Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Logic of English Essentials 2nd Edition *Review

Logic of English Review

Logic of English sees the need to fight the literacy crisis, and to provide materials for everyone to learn to read. We have used several of their products and have always been very pleased with the quality of education. Uniquely, the Essentials 2nd Edition covers just that, the essentials, but for multi levels. Everything that we need to teach reading, spelling, vocabulary and grammar is included in this set.

Logic of English Review
Don't let the size overwhelm you, but do know that there is a bit of work on the teacher's end before jumping into this program. This is not a 'self-directed' learning curriculum, but more of a teacher working with the student through out. The set comes with everything you will need, shown above. The Teacher manual, student workbook (consumable), Spelling Journal, flashcards, phonograph game tiles, and some good 'cheat sheets' for the rules.

Logic of English Review
Essentials is geared for ages 8 and up. Works well with grades 2nd through 6th. It is also great for those who are dealing with ESL, dyslexia, and struggling readers and spellers. I chose to use this with my 11 year old because she is already reading, but struggles with spelling and vocabulary. My 8 year old I didn't feel would be able to quite handle it yet, as he is not reading at grade level. I would have loved to use it for both of them together to try out the multi level teaching feature, but he just wasn't up to this point yet.

There is a placement test in the teacher manual that you can give your child to see where they fall in the multi level line up. This will help you place your student at the A, B, or C level. Spelling, grammar and vocabulary are separated into three levels, though much of the instruction for the essentials is geared for all students. The placement test also allows the teacher to find out if the student needs some pre-lessons before starting Essentials. There are 10 pre lessons focused on different elements.
Essentials has 15 lessons, which equates to 15 weeks of study. Each lesson is divided into 5 days.

I reiterate, that there is a fair amount of learning for the teacher before you jump in. The teacher needs some teacher first, and I just want you to be aware that you will need to allow time for that before starting. Once you review the learning material for yourself, teaching it is very organized and structured. Each lesson begins by telling you exactly what phonographs and sounds you will be studying, which spelling rules you will use, as well as what is introduced in grammar and vocabulary.
The days are clearly marked with Day 1, etc. The components you use for All the students is marked ALL. There are boxes on the sides of the lesson plan for additional information that may help you in teaching the lesson. There are teacher tips as well as optional practice suggestions.
It is very thorough!

Here is a closer look at some of the flashcards that you will be using.

Essentials Reader Set was a pdf download to help add to my daughters reading experience. The readers start easy and get harder as you go. The activities to go along with them are fun and engaging. They are in a pdf format, and I probably should have just had the activity book printed out and bound for ease, even though it is 200 pages.  I instead printed off worksheets as we went. I would not print out the teacher book though. It is 100 pages and you can just view it on your laptop and instruct from there. We utilized the readers on the laptop as well, though their is a version that you can print out.
These are optional, but very useful.

I would rate Essentials as one of the top English programs with its care of covering so many of the basics, and continuing to build on them.
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Logic of English Review

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Thursday, March 24, 2016

The Gospel of John DVD from *Review Review Review is your place for Christian media! They have not only the latest in Christian DVD's, but they have classics as well.
 Gospel of John was released in 2003, and I have no idea how I missed it  when it first came out. I was so thankful that this title came up for review and that we asked to check it out. We have not found a more biblically accurate movie to date.

This movie is the actual Bible's book of John from the American Bible Society's Good News Bible.
No word left out, changed, or deleted. Wow!
When is started to write the review, my 17 year old asked me what is the highest rating for a movie and I told him 5. He instantly said, "This is a 6!". From a 17 year old!  He appreciated that the word hadn't been changed, that we could watch a movie and know that nothing had been left out.

Being the Bible scholar that I am.. not, I decided to follow along with my phone app while watching the movie. I actually found it fun to tell the family where we were at in John as each sequence developed. 

There is quite a bit of narration by Christopher Plummer. When the word doesn't indicate that anyone is speaking, then the narrator is. While he is speaking though, the actors are performing the scenes, so it is still exciting. Filmed in Ontario, Toronto, and Almeria and Andalucia Spain, the scenes are beautiful.

"Great drama between narration and people speaking the word", says my hubby.

Henry Ian Cusick plays Jesus. My older boys knew him from another show, and that caught their interest. He did a great job portraying Jesus, showing love and mercy, yet at times having a holy anger for those sinning against his father.

When I first saw this movie was 180 minutes long, I was worried that we wouldn't get through the whole thing. We watched it for pizza and movie night with the whole family, ages 8, 11, 14, 17 and adults. We all loved it, and thought it was one of the best bible movies we have seen. We tend to watch bible movies and pick out the flaws in them, and they send us to our bibles to find the errors. With this we were excited to have each and every part in the show.

The crucifixion of course showed blood and violence, but near what some of the other movies have depicted. It does have a pg13 rating, but it really wasn't more than my little guys could handle. I want them to see the truth of what happened to Christ, and I am sure this was scaled down immensely. is one of our favorite "go to" site for Christian movies. Their website is very easy to maneuver. The left sidebar has common categories for you to search. They also have a search bar if you have a specific movie title, or genre that you want to search for. I really like that they have "Coming Soon" tab where I can find the upcoming movies for my family to watch and get them on preorder.

