Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Homeschool Review Crew: UnLock Math Review

As my girls get older, math is one subject I feel less and less confident teaching. Thankfully there are great options out there for moms like me who feel overwhelmed by math. We recently received a subscription to one of those great options: UnLock Pre-Algebra by UnLock Math.

UnLock Math pre-algebra
UnLock Math offers online math courses taught by a math teacher who breaks things down into manageable chunks so students can understand and apply what they learn. UnLock Pre-Algebra is 16 units long. In addition to the lessons, there are also quizzes and tests for each unit, as well as midterm and final reviews and exams. It is meant to be used daily over the course of a typical school year and covers:
  • Whole Numbers
  • Integers
  • Variables and Expressions
  • Rational Numbers
  • Fractions
  • Equations
  • Inequalities
  • The Coordinate Plane
  • Decimals
  • Percent
  • Polynomials
  • Triangles
  • 2D Geometry
  • 3D Geometry
  • Analyzing Data
  • Probability and Stats

Each unit follows the same structure. The student starts with a Warmup exercise to get their minds into math mode. Next they watch the instructional video, which is usually under 10 minutes. After the video, they move on to the Practice Problems to reinforce what they learned in the video. These can be done as many times as the student needs to feel comfortable with the concept, and only the highest grade is recorded. Next comes the Stay Sharp questions. These are review questions from previous lessons. These can also be done multiple times. There is also a Challenge question, which is just as it sounds. Last comes the review and then a test. There are also quizzes throughout each unit.

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What we thought:

There’s so much I like about this program. I think the student dashboard is great; my 13 can login and see at a glance what she needs to work on next. There is also a great pie chart that shows the progress made for the current unit. Ease of navigation is at the top of my list for online learning, and this site is excellent in that regard. I also think the Reference notes for each lesson are a great addition to the video lesson.

I especially like that the work is all graded as she goes. That means all I have to do is look at the course gradebook to see how she’s doing. No grading for me! I think the printable progress report feature is great as well.


Katie had just finished Pre-Algebra in our usual math curriculum when we received this subscription. I chose the Pre-Algebra level because there were some concepts she struggled with this year that I thought could use some additional learning and reinforcement. UnLock Pre-Algebra has been perfect for that. She will continue using it throughout the summer, and we have been thinking about purchasing UnLock Algebra 1 to do next.

UnLock Math has other levels in addition to UnLock Pre-Algebra. There is UnLock Algebra1, UnLock Algebra 2, and their newest addition UnLock Geometry. To see what my fellow Homeschool Review Crew members had to say about each of these programs, click on the picture below.

Pre-Algebra, Algebra and Geometry {UnLock Math Reviews}

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    Homeschool Review Crew: Adventures of Rush Revere Review

    We are starting a year long study on American history this year, so we were really excited to receive the Adventures of Rush Revere Book Series from Adventures of Rush Revere #1 New York Times Bestselling Book Series by Rush and Kathryn Adams Limbaugh!

    Adventures of Rush Revere
    The Adventures of Rush Revere Book Series is a five book series written by Rush Limbaugh. This fun series brings history to life as we follow the adventures of history teacher Rush Revere and his time-traveling talking horse Liberty as they travel back to visit some exceptional Americans of our past.

    In book one, Rush Revere and the Brave Pilgrims, we meet substitute history teacher Rush Revere and discover that his horse Liberty not only can talk, but can time-travel as well! Together they travel back in time to witness the Pilgrims journey to the New World, and meet some exciting characters such as William Bradford, Myles Standish, and Squanto along the way. This book gives a new perspective on a well- known piece of history.

    In book two, Rush Revere and the First Patriots, Rush and Liberty are off to Boston 1765 in the midst of a brewing revolution. Here we meet American greats like Samuel Adams, Ben Franklin, and Paul Revere.

    In book three,Rush Revere and the American Revolution,Rush and Liberty and a couple of friends head to 1775 where a battle for freedom is in full swing.

    In book four, Rush Revere and the Star-Spangled Banner, the Time-Traveling Crew lands in and exciting period of American history with lots of things happening. James Madison and the Constitution and Bill of Rights, and Betsy Ross and Francis Scott Key.

    In book five, Rush Revere and the Presidency,the Time-Traveling Crew visits America as a free country, making stops along the way to visit George Washington and other early American presidents.

