Category Archives: home education

Make-A-State Activity-Pak From Home School In The Woods {Review}

Adding in the Make-A-State Lap Book from Home School in the Woods‘sHands-on History Activity-Paks series has been the perfect hands-on addition for our studies. We have reviewed other products from Home School In The Woods, and you can read those reviews here.

We have been wanting to learn about all of the states we touched on during our big move from Michigan to New Mexico, so we chose to begin with Michigan, since we were all born and raised there.

HSITW MI 5

We like the Hands-on History Activity-Paks because while they are Lap Books, they are not HUGE Lap Books. This works for us because we deal with short attention spans around here.

The Make-A-State Activity-Paks come in more than just the Make-A-State Lap Book. Also available in this category are:

  • Artists
  • Composers
  • The Old Testament
  • The New Testament

Each Activity-Pak is available for download at the price of just $18.95. This is an excellent price, as it gives you the opportunity to print as many copies as you need for your children, to re-use it when younger children are ready, and in my case, to re-print pages that got messed up for whatever reason

Before “The Artist” began the Michigan Make-A-State Activity-Pak, I got out the file folder (only one!) he would need. I then printed out the pages showing the placement of everything in the Lap Book. Then, I printed out the pages which told, in order and with small pictures, which activities to do and in what order. I used THAT to tell me which pages to print out for him. I also let him into my paper crafting stash to choose what color card stock he wanted to use for the two inside pages of his Lap Book.

Once everything was printed and contained in the folder, I had “The Artist” begin doing the projects.

Having never been really successful with using glue sticks on Lap Books, one of the supplies we keep on hand is double-sided tape. Other supplies you may want to have on hand (and probably already do, if you are a home schooling family) are colored pencils, crayons, scissors, regular pencils, printer paper and card stock.

This Activity-Pak has 20 activities to create for your Lap Book:

  • Key State Facts
  • Origin Of State Name
  • State Motto
  • State Symbols
  • State Song
  • State Industry / Agriculture / Climate
  • State Wildlife
  • Regions
  • State Geography
  • State Government
  • State Seal & Flag
  • State History

And more!There also some bonus pages:

  • State Pages to help with some information for your chosen state (though it will still be necessary to research information which is not included)
  • A Name That State file folder game to print out, assemble and play.

Even though all the people in our immediate family were born and raised in Michigan, there ended up being things we either did not remember, or just didn’t know. I just asked “The Artist” about that and he says that he only knew (without looking it up) one famous person from Michigan, didn’t know much in the Industry / Agriculture / Climate section, or what the state seal looks like. So, even if you elect to study the state you live in, you might be surprised at how much you will learn!

Here is “The Artist” showing me page by page, his lap Book.

Home School In The Woods is a hands-on history company, with multiple product lines which are as follows:

Project Passport: Ancient Rome study has been release ahead of schedule, and is now available for download here. The now complete Project Passport collection is available here.

To read 89 additional reviews written by my fellow crew members about many of the products from  Home School In The Woods, please click on the banner just below.

Hands-on-History, Project Passport, À La Carte Timelines and Time Travelers {Home School in the Woods Reviews}

Crew-Disclaimer

As always, I would just love it if you would join me in all of “My Journeys Through Life.” Just go to the subscription box at the top of the blog and enter your email information. After that, you will always know when there is something new happening. I hope to see you here very soon! -)

Leave a comment

Filed under History, home education, Home School In The Woods, homeschool unit studies

Learning About Science From WriteBonnieRose {Review}

We like to add fun subjects like science to our summer studies so I was excited to receive Learning About Science Collection, Level 3 (Cursive) from  WriteBonnieRose!

I have done one other review of a WriteBonnieRose publication, you can read it here.

“The Artist” is my most enthusiastic science kid, so I was certain he would enjoy doing Level 3 of the Learning About Science Collection. I let him look over the options once we received our download for the purpose of this review, and he decided he wanted to begin with Life Science: “What’s Going On Inside Plants?’

