four levels. The first is Beginning Consonants, followed by Yellow, Orange, and Red levels (numbered 1-3).

I told my son about the new reading program while we were waiting on the mail, and though he’s been a very reluctant reader thus far, he showed some enthusiasm for trying it. He was so excited that even though it was Saturday when it arrived, he wanted to do the first lesson right away. I never expected that from him out of a reading program!

Before I dive too deeply into the lessons, let’s go over what you get in the kit. Each of these items is available for individual purchase, but you really need the whole kit to really teach the program properly.

393D9159-C521-464F-9E56-E75A3E1ADAC1First is the teacher guide. This is available only online; there’s no physical book, so you need to make sure you have internet access. It has a good mobile version, though, so your phone or tablet will work just fine. (I usually used my iPhone.) The teacher guide is vital. You should not try to teach without it. It goes through every single step of the lesson, telling you just what to say and how to guide your student through the activities.

The student book is a physical, spiral bound book with all the different pages needed for the program. There are reading pages, writing pages, and games. The back cover is also utilized, which leads me to 

Letter Tiles. These are very sturdy, high quality, cardboard squares. You have to punch them out like you would the tiles in a new game, and then store them in a bag. There are single letters as well as prefixes, suffixes, and blends.

The sound cards are like a deck of cards, but instead of game values they have letters (same as the letter tiles) in various singles and combinations. 

The final component of the Yellow Kit is the PRIDE Activity kit. This includes a whiteboard with two markers (black and red) and an eraser, a reading tracker (a piece of translucent plastic, gray on the top and bottom and yellow in the middle, to help your student not mix up lines while they’re reading), a game die, and a canvas zipper pouch to keep everything in.

5008E9B7-9413-4A62-814E-DE921B9D44EBThe lessons are completely “open and go.” After you, the teacher, complete the PRIDE Reading training (which took me just about an hour, and I did during the week we were waiting on the mail), all you have to do is gather the supplies (everything I listed above), open the teacher manual on the website, and go through the steps. When you’ve completed each step (there have been about 10 in each lesson we’ve done so far), you verify that your student has completed the module to your satisfaction, and then the next lesson is unlocked.
The lessons (modules) contain a variety of activities, but many are the same each time. You always start by reviewing the letter names and sounds of every consonant plus the vowels that have been studied up to that point. Then there are a few different activities that rotate somewhat from lesson to lesson. These include spelling activities (spelling words on the back cover of the workbook using the letter tiles), phonemic awareness (say a word, then repeat the word but change one of the sounds), blending (divide the consonant sound cards into two stacks with a vowel in the middle and have your student read the words, some of which won’t be real), and more.
Then you move on to “red words.” These are words that can’t be sounded out in English (like “said”), so students must STOP! and focus  on the word in order to read it. You write the word on the whiteboard using the provided red marker, introduce the word, the have the student write, read, and spell the word out loud until they’re comfortable with it.

After red words (of which there was one new one per module), students read. Sometimes they read a list of words, sometimes it’s sentence to two, and sometimes it’s a full story. On the days they read a story, students learn to read silently. My son didn’t especially enjoy this, but it’s such a vital skill that I’m glad it was taught. When your student is reading silently, you have them stop periodically and answer comprehension questions so you can be sure they’ve read properly.

C04B3526-59C1-40AC-B7A5-683FB3FEE093The final steps of each module are writing. This is done by dictation. You say a sound, the student writes the letter. You say a word, the student writes it down, correctly spelled. You say a sentence, the student writes it down. 

There are 3 modules in each lesson: introduction, practice, and reinforcement. These should be done over a total of 3-5 days. Because of time constraints with dance class and a needy toddler, we ended up needing to take 2 days for each 10-step module most of the time. I would’ve loved to move through more quickly, but it just wouldn’t happen for us.

When I first saw the initial lesson, I worried it would be too much for Grasshopper, but I was wrong. He is easily (but not too easily) able to work through every part of every lesson. His enthusiasm hasn’t waned one bit since we first started. And now, he’s finally excited about reading and has actually started to read things on his own. He even finished his first “step into reading level 2” book recently! I couldn’t be happier with PRIDE Reading Program, and I know Grasshopper feels the same.

Blessings,

ladybug-signature-3 copy

 

 


Other members of the Homeschool Review Crew are telling about their experiences with PRIDE Reading Program this week too. Make sure to click through to read those reviews!

