Tuesday, July 17, 2018

Code for Teens (A Homeschool Review Crew Post)

If you've kept up with the last few posts I've made you know that I'm in the final hunt for materials and curriculum for Josiah's Junior Year of High School (no way!). I've made a couple of really neat selections and I think I have found another one. I mentioned a few months ago that he had become interesting in Coding. Frankly, I was initially suprised. I figured that if it didn't have a video game remote attached to the end of it....Some of you know exactly what I mean. 😁 So when I was given the chance to review Code for Teens: The Awesome Beginner's Guide to Programming (Volume 1) from Code for Teens, I knew I was on the right track.

A real-life homeschooling dad, Jeremy Mortiz, wrote Code for Teens. He feels our pain. Not only has he created an excellent guide to Coding, but he has done so with the understanding that the average momma and dad might not have a CLUE about what all of this is (raises both hands high). He writes to our kids. I don't even have to know about Java Script, Arrays and Functions. And he's entertaining.

Code for Teens contains 10 Chapters.

Chapter 1: Hello World!
Chapter 2: Time to Operate
Chapter 3: Comment on the String Section
Chapter 4: Have Some Functions
Chapter 5: Shall I Compare
Chapter 6: Logically Operational
Chapter 7: Projects Galore
Chapter 8: Hip Hip Array
Chapter 9: Loop a Round
Chapter 10: Make a Hangman Game

The book also contains an introduction and a Word to Parents. In addition, you will find  a Conclusion, Answers to quiz and drill questions, and Glossary of Terms.

This book teaches Java Script. It walks the student through the language step by step. There is plenty practice and we found the book to be super gentle in its approach. Nothing scary to see here! I appreciated the humor.

Obviously, the name (Code for Teens) tells us who the intended audience of this book is for. However, I really believe that this could just be as helpful for some us (not so) older folks to learn something new.

Let me show you a bit of Josiah's work.

The requirement for this course is that you use Google Chrome. This wasn't a problem for us. Google Chrome also works better with my blog and is my preferred browser. We also created a "workbook" document in Google Docs for Josiah. However, you can use Microsoft Word or some other program like it. This helps Josiah keep track of all his quizzes, drills and assignments.

This first screenshot isn't from Josiah's Workbook. It is actually from the very first lesson.

This shot is from his Chapter 1 Quiz. You will pleased to know that the answers in the back of the book are a LIFESAVER! He was encouraged to try and answer all of the questions without looking in the back of the book, but I seriously think that just knowning they were there helped take some of the pressure of....it made it more fun. 

This last picture is the (DIY) assignment that he completed in the JavaScript Console then copied it to his Workbook. It finds the average age of all the members of your family. I don't think it's very fair that I was almost 30 and my husband was almost 40 before Josiah made his entrance. It makes all of us look very old. Our average age (though you might not be able to see it) is 39.33333333. Yipppeee! 

So. Code for Teens is going into our Fall Semester Schedule.  There has already been some of the lessons completed, but it's not going to hurt anybody to do them over again. I am really excited about this one and so is Josiah! 

Code for Teens has another Volume (2) on the way that teaches HTML and CCS. We NEED THIS BOOK! I'm not sure about the details, but I'll be watching for it! 

You can check out a the Introduction and the entire first chapter for FREE on the Code for Teens site.

I do want to mention one thing before I leave you. This book is really a nice one. The pages are glossy and laid out beautifully. It was illustrated by Jeremy's wife, Christine. This is the very first book she has ever illustrated and she did a lovely job. The illustrations are cute and clever. 

This one is defintely a keeper! 

You can connect with Code for Teens via the following social media outlets. Don't forget to click on the banner below to read more reviews.

Code For Teens: The Awesome Beginner's Guide to Programming {Code for Teens Reviews}
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Tuesday, July 10, 2018

Cousin Camp

Just thought I would drop in and tell you I am still here. Here being COUSIN CAMP! 

I'm tired. 

And I can't give you any more than this. 

You're welcome.

I'll post more when my brain isn't mush and I've had more than just a few hours of sleep.

