Wednesday, August 9, 2017

No-Nonsense Algebra by Math Essentials ~ A Homeschool Crew Review

High School Math. Three words that are always interesting whether you're a homeschooler or not. I absolutely love math, but my kids do not. I'm always up for reviewing math products because there are so many different ones and they all have something different about them. For the last few weeks we have been working through No-Nonsense Algebra by Math Essentials, and Edyn has really enjoyed it!

Math Essentials was developed by Rick Fisher, a math instructor with over 31 years of experience! He has devoted his time to not only teaching his students, but also developing award winning math materials.

What did we receive?

We were given the No-Nonsense Algebra book which is a soft bound book and approximately 175 pages. When you buy the book, you get free access to all of the teaching videos, so we were given our code to be able to access them.

How does No-Nonsense Algebra work?

I am using this program for Edyn as a full curriculum, and she has done very well with it. It is actually perfect for her because the teaching method works well for her. It's very thorough to insure that the student understands the concept being taught. It uses a different approach than other programs by having 5 key parts:

  1. Introduction and Explanation
  2. Helpful Hints
  3. Examples
  4. Written Exercises
  5. Review
At the end of each chapter there is also a Chapter Review section and a Final Exam that is also included.

How did we use this in our school?

After opening up her book, and getting her pencil and paper ready, we read the Introduction to the concept she will be working on. Side note, I love how they stress the importance of writing the problems down and working them out on paper. I am a firm believer in this.

In the Introduction is where the concept is explained, and you will be able to find the Helpful Hints. These are super important to go over because they will contain the important tips and short cuts.

Next we watch the free video lesson that goes along with it. The videos are great. They are clear and very easy to understand. Each video that we have done runs somewhere in the neighborhood of around 10 minutes. It's nice to be able to stop, rewind, or completely rewatch the video if you need more instruction.

After she watches the video we move back to our book. We do go over the examples that are given because Edyn needs to be able to see those problems worked out. Also, those examples help her if she gets stuck on a problem that she's working out herself. It's just another tool she can go back and look at if she needs to.

From the Examples, we move on to the Exercises. The first thing I want to point out is that they give you the perfect amount of problems to work. I don't like when a program gives you 5 or 6 problems. That's not enough in my opinion for the student to become confident with. They need to be able to work enough problems that they can master the concept.

When she's done, we check them by finding the solutions in the back of the book. I love that!! It makes it so much easier to check.

Finally she works on the review.

What did we think?

I have to say I am very impressed with this program. It is simple and easy to understand for both parents and students. Not only do you get an ample amount of explanation in the book, you also get the videos with step by step instruction. I would call this program a solid program that is geared towards making sure the student understands what is being taught to them. I would definitely recommend No-Nonsense Algebra by Math Essentials to anyone who is looking for a complete Algebra curriculum.

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No-Nonsense Algebra {Math Essentials Reviews}

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12 Weeks!! ~ Wordless Wednesday

Today I got to see my sweet grandbaby! He or she is getting so big, and we love him or her so much!

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

In the Reign of Terror by Heirloom Audio Productions ~ A Homeschool Crew Review

I always get excited when I see a new audio drama up for review from one of my favorite vendors! In the Reign of Terror by Heirloom Audio Productions has definitely lived up to the edge of your seat twist and turns of a G.A. Henty book.

If you've never had the pleasure of listening to an audio drama from Heirloom Audio Productions, then let me tell you a little bit about what to expect. Heirloom Audio Productions is known for recreating the stories of the legendary G.A. Henty. Mr. Henty was a war correspondent, a big guy with a big beard, who lived for adventure.  Unless you've lived under a rock, then you know he was a master story teller. He loved to share his stories with his family, and throughout the years, he went on to write 122 books! Heirloom Audio Productions takes these stories and makes them come alive.  I am an avid book lover, and I also love audio books. This is not your ordinary audio book. This is a true listening adventure that includes real actors and sound effects. It takes you to a whole different world while listening to one of these works of art!

What did we receive for this review?

We were very excited to receive the 2 CD set along with all of the extra digital download features! The bonuses that come in the download are always amazing! 

In the Reign of Terror Adventure Playlist ~ This is how you can listen online. I love to have the option to listen on my phone and not have to worry about having a CD player. 