Other topics in this series include:

  • Earth Science, Discovering Rocks, Minerals & Crystals
  • Physical Science, Energy And It’s Many Forms
  • Earth Science, Exploring The Earth’s Land forms
  • Earth Science, forecasting & understanding the Weather
  • Life Science, Kinds of Animals & How They Live
  • Life Science, Life in the Oceans Hidden Zones

Also included in our download is a four page pdf with a goodly amount of categorized web links to add in when we want to find out more in a given topic.

Each one of the “workbooks” from WriteBonnieRose is around 20 pages in length. They can be printed out and used as worksheets, bound together as a book, or simple stapled in a top corner, as we did. Eventually, we will remove the staples, and then either 3-hole punch to put all together in a notebook or maybe I will take them to be spiral bound as a complete book.

As I said above, “The Artist” was interested in starting with “What’s Going On Inside Plants?” workbook. I am very impressed at what he was able to learn that he didn’t already know from it! A few evenings ago, for some reason the topic of fungi came up at supper (you just never know what you will be discussing at supper when you have a bunch of boys! 🙂 ) I said that i thought maybe moss was a fungus, and “The Artist” immediately said no, moss is a non-vascular plant. When I asked him how he knew this, he said “I learned it from WriteBonnieRose! Here is the page that he was referring to:

Bonnie Rose 3

Here is the cover of the workbook “The Artist” has been focusing on:

Bonnie Rose Cover

I did manage to get one picture when he was actually working on, and coloring the workbook pages:

Bonnie Rose 2

One thing we really appreciate is that these are labeled as “levels,” as opposed to grades. My kids are age-wise older than the third grade, but they have different levels of abilities depending on their individual delays. This was perfect for “The Artist,” because he loves science, and he absolutely prefers to learn in bite sized chunks.

Write Bonnie Rose

Bonnie Rose is a writer. She was never homeschooled, and never had any children. She ended up writing for the homeschool community because she loves children, and is a supporter of homeschooling. Another author suggested that she go to a homeschool convention, where she picked up a free copy of The Old Schoolhouse Magazine. She ended up volunteering to write for Schoolteachers.com, an educational website developed by The Old Schoolhouse Magazine.

Bonnie Rose is an excellent writer of educational materials, and I very much recommend her!

To read about what my fellow crew members think about this and other levels of Learning About Science Collection, please click on the banner just below!

Learning About Science collections {WriteBonnieRose Reviews} 

Crew-Disclaimer

As always, I would just love it if you would join me in all of “My Journeys Through Life.” Just go to the subscription box at the top of the blog and enter your email information. After that, you will always know when there is something new happening. I hope to see you here very soon! -)

Leave a comment

Filed under Bonnie Rose, home education, Homeschool Science Curriculum, homeschooling, Homeschooling Science

GPA LEARN: A T.O.S. Review

We have been using the online math program called GPALOVEMATH from GPA LEARN.

Full disclosure time… as most people who know me well are aware, I am NOT a math person. In fact, as soon as I had enough math credit to graduate when in high school, I never took a math class again. I would really like this to be different for my kiddos, though, so I was pleased to see how great GPALOVEMATH turned out to be!

I have four kids, and so far, three of them have been using this program, and enjoying it! I mean, even asking to do more of it, though I expect that has a lot to do with the motivational feature, which I will talk about a little later.

GPALOVEMATH is, as I said above, a web based program which covers grades from Kindergarten through fifth. I currently have kids working in grade 1, grade 1, and grade 3, but one of our twins “Mr. Loquacious” is finding it too easy and asked to be bumped up a grade, as did “The Artist”, who is deficient in math, but is finding this time around that 3rd grade is too easy. “The Puzzler” needs help in the first grade level, so he’ll stay there for now. One of the nice things though, is that I CAN change the grade level they are in, by myself, as opposed to having to ask the company GPA LEARN to do it for me.

One of the things that my kids like for any homeschool program is having it be interactive. This one is! Each grade level has a learning coach who interacts with the student. In the levels we’ve been using, first grade has an Australian penguin who’s name is PI, and in the third grade level, the learning coach is a robot named Abacus.

GPALOVEMATH is set up so that I can log in as myself and have access to each of my kids’ information. I can test drive anything they have coming up, and I can set up surprise rewards for them, which they earn after a certain number of lessons and quizzes are completed, depending on how many rewards I’ve chosen. I didn’t tell them about it, so when it happened, they were thrilled, and as I said up above, started asking for more time on the program, lol! Not only can they earn my rewards, but there are awards set up by GPALOVEMATH which they may work toward when available, such as ecards for places like Toys R Us and Target.