    My 13-year old daughter wrote her own book review:

    “In Rush Revere and the Brave Pilgrims, Rusty “Rush” Revere is a middle school History teacher. He started his first day at the school, and introduced his new class to his horse, Liberty. But Liberty wasn’t your average horse. He was a talking horse who was struck by lightning and became a time machine. Along the way, Rush Revere met the queen bee of the school, Elizabeth; helped to unlock trouble making Tommy’s full potential; and discovered a little about the mysterious Freedom who always seemed a little different than the rest of the class.

    Mr. Revere’s time-traveling powers were first introduced to Freedom and Tommy. He took Tommy to different parts of the Pilgrim’s journey to the New World, and met William Bradford and Myles Standish. Another time Rush took Tommy and Freedom to the first Thanksgiving, where they met Squanto.

    I thought these books were well written, but I think the target audience may be younger than me. These books are very informational. I think that what makes them so easy to read without feeling overwhelmed by all of the historical information flying at you is that the characters in the book actually travel to the events. It makes the books fun while you learn.”

    Adventures of Rush Revere
    The Adventures of Rush Revere Series is a beautiful, high-quality hard cover set. Every book has great photos of all kinds of historical artifacts. American history is told with an adventurous, fun voice that makes learning enjoyable. I’m looking forward to reading all five books again aloud as part of our history program this year.

    To see what my fellow Homeschool Review Crew members had to say, click below!

    Adventures of Rush Revere Book Series {Reviews}

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    Wednesday, June 7, 2017

    Homeschool Review Crew: K5 Learning Review

    As the school year is winding down, I’ve been thinking about ways to supplement our lighter summer school schedule. The Online Program from K5 Learning seemed to be a good way to fit in some fun interactive lessons.

    K5 Learning
    K5 Learning is an online supplemental math and reading program for kids in grades K-5, and includes practice in the following areas:
    • Numbers and Operations
    • Measurement
    • Geometry
    • Data Analysis
    • Algebraic Thinking


    • Phonemic Awareness
    • Phonics
    • Sight Words
    • Vocabulary
    • Reading Comprehension


    • Adaptive instruction
    • Optimized visual interface
    • 150,000 word database

    K5 Learning is easy to set up. You begin with a free online assessment in reading and math. The assessments are a bit lengthy, but they do break them up with short games to give the student a brain break. When your child is done with the assessment, you are sent a report that gives you an objective evaluation of your child’s math and reading skills.

    reading assessment  math assessment

    Francesca (my 5th grader) did her assessments all in one sitting. If I had that to do over again, I’d probably break them up. Even with the breaks in between, she was a little tired of answering questions by the time she finished. She did well, though, despite her frustration. In reading she scored a 700, which put her above her 5th grade range. Her score made her exempt from Phonemic Awareness, Phonics, and Sight words lessons because it was the highest score she could achieve in those areas. This report showed me that her reading lessons would focus on Vocabulary and Reading Comprehension.

    In math she scored a 510, which was within the 5th grade range. This score placed her in the high 5th grade range for Numbers and Operations, the intermediate 5th grade range for Measurement, and the low 5th grade range for Geometry. This helped me to see her strengths and weaknesses, and what areas we needed to focus on.


    Once the assessment was finished, the program customized her lessons according to her assessment results. If you find that the lessons aren’t exactly at the level they should be, you have the option to change the level and adjust as you see fit. This program is easy to navigate, with the student home page giving them the option to do a reading lesson, a math lesson, or a spelling lesson.  Once the assessment was over, Francesca used this program independently. She just logged on and chose the area she wanted to work on that day. Once the lesson is finished, there is an option to do corresponding worksheets. I think that’s a great way to reinforce what she just learned about, and a good way to incorporate the different ways of learning.

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    There is also a parent login page, where you can view reports, see your child’s progress, change levels, and add spelling words to the spelling lessons.

    Francesca got frustrated with the math section because there were topics covered that she hadn’t learned in our math curriculum, and since this is a supplemental program, it didn’t teach concepts. She enjoyed the reading program, though, and it gave her a fun break from the usual work. Overall I think this is a good supplemental program for both homeschoolers and public schoolers to use for extra practice or during vacations.

    To see what my fellow Homeschool Review Crew members thought, click below.

