Tuesday, April 24, 2018

Family Math Package from A+ Interactive Math (by A+ TutorSoft Inc.) ~ A Homeschool Crew Review

If you follow my reviews then you know that I love reviewing math curriculum. I like to see the differences in curriculum, and try different ones because you never know which one will be a hit and stick with your child. For the last few weeks we have been reviewing the Family Math Package from A+ Interactive Math (by A+ TutorSoft Inc.).

The Family Math Package is a full comprehensive on-line math curriculum. Some of the things that this curriculum offers are:

  • Video Lessons ~ These are great for the visual learner who need someone to actually work the problems out. 
  • Interactive Review ~ Review is always important especially when it comes to math.
  • Worksheets + Solutions ~ I have seen some curricula not offer worksheets. I think these are needed especially if you are trying to really help your student understand the work and retain the information on the lesson.
  • Reports ~ This is great so that you can see everything your child is doing, and their grades easily. This is especially nice if your child is a little more independent and you need to see their grades quickly. 
One of the things that I really like about this program is that with the Family Math Package, you get all of the grade levels that they offer which are grades 1-6, Pre-Algebra, and Algebra 1. This is a one stop curriculum for all of your students and they can all be on different grade levels. Also a benefit to this is that if your student finishes, you can just move them right to the next grade. I love that it's flexible because if you have a year subscription, and your child finishes in 9 months, then the rest of that time is not wasted. 

When you receive your Family Math Package, the set up is pretty simple. They do offer a parent log in and also a student log in which makes it very simple to see the reports for your children. Just be careful and make sure to log out of the parent account and into the student account before starting the lessons. Don't ask me how I know this lol. 

How did we use this in our school?

I let Gav start out in the beginning of grade 6 because I wanted him to use it as a bit of a review. I also wanted to see what was offered in that grade level to compare it to what he's been working on. When they first launch the grade they are going to be using they will come to a screen such as this.

As you can see on the side are the lists of lessons which are then broken down into sub categories. So for example the first topic is going to be Fractions, Decimals, and Percentages. That is then broken down into sub-topics which are:

  • Converting Fractions, Decimals and Percentages 
  • Operations with Fractions and Decimal Numbers 
  • Operations with Mixed Numbers 
  • and Percents, Fractions, and Decimals in Everyday Life. 
Each sub-topic is then broken down even further for the actual lessons that fall within that subject. 

First off, I would have Gavin watch the video that went along with the lesson he was working on. They aren't very long videos, and that is something Gav and I both liked. Don't let the fact that they are short fool you though. They are well done and the topic is explained in depth and in a way that is easily understood. There are examples shown, and the teacher explains each step in detail. 

When he was done watching the video, he would move on to the Interactive Q&A. This is where he would work on a few problems that went along with the lesson of the day.

With the Family Math Package, you are also given online AND printable worksheets so that each lesson can be expanded on. Sometimes we need to have the extra practice, and we may do a couple of worksheets on that topic. Other times, we will just move on to the next topic depending on how much review is needed. They make it very easy to get to your worksheets, and it's labeled so that you know exactly which one coincides with that lesson. Down below is a screenshot of the online worksheets. The printables are just as easy to find, and easy to print.

After you have gone over each section there are online tests for you to give your student. I love how everything is right there and easy to find at the top of the dashboard. Also, at any time you can go and check your students progress to see what they've done and what their grades are.

Honestly this is a great program and Gav has really enjoyed using it. The only thing I have to say that we would change if we could is how you have to mark the lesson as complete when you are finished with it. It's a little complicated because if you don't go back and manually click that you have completed the lesson, then it doesn't record it. I also wish that after you completed a lesson, there was something to the side of it saying that it was complete. If you come back the next day, and can't remember exactly which one you did the day before, you have to actually go into the lesson to see if it's complete. It would be nice if at a glance, you could go straight to that day's lesson. I don't know how many times we clicked on the wrong lesson, and if you haven't completed it, it stays in a queue until you do. I would say that part of the program is not very user friendly. Also, while working on the Interactive Q&A, you have to make sure you click the frog's stomach to "submit" your answer before going to next. You are able to go back and do that if you forget that step, but it just seems like an extra step to me rather than being one and done.

