For by grace you have been saved through faith, and this not of yourselves it is the gift of God, not of works, so that no one can boast. Ephesians 2:8-9

Monday, June 27, 2016

MySchoolYear.com - TOS Review

Planning is not my strong point. I love the concept, but not the following through part. I like to lay out what it is that we will be doing for any given year, but the follow- through and the keeping track is another story.

That said I recently was given access to a 1 year subscription to an online planning and recording tool: MySchoolYear.com. They have put out a program called My School Year (Homeschool Record Keeping) to help homeschoolers set and keep track of their school year, as the name suggests.



So what is My School Year and how does it work? My School Year is an online record keeping program is pretty for homeschoolers. It is an online tool that allows you to keep track of what is happening in your homeschool and how the different components of your homeschool are progressing. I found it a pretty simple and straight forward program. if you are a planner at heart, it is not difficult to figure out how the program works. Once you get your login set up, you add the children enrolled in your homeschool. You get to set the school year's beginning and end date, the days of the week you plan on schooling, as well as any day off that you are planning to take.


Then, you set up the classes and lessons for each child enrolled. The process is pretty easy. You choose the subject, when that subject starts and ends, how you want it divided during the school year, and voila! The program even contains a function that allows it to divide the lessons for you according to the amount of day you want it divided into. You also get to set the class time for each subject.

I love the fact that you can put all the subjects in one place, and manually organize the lessons in the way that you want them. The whole plan is also editable so that you change anything if you wish too. You can even share the lesson plans between your students, or copy them.

My School Year also offers you a way to keep track of grades, with an option to customize your grading system. If you are a planner and likes to keep record of what you do in your homeschool, My School Year has you covered. It can track your attendance, how many school days in your year, books you are reading, hours of school completed, lessons, assignments, you name it! My School Year also offers you a way to keep track of rewards, transcripts, report cards, standardized tests. As an added bonus, you can also keep track of the extra-curricular stuff. My only complaint is that it is all online. I wish there were ways to print things up. I am a paper girl, so I wish I could print it and put it in a logbook or something.



If you are a planner and/or just a homeschooler looking for a way to organize your lesson plans so that you've got all your children and all their subjects in one place, My School Year is a program that you will want to check out.

You can visit them on their social media

Facebook:  http://www.facebook.com/MySchoolYearWeb/
Twitter:  https:///www.twitter.com/MySchoolYearWeb  @MySchoolYearWeb
Google+:  https://plus.google.com/+MyschoolyearWeb


Homeschool Record Keeping {MySchoolYear.com Review}













</

Thursday, June 23, 2016

LearnBop - TOS Review


As I mentioned before on this blog, Homeschool curricula abound. One can become very overwhelmed as the plethora of material that are out there for you to chose from. Math is not immune to this abundance of resources, especially online products. Today I am here to talk to you about one of these: LearnBop. When it first came up for review I knew nothing about it. So I had to customize myself to this program. LearnBop is an online Math curriculum that offers a grade 3-12 program called LearnBop for Families. They offer two types of subscriptions, one for 1 student and one for multiple students up to 4. We got the 2-4 student subscription.


I decided to use LearnBop wih both my children (grade 6 and 7). First I had them take the suggested test (called warm up) corresponding to their grade that is supposed to assess where they are at and what learning gaps they need to fix, or as they would refer to it, what building blocks they need to understand before they dive into the next concepts to master on their learning road map. Once they complete the test, they set the lessons and exercises to go through for you, and now all your student has to do is go though them.

Now, the program is very exhaustive. It covers a lot of Math concepts and goes through them quite in details, and step by step. You can at any time change the learning roadmap of the child, either by grade or concept.



Your learning roadmap is divided in units that cover different concepts. So for grade 6, the units were:
  • Rates and Percents
  • Operations and Decimals, Division, and Distributive Property
  • Variables and the Relationship Between Them
  • Positive and Negative Whole Numbers
  • Four Quadrant Coordinate Graphing
  • Equations and Inequalities
  • Area of 2-Dimensional Shapes
  • Volume and Surface Area
  • Analyse and Display Data
  • Expressions With Variables
  • Collecting Data and Studying the Distribution of Data
Within each unit, you also have a list of concepts. This is a sample of what is covered in the 1st unit: Rates and Percents.




The lessons are made up of videos that cover different aspects of the concept, and then followed by exercises for practice. The video are to concise and to the point. The program requires you to do at least 5 problems, called bops, in order to award you an award. Unfortunately I have not figured out how they assign mastery of a concept, since it can show mastery without having completed all 5 bops.

The problems are quite elaborate. If you are not able to solve them, they take you though it step by step by clicking on the ask for help.


Then they take you through a set of 3 steps.

The boys found the process quite tedious. This was not their favorite program to use. Beside the tediousness of it, they thought it was confusing to follow, and sometime glitchy. I had to report an error in one of the question even. I personally had a hard time making sense of some of the ways the questions were framed.

That said, there is a lot of good to be said about this program. As I mentioned earlier it covers A LOT of topics. It is very flexible and adaptable to your needs. It contains a lot of encouragement and incentives. Everywhere in the program you have reminders about your progress. They even have a section dedicated to achievements; it covers your learning achievement and milestones achievements (which records completed units).


One more thing to note about this program is that the parent does have an account where he can access the roadmap for all his/her students that are doing the program.

All in all this is a great Math tutor or help program. It just takes some used to and familiarization. Now that I have a better sense of the program I will definitely have the boys use it as Math help during this coming year.