Christian Apologetics: a TOS review

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

 
Over the last few weeks, I’ve been working through The Unbreakable Faith Course from Pilgrim’s Rock, LLC. As you can surmise from my post title, this is a course on Christian Apologetics (defending the faith), and it is very well done.

6F192806-43F5-4305-9640-2654E0232C24The course consists of video lessons and two textbooks: The Box and God the Reason, both written by series creator Craig Biehl. The books (called “textbooks,” but formatted like and as easy to read as novels) are available either as physical copies or PDF ebooks. The video lessons are online. The course is self-paced, but required to be completed within 36 weeks (one standard school year). The course is designed for teens 15+ and adults, and complete enough to earn your teen one high school credit. 

B2EC8C51-1871-4165-B551-6CF8157E33EEThe course has 6 parts, each one with required reading from the texts and several videos. There is a quiz at the end of each part. Like any high school or college course, the best place to start is with the syllabus, and The Unbreakable Faith Course has a very complete one that goes over the expectations, grading scale, and course calendar very clearly.

The first assignment was to read The Box in its entirety. This was easily done because, like I mentioned before, it reads like a novel. The book forms the foundation of the course, and is interesting to read because it has many “conversations” between two characters, called Mr. A (atheist) and Mr. C (Christian). There are some interesting points made by Mr. C, but the one I found most compelling was that atheism requires just as much, if not more, faith as Christianity. The only difference is where that faith lies.

AC112BB1-C59D-4079-BB3B-5095DA77F824Once you finish reading The Box, you work through God the Reason and the video lessons. The videos are usually in the 10-13 minute range, and I usually watched either after the kids were in bed or while I was cooking dinner. Those are typically the only times I had a few minutes to myself (as other moms understand!). The information contained therein was really solid, and I enjoyed the singing of hymns at the beginning and end of each one.

Overall, I think this is a very complete course, and definitely doesn’t skimp on information. I can understand how it earns a full credit for high schoolers!

Blessings,

ladybug-signature-3 copy

 

 


Other members of the Homeschool Review Crew are reviewing The Unbreakable Faith Course this week too. Head over to the Crew blog to find links to those reviews; if you’re even a little curious about this course, you don’t want to miss the other reviews! 

Review: SchoolhouseTeachers.com (2019)

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.

After a year off, I am so excited to be part of the Homeschool Review Crew again! For my first review of 2020, I’ve had the absolute pleasure of reacquainting myself with SchoolhouseTeachers.com. In case you’re unfamiliar, it’s the all-in-one homeschool curriculum website run by The Old Schoolhouse homeschool magazine. When I say “all-in-one,” I really mean it, too. With my Ultimate PreK-12 Annual Membership, I’ve been able to find things for all three of my school-age sons (10th grade, 8th grade, and 2nd grade) to do.

There are so many ways to dig around and find things on SchoolhouseTeachers.com. If you’re trying to plan “circle time” with a wide age range of children, you can search by topic. If you’re putting together individual  curricula for different children, you can search by age/grade.

For now, let’s take a short rundown of what each of my children used on SchoolhouseTeachers.com during the past month.

10th Grade:

A8D12357-27F2-4FFC-9D0E-78DF901EBADD

In order to find something for my oldest son, I first looked over SchoolhouseTeachers.com “by grade level.”  Then I considered his interests as well as what “holes” I thought needed filled in his school year. Using those two criteria, I found the perfect course for him: The National Debt. This is a 24-page PDF that I downloaded to my iPad and sent him via email so he could have it on his own tablet to work through. The course includes reading, vocabulary, and written exercises. When he’d finished the reading on his first day of this study, I found myself really impressed with him because he came out from studying and told me all about not just the course, but also some independent research he’d done based on the course. I love that he took the initiative to go above and beyond what was presented in order to further his understanding of the topic.

7EB93BA3-E3CB-4868-B53E-BF2781188677

46EBC1D0-3BE8-4BEA-8557-763B7C0A0F568th Grade:

For my second son, I followed a similar path in finding something for him. I chose a biography of Nikola Tesla. He’d learned a bit about Tesla through conversation and movies watched with his dad, so I knew this would pique his interest. The biography is on World Books, which is included as part of the SchoolhouseTeachers.com membership. In order to access the huge library of World Books, you login to that website using the username and password found on the members-only information page of SchoolhouseTeachers.com

In accessing this part of the website (World Books), I had the opportunity to deal with the customer service department at SchoolhouseTeachers.com. I’d logged into World Books a few days before and emailed the link of the book to my son, but then when we tried to access it later, the login credentials didn’t work. Using the instant chat help feature, a very helpful person got me all squared away. Having that chat feature was really convenient and very effective.

