Our Experiences with Bridgeway Academy’s Chemistry with Lab 2018-2019

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Hello friends!

 

As I write this, we have just completed my son Jackson’s junior year. This year, we were privileged to partner with Bridgeway Academy, and Jackson was able to take his high school chemistry class online with them. This class was part of Bridgeway Academy’s Live Online Classes. It was effective and interesting, and I’d like to share more with you about our year and experiences!

 

 

 

About Chemistry with Lab

Bridgeway Academy‘s high school chemistry course is a full-year, Live Online Class. Chemistry with Lab (LLAY90799CH; follow link and scroll down the page for more info on the class) meets weekly from September through May. The course uses Paradigm’s Chemistry with Lab textbooks along with Bridgeway Academy‘s Chemistry Lab Kit. Students will need a computer to log into the online classroom, where the teacher and students meet and interact together. The class meets once each week, for an hour and a half. Upon completion of the course, students earn 1.5 high school science credits.

The Paradigm textbook set includes softcover text and activity books (IPC Chapters 1, 3, 5, 7, 8, and 11). This chemistry program focuses on the history and discoveries of chemistry, the people who made them, and the places they were made. The texts teach and introduce material about the elements and scientists. The activity books contain quizzes and questions on each text chapter’s material.

Bridgeway Academy‘s Chemistry Lab Kit includes a lab manual and a materials kit for all the experiments students will complete in the course. The kit has everything except a few household items (like distilled water, paper towels, etc.) that will be used. For example, in the lab kit you’ll see: beakers of various sizes; an electrolysis device; pipettes; reaction plates (the clear plastic rectangles with wells in the photos); safety goggles; wire gauze; various metals (copper, iron, nickel, zinc); and other materials you won’t find at home. It also includes solutions, like glycerin, HCl, sodium oxalate, zinc nitrate, and many others. The lab manual has directions for many experiments, fill-in-the-blanks for answers, and mathematical chemical equations and problems to work.

 

 

 

What did each week’s class look like?

Each week, Melissa Lindahl, Jackson’s chemistry teacher, Jackson, and his fellow classmates would log in together for class time. Ms. Lindahl would teach the week’s lesson and interact with students. She taught students the chemical (math) equations for the elements and their combinations. She also reviewed the experiments, the materials, safety guidelines, and their purpose. Bridgeway Academy utilizes a site called Moodle which hosts classes. Its technology works extremely well, and provides video of the teacher while enabling students to connect in class via text and/or voice. At the end of class, Ms. Lindahl would assign the week’s reading and activity book work. Each week following class, students would work in the books (activity and text/reading), complete experiments, and then upload their work via Moodle to Ms. Lindahl. The Moodle site and student dashboard also provided exams for each chapter. Students would take the exam online, and results were recorded there.

 

 

All students in the class completed a class project on a class of elements in December. The Moodle classroom enabled them to present their projects to the teacher and their classmates (with Powerpoint visuals or recorded video) at that time.

The Moodle classroom is set up so that the teacher can use the webcam for teaching, to show students the experiments they’ll be doing, or to display video or Powerpoint slides. It can also provide a whiteboard, which Ms. Lindahl used to teach students how to solve the chemistry math equations.

 

 

Here are some examples of the year’s work

Here’s just a sampling of some of the subjects that were covered in Jackson’s chemistry this year:

  • Barium, radium, strontium, and hard water
  • Mendeleev, the periodic table, and his predictions of missing elements
  • Valences, covalent compounds, and chemical bonding
  • Medieval metals, created diamonds, nitrogen’s many uses
  • Chemical bonds
  • Acids, bases, pH
  • Electrical current
  • Elements and the scientists who discovered them
  • and more!

In addition, students put what they learned into practice by completing experiments at home using the materials from the chemistry lab kit and noting their results in their lab manuals. There were 17 experiments in all; they were safe to do at home (although some materials required special care and handling, and always required the use of safety goggles).

During the experiments, Jackson learned about:

  • Paper chromatography
  • The electrical conductivity of various solutions
  • Mole ratios
  • Decomposition
  • Titration
  • Reaction rates

Following each experiment, he filled out its lab manual pages, then scanned them and sent the pages to the Moodle classroom for Ms. Lindahl to grade and record.

 

 

 

Our impressions of Chemistry with Lab

We’re really happy that Jackson was able to take his chemistry class via Bridgeway Academy. Personally, my only experience with chemistry was an introductory course my son took years ago in elementary school. (Awesome, but the key word there is “elementary”!) So I had serious doubts about being able to teach chemistry to Jackson, and to teach it well; basically, I’d have to learn a complete new scientific language and study hard myself for a long while before I’d really be able to teach him. (And to be honest, even if I had done those things I don’t think I would have been a good instructor for this course.)

Instead, we had Melissa Lindahl, an experienced and certified science teacher, for whom the language of chemistry seemed to be second nature. She effectively taught difficult new concepts each week, and prepared students for the math concepts that they’d be using in the experiments as well as instructing them about the materials (especially the solutions and solids they’d be using) and the proper way to handle each one.

Here’s what Jackson says about the class: “Ms. Lindahl was a good teacher and the class had interesting subject matter. I appreciated having a dedicated class time each week and a teacher who covered the material in a good amount of time. Those were definite high points. I did feel as though sometimes the Paradigm curriculum lacked some chemistry information that is often taught in high school chemistry classes. It focuses more on the history of chemistry, I think, than the whats and hows of the science taught in other courses.”

Jackson would probably have benefited from more time practicing the math equations required for the course. Ms. Lindahl explained them well during the online classes (and was also available via email outside of class) but the text itself didn’t spend extensive time on them. However, the history and the information on the elements made the course very interesting.

 

 

 

In closing

Are your homeschooled students at the point that they need their high school science credits, such as biology, chemistry, or physics? Are those subjects that you personally need more help in teaching?

If so, I’d definitely recommend Bridgeway Academy to you. Their certified teachers, online classrooms, and curricula can make all the difference in the world for your homeschool! Plus, your students will earn credits toward their high school transcripts.

Here’s how you can find out more about Bridgeway Academy

Just follow the links to the Bridgeway Academy home page, or to the Live Online Classes page. Bridgeway Academy has so many amazing classes for all of your students, from elementary age, to middle schoolers, to high school teens. Check them out. We’ve had wonderful experiences with them throughout the years!

 

Enjoy! –Wren

 

DISCLAIMER: From time to time, FINCHNWREN may receive a free product or service in exchange for our honest opinions expressed in our blog. We are not required to write a positive or glowing review, nor are we additionally compensated for these reviews. We share our own opinions, and our family’s opinion, of these products. We’re disclosing this in accordance with FTC regulations.

Our Experiences with Bridgeway Academy’s Apologia Biology Course & Lab 2017-2018 (Plus a Coupon)

I can hardly believe it, but we are in the final few weeks of my son Jackson’s 10th grade homeschool year.  We were incredibly blessed to be able to partner with Bridgeway Academy this year, and Jackson took his high school biology course–Apologia’s Exploring Creation with Biology (FYC Biology Course w/Lab)–online with them.  I couldn’t be happier with Jackson’s experiences, and I’d love to share our final thoughts with you as the semester winds down!

 

 

Bridgeway Academy

Are you familiar with Bridgeway Academy?  The company provides accredited homeschool options that can fit any family’s lifestyle. From customized textbook and online options to live online and blended learning, Bridgeway helps families find exactly what they need for a successful homeschooling year.  Live courses, which are attended online by students in first grade all the way through 12th grade, provide fascinating academic experiences for families. In fact, thousands of students have participated in Bridgeway Academy Learning Lab classes from 1989 to the present day.  And parents will be interested to know that 92% of Bridgeway Academy enrolled students proceed to their first choice college!

