Sunday, June 10, 2018

Understanding Pre-Algebra by The Critical Thinking Co.™ ~ A Homeschool Crew Review


For the last few weeks we have been reviewing another math product! One of my favorite things to review! Understanding Pre-Algebra by The Critical Thinking Co.™ has been a great new addition to for Gavin in math.

Gavin is coming up on what would be his 8th grade year, so it's time to get him ready for Algebra 1. I thought Understanding Pre-Algebra would be a perfect way to really make sure he would be ready for it with high school right around the corner.

Understanding Pre-Algebra isn't like most other math curriculum that Gav has used which is normally video based. For our review, we received a complete workbook with the teaching material, and work sheets all in one. I have to say with Gav being a very visual learner that did concern me, but it really surprised me how well he has taken to it.

Understanding Pre-Algebra is suggested for grades 6-8. The goal of this book is to make sure the students really and truly understand the concepts of math and have the critical thinking skills that is necessary for them to be successful in Algebra 1. This is exactly what I need for Gavin. He's good at math, but fails to remember some of the important concepts. I actually used this book along with his regular math and it has helped him tremendously already!!

So how does it work? It's honestly one of the most simple math programs that we have reviewed or used so far. It's broken down into 15 chapters and then each chapter is broken down even further to individual concepts. Here's a look at the chapters and what they cover.

  • Chapter 1 ~ Family of Numbers
  • Chapter 2 ~ Working with Integers
  • Chapter 3 ~ Working with Rational Numbers
  • Chapter 4 ~ Ratio, Proportion, and Percent
  • Chapter 5 ~ Percent Applications
  • Chapter 6 ~ Algebraic Expressions
  • Chapter 7 ~ Equations and Solving Word Problems
  • Chapter 8 ~ Inequalities and Applications
  • Chapter 9 ~ Understanding Square Roots and Irrational Numbers
  • Chapter 10 ~ Two Dimensional Geometry
  • Chapter 11 ~ Understanding Volume and Surface Area
  • Chapter 12 ~ Graphing on the Coordinate Plane
  • Chapter 13 ~ Transformations and Congruency
  • Chapter 14 ~ Understanding Functions
  • Chapter 15 ~ Probability and Statistics
So like I said, this is a super simple curriculum but packed full of great info that your child can understand. That is so important especially when it comes to math. At the beginning of the lesson, we read what the concept was about and how to do it. As you can see from the very beginning this workbook is not boring, but it is full of color to help with understanding what is being taught in each lesson. 



I can't tell you how many times we went back to the following page to use as a visual while he was working on Real Numbers. It was perfect for Gav!




Each lesson is explained in detail, and then followed up with plenty of practice problems before moving on to the next concept.





After your student has finished with the chapter, there is a chapter review going over the concepts learned.

In the back of the book, you will find a glossary, a final exam, and the answers in the back. Part of me wished there was a different answer book, so I didn't have to keep flipping back and forth, but it definitely isn't a deal breaker.

We absolutely loved reviewing Understanding Pre-Algebra from The Critical Thinking Co.™. I am going to continue to use it throughout this year until we complete all of it, right along with his video math. I feel like they work very well together to solidify his understanding in these important concepts. If you have a child getting ready for Algebra 1, I really recommend this program!

The Critical Thinking Co.™ is offering a special offer for our readers right now!





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Critical Thinking, Understanding Math & Vocabulary {The Critical Thinking Co.™ Reviews}
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Wednesday, May 23, 2018

Countdown to moving is on!

We have 9 days until we close on our house! Time to get moving!!


Home School Navigator Reading and Language Arts Curriculum ~ A Homeschool Crew Review



For the past few weeks we have been reviewing a wonderful comprehensive language arts curriculum using the Indigo level of Home School Navigator Reading and Language Arts Curriculum with a focus on the Holes Interactive Notebook. Language arts curriculum is another one of my favorite things to review right along with math. I am a reader, and I also love to write, so it's right up my alley.

Home School Navigator is an online program that offers six different levels of language arts for your students with 36 weeks of instruction. It has everything you're looking for to have a complete language arts curriculum at your fingertips.

When we first started this program I had initially thought that we would start on the Blue level, but quickly realized that I needed to move him up to the Indigo level. Home School Navigator was extremely generous and gave us a full year of curriculum, and I was able to move Gav up to the next level no problem. I was given 4 weeks to decide which level that he needed to be in, and then I could lock in after getting a feel for what the levels offered.