2nd Grade:

F5782F97-CE00-4863-993D-FF1A2406C068My 7-year-old is a very inquisitive child. He loves being read to and learning about many things. Even though we’ve never used a formal curriculum with him, I have no concerns about his education at this stage (except for his reading) because of his curiousness. That said, it took me a bit of time to find something for him. The reading/spelling curricula for his age was a bit beyond him (he’s below grade level in reading but at or above in all other subjects). Combine that with it having been winter break (during which we were very busy with Nutcracker), and I wanted something light for him and I to do together. I found just the thing with the All About Inventions unit study. This teaches children about 15 fairly modern inventions, from bubblegum to Lincoln logs and fruit roll ups to laundry detergent. Each invention is given a short history (just a paragraph or two – enough to explain them to young children, but not to overwhelm them.) At the end of the short histories are a couple of activity pages for kids.

SchoolhouseTeachers.com has more than just classwork, though. They have planning resources (printable planners for kids and moms – and dads – of all ages), a report card generator, college and career planning, and much, much more. There are over 450 classes available, plus videos, ebooks, and interactive content. And the best part is that you get all this for one price for you entire household – not per student. For the single price of $179 per year (or $19.95 per month or $39.95 per quarter), you get access to everything SchoolhouseTeachers.com has to offer. But if you head over there this month (January 2020), you’ll find a coupon code to get your annual membership for just $99 (or $12 monthly), and that price is guaranteed as long as you keep your membership active. 

As much as I love and endorse SchoolhouseTeachers.com, though, I encourage you not to just take my word here. Head over to the Homeschool Review Crew blog to find access to over 100 more reviews (and if reading isn’t your thing, some of those reviews are YouTube vlog reviews, and some are very short social media reviews).

Blessings,

ladybug-signature-3 copy

Heirloom Audio review (guest post)

I have a guest review to share today from my older boys. Munchkin and Seahawk will each be sharing their thoughts on the newest production from Heirloom Audio, which is called St. Bartholemew’s Eve. They’ve been listening to this as their history lessons for the past couple of weeks, and this review is the final assignment for that “unit.”

There might be some overlap because both boys are reviewing the same thing, but I wanted to make sure to let them both have a turn. I’m not changing anything except their grammar and punctuation as needed (which wasn’t bad). 

Munchkin (12 years old)

St. Bartholomew’s Eve starts with a boy named Philip. He is in France talking about the Huguenot cause with his aunt. They go riding.

Next, Philip is training to sword fight. He also learns to use pistols for extra protection in battle. His cousin tells him that it is time for battle. The battle is long, but The Huguenots eventually retreat.

Now, they go to the city to rescue Philip’s friends. They meet a boy named Argento. He shows them where the city officials live. They capture the president and other city officials. They give the president one hour to come back with Philip’s friends. After Philip’s friends are safe, he warns the president to not harm anyone else in the city.

Another battle ensues, and when the Huguenots are on the verge of defeat, Philip fires his pistols and the Catholics retreat. He then hears word that the president is harming people in the city again.The Huguenots lay siege on the city, and Philip goes in to rescue Argento. Philip then notices that there are X’s on the doors of all the Huguenots. He then goes to rescue Argento’s parents.They disguise as Catholics, but are captured and rescued by Philip’s friends. They escape. When they arrrive at the chateau, there is a battle. The Huguenots win. They escape. Then they go to Paris to make peace with the king, but are betrayed and slaughtered.

I liked St. Bartholomew’s Eve. Of all the audio dramas so far, it has been one of the best. My favorite part where they meet Argento. I liked this part because I like Argento.

My least favorite part is the beginning.I didn’t like the beginning because it was not exciting enough.

There are my thoughts about St. Bartholomew’s Eve.

Seahawk (14 years old)

Phillip is a British nobleman. He is in France meeting his cousin about the persecution of the Protestant Christians in France. They are in the middle of a war with the Catholics over the right to worship God in the way they deem correct. He and his cousins are the commanders of the Protestant Huguenots.

