Category Archives: home education

Fun Family Chess from Brain Blox {Review}

I remember playing Chess with my dad when I was just a girl but I’ve forgotten a lot of how to play, so I was very pleased to be given the opportunity to review Fun Family Chess from Brain Blox because now I can re-fresh my own knowledge and help my special needs boys learn this game as well!

While uou certainly can play chess in the standard way with this set, it has been formatted in such a way that anyone, whether they are trying to re-learn the game for themselves or they want to help someone with absolutely no knowledge of how to play to learn.

Fun Family Chess comes with a very sturdy, well made wood box, which is both the chess board and storage for all of the components.

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One of the things I really like is that there are pictures of the different pieces right on the board, so that we know exactly what goes where.

Inside, the other parts of the game are packaged very nicely in the velvet lined inner halves.

You can see that the light and dark pieces each have their own soft (and now I notice, covered Shiloh’s hair) velvet bags, and nestled in with them you can also see a full color instruction book, reference cards, and the chess die. The wood box/game board closes with two metal clasps to keep everything neatly together.

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Each person will roll the chess die during their turn, and it will show them which piece to move. The player then checks the color coded reference card to find out how that piece is allowed to move. Here is a short video from the Brain Blox company which explains the moves each piece can make in chess:

Not only is the storage box/chess board good solid wood, the pieces are as well, plus they are coated on the bottom with felt to keep them from scratching the board.

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A couple of my boys have cognitive issues and have difficulty when it comes to strategy, so this is a very good way for them to learn this game. Here is just one of their games in progress:

They are enjoying learning the game of chess in a no pressure way. They do not have to already know how each piece moves in order to be able to play, because the whole idea is learning while playing. With the die and the reference cards, they can check how each piece moves each time it is their turn. Eventually, they will have the pieces and their moves memorized, and won’t need to refer to the cards anymore! It really is as the box itself says:

“Earth’s Most Dandy and Delightful, Refreshingly Refined, Easy-Peasy Way To Learn Chess!”  

Please click on the banner just below to read the fair and honest thoughts of 56 other Review Crew Members!

Fun Family Chess {Brain Blox Reviews}

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Filed under Brain Blox, home education, homeschool products, homeschooling, Homeschooling Chess, Learn Chess the Easy way

Progeny Press Study Guide (Little House On The Prairie) {Review}

 I really like using a good unit study to go along with good books, and Progeny Press has a good number of them! We have been working through the Little House on the Prairie Study Guide.

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This is not our first study guide from Progeny Press. We have done a few others, which you can read about here.

My son chose the study guide he wanted to do. He has always really liked the television show “Little House on the Prairie,” and has been surprised at how different the book is from it, although I personally thought that the pilot episode came fairly close to this book!

“The Puzzler” has been slowly working his way through this one. I say slowly because he has real comprehension problems, and other learning delays. In the past when we have used study guides, we have mostly done them orally with all of the boys. This time, I thought we’d try having “Mr. Puzzler” use the interactive PDF, and type in his own answers.

This has actually been working fairly well! He doesn’t like to do a whole lot of hand writing, and he is very picky about how it looks, so usually it just takes forever with erasing and rewriting. Typing in the answers allows for him to more easily correct his errors (although I did just realize that he spelled griping with two p’s) This also has allowed him to work mostly on his own, which he’s been enjoying.

This study guide suggests reading the entire book and then doing each section of the guide, but since each section covers about five chapters which is an easier bite for “The. Puzzler,” he has been reading the book one section at a time and then answering the questions for that section. Admittedly, this is taking a good bit longer that suggested by Progeny Press, but the beauty of homeschooling is that we don’t HAVE to stay on schedule, we are able to work at the pace my kids can handle, and thus retain what is learned.

There are a variety of activities the student can do throughout this guide. One that I was able to catch in pictures was making Molasses Milk, which we’d never heard of.

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Pretty much all of them said it was definitely not something they’d ever ask for again!

This study guide covers a lot of things, not just language arts. We have looked at history, geography, social studies, Bible, etc. I specifically mention Bible because I so appreciate the Mission Statement of Progeny Press:

“To teach our children to think clearly, to understand literature, and to rely on the scripture for truth and values, and enjoy themselves while they do it!”