 

High School Biology & Lab with Apologia

Apologia’s Exploring Creation with Biology is the course I had always hoped and intended to use with my son for his high school biology credits.  The textbook is both rigorous and intellectually challenging, and covers biology in an interesting way.  Chapters cover the following topics:

  • the definitions of life and biology plus classification, taxonomy, and biological keys
  • Kingdoms Monera, Protista, and Fungi
  • the chemistry of life
  • the cell, cellular reproduction, and DNA
  • Mendel and Genetics
  • Evolution
  • Ecology
  • Kingdom Animalia (invertebrates, arthropoda, chordata)
  • Kingdom Plantae
  • Reptiles, birds, and mammals

Each chapter also includes two challenging review sections (for test preparation), experiments, and question-and-answer portions in addition to text, vivid photos and diagrams.  This is the textbook that is utilized by Bridgeway Academy in the FYC Biology Course w/Lab, along with the company’s Biology Lab Kit.  The lab kit provides everything from a stainless steel dissection kit, lab supplies, and 7 lab specimens (earthworm, grasshopper, perch, crayfish, frog, cow eye, and fetal pig) for the dissections that are covered in the course.  When the student completes this course (with a D average or above) he’ll have accumulated 1.5 academic credits for both the biology course and lab.

 

High School Biology with Bridgeway Academy

So, what does Bridgeway Academy bring to the table when they’re offering an online course with the already-excellent Apologia Exploring Creation with Biology?  What would you think if I answered, “More than I could have imagined!”

First of all, they provide an exceptional online classroom experience.  Bridgeway Academy utilizes Moodle for its online classrooms.  Collaborate within Moodle allows students to attend classes alongside their peers who are taking the same class.  The teacher teaches the class via video and students can interact with him/her and with each other using their own computers’ cameras or text chat.  Moodle also provides a way for teachers to administer tests and daily or weekly assignments.  Students upload their assignments and projects to Moodle, where teachers grade them and a record of work is kept.  Technologically, Moodle made it very easy for Jackson to interact with his class, stay up-to-date on his assignments, and keep track of his work.  There were a few times where Moodle had glitches but they were few and far between.  And if you are taking an online class, that’s exactly what you need and want!

Secondly, Bridgeway Academy hires interesting instructors who bring years of education and training to the classroom.  Jackson’s biology teacher, Mrs. Carla Berg, is an experienced and accredited scientist and educator.  In every single class, Mrs. Berg brought impeccable scientific training to make her classes interesting and exciting to the students.  But just as important, she brought excellent classroom management abilities to bear as she guided students through their own interactions with the class.  I’m sure that she is also well-aware that students have different learning styles, because I saw her utilize classroom activities for visual learners, auditory learners, and kinesthetic learners in every class.  She also varied classroom activities every week, which helped her students stay engaged and learning all semester long.

 

 

Third, Bridgeway Academy provided a learning experience with this high school biology class that truly exceeded the best that I could have done myself.  I am interested in science.  But I freely admit to you that I am not a trained scientist, nor is high school biology my forte.  And honestly, the very thought of dissections…well, those also are not my forte!  But with Bridgeway Academy, I didn’t have to excel at any of those things.  Instead, Jackson was able to take a top-notch, academically rigorous, well-done biology class taught by an experienced teacher whose love for science poured out in each class.

 

 

What I’d like for you to know about our experiences

There are so many positive outcomes that both Jackson and I have experienced during our high school biology year with Bridgeway Academy.  (More than I could actually fit into a blog post!)  But there are things I’d love to share about them here.  (And I’ll try my best to keep the list from becoming too lengthy!)

  • He has received an exceptional education in high school biology that has prepared him well for college science coursework
  • He was challenged to produce his best work continuously throughout the year, whether it was on tests and projects, in-class participation, or daily reading and Q&As
  • He had the benefit of a well-educated and interesting instructor who was committed to her students’ success
  • Bridgeway Academy’s Moodle provided excellent record-keeping for each student (including a portfolio download option)

 

Finally…

Does that sound amazing to you as a homeschool mom or as a student?  I just cannot speak highly enough about Bridgeway Academy and their incredible classes.  If you’d like to discover more about Bridgeway Academy, visit Bridgeway Academy Learning Labs and check out their extensive list of awesome online courses.  Whether your student is in the elementary, middle school, or high school grades, you’ll find some incredible options.

And just so you know, Bridgeway Academy would like to provide a coupon for you to use when you sign your child up for a class!  Just use coupon code WREN18 when you visit the Bridgeway Academy site to receive  10% off any Learning Lab purchase.  (Coupon expires June 1, 2018.)

Enjoy–and think of Bridgeway Academy when you’re considering your child’s next homeschool courses!  –Wren

Bridgeway Academy on social media:

Facebook- https://www.facebook.com/HomeschoolingHelp

Twitter- https://twitter.com/bridgewayvoice/

Pinterest- https://www.pinterest.com/bridgewayacademy/

YouTube- https://www.youtube.com/user/bwacademy

Blog- http://www.homeschoolacademy.com/blog/

 

DISCLAIMER:  From time to time, FINCHNWREN may receive a free product or service in exchange for our honest opinions expressed in our blog. We are not required to write a positive or glowing review, nor are we additionally compensated for these reviews. We share our own opinions, and our family’s opinion, of these products. We’re disclosing this in accordance with FTC regulations.

 

 

Apologia Biology: Our Fall Semester with Bridgeway Academy (plus a coupon code for you!)

Are you homeschooling high school, or preparing to?  If so, Biology is probably on your mind as you’re planning your student’s classes and high school transcript.  We were so fortunate to be invited to review Bridgeway Academy‘s high school Apologia Biology course (FYC Biology Course w/Lab), which Jackson started in September.  It has been an academically rigorous, yet fascinating and enjoyable, way to study high school Biology.  I’d like to share some of my son’s experiences with this class and studies.

 

 

What is Bridgeway Academy?

Bridgeway Academy is an online educational provider that we’ve long admired.  They provide accredited courses, taught online by qualified educational professionals and teachers, which are both academically excellent and interesting to homeschool students. Live courses are offered for students in first grade all the way through 12th grade, and over 30,000 students have participated in Bridgeway Academy classes from 1989 on. And 83% of Bridgeway Academy students proceed to their first choice college!

 

Apologia Biology

Jackson is enrolled in Bridgeway Academy’s FYC Biology Course w/Lab for the 2017-2018 school year.  This Learning Lab course uses the Exploring Creation with Biology textbook, along with Bridgeway Academy’s own Biology Lab Kit, and the course provides 1.5 credits upon completion with a D grade or higher.

The 16-chapter textbook covers:

  • the definitions of life and biology plus classification, taxonomy, and biological keys
  • Kingdoms Monera, Protista, and Fungi
  • the chemistry of life
  • the cell, cellular reproduction, and DNA
  • Mendel and Genetics
  • Evolution
  • Ecology
  • Kingdom Animalia (invertebrates, arthropoda, chordata)
  • Kingdom Plantae
  • Reptiles, birds, and mammals

The textbook contains daily reading sections and questions to answer on the reading, plus experiments, study guides, and review questions for each chapter.  It’s definitely a textbook that’s written for high school students; the material is advanced but still very doable for the high schoolers.  Good reading and comprehension skills would be an advantage for students, however.

 

The supplies

Everything we needed for the course (the Apologia Exploring Creation with Biology 2nd Edition, the Bridgeway Biology Lab Kit, including the Bridgeway Biology Lab Manual) was purchased from Bridgeway Academy.  Also included with these are the Apologia Exploring Creation with Biology answer booklets, for the parent.  The course and supplies (books & lab kit) are priced separately, so you can price compare items or obtain a used copy of the textbook if you so desire.

You can see the ingredients of the lab kit above.  It is shipped in a sturdy cardboard box, but we purchased the plastic containers with lids so we could store them more effectively.  (Plus I wanted to keep the dissection specimens, above on the right, in a separate container.  As anyone knows who’s ever done a biology dissection, there is an odor to those specimens that we didn’t necessarily want permeating our house!)  There is also a dissection pad which is pictured below.

