Quest for the King’s Crown (review)

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

Words in green are direct quotes from my son

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Making Voice Memories (The Voice Library review)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Practicing Math and Science with Brilliant (review)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Learn to Read with Reading Eggs

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

We have been using Reading Eggs with my younger kids for the past couple of years, and when my subscription expired they were pretty bummed out. So it was an absolute no-brainer to request being put onto the review team for them again this year!

Reading Eggs is a very popular online learning program for learning to read. There are three levels of the reading side of the program. Reading Eggs Jr. is where children 2-4 play a series of games that work on prereading activities such as recognizing that the squiggles we call letters actually mean something, as well as things like completing pictures (puzzle style) and colors/counting. Then there’s the meat of the program, Reading Eggs. This is the one I’ll focus on most in my review today. Finally, there’s Reading Eggspress, designed for kids ages 7-13 to practice reading comprehension. In addition to these three levels of Reading Eggs, the subscription also includes Math Seeds, which is a very basic math program for younger kids.

One thing that makes Reading Eggs so easy to use is that there is only one login to remember. Sign up using a parent’s email address and chosen password, and all of your kids are on the same page. They (or you) just need to choose the name of the child using the program at that particular time, and off they go.

Dragonfly is 6 years old and has been using Reading Eggs for two years now. It is one of his favorite activities to do during the day because it feels like a game, even though he’s learning. He’s passed over 100 levels of Reading Eggs, and I’m so impressed with how much he has improved his skills over the past years. Because he’s advanced in the program, his games are different than they were at the beginning. Now he plays things like “Odd One Out,” where he is shown three words and needs to figure out which one is different. Some of the games are the same, though, just with harder words. An example of this would be “Word Family,” where he is shown a series of letters with some letter tiles below. The word he needs to build is said audibly and he chooses the correct beginning from the tiles. There is a picture to help in case he doesn’t understand the computer voice. The hardest game for him, hands down, is “Bookends.” This shows one of the stories that has been read to him previously at the end of a lesson, but with words missing. He needs to read the book and choose the missing word from a list. For a long time, he needed serious help with Bookends, but he is getting much better at it now, and can usually complete an entire lesson on his own.

Bumblebee is 4 and so excited to do his “school.” He asks daily if he can do “Read and Eggs,” and of course, I sit with him and get the lesson done. The problem with him is keeping it down to just one lesson in order to allow his brain time to process what he learned! Bumblebee is on lesson 18 and has so far learned several letter sounds, including two vowels (short A and EE). His favorite letter is S because that’s what his name begins with. Sometimes he will need to be reminded what sound some of the letters make, but never with S. His games include “Letter Grid,” which is kind of like a word search, except he only has to find individual letters, not words, “Frog Hops,” where he has to select the correct word from a choice of three in order to get the frog across the pond, and “Dot to Dot,” which is exactly what it sounds like. Of course, there are many more games that pop up during the course of the lesson; this is just a sampling.

We primarily use the Reading Eggs website these days because my iPad went kaput several months ago. We’ve used the app in the past, and I actually prefer that because it is easier for the kids to use a touchscreen than the computer, but I’m glad to have options. With Dragonfly, he works independently (as I mentioned before). Bumblebee, on the other hand, sits on my lap and points at the correct image while I work the mouse. In order to push the learning aspect since I’m technically doing the clicking, I make him verbalize each thing he’s supposed to be finding (the letter in Letter Grid and the word in Frog Hop, in the examples above). I’m hopeful that this reinforces what he’s supposed to be gleaning from the lessons.

Both of my littlest boys adore Reading Eggs, and I am so glad we have had the opportunity to review it the past few years. It really is the perfect blend of learning and playing. I see us using it multiple times a week for as long as our subscription lasts, and I’m hopeful that by the time it expires they will both be reading strongly enough to let it go without too many tears.

Make sure to click through to the Homeschool Review Crew to read more reviews!


TabletClass Math (review)

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

Do you struggle to teach math to your high school students? Is your current Algebra (or geometry or pre-calculus) curriculum just not quite working as well as you’d hoped? Let’s take a look at something new that you may not have heard of before. TabletClass Math is a course taught by John Zimmerman, who prides himself on helping any student – any student – develop good math skills. Today I’ll be discussing his Algebra 1 course.