In the Reign of Terror Original E-book ~ This is the original e-book with all new colorful graphics.

Official Soundtrack ~ The original music by Emmy-winning composer John Campbell. 

Printable Cast Poster ~ Printable promotion poster featuring the star studded cast. 

Inspirational Verse Poster ~ Printable copy of the inspirational verse quoted in In the Reign of Terror, "What man intends for evil, God intends for good."

Desktop Wallpaper Download ~ Beautiful artwork for your computer background.

Official Script Download ~ I LOVED this. It's super cool to see how the script was laid out. 

Study Guide and Discussion Starter ~ This is such an amazing bonus feature especially if you're wanting to turn this into more than just a "read aloud." It's perfect for helping younger kids understand and remember the story. I love how the study guide starts out giving you a little background on G.A. Henty, Maximilien Robespierre, and Marie Antoinette. Each set of questions is broken down into 3 parts.

  • Listening Well ~ This are great comprehension questions to keep your student listening all the time. 
  • Thinking Further ~ These questions make your student think a little bit more. They may be asked about a character's thoughts or actions, or they may be asked to look up something in the story.
  • The Defining Words ~ This gives your student a change to broaden their vocabulary. It's a wonderful addition to the study guide.
Heirloom Audio Productions also has something new that seem like so much fun! It's called Live the Adventure Club. This club adds even more fun to your listening experience and includes super cool fun and engaging activities for your kids! It's definitely worth checking out. 

In the Reign of Terror ~

This story. I almost don't have words for it. It's definitely the saddest of all of the G.A. Henty stories I've heard so far. It made me cry because of what innocent people had to endure just because of their lineage. Harry is 16 years old and moves to France to become a companion to a Nobleman's children. This is just a short time before the French Revolution. He quickly becomes part of their family by winning their trust and showing that he's willing to do what it takes to protect the family. As time goes on the mob is getting closer and the family must put in place their plans to flee. This takes Harry on whirlwind journey to protect his new family. This is a wonderful story about what man intends for evil, the Lord intends for good.

The story talks about the differences in the American Revolution and the French Revolution. I like how it talks about that the American Revolution wasn't really a revolution at all because they did not revolt by using a mob. They had actually tried to solve it peacefully, and war was their last choice. 
In the Intro Mr. George, the narrator talks about how the difference in the two was what was in their hearts. The American's turned their faces to God and the French turned away from God. 

What did we think?

We always love anything that Heirloom Audio does. This story really spoke to my heart because I don't think I realized what these poor innocent people went through. It was definitely my favorite so far because of how it completely drew me in. 

These CD's are always perfect for long car rides or even if you want to have something different than a family movie night. You will not be disappointed in the star studded cast or the gripping sound track. Both are always amazing. If you are looking for an audio adventure, In the Reign of Terror by Heirloom Audio Productions won't disappoint. 

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In the Reign of Terror {Heirloom Audio Productions Reviews}

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August goals

It's finally August. I am pretty sure it was just January, but my life seems like a whirlwind lately. I have had so much going on the last few weeks, that taking the time to actually sit down and put my thoughts down here on my blog have been kind of put on the back burner.

So, as you know we really tried to get our school year going awhile back, but this summer has been crazy with lots of visitors, which we love, but it has gotten us a little behind on where I wanted to be already with this year. That just means that we will have to work extra hard, and maybe even have some work time on Fridays.

I really need to schedule some time to spend on my blog. My days just seem too short with not enough hours, and if you're alive then you know what I mean. I have to say that part of that is my fault. I have been on a backwards sleep schedule and I end up going to bed late, and waking up kind of late. I am trying to turn that around so that when we get back into our school year next week, we can get up and get started early. So I guess my first goal is go to bed early.

Also speaking of schedules, I have started using FlyLady to clean my house. I had tried it awhile back and it overwhelmed me, but now that I have the app it has really helped keep me on track. I love that she uses zones, so you are only working small spaces at a time. I love it!

Next up our goal is to start our budget. We are about to start the Dave Ramsey program, and I am super excited about it. I am ready for us to take control of our money and become debt free! I think that being on a budget, and a cash envelope system will help us keep our money and spending in check.