The Little House on the Prairie Study Guide uses the following as the format:

  • Vocabulary – he has been exploring synonyms, similes and personification.
  • Comprehension Questions
  • Think about the story
  • Dig Deeper – Thinking about the situations in the story with a Biblical perspective, with verses to look up and ponder.
  • Class Debate – We use as discussion questions.
  • Optional Activities

Having the option of doing the study guide orally, print the guide out and write the answers in, or use the interactive function and type the answers in has allowed more flexibility for us as my kids have moved from one to the next with the different guides we’ve used. Progeny Press is a wonderful choice for our family, and maybe it will be for you, as well! You may check out the sample here.

To see the honest and fair thoughts of 47 other Review Crew Members, please click on the banner just below.

Study Guides for Literature {Progeny Press Reviews}Crew-Disclaimer

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Filed under History, home education, homeschool unit studies, homeschooling, Language Arts, Literature Study Guides, Liturature Based Unit Study, Progeny Press

Life Schooling

What is “Life Schooling” you ask? Well, it is working “school” around life, instead of the other way around. It is using life as a series of learning opportunities. And, in our case, it is taking time to minister to others, even if doing so happens during conventional school hours.

Today, all 3 boys are at a fellow church member’s home, helping to clear some land so they can put up a large dog pen, and then helping put it together.

Sometimes, it’s helping set up for a big occasion at church, and sometimes, it’s going out on a weekday with the Youth Pastor to visit others.

Sometimes, it’s doing odd jobs for pay, and learning to tithe off their income.

It has been going with me to help carry a meal from the car to someone I’ve cooked for, or just out to help me at the grocery store!

School doesn’t have to be just sitting at a table doing bookwork and paperwork. In fact, that is the smallest part of school for us! We learned a long time ago that while “school in a box” works for many people and their kids thrive on it, our kids do not, so we gradually changed to what works in our family.

If you’ve thought about homeschooling and been afraid you couldn’t, just know there are many ways to homeschool. The only “wrong way” to do it is the way that doesn’t work for YOUR kids and YOUR family. And, there’s nothing wrong with learning alongside your kids, either, I often find myself learning things I was never taught before!

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! -)

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Filed under family, home education, homeschooling, Life-schooling

Music Appreciation for the Middle Grades Book 2 From Zeezok Publishing {Review}

 

I grew up listening to music from classical to bluegrass and beyond, so I was very excited to receive this wonderful homeschool music program, Music Appreciation Book 2: for the Middle Grades from Zeezok Publishing for the purpose of this review!

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For a little while now,  “The Artist” has been learning all about Frederick Chopin, using the main Student Activity Book and biographies of the composer.

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It has been important to me that my children learn to appreciate music from diverse time periods, so this really fits the bill! By the time this course is finished, we will have learned about seven different composers:

  • Frederic Chopin
  • Robert Schumann
  • Richard Wagner
  • Stephen Foster
  • Johannes Brahms
  • Peter Tchaikovsky
  • Edward MacDowell

We will learn about them by using the big Student Activity Book and reading nine biographies. We received physical copies of eight, and we received one of them as an e-book. When you order this package, you will get them all as physical books. Of the books we received, seven are very nice soft cover in a couple of different sizes, and one is a nice, sturdy hard cover.

While this is not a problen for us, I know that there are people who like matching sets so I thought I ought to mention it.

If you follow the table in the workbook exactly this curriculum will take you twenty-nine weeks. Four weeks per composer, with the exception of Frederic Chopin which is a five week section. This could take as long or as short of a time as you wish, but following the schedule is worthwhile if you would like it to be completed within one school year.

This course is cross curricular, covering history, geography, music, social studies and more.

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At some point we will be coming back to this to try the delicious sounding recipe pictured here, but as my husband is on the hunt for a new job he wants to avoid poppy seeds for now. 😉

The components of this curriculum are listed below.

  • Student Activity Book:

This is designed for different kinds of learners (auditory, visual, kinesthetic, “active”) Activities will teach geography, history, instrument study, music vocabulary, timelines, character trait studies, musical facts, and more. This is a consumable book, so while multiple children within your family would be able to share the biographies you will need a separate Student Activity Book for each of them.