Students will need some additional household goods and objects, like ice cubes, eggs, vinegar, etc.

 

Class slideshow on matter

What a typical class period looks like

The live online class, taught by Carla Berg, an experienced certified science teacher (as well as a very fun and interesting one!), meets once weekly for an hour and a half.  Mrs. Berg introduces and teaches about the current chapter’s materials.  She includes scientific photos and videos, Powerpoint-type presentations, questions-and-answers (of various styles), and lots of interaction with the students.  The students have the opportunity to communicate via text chat as well as via computer audio/video as they answer questions and participate in class discussions.  Below, you can see the whiteboard she also uses for class interaction and Q&A and the students’ responses.

 

Jackson says, “The live class work does usually stay for an hour and a half, with the first 30 minutes covering an introductory topic or some questions that Mrs. Berg wants to address from the previous week.  The last hour is usually composed of learning about the topics that will come up in your book that week and doing fun activities sometimes with several other (groups of) people in the class.  These many assignments help towards the full grade.  The class itself overall is well-taught and the class participation helps the students get to know each other and the time is used well to teach or participate in activities.”

 

Interaction via the class whiteboard on Moodle

 

It’s clear that Mrs. Berg is an experienced and quality teacher.  She does a fantastic job interacting with the students and teaching and presenting the information.  She has high expectations for the students which are communicated clearly.

Following the class, Mrs. Berg puts the week’s assignments and links up on the Moodle site.  Moodle is the interactive classroom where the Bridgeway Academy classes are held.  Through the Moodle site, students can attend class, view/complete/submit for grading their daily assignments, take tests, and keep tabs on their class scores and grades.  It works incredibly well and is, I think, a great tool for today’s generation of students.  Generally, the week’s work could include: daily reading and questions; glossary work; experiments; test review assignments.  Tests occur every few weeks, one chapter (module) at a time.

 

Dissecting a mushroom on the dissection pad

What we’ve covered this fall

As of this week, Jackson has completed the work for weeks 1-10 of the semester.  He has studied these chapters (or modules, as they’re known in Apologia world):

  • Biology:  The Study of Life
  • Kingdom Monera (a.k.a. bacteria)
  • Kingdom Protista (including protozoa and algae)
  • Kingdom Fungi (yeasts, mushrooms, slime molds, and more)

He has completed several experiments at home, many of which have been just amazing.  He grew bacteria in petri dishes for several days, and wrote an extensive lab report on his observations.  He’s dissected a mushroom (which you can see above) and drew a diagram labeling the various components of the fungus.  That was a painless introduction to the world of dissection and dissection tools.  Currently, as he studies the 5th chapter (Chemistry of Life), he’s learning the difference between chemical and physical reactions. (We have an egg in the kitchen which has been soaking in vinegar for two days.  The shell has completely dissolved and the egg has expanded.  Tonight we’ll switch the vinegar for Karo syrup and make more observations in 24 hours, then soak it again in distilled water.  Jackson keeps daily reports on the egg, its measurements, and any visible changes.)

Sometimes, the experiments are done during the actual class time.  When Jackson learned about yeasts, Mrs. Berg displayed photos of the changes in yeast that occur when they’re being used in the making of bread.  All of these experiments deepen the students’ understanding of the kingdoms being studied and really help them to remember and retain the information.

The tests for the chapters are difficult and challenging, yet still very doable.  They are fantastic college preparation, in my opinion; students who are used to a homeschool environment with Mom or Dad can still, via Bridgeway Academy’s classes, learn how to interact with a non-parental teacher in a given subject.  He also took a quarter test (sort of a mini-midterm) over the first four chapters.  And he and his classmates are just beginning work on a Biology project which they’ll present to their classmates via Powerpoint, YouTube videos, or spoken presentation later in December.  Great experiences, all of them.

 

My impressions thus far

I honestly couldn’t be happier with Bridgeway Academy, Apologia Biology, and Mrs. Berg, as Jackson is working through this high school Biology course.  He is gaining vital experience that will benefit him not only for college, but for life after college and even the remainder of his high school studies.  The course is fascinating and the class time is enjoyable.  Jackson is getting a excellent Biology education in this course.

Jackson says, “This is a good preparation for the type of work one would have to do in college if he’d never taken any homeschool classes like this before.  Thus, since I hadn’t, it has been a little challenging.  But the On Your Own questions (from the textbook) are good-length assignments and the tests are well-spaced out.  They have review pages that are the assignments before these tests, which are good because they help you prepare for it.  The labs have people do some very neat and cool experiments, showing different processes in the biological world, such as osmosis, diffusion, and other in-depth topics that cover something in a very neat way.”

I also wanted to mention that last week, Mrs. Berg scheduled a phone conversation with the parents of each student in the class.  During this time, she was able to share how she thinks each student is doing in class–sort of a phone parent-teacher conference.  I felt that I already knew how Jackson was doing (because I can access his Moodle page, plus I sit nearby for all his classes, but I enjoyed getting to hear Mrs. Berg’s impressions.

I have seen some incredible growth in my son this semester as he has participated in this Apologia Biology Learning Lab. He has learned to schedule and complete his assignments each day so that his class work is completed at the end of each week.  By interacting with Mrs. Berg, he is learning more about how to do excellent work; he is challenged not only by the daily assignments and tests but also by the interactive class time, where he is expected to participate.  He is also learning about persevering when faced with a difficult task…until success is achieved!

 

And a coupon for you…to save 15% on a class!

So…does this make you think that you’d like for your child to take a Bridgeway Academy course?  I hope so!  Our experience has been most excellent and we’re looking forward to the remainder of the year in Biology.  (That is saying something, because Biology has always been my least favorite of the sciences!)

–Save 15% Thru December 13.  Use Code AUTUMN17 at checkout!

Sign-up today and get 15% off of your selection from over 30 highly engaging, real time, instructor led Learning Lab  courses. Live online Learning Labs offer expert teaching and in-depth study opportunities within a supportive learning community. Designed for students in grades 1 – 12, Bridgeway live online Learning Labs have something for every student!

For the full list of live online courses and to register* visit Bridgeway Academy Learning Labs

*Each course has limited space available. Kits & materials as additional purchase may be required for some courses.See Bridgeway Academy for details.

 

In closing

Be sure to visit Bridgeway Academy Learning Labs and check out their extensive list of awesome online courses.  They truly are amazing and you might find just what you’re looking for, for your own family!

And just so you know, they have much more than just high school courses.  You’ll find elementary and middle school courses as well!

Bridgeway Academy on social media:

Facebook- https://www.facebook.com/HomeschoolingHelp

Twitter- https://twitter.com/bridgewayvoice/

Pinterest- https://www.pinterest.com/bridgewayacademy/

YouTube- https://www.youtube.com/user/bwacademy

Blog- http://www.homeschoolacademy.com/blog/

We’ll continue to share with you over the year more about our experiences with Apologia Biology and Bridgeway Academy, so be sure to stop back by to see more about our homeschool life and science.

Enjoy!  –Wren

 

DISCLOSURE:

From time to time, finchnwren may receive a free product or service in exchange for our honest opinions expressed in our blog. We are not required to write a positive or glowing review, nor are we additionally compensated for these reviews. We share our own opinions, and our family’s opinions, of these products. We’re disclosing this in accordance with FTC regulations.

The Critical Thinking Co.’s Sentence Diagramming Curriculum ~ Our Review

Recently, Jackson and I had the opportunity to brush up on our grammar when we were selected to review Sentence Diagramming: Beginning from The Critical Thinking Co.™ for the Homeschool Review Crew.  Let me share with you about our experiences!

Language Arts {The Critical Thinking Co.™}

What is sentence diagramming?

The first time I ever saw it, I was reading one of Laura Ingalls Wilder’s Little House books, in which Laura is participating in an end-of-the-year student presentation.  I remember being absolutely astonished at her sentence diagramming!  It certainly was nothing I was ever taught in school.  However, sentence diagramming is apparently making a comeback.  It’s a thorough and complete method of teaching the parts of speech.