With all of that said, it's still a great program and everything you need is very easy to find. I would still definitely recommend it to anyone looking for a thorough math curriculum. If you are wanting an online program with everything at your fingertips, then I suggest taking a look at the Family Math Package from A+ Interactive Math (by A+ TutorSoft Inc.).

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Saturday, April 21, 2018

Happy 13th Birthday Gavin Creed!!

Today my caboose turns 13. It seems like just yesterday my sweet little bouncing boy was born at 4:44 pm weighing in at 8lbs and 4 ounces. He is the sweetest 13 year old that you could ever imagine, and he is a blessing to us daily. As sad as I am that he's growing up too fast, I am also excited to see the young man he is becoming. Let's just make sure that the next 5 years or so don't happen in the blink of an eye. I'm not ready for all of my babies to grow up.

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Help Teaching Pro from HelpTeaching.com ~ A Homeschool Crew Review

Sometimes we have a review come along that is a great resource for not only homeschooling moms but also for teachers or anyone looking for a little supplement for their student. We have been using a one year subscription of Help Teaching Pro from HelpTeaching.com for the last few weeks to add some extra help to our school.

HelpTeaching.com has something for every grade ranging from Early Childhood to 12th grade. It follows several subjects including:
  • Arts
  • English/Language Arts
  • Science
  • Social Studies
  • Math
  • Life Skills
  • Vocational Education and more!
HelpTeaching.com offers several different things to make life supplementing your school easier. They offer printable and online tests, activities, worksheets, lessons and even games for your student. The website is also set up for easy navigation. There are several ways to access what you're looking for. If you go to the tab that is set up for tests and worksheets, you can choose from grade levels or subjects. Each subject is broken down into smaller segments. So for example, you can choose English/Language Arts worksheets, and then choose from activities such as Reading Strategies, Grammar, and Handwriting Practice, and many more. Once you are in the sub-categories, you will find a list of all of the worksheets and tests they offer. 

They even offer a group of seasonal printables to make it easier when you're looking for fun things to do with your children for holidays etc. 

They also offer a test maker which I think would be really good if you are studying for a certain subject. We haven't actually needed to use it yet, but it would be great for review. They offer different options on the test maker. You can name your test, and then create your own questions for it. That would work if you were studying specific material. Option 2 allows you to pick questions from their library in almost any subject you can think of, and then create your own test from that. And option 3 allows you to create a "quick test" by using key words to look up the subject you need. 

The worksheet generator is also a great option especially if you're needing math worksheets. I don't generate them much anymore but back when we were doing the basics of math, this would have really been perfect! They have it for addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division. 

Also under the worksheet generator tab is the game and puzzle generator. I absolutely love that they have a word search generator! You could use this in so many ways with so many subjects. You could enter in spelling words or even vocabulary words for any subject. We have used this quite a bit since Gav loves word searches!

While browsing the website you will also find that you can choose activities by looking through grade levels. I started looking through what all they offer for Gav's grade and I found some things that we could definitely put to good use. I try to always give him some kind of reading comprehension review work because he has struggled with it in the past. They have lessons and worksheets specifically for that. It's easy to just print and go!

What did we think of HelpTeaching.com? I think this is a great supplement to have, I just don't think that we will use it very often. I feel like it has a lot to offer especially for younger kids. There are things that I love such as the word search generator option and even the test maker, but will most likely not use in OUR school. That doesn't mean it's not a wonderful resource and would work great for someone else! It has a lot of different components so check out the Help Teaching Pro from HelpTeaching.com for yourself and see what you think!