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  • Optional Journal Notebook:

While working through the Student Activity Book, the student will find directions for creating their own journaling notebook using a 3-ring binder, a regular notebook, or even a sketchbook, helping him or her to connect with the musicians and their musical creations through writing.

  • The Great Musician Series (nine biographies by Opal Wheeler and Sybil Deucher.
  • Music Appreciation for the Middle Grades App:

This is a new feature as of this curriculum. There are QR codes sprinkled throughout the Student Activity Book which give your student easy access to all of the songs in the biographies, interactive quizzes and additional website links.

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I have covered the website link to the App page because it’s reserved for consumers of this curriculum only.

There are optional components available for purchase:

I feel that this is an excellent tool for introducing my children to the appreciation of music! With this set we are not simply listening to music, we are learning about the places from which the composers came, how they lived their lives, along with much more from each time period. I very much recommend this set to you!

To read what fifty-nine other families think about Music Appreciation Book 2: for the Middle Grades from Zeezok Publishing, please click on the banner just below.


Music Appreciation Book 2: for the Middle Grades {Zeezok Publishing Reviews}
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Filed under home education, homeschool products, homeschooling, Music Appreciation, Zeezok publishing

Library and Educational Services LLC {Review}

One of my goals when we started homeschooling was to build a library of good books which would be of good enough physical quality that my family would have them for a very long time.  With Library and Educational Services LLC we are able to add beautiful Reinforced Hardcover Library Binding Nonfiction books, paperback books like the Who Was . . . series with titles like Who Was Anne Frank? and quality audio dramas on CD such as the one we received, Hiding In Plain Sight.
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For the purpose of this review, I was asked to choose One title from the Who Was … ? series, and I chose Who Was Anne Frank.

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I chose this book because although we have been learning about World War 2, up until now I have not really touched on the Holocaust in more than the most general of ways. Because of the special needs my boys deal with, I have thought it would be too tough of a subject for them. This book has allowed me to give them a gentler introduction, leading then into an expansion later on with more in depth materials. This book has 103 pages in it, which include a timeline of Anne’s life, a timeline of the world, and a 2 page bibliography. Later on when they are ready, I will have them Read Anne’s actual diary just as I did way back when I was a girl.

Next, we were asked to choose One CD from the Lifehouse Theater CDs series. I chose Hiding In Plain Sight, a 70 minute audio drama of the true story about William and Ellen Craft and their amazing and successful escape from slavery. Their escape from Macon GA to Boston MA where they lived for two years before fleeing again to foreign shores, is nothing short of astonishing! We listened to this in one sitting, not wanting to stop and wait between sections.

Additionally, we were allowed approximately $60.00 to choose any  Reinforced Hardcover Library Binding Nonfiction books.  I invited the boys to choose. “The Artist” and “The Batman” together chose the set of seven “Uncovering American History books.”

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“The Puzzler” chose a set of three “What You Didn’t Know About History” books.

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I barely got the books out of the box before they were being grabbed up!

Library and Educational Services LLC is a wonderful way to build your library with quality books! They are worthwhile books to read, and sturdily bound books that you would be proud to have on your bookshelves. There is an abundance of different resources on their website for you to choose from! Here are just a few examples!

And here is something I have LONG desired, and was able to purchase separately at an extremely good price from Library and Educational Services LLC, The American Dictionary of the English Language, Noah Webster 1828.

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I have wanted this so that our children would learn the meaning of the words as intended when they read, for example, our national documents such as the Constitution.

All in all, I am so happy to have been given the opportunity to really check out Library and Educational Services LLC! I have seen their mail order catalogs for years, but hesitated to order, as I had no idea what sort of quality their products would be. Well i’m here to tell you that not only is the quality wonderful, but so are the prices! I will most definitely be ordering from them again! I mean, the 7 book set and the 3 book set were only about $60.00 all together! To me, that is not just fair, it’s amazing!