Last but not least, I'm going to hopefully start meal planning monthly rather than every two weeks. I'm hoping to even post a few of them here. I think it will be easier to not eat out those few times that we do a month. Every time we eat out it's about $40. We normally do about three times a month so you're easily looking at over a $100 a month for just three meals. I know I can do better than that!

So, if I missed some then I can add an update. Right now our goal is a house. We are wanting to put some roots down and buy the house we've always wanted, or something pretty close. I'm looking forward to this adventure!

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

English Grammar Teaching Method from English on a Roll ~ A Homeschool Crew Review

For the last few weeks we have been working on a really fun and different English program. My kids love manipulatives when they are learning because it seems to help them remember things better. English Grammar Teaching Method from English on a Roll has been a really different experience for us in our homeschool.

Grammar is extremely important to me, so I will try almost any English or language arts type of program. I feel that I have a pretty good knowledge of grammar, but honestly there is so much to learn. Little rules here and there so I don't think that you can ever review it too much. I have always heard that English is one of the most complicated languages to learn, and I truly believe that.

If you have ever taught homeschool, grammar is normally going over the rules and maybe doing some worksheets or working online. English on a Roll is different because it uses MSL, or Multisensory Structured Language. This method, which has had a large amount of research, uses simultaneous teaching to the auditory, visual, and tactile learning styles. It starts with the basics and builds on them a little at a time to the more complex lessons. It also uses direct instruction which is continuous interaction between the teacher and the student. Another important facet is repetition and review. This is key to using this program! Last but not least, synthetic and analytic teaching which is building the whole with parts and breaking the whole into parts.

What did we receive?

The manipulatives are a block set of 40 different color coded all plastic cubes with case. They are very well made, and that was very impressive to me.

The teacher's manual is a 140 page soft bound book.

How did we use English on a Roll?

This program says that it can be used for anyone ages 5 and up. It is also geared for ESL students or anyone who needs extra help in grammar.

We decided to jump right in and use this a few times a week. When I first opened the book and thumbed through the first few lessons, I thought that this was entirely too easy for my kids, and it wouldn't really be anything new since they are 12 and 14. The first lesson honestly took us minutes to go over because it really was ONLY review for them. But, as the lessons progressed, they turned into more lengthy discussions, and I could really start seeing the benefits of the program.

There is very little preparation needed to get started. The book tells you everything you need for each lesson including which cubes that you will need to get out of the box for that particular lesson. I love anything that saves me time! There are pages in the front that also tells you which cubes are what so that you can find them quickly in the box. The book also tells you if you need to copy any of the pages for your student. This is covered in the copy right. There are even hints and tips on how to effectively teach each lesson.

The very first lesson is on pronouns. This was surprising to me considering lessons we've done in the past normally start with nouns and verbs. I do think that if you are trying to learn English as a second language then it makes complete sense. Anyway, I just wanted to mention that.

Like I said, the book tells you all that you need to prepare for each lesson. You will only give your students the cubes needed for the lesson that they are on. We would go over the lessons and worksheets, but their favorite part was definitely working with the manipulatives. They enjoy the section called Conversation and games. For instance, they may roll one of the cubes and then make a sentence with the cubes that are left. It was fun to see what they would come up with.

Our thoughts on the product was that it has been a really fun experience for us. I am going to continue with the book until it's done because it is great review and they have even learned a few new things. I would definitely recommend this to anyone who is teaching ESL or even someone that is just needing the extra help.

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English on a Roll {Reviews}

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Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Swimming with my girls

Short and sweet Wordless Wednesday because I am spending time with my girls!!

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Rigid Wrap and CelluClay Quik-Sculpting Kit by ACTÍVA Products ~ A Homeschool Crew Review

We love doing art projects, but like I've said before they always seem to get put on the back burner. When I see things come up for review that has to do with art, then I always get excited about it. We have been able to review something really fun for the last few weeks called Rigid Wrap and CelluClay Quik-Sculpting Kit by ACTÍVA Products.

What did we receive?

We were given two rolls of Rigid Wrap and one package of CelluClay.

They also sent us a very colorful FREE e-book, ACTÍVA Products' Favorite Sculpture KIDS CRAFTS. This book has tons of craft ideas so that you can make something fun with your new kit!

