Thursday, June 29, 2017

Lightning Lit Junior High Hewitt Homeschooling *Review

Hewitt Homeschooling

Hewitt Homeschooling was first introduced to me for one of my older boys in high school. It was one of the programs that consistently helped him in his composition skills. I was excited to try Gr 7 Lightning Lit Set   for my daughter who enjoys reading, and thought it would help to hone in her skills earlier than the high school level.

 Lightning Literature and Composition Pack
Grade 7

Lightning Lit & Comp comes with the Student Guide, Workbook and Teacher Book. You can purchase each one separately.
You also need:
Stories and Poems for Extremely Intelligent Children
The Adventures of Tom Sawyer by Mark Twain
Alice's Adventure in Wonderland by Lewis Carrol
The Story of My Life by Helen Keller
All Creatures Great and Small by James Herriot

For the year your student will read two novels, two non-fiction books, two short stores and several poems. I love the variation in reading, giving the student a taste of each one.

The first story you start with is Rikki-Tikki-Tavi by Rudyard Kipling. The Student Guide gives the student an introduction to the story/book. It then has a section on While You Read giving the student things to be watching for and to consider while they are reading. There is also a vocabulary list included for the harder to understand words. The reading level of these books were a bit above what  my 7th grader is reading, and it was helpful to have a few of the words defined for her in the beginning. I did have to help with some of the reading and understanding of the texts.

This is not just a literature study however. They aren't reading the story and answering comprehension questions alone. There is more indepth information taught on the English level with each chapter. From Chapter 1 she learned about the plot line of the story going through and listing each phase of the plot. Then in the Workbook she would actually fill out those different points of the plot, reinforcing what she just read. Several of the workbook pages are simply related to English skills, and not to the reading material. At the end of the workbook exercises, the Student Guide has you do an additional writing exercise.

This is a comprehensive English class for 7th grade. I was very impressed with the depth of it, even though some was above where my daughter is at. Just like the High School program, this one challenge and taught.

Once we got to Tom Sawyer, the teacher was excited! My daughter was a bit intimidated with the length of the novel, this really being her first 'big' novel to read. She loves to read, but usually books she can finish right away. We would take turns reading, just to help her feel that she was understanding it, and we were working together. For me, this wasn't a program I could just let her go alone at, thought some more mature readers may be able to handle much of it on their own. I find that junior high age still needs that direction and help to learn to be self sufficient and once they are in high school they are a bit more self motivated learners.

I was excited to see that they also have elementary programs as well. I am interested in checking this out for my younger son. I feel if I can get my daughter moving along with Hewitt Homeschooling Resources, she will be very well prepared for college literature and English classes. Just in having my older son work through one of the High School levels, showed me the caliber of the programs.

One of the finest resources I have found on helping kids prepare for high school composition skills and beyond to college.

See what my crew mates thought of this program by clicking on the link below.

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Friday, June 23, 2017

Homeschool Planet online Planning *Review

Homechool Planet

Homeschool Buyers Co-op won me over a few years ago with their Homeschool Planet online homeschool planner. I was much a paper and pen person until I tried Homeschool Planet. I reviewed for the crew 2 years ago and absolutely loved the help it gave me and the ease it had at not only planning, but also for printing and sharing what was expected of the kids. Last year I loved it so much that I purchased it for the year. You have to know if I review something and love it enough I will stick with it. Homeschool Planet was one of those!
I was blessed to be on the review for it this year again, and I am still using it.

You will need to be a  member of Homeschool Buyers Co-op to join, but it is completely free and offers great discounts on various curriculum that you don't want to miss. Right now if you sign up for a month trial you get a free lesson plan from their new Lesson Plan Marketplace.  This is a completely new program that schedules specific curricula you may be using, right into your planner for you, saving a step. I wasn't currently using any of the ones they offered, but I was amazed at how helpful that would be! Imagine a year of Math Mammoth or Life Pac scheduled out for you for the year. Setting up, and organizing the school year is one of the most tasking things in my schedule. I don't even plan out an entire year, I am lucky to get a month typed in. A time saver, be sure to check it out!