Our story begins with Philip talking to his aunt. She then sends a servant to fetch his cousin while they discuss the Huguenot cause. He and his cousin then go riding.

Philip stays with them for several months while he practices fighting and strategy. Some time later, he and his cousin hear word that Huguenot city has been oppressed, so they ride to meet the other officers in a small town in the north of France. In this meeting, Philip, his cousin, and several other officials of the Huguenot army are making plans to meet the prince in a town outside Paris to organize an invasion of the city. However, on further examination, this proves more difficult than anticipated, so Philip proposes another plan. Instead of attacking Paris, attack a Catholic stronghold in the west of France where there is a high population of oppressed Huguenots willing to take up arms to help recapture their city from the Catholics.

They go on to win several battles and are then called to Paris to make peace with the king. While all of their major leaders are at home the next night, the Catholic soldiers mark the Protestants’ doors and massacre them all. Philip and his friends get away with the exception of his cousin. 

I like this one kind of a lot. It has a very similar feel to In Freedom’s Cause, and that is one of my favorites. What I mean by “similar feel” is the order that things happen and the way they are framed. In this one, it is a lot of leaders interacting with each other, and more of them making plans as opposed to just chaos. I like this versus the other Heirloom stories because you can connect with the characters more easily and see the way they think. It helps you be able to predict where it will go, and it is fun to see it play out. For example, somewhere in the first disc there is a scene in which Philip and his cousin are lying in hospital beds. One of the higher ranking officers walks in to congratulate them for their success in battle. He also knights them both. Knowing Philip from having listened so far, me and Munchkin paused the CD and tried to predict how this would go down. We predicted that Philip would decline the knightship and he did. 

One of my favorite things about these is it’s a fun way to learn important historic stories. I think that all of them have their strengths and weaknesses but they are very well done as a rule. 

 

St. Bartholomew's Eve {Heirloom Audio Reviews}
disclaimer

Rescue Me! (Book review)

Like it or not, superheroes are all the rage these days. And thanks to the “Marvel cinematic universe,” I don’t think they’re going away anytime soon. So why not capitalize on that? This is exactly what The Captain Sun Adventures is all about. 

There are currently three books in the Captain Sun series, and we’ve had the pleasure of reading Book 1, Rescue Me! What Superheroes can Teach Us About the Power of Faith. This softcover book is primarily a comic book/graphic novel, but it also includes really good devotionals for kids. 

The book is divided into 8 chapters, each with 3 pages of comic story and one devotional. The devotional pages are designed to look like a newspaper, so they keep the feel of the book intact and are not at all distracting from the story. Each devotional follows the theme of the chapter it’s a part of. 

The book dives right into the action; the origin story is very limited and told in an almost flashback style. The citizens of Capital City are being enveloped in darkness, and no one knows why. They do, however, know that Captain Sun has always been there to save them before, and he’s nowhere to be found now. 

Like any good superhero, Captain Sun does come to their rescue, though. And like any good superhero story, Rescue Me! has a good villain in Black-Out, the guy causing the darkness. The battle at the end of the book is a good read, and (spoiler alert) isn’t resolved – it’s comtinued in the next book. (I assume it is, anyway, due to it not being resolved in this one.) 

It’s easy to focus on the superhero part of the book, but I think the devotionals are actually more important. They fit well in the superhero-comic theme of the book, but have great content too. For example, at the end of chapter 1 (the origin story I mentioned before), the devotional is called “Origin a Story.” It talks about our origin as humans, how we were created in God’s image and why. It tells kids about sin and God’s plan to save us through Jesus. Each one has superhero themed questions to get kids interested in the devotional too (who is your favorite superhero? How did they become a superhero?), as well as a Bible verse supporting its point. You could easily make this verse into a memory verse or copy work for your children as they read the book.

At the end of the book is a list of more intense questions for parents and children to discuss together. For each chapter, there is one question from the comic and one from the lesson. 

Munchkin (12 years old) and I both read this book. We thought it was a pretty fun read, and it didn’t take long to get through. Of course, you could easily extend the read time by making it into lessons rather than just recreational reading, but we just read it (independently of each other). Munchkin specifically mentioned to me how he liked the flow of the story; one scene led into the next quite seamlessly. 

Are you a children’s ministry director? Captain Sun also offers a free VBS primer pack. I haven’t looked at it closely, but I wanted to mention it because I think that’s a pretty cool thing for them to give away. You can download the “blueprint” on the website.