How did we use it?

When we received our kit, I was a little concerned that it was going to be really messy since the box had some white powder that would come out of it every time we moved it. Once we opened the box and got everything out to start our project, I realized that it probably wasn't going to be as bad as I had originally thought. We did cover our table with a big piece of plastic just so that it was easy clean up. 

We looked through the book and the kids decided on what project that they wanted to make. There are several different projects to choose from, and the book has plenty of colorful pictures showcasing each one. 

They immediately decided that they wanted to make the bowl from the e-book. I have to point out that I am very happy that we received the e-book because although there was a paper included in our box, you couldn't read it. It had different ideas on it, but the quality wasn't good at all. We couldn't even read the back page because it was cut off. 

Ok so the Rigid Wrap is really a neat product. It's strips of cloth that have plaster already on them. All you need is water to activate it! 

First we wrapped our bowl in saran wrap. The kids then took the pieces of Rigid Wrap that they had cut into strips and dipped them in a bowl of warm water. They then laid the strips all around the bowl in different directions so that they were able to build up the layers on the bowl to make it nice and thick. This was so much fun for them!

When they were done they needed to let the bowl dry. I wasn't sure how long it would take so I decided to let it sit overnight. The next morning it was still a bit damp, so we set it outside in the hot Texas sun, and it dried right up and was ready for the next step. 

They wanted to try out the CelluClay next. The only problem was that there were no instructions that I could find that explained how to mix it up. CelluClay is basically plaster mixed with bits of paper to be used like paper mache. I found a video on how to mix it up, but basically you just add water until it's the consistency of clay. 

They took the CelluClay and added it as a rim to the bowl. It was a lot of fun to work with! They say it can keep fresh in the refrigerator and last longer.

We set our bowl out in the sun again, and it dried up nicely. Next they painted it with regular acrylic paint. 

We had so much fun working with this product and the possibilities with it are endless!!

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Rigid Wrap and CelluClay Quik-Sculpting Kit {ACTÍVA Products Reviews}
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Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Doctor Aviation ~ A Homeschool Crew Review

We have had the pleasure of learning all about aviation and it's history with Doctor Aviation over the last several weeks. If you have any interest in aviation at all, then this course is for you.

When I read about reviewing this course, I thought that it would be a perfect elective for Edyn. We live right next to Randolph Air Force base in Universal City, Texas. All day long we can see and hear the planes over our house, and some years we even get to see an airshow with the different aircraft. We have always been fascinated by them, and how fast they go. We love to sit at the park and watch them fly over. I knew she would be really interested in the content of this course since it's almost a part of our daily life here.

Daryl Smith, aka Doctor Aviation, has a long list of accomplishments. He has served in our Air Force for over 24 years, logged over 2,000 flying hours, and has flown a variety of different aircraft. In addition to flying he's also served as an instructor for the Air Force teaching aviation and has also written a book. I think it would be safe to say that he definitely knows what he's talking about when it comes to anything aviation.

What did we receive?

We were given 6 months of the online Doctor Aviation course. The course includes 15 lessons under 5 different "headings." These include The Aircraft, Air Traffic Control, Maintenance, Airfield Operations, and The Aircraft II. Each Unit or heading is broken down into smaller more detailed lessons about that topic.

How are we using this course?

So like I said I really want to be able to add this course to Edyn's high school transcript as an elective. I think it will be very easy to do that because everything I need is laid out for me.

The main content of the program is the videos. We actually watch them together because I wanted to get a good idea of how they worked and what they were like, but she could have done this completely on her own. Honestly I have enjoyed watching the videos with her and will continue to do so until she completes the course. Each video is roughly an hour long, and that's what we focus on per week. We are taking this course slow so that we can elaborate on some of the main points that he focuses on. You could watch the video in it's entirety or break it down a little each day. She prefers to watch the video all at one time.