Where to start? There are so many great features. First thing is to get your kids profiles set up. I had to go and remove my 18 year old, I am down to schooling only 4!! I just archived him though if I need any of the records they are available to me. I plan to use the transcript help to make sure he is set for college, as he is attending a local community college.

So I load the kids profiles, then I go through and type each topic we study. The first bit can be time consuming, but if you budget the time to do it, it helps in the long run. Summer is a great time to get that schedule figured out.

It is simply data entry to get started. I like to preplan on paper the order of the classes and the times for them, just to keep me in order, but you can move them around once they are inputted also.

You can see your data in Calendar mode or Planner mode. Each giving you a little variance on how you may want to see your schedule laid out. My kids were at camp this week so we don't have any school planned out.

You can also see that you can view it by the day, week or month. And see the schedule for everyone or just one student. I use the planner page, and select the individual student to print out their weekly schedule.

Once I get all of their classes scheduled at the right times, and on the right days, I can flip through the kids to make sure I am not double booking myself in anything.
There is the option to put in exact lessons due for the day, or just to have it listed as the class and the kids know the routine of which lesson is next. I do both, depending on the class. Math they know just to do the next lesson so I don't find it necessary to type in each numbered lesson plan. Homeschool Planet does make it easy and will add them in succession if you choose to do that.

There are so many tips and short cuts, you need to just get in there and play around and will be amazed at all it has to offer.

It does take time at first. Don't be surprised. But doesn't any planning take time? I have found this to be the best tool for me to keep my homeschool and extra events organized. It is my go to planner, and I even have access to it on my phone. I get a daily email for what the kids should be working on just to keep me on task.

I highly recommend you give the trial month a try and see what you think. There is much to explore and it is truly a hands on experience.

Get your free trial HERE

Homeschool Buyers Co-op

Homeschool Planet {Homeschool Buyers Co-op Reviews}

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Wednesday, June 21, 2017

UnLock Math Algebra1 *Review

UnLock Math Algebra 1

We used UnLock Math for pre algebra, and I was thrilled be able to continue with UnLock Algebra1 They also have UnLock Algebra2 and the newest UnLock Geometry.
My 15 year old uses UnLock Math as his primary math curriculum. It is not a supplement for him, but a complete program.

I did struggle before with how much work Canyon should do in a day. The pacing guide for Algebra 1 was perfect for me to gage how many lessons he should do at a time. It is basically one per day, but I wasn't always sure if we should do more since it was on the same topic. I printed the pacing guide out and we can check mark after he gets done to know if he is staying on track.

Algebra1 offers a review of Pre Algebra, which is always helpful when starting a new math. I love the set up of UnLock Math. Take a look at how easy this lesson page is to maneuver.

You begin with the warm up, just a few questions to get your math brain working. Then the video is embedded right in the lesson! No need to search to find where it is, or what one you are on. I love this. I have yet to find a math program where there is an actual teacher, going through the lesson both visual and audible. This combination has been wonderful for my 15 year old. It is like he is sitting in his own classroom one on one with the math teacher, and it isn't me!

After the lesson there are practice problems to go through that correspond with what was just taught. The stay sharp section is continued reinforcement for past lessons and is a great section to keep up with. There are not many problems to do, so I do require Canyon to work on these. He typically peeks at the Challenge Yourself section, but usually by then he is ready to be done. I figure if he got that far it is a win for me! The challenge yourself section would be one that I would have done as a kid, because I really did enjoy math.

The reference notes are excellent to print out for an outline of what was taught. Great to keep in a binder to look back on for later lessons if the student would have difficulty recalling past lessons.
There is also an option on the home page to print out the complete reference notes if you choose to do that ahead of time, all 472 pages of them.

The student can get a progress report at anytime, and there is also a pie graph showing them their progress in the unit. All great visuals and reinforcement to keep on with the program. I know I like to visually see how far I have come in a curriculum.