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Monday, April 16, 2018

Exploring Creation with Human Anatomy and Physiology by Apologia ~ A Homeschool Crew Review

This week's first review comes from one of my very favorite companies! I have reviewed for them before, and used their products on my own and they never disappoint. If you are part of the homeschool community then it's highly likely that you will be familiar with them too! We have been using the Exploring Creation with Human Anatomy and Physiology by Apologia for the last few weeks and we are loving it!

Science is one of Gav's favorite subjects because he loves learning about all of the different branches of it, but he also loves to do experiments. Apologia is one of my favorite companies to use for a science curriculum because it's all Christian based with a lot of easy and fun experiments to do along with it. The Young Explorer Series by Apologia is geared towards elementary aged kids, but I am using it for Gav who is in 7th grade. It is great for any homeschool type learning, but does follow a Charlotte Mason approach.

I want to start this review off by talking about what we received for the review. Apologia was very generous in what they sent us to look over and talk about, and I want to make sure that I give you a good picture of each one.

  • Exploring Creation with Human Anatomy and Physiology Text - This is a beautiful 265 page hard bound book that is full of colorful pictures to go with each lesson. The book is the perfect size as it's big enough to see the print clearly and have a good look at the pictures, but also not so big that it becomes bulky and cumbersome. It brings your student on a journey of learning about the human body and talks about everything from cells and the muscular system to the growth and development of a baby. 
  • Exploring Creation with Human Anatomy and Physiology Junior Notebooking Journal - This beautiful spiral bound consumable journal is made specifically to go right alongside the text, and is geared towards the younger students who have limited handwriting skills. The journal includes everything you need for the assignments such as many coloring pages, science experiments, full-color mini books, and so much more. 
  • Exploring Creation with Human Anatomy and Physiology Notebooking Journal - Like the Junior Notebooking journal it is also spiral bound and consumable, but it is geared for the kids that are older and a little more independent. Again, this journal provides your student with everything needed to complete the assignments in the text. It can serve as an actual journal for your student to record what they've learned and what experiments they are working on. It also has full color mini-books, scripture copywork, project pages, and more. One of my favorite things about these journals is that Apologia has included a two day schedule for you so that you can easily know what to do each week. This is perfect for a mom like me who needs that all laid out for her. Gav likes it too that he can just flip to that page in the journal and know what he's going to be doing for the week.
  • Exploring Creation with Human Anatomy and Physiology MP3 Audio CD - I think having this CD is a fantastic addition to this curriculum. You could use it in several different ways. It could work as a read aloud so that you and your student can follow along in the text. You could listen to it in the car while running around doing errands and then do the assignments in the Notebooking Journal at home. If you're not using the journals, then it's just a great CD to listen to. There are many ways to incorporate it into your school. 

So we have been using this curriculum for a few weeks and it has fit right into our school day. We are following the two day a week schedule, but you could easily adapt this to a three or more day a week schedule. I love how everything is laid right out for you including the page numbers.

So on Wednesdays and Thursdays, which we have decided are our science days, we start with our reading in the textbook. Most of the time we take turns reading, and then Gav will go back and write down what's he learned in his journal, and/or important things that he needs to know. Here's a sample of the bright, vibrant, and colorful pictures the book offers.

The textbook also includes the "Try This" projects and also the different experiments or activities to go along with the each lesson. The "Try This" part is fun little experiments that don't take much at all. Like this one was showing how a magnifying glass works by putting a drop of water over a word and the student can see how it appears larger.

We did another fun experiment that used apples and different types of salt to see which salt worked better at preserving the apples after learning about how the Ancient Egyptians preserved bodies. Gav was given instructions to measure out different salts including table salt, Epsom salt, and/or baking soda. Some were used alone and some were mixed in different ratios.

The instructions were to take an apple and cut it into 8 pieces that were close to the same size. Have 8 individual cups ready to record your information such as the cup number, what salt or salt mixture went into the cup, and the weight of the apple slices in the cup. After each slice of apple was weighed on a kitchen scale, he put it into the respective cup, and covered it with the salt. The 8th cup was the control apple with no salt or anything in it. Then we had to wait 7 days to get our results!