There are five steps to each TabletClass Math lesson:

  • Watch the video lesson and take notes
  • View and complete practice problems
  • Correct their work
  • Watch the answer videos for full explanation
  • Click “complete and continue” to be moved on to the next lesson

The video lessons tend to run about 10-20 minutes each, which is a good length for high school math. The explanations he provides for each topic are thorough, and give students enough information to succeed in their practice problems. As you noticed, there are two steps in the “correcting” portion of the lesson – watch the videos for explanations as well as look at the answer key for the solutions. This allows students to fully comprehend anything they may have gotten wrong and learn better for the future. As students click “complete and continue,” the program shows them how much of the program they have completed (using percentages).

There are 15 chapters in the program, and each one has at least 3 but fewer than 10 lessons plus a quiz. Because the program is recorded, it is considered an “on demand” curriculum, meaning your student can do their math lessons any time of the day or night that works in your family’s schedule. There is also a parent portal to help you as the parent/administrator keep tabs on your child’s progress through the course.

The chapters in the Algebra 1 course are the same basic concepts you’d expect to see in any class of this nature, and include intro to algebra; real numbers and mathematical expressions; solving equations; graphing equations; writing linear equations; inequalities; systems; absolute value; powers and exponents; polynomials and factoring; quadratic equations; functions and relations; rational expressions; radical expressions; and data measurement/probability. As you can see, it’s a full course load and would provide your child with the full year of high school math credit.

When it’s time for your student to do the practice problems, they’ll need to work on separate paper. The worksheet is a PDF file that can be viewed online or downloaded for your convenience.

Members of the Homeschool Review Crew had the opportunity to discuss 5 different courses from TabletClass Math: Pre-Algebra, Algebra 1, Geometry, Algebra 2, and Pre-Calculus. I encourage you to click through and read more of those reviews.


Greg Landry’s Homeschool Science (review)

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

Please enjoy this guest post from Scorpion today (on his 16th birthday)

This is a review of the course Greg Landry’s Homeschool Science Membership. It will go over my experience with the course as a student, as well as what the video lessons were like, and my recommendations. Let’s get into it.

Greg Landry’s Homeschool Science is a self paced class for people 4th through 12th grade. It is a fairly friendly, simple course good for people who are interested in science. A study guide is provided which you can either print or view online. You can also download the PDF and view on your computer’s PDF reader. Each class consists of 20-30 minutes of video instruction. It’s pretty easy to do one to two lessons a day.

The class has a Christian emphasis, which is seen in all of the online teachings and throughout the worksheets. It’s also very, very scientifically focused. 

The class I chose was Exercise and Sports Science. It was easy to follow along and the teacher was very engaging. As far as the worksheets go, they corresponded very well with the videos and were fairly quick to complete. The course is divided up into two sections, with chapters 1 and 2 being in one file and 3-7 in another. The worksheet file has pages in both black and white as well as color, so you can choose to print just the pages that work for you.

Exercise and Sports Science covers the following topics:

  • Note-Taking, Studying, and Test Prep
  • Bones, Muscles, and Training
  • VO2, Cellular Respiration, Training, and the Anaerobic Threshold
  • Cardiovascular Function
  • Energy Expenditure
  • Training in Altitude and Heat
  • Ergogenic Aids

The lessons are all aimed around explaining how the body’s systems work in relation to exercise and sports. There are 24 lessons divided up over the 7 chapters, and I am about halfway through the course. I will be moving on to the Marine Science course when I finish this one. I like having several different science courses to choose from. It’s nice to have options, and to study more than one type of science per school year. It keeps things interesting for me.

I was able to do the class completely on my own, without my mom’s help. It’s completely self-contained and easy for older students to do independently. The class is enjoyable and challenging without feeling boring or overwhelming. So far, I’ve finished  I learned a lot from them, and I’m grateful to have had the opportunity to use and review this course. 

In conclusion, this course is best for a quick, easy-ish science program for teenage-high schoolers. I would have no problem recommending this for anyone who is interested in science of any kind. Greg was an engaging, helpful, and fun teacher. Overall great course!

Please make sure to visit the Homeschool Review Crew website to read more reviews.



Super Teacher Worksheets (review)

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

My kids, especially the younger set, really love to draw and color. They don’t even care if what they’re coloring is “regular” or “educational.” That’s why Super Teacher Worksheets is such a good fit for our family! With tens of thousands of worksheets, all in an easy-to-print PDF format, you’re sure to find something for your kids, too.

Super Teacher Worksheets is a fantastic site for finding worksheets for quite literally every subject imaginable for elementary students. If you have a preschooler that you want to introduce to letters, they have worksheets for that. If you have a second grader who needs help with reading practice and comprehension, they have worksheets for that. And if you have a fifth grade student who almost understands their math lesson but needs a bit of extra practice, they have worksheets for that too!