Lessons included in UnLock Algebra1 are:
linear functions
inequalities and absolute value
exponential functions
quadratic functions
radical functions
rational functions
systems of linear equations and inequalities

Those are the lesson titles, of course they go into much depth within each unit. A full year program, with a teacher visible and available for questions. I have not found a better math program for my teen son than UnLock Math!

UnLock Math
UnLock Math
See what the other crew members thought of UnLock Math and be sure to consider them for your upcoming school year.

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

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Friday, June 9, 2017

MarshMedia Online Video for Health, Hygiene, Safety and More *Review

Health Education Products for K-8 {MarshMedia }

MarshMedia has videos that cover hygiene, health, puberty education, safety and more in their Homeschool Special

If you wish to take advantage of the opportunity to introduce the MarshMedia curriculum to your home schooler(s) click on the link below for more information 

Health Education Products for K-8 {MarshMedia }

The first video we watched was  Growing Up! For Girls. It is geared toward 5th-7th grade.
I have friends who take great pains to teach their kids about puberty, body changes, etc. Having ceremonies of becoming a teen, going on weekend trips to 'teach' them the birds and the bees. To be frank, that isn't my style. We live on a farm. The kids are growing up learning about animals, so that is where they learn about that sort of thing. (A side note, none of these videos are not about sex education, but rather about how their bodies change) I am not one real comfortable even talking about puberty. I had been looking for a book or something to help me teach my daughter. The older four kids are boys, so they are my husbands responsibility!! But finally I have a 12 year old daughter that I really ought to say some things to. I needed a video to help me bridge that gap. A bit of information for us both to watch and then discuss.

This video promotes self-confidence for girls as they grow and change. It gives information on how the female reproductive system works. It helps explain the physical changes going on, as well as the emotional changes. My daughter is quite shy and very modest, so even for her this is a difficult thing to discuss. She is much more comfortable talking to me, and seemed a little uneasy watching the video. It was helpful for me though, just to give me a starting point. The video is only 15 minutes, but does a thorough job of giving just the right amount of information.

Health Education Products for K-8 {MarshMedia }

Puberty education isn't the only thing MarshMedia offers. They have a great 10  minute video on how babies are born. They also have videos on growing up for the younger ages. Additional health videos on Aids, Head Lice, Nutrition, and much more.

You may remember from your days in public school, watching some videos similar to these. In my day they were actually on a film strip! But I remember having to bring in a form signed by my parents to be able to watch some of these. I am so thankful I have the option to show my kids in my own home, with myself as their educator. These are great videos that give the basic facts on each of these topics.

There are 54 programs in the areas of Safety, Puberty, Health, Guidance, Special Needs, Hygiene, Growing Up, and Nutrition. There is approximately 13 hours of video to watch, so easy to get them all in if you choose.

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    Thursday, June 8, 2017

    We graduated our 3rd!!!

    By the grace of God we graduated our 3rd son!

    We had a great homeschool graduation ceremony!

    2 weeks later we had his graduation open house where family came in from Fl and MI to help us celebrate!

    Our traditional Pig Roast party!

    What a great celebration of all that God has done!

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    K5 Learning Online Reading, Math and Spelling *Review

    K5 Learning

    K5 Learning has an online program for grades K through 5th grade in both math and reading.  It also includes a spelling program which gives vocabulary and spelling tutoring.

    There is an assessment at the beginning of the program. This was great for helping to know where they should start. It also gave a report to me on about what level they were on each subject. The teacher can assign the assessment and each one is 30-45 minutes in length.

    There is a student and parent log in. I was able to have 2 separate students use the program.
    When the student  logs in they are given the option of Reading & Math or Spelling. They also are given a selection of printable worksheets to use based on the last lesson they completed. A couple worksheets in both Reading and Math. Usually by the time they are done with their online learning, they are done so I haven't printed any of the worksheets out. My students are also doing very well in the lessons so I didn't find the extra work necessary. If we run into a problem area, the worksheets will be good practice for them.
    The kids work on their skill level, rather than their grade level. This was perfect for my kids in Math, which both scored very low on in geometry for some reason. The K5 Learning is helping to fill in some voids we had.