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Friday, March 18, 2016

EdTechLens Rainforest Journey *Review

Rainforest Journey EdTechLens Review

EdTechLens is an online multi media science curriculum. Rainforest Journey is their premiere life science program geared for K through grade 5. You receive a one year online license to the science program, which is ample time to finish the course.

Rainforest Journey EdTechLens Review

Rainforests are such a beautiful picture of science and delightful for kids and adults to learn about. I used this program with my 2nd and 5th grader and was pleased that the lessons mirrored each other so we were able to learn about the same things, at the same time.

I worked primarily with my 2nd grader on his journey. There are 5 units in this course;
The Big Picture of the Rainforest
Adapt or Die
Plants and Fungi

Each unit then is broken down into chapters and lessons. This is a look at it from the teacher log in. I can go directly to any of the lessons and see what he will be learning about. There is also a Vocabulary page that lists the new words we will be learning about as well as illustrations of things like the water cycle.

The Teacher resources allow me to print off the worksheets for each lesson and also has hands on activities. The Hands on Activities includes one for classroom and one for home user. One for each unit, both a teacher and student hand out.

Maverick can access his account, and get started each morning on his own. His course outline makes it easy for him to see what he has already done, and where he is. The units he isn't to yet are locked so he can't skip ahead.
You will also see he doesn't have teacher resources on the side, this helps me to know we are logged into his account and not mine.

Notice the real life pictures! I love that all of the media is actual footage and pictures of animals and plants in the rain forest. Professionally done photos that are just beautiful. Each lesson has photos, and often a video that shows various things as well.
Maverick is not reading proficiently yet. He is given the option of reading his lesson, or clicking on the speaker icon and having it read to him. This has been extremely helpful to me to allow him to get much of his work done on his own.

It is easy for him to see where to move on to the next passage as well. You can download the lesson as a pdf if you are not able to utilize it online, for on the go learning.
I plan ahead and print off the worksheets that he needs for his lessons for the week. I do have to help him with those, as he isn't much of a writer yet.

Here is an example from Unit 2 on camouflage. You can see on the left was Maverick's with actual photos printed out of a frog, and a bird on the second page. He had to look at them and tell me how their coloring helped protect them. With my 5th grader she had to describe firstly what camouflage was, then learn about 3 different animals that use it and how it helps them. We are learning bout the same things, just at different levels. I really love that because she was very helpful in talking with her younger  brother and sharing the things she was learning. I had never even heard of a Lyre-Tailed Nightjar myself.

Maverick loved making his depiction of the layers of the rainforest.

My 5th grader jumped in on this opportunity as well and created one of her own. It really helped cement in the different layers for both of them.

Rainforest Journey EdTechLens Review

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Rainforest Journey EdTechLens Review

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Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Grapevine Studies with the New Testament *Review

Birth of John to Jesus' Ministry {Grapevine Studies Review}

The Easter season has been a great time to jump into Grapevine Studies and study New Testament Overview Part 1 which is the birth of John to Jesus' ministry.
Because of my age span, I chose to check out each of the different levels to see how well they worked together. We reviewed

 New Testament 1: Level 1 Birth of John to Jesus' Ministry
New Testament 1: Level 2 Birth of John to Jesus' Ministry
New Testament 1: Level 3 Birth of John to Jesus' Ministry
New Testament 1: Level 4 Birth of John to Jesus' Ministry

I just went down the line and assigned them according to ages. Level 1, age 8. Level 2, age 11. Level 3, age 14. Level 4 age 17

Birth of John to Jesus' Ministry {Grapevine Studies Review}

My kids are fairly well versed in the scriptures. We have been homeschooling since they were babies, and the main core of our schooling has always been the Word. We have dabbled in the Bible journaling craze that is going on as well, and the kids have enjoyed using Grapevine to get some more knowledge from drawing stick figures.
You can see with the graphic below that my ages were a little bit off, but we wanted to be sure to review each of the levels we received. I probably would have been fine using Level 2 for my 8 year old, and Level 4 for the 11 and 14, but that would have left my 17 year old uninvolved.

Birth of John to Jesus' Ministry {Grapevine Studies Review}

Each of my levels were in a digital format. I just saved them directly to the computer and printed out the ones we needed each morning for that day's lessons. It was suggested to use the teacher guide for level 3 and 4 to work with the kids as a group so I did that. I also had access to the teacher guide for the other grades as well if I needed it. It worked out fine to use level 3 and 4 teacher guide.

The levels were very similar to each other. We had no problem working together at each of the own levels.

We started with a timeline from Adam to Jesus to give a brief overview. Each lesson after that begins with a much narrower timeline. Each lesson is geared for 4 days a week to complete. Each day will only take  between 10-30 minutes as stated below in the schedule. We never really went over 20 minutes including reading the scripture verses.