It’s quite easy to find what you’re looking for by simply browsing the subjects listed along the left sidebar of the website. Click on what you’re looking for, and you’ll be taken to the page with the worksheets for that subject. From there, you can browse for the exact worksheet that will fit your needs. The PDFs are downloadable and printable right from your computer or tablet.

As I mentioned, my kids love to color. This is something that Dragonfly (6) and Bumblebee (almost 4) especially enjoy. They could literally sit at the table and color for hours and hours. So for the past few weeks, I swapped out their coloring books for Super Teacher Worksheets printouts.

Dragonfly is right on the cusp of taking off in his reading, so for him I focused on the worksheets in the category of “early literacy” and “reading and writing.” We did a few of the first grade reading comprehension pages, and he did several of the word family booklets on his own.

Bumblebee is very precocious and knows a lot of the basic kindergarten things already (shapes, colors, he can count to 20 and identify several of the letters and numbers), so I found some worksheets for him to help develop his fine motor skills a bit, like tracing the shapes (the circles to make a snowman, for example).

Even Grasshopper got some worksheets. When we were working on a different bit of summer school, it became very apparent to me that he did not remember how to subtract properly, so he got some less fun worksheets to get him back up to speed on that. He wasn’t thrilled, but he quickly remembered how to subtract, so it was a win in my book!

Worksheets are a wonderful tool, and one that I have no problem implementing into our days – even during summer break. If your kids also like paper activities, I highly suggest giving Super Teacher Worksheets a try. And don’t forget to head over to the Homeschool Review Crew site to read more reviews. I didn’t utilize the worksheet generator feature, but I’m sure some of my crewmates did, so I really recommend you read another review or two to learn about that.


Farmer Boy (Progeny Press review)

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

Progeny Press has been a staple in our homeschool for many years. Way back in 2014, I did our very first one, Little House in the Big Woods, with Ballet Boy and Scorpion (when they were so small!). This summer, Grasshopper has been working on the Farmer Boy Study Guide (for grades 4-6).

Progeny Press study guides are good for so many reasons. They not only offer lots of comprehension questions for the books they’re for, but there’s also loads of opportunity for students to practice their deep thinking skills. The Gillelands, who own the company, also strive to show students how they can find scriptural application to a variety of different literature selections. This is what really sets Progeny Press apart. That biblical application, even to secular books, makes them very different from almost every other literature company out there.

I chose to have Grasshopper do the Farmer Boy study guide this summer for a few reasons. First, it was the only one being offered in his age range (ha!) this year. But I would have chosen it anyway because he loves the Little House books. He’s been listening to them on Overdrive (our digital library app) for years. The other main reason I selected this one is because we already owned a beautiful, full-color version of the book that he’s not yet read on his own. Being able to dive right in without needing to wait for Amazon delivery (or purchase an ebook) was right up my alley this year.

Progeny Press always recommends that students read the entire book and then work through the study guide. There’s the caveat, though, that if another method works better for your student/family, then do that instead. I find that my children do better if we work the book and study guide in tandem rather than whole/whole. For this reason, I only printed out the pages we needed, when we needed them. I assigned Grasshopper the first four chapters to read (because it’s summer and he’d rather play outside than read – which is one of his favorite activities – he just did about 3 chapters a week), which are all under the umbrella of the first section of the study guide. When he had finished that reading, we worked on the study guide together. He did a lot of it on his own, but some of the vocabulary words were a bit tricky for him, so I did help with that.

Because my son doesn’t have his own computer (and frankly, I prefer it that way), we did the paper and pencil method. Progeny Press study guides are sold as editable PDF documents, which means with an older student or one who is computer-savvy could do the whole thing on the computer, negating the need for a printer.

The other thing that really sets Progeny Press apart from other literature study guides is their focus on projects and activities. And the Laura Ingalls Wilder books are perfect for families who are either already really into homesteading or interested in giving it a try on a small scale. You can see from this page in the study guide that the activities involve a lot of things that are traditionally done during a sort of “pioneer days” field trip that public school kids might take (I remember doing one such trip in 4th grade). We already have an automatic ice cream maker, so this was an easy one to do, and something we do semi-regularly throughout the year anyway. We live in a apartment right now, so we couldn’t try to grow watermelon (but we sure do like to eat it!). We haven’t tried the candle making yet, but I’ve seen loads of tutorials on YouTube lately, so it will absolutely be something for us to try this fall.