I really like how the program is set up. It's based on working 5 days a week, but as the teacher, you can easily pick and choose what you want to work on with your child. The layout is very easy to follow, so that you can complete the day's assignments and move on with ease. It's divided by months, and then weeks, and then days. It's broken down so that you and your child know exactly what's going to be taught and when.


One thing I love about Home School Navigator is that it has everything you need in a complete curriculum. It includes:

  • Daily/Weekly/and Yearly Teaching Guides
  • Video Library
  • Read Alouds
  • Literature/Comprehension
  • Writing/Grammar
  • Phonics/Word Study/Vocabulary
  • Computer Skills
  • Independent Reading Time
  • Tons of printouts to go along with the lessons that include the answer keys
There are even games to play with your students to help remember vocabulary etc.



Now if you buy the entire curriculum, in about the second month, you will come to the Interactive Notebooks. These are super cool, because they actually offer just the book studies if you want them! In our Indigo level, the first one is for the book Holes. I can't tell you how many times that Gav has read a book, and I have tried to look up something to go with it, that can teach him different aspects of what's going on in the book. 

The Interactive Notebooks remind me of a lapbook in a way. The printouts are all done by chapters and have little mini lessons and activities to do that coincide with the book. You child may have a literary lesson, or some vocabulary to look up in the dictionary, or just a fun page to do. There are little pieces to cut out and add to your child's notebook that will include the lessons for that chapter. 

The Interactive Notebooks are so easy to put together and do not take long at all. The only thing you need are the printouts, a spiral or composition notebook, some scissors, and a glue stick. That's it! I actually put the notebook together myself in a little over an hour. It takes time to cut the little "lessons" out, but does not require much effort at all. 

I ended up using a spiral to put Gav's together for Holes. 




These are very simple to understand. I personally like to look over what the notebook is asking for in those chapters, and then read the chapters it covers. This way you kind of know what you're looking for. 




You can see here that it's a very simple concept, but gives your student those extra lessons to really understand what they're reading. 


You can see that most of the pieces are affixed to the notebook so that they flip up and your child can write the answer underneath it. 


What did we think of this program? I loved it. Gav felt that he was a little too old for it, and I think he's correct on some of it. I did find that it has been a great review for him, and there were plenty of things that we could go over in it. I think that the Interactive Notebooks are really neat, and I love the option to be able to purchase them without having to buy the entire curriculum. On the other hand, I think this curriculum is extremely affordable in itself, and can be used as a one stop curriculum for some families. If you're interested in Home School Navigator Reading and Language Arts Curriculum as a full curriculum or even just the Interactive Notebooks, I highly recommend them both!


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


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Wednesday, May 9, 2018

Indi Azul ~ WW

Our daughter has been saving to get her own puppy, and decided that last Friday was the day when she found this sweet Blue Heeler mix. Meet Miss Indi Azul. 




Wednesday, May 2, 2018

CodeWizardsHQ ~ A Homeschool Crew Review


Gavin recently had the opportunity to take a fun coding class from CodeWizardsHQ! They have a fantastic curriculum all geared towards homeschool students.

Gav honestly didn't know exactly what coding was when I told him about the class. Being a "gamer," he knew it had something to do with the making of video games but not much past that. He has for sure never taken any kind of class that involved coding. After explaining a little bit about it to him, he was really excited to learn more.

So I want to talk first about what CodeWizardsHQ offers. It is geared for students from the range of 5th-10th grade. One thing that drew me in quickly is that the classes are all on-line. We are so busy as homeschooling parents that sometimes driving to one more event can be a deal breaker. You don't have to worry about that here. These are 12 week courses, which are done weekly with LIVE classes and a real time instructor right from the comfort of your home. The classes are all interactive and hands on. This makes learning so much easier and a lot more fun. Another benefit to CodeWizardsHQ is that the classes are small with only 6 to 8 students per class. This will make much better use of your hour since the instructor won't have to divide his attention to a large group of kids. They also offer 24/7 access to the coding platform, so that way your child can continue to work on their projects and assignments even after the class is over.

Here's a great video explaining coding a little more.






Our Experience ~

We were offered a one time class for this review, basically to let the student's dip their toe in the water of coding. It was an introductory class, which was perfect for Gav since he was new to coding. We were given instructions through email and told where to be for our class. Logging into the dashboard was very simple and easy to understand. You really need to make sure that you are on an actual computer for the classes because you will be switching screens, and that is just not very feasible on a tablet or phone. When it was time for class to start, our instructor introduced himself and then went around the "room" so to speak, and had everyone in the class introduce themselves too. He also asked them what they would like to learn to code. Gav was super excited about the class, but as soon as it started he got nervous, and didn't want to speak very much. The instructor, Samuel Hoffman, was so kind and patient with all of the new and nervous students.