Students draw a horizontal line, with a vertical line intersecting it.  Then, they rewrite a sentence, placing every word in a spot that is designated for the part of speech it is with various lines angling off as they indicate whether a word is an adjective, adverb, subject, predicate, etc.  A student would find this useful in examination and learning of grammar, because it very clearly shows exactly what each word in a sentence is.  Below, you can see an example of sentence diagramming with the famous sentence, “The quick brown fox jumped over the lazy dog.”

 

diagramming-1

 What is The Critical Thinking Co.’s Sentence Diagramming: Beginning?

It is a softcover consumable book (8 1/2″ x 11″) that contains everything you need for teaching sentence diagramming for grades 3-12.  Because it is a consumable product, you would need one book for each student you’re teaching, since all the student’s work will be done and written in the Sentence Diagramming: Beginning book itself.  Students do a variety of work in this book, from correcting errors in diagramming, to writing and diagramming sentences themselves, to labeling sentences given in the text.  The book contains 12 several-page-long lessons, as well as an end-of-the-book review section and an answer key.  This book covers these topics in its lessons:

  • Simple Subject and Main Verb
  • Direct Object
  • Adjectives
  • Adverbs Modifying Verbs
  • Predicate Adjectives
  • Predicate Nouns
  • Prepositional Phrases (both adjectival and adverbial)
  • Compound Subjects
  • Compound Predicates
  • Compound Direct Objects
  • Compound Predicate Adjectives and Nouns

Students begin, naturally, with the simplest diagrammed sentences in chapter 1; those with just a noun (subject) and a verb (predicate).  Helping verbs and proper nouns are mentioned there.  The course progresses quickly from there, with brief explanations of the part of speech at the top of each chapter, an example, and then exercises for the student to complete.  Generally, each chapter contains several segments of explanation which explain more difficult sentences as the student goes along.  You can see by the list above the the most difficult parts of grammar are in the last third of the book.

 

diagramming-2How we used it:

For this review, we utilized Sentence Diagramming: Beginning as our grammar spine.  We did a few pages at a time, generally covering more than one chapter in a week’s time.  At this rate, we’ll be able to complete it over the course of one semester.

Jackson and I would sit together, go through the explanation and examples on each chapter’s section, then he would do the work in that section.  I’d review his work then and correct any errors (or not, if there weren’t any), then we’d progress to the next section in the chapter.  This worked well for us.  I can see that as we approach and enter the last third of the book we’ll probably divide the chapters into several days’ work, stretching it out more for deeper understanding of more difficult types of diagramming.  We’re able to progress at our current speed simply because Jackson has quite a few years of grammar study under his belt already.

 

diagramming-3Our thoughts and recommendations:

For us, Sentence Diagramming: Beginning has been an excellent review of important grammar topics.  As I mentioned, he has studied grammar for years in his various language arts programs, so much of the general knowledge on the parts of speech is familiar to him.  However, diagramming sentences was not.  I really value that skill for him, for a variety of reasons.  First, because it’s presented in a very different format (placing each word in its own segment that identifies its part of speech), it really makes the student think about what the words actually are.  Second, it’s a great activity that I believe will stimulate better learning as it works with parts of the brain that maybe normally aren’t accessed in language arts study; sort of like working a puzzle.  Third, it’s a process that will engage both visual and kinesthetic learning styles and skills.  In short, it’s a great activity for deeper thinking and learning!

Parents will note that this curriculum is designed for students in grades 3-12.  Younger students probably won’t (and shouldn’t) progress at the speed we did.  However, since this was a grammar review plus a new activity for Jackson, an older student, we were able to move faster than perhaps the average younger student would.  In any case, it has been a fantastic activity and one that I know we’ll continue and benefit from.

 

Where can you purchase Sentence Diagramming: Beginning?

The The Critical Thinking Co.™ website has Sentence Diagramming: Beginning available as well as many other excellent physical, digital, and software resources.  In fact, other Crew members reviewed quite a variety of these great educational products!  Here’s just a short listing of some that my Crewmates reviewed, with their links.  (You can also click on the banner below to read more about their experiences with the The Critical Thinking Co.™ products.)  Just follow those links to check them out:

Language Arts {The Critical Thinking Co.™}

You can also visit The Critical Thinking Co.™ at their social media sites:

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/pages/The-Critical-Thinking-Co/46128092293
Google+: https://plus.google.com/114500823774999703181
Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/source/criticalthinking.com/

Enjoy!  –Wren

 

Language Arts {The Critical Thinking Co.™}Crew Disclaimer

Homeschool Legacy’s “Cooking Up History with the Founding Presidents” ~ A Review

hl-president-cooking

Recently we received a fascinating fun digital unit study to review from Homeschool Legacy for the Homeschool Review Crew:  Cooking Up History with the Founding Presidents.  We’ve used curricula from Homeschool Legacy before and enjoyed it thoroughly.  This time was no exception, as we were introduced to this new curriculum from their Once-a-Week Micro-Studies collection!

Once-a-Week Studies {Homeschool Legacy}

What is Homeschool Legacy?

Homeschool Legacy is an incredible company which produces homeschool curricula in the form of unit studies.  These can be Once-a-Week Unit Studies or Once-a-Week Micro-Studies, depending on their length.  They take homeschoolers through fascinating subject matter all on one topic through reading, writing, creating art, or fun activities both indoor and outdoor.  Both American Heritage Girls and Boy Scouts can use these programs for badge earning, as well.  And Homeschool Legacy desires to do all this to the glory of God–which is a lovely perspective and worldview to write from!  Author Sharon Gibson creates enjoyable and fascinating accounts of history, science, holidays, and other subjects which homeschoolers will love learning about.

 

hl-pres-cook-1What is Cooking Up History with the Founding Presidents?

Cooking Up History with the Founding Presidents is one of Homeschool Legacy’s Once-a-Week Micro-Studies.  This means that it is a condensed form of a unit study that you can do (in this case), once weekly for a month to complete the curriculum.  Generally, Homeschool Legacy recommends that this study be formatted in three 30-minute assignments which will include reading the study itself, checking out recommended links on the Internet with more history on the presidents, using additional picture or chapter books, and cooking.  It is designed to be used by students in grades 1-8.

So whom will your children meet and get to know more fully in this study?

  • George and Martha Washington
  • John and Abigail Adams
  • Thomas Jefferson
  • James and Dolley Madison

hl-pres-cook-5Each of the four sections starts with basic history about each president, such as birth and death dates, occupation/college attended/religion/political party, and when each one served as president.  Links to each president’s favorite recipe, coloring pages, and facts about their accomplishments or struggles are included.  (As always, I recommend that parents and children visit these links together, just because the Internet can change in a heartbeat!)  There are also links to history videos which children will always love watching (talk about painless learning!).  Sharon Gibson also has sections on First Ladies, where we get to meet Martha, Abigail, and Dolley (but not on Jefferson’s First Lady, as he was a widower).  We also learn about language (changes in it during this time, plus what was added during the various presidencies) and get to read or hear pivotal speeches given by these men.  There are also recommended biographies you can read to your children (or for yourself) to learn more about these famous couples and leaders.

 

 

hl-pres-cook-2How we used it

We were sent a link to Cooking Up History with the Founding Presidents and saved it in two places; first, on our computer, which enabled us to print the curriculum ourselves; and second, to my Kindle Fire.  The Kindle Fire document of the study worked well for me as the teacher; I could pull it up easily to prepare lessons or for our read-alouds.  However, the Internet links included with the study didn’t work on my Kindle, and we had to link to the various history sites and the recipes via our computer.  We used most of the materials online, but I did print the recipes just because I like having those with us in the kitchen when we cook.