After waiting our 7 day period, we were excited to see what the results were! He carefully took each cup and fished out the funky piece of apple. In some cases the apple was worse off than others. Obviously the control apple was nasty and moldy.

He dusted each piece of apple off and weighed it to see the difference in moisture, and how well it preserved the piece. Some of them lost a good amount of moisture, but were still pretty nasty. He found that the apples that were covered in table salt or half table salt, were the ones that preserved the best! You can tell by the look on his face that some of them were pretty gross.

All of the experiments are easy and use household items like above. You definitely don't have to use all of them, but they are fun for the kids and not hard to do. The ingredients are easy to find and very inexpensive.

I want to talk a little bit more about the journals. You don't have to purchase the journals to use the curriculum, but take my word, you want to! It just makes the entire course complete for me. It is so well made and put together that it's worth every penny for it. Just the fact that you don't have to worry about printing anything out will make your life easier. If it calls for a lap book, it's right there in the back already done for you in bright vibrant colors. Here's some samples of the work Gav has done in his journal. He is using the one for the older students.

The picture above is of the cell mini book. The cell spins and tells you the definitions of some of the words in that chapter.

So what do we think of this curriculum? Well it's beyond amazing! I think it fits into any homeschool easily whether you follow a Charlotte Mason approach or not. The instructions for the curriculum are clear and easy to understand, and we all know as busy homeschooling mamas that that is important. The fact that it is from a Christian perspective is perfect for our family.

Gav has already learned so much from just the short time he's been working on Exploring Creation with Human Anatomy and Physiology by Apologia, and we love it!

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Thursday, April 12, 2018

Princess Cut by Watchman Pictures ~ A Homeschool Crew Review

We love movie night at our house, and we especially love a wholesome movie that contains a good uplifting message! We really enjoyed watching Princess Cut from Watchman Pictures because it was all of those things!

True love waits is something most parents really want to instill in their children. I know that it's especially important to us, and also important to our teenage daughter. She even wears a purity ring that is inscribed with those three powerful words. True Love Waits.

In the movie we follow Grace a young woman looking for love and marriage. She grew up on a farm in North Carolina with her loving parents and two brothers. We start off seeing her excited and expecting a wonderful time with a boy she is preparing to go on a date with. Of course after she arrives to meet him, he's your typical college frat boy and has all of his college buddies with him. She realizes very quickly that this is not her prince charming. She is still sad that she hasn't found true love and ends up in a situation with another smooth talking guy that could compromise her morals and beliefs. She starts to question herself and the relationship and ends up overwhelmed by it all. She is brought into a few more situations that are teaching moments for her and also discovers how supportive her family is to her. How will she handle it all? Does God already have her Prince Charming picked out for her?

The movie was really good. Was it what my kids call cheesy? Yes absolutely! Was it predictable from the beginning? Yes again. But, it was really good. It shared a wonderful message to young people, or to anyone for that matter.

The casting was great. I felt like the family was believable, and I was really impressed to see that the father in the movie and the oldest brother in the movie were actually father and son in real life. The relationship with the characters seemed to come easy enough even though it was probably B acting at best. I felt like the plot was definitely predictable, but it was such a good message that it didn't matter.

I love the fact that it reiterated the message that the father should be the head of the house, and that he should take responsibility for his family. There is a lovely part in the movie where the Dad is acting as the head of house and has a teaching moment with his daughter using soybeans. You have to stop trying to get a harvest before you plant the seed. Those are pretty powerful words we could all live by.

My kids honestly loved it and so did I. I was a bit concerned that my 13 year old boy would constantly be rolling his eyes, but he got caught up in Grace's struggles, and waited to see how it would all pan out.

Princess Cut is a great reminder that we should let the Lord lead us to love, and stop trying to force it on ourselves. All good things happen in His timing, not ours.

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