Regardless of which grade my kids are using, they will have over 150 lessons and 10,000 problems. In each lesson, they begin with instruction, then they practice the concept, and finally, move on to the quiz. I think the practice session is especially beneficial to my twins. When they finish a lesson, the program tells them how they did, and they can see how many points they have built up to that point. If they are working toward a specific thing, such as one of the ecards, the program will tell them how many more points they need to reach it. I like that, it’s motivational, and MAY help them develop more patience. 🙂

I had occasion to phone tech support at GPA LEARN, and was extremely pleased! “Mr. Loquacious” was having a problem with the final problem on a quiz, and even I couldn’t do it. It called for typing a number into a space. Neither of us could do it, and when I tried to send through the feedback button at the bottom, I couldn’t type into that either. Finally, I gave up and called for support, where a very nice man named Darryn answered. He and a coder named Chad spent a bunch of time trying to help me figure it out, and we just couldn’t do it. He took down my phone number and promised to call me back. Well, in probably 15 minutes, they did, in fact call back. They had me log in as me, and test drive the quiz to see if we could recreate the problem. It still didn’t work. After all of that time, we finally figured out that I had not been using Chrome, which is the browser that works best for this program. *I* felt completely stupid, but Darryn and Chad assured me that this is what they are there for, and I was doing fine. 🙂

We really like GPALOVEMATH, and would very highly recommend it.

You can have access to all 6 levels for one child at the cost of $149 for the year or $12.99/month. For a limited time, it is available at $129 with code GPAINTRO15.

Please check out GPA Learn via their social media:

Social Media:
http://www.facebook.com/gpalearn
http://www.twitter.com/gpalearn
http://www.pinterest.com/gpalearn

GPA Learn Review
Crew Disclaimer

As always, I’d love to have you join me on all of “My Journeys”! Please just head up to the “sign me up” button at the top of the blog and enter your email, and you’ll always know when there is something new here! 🙂

Leave a comment

Filed under education, home education, Homeschool Math, homeschool products

Digital Science Online: Visual Learning Systems (My Review)

My four boys and I have been having lots of fun using Visual Learning Systems as a group for a little over a month. We received a subscription to both the Digital Science Online: Elementary Edition (Grades K-5) and the Digital Science Online: Secondary Edition (Grades 6-12)

The Digital Science Online: Elementary Edition (Grades K-5), is divided into two sections. One is primary, which would be the grade K through 2 collection. This included well over 50 units of study, contained within the following subjects: physical, earth, life, and health. This is a great section if your children are in that age/grade range, there are tons of beautiful videos, animations, photos, and activity sheets, etc.

WE did not use this section, because my kids were beyond it, for the most part, but I really wanted you to know that it is there, and that it’s GOOD.

We HAVE been using the elementary a lot, because, frankly, I thought it was the best way for us to work as a group, something which many of my readers know that we enjoy doing. The elementary section of Digital Science Online has subjects like physical, earth, and life, with subtopics or units within them. As with the Primary section, there are lovely, well made videos, animations, photos, worksheets, and hands on activities in some areas. It’s meant for grades 3 through 5.

We have, for the most part, enjoyed this, except for having to crowd around one computer (something I will also address a little later). It was very impressive how, when we would choose a subject, there would then be a list of sub-topics within that subject, effectively giving us a unit study, already all organized for us! The reason I like this aspect so much is that all four of my boys really, really enjoy watching science and nature programs on television. The problem with that though, is it’s hard to put together a group of programs at the same time which would work together as a topical unit.

Eventually, though, with the exception of “The Puzzler”, the boys really wanted to have a go at the higher level, which I’ll talk about in a bit, because truthfully, I thought only “The Artist” would be able to handle the Digital Science Online: Secondary Edition (Grades 6-12).

How wrong I was!

As I mentioned back at the beginning of this review, we were also given access to the Digital Science Online: Secondary Edition (Grades 6-12).

The Secondary Edition has considerably more units of study, with a great number of sub-topics. My kids liked the longer videos, which, once again, I must complement. They are quite beautiful.