Progeny Press also provides an answer key in a separate file. It’s recommended that you save that on a different computer if your student is using their own (for obvious reason). I didn’t have to do that because, as I mentioned, Grasshopper rarely uses a computer and when he does, it’s very specific assignments on my laptop. This answer key makes it really easy to check your student’s work, or help guide them to the right answer on a comprehension or vocabulary question if you as the parent are unsure.

All in all, I love Progeny Press study guides. As long as they continue to offer them to members of the Homeschool Review Crew, I will continue to request to review them. Make sure to click through to read reviews of other study guides from my fellow crewmates (the other options this year were The Story of Ping for K-2, The Last Battle for grades 5-8, and The Fellowship of the Ring for grades 9-12).


Math for Kindergarten through Calculus (CTCMath review)

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

I am so grateful to be able to tell you all about the 12 month family membership from CTCMath again this year!

For the past three years, Grasshopper has been using this program as his primary math curriculum, and it’s an absolute blessing to our family. CTCMath is a program designed and taught by Australian homeschool dad Pat Murray. It is a complete math curriculum for every single one of your students, regardless of how old they are. The program covers the simplest kindergarten math all the way up Calculus for your high school senior. Designed with homeschoolers in mind, CTCMath lessons are very concise – at the elementary school level, each one lasts only about 5 minutes (plus however long it takes your student to complete the online, digital worksheet). The family plan allows you an unlimited number of students, which is fantastic since a lot of homeschoolers have big families (Mr. Murray has 10 children of his own).

Let’s dive into the program itself.

When you first go to the website, you choose the log in you need – student, teacher, or parent. I don’t actually spend any time in the parent portal these days (I know my kids are doing their math because I see them on the computer and I get the weekly email telling me how many times they logged in and how many lessons each child completed). I looked at the parent account in more detail in a previous review, though.

From the 4th grade lessons. Grasshopper was able to successfully challenge “Number I” by passing the diagnostic test; that’s why it doesn’t show as completed.

The student account is super straightforward. Each student needs their own account, but it just requires a username (my kids use their first name as a user name so it’s easy for them to remember), not a separate email for each one. Once they sign in, they need to choose their grade level (elementary, middle, or high school), and the course they’re taking. For K through 6th, this is just labeled with the grade number. Once you get to 7th grade and up, math classes are based more on topic and less on general knowledge, and CTCMath is no different. Middle school cover Pre-Algebra, Elementary Measurement, and Elementary Geometry. High school covers Algebra I and II, Geometry, Pre-Calculus, and Calculus. Each class is broken down further into topics, and if you are using CTCMath as a supplement to another curriculum, you can choose just the topics your student needs to practice more of. As a full curriculum, we tend to start at the beginning and work our way through every lesson in every topic.

A screenshot from one of the video lessons

As I mentioned before, Grasshopper is the main child in our family who has been using CTCMath regularly, and he’s been at it for three years now. He’s completed 2nd, 3rd, and 4th grade, and will be diving into 5th grade next month. He absolutely loves this math program. Every single year when the review option comes up, I ask him if he wants to apply to review it again and continue to use it and the answer is always an emphatic “Yes!” He likes that the lessons are short – he can easily do two or three a day without feeling overwhelmed. I like that the videos are so well explained that students can understand the concepts in just a few minutes. Additionally, there are the questions that they answer afterward to make absolutely sure they know what they need to know for the lesson.

An early question from the first Algebra I lesson

When I asked Scorpion (15, going into 10th grade) which math program he wanted to use for Algebra I this year (we have several at our disposal thanks to the Review Crew), he requested CTCMath. He’s not much of a math kid (I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again – his strength is more in the reading and literature realms than the math and science one), so the short lessons appeal to him. Just like in the elementary levels, I like the idea that he will have to answer questions every day in order to “pass” the lesson and move on. The other thing that will benefit him greatly is that with CTCMath, the lessons and tests are all-inclusive. One problem he had with his homeschool curriculum last school year was that he was supposed to do the lessons to learn the material and then take the tests to earn the credit. Well, he forgot to take the tests. All year long. So he’s been spending his summer break taking all those tests so he can get his freshman credits before he starts his sophomore year. With CTCMath, that won’t be an issue, at least with math (which is taking him the longest to make up).