Make sure to click the banner below to learn more about Rescue Me! What Superheroes can Teach Us About the Power of Faith.

Blessings,

ladybug-signature-3 copy


Rescue Me! What Superheroes Can Teach Us About the Power of Faith {The Captain Sun Adventures Reviews}
disclaimer

Jonah and Mary (book review)

A few years ago, Munchkin (who turns 12 this week) loved to read. Recently he’s been exploring other ways of expressing himself and finding his interests though. He currently enjoys drawing maps from memory. Through these other explorations, I don’t want him to completely abandon reading, though, so when the opportunity to review a book or two comes up, I always ask him if he’s interested. When it came to Who was Jonah? and Who was Mary, Mother of Jesus? from Barbour Publishing he said that he was definitely interested, so I’m going to leave the rest of this post to him.

Who was Jonah?

This book is about 80 pages and the type is fairly large, so it was easy to read. As you might guess from the title, it is a biography of the Biblical Jonah. It starts right before God tells him to go to Nineveh. It drops you right into the action, and follows the same action as is in the Bible right up until the end. It has Bible verses to help support what the author is saying. 

This book was pretty good. I found it fun to read. I’ve read another book by this author (Matt Koceich) before, and I really liked it, so I thought I would like this one too and I was right. I really like biographies, so this was a good book for me.

Who was Mary, Mother of Jesus?

This book was a very similar length and format to Jonah, but it’s all about Mary. It starts by explaining Mary’s special role in history, including the prophecy from Isaiah 7. The “real” story starts in chapter 2, where Mr. Koceich talks about the census and birth of Jesus. Each chapter takes a memorable Bible story (the wise men, 12 year old Jesus at the temple, the wedding in Cana, Jesus’s crucifixion) and explains Mary’s role in each. Like the Jonah book, it gives Bible verse references throughout to support what is being said.

I liked this book too. It was interesting to read familiar stories from a slightly different point of view. It wasn’t quite as fun as Jonah, but I still enjoyed it a lot. 

What Both Books had in Common 

In each book, there were little bits of extra information sprinkled throughout in gray boxes labeled “Clues.” These were mostly things that show God working in the life of both the subject of the book and how we can apply that today. For example, in Mary, one of the Clues says

Mary’s song reminds us to always praise God, for He is worthy. God gives us grace. He fills our hearts and always keeps His promises.

At the end of the main part of the book are “Power-Ups.” These are short (2 page) devotions based on the life of the person whose book it is. Each one includes a memory verse. 

Other Stuff

These two books are part of a series called Kingdom Files. So far, there are 5 books in the series: the two I reviewed, Jesus, David, and Esther. Each one is $4.99. I would like to read them all at some point.

Blessings,

ladybug-signature-3 copy

 

 

and Munchkin 

Kingdom Files {Barbour Publishing Reviews}
disclaimer

Science for Littles (review)

It can be quite difficult to continue homeschooling through the summer months, especially if your kids are used to a “traditional” schedule where they get the time off, like mine. But products like Learning About Science Collection, Level 1 by WriteBonnieRose make it a lot easier. Small Fry (who just turned 6 a few weeks ago) and I have been learning all about plants and animals together using this science curriculum for lower-elementary kids this summer.

The Level 1 collection that we received (there are also levels 2 and 3 available, with level 3 having options for print or cursive) truly is a collection. It includes 7 different lessons, all for one price of $12. These lessons include:

  • Animal Habitats of the World
  • Familiar Plants and How They Grow
  • Fruits and Vegetables Around the World
  • Learning About Life Cycles
  • Our Senses and Systems and How They Work
  • Earth: Layers, Earthquakes, and Volcanoes
  • Exploring States of Matter

Because it’s gardening season, we chose to focus first on Familiar Plants. This e-book is 14 pages long (including a cover and copyright page) and a self-contained lesson. It opens with a basic lesson on what all plants have: stem, leaves, stamen, pistil, flower, fruit, seeds… I read the lesson parts aloud to Small Fry, who soaked up the information like a sponge – or a seed ;). If you print out the pages (I didn’t, just because our printer is in a location that’s not convenient for me to do any printing at this time), there are also words for your child to trace related to the lesson. Instead of working with a printout, I had Small Fry draw his own pictures and label them accordingly. My favorite part of doing this lesson with him were the questions he asked while we worked, most notably “Do plants have to have growing pains too?” This is an especially sore point (pardon the pun) with him right now because his legs have been really achy lately as he’s getting taller.