I have asked them to stay away from some sections of the biology units, after they pointed them out and said they didn’t think they should look at them. I was very proud of them for this actually, as it shows they have been listening to us and to their teachers at church when we discuss what is or is not appropriate for them.

There are also areas in which evolution is used as a given, where we believe, and teach, from a Creation world view. It was very interesting, however, to listen to everyone of our boys, at different times while watching different sections, saying things like “That’s not true, there’s no millions of years” or “Evolution isn’t real, we know that”. 🙂

The Secondary Edition also has worksheets and such, but these are really beyond any of my boys other than “The Artist”. I DO find that “The Batman” and “Mr. Loquacious” can do a lot of them orally, though.

AS I told you above, I really thought it would be better to use this program as a group, because as often as possible, I prefer it when we can do that. This DID work, for a while, but lo and behold, just today, they asked me two questions:

Will this work on our tablets?
Can we do it separately so we can choose our own topics?

Well, guess what, it works on the tablets! I hadn’t even tried, because I’m used to things like this being mostly for iPads, which we do not have. WE have Android Tablets. SO, I told them I would try it on mine first to check, and if so, we’d see if it would work on theirs. It did! 🙂 Since I had never actually set up separate student accounts because *I* wanted this to be a group learning thing I thought my kids would love to do this together, I chose to call customer support, given that I had forgotten how to set up separate log ins. Guess what found out? Well, while yes, I CAN do that, I don’t HAVE to! They can all log in using the information I used for the one log in, and they can all do it at the same time, on their own tablets or a computer. YAY! The customer service is wonderful. The first person I spoke with was named Louise, and the second was Emily, because they handle different aspects within the company.

One of the reasons I was so pleased to discover that this could be used on their tablets, all at the same time, and that they could be doing different subjects at the same time, as well, is that now, we don’t have to have a “discussion” about what we will learn about “today”. Being able to use the tablets in this way is a definite plus as well for the family who travels, because their children will be able to take this beautiful program along, and learn science their way. It would be great if you’re staying somewhere with provided wifi, and much better than spending all your in room time just watching television.

ALL in all, we really, really like this program. I even had one child come back inside from playing to ask if he could do some more science on his tablet! What better rating is there than that, right?

Want to see what my fellow Crew members think of Digital SCience Online? Just click on the banner right below!

Visual Learning Systems Review

Crew Disclaimer

As always, I would just love it if you joined me on all of “My Journeys Through Life”! Just go to the “sign me up” button at the top of the blog and enter your email information. You will then be notified whenever their is an update! 🙂 Continue reading

Leave a comment

Filed under education, family, home education, homeschool products, homeschooling, Homeschooling Science, Kids, Schoolhouse Review Crew Post

Who invented the term “Stay At Home Mom”?

I am a full-time wife, homemaker and mom. I am NOT, however, a “Stay At Home Mom”, who sits around doing nothing. In fact, I don’t know too many moms who are, especially if we are also homeschooling moms. Let’s see, just today, we had to go into the next town to pick up a written prescription at the doctor’s office, then drop it off at the pharmacy.

We then went over to a friend from our church to pick up some things that the boys had left at their house yesterday while she kept them for us so that my husband could go out for the day for my birthday.

We did our piano practice, we undecorated the Christmas tree so that my husband could take it down and put it away, and packed up the other decorations I had put out.

We are preparing to get back to homeschooling, now that Christmas and my birthday are done, and I’ve been picked for my first crew review for 2015.

Let’s see, what else? We have church on Wednesday evenings, so we needed to make sure that everyone was cleaned up and ready to go, that supper was ready early enough to eat and get there on time, and that my boys who are in the teen class had all of their materials ready that they are to turn in on Wednesday night.

Then, we were notified by the pharmacy that we couldn’t pick up the prescription, that the insurance company was refusing it. Well, the child who needed it is completely out, and needs it for tomorrow, so I finally called the pharmacy. Turned out that they entered it wrong. I got them to re-enter it, and was able to pick it up after church, along with dropping something off to a church member who is sick.

Did I mention laundry? Well, there was laundry (home ec?) to do as well.