Each video is broken down into three segments which include Technical Trivia, Notable Innovators, and Legendary Aircraft and Events. The Technical Trivia part is basically the parts of the aircraft and how they function, and Edyn likes it, but it's not her favorite part. She said she's not very "tech-y." With that being said, I find it interesting, and have learned some things that I would have never known had I not watched these videos. I would have to say that the Notable Innovators and Legendary Events is absolutely Edyn's favorite part of the videos. She has really taken an interest in the Wright Brothers, Chuck Yeager, and Amelia Earhart. She is actually about to start the Autobiography that he talks about in the video of Chuck Yeager. She finds him completely fascinating so we decided to add the book, and she could write a report on it to add to her grade. She loved hearing about his journey and what it took for him to become the first person to break the sound barrier. I was able to show her a picture of where his statue is at Edwards Air Force Base in California, since one of my good friends lives there.

The videos are not all there is to offer for this course. Doctor Aviation goes above and beyond to provide extra resources to you so that you can learn even more. First of all for each video he provides worksheets for you to follow along with during the video. I loved letting Edyn use these because she suffers from severe ADD and it kept her focused and on track. She can also go back and use these for study tools since we will most likely be utilizing the exams that he provides also. In addition to the notes that you are able to download, he also gives you a lists of other resources that you can add to your studies. Here you will find books, other websites, and even videos that will go into even more detail on what he's discussing. There is also a section that he's designated just for extra activities. Maybe your student can do more research on a specific topic or person so that you can really round out this course for a full credit.

What do we think of this course?

Amazing. The videos are fun, engaging, and full of information. Honestly it's been one of those reviews that I thought looked interesting, but once we got into it, it's proven to be one of our favorite things to study. I say our because I love it just as much as she does. This is coming from someone who won't even fly on planes because I'm so scared of them! Maybe taking this course with her will curb my fears a little bit. Who knows?

I think that if you are looking a credit for your high schooler, or even just learn more about aviation yourself, then you will love taking this course from Doctor Aviation.

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Doctor Aviation was very generous in letting 64 of us review this program. If you would like to read more reviews just click the banner below!

Aviation Course {Doctor Aviation Reviews}
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Park Day ~ Wordless Wednesday

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Trust Fund by Mapelle Films ~ A Homeschool Crew Review

I love reviewing homeschool curriculum, but sometimes it's nice to have something different thrown into the mix. We love movie night at our house, so we were excited about watching Trust Fund by Mapelle Films!

Trust Fund is a Christian movie based on a modern day Prodigal Son, or in this case daughter, that is found in Luke 15 of the Bible. If you aren't familiar with it, I would suggest reading it before you watch the movie. This is what we did with our kids so that they could see the parallels of the story in the Bible and the movie.

Another quick thing I would like to mention is that the filmmaker, Isaac Alongi, is also a former homeschooler who had a long time passion for photography and filmmaking. He talks about how homeschooling gave him the time to concentrate on the things that he was passionate about and how it was much easier to pursue his dreams since he was not in traditional school.

Ok so about the movie. Reese Donahue is an aspiring author who pretty much doesn't like to do anything else. She tries to take the easy road with everything she does. She is always needing money from her dad, and he finally has to tell her that she needs a job. Her sister on the other hand is the exact opposite. She already works for her father at his publishing company and is always trying to do her best for him. The sisters lost their mother when they were younger, and while Reese is visiting her dad at the office, she finds paperwork that pertains to her trust fund left by her mother. Reese decides that there is no reason why her father should be keeping her share of the money from her. She decides to go against his wishes, ultimately ends up betraying him, and runs off to another country. From here on out she finds out the hard way about love and loss, but will she also learn about forgiveness?

When I initially read about the film and what it was about I thought it would be a great chick flick for my 16 year old daughter and I. I didn't think the boys were going to like it, but I was wrong. It was such a great movie. The characters were well played and very believable. My daughter enjoyed the movie so much that she was still talking about it the next day. I really love the fact that you could enjoy this movie without having to worry about language or nudity etc. It's rated PG, and received the Dove seal for ages 12 and up.

They also offer a wonderful study guide if you plan on using it with your children or even with a small group from church. One more thing that I would like to mention is the book, Love Was Near, that goes along with the movie. It is intended for girls ages 12 + and to be read after watching the movie.

All in all we thoroughly enjoyed Trust Fund by Mapelle Films and we are looking forward to future films from them!

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Trust Fund Movie {Mapelle Films Reviews}

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