    K5 Learning

    In this particular lesson my daughter was learning about cause and effect. It used science to help teach it which I loved. It is reading comprehension, but adding in information that is also important from other areas. I found all of the reading to be education and interesting. Lessons on  Cause and Effect, Fact and Opinion,

    After reading a passage (or having the option that it is read to you), there is a series of questions to see if you understand what you read.

    The student can view their progress report to see how they are doing in Phonics,  Comprehension, and Vocabulary. This will share the date, the lesson, and the percentage.

    I asked my daughter what she thought of the program, being on the higher end of K5, as a 12 year old. She said she learned things but sometimes the characters in the program seemed babyish to her. I thought that was good she was learning. It is hard to have the characters be interactive for such an age range, but I didn't find them too babyish when I watched it.

    The parent dashboard gives the opportunity to view their reports, assign spelling words, and change spelling settings. The parent can also create an assignment that is not in the regular lesson plan. I didn't utilize this feature as K5 Learning already had the lessons added in. If you had something particular you wanted them to work on first, you could assign that ahead of how K5 Learning has it.

    K5 Learning
    I have found K5 Learning to be very helpful for filling in the voids and subjects I may have missed. It is also helpful to use for the summer to keep the kids going in their learning and reviewing things that they may have already been exposed to.

    Free 14 day trial and free sample lessons HERE

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    Wednesday, June 7, 2017

    Nature's Beautiful Order Memoria Press *Review

    Memoria Press

    Memoria Press Nature's Beautiful Order gave us a great introduction to the study of animals. It is taught by classical naturalists and does follow the classical education method. This is not your typical science style textbook, it is written in individual essay form. This book is more of a natural history view of the animals, giving a descriptive account of the animals and the places in which they live.  Going back and giving some history to how the animal came to be where it is today. It does fit the science model as well, going into depth about the classes of animals.
    Rather than focus on cells, and organisms and how they form and come to be, this book jumps right in to the specific animal. For a student who rather get right to the animals, it is a great fit.

    Nature’s Beautiful Order

    The writings are by biologists like James Audubon, Jean-Henri Fabre, and St-George J. Mivart.
    Written for grades 6th through 9th, I did find it difficult reading for my 6th grader. Perhaps if you have been following a Classical form of schooling up till this  point, you may be able to use it for a 12 year old. I found it for our family to be much more suited to a high school student.

    My daughter and I would take turns reading in the chapter. Each chapter is about 10 pages long, and the level of writing is at an advanced level. I did have to stop often and explain what I was reading to her. I suspect my high school student wouldn't have needed clarification.
    Not having listened to many essays, or this style of writing, it was at times difficult to keep her attention. Another reason I feel it is more suited to the older student.

    After you read the chapter, there are questions in the Student Guide. These are questions from the reading, and are in the order of what is read. They are pretty straight forward for the most part. It tended to overwhelm my daughter a bit as you an see in her answers.  Again that is simply because of her age I think.

    Rather than make her write out all of the answers, we just discussed them and found the answers we were looking for in the text. That helped make it go smoother for her. She had an interest in the animals and the material, it just needed quite a bit of explanation for her to understand.
    The teacher guide graciously gives all of the answers! So if I struggled myself to find the answer in the text, I had the trusty teacher guide by my side to find them.

    There are eighteen lessons in the book, and I personally only did one lesson per week. That way if she grew weary of reading, we could pick it up a different day.

    Some of the animals we learned about were Cats, lobsters, cuttlefish, and sea urchins. As the teacher and co reader I found the information very informative. Additional animals covered in the book are bees, trout, frogs, turtles, goose, birds, groundhog, deer, skunks, bear and farm animals. Each animal being described in their own classes.

    Memoria Press has an excellent line up of Classical education materials. This study is right in line with the caliber of great work they offer.

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