When class started, he explained to them where to go in their dashboard so they could start their first lesson/project. He talked to them about working in the "editor" and how they could start designing right from there. I knew this would be right up Gav's alley when I saw that it was going to be a super hero/heroine comic strip.

Like I said, this lesson was very basic for the beginner, but it ended up letting them create something fun! They were shown how to create the individual boxes for the comic strip, and then how to change the character, text, and background by just changing a few of the words in the code. They got to practice this by themselves after the initial lesson was done, but Mr. Hoffman was right there to answer any questions.

Here's what Gav's coding looked like during the lesson.



And this is what he finished with.


Gav worked very slow because he gets so nervous under pressure, so we weren't able to do show and tell. Other than working slow, he really enjoyed this class and what he was creating.


CodeWizardsHQ is not just for homeschool students, but they do have a special offer just for homeschoolers. The more students that they can have in a class the cheaper it is per student. They also offer a more flexible schedule for homeschoolers so that they can choose their own class time.

I would definitely recommend this as a great resource if your child is seriously into coding. This is a FULL course to get your student fully prepared for college, and to have a successful career. As much as Gav liked the class, I'm not sure if this would be something long term for him. In my opinion, it is very pricey even with the homeschool special offers. For us to spend that kind of money, he would have to be looking at coding and programming as a career possibility, and not just for fun.

Again, the class was fantastic. The instructor did a great job of explaining things, and helping each child out individually if needed. I can only imagine what could be accomplished in a month with this course! I would highly recommend CodeWizardsHQ for anyone but especially for children that want to take coding to the next level.




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(This is a group for parents whose kids are interested in coding)




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Live Class Computer Programming for your Students {CodeWizardsHQ Reviews}


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Tuesday, May 1, 2018

Heroes of History- Orville Wright from YWAM Publishing ~ A Homeschool Crew Review


I always love a good biography and these books never disappoint! This time around we have been reading from the Heroes in History series and chose Heroes of History- Orville Wright from YWAM Publishing. 

I am always so impressed with the books that I have read from the Heroes in History series. This series is all about influential people and they bring them and their stories to life for the readers. The book is in a story form and gives you all of the history and information about the person you're reading about, but really makes you feel like you're right there with them in the past.

What did we receive?

YWAM is always so generous and sends us the physical book that is around 200 pages with such a fun and inviting cover. They also send their very useful and well put together downloadable study guide that turns these books into a full unit study.

The digital study guide is so beneficial not only to homeschooling families, but can even be used in small groups or a classroom setting. The study guide has everything you need to expand the book into a full on unit study. It is very easy to follow and you can use as much or as little as you want. It has questions, ideas for activities, fact sheets, mapping exercises, and even a timeline.

How do we use this in our school?

So, we normally like to read our biographies first thing in the morning, to get our day started. These books are perfect for reading about a chapter a day if you're using them as a read aloud like we do. We take turns reading, and then I will normally go the study guide and go over the review questions with the kids. This time around we only used the study guide for that purpose, but we also worked on the fact sheet.

The reason we chose to read about Orville Wright is because the kids got very interested in him and his story from another review we had done in the past. I knew this book would depict his life in an accurate account, but would also be fun and interesting to read.

As children we have all heard of "The Wright Brothers" and knew that they were the inventors of the airplane. I'm sure we knew that they went through many trials and tribulations too but until reading this book, I have never had a good picture of just who Orville Wright was. The kids really enjoyed learning about Mr. Wright's family, his childhood years, and how close he was to his brother Wilbur. They also loved that he was an inventor of sorts from the very beginning. Orville and Wilbur had a love for flying from a very early age and they were determined to fly. We loved learning the ins and outs of how they built The Flyer, and what they had to go through to achieve success.

What did we think?

We always love these books. They are a great addition to any library no matter how you decide to use it. I love how informative they are, and honestly just fun to read. If  you are looking to add good biographies to your homeschool, I would definitely recommend the Heroes of History series from YWAM Publishing! They also have another great series to check out called Christian Heroes: Then & Now that follow the lives of some very important missionaries! You won't be disappointed in either!


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Christian Heroes, Heroes of History & Study Guides {YWAM Publishing  Reviews}


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