We moms who do not work at an outside of the home job, we still work, and we are BUSY! We aren’t (at least, I’m not) sitting around, watching soaps, talking nonstop on the phone and eating bonbons. And guess what? f you’re a mom, whether you work a paying job or not, you are WORKING, and at something very, very important. Don’t stop believing that!

As always, I’d love it if you join me on all of my “Journeys Through Life” Just go and enter your email into the “sign me up” button at the top of the blog, and never miss an update! Please consider also going to our Facebook page and giving it a “like”. I’d sure appreciate it if you did! 🙂

7 Comments

Filed under home education, stay at home mom

Fix It! Grammar . . . A T.O.S. Review

In all of the years of working on the education of my kids here at home, we have never, ever actually used a formal grammar program. Or, for that matter, ANY written grammar program, to be honest! I have basically practiced an informal method of correcting their spoken grammar as a part of our daily life, something I will continue doing, as I believe it works quite well for SPOKEN grammar. However, “The Artist”, who was the student reviewing a fiction writing course last year, really wants to go back to it, and to learn to be better at writing stories, so I thought that the opportunity to review Fix It! Grammar: The Nose Tree [Teacher Manual] (Book 1), along with Fix It! Grammar: The Nose Tree [Student Book](Book 1), would perhaps be a good thing for him. I took a look at how it worked and decided to give it a chance.

This grammar program is from the very well known Institute for Excellence in Writing (IEW).

IEW is a company I personally have never really taken the opportunity to really check out, because I was afraid it would be too difficult for my special needs guys. However, I am extremely glad we were blessed with the opportunity to review Fix It! Grammar, because it really works, in just minutes a day!

Here is the basic concept . . .
Method: modeling proper grammar within stories. Instead of being taught a grammar rule, and then being forced to practice it with a bunch of exercises, followed by the next grammar rule, over and over (Lather, rinse, repeat, so to speak) in Fix It! Grammar, the grammar rules are taught as they are needed, within the context of a story that builds upon itself until, at the end of the lesson book, the student has written correctly, the entire fairy tale used at that level.

The Process: 15 minutes per day. The level we received is giving us 33 weeks of grammar instruction and practice, in only 15 minutes per day, and 4 days per week.

This program is incredibly easy to set up and to work through! If you have the student book, then your student will need a note book divided into two sections, which are Rewrite and Vocabulary.

On day one of each week, your student will read and correct ONE sentence. Yes, one. He or she will read the sentence, look up the bolded word in a dictionary and write the best definition which fits within the context of the sentence, and write that into the vocabulary section of their note book. This will be built on each day until at the end, they have their own vocabulary dictionary to refer to. Then, he or she will copy the sentence for that day into the rewrite section of their note book, using double spacing.

On days two through four, the student will use the abbreviations at the top of the page, as well as the provided grammar flash cards to help them remember how to mark the section. As with day one, the student does their “rewrite” in the notebook, writing with double spacing. They are to use their best handwriting, so this is also a nice addition to the day in giving them that particular practice!

While we received both the Teacher book and the Student book (both are very nice, spiral bound books), If you prefer, you CAN just purchase the teacher book at the cost of $19.00. The teacher book comes with a license allowing you to download the student book and print as many copies as needed for use within your own homeschool family. The Student book, available for $15.00, is well worth it though, depending on how much it costs for you to print, and whether or not you have more than one child. I happen to have four boys, so knowing that I can print it as needed when each of them is ready for this, makes this a bargain for me.

A placement test is provided if you are unsure where to begin your student, however, like many people, I chose to begin with book one, so as to create a good foundation upon which we can build with the levels which follow. There is also a webinar available to introduce you to Fix It! Grammar, along with how this program differs from traditional methods of teaching grammar.

Fix It! Grammar is intended for 3rd grade and up, but as I said, I personally think that if you, like us, have not done a formal grammar program, it’s best to begin at the beginning.

What did we think of it? Well, I find it incredibly easy to use! “The Artist” really does not enjoy being MADE to write, although he enjoys writing on his own time, so this was the perfect choice for him. I mean, really? One sentence per day? Even my lazy writer who constantly complains about his hand cramping from too much writing, is fine with this! He really doesn’t mind giving up 15 minutes out of his day, and when he is finished, he will have completely written the entire fairy tale himself, with correct grammar! The only real problem we have is keeping him from reading ahead to see the rest of the story, lol!