IMG_1422There are also lots of diagrams for coloring and labeling (also using the tracing method). After the lesson, there’s a little quiz – nothing major, just some simple questions that your child can answer with pictures. For example, “which of the following is not a plant?” This lesson was so interesting for my son that we finished it all in one day, and moved on a few days later to Fruits and Vegetables Around the World.

IMG_1423Fruits and Vegetables is a much longer lesson at 37 pages, but it’s also much simpler. It is separated into fruits and vegetables; they’re not combined. The first page (after cover and copyright) is a list of the fruits written in bubble letters perfect for coloring. The next 14 pages have pictures and a short paragraph about each of the fruits in alphabetical order. There is also a tracing area for the names of the fruits, and the pictures are line drawings that can be colored. In the middle of the book is the list of vegetables, and then the book repeats using vegetables instead of fruits. The last few pages, like in the Plants book, is a review/quiz and parent answer key.

Even though we didn’t get to them, I looked over a couple of the other lessons so I can be prepared when we hit official “back to school time” later this year. Animal Habitats is a 51-page ebook that runs a very similar format to Fruits and Vegetables, but instead of separating into fruits vs vegetables, it’s organized by type of habitat. For example, the African Savannah animals are listed together (lions, giraffes, elephants, wild African dogs, etc). If I counted correctly (there’s no table of contents), there are 16 different habitats covered, including some that you wouldn’t necessarily think of like Farms and Pets.

Senses and Systems covers exactly what you think it might: the 5 senses in humans and the main systems in our bodies. This one is 19 pages, and a lot of learning (reading) with fewer pictures. There is at least one image for each section, but it’s not quite as graphical as the others I looked into. This doesn’t mean it isn’t as good, though! There’s a lot of information covered, so it’s one that you would want to take a little slower with your child. I think when we do it, I’ll cover just one sense or system each day with plenty of review in between.

We really enjoyed the lessons that we did, and when we start up school again in October (we’re taking an extra month off this summer due to the arrival of our new baby at the end of this month), I can totally see us using more of these lessons. They’re really fun for the early elementary crowd!

For the next 2 weeks, through August 15, 2018, use coupon code REVIEWCREW50 and you can get any of the science ebook bundles (any level) for half price. For Level 1, that’s 7 books for just $6!

Blessings,

ladybug-signature-3 copy

 

 

Learning About Science collections {WriteBonnieRose Reviews}
disclaimer

The Scavengers (Progeny Press review)

Munchkin and I have been blessed to review Progeny Press study guides in the past, and he and I both really love them. For this reason, I always request them when the opportunity arises. This year, we got a new book and study guide for him: The Scavengers – eGuide.

2924B107-7DE5-41E6-ADF4-DEAA73A4B04F

The Scavengers, a novel for middle grades written by Michael Perry, is described as “a cross between The City of Ember and Holes.” Since Munchkin has read both of those and loved them, I knew he’d like this book, too. I figured that reading and studying this book wouldn’t be too much of a chore for him during summer break, and due to his lack of complaining, I think I was right. Either that, or he’s been happy to stay inside where it’s cool during these especially hot days.

7C6EC262-056D-4A94-911D-16D62EB22C34Set in a sort of apocalyptic future (like so many books are these days), this novel tells the story of Maggie. With the world falling apart around them, the government gives citizens a choice: move into the “bubble cities” or don’t. But if you don’t, all consequences of that decision are on you. Maggie’s family decides to stay out, and everything is okay . . . until they’re not. She needs to find some new friends to help her find and rescue her family, and that’s just what she does.

The timing of this review hit just when we were out of printer ink, so I didn’t get it printed and bound for him as I’d initially intended. Fortunately I was able to easily download the guide to my iPad (despite the company not recommending that, just in case it didn’t work) and save the PDF to my iBooks app. From there, he would go over the questions and other activities directly from the iPad and write the answers down in a notebook. Doing so was a really effective way of getting the job done. It may not have been quite as elegant as a printed and bound booklet, but it worked.

