Wednesday, July 4, 2018

Thursday, June 21, 2018

Homeschool Review Crew:Silverdale Press LLC Review

This year we have been studying American history. When we were presented the opportunity to review the White House Holidays Unit Studies from Silverdale Press LLC I knew they’d be a great addition to our studies!

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Designed for students in grades K-12, the White House Holiday Unit Studies will enrich students’ learning about the history of our national holidays. Everything you need to teach your child is included; no additional books are necessary. There are teacher lesson plans, and the student plans are separated into K-6 and 7-12. The topics are similar, but the lessons are tailored to each age group. Included in this series are:

  • Labor Day Unit Study: topics include Eleanor Roosevelt and Child Labor, McGuire, Maguire, and the first Labor Day, and Labor Conditions and Eleanor Roosevelt.
  • Veterans Day Unit Study: President Wilson and the Story of Armistice Day, the tory of Dwight Eisenhower and how we got Veteran’s Day, and Woodrow Wilson’s Fourteen Points. 
  • Thanksgiving Unit Study: The First Thanksgiving: Freedom, Peace, and Provision, From Franklin Roosevelt to the Presidential Turkey Pardon, and Ike and Mamie Eisenhower and American Thanksgiving Traditions.
  • Christmas Unit Study: Jacqueline Kennedy, The Nutcracker Suite, and the White House Crèche, Betty Ford, Handmade Folk Art, and the Gingerbread House, and Barbara Bush, a Story Book Christmas, and the White House Tree.
  • Martin Luther King, Jr. Unit Study: Martin Luther King, Jr.’s early life, Martin Luther King, Jr. and President Kennedy, and How Presidents have preserved King’s memory.
  • Valentine’s Day Unit Study: The Love Letters of John and Abigail Adams, The White House Wedding of John Tyler and Julia Tyler, and Valentine’s Day 1962 and Jacqueline Kennedy’s Television Tour of the White House.

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How We Used It and What We Thought

These unit studies are all in PDF format, so they’re really easy to get started. For this review we focused on the Martin Luther King, Jr. Unit Study. I printed the entire 77 page file, plus the answer key. These are all very thorough studies; you truly do not need to add anything more. There are five lessons in this study, and each follows the same format. It begins with an Introduction and Overview for Teachers, which gives you the learning outcomes, materials needed and the lesson plan. The lessons have the teaching text with pictures and activities, so I read the text aloud and then we worked through the activities. This unit study was great because my girls were especially interested in the Civil Rights Movement and Martin Luther King, Jr. in particular, so this provided us great information to dig deeper and learn more. 

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The activities for all grades included timeline, mapping, vocabulary, and videos. We focused on the activities for 7-12 grade. We watched President Kennedy’s civil rights address which opened the door to great discussions about human rights and freedom, and the differences between the 60’s and today. We also watched lots of video clips, learned freedom songs, and answered thought-provoking questions that added depth and character to an era we had only scratched the surface of before this study. I’m looking forward to working through another one over the summer, and adding the rest into our homeschool in September. Be sure to click below to see what my fellow Homeschool Review Crew members had to say about these wonderful unit studies!

Persuasive Writing & Classical Rhetoric: Practicing the Habits of Great Writers & White House Holidays Unit Studies {Silverdale Press LLC Reviews}

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Thursday, June 7, 2018

Homeschool Review Crew: Memoria Press Review

We use a mostly Classical model in our homeschool, so we are long-time fans of Memoria Press. We recently had the opportunity to review their Classical Composition I: Fable Set and it has definitely lived up to our expectations!

Classical Composition I: Fable Set
The Classical Composition I: Fable Set is a writing program for grades 4-12 that includes a student book, teacher guide, and instructional DVDs. Author James Selby has taken a writing curriculum that was used in schools for over 1,500 years and turned it into an easy-to-teach program that leads to writing excellence. Using Aesop’s Fables, the twenty lessons follow a similar routine and include:
  • The Fable: Each lesson begins with reading a Fable aloud, followed by a word study of difficult terms. Next is Recognition, Reversal, and Suffering. Section one ends with a narration of the fable from memory.
  • Variations: Part 1: Trains students to paraphrase at two basic levels: words and sentences.
  • Outline: Summarizing the fable in the form of an outline to help student discover the plot structure.
  • Narration: Retell the story using the outline.
  • Paraphrase 1: Rewriting the fable to be most like the original as possible, but varying it by expanding, abbreviating, or inverting the sequence of events.
  • Paraphrase 2: Paraphrase the fable by inverting and reducing
  • Variations: Part 2: Hones the student’s skills at the words and ideas level
  • Final draft