We enjoy working on history lessons together.  So for each president, I read aloud from the study’s text.  We visited websites to learn more, and dipped into other presidential biographies to deepen our understanding.  These were all great learning activities.  But I must admit that cooking together, and eating the results of our kitchen “labor,” were the most fun of all!  We made Abigail Adams’ apple pandowdy (which, I admit, I had to do more research on before I understood the whole plan for the pie crust); Jefferson’s macaroni & cheese; and Washington’s cherry pie.  (Sadly, we didn’t make either Dolley Madison’s oyster-flavored ice cream (ick!) or Jefferson’s vanilla ice cream.  We don’t have an ice cream machine.  But we did enjoy vanilla ice cream with our other desserts!)

 

hl-pres-cook-4Our impressions

I am always delighted with Homeschool Legacy products, and this time was no exception.  We are studying American history currently, so a micro-study on four of America’s Founding Fathers, and their lives (and favorite dishes) was truly enjoyable.  And adding to what we learned from the study and from books with cooking together was a delight!  This provided a rich and incredible learning experience to our regular history textbooks.  It really made those early days of America come alive!

This is one of the hallmarks, to me, of Homeschool Legacy and their unit studies.  Learning should not be dull and boring, yet the way some textbooks or materials present it, it can be a snore-worthy experience.  That is never the case with Homeschool Legacy, though.  Their unit studies are bright, lively, full of great information presented in both a user-friendly and interesting way.  We’ve always loved their products; and we especially loved Cooking Up History with the Founding Presidents.  Fascinating and fun–plus delicious food to eat!

 

hl-pres-cook-7Finally…

Definitely visit Homeschool Legacy and check out their amazing curricula!  Other Crew members reviewed a variety of products from Homeschool Legacy, including:

Just click on the banner below, and you can visit my Crewmates’ blogs and discover what they thought about these!  All of these, plus Cooking Up History with the Founding Presidents, can be purchased through those links at Homeschool Legacy.

Enjoy!  –Wren

 

Once-a-Week Studies {Homeschool Legacy}Crew Disclaimer

Learning Calligraphy with “Perfect Reading, Beautiful Handwriting” ~ My Experiences And Review

If there were ever a language arts curriculum that could be described as multi-purpose, it would be Everyday Education, LLC‘s Perfect Reading, Beautiful Handwriting.  I have just had the great pleasure of reviewing this program in its digital version for the Homeschool Review Crew.  With it, I’ve been able to progress on a goal I’ve had for years; learning and perhaps more importantly, being able to successfully write in calligraphy italic!

 

everyday-ed-bannerWhat is Perfect Reading, Beautiful Handwriting?

Perfect Reading, Beautiful Handwriting is a program which can be used to teach children to read and to write.  It’s available in printed form, as an ebook, or in a combined form of print and ebook.  In 60 days, you can teach your children to read using this program!  And, as your children are learning to read with this resource, you’ll also be teaching them to write beautifully.  Because it’s based on phonics, even children as young as 4 or 5 can learn to read with their parents.  Or, if your older child needs some extra help with reading, Perfect Reading, Beautiful Handwriting can strengthen his ability to utilize phonics and read more effectively.  This program can also not only teach children to write for the first time, but to learn to write more legibly or beautifully.  Or, as in my own case, it’s great for adults who wish to improve their handwriting by learning italic calligraphy.

The writing program starts with single italic letters written in a vertical format; then, progresses to writing in a slanted format; and lastly, to writing with the letters connected to one another.  If you’d like to see an actual lesson, you can download a PDF of lesson 31 from Everyday Education, LLC’s web page Perfect Reading, Beautiful Handwriting.  Just click on that link and scroll down until you see the red download link, and you can see, download, and practice it for yourself.

 

 

everyday-ed-1How I used Perfect Reading, Beautiful Handwriting

We are years past our times of learning to read in our homeschool.  However, when I discovered that Perfect Reading, Beautiful Handwriting could also be used as a calligraphy learning program, I was thrilled!

Since we received a digital version of this program, I saved it to my computer and printed the first 59 pages (of 218) to start with, which I  placed in a folder. The handwriting program begins with italic handwriting written vertically, and starts with the vowels.  Because children are able to learn best when they look at what they’re writing, author Caroline Joy Adams provides examples of each letter at the top of each page, along with lines for handwriting practice.  This isn’t only helpful for children, though; it really enabled me to be able to form the italic letters!

I worked on one page at a time.  I used either a gel pen or a fine point Sharpie to practice my letters.  First, I’d trace the example letters in both upper case and lower case.  Then, I repeated those letters on the lines below.  Next, I’d continue to practice the letters on a separate blank sheet of handwriting paper (included in the ebook).  In addition to the first learning pages, which have generally two letters and several practice lines on each one, there are reference pages with the entire alphabet.  Later on there are pages with printed words to copy and practice, and sentences as well.  There are just a lot of practice pages for every level of the program.

 

 

everyday-ed-2What I thought about this program

This is the second time that I have tried calligraphy.  I bought a book years ago and tried to follow its directions.  But, I really never felt that I “got” its instruction well enough to feel that I was writing the letters beautifully or correctly.

This time—it has been completely different.  Caroline Joy Adams’ program is extremely simple and easy-to-follow…with almost immediate results!

I found the writing font fairly easy to master.  The most difficult letter was the letter A, which was the first one I attempted.  I don’t think it was difficult because the letter was challenging, but because it was teaching me the new method of writing and the new font.  Unlike normal writing, when I (as a right-hander) slant the paper to the left, I wrote on the paper as it was placed vertically on my writing surface (so that it was straight up and down, not slanted).

I haven’t mastered the entire alphabet yet.  I still require practice to shape the letters the same way each time I write them.  (I have, after all, been printing differently for many years!)  But once I have, the curriculum provides pages with actual letters and sentences, so that I may continue to improve and write more naturally.  Eventually, I’ll be able to progress to writing slanted letters, and then to connected italic letters (which will look more like cursive).

Although I haven’t always been a fan of printables in the past, I loved having Perfect Reading, Beautiful Handwriting in digital form.  That way, I was always able to print additional practice pages when I needed a little more help on a letter.

I have found the entire process so enjoyable.  I love the font, I enjoy writing the letters, and I love that, as I continue to practice, I’ll gain the ability to write beautifully in calligraphy!  It’s also fun to have something to practice on during homeschool while my son works on his handwriting.

 

everyday-ed-3Where you can find Perfect Reading, Beautiful Handwriting

You may purchase Perfect Reading, Beautiful Handwriting from Everyday Education, LLC.  It’s very reasonably priced at $29.  I recommend it most definitely for anyone who’s interested in learning beautiful handwriting!  Other Crew members reviewed other curricula from Everyday Education, LLC, and you can read about their experiences by clicking on the banner below.  You may also visit Everyday Education, LLC at their social media sites:

Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/janicecampbell/
FB page: https://www.facebook.com/excellenceinlit/
LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/janicepcampbell
Google+: https://plus.google.com/u/0/+JaniceCampbell
Twitter: https://twitter.com/everydayedu

 

Beautiful Handwriting, Literature and Poetry {Everyday Education, LLC}Crew Disclaimer

“Getting Started With French” ~ A Review

Are you thinking of studying a foreign language in your homeschool?  If so, I have a wonderful resource for you–Armfield Academic PressGetting Started With French!  We received a copy of this book to review via the Homeschool Review Crew.

getting-started-french-banner

What is Getting Started With French?

Getting Started With French, authored by William E. Linney and Brandon Simpson, is a beginning language learning textbook especially written for homeschooled students.  In fact, its subtitle is “Beginning French for Homeschoolers and Self-Taught Students of Any Age.”  It’s ideal for homeschoolers or those who are learning French for the very first time for many reasons.  It’s extremely affordable ($21.95 at Amazon); it is incredibly easy to use even if the user is unfamiliar with French; it’s divided into clear, simple lessons; and it has an audio component.