B89C43F0-BB0F-4D89-B546-5D5898E06B9DLike all Progeny Press guides, The Scavengers eGuide has a heavily Christian focus; this is one of the reasons I like them so well. Each chunk of the study guide covers 8 chapters (it sounds like a lot, but the whole book has 59 fairly short chapters, so an 8-chapter chunk isn’t so bad), and a fair number of the questions of each study-guide-chapter (especially in the critical thinking, “digging deeper” section) are directly related to the Bible.

A8DB71C5-CE89-4CE9-A073-37E035104356Besides comprehension and critical thinking questions, each section also includes vocabulary words. I’ve never expanded this very much (Munchkin is naturally good at all things language arts), but you could easily turn these words into a spelling list as well – especially if you wanted to make the whole guide a unit study. There is enough additional material here to help you on your way, including activities to be done before your child reads even one page of the book. In the first chapter of the guide, these activities are to research (and possibly build) hoop houses, and to explore what “eating local” really means – as in, could you even have your favorite foods if all you had available was what grows in your area?

Overall, we’ve been really happy with this Progeny Press eGuide. In fact, I’ve never been unhappy with one, but this one strikes me as especially good. I will definitely be keeping my PDF copy in cloud storage for use when my younger crop of kids is old enough to use it.

Blessings,

 ladybug-signature-3 copy

 

 

New Study Guides for Literature From a Christian Perspective {Progeny Press Reviews}
disclaimer

Math for Adults (Math Essentials review)

When I was in school, I always loved math. In my high school, only two math credits were required for graduation, but I took an extra year of math just for fun – yes, I used up one of my elective classes for math. That’s how much I liked it. Because of this love, I’ve never been one who’s afraid to teach math to my kids. But that doesn’t mean that I remember everything from back then well enough to teach it now. That’s where Math Refresher for Adults from Math Essentials comes in. And if you do have math anxiety (or need to learn/relearn math for a new job or because you’re going back to college or something), this book is for you too.

math refresher

This textbook covers all sorts of math concepts, starting at about a fourth grade level and going all the way through to Algebra I. With over 250 pages, there are a lot of lessons in there! You’ll learn everything from basic addition and subtraction to fractions (including all four operations), geometry, to the more complicated aspects of Algebra. Because I’ve got one student in Pre-Algebra and one in Algebra I, I skipped the first part of the book and dived right into the last third. I’ve been working for a couple of weeks now and am about a third to halfway through the section.

70DDF5A6-4941-40CC-81A2-28614CBA8726You’ll notice in the last paragraph I used the word “textbook.” This is really the best word for the book, which contains a short lesson on each page (usually a paragraph or less) followed by a series of 10-12 problems for you to solve. There is a place on each page to record your answers, but on most of the pages there is not room to “show your work,” as is often required in math (although when you’re both the teacher and the student, you can be a little more lax with yourself).

369073CA-8341-47E0-9324-D9CFC0A140D1The copyright on the book doesn’t allow for copying of the pages, but in the “helpful hints” at the beginning, the author recommends using a separate sheet of paper for your work and answers. This is exactly what I did, and I kept my answers on that sheet of paper rather than writing them in the book itself. This will allow me to keep the book clean and go through it again when I get to points with my third (and subsequent) children where I need another refresher in order to help teach them better. For my “sheet of paper,” I bought a spiral notebook for a quarter from WalMart. This allowed me to keep all the pages together rather than having loose sheets floating all around. This is something I hate when my children do, and I knew I would hate it if I did it as well.

In addition to the short lesson on each page, there are also video lessons for every single lesson available online. The videos are arranged by the book they originally appeared to go with, not for this book in particular. But since the concepts are the same, that’s fine. You can view the videos without having any of the books using the password on the “videos” page on the website. This could be a valuable resource to parents trying to make a decision on math still – try out one of the videos to see if it’s a way your child might learn well, then buy the correct book for your child’s grade level/age.

Overall, I have been very happy working on this book for myself this summer. As I mentioned before, I really like math, so it’s been really rewarding to be able to remember some of the things I learned in high school and have since forgotten. It makes me feel pretty good about myself to be able to go over those lessons again – especially when I realize I might not have forgotten quite as much as I thought I had (which is a real testament to my favorite high school math teacher!). I definitely recommend this book for parents.

For more information on Math Essentials, you can read my review of their No Nonsense Algebra textbook from last year (which Seahawk is still using). You can also visit them on Facebook.

Blessings,

ladybug-signature-3 copy

 

 

Math Refresher for Adults {Math Essentials}
disclaimer