You will find IEW on the following social media:

Facebook
Twitter
Pinterest
Google+
You Tube
Vimeo

Bottom Line? Not only do I very highly recommend Fix It! Grammar from IEW, I think we will be continuing with it level by level. It is a very painless way to learn written grammar, and frankly, I like that. There is no reason education HAS to be dreary, if there is a better way, and this is definitely a better way, in my opinion.

Other Review Crew members have been reviewing this and other levels of Fix It! Grammar, so please click on the banner below to find out what they thought!
Click to read Crew Reviews
Crew Disclaimer
As always, I would just love it if you joined me on all of “My Journeys Through Life”! Just go to the “sign me up” button at the top of the blog, and never miss another update! Also, if you DO enjoy “My Journeys”, please go to our Facebook page and give it a like. I’d sure appreciate it if you did! 🙂

Leave a comment

Filed under education, Fix It! Grammar, Grammar The Easy Way, home education, homeschool products, homeschooling, Institue For Excellence In Writing, Language Arts, Schoolhouse Review Crew Post, special needs education, TOS Review, writing fiction

UberSmart Software . . . A T.O.S. Review

My boys and I have had the opportunity for the past few weeks to work with UberSmart Math Facts.

This little program, created by a homeschool dad whose wife wanted their children to have help with learning their math facts. It is available from UberSmart Software It is written primarily for students from K – 6, or anyone older (even adults) who need, or would like a refresher on the basic math facts, and can be purchased for $24.95.

I was intrigued enough at how simple this little program is for learning math facts, that I really wanted to give it a try with my kids. As it turns out, it really is a basic little program, which you download to your computer (which must have one of the following: Microsoft Windows XP, Vista, 7 and 8), and you ARE permitted to put it onto multiple computers, which can be of some help if you have several children, and more than one computer.

The UberSmart Math Facts program works just like your traditional set of flash cards, but electronically, on your computer. First, learn, in which your student tries to answer the problem and then hit the answer key to check your answer. Another section, practice, allows him/her to click on the answer they think is correct, and they may also choose test when they are ready, which causes the program to give them a timed session with a certain number of cards.

Depending on whether or not you allow online activity, your student may also choose compete, allowing them to compete against others around the world in a timed session. We haven’t done this one.

This program also has a “report” and a “maintain” tab for the parent. If you like to have printable reports to keep for your records, or if you need them in a portfolio to turn in to your state, UberSmart Math Facts gives you the ability to have them. You can also maintain things like how long you want a student to have on timed activities. The default (4.5 seconds) is too, too fast for all but one of my boys, but you can adjust it, as I said.

Here are some of the different ways you can have the program set up, depending upon the age or ability of your child.

Traditional flash card format:

Keyboarding (practice typing the digits in quickly):

Dot cards:

There are other possibilities as well, such as showing the dots and numbers together.

I wanted to try UberSmart Math Facts because I feel that my boys can use a LOT of help when it comes with the memorizing of math facts, in particular “The Batman”.

I, personally, like this program. My kids, not so much. They thought it was boring, because they have, in the past, used math fact programs that were more like a video game, and they love video games, of course! They love the flash, excitement, and “leveling up”. However, since I can SEE some improvement, I’ll continue using it. We most often use it in the “practice” mode, because it is very hard for some of my boys to actually memorize the facts and have them stick. As with many things, we need to sort of tweak educational materials for our special needs kids, and given that we CAN continue under “practice” until such time as they are ready

A number of other crew members also were given the opportunity to review UberSmart Math Facts, Please, do click the banner below to see what they thought of this program!
Click to read Crew Reviews
Crew Disclaimer
I would just love it if you would join me on all of “My Journeys Through Life”. Just go and enter your email into the “sign me up” button at the top of the blog, and you will be notified whenever there is a new post! If you do enjoy “My Journeys”, then please go to our Facebook page and give it a like. I’d sure appreciate it if you did! 🙂

Leave a comment

Filed under education, home education, Homeschool Math, homeschool products, Math Facts Drill, UberSmart Math Facts