Getting Started With French is composed of a softcover book and accompanying free audio downloads from Getting Started With French.  The book contains lessons 1 through 172; an answer key in the back for the lessons’ exercises; a pronunciation guide; a glossary; and an index.  The audio downloads can be retrieved two ways; either by downloading zip files to your computer or by simply accessing each lesson’s pronunciation file via the website.

The lessons start very simply; with new French words and their correct pronunciation, and then each subsequent lesson builds on the ones before it.  The audio files use a native French speaker from Paris to pronounce each word or phrase for the student.  So first, the student reads the lesson in the book and learns a little about new vocabulary or pronunciation rules in French.  Then, he can listen to the audio file and practice his own pronunciation.  Last, he’ll (usually) do written work.

The authors also include fun Expressions Françaises (French expressions) here and there; familiar French phrases that even English speakers would know, along with the stories behind those phrases.  They are fun pieces of trivia especially created for French students.

 

 

getting-started-french-picture-1How I used it

My son is preparing to resume studies of another foreign language and was concerned about learning two very different languages at once.  So this time, I was the person who got to use the curriculum!  I’ve always enjoyed French (whether it’s the food, the fashions, the country’s beautiful architecture, or the language itself), but it has been years and years since I studied it in high school and college.  I really looked forward to picking it up again.

To begin, I selected a composition notebook to use for the written portion of each lesson.  I downloaded the audio zip files from the Downloads tab of Getting Started With French (there are both pronunciation files and author commentary for each lesson; this is like having a French teacher right in your own homeschool) to our PC.  However, because our PC sits in one area of our dining room I often work elsewhere with audio or video files using my Kindle Fire, just because I can be anywhere in the home (or away, if there’s wi-fi) to do it.  So I simply used the audio files straight from the website almost all of the time as I studied.  This worked perfectly.  I followed the lessons as they are presented in the book; first, I’d read the first few paragraphs, then I’d listen to and repeat aloud the audio vocabulary, then I’d write the exercises from the book in my composition notebook.

The lessons are very simple and easy, yet profound at the same time.  Who could have imagined that with only a softcover textbook and audio files, a French class focusing on grammar, pronunciation rules, vocabulary AND correct voicing of the French language could be achieved?  And yet that’s exactly what Getting Started With French has done.  The authors recommend that a student study one lesson per day, rather than clumping together many lessons at once.  There might be the temptation to do that just because the lessons are on the shorter side.  However, true learning will occur much more effectively and smoothly if students learn just a little at a time and learn it well.  Then, each following lesson will build on the ones before.

 

getting-started-french-picture-2My impressions

Personally, I found Getting Started With French incredibly enjoyable.  I loved using it!  It was truly wonderful to get back into French language study, and even though I have a busy day nearly every day of my life, I was able to fit in study times with no trouble.  (And because of the audio access via my Kindle, I could do it in any room of the house!)  I did remember a good portion of French vocabulary and grammar rules, but what I appreciated most was the fact that the audio files modeled for me the correct pronunciation.  Since my college years, I spent several years studying and speaking (well, attempting to speak) Russian and, as you can imagine, the pronunciation and even the placement inside the mouth of voicing different vowels, vowel combinations, or vowels with consonants was dramatically different.  And yes, every single student benefits from hearing words spoken by native speakers.  But in my case, I found that I had to retrain my palate (so to speak) from Russian pronunciation to French.  Thanks to the audio files, this was easily accomplished (although honestly, it’s still a work in progress as I haven’t completed the entire course yet!).

One thing that a person can find challenging when learning a foreign language is putting grammar together with vocabulary.  Why would a French speaker say or write  “l’orange” instead of “la orange,” for example?  What does the cédille do to the French pronunciation rule of a “C,” or “ç” in a word?  All these questions, and many more, are explained little by little to students.  I really appreciate the way the authors don’t separate grammar lessons from everything else (which I think makes language-learning very challenging), but place them in context by weaving them into lessons where the students are also working on pronunciation and building a vocabulary.

I would definitely recommend Getting Started With French for any student (child or adult) who’d like to begin to learn this beautiful language…and also for any homeschool parent!  Even if there is no French experience or ability whatsoever in the home, authors Linney and Simpson have created lessons which are incredibly easy for both the teacher and the student to apprehend, and just as important, to truly progress with.  Getting Started With French provides a fantastic foundation for further language study by its excellent pronunciation, conversation, translation, and vocabulary/grammar lessons.

 

getting-started-french-picture-1Other resources from Armfield Academic Press

Armfield Academic Press also has other fantastic introductory language learning books available; Getting Started With Spanish and Getting Started With Latin.  They’re also planning to publish Getting Started With Russian soon.  Although I’m really enjoying studying French again, I must admit that there are foundations that I missed when I studied Russian the first time.  I was actually living in Russia and studying Russian at a university there with a native Russian speaker; and she was fantastic.  However, because it was more of an immersion experience, I missed some basic yet crucial grammar and pronunciation information (like how exactly to form my mouth around “ы” or managing the dipthong “лю.”)  I feel completely confident, based on using Getting Started With French, that Mr. Linney will be more than capable of unlocking the secrets of the Russian language to me….at last!  (When Getting Started With Russian is published, that is!)

Finally….

If you’re or your child are interested in studying French, do check out Armfield Academic PressGetting Started With French.  It is affordable, understandable, and so user-friendly.  I truly loved it, and am looking forward to more from Armfield Academic Press!

You can visit Armfield Academic Press‘ Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/ArmfieldAcademicPress/.

Enjoy! –Wren

Introducing Getting Started with French {Armfield Academic Press}

Crew Disclaimer

Patriotic Penmanship from Laurelwood Books ~ A TOS Review

We’ve been introduced recently to a unique company, Laurelwood Books, which produces and sells some beautiful materials for homeschoolers.  Through the Schoolhouse Review Crew, we received their cursive handwriting program, Patriotic Penmanship, to use and review.  In particular, we used their Patriotic Penmanship High School: Grades 9-12 book.

Patriotic Penmanship banner

What is Laurelwood Books?

Laurelwood Books is a company which provides, as their tagline reads, “homeschooling books, help and advice.”  In their shop, you can find everything from curricula of all sorts (science, math, language arts and more), to excellent books, CDs, DVDs, and other material interesting to the homeschooler!  These range from time-honored classics to newer publications.  (I have to tell you that one of their current specials pictured on their website is a Nancy Drew novel that I owned as a grade schooler, years ago!)  Crew reviewers received one of a great variety of curricula to review, including Latin readers and workbooks, penmanship books, and books for state study.

 

Patriotic Pen 1Patriotic Penmanship, our review item

Author Mary Ellen Tedrow of Laurelwood Books has created a penmanship curriculum with books for every grade level from 1st grade through 12th.  The series is entitled Patriotic Penmanship, and it’s composed of books featuring noble and inspirational quotes about America, faith, and life for students’ handwriting practice.  The softcover books (which are consumable, for one student’s use) teach manuscript printing in grades 1 and 2.  Grades 3-6 (which also have one book per grade) continue student work in cursive.  The last two books in the series are one book each for Junior High (grades 7-8) and High School (grades 9-12), both continuing cursive work.

We received the Patriotic Penmanship High School: Grades 9-12 book.  It is an 8 1/2″ x 11″ softcover book with a laminated cover.  The inside pages are white (and smooth), and since it’s a consumable cursive handwriting book all the work is done in this.  You will need one book for each child.  (No other materials are required.)  Mary Ellen’s instructions for the parent are short and sweet:  each week, start by reading the entire quote to your child.  Then, assign to him the amount of work that he can capably complete each day.  Her lovely reminder to give grace to your children as they write, allowing them some creativity, is really appreciated in our house!