Little Dragonfly is 6, which means he will be working through the 1st grade curriculum on CTCMath this year. It’s been a couple of years since I used it with him, and the Kindergarten lessons back then were too much. He’s worked through lots of math on another program these past two years, though, and I’m confident he’ll breeze through 1st grade with no issues at all.

One thing that’s changed since the last time I reviewed CTCMath is the Mastery feature. As your student is answering the questions, there’s a mastery bar that fills up with each correct response. When they’ve gotten enough questions correct to prove mastery over the topic at hand, the screen fills with digital confetti and they’re told that they’ve successfully mastered the lesson, but that they should still complete the remaining questions in order to receive their grade. What this mastery bar is doing is actually tracking how well your student is doing and adjusting the questions as they answer to make the easier or more difficult, depending on their skill. How cool is that?!

A quick look at the student’s overall progress is easy to find and read

My oldest son, Ballet Boy, recently graduated out of our homeschool, but he also used CTCMath a few times over the years. He wanted me to give you his direct quote on the program: “CTCMath is the bomb. I hate math and I still think it’s the bomb.”

So, yeah… we love CTCMath around here! I highly recommend it, especially if you have a large family. That “one price for unlimited students” is something you just can’t beat. (If you don’t have a large family, you can also pay for just a single student. There are plans available to pay monthly or yearly.)

If you’re still on the fence, however, make sure to head over to the Homeschool Review Crew site and get more information and links to more reviews as well. And one last thing to keep in mind: CTCMath gives homeschoolers a 50% discount every day of the year!


STEAM Learning with STEAM4KIDZ

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

STEAM, and its cousin STEM, are hot words in education right now. In case you’re unfamiliar, it’s a heavily science-based approach to learning. The acronyms stand for Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math. STEAM also includes Art. Despite its trendiness, we haven’t explored STEAM or STEM much in our family. Because we expect our children to join the family business rather than leave the nest, it’s not a priority. But I was still curious about STEAM4KIDZ when the opportunity was given to review it, and I was happy to have received the Ocean Ventures Kit to try out with some of my younger kids.

I requested the Ocean Ventures Kit (we were also given options of the Starry Night Kit, the Mini Theater Kit, and the Galactic Adventures Kit) because we live so close to the Pacific Ocean – only about 40 miles away. I wanted the kids to have a chance to learn about the place we spend so much time during the summer months, and this kit definitely delivered!

STEAM4KIDZ offers complete kits for families to easily teach STEAM concepts in a fun and engaging way while children make real projects with hands-on learning. Each kit comes with literally everything you need to create between 5 and 7 projects. This includes things that many families probably have on hand already, like scissors and tape. But STEAM4KIDZ doesn’t want you to have to worry about tracking down your supplies, so it’s all included right in the box. In addition to the projects in the box, there is access to the video lessons. These lessons walk your student through exactly how to create the project as well as teaching them about the thing they’re making. For example, when Grasshopper (10 years old) made the clay coral, he also learned so much about coral while he was sculpting.

In addition to the clay coral, the Ocean Ventures Kit includes everything needed to make a model of the ocean floor, a shark-tooth necklace, an “ooey gooey jellyfish,” and a seashell windchime. The items needed for each project are separated into plastic bags and labeled for easy access. The more generic things, like scissors and colored pencils, are not included in any of the project bags but are instead tucked away inside a pencil pouch. (And as a side note, these are some of the sharpest scissors I’ve ever used. They’re fantastic, though you want to be careful with younger learners so they don’t cut themselves.)

The video lessons are really fantastic. As I mentioned, in addition to walking your child through everything they should do to create a beautiful end project, they also give loads of information about the thing being made. One thing I wish was that the link for the videos (they’re hosted on Vimeo) was in more than one place within the kit. It seemed that I could never find the exact right paper with that link on it! Eventually I wised up and bookmarked the website on my laptop.

I didn’t tell my kids that this was coming in the mail, and when we got home from errands one day and they saw the colorful box on the stoop, they were absolutely giddy. We immediately moved the box to the coffee table in our living room and did an unboxing (that’s over on Instagram if you missed it). They were so excited that they wanted to do one of the projects right then! If that’s not proof of how exciting these kits are for kids, I don’t know what is. I absolutely recommend the STEAM4KIDZ kits. They would make a really good base for a summer camp, too. Kind of like VBS crafts, but better!

As I mentioned above, Crew members were given the option of the Starry Night Kit, the Galactic Adventures Kit, the Ocean Ventures Kit, or the Mini Theater Kit. Head over to the Homeschool Review Crew website to learn more about the individual kits and read reviews of each one, too.