Bible Study Guide for All Ages (A Homeschool Review Crew Post)

I’m always looking for Bible study resources we can add to our little library or Bible Study “toolbox.” A few years ago (more like 5), we had the chance to review the Advance Student Pages from Bible Study Guide For All Ages. Well, the chance to review from Bible Study Guide For All Ages once again…and, once again, we received the Advance Student Pages for review.

For my review, I received Advanced Student Pages, the Advanced Teacher Key, and the Bible Book Summary Cards.

There are products available for just about everybody from ages 3-Adult. I chose the Advance Student Pages because they were the highest grade available for this review run. My teenage son used them when he was much younger, but they are consumable and I also wanted to see if they would be a good fit for a Bible Study group for kids at church. We pastor a small church and I am always looking for resources I can pass along to our teachers and parents.

Let’s talk about the Bible Book Summary Cards first. I have (in my possession) the larger set that is 8.5”x 11”. The set of cards I received this time are smaller in size…. 4.5" x 6" cards. There is also an Extra Large set (11" x 14") for use with bigger groups. All sets are in full color and teach all 66 books of the Bible.

The front of the cards displays a colorful cartoon to help provide a clue for what Bible Book it is representing.

The back of the card gives the name of the Book, a description, and features questions to ask.

The cards are super sturdy and I have found them to be an EXCELLENT way to teach the books of the Bible. We are visual learners around here and appreciate the help!

While I already had the larger cards, I really love the smaller cards more than I thought I would. For us homeschoolers with limited space…these are a life saver. They can be carried around to review, as needed.

The Advance Student Pages are recommended for grades 5-6.  We received Lesson Book 1-26. This book covers one quarter. The program is 4 units long. This is intended to take you a year if you do a few lessons weekly. 

You will need a Bible to work through the pages. While this age should be able to do a lot of the work themselves, I enjoy spending time studying the Bible with my son. The whole curriculum makes for a nice family study.

The pages are BIG and AWESOME.  Unit 1 goes starts at Genesis 35 and ends with Luke 2.
Each lesson is divided into sections.

Remember It! – a review

Memory Workout – memory work

Guess What?... – a little history and vocabulary

Maps and/or Timelines – There are small maps and timelines within the lessons, but there are also HUGE maps and timelines available to hang on the wall. We won’t have the wall space so we stuck with what was in our lesson book.

Get Active – Helps the student get practically involved in the lesson itself. For example, some lessons give the student ideas about who to pray for, etc.

Apply It! – Helps the student learn how to practically apply the lesson to his or her own life.

Discover The Bible – Hands-on activities that require a little thought and study.

The teacher’s book had all the answers and some helpful notes. It is suggested that if you have a group you are working with that you most certainly have a teacher’s book. I agree!

This is such a great product! I recommend it to any group or homeschool parent who wants to study the Bible.

It's a keeper! 

Member of the Homeschool Review crew reviewed these products and the other levels of Student Pages. Click on the banner below to read more reviews. 

Bible Study Guide For All Ages {Reviews}
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Thursday, June 28, 2018



I don't have enough of it.

Last night I was up until 3 am with Kleenex stuffed up my nose working on a writing project.

Then I had computer issues.

Now I need to go to Kroger.

If I have been conscience of anything lately is that I need to be more time conscience. I need to be more aware of what I'm giving my time to.

So basically, "youtube videos that teach me how to make homemade noodles"....I need to break up with you.

It's me. Not you.

I have good intentions. I start out by just looking up a tutorial on how to clean the lime from my shower head. Then an hour later I'm watching old clips of the New York City Ballet. Or history documentaries about Polygamists.

I'm an equal opportunity time waster.

So today...knowing that I have more to do than I have time to do it...I am literally timing myself.

I've given myself 3 minutes to write on the blog. I've used most of that 3 minutes telling you how much I waste time.

Art History (A Homeschool Review Crew Post)

We WUV history. And we WUV art. But we really have never done a great job putting all of those together with in one subject…other than doing brief artist studies. We recently had a chance to review a product that does exactly all of that. It is called The Master and His Apprentices: Art History from a Christian Perspective and The Masters and His Apprentices.