PatPen 2There are 30 lessons total in the Patriotic Penmanship High School: Grades 9-12 book, plus a couple of pages of alphabet practice at the beginning.  This makes it perfect to use for one year’s work in handwriting/penmanship.  Each week’s lesson begins with a quote; each one is either from a historical figure from America’s (or world) history, a Scripture passage, or from influential Christian men and women.  You’ll find wonderful words which encourage, inspire, and uplift, from sources like:

  • the Declaration of Independence
  • Wernher von Braun
  • Benjamin Franklin
  • Harriet Beecher Stowe
  • Martin Luther King, Jr.
  • Abraham Lincoln
  • and more!

These beautiful words from Scripture, from poetry, and from landmark speeches will be not only excellent for penmanship practice, but for the heart and mind of the student as well.

After you read the quote to the student, he’ll begin the Tracing and Writing Practice.  Each quote has two lines on which handwriting is practiced: first, a line where the words are printed in dotted format, where the student traces over them.  Following that is a blank line where he’ll rewrite the words he just traced.  When he has completed this section, he’ll move on to the Full Quote, designed so that the entire quote is written on the blank lines given.  Then that’s the end of that week’s lesson!

 

PatPen 3How we used this:

Since we’re working on this during the summer, which is more of a “homeschooling lite” time for us, we didn’t complete 5 days in a row of penmanship work (as directed in the note to teachers), but more of a 3-day schedule.  Otherwise, we basically followed the plan set out by the author.  Jackson, who just completed 8th grade, started with the alphabet practice.  Then, we moved on to other quotes in the book.  He’d generally complete about 3 lines of a quote per lesson, which works out to six lines of handwriting, since the quotes start with tracing and follow that with the freehand writing.

I LOVE the quotes that Mary Ellen has used in this book.  They are truly words that will lift the spirits of anyone who reads them.  I like her encouragement to assign to your children just what they’re capable of completing in a day.  However, it did take us a bit of time to get used to this new format.  Jackson hasn’t done tracing in his handwriting practice in quite awhile, and I think this can overwhelm a student IF you don’t follow Mary Ellen’s recommendation, since at the beginning of each lesson the quotes are first traced, then rewritten on a new line.  I think it just looked like a lot to him at first.  But he did ease into the new format.

When I applied for this review, I wasn’t really sure if I should have asked for the Junior High book or the High School one.  Since my son officially starts 9th grade in the fall, I decided to ask for the High School book.  And the first thing we noticed when we opened the book was that the lines (which are the standard handwriting lines, with a top and bottom unbroken line, and a midpoint dotted line) were really small!  The pages he worked on during middle school were quite a bit larger and had much more space for writing.  However, I do think that this was a change we’d eventually have made in the fall anyway, so it wasn’t a bad thing; just something new for us.

Our recommendations:

I haven’t really seen a lot of handwriting/penmanship books for high school students.  However, I had already planned for Jackson to continue to work on this subject, even if it was solely from using copywork pages.  I really do believe that handwriting practice accomplishes important work in students’ brains.  Plus, even if our culture continues to become more tech-focused and most people communicate electronically, there is still importance and blessing that can be communicated via the handwritten word.  Don’t you still love getting a handwritten note from a friend or family member?

Patriotic Penmanship High School: Grades 9-12 book offers homeschoolers an uplifting and quality way to practice their handwriting as they are being exposed to beautiful words.  Wouldn’t this also be a fantastic adjunct to an American history study?  I can recommend this curriculum for any mother who’s seeking a handwriting program for her high school homeschool students.  It’s a concise and lovely way for students to work on their penmanship!

You can visit Laurelwood Books to purchase Patriotic Penmanship.  You can also click the banner below, to read more about other curricula my fellow Crewmates reviewed!

Enjoy!  –Wren

You can visit Laurelwood Books at these social media spots:

Their website, Laurelwood Books
Or via email, at marylnw7@gmail.com

 

 

Latin and Penmanship {Laurelwood Books Review}Crew Disclaimer

Notebooking Pages ~ Our Most Excellent Experiences & Review

Through the Schoolhouse Review Crew, Jackson and I have found an excellent new way to reinforce what he’s learning via books, textbooks, experiments, and many other school experiences.  We were SO fortunate to receive a Notebooking Pages Lifetime Membership from NotebookingPages.com.  I have been really pleased with our experiences.  And I can tell you, this is a product we will be using during all our remaining years of homeschooling!

 

notbooking-pages-bannerWhat is notebooking, anyway?

“Notebooking” is simply journaling what you are learning, or what you have learned.  It can be anything from writing down the key points of a read-aloud’s chapter, to noting historical events and timing, to recording the experiences of  a field trip, to scientific principles, and more.  Anything that a child can recount that he’s learning, can become a notebooking exercise.  British educator Charlotte Mason espoused this as a key method of learning for children, and you’ll find it used by many homeschooling families today.

 

notebookingpages-com-logoWhat is NotebookingPages.com?

NotebookingPages.com creator Debra L. Reed, who’s also a homeschooling mother of 10, wanted her children to really learn what she was teaching them, and internalize those things for a lifetime, not just for the test (as many of us might have done during our own school careers!).  She also wanted to bring freedom to homeschooling mamas and families, and her NotebookingPages.com has done just that!  She has created an enormous plethora of pages for all kinds of subjects that students will encounter during their formal education.  In addition, she has teaching videos (as well as videos that tell the story of how and why NotebookingPages.com was born), and many different helps for the homeschooling parent.

 

 

NotebPg 1What you’ll find in the Notebooking Pages Lifetime Membership:

If you’ve never used notebooking pages before, never fear!  Debra L. Reed has created an “Easy Start Guide” that takes the user step-by-step through an effective beginning (including videos, creating notebooks for both mama and student(s), and more).  Even if this method of learning is completely new to you, you’ll be equipped to start out simply by following this guide.

But of course, the Lifetime Membership doesn’t stop there!  Next, you’ll find what I (and probably you would as well!) find most exciting:  the “Membership Downloads.”  Also known as all the pages for all the subjects you want to teach, for students in grades K-12!  Here’s a listing of the categories:

  • Any Study (blank lines with clip art, attractive borders, and so on, for any subject)
  • A-Z (alphabet copy pages of many kinds for beginning students)
  • Bible and Character Study
  • Famous People (historical figures like First Ladies, missionaries, explorers, artists, etc.)
  • Fine Arts (including picture study, artists, composers)
  • Geography (continents, U.S., etc.)
  • History (from ancient times on, with timelines/century books)
  • Holidays
  • Language Arts (with a variety of copywork pages and even some Latin and Greek word study)
  • Science/Nature

Each of these comes in files which can be downloaded onto your home computer, and printed from there.  Or you could, of course, put them on a flash drive and take them to a copy center, if you’re unable to print at home.  The Lifetime Membership enables the user to access everything on the website for generations to come, whether they’re current products or future ones that are still being added.  There is no time limit on the Lifetime Membership!

 

 

Notbk 4How we used these pages:

We used our notebooking pages the most during this review period, on science work.  (For some reason, our schedule has been science-heavy the last few months!)  First, we worked on an upper middle school Life Science study.  It was extremely well-written.  Yet for some reason, it didn’t work well for us as a read-aloud and my son had a hard time concentrating on it when he read it himself.  I think that it was just so chock-full of information that it was a little too much for his brain to absorb.  NotebookingPages.com to the rescue!  I printed out some pages with colorful borders from the “Any Study” section.  These pages have lines for writing and boxes for writing lists or drawing diagrams.  This made THE difference for us, taking our study from a good curriculum that was a bit difficult for us to work with, to making a challenging subject completely understandable.  I wrote questions, fill-in-the-blanks, and words to define (as well as diagrams to reproduce), and Jackson used these alongside his book as he read.  What a difference!  Plus, he was creating his own study sheets as he worked on these pages.  Win-win!

 

Notbkg 3We used the notebooking pages with two other science programs as well, both heavy on experiments.  With one of them, Jackson drew diagrams of the circuits he built and then wrote explanations of what they did, and the components he used to build them.  With the other, which dealt with physics experiments, he defined words and explained the principles he discovered as he worked the experiments.  For these, we printed out pages from the Science/Nature section of NotebookingPages.com; they’re black and white with a “Science” header.