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How We Used It

The Teacher Guide is wonderful. The student pages with answers are inset into the Teacher Guide, and the lessons are laid out step-by-step with all the information you need to teach your student. However, it was the Instructional DVDs that stole the show. If you have an older student or a strong writer, I think these DVDs would allow them to use this program pretty independently. Having said that, this is how I used the program with my 8th, soon to be 9th, grader.

On the first day of the lesson we sat down and watched the video together. The instructor, Brett Vaden, provides really thorough instruction. He essentially teaches everything as it is laid out in the Teacher Guide, so I had that with me for reference as we paused the video to work in the Student Book.  Every day we would watch a piece of the video lesson and then do the corresponding work. Every lesson follows the same format, so after the initial lesson we knew exactly what to expect.

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What We Thought

As I mentioned before, we are big fans of Memoria Press. Although Classical Composition I: Fable is an outstanding program, it wasn’t a great fit for us. Katie quickly got bored and frustrated with the repetition. However, she is an extremely strong writer, and I think she may have just been a little too advanced for this particular level. I think this is a thorough, solid program; exactly the type of high-quality curriculum I have come to expect from Memoria Press. Just because it wasn’t a perfect fit for us this time, doesn’t mean that others won’t greatly benefit from it and enjoy it.  I think that it would be perfect for students younger than mine, or who haven’t had a lot of formal writing lessons, and I think it’s perfect for moms who don’t feel super confident in teaching writing on their own, because the Teacher Guide and Instructional DVDs have everything you need all mapped out for you. Be sure to click below to see what my fellow Homeschool Review Crew members had to say, this may be exactly what you’ve been looking for!

New American Cursive & Traditional Logic {Memoria Press Reviews}

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Thursday, May 24, 2018

Homeschool Review Crew: Home School Navigator Review

For some homeschoolers, Language Arts can be a subject where you always wonder if you’re doing enough. We recently had the chance to review the Home School Navigator Reading and Language Arts Curriculum from Home School Navigator. If you want stronger readers and writers, or if you are unsure how to approach Reading and Language Arts, this program is for you!

Home School Navigator
Home School Navigator is an online Reading and Language Arts program that teaches literature comprehension, writing, grammar,phonics, word study, and vocabulary using video lessons and handouts. There are six levels intended for elementary grades, and they offer lessons plans, schedules, and an online portfolio to help you keep everything in order. Each level includes:
  • A 36 Week Course
  • Daily Reading, Writing, and Word Study Lesson Plan (including flex days for your busy schedule!)
  • 60 Instructional Videos
  • Word Study Program (including word wall headings, cards, and games)
  • Activities That Encourage Multiple Learning Styles
  • Monthly Skills Checklist
  • Portfolio Maintenance 
  • Monthly Goal Sheet/Portfolio Check-In
  • Downloadable Review Games
  • And More!

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    How We Used It

    The first thing I did was spend some time getting to know the website. They include a downloadable file for each month (up to month 4 in the Indigo level that we used) that has all of the schedules and handouts for the month. There is also a book list for the month,all of which made prep time incredibly easy for me. Using the book list I requested all the books that we’d need for the month, and printed the entire 99 page PDF. (Did I mention there is a LOT of information? This is a very thorough program!) Since my daughter decided she wanted to do all the work online, we didn’t use the daily schedule pages, but they are fantastic if you prefer a printed schedule. I three-hole punched all of the handouts for the month and put them in a three ring binder for her, and kept the answer keys for myself. It took me about an hour to get this all set up for her, but once it was done she basically was able to use the program independently.

    So let me tell you about the Interactive Notebooks. If you’re familiar with lapbooks or notebooking, they’re a lot like that. These book studies focus on the most important elements of the story and give students the opportunity to interact with them in a hands-on way. I’m a big fan of giving my girls ways to learn outside of the usual question and answer format, so I really love this feature.

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    The first book study for our level was for Holes. My daughter read the assigned chapters and then cut out the pieces of the study and glued them onto paper in her three ring binder. There is a combination of comprehension questions to facilitate greater thinking about the story, grammar, literary devices and more. After writing the answers under the flaps, this has been a great tool to go back and use for review.

    The Home School Navigator Reading and Language Arts Curriculum is a very thorough program. There is no need to supplement; they have thought of everything. With planning for the next school year upon us, I highly recommend you check this out and see if it will be a good fit for your family. Be sure to click below to see what my fellow Homeschool Review Crew members had to say!

    Home School Navigator Reading and Language Arts Curriculum {Home School Navigator Reviews}

    Visit Home School Navigator on Social media!

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    Sunday, May 13, 2018

    Happy Mother’s Day!

    As my girls get older, our Mother’s Day celebrations seem to get more elaborate. There was much secret planning and shopping before the big day,and yesterday I was surprised with beautiful decorations, thoughtful gifts,and delicious food that included a scrumptious homemade strawberry cake for dessert. I love how well my family loves me, and am so very blessed to call them mine.

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    Friday, May 4, 2018

    Homeschool Review Crew:CodeWizardsHQ Review

    Did you know that computing jobs are the #1 source of new wages in the U.S., with 71% of all new jobs in STEM in computing? Coding is a fundamental skill for kids to learn with technology all around us. CodeWizardsHQ offers coding classes for kids as well as homeschool computer curriculum. We recently took a special one-time class that gave my 6th grader a great introduction to HTML.

    Live Class Computer Programming for your Students {CodeWizardsHQ}
    CodeWizardsHQ is an online program for students in grades 5-12 that teaches programming using the languages used to build all of the software around us: HTML, CSS, JavaScript, Python, and more. This is a comprehensive program that teaches kids how to actually code, with each 12-week course building on the previous course.
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    CodeWizardsHQ is superior to other programs in many ways, but the most important thing that sets this program apart is the live classes. The weekly one-hour, interactive, instructor-led classes allows kids immediate feedback while they learn. 70% of class time is spent writing code and building things on a custom-built coding platform that allows instructors to view students code in real time and offer the feedback and encouragement that is missing from video based programs. Other advantages include:
    • 24/7 access to coding platform
    • Same day email support
    • One-on-one help as needed
    • Weekly student progress updates
    • Unlimited personal web space

    How we used it:

    On the day of our class we logged onto the website using the information that was emailed to us earlier in the week. The student dashboard page is clean and easy to navigate, which is a plus for kids. From the dashboard we simply clicked on the “join class” button, which opened a new window. The class was really easy to navigate, as well. There was a chat on the right hand side, and on the left we could see the instructor’s screen. While we were waiting for class to start, everyone chatted a bit with the instructor while testing their mics to make sure everything was working properly. Our instructor was Lynn, and she was great with the kids. She was friendly and engaging, and with her many years in the field of coding, extremely knowledgeable.

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    After a brief introduction, the kids got to jump right in and work with some code. Using files already saved on the dashboard, they got to make their very own comic. Francesca was very excited about this. Lynn taught them how to use code to make new panels, change the background, the pictures, and to edit text. She showed them how to upload their own images to use in their panels. It was a great interactive format; she would show them the code they were looking for on her screen, walk them through the process, and then have them try it out. She then gave them about ten minutes or so to work on their comics, and then the class ended with everyone sharing what they created. While the kids were working, Lynn was right there to answer questions and help kids who were having difficulties with their code. She was able to look at their code from her end and she was encouraging them as they went along.

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    I didn’t think Francesca was going to be very interested in learning how to code, but I was pleasantly surprised at how much fun she had. She was easily able to keep up with the instruction, and had no problem navigating the code. She had no experience or exposure to HTML before this class, but she picked it up with no problem.

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    Our experience with this class proved to me that their claim is true; CodeWizardHQ has a definite edge because of the live instructors. Francesca would not have learned so quickly or easily from a video, and I can see how she might have gotten frustrated or turned off from learning code if she hadn’t had an instructor there.

    While CodeWizardHQ is for all students, they do offer special pricing for homeschoolers, as well as the flexibility to pick your own class time. If this sounds like it could be a good fit for your family, there is a Facebook group for parents who are interested in coding for their kids: https://www.facebook.com/groups/KidsCodingHQ/. Be sure to click below to read what my fellow Homeschool Review Crew members had to say.

    Live Class Computer Programming for your Students {CodeWizardsHQ Reviews}

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