Received the Digital versions of both the Digital Edition of the Textbook and Teacher Guide: The Master and His Apprentices: Art History from a Christian Perspective and the Teacher Guide. We also received the PRINT/PHOTOCOPY RIGHTS for our household.

This course is intended for adults who want to enjoy reading a great art appreciation book. Or you can use it for your High School Students for a FULL CREDIT Art History Course. You can use it with your younger kiddos as a supplement. 

As a momma of a High School Student who is looking for High school credits I wanted to check it out to see if it would be something that could be used for our Fall Semester. Plus, I wanted to give Josiah a sneak peek of what that semester might hold.

You can purchase all of a hardcover copy of the Textbook and a softcover copy of the Teacher’s Guide if you like to have those on hand. You can print off the textbook from the Digital Files (that I received) or simply use your computer to read the lessons….which is what I did.  The PRINT/PHOTOCOPY RIGHTS gives us the permission to copy off as many copies as I need to from the Teacher Guide.

This curriculum is written from a Biblical Worldview. As such, there are no nudes or secular humanist ideologies covered. It’s basically PG. 

If you choose to use Art History as a curriculum, you will average about a lesson a week. This will give the student plenty of opportunity to take his or her time through the lessons. There are some really thought provoking studies here. We loved reading about art through the lens of history.

The curriculum includes the following:

·         Weekly Worksheets (self-study) / Discussion Questions (class settings)
·         (4) Exams
·         Instructions for (4) Papers
·         Grading Chart
·         Answer Key for Exams and Worksheets
·         And more.

 I really enjoy Timelines...and Art History does them well. 

I found the whole thing so beautifully done AND it is all done for me. High School Credit in the bag! The lessons are fascinating and kept our attention. On a side note, the author is a homeschool graduate and speaks "our language." This is a curriculum that is compatible with all kinds of homeschool educational styles...includes ours. Which is "use what we like and use what works." 

I don't generally talk about price when I write my reviews. After all, every homeschool family has a different budget and different needs. However, I think this is a very reasonable curriculum for the quality and amount of material you receive. The hardcover Textbook is a bit more, but textbooks generally are. And I can imagine that it is a thing of beauty. 

This one's a keeper! It's definitely going on the schedule in the Fall. 

You can connect with The Master and His Apprentices via the following social media outlets. Don't forget to click on the banner below to read more reviews. 

Pinterest: www.pinterest.com/themasterandhisapprentices/boards/ 

The Master and His Apprentices: Art History from a Christian Perspective {The Master and His Apprentices Reviews}
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Wednesday, June 20, 2018

White House Holiday Unit Studies (A Homeschool Review Crew Post)

I adore a good unit study. It has always been one of my favorite ways to teach. I even enjoy pulling them out with my teenage son. Recently we had the chance to review the White House Holiday Unit Studies by Silverdale Press LLC.

Silverdale Press

The White House Holiday Unit Studies teach the history behind the following American Holidays.

Martin Luther King, Jr. Day
Valentine’s Day
Labor Day
Veteran’s Day
White House Holiday Unit Studies

Any unit study above will contain material for grades K-12, but each lesson has differing assignments for the grade levels. These are so great for families with multi-ages and you can use them over and over…year after year. They literally “grow” with the children.

The lessons contain portions to read aloud with your students. They are interesting and well-written. 

We personally love history so all of the back stories were fascinating. Something that I personally love using are primary sources. They might include transcripts of speeches, handwritten letters, videos or photographs.  I think it is always a good idea to hear or see exactly “from the horse’s mouth” so to speak.  The unit studies are full of primary sources…I think they add so much to the lessons.

There are also hands-on projects included. Don’t worry. I didn’t see one assignment for building a model of the Eifel Tower (though that would be strange considering our topics). You mommas who start twitching at the mention of paper mache and welding equipment can rest easy.