    K5 Learning {Reviews}

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    Tuesday, June 6, 2017

    Homeschool Review Crew: Memoria Press

    We studied Latin when the girls were younger, but haven’t in a few years. I decided it was about time for my thirteen-year old to revisit it, since she will be starting a group in September that involves regular Latin lessons. We were thrilled to receive the First Form Latin Complete Set from Memoria Press for review recently. It was perfect timing!

    First Form Latin Complete Set

    I should start by saying I am a huge fan of Memoria Press. They produce such impressive high quality educational materials, and their First Form Latin Program is no exception. Following the Classical model, the First Form Latin Program is for all beginners grades five and up, or as follow up to Latina Christiana at any age. This program teaches for mastery, focusing on grammar forms and vocabulary to teach students in a way that will stay with them.

    Included in the First Form Latin Program is everything you will need to successfully teach your kids Latin, even with no previous experience. The kit includes:
    • Teacher Manual: Each lesson is laid out in an easy to follow format that includes Oral Recitation/Review, Latin Saying, Grammar-Chalk Talk, Vocabulary,Oral Drill and helpful FYI notes. There is also an inset of the Student Text right in the lesson plan, which I found very convenient.
    • Teacher Key: Includes answers for all workbook exercises, quizzes, and tests.
    • Instructional DVD’s: This is one of my favorite things about Memoria Press. The video lessons, taught by Glen Moore, really enhance this program. Having these DVD’s made me so much more confident in things I was concerned about, like proper pronunciation.
    • Student Text: Two page lessons make the material feel more manageable.
    • Student Workbook: Four to six workbook pages for each lesson provide much needed opportunity for practice and memorization.
    • Pronunciation CD: includes all vocabulary and grammar forms for each lesson.
    • Flashcards:to practice vocabulary, grammar forms, and Latin sayings.

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    How We Used It and What We Thought:
    We use this program an average of three days a week. On Mondays we start with recitation and review, and then we watch the DVD lesson together. This is such an invaluable resource. As we watch the lesson, we pause as needed for clarification and discussion. After the video lesson, we do the Latin saying, Chalk Talk, and Vocabulary together. For the rest of the week, Katie works through the workbook pages, using the flashcards and pronunciation CD for reinforcement. We end the lesson with the Oral Drill to test for mastery.

    I really love this program. It is thorough, easy to follow, and easy enough for Katie to navigate without feeling overwhelmed by it. And since I’m a book nerd and pretty books make me happy, I need to also mention that this set is gorgeous. The spiral-bound books are especially cool. The beauty of this set really satisfies my inner nerdy tendencies. My experiences with Memoria Press in the past had my expectations really high for this set, and I am happy to say that those expectations were exceeded.
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    Memoria Press isn’t just about Latin. Be sure to check out what my fellow Homeschool Review Crew members had to say about The Book of Trees Set and Nature's Beautiful Order, as well as other Latin programs by clicking below!
    Latin, Nature and Trees {Memoria Press Reviews}

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      Tuesday, May 30, 2017

      Homeschool Review Crew: YWAM Publishing-Christian Heroes: Then & Now Review

      My girls are voracious readers. As they get older and are experiencing many new genres of fiction, it is especially important to me to provide them with quality literature. I was thrilled to receive Corrie ten Boom: Keeper of the Angels' Den from the Christian Heroes: Then and Now series by YWAM Publishing.

      YWAM Publishing

      Christian Heroes: Then and Now is a wonderful series of true stories that tell the tale of ordinary men and women whose trust in God helped them to do extraordinary things for His people and His kingdom. There are so many exciting titles to choose from that I couldn’t pick just one. I decided to let my thirteen year old decide, and she chose Corrie ten Boom: Keeper of the Angels’ Den. (I was pleasantly surprised at her choice because there were a lot of more familiar names I thought she’d go for, like C.S. Lewis, Clara Barton, and Laura Ingalls Wilder.)