Daily Schedule Weekly Schedule
Day 1: Timeline Review Page Timeline Review Page (5 -10 minutes)
Day 2: Lesson page 1 Lesson Pages 1 and 2 (30-35 minutes)
Day 3: Lesson page 2 Student Drawing Page (5-15 minutes)
Day 4: Student Drawing Page
The student drawing page is unique to level 1 where they may not be able to write out answers to questions, they can show what they learned artistically.

The teacher guide tells you exactly what to draw, and how to explain it to the students. Every thing you need is included in the guide. You do not have to be artistic at all with the stick figures. Some of my kids chose to add on to the basics and that is just fine. Allow them to make it their own and add their own artistic bend to it.

Level 1 allowed for the drawing page, and it gave more space for the individual pictures as well.
There is a memory verse included in each level. Level 2 has additional memory work for learning some facts about the Bible.

I didn't find much difference in Level 2 versus Level 3. The extra memory work is not included in Level 3 as it is in Level 2.

Level 4 was much too easy for my 17 year old, and would have been better suited for my 11 and 14 year old with extra activities. Level 4 is geared to ages 13 and up so I really should have known that. He did enjoy doing it however. It was fun for him to draw the stick figures and spend some time in the word with us. Level 4 has a Quest Page which had us utilize some Bible resources. We looked online at a Topical Bible, Bible Dictionary, and Concordance. These are really useful resources and I think they could have even been incorporated in level 3 as well.

There are many studies from both the Old and New Testament that you can purchase. This is a perfect way to get your kids started on daily jumping in the word, and help them retain it by drawing out what they are learning.
Birth of John to Jesus' Ministry {Grapevine Studies Review}


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Birth of John to Jesus' Ministry {Grapevine Studies Review}

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Here to Help Learning Writing Program *Review

Here to Help Learning Review

Here to Help Learning is an online homeschool writing program.

We focused our review on, Flight 2 Paragraph Writing. There are 3 Flights for both paragraph writing and essay writing. We did take a peek at the essay writing. We chose to stick with paragraph writing for the duration of the review and will soon move on to essay writing as the kids are solidified in paragraphs.

I used this with both my 11 and 14 year old as I know there are gaps in our writing.
Each of our Flights began with Mrs. Mora in her flight attendant outfit, giving instructions for our flight. Each and ever time we are instructed to focus on a Bible verse, and to focus our attention on God. I absolutely loved that about this program. We are blessed to be able to learn and she helps the kids to keep their eyes on that. The entire program is from a Biblical perspective, but not preachy.

Here to Help Learning Review

Mrs. Mora is very animated. She acts out different roles in the online video clips. The captain of the airplane is a dog. The video is for pretty young kids. Mine were a bit too old for the video lessons and watching Mrs. Mora work with the classroom of kids. The content on what we were learning however, was right on track. The process of learning to write a paragraph and then a essay was exactly what we needed.

We learned to brainstorm, make a list, webbing, make a rough draft, input on the draft, a 2nd rough draft, second input, and finally a final copy. Being that my kids like to rush everything to get done, this helped them to slow down and take the process and learn.
Though our first assignment was only a paragraph in length, both of the kids had over a paper of information that they used to write it. They are definitely learning the skills, and though they may scoff at Mrs. Mora and her 'antics', they are learning through her rhymes and repetition!

There are 6 different writing projects in Flight 2, utilizing 32 lessons. The theme of Flight 2 is Oh The Places I've Been.
We have binders for all of our work, labeling each section. We are reminded to print out our papers and put them in our binders. I often print 2 copies of everything for the kids to work on. We have done some of the activities together and I just print out one copy.

There is a scripted teacher guide that you can print out. It goes through everything you are wanting to keep track of for your lesson. The Flight Check in makes sure your notebooks are in order, and 'discovery tickets' are given out for finishing work. We chose not to use the discovery tickets with my kids since they are older. I can see these being very helpful for a co-op, or for a group of younger kids.

Our next step was Take Off. This was where we played a game. The games helped us to learn more about writing. We talked about dead words, and had to come up with similar words to help us make our writing more exciting.

The Writing Warm-up came next and these were always fun. The kids had a print out of a funny picture that they had to write about. Gummy bears flying on parachutes, chipmunks eating chocolate covered nuts, llamas selling lemonade in space. All funny things and it was great to see them put on their imaginations.

Next we jumped into the list of where we were in the creative line up. Each day we did a different step, resulting in a week and a half for a full writing assignment.
I was very pleased with their finished work from the first assignment. They both wrote about going to a Christ in Youth event, and the paper will serve as a great reminder for them of the fun they had there.

The second writing project had some hands on advantage. We created potato people!

They had to come up with their name, likes and dislikes, things they enjoyed doing and create a character. We went through the same process of writing. This was really enjoyable and I appreciated that it switched it up a little bit.
We will continue using Here to Help Learning as I feel the kids are finally starting to understand the order of learning to write. I love the repetition and the variety. We will move on to Essay, and hopefully do some of the other Flights as well. I may even modify it to help get my 17 year old writing a bit more as well!

Here to Help Learning Review

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Here to Help Learning Review

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