How We Used It

The very first lesson I chose to play with was the Veteran’s Day Unit Study.  I may or may not have ulterior motive. You don’t have to go very far in the family tree to find a passel of Veterans. In fact, I happen to a bedroom with an Air Force Vet. The Muffin (aka The Husband) is our resident veteran and I knew Josiah would enjoy this particular study.

Plus, it gives us brownie points with Dad.

The lessons are divided into K-6 and 7-12. And there are 3 lessons for each group. Personally, I was just a little disappointed when I realized that the 7-12 group didn’t get to make a poppy pin.  Josiah’s assignment for the first lesson was a Crossword Puzzle…but he happens to love crossword puzzles and was thrilled nobody asked him to make a poppy pin.


The final activity included ways to get involved in Veteran’s Day.  Some of the suggestions including interviewing a Veteran or taking a Veteran out for meal. Some my favorites included praying for our Veterans.

Of course, many of these were super simple for Josiah to achieve. Except I think that the Big Mac Dinner was paid for by the Veteran.

The lessons, themselves, are excellent. They are historically sound and move along nicely.

For example, we learned that Veteran’s Day was initially Armistice Day. We read through Wilson’s Fourteen Points speech and talked about President Eisenhower’s role in war as a General and then as president.

Something I haven’t mentioned, as of yet, is that all of the White House Holiday Units are told from the perspective of the Presidents, and their families.

So my next choice for review made perfect sense to me.

I am going to talk about the Valentine’s Day Unit Study.

One of my very favorite holidays is Valentine’s Day. I even have a beautiful pink little tree with pink lights that we place in our dining room window.  I try and send Valentine’s to loved ones and make my boys a heart-shaped pizza every Valentine’s Day.

When I saw that the Valentine’s Day Unit featured love letters from some of the Presidential couples I just swooned. I’m not sure about Josiah. He doesn’t swoon a whole lot.

This Unit has 5 lessons with the activities in each lesson divided between K-6 or 7-12.

After a brief history lesson on Valentine’s Day, we are introduced to our first couple, John and Abigail Adams. What is perfect about this lesson is that not only are we treated to the loving words of a devoted couple, but we get to read them through the eyes of history.

The activities in this unit first include answering a series of questions. These are for all ages with modification suggestions for the younger grades.

The next activity has grades K-6 using a portion of one of the letters (of your choice) as copywork.

The older grades are assigned a letter writing activity. They must write a fictional letter between John and Abigail Adams.

There are more Presidential letter writers, but I want to move on to one of the “weddings in the White House” lessons. I didn’t realize that there have been seventeen wedding in the White House. Most have been Presidential children.

However, it Grover Cleveland was the only sitting President to be married in the White House. He was courting his eventual wife, Frances, when he became President.
Part of the activities in this lesson is to study their portraits.

Another fun activity during the Unit is making President Kennedy’s favorite Waffles.

Yes, please! Josiah told me that this was one homework assignment he could really get behind!

My Thoughts

The other Unit Studies are just as thorough and as fun! I am really impressed with the quality of the whole kit and caboodle. They will certainly be put in circulation at our house.

They are all so well done. I loved all the beautiful graphics and photos included. I also felt that the reading moved smoothly and was interesting.

It’s a keeper!

You can connect with Silverdale Press LLC via the following social media outlets. Don’t forget to click on the banner below to read more reviews.

Facebook:  https://www.facebook.com/SilverdalePress/   Tag: @SilverdalePress
Twitter:  https://twitter.com/silverdalepress    Tag: @SilverdalePress    
Pinterest:  https://www.pinterest.com/silverdalepress/  

Persuasive Writing & Classical Rhetoric: Practicing the Habits of Great Writers & White House Holidays Unit Studies {Silverdale Press LLC Reviews}
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Tuesday, June 19, 2018

MaxScholar Reading (A Homeschool Review Crew Post)

Back in 2016, we got to review the Reading Intervention Program from MaxScholar (you can read that review here).  We obviously were fans at the time, but Max has made some changes and I wanted to see what was what. We received a 12 month subscription to the Reading Intervention Program.

Before I tell you about our experience, I need to give you a little background information. 

First. Josiah is dyslexic. That being said...this boy is rocking the reading. He doesn't like to read in general, but I am so proud of how far he has come. If I could give advice to any parents that are trying to navigate the whole "school thing" with a struggling reader it would be this. Read often. And look for those tools that can provide you with support. 

I have come across a few excellent resources in our journey. And I have to say that MaxScholar is one of those resources. There are a few things that make it initially overwhelming, but I'll talk about that in a minute. 

About MaxScholar. This is an online program. You will need internet access and some way to hear...either speakers or headphones.

We primarily have used the MaxReading portion of the program. Your student will need to take a placement test before beginning. I was pleasantly surprised with his placement. But don't stress out if the placement is not where you think it should be. The program really adapts with your student and you need to let it all play out. I will show you a brief walk-through of this portion in just a minute.

There are other portions that can be used as stand-alone activities.

MaxMusic - We used this portion exhaustively in our last review. Josiah loves music and MaxMusic uses popular songs and artists.  Students practice reading, working on memory skills...all by reading song lyrics and more! 
MaxPhonics - Is terrific for the younger readers. It teaches phonics at a basic level...all by using multi-sensory methods. 

MaxVocab - Speaks for itself. 

MaxPlaces - Features geographical locations. Students apply the same skills they are learning in MaxReading. .

MaxBios - Actually, much of what Josiah has done during this review period can be found here. These are biographies of well-known people.  He has read biographies about Alfred Hitchcock, Gandhi, Steve Jobs and more!  

How We Used It

MaxScholar uses the Orton-Gillingham and Lindamood Bell method of reading instruction. This method of instruction has been proven to be highly successful for struggling readers.

Here is an informative video you can view if you have a minute.

I get my own special password and account apart from Josiah's. I will walk you through a lesson.  It is suggested the student use the program at least 3 times a week.

This what I see when I begin. I do know based on Josiah's experience that sometimes he is allowed to choose a topic, but often it will just move on through a series of lessons. I chose College Majors: Dance.

This first screen gives us all the vocabulary words we might need to be aware of. You notice that I have the option to hear the instructions and make the font smaller or larger. Apparently they saw me coming with my old lady eyes.

 After reading through the text, it is now on to highlighting. I have to say that this was the trickiest portion for Josiah to get the hang of.  I just highlighted a few things to let you see the end result.

I didn't do so well. But we all know I could have rocked it if I had given it an effort. Josiah told me his secret (once he figured it out). He basically just highlights all the nouns and verbs. I'm not so sure that is what MaxScholar had in mind.

The next portion is to create an outline using your highlighted notes.
 And then I am given an opportunity to write a summary, open ended question or general question using the passage.
Then there were questions.  My friends. This little quiz even allows you to scan over the text before answering each question.

Who got time for dat?

Thankfully, MaxScholar doesn't the student play any of the fun games attached to the reading unless they have scored a C. There goes my fun for the night! 

You also have the option to redo the chapter. Josiah did that a few times. He liked to beat his score. 

I did get a couple of screenshots from a hangman game Josiah played.

Very fitting. He knows exactly what that word means. 💓

So the issues we have had with MaxScholar are minimal. I think it just takes some playing around with.  But because the lessons follow the same pattern Josiah soon got the hang of them. 

What I did notice in comparison with our last go-around with MaxScholar is that it is easier to navigate. There are also some great reporting features. I could see what Josiah struggled with and what he excelled in. Often with online programs, we occasionally run into little glitches. We haven't had any issues. The program runs quickly and efficiently. 

This program can also be used at home with homeschool students AND kiddos who attend public school. In fact, many schools use MaxScholar.

It's a keeper! 

Don't forget to click on the banner below to read more reviews. You can connect with MaxScholar via the following social media outlets.

Twitter: https://twitter.com/maxscholarllc?lang=en
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/MaxScholarLLC/
Linkedin: https://www.linkedin.com/company/maxscholar/

Reading Intervention Programs {MaxScholar Reviews}
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