      Corrie ten Boom: Keeper of the Angels’ Den tells the fascinating story of the life of Corrie ten Boom and the heroic efforts she and her family made to help and protect Jewish people during the Nazi invasion and occupation of Holland during one of the most horrific tragedies in history.
      Along with the book, we also received a downloadable study guide that includes corresponding lessons in:
      • History
      • Geography
      • Essay Writing
      • Creative Writing
      • Reading Comprehension
      • Public Speaking
      • Drama
      • Art

      There are six comprehension questions for each chapter. There are also Key Bible Verses, Essay Questions, Creative Writing, Hands-On Projects, Audio/Visual Projects, Arts and Crafts, Community Links, and more. Some examples of the projects include: “Many books and articles have been written about Corrie ten Boom, but she always gave credit to her whole family for their efforts to help the Jews. Explain the roles her various family members played in resisting the Nazis. Why do you think Corrie is the family member most often remembered?” or “Make an illustrated timeline of Corrie ten Boom’s life. On the timeline, also record major world events,
      such as the First and Second World Wars and the stages in the development of the European Union


      What We Thought:

      When we got Corrie ten Boom I decided to read it first before handing it over to Katie. I couldn’t put it down! This is a beautifully written story of an amazing woman who endured unimaginable hardships while never giving up helping the people who needed her. Her life and faith is such a moving testament to the amazing power and strength God gives to His people.

      As expected, once I gave it to Katie she zipped right through it. We used the comprehension questions to discuss each chapter as she went along. The Essay questions and creative writing assignments offered a great way to really dig into the story and challenge Katie to think deeply about such a terrible time. Since she finished the book so quickly, I’ve decided to have her read the book again at a more leisurely pace to be able to take full advantage of the study guide. There are many more activities and projects we didn’t get to, and they’re worth slowing down and really devoting some time to.

      Overall I really loved this book and the study guide. This series offers great role models for my girls, and I look forward to reading the rest of the books together. To see the other titles reviewed by the Homeschool Review Crew, click below.

      Christian & History Heroes {YWAM Publishing Reviews}

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      Friday, May 26, 2017

      Wednesday, May 24, 2017

      Homeschool Review Crew: The Typing Coach Review

      My thirteen year old daughter Katie has decided she likes typing her papers way more than she likes writing them by hand. She has never taken a formal typing course before, and so she has learned some bad typing habits. This was a great time for us to try The Typing Coach Online Typing Course provided by The Typing Coach.

      The Typing Coach

      Created by a veteran typing teacher, The Typing Coach Online Course uses audio, video, and written instructions to deliver a program that will have you typing at least ten words per minute with no more than one error per minute by the end of the course. In addition to the audio, videos, and written instruction, there is also an online assessment center with timed and scored proficiency tests.

      The course is divided into seven lessons, designed to be completed over ten weeks. Since the goal is mastery, however, you can take as much time as you need in each lesson. The lessons cover:

      • Having good posture
      • Home row
      • Top row
      • Bottom row
      • Shift keys
      • Typing practices
      • Number row 

      The first lesson has a video demonstration of proper posture. The following lessons have an audio file that you listen to as you type in a word processing program. You listen to the audio as many times you need to, while typing lines you print from the student packet. The object of these lessons is to train you to type from a page without looking at your keyboard or monitor. Once you feel confident, there is a Learning Check you take on the website. You need to pass the Learning Checks with no errors to move on to the next lesson. Again, the object of this program is mastery, so you may find yourself doing these lessons repeatedly until you have the keys memorized with no errors.


      How We Used It:

      The very first thing I did was have Katie take the Before and After Snapshot. This is a three minute assessment that gives you a starting reference so that you can see the progress you’ve made when you finish the course.

      Next, I printed the Student packet, the Learning checks packet, and the Progress chart and put them all together in a binder. Katie then did the lesson on Having Good Posture. She did not have very good posture as she plopped herself in the chair the first time, so it was a good lesson for her. I made sure to remind her at the beginning of every lesson, and the instructor was good about reminding her to check her posture during lessons.

      After the first lesson on Having Good Posture, Katie worked through this program independently. She did have some frustration in the beginning, because she worked on the lines from the Home Row lesson, and felt like she had them down. When I came in to give her the Learning Check, she didn’t do well at all. I think part of the problem was that she needed to get a feel for how the Learning Check worked. It counts every stroke, so if she hit the space bar too many times, etc. it would count that as an error. Once she got the hang of it she felt better. I was sure to explain to her that the program is teaching her to really know where each key is, and that wasn’t something she could rush through. Speed comes after knowing all of the keys, and these lessons really focus on that mastery.

      I think this program would be a good fit for anyone who likes repetition and has a strong desire to learn how to type.

      To see what my fellow Homeschool Review Crew members thought, click below. 

      The Typing Coach Online Typing Course {The Typing Coach Reviews}

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