Check them out on their social media:


LearnBop for Families Review


Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Progeny Press - TOS Review

I am always excited about receiving Language Arts curriculum. One of our latest product for review came from Progeny Press. I got a chance to try out  one of their Middle School Study Guide: Give Me Liberty E-Guide.

                         


Progeny Press offers a great way for kids from Elementary to High School to study literature and work on literary analysis. I used this with my 5th Grader, just entering Middle School. I choose to use the novel Give Me Liberty (gueared towards grade 6-8), because we were just finishing our study of the Revolutionary War in our History. The story is about a slave boy who was taken away from his family and how he had to learn to cope with his new surroundings.

These guides require you to obtain the book and then use the guide, either as a download or on CD.

My son enjoyed reading the book but thought that, after chapter 12, there was too much History, at least to his liking, after chapter 12. He was quite fine with most of the exercises, though Some of it was a bit difficult for him. That said  I think it is because he is a young Middle Schooler, so some of the vocabulary and thinking questions were a by if a stretch for him. I personally like the fact that you can write the answers right on the computer, but he prefers to work out of a workbook.

The table of content of the book is as follow:
Notes on theAuthor of the study guide
Synopsis of the book
Note to the instructor
About the Novel author
Background information
Ideas for pre-reading activities
Workbook pages.
Writing and after-reading activities
Additional resources.

The workbook pages are devided in parts which span a few chapters at a time, about 3-6 chapters. The author suggests that you read the whole book before you start, but we did not do that because he is a slow reader. 

These guides cover a lot of literary concepts and teach the kids to think through what they are reading, trying to help them enter into the story and think about the themes. There is a good variety in the type of exercises they are given:
  • Fill in the blank
  • Matching
  • Thinking questions
The different parts of the study cover a wide variety of literary subjects such as:
  • Vocabulary
  • Synonyms and Antonyms
  • Allusion
  • Figure of speech
  • Characterization
Another great elements of these guides is how they seek to bring Scripture to bear on the story, helping to show the kids how a Christian worldview affects the way we view a lot of things.

The guide also comes with an answer file for download, so you do not have to figure out how to check the work.

All in all these are really great study guide. The added Christian perspective a wonderful bonus as well. 

Check them out on their social media:
Facebook
Twitter




Literature Study Guides from a Christian Perspective {Progeny Press  Review}




Wednesday, June 8, 2016

MaxScholar - TOS Review

Reading and reading comprehension are two skills that every parent want their kids to master. As homeschooling parent we stress over these and are always looking for ways to improve them. If you are one of those parents, or actually in need of a program to help you in this, well, I have a product for you to check out.

Members of the crew were recently granted a one year membership to MaxScholar's amazing MaxScholar Reading Intervention Program.


Max Schoolar is an online reading program geared towards kids K-12. Specifically developed to help students who have Dyslexia, learning disabilities, ADHD, processing problems, or are just struggling to read, MaxScholar delivers way more than it promises. It is made up of multi-sensory exercices and games that keep your children engaged and learning, all the while improving their reading and reading comprehension skills.

The crew got the option of reviewing their K-2 program, or the total package offered in the MaxGuru program. I opted for the whole package. I had both my sons (grade 5 and 7) use it on a daily basis. They both read very well and have a comprehension level above their levels, but I wanted to test that and improve it even further. What attracted me to the program was all the add-ons they offer along the reading program itself.



With MaxGuru you get:
  • MaxPhonics (where you learn the basics of reading using the Orton-Gullingham method) 
  • MaxReading (where you learn effective comprehension strategies based on the Lindamood-Bell process)
  • MaxWords (where you learn about spelling, prefixes, suffixes, and Latin and Greek roots)
  • MaxVocab (where you get to play games on new words you are learning)
  • MaxBio (your portal to biographies of famous people)
  • MaxMusic (your portal to famous, popular song' lyrics, and where you can learn how to play them)
  • MaxPlaces (your portal to discovering the word through reading about places all over the globe)
My boys loved using MaxScholar. They focused mainly, though, on the Max Reading and Max Word.

MaxReading's focus is on teaching reading comprehension. The way they do it is through stories which they have you read and then find the main and secondary ideas, through a process of highlighting, outlining and summarizing. Then they follow it with a set of comprehension questions and optional games, among which is the well-known hangman game. At the beginning it is a bit difficult to understand what they expect you to highlight, but as you keep going, you get a sense of what you are supposed to do.

MaxWord is very rich in content. it covers:

  • Spelling
  • Prefixes and Suffixes
  • Latin Roots
  • Greek Roots

I had them do the prefixes, suffixes, and roots sections. These sections are set up pretty much in the same way. First they go through the roots or the prefixes, or suffixes and their meaning, with a voice reading them for you. Then you do a series of exercises that include a mix of fill in the blank and matching exercises in which you use your newly acquired knowledge to use words in their appropriate context. At the end of each set of exercises you get a grade that let's you know how you did overall and in each activity.




What we like about this program:

  • Interactive
  • Independent
  • Exhaustive
  • Easy to use and navigate
  • Colourful
  • Diversity of exercices
  • The voice over is quite enjoyable

That said, there were a couple of things that could be improved on, and that one of my sons thought would have made it an even better program.  You never find out what the correct answers for your mistakes are, and there is no option to have the instructions repeated to you. 

MaxScholor is a really innovative, cool program that can be a great addition to any homeschool. Review products rarely get a voluntary rating from my kids, but MaxScholar got a "This is awesome" from one of my sons. This definitely get two-thumbs up from our household. Check them out on their social Media:

Facebook: MaxScholar
Twitter: @MaxScholarLLC Pintrest: MaxScholar LLC
LinkedIn: MaxScholar
YouