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.

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Your Chance to Win An Amazing Mom’s Back-to-School Goody Bag from FINCHNWREN and Bridgeway Academy! (Valued at over $120)

I am absolutely thrilled to bring you my newest giveaway, courtesy of FINCHNWREN and the fabulous Bridgeway Academy.  Read on to learn more and enter to win this amazing Mom’s Back-to-School Goody Bag!  (Look below for a complete listing of everything one winner will receive!)

 

 

This year, my son Jackson begins his sophomore year in high school.  Since he’s a 10th grader this year, we had already planned for him to take biology plus a biology lab in order to appropriately prepare him for college.  Imagine our surprise and delight when we were contacted by Bridgeway Academy, who offered us the opportunity for Jackson to take and for me to review one of their online classes; one of which was the Apologia Biology course we were already considering!  I’d like to share more with you about that class and how we’ll all be working together, along with an incredibly generous coupon code that Bridgeway Academy is offering to all FINCHNWREN readers!

 

Why Do We Love Bridgeway Academy?

 

Four years ago, we were selected to review Bridgeway Academy’s Fun with Science:  Marine Biology, an online class designed for elementary and middle school students.  It was exciting, fascinating, and captivating (to both parent AND child!); taught by an experienced certified science teacher; and included unusual projects and assignments for the students in addition to the weekly online web sessions.  “Incredible” sounds like a weak word to describe it…is there such a word as “mega-incredible?”

 

 

Out of the 13 years I have homeschooled Jackson, this 8-week Marine Biology class from Bridgeway Academy remains one of our all-time favorite homeschool experiences.  It was challenging yet approachable; truly fascinating not only in the online class time but in each week’s individual assignment; and so enjoyable while Jackson was rapidly absorbing a marine science education.  It became the standard for the way we measured many of our homeschool classes (not only the science ones!).  There has never been anything else quite like it.

 

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.  Classes are offered for students in preschool or kindergarten all the way through 12th grade, and over 25,000 students have participated in Bridgeway Academy classes from 1989 on.  And 83% of Bridgeway Academy students proceed to their first choice college!

 

 

Courses are available in a myriad of subjects, from math and art, to science and geography, language arts, reading, literature, and social studies; and that’s without even delving into electives (like business, life skills, health, humanities, and more!).  Suffice it to say that a parent could enroll students in an entire homeschool class schedule covering everything necessary for one year’s education in K-12, or simply choose one or a few courses to round out what’s already being taught at home.  Regardless of the homeschool path chosen, parents can be certain that their students will experience excellence in the classes they take.

 

Bridgeway Academy’s High School 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 Apologia Biology textbook, along with Bridgeway Academy’s own Biology Lab Kit, and the course provides 1.5 credits upon completion.  It will be taught online by a Bridgeway Academy instructor, and meets weekly starting in early September and continues (with a break in December/early January) through May, when the class concludes.

 

Both Jackson and I are so excited about this incredible opportunity.  He has always been interested in science and our own worldview aligns beautifully with Apologia’s, so we’re really happy about the textbook choice.  I am interested in science myself, but it is not my greatest area of strength, so I am pleased to have the chance for Jackson to be taught by an expert in the field as he studies high school biology.  Plus, our experience with Bridgeway Academy has been so exceptional that we believe this will be another amazing year!

 

From Bridgeway Academy, a generous coupon you can use

 

Bridgeway Academy has a wonderful offer for you.  They are providing a coupon code for 20% off one (or even more than one!) Bridgeway Academy Learning Lab course of any kind.  The courses can be trimester, semester, or a full year in length.  (The coupon does not apply to lab kits or textbook sets, just courses only.)  This coupon expires on August 30, 2017.

 

So, head on over to Bridgeway Academy and use the coupon code FINCH20 to receive 20% off the price of their amazing Live Online courses.  This is their very best offer ever, so don’t miss the chance to take advantage of it!

 

And, now, the Mom’s Back-to-School Goody Bag giveaway for you to enter!

One winner will receive ALL of the following, with a grand total of over $120–tons of fun prizes to help you start off your school year.

  • A Learning Styles Assessment from Bridgeway Academy
  • A Bridgeway Academy Travel Mug
  • A  Bridgeway Academy T-Shirt (size L)
  • A Dinosaur Bulletin Board Set (includes Spanish dino names!)
  • U.S.A. Bingo Game from Trend Enterprises, Inc.
  • Dubble Bubble Journal
  • “Read to SUCCEED!” kids’ bookmark set (classroom pack)
  • Staples Pencil Cap Erasers package
  • Butterfly sticky notes
  • Ladybug Lenticular Stickers
  • Grow in Water Gecko toy
  • Renewing Minds Magnetic Bookmarks (for mom)

Just enter below by clicking the pink “Enter Here!” link.  That will take you to the Giveaway Tools entry form.  Giveaway will close on August 30, 2017 at 11:59PM.  Best wishes!