NotbPgs 2Since it’s summer, we have had the opportunity to use some of the notebooking pages we might not have gotten to during a regular September-May school year.  Recently, our family took a vacation to Texas and New Mexico.  So we printed the USA State Study Sets (there’s one for each of the 50 states, plus Washington, D.C.) from the Geography section, specifically for Texas.  The pages we used had spaces for state information (date of statehood, bird, motto, etc.) plus blank pages where you could fill out information on things you did or places you went.  They were just fabulous pages (okay, I am from Texas myself, so I admit I might have had a slight bias here) and so interesting for Jackson to fill out.

Notbkg 5The second set of pages we used on our vacation were also from the Geography section, from the USA National Monuments segment.  We visited Capulin Volcano National Monument, and NotebookingPages.com has pages just for that!  So before we left on our trip, I printed those pages.  They included blank lines and a box to fill in (Jackson did a map of the hiking trails at the monument there), as well as photos of the dormant volcano and a U.S. map for marking its location.  I loved the way having a record of our trip made it even more memorable, and visual.

I have to admit to you that I am not generally a fan of printables.  I just find it, sometimes, so unhelpful to have to print things at home.  Plus our printer sometimes runs through ink VERY quickly.  That has not been the case with my NotebookingPages.com membership, though.  It is so easy to download and to print.  I don’t really even have to think about it!

 

Notbkg 6Our recommendations:

Do you want to ensure that your children are really learning the things they are studying?  Do you want to teach them good memory techniques, great note-taking skills, and build in them scholastic habits that will serve them well for a lifetime?  And do you want to help them to really become lifelong learners?

If the answer to any of these questions is “Yes!”, then I believe that NotebookingPages.com is something that you’ll not only enjoy, but that your child will greatly benefit from.  For us, it has been an incredible gift, and just what we need for a student who’s beginning his high school years.  (Although younger students will certainly find these notebooking pages both amazing, enjoyable, and useful as well!)

Jackson, who’s just finished the 8th grade and will be starting 9th grade in the fall, LOVES the notebooking pages he has used.  He felt that they were enjoyable to use, but also that they really helped him in the learning and studying processes.  Each and every time we used them, he was happy to do the schoolwork!

And finally….

You can purchase the amazing Notebooking Pages Lifetime Membership from NotebookingPages.com.  It really is the most incredible resource.  I know we’ll find many other ways to use it in our homeschool, in nearly every subject (if not all of them)!

You can visit NotebookingPages.com at the following social media links:

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/debrareed.notebookingpages/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/NotebookingPgs @NotebookingPgs

Enjoy!  –Wren

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LearnBop for Families ~ The Online Math Tutor You’ve Been Looking For

Have you been looking for ways your children can keep their math skills up, over the summer months?  We found the perfect solution for this potential problem when we were offered LearnBop‘s LearnBop for Families to use and review via the Schoolhouse Review Crew.  It has been a great experience for us (which is saying something, when a love-hate relationship with math lives in your household!)  We received a prepaid version (12 month subscription) for the Single Student Plan (although there is also a Family Plan available for up to 4 students).  It’s completely digital and online, and students watch, answer, and learn via the website.

LearnBop Banner

What is LearnBop for Families?

LearnBop itself is a program which teaches math and gives additional instruction on concepts students miss or don’t understand….all online.  LearnBop has been used in schools for some time.  They developed their new program, LearnBop for Families, for students to use at home.  It’s designed for students in grades 3-12 (although younger students have also used it successfully).

And how does LearnBop for Families work?  It organizes math concepts into learning plans called Learning Roadmaps, which contain thorough lessons on them.  There might be anywhere from 11-13, or more, plans or units in each grade level or roadmap.  And each of those has a number of lessons in it.  Students watch videos, answer questions, and are given additional problems.

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Here is where things get interesting.  In each roadmap, students begin by completing a Warmup.  This warmup presents a number of different questions that illustrate the math concepts that will be taught in the particular unit.  The student works through the questions and the problems and enters his answers.  Then, based on how well he scores on the warmup questions, the website calculates his understanding of the concepts.  And fabulously, it develops a plan of study, called Building Blocks, for the student!  The Building Blocks provide teaching videos on each concept that needs to be mastered.  After the student watches the teaching videos, he can either watch additional videos on the concepts or proceed to the Bops, where he’s given problems to work so that he can show mastery of those concepts.  Once he has completed the Bops (math problems) with a 90% success rate, he can move on to the next Roadmap, which starts the entire process again.

 

LearnBop 2How we used it

My son will be entering high school in the fall as a ninth grader, and I thought that spending time with LearnBop over the summer reviewing the math concepts of his middle school years would be a great way to prepare him for the Algebra I class he’ll begin in September.  So we used a Roadmap that started with graphing along the x and y axes, introductory algebraic concepts with variables, and geometry.

We have used some different curricula over Jackson’s middle school years, and another reason I wanted to use LearnBop for review is because I wanted to ensure that he’d covered everything in those various curricula that he’d need to be successful in math during his high school years.  So as he worked through the roadmaps, I sat nearby so that I could make sure that the program itself worked and so that I could see what he was covering in each roadmap.  This ended up being a great plan for us, because we had a lot of conversations about why the math processes worked as they did.  And while I can’t say this about every math curricula we’ve used over the years, I LOVE LearnBop as a tutoring program!

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The videos teach the math concepts VERY calmly and clearly.  While students do need to watch additional teaching videos if they miss problems, my son never felt like that was a punishment.  (And he is not really a math fan.)  There is enough repetition in the problems that the student can really grasp the concepts by exposure and experience.  I did feel that the math seemed just a bit above what I’d have thought was grade level.  However, that was never a problem for us.  We’d just slowly and carefully work through each problem (sometimes with math, the student’s challenges are not that he can’t do the math, but that he’s working through it so quickly that he misses something) until understanding was reached and mastery demonstrated by the Roadmap.

The program also has some nice kudos for the student, in the form of badges and accomplishments that are displayed on the bottom of their pages.  In addition, the Single Student Plan that we used allowed us to have a student account and a parent’s account.  So if I needed a personal refresher in a math concept Jackson was working on, I could create a Roadmap in my own account and work the problems through that.  The parent’s account works in just the same way as the student’s, with Warmups, teaching videos, and Building Blocks problems.  (I admit that I’ve forgotten more upper-level algebra than I thought I had!)

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I really appreciated that we were able to work through a number of different grade levels via LearnBop.  I know that we have covered some of these topics but it has been awhile; and they’re all concepts that will be vital for Jackson to clearly remember and understand as he enters high school.  It has been a great learning experience that he’s been able to do with little anxiety (other than he’d really rather not be working on his least favorite subject during the summer months).  But from the mom’s point of view, it’s as stress-free as it could be.  Plus, it’s thorough!

 

LearnBop 5Our conclusions

I am a fan of LearnBop for Families.  It came along for us at a time when we really needed some excellent math reviewing time.  The lessons are easy to use, the video teaching is clearly presented, and the resulting and necessary problems provided for students really enable them to practice and improve on their math skills.

During our review time, we only experienced one issue in the program when it wouldn’t allow Jackson’s entered answers to be taken so that he could progress in the lesson.  This only happened yesterday, but we submitted a help request and should be hearing back any time.

Other Crew members reviewed different age levels offered by LearnBop.  If you’d like to hear more about their experiences, click on the banner below, which will provide links for other homeschoolers’ reviews.  You may purchase subscriptions for LearnBop for Families on a subscription plan (month-by-month) or a prepaid (yearly) basis at LearnBop.  If you’re in need of some math tutoring for your own students, this may be just what you’re looking for!

You can visit LearnBop and learn more at these social media sites:

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/LearnBop
Twitter: https://twitter.com/LearnBop @LearnBop

 

Enjoy! –Wren

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