Counting me, there are 80 crew members who have been reviewing Library and Educational Services LLC. Please, click below and check out what the other reviewers think!Wholesale Books for Your Homeschool {Library and Educational Services LLC Reviews}Crew-DisclaimerAs 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! -)

 

 

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Simply Music {Review}

The Music & Creativity – Foundation Course from Simply Music, is a self study program which might be a good way for you to decide if those piano lessons you have been considering for your student would be worth the time and the money. Why? Because it is absolutely, no strings, free. I can’t think of a better way to explore whether or not you, or your student may have an interest before laying out funds for lessons than FREE!

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Simply Music is an international music education organization which was founded  by an Australian music educator named Neil Moore. This is an online video course, and to get started all your student will need is a keyboard with at least 48 keys, and access to the internet. With those two things, Mr. Moore will take the student through “playing based” music learning. Here is a quick video he did about this:

A printable keyboard is offered, so that a student can practice fingering moves even when away from the piano, simply by listening to lessons on their smart phone. I like that. Also offered is an e-book titled “Music and the Art of Long-term Relationships.” This book explains a lot of Mr. Moore’s musical philosophies. His reason for this course is to help students have a love for music forever. You can also download the soundtracks of the music that your student will play along with.

The idea here is to learn by seeing patterns in music, as opposed to learning to read the notes to play music. Since “The Batman,” “The Artist” and I have had regular piano lessons, this is an uncomfortable method for us, however I think that especially when it comes to those who have no experience this may be just the way to go.

As this is a video course, there are multiple videos, of course! I do like that, because I need to SEE what I am being taught, along with hearing it. My boys, however, hate doing the practice time involved with traditional piano lessons, so this is fun for them. I do think they will enjoy continuing with this, although I will more likely go back to working through my piano lesson books until we can afford to pay a new teacher for me (our teacher moved away).

So again, as I said at the top of this review, if you have not had lessons, this would be a great way to guage interest befor coming up with the money for lessons. I encourage you to read the thoughts of the 44 other reviewers by clicking on the banner below!

Learn to Play the Piano with Music & Creativity - Foundation Course {Simply Music Reviews}

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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! -)

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Filed under home education, Online Piano Lessons, Simply Music

Matific Galaxy {Our Review}

Matific Galaxy is an online math resource that provides fun activities for learning or practicing math skills such as counting, ordering, addition, and subtraction. We were given this online program for the purpose of this review, and “The Puzzler” has been enthusiastically using it ever since. I can honestly state that he really, really likes it!

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“The Puzzler” has learning disabilities, particularly when it comes to math. While he can count his 0ne dollar bills and pennies, he cannot count money beyond that, so after looking at the skills per grade,

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I went with K, because as I said, math is where he struggles the most, not matter how hard we’ve worked with him. If the time comes that he’s getting beyond this level, it is a very easy option to change where I have him set.

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You really CAN easily see their progress from the parent zone of this site! Here is one of the progress reports I have been able to see . . .

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As you can see, *I* need some more practice though, in doing screen shots! But this is just one of the screens in a long page of results.

One of the things we like is that the lessons are very short, which works well with the short attention spans I deal with around here. At the same time, even though I told him to use this at least 15 minutes 3 times per week, “The Puzzler” regularly went longer, AND asked me to log into my laptop so that he could play Matific Galaxy at additional

As he goes along, “The Puzzler” can check his own achievements, without waiting for me.

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“The Puzzler,” working in different lessons.

Here he is in an activity he didn’t care for, he said it was hard to draw the numbers with the mouse. The number he drew is at the very left, almost out of view, and he’s about to do one in the upcoming blank square.

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One of the reasons I think that this program is one that he is frequently wanting to use is that it has the feel of a video game, wherein he must complete each section befor he can as my boys put it, “Level up!” This means, until he is ready to move on, he cannot level up, so he is learning all the time. We limit the boys to one hour each per day on video games, so I’m thinking this was to him, a legitimate way of getting around the time limit! Because “it’s SCHOOL, Mom!” Well, I’m totally OK with that!

I really am happy that we were chosen to review Matific Galaxy! I think you should go and check it out!

Please, click on the banner below to read what 49 other fair and honest crew members think of Matific Galaxy. I bet you’ll like what they have to say!

Grow Your Math Skills with Matific Galaxy {Matific Galaxy Reviews}Crew-DisclaimerAs 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! -)

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Filed under educational games, home education, Homeschool Math, Math Games, Matific Galaxy