Tuesday, June 5, 2018

Something Fishy at Lake Iwannafisha ~Review

The Critical Thinking Co.™

The Critical Thinking Co.™ is aptly named as it is my 'go to' for logic and critical thinking curriculum. This month we reviewed Something Fishy at Lake Iwannafisha as a team with my 16, 13 and 10 year old. The entire book is a 'whodunit' mystery that we needed to solve. 

Something's Fishy at Lake Iwannafisha

We tend toward mystery type shows when we sit down together as a family. The kids referenced several of them as we were talking about this review for Something Fishy at Lake Iwannafisha. It was not necessary for them to have watched any of these type of shows in order to use this book. The first item given to the detectives was a great amount of back ground and forensic information to process. 
The Forensic Evidence Lessons included Anthropology, Arson, Ballistics, Counterfeit money, Autopsy, Handwriting Analysis and Fingerprints. There was over 20 pages of lessons to read up before getting started. I did take the lessons directly out of the book with the perforated pages and gave them to the kids in a file folder. Some of the worksheets can be printed off online through a link in the book, but not all of the pages. There will be a few here and there you need to scan a copy of to have a complete set. 

After the kids read through the evidence lessons we got started on the story. They had to list evidence they found, and how it may be applicable. They decided who they may need to interview, and what type of evidence they needed to look for. 
In the book I had additional information to give to them when they asked for it. They wanted to jump right in and figure out all of the crimes, and I had to help them stay focused and not jump to conclusions. This was great in having patience and working together as a team. 

This particular book is geared for grades 5-12. That great range allowed for our larger family to work together and I really feel they enjoyed it as a team. 

The Critical Thinking Co offers logic and critical thinking curriculum for all ages. You can search on their website for a specific grade and age or even for a specific topic. They also have curriculum for language arts, math, science and social studies. 
As I am gearing up for a new school year, I enjoyed looking through the website to find additional tools to use to work with my kids. I really think it is a great idea to have some critical thinking built in to each year. I think some times this skill gets over looked, and The Critical Thinking Co is trying to remedy that with their great line up of tools!

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My Crew mates had a selection of books to review. Click on the banner below and find additional reviews for Something Fishy at Lake Iwannafish as well as several other great products shown below.
Critical Thinking, Understanding Math & Vocabulary {The Critical Thinking Co.™ Reviews}

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Thursday, May 24, 2018

Home School Navigator ~Review

Home School Navigator
For the past few weeks we have been using the Home School Navigator Reading and Language Arts Curriculum indigo level from Home School Navigator

There are six different levels of curriculum. We had access to all 6  levels as we got started. We found that Indigo was the best level for my 13 year old. It is the highest level, rated at a 5th grade reading level. We had 4 weeks to look through the various levels before we chose which one we would stick with. 

Each week I would download the weekly guide. It lists each project that the student will be assigned for the week. It is 5 pages, so you can either download and print, or just have it downloaded to refer to. It helps give you an idea of what is expected for the week. Helpful especially for us as we don't have traditional school on Thursdays, so my daughter has to factor that into finishing up Thurs work before the end of the week. 

The weekly guide also indicates which handouts are needed printed, and the materials list for the week including the books you need to have on hand. Thankfully when we weren't able to find the book from the library, a youtube video was provided with the book being read to her.

Home School Navigator

Each day would have 6 different categories to work through;

Read Aloud : The student will either read the suggested readings, or if you are having a hard time finding it, they have uploaded videos of them reading the book to the student. We were able to find just one of the recommended books so far. They do re read the book, which my daughter wasn't really interested in, but I told her she may catch more out of it the second and third time around.

Literature/Comprehension ; There is usually an imbedded video to watch in this section that will explain the context of the activity. This category to me was really the meat of the program. This is where the student is learning how to talk about what they are reading. To analyze it, and utilize worksheets to better explain what they are reading.

Writing/Grammar; This is set up in a writing book you make. This is sometimes asking questions of the reading and responsively writing to it, and sometimes it is just a free writing for a certain amount of time.

Phonics/Word Study/Vocabulary; This keeps the same word study for the week, and introduces a list of vocabulary that go together, like having the same root word. There are games and activities to play with the words, in addition to writing sentences and learning the words.

Computer Skills is often doing your writing and journal on the computer. Good for them to get in the habit of writing with the computer and learning to type.

Independent Reading is reading for 30 minutes and can be anything you or the student choose. There are no other requirement.

If you live in a state where you need to prepare a portfolio for review at the end of the year, there is a great option to upload their work each week and then later print out. This is really helpful for keeping the language part of the portfolio up to date.

In addition to the Reading and Language Arts Curriculum, Home School Navigator also has Interactive Notebooks for the older levels.  I had really wanted to do this with my daughter, but a death in the family threw us off track with it.

The interactive Notebooks remind me of a lapbooking style where you are making little booklets about the story. The book in the Indigo level is Holes by Louis Sachar.

There are 9 months worth of weekly language arts and reading. They are divided up into months, and then into weeks. Clearly enough for a year long school year. We were generously given a one year subscription for review, and I have found it really has helped my daughter have a clearer vision of what she needs to do daily. I am not a great planner, and with home educating three other students, it helps to have her be able to work independently on her language arts.

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

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Wednesday, May 16, 2018

PandaParents ~Review

Panda Parents Kindy Curriculum

My 3 year old enjoyed PandaParents  digital format of MESSYLEARNING FOR PRESCHOOLERS AND KINDERGARTNERS during her school day. This program is geared preschool ages 3-6.

The digital program is a monthly program that includes a pdf book, access to online videos, and downloadable, printable worksheets. We were given a three month access to get us started. We chose to work with the title Scotty Skunk Hears a Scary Sound.
The other two monthly titles we were given were; A Jolly Jingling Journey and Mommy's Baby.

Scotty Skunk is scared of sounds while he is sleeping. The 30 minute video firstly introduces us to the letter S. The Big and Little S, and the sound that it makes. It then tells us how Scotty is a Skunk and what happens when Scotty is scared.. he sprays. Little Muffin had to take a bath in tomato sauce to smell better.
After the introduction the letter, there is a story about Scotty trying to find a place to stay where there isn't a lot of noises. He has noise from airplanes, and animals, storms, tractors, you name it. Scotty wants a peaceful place to sleep.
The story goes through all of the seasons starting with winter and ending with fall and Scotty's need for a home in each of them.

There are somewhat natural breaks in the video, but I do wish there were concrete breaks. I would like to see it broken into 3, 10 minute videos rather than one 30 minute. It was hard to know when to stop the video and if I stopped it and she knew there was more, she would want to watch  more. A 10  minute video would give us a definite stopping point.

There are over 45 worksheets to use with this book and video. They each vary a little bit, but some are repeat ideas. They are best spread out over the month to work on. My daughter loves to do worksheets and could have easily done 10 in a sitting but I limited her to three each time.

The concepts included in the worksheets are
Memory skills
Fine motor skills
Math Skills
Matching and more..

Each of the worksheets go along with the story. The video is a reading of the story. My daughter much preferred listening to the video. The voices were animated and much more interesting than mom reading it.

My daughter found the video very interested. Seeing it a few times, she was able to remember and predict what was coming next. We would watch the video once a week and do work pages 2 or 3 times a week. The excitement for it didn't last the whole month. I am wondering about having  separate videos to watch over the course of the month, giving them something new each time.

She loved the worksheets that looked like real workbook pages for her. She enjoyed showing them to everyone and telling them what she learned.


See what other crew members thought of PandaParents by clicking on the banner below.
Messylearning For Preschoolers and Kindergartners {PandaParents Reviews}

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Wednesday, May 2, 2018

Weigl Publishers ~Review

Weigl Publishers sent us three media enhanced books for review. Glacier's, A Lion's World, There Once Was a Cowpoke Who Swallowed an Ant all came alive with additional media links and videos.

A Lions World

A Lion's World comes in a pdf form to read along with your Kindergarten through 2nd graders. My 3 year old really loved this book, especially watching it be read to her on Weigl's website. The code for the AV2 is found inside the digital book. It will also ask for a word from a specific page for security. The lions in the digital book were fascinating for my daughter, but even more so, the actual lions in the video version. Each page of the book is read in the video, and the lions' activity continues until you click on the arrow for the next page. An older child could read along with the speaker.
Toward the end of the book there is a list of sight words and where they first appear in the book. It also lists the content words. You can then utilize those words for review with an older child.
The pictures in the pdf were gorgeous as was the video footage of the lions.

Glaciers Earths Water

Glaciers is geared for the 3rd-6th grade students and is a LightBox title. You will log into the website in a different location than the AV2 book. There is much more to offer with this title as it is geared toward the older student. There are supplemental resources you can print out for the Glacier Activities. There is also a print out of the common core standards if that is something you follow.

The online program will read the text to you, but the voice is very robotic and dull. This would be a great place for improvement. Several of the pages have an icon for the web, that you can click on and it will take you to additional information. There is more info on polar bears, the types of glaciers and more. Watch additional videos of real glaciers throughout as well.

There is an interactive map where you can locate the various glaciers. On each page is a way to get to the activity or worksheet page for that page as well. The page on glacier movements does mention million of years in it's look at how the glaciers have moved. It doesn't support a young earth theory.

There is a quiz page and even an experiment to work with. Overall, this concept of reading a book and having videos, slideshows, outside links, and worksheets is a great idea.

There Once Was a Cowpoke Who Swallowed an Ant

The third book we had was a fiction book called There Once Was a Cowpoke Who Swallowed an Ant. And yes if you are familiar with the Old Lady Who Swallowed a Fly, this is much similar, and just as funny. This is an AV2 book where the online story is really fun. The voices are great, and the characters are funny. It is much like listening to a book on CD/tape, but utilizing the web for it.
This funny story sees this poor Cowpoke eating a variety of odd creatures until he gets quite the stomach ache. It is a fairly long book, and was nice to have it read in all of the character parts.

Just this year Weigl Publishers released over 300 new titles, bringing them to having 1800 different titles! That is a lot of interactive books. They have one for each of states of the USA, which would go along with a state study. There are books on primates and many other animals. There are books on a variety of times in our history. There are some on being eco friendly. Each letter of the alphabet for the younger learners. There really is a lot and they are listed in categories alphabetically making it easier for you to find.

If you have a reluctant reader, or even just need some time for them to work alone, the Weigl Publishers books will help in this area.
See what my crew mates thought of these books by clicking on the link below.

Multimedia Digital Books {Weigl Publishers Reviews}

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Wednesday, April 18, 2018

HelpTeaching.com ~Review


HelpTeaching.com is an online platform for educators to utilize worksheet generators, testing, lessons, and games with  Help Teaching Pro.

HelpLearning.com has a free membership but it is limited in how many questions you can have on worksheets/tests and how many the program can store for you. Help Teaching Pro. gives you unlimited access to creating worksheets and tests. If you are testing younger children or need examples,  you can add images to your questions. You also can save your tests as a pdf for printing out. The feature I liked most was the pre made worksheets and tests for a variety of subjects.

Sometimes I need to have some extra learning time for one of my students while I am working with a sibling. The HelpTeaching.com site has a variety of learning activities I can print out for the kids to keep them learning.

With HelpLearning.com there are
Tests and Worksheets
Test Maker
Worksheet Generator
Online Testing.

Each of those things can be used with a variety of subjects such as;

English, Math, Science, Social Studies, Holidays for K-6, Vocational Studies, Early Education, Art and Music, Study Skills, and more. I say that covers about every subject we have in a school day!

Another benefit is that there are worksheets for every age group, and because you are designing your own tests, you can utilize that for each age group as well. It is a pretty universal tool for all homeschool families.

I had hoped to use this with my junior high age daughter but she really does have enough work to keep her busy. The one I need help keeping busy is my preschooler. I  find that she loves worksheets! HelpTeaching.com has been great in utilizing worksheets for her to do school with her siblings.

HelpTeaching.com is easy to utilize and find the things you are wanting. You can search by subject or grade level to find just the right worksheets or tests.

We don't do much testing in our school, just our preference. I can see the Test Maker being a great resource for those who do. I tried it out for some of our work just to see how it works.
You can write your own questions or even browse questions already written in the library. You can browse them by subject or key word. The third option and a quick, easy way is to just type in a key word, grade and number of questions for a Quick Test.

Even within the Quick Test Options you have the ability to change and tweak the test the way you would like it. You can move things around, shuffle the questions, even browse for different ones. This really is helpful if you want to give a quick test on something that you maybe need to see if they learned it and need a review or not.
I found the Test Maker to be very user friendly which was wonderful!. There are over 170,000 questions in the question library. There is no way I would ever be able to think of that many to utilize. It truly is a wealth of help for those who desire to utilize random tests to keep their kids learning. I may even have to use tests more often just because it is fun making them with this program.
I always like to see if programs are purely secular in nature or if you can find some bible elements to it. HelpTeaching.com, when I did a search of Noah Ark in the questions, was given 92 questions available on a variety of grade levels. I thought that was great that these were included!

Once you start working with the Test Maker, you will come up with test ideas for all of their subjects!

See what the other reviewers thought of HelpTeaching.com by clicking on the banner below.

Help Teaching Pro. {HelpTeaching.com Reviews}

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Exploring Creation with Human Anatomy and Physiology ~Review

Anatomy & Physiology

Apologia has long been our 'go to' for science for the past 14 years, and they continue to grow in scope with great sciences like Exploring Creation with Human Anatomy and Physiology
This may sound like it is high school science, but it isn't! Elementary and junior high age kids are learning this great study! That amazes me honestly. And if you have been homeschooling for a season, you realize that you rotate through the different sciences, and return again at a later time to the same one, just more in depth. This is one thing that Apologia is great at. We can study it, and though my 4th grader may not get it as much as my 8th grader, it is still sinking in and he is gleaning information on it. 

I love using Apologia Science with all of my kids at once. Firstly it makes my life easier as the teacher when we can learn a subject all together. Secondly, it is much more fun to do science as a group than alone.  With the  Exploring Creation with Human Anatomy and Physiology Notebooking Journal my 8th grader can work at her level and journal the things she has been learning. Her book is meant for grades 3/4 and older. I find that it is a little bit too in-depth for my 4th grader so he is using the Exploring Creation with Human Anatomy and Physiology Junior Notebooking Journal which is meant for grades K to 2nd and 3rd grade. Apologia has always been a little more advanced for us, and the vastness of the information has had us using lower levels than what Apologia recommends. 

Each workbook is consumable, and I love that there is a variety of different activities that they do in the books. It is much more like a journal than a workbook that you finish and toss away at the end of the year. Similar pages in both, but more advanced for my daughter.

My 4th grader is struggling to read and write, but still enjoys working on science. His junior book has coloring pages in place of writing sometimes and that is much easier for him to do while listening to me read. Strangely enough he got a little queasy learning about cells and the human systems. I would have thought he would have been the tough one and my daughter a bit squeamish , but it was the opposite.

If I don't have time to sit and read the Human Anatomy and Physiology Text Book , Apologia has it all on Human Anatomy and Physiology MP3 Audio CD which will read everything in the book for me. Sometimes I actually think they prefer that to my reading! There is a lot of reading for the teacher, as my kids prefer I read it then them try to read it themselves. I think this helps with discussion as well, as I can stop and mention something I may think of during the reading.
The CD doesn't allow for those extra 'mom moments' but in a busy time, they can listen to it or even re-listen to it later. I did see someone mention of taking the CD in the car to listen to it. We are on the road on Thursdays and that is just what I plan to do for reinforcement of what we have been learning about.

We learned about the history of human anatomy in the beginning of our studies and one of the experiments was to mummify apples. This was really fun for all of them to work on, even the 3 year old got involved. She had to taste the salt and we had to get another apple for her to eat!

Not only is there the text, and notebooking journals, MP3 Cd; there is Book Extras online!! For each lesson there are 10-20 links that go beyond the study. (Always have parental caution when using the links, as they can change). There are articles to read, videos to watch, and even memory songs. There is a gold mine of additional information that we are enjoying.

I feel like I focus much on the English, Math, and basics of our schooling and often the Sciences get pushed to the side. Just with a larger family and the busyness of running here and there. I want the Godly science that Apologia offers to be a bigger part of their homeschool education. Apologia gives resources in audio, physical, and visual that support the teacher in this. We will continue with our studies (even with the squeamish kid), and keep working through Apologia's Exploring Creation curriculum.


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Apologia - Exploring Creation with Human Anatomy and Physiology Reviews

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Wednesday, April 4, 2018

Creation Illustrated ~Review

Creation Illustrated

Creation Illustrated  puts out a quarterly magazine that is beautiful and points to all of God's creation. In each production, they have started designing a Unit Study to go along with the issue. With it just being the tail end of winter, we received two unit studies that were appropriate to the times. We received a Snow Unit Study that I was afraid we wouldn't be able to use. Well good old Kentucky weather gave us a snowstorm in the middle of March and it only seemed appropriate to focus on the Snow Unit Study.

Creation Illustrated Unit Study Snow

The Snow Unit Study goes along with the Winter 2018 issue of Creation Illustrated. This magazine recently added a digital edition! It is an amazing magazine, full of creation information! I don't know how they choose just one unit study from each magazine, as there are many options. 

Winter 2018, Vol. 24, No. 4

We have been a bit busy lately, just focusing on the basics of school , and jumping back in with a Unit Study really has made me miss doing them. They are so helpful to do with a wide variety of aged children. We went ahead and did it right after our Bible time while I had everyone together.

The Unit study covers many subjects.

We had writing and penmanship, Vocabulary and Spelling, Bible Study, Science, Math, Geography, Art and some puzzles and activities to wrap it up. 

We had a link to the digital magazine to read the article in about snow and how it relates to us as Christians. I thought the article was very well written and loved the comparisons that were made. We got to talk about this in depth in our study. You would need to purchase the digital magazine and the unit study separately. 

The Intimacy of Snow had many spiritual lessons in it. We also looked up many of the vocabulary words, which broadened their knowledge as well. 

I did print out the study guide, it is just easier for me to have it in front of me to use. I would recommend that the answer key does not have the pink tinted background. For those choosing to print it out, I am sure most would prefer white just to save on colored ink. 

Creation Illustrated is entering its 25th year of publishing.  Readers call it "The Christian answer to National Geographic". Each issue is divided into three sections.. Nature, Scripture and Living which gives it a well rounded approach. 

Each issue has contests for homeschoolers such as coloring, photo and poetry. 

The second unit study we received was on Pine Trees and this was based on the Fall 2017 issue of Creation Illustrated. I do plan to utilize this study as well, as we wrap up the snow unit study. It really can be used in any season, where the snow one we did much better enjoying it with actual snow on the ground. 

The latest Spring 2018 Issue just came out and looks just as amazing! The unit study for this issue will be on butterflies, and I am excited to check that out as we warm up and the flowers start blooming. 

I am still old school and prefer the physical copies. If you are like me, you can get a discounted 
A subscription to the digital issues is coming soon!

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Creation Illustrated Unit Studies {Creation Illustrated Reviews}
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