Enter here!

 

Be sure to visit Bridgeway Academy at their social media sites:

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 be sharing 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.

 

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 prizes for the Mom’s Back-to-School Goody Bag Giveaway were provided by Bridgeway Academy and FINCHNWREN, and will be shipped to the winner by Bridgeway Academy.  Winner will be chosen and will have 48 hours to respond via email with his or her name and physical mailing address.  If the winner does not respond within that time period, the winning entry will be disqualified and a new winner chosen.

 

Enjoy!  –Wren

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.

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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

New Fabulous Music Appreciation for Homeschools: On Sale Thru 8/15/16!

My friend Gena is a talented musician and has taught music for many years in both classrooms and her own homeschool.  Our readers may remember when Jackson and I reviewed her wonderful 21 Lessons in 20th Century American Music last year.  (You can click on the link to see our review.)  Phenomenal, beautiful, and so easy for even non-musical-types to use!

 

$20 of the 2-volume set of 20th Century Music Appreciation this week only at ichoosejoy.org/store

Now, for a limited time (just until Monday, 8/15/16), you can get $20 off that curriculum as well as her newest one, 25 Lessons in 20th Century European and South American Music Appreciation!  We’ll actually be using this new one and sharing our thoughts with you all in mid-September, so keep an eye out.  I’m so looking forward to it though.  Have you ever even SEEN a music appreciation course that teaches about South American music before?  Maybe on the college level, but nowhere else!

Here’s a little more from Gena:

Are there any homeschool moms here who are frustrated that they don’t have the time or means to include music in their homeschools? I’m happy to share that Gena Mayo (of Music in Our Homeschool) has two brand new products for sale this week!

First, let me tell you about the great self-paced online course:

20th Century Music Appreciation for High School

If you have a high schooler who needs a fine arts credit, you’ll want to look into this! Once it’s purchased, it’s yours forever, so all of your kids will be able to use it and get a 1/2 credit during high school. But, it can also be used for Mom to guide her kids through the 36 weekly lessons and even to teach at a homeschool co-op!

This week only, get $30 off the course price! Use coupon code LAUNCHWEEK. Head over to the Music in Our Course site to preview some lessons for free.

20th-Century-Music-Appreciation-Course-for-High-School-Students Pinterest

Second, if you’d prefer an ebook curriculum, you’ll want to check out her new one:

25 Lessons in 20th Century European & South American Music Appreciation

If purchased separately, it’s $10 off this week or get it in a Bundle with the previous volume 21 Lessons in 20th Century American Music Appreciation for $20 off! Use coupon code LAUNCHWEEK.

25-Lessons-Music-Appreciation-Pinterest

What’s included in the ebook?

Learn about these composers and music from Europe and South America during the 20th Century:

  • Puccini
  • Mahler
  • Debussy
  • R. Strauss
  • Sibelius
  • Granados
  • De Falla
  • Vaughn Williams
  • Rachmaninoff
  • Schoenberg, Berg, and Webern
  • Holst
  • Ravel
  • Bartok
  • Stravinsky
  • Kodaly and Orff
  • Villa-Lobos
  • Ginastera
  • Prokofiev
  • The Beatles and other pop groups of the British Invasion
  • Hindemith
  • Khatchaturian
  • Shostakovich
  • Messiaen
  • Britten
  • Andrew Lloyd Webber and other composers of musical theater

All links to listen to their music, as well as notebooking pages, are included.

Remember to use coupon code LAUNCHWEEK to get $10, $20, or $30 off (depending on the product). Sale ends August 15!

Endorsements:

“As a music educator, I appreciate the depth and organization Gena has put into her music curriculum. She provides many interesting facts and resources comparable to my college music history classes for high school students to learn about different composers of 20th Century European and South American music.” –Kathy Gossen of Cornerstone Confessions.

“Gena has done it again! This is a wonderfully comprehensive look at musicians from the 20th century, a great addition to her previous curriculum on American artists. There were so many composers whose music I was familiar with but didn’t know their names or anything else about them. I look forward to teaching this in my homeschool!” –Michelle Habrych, homeschool mom of two teens

(Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links.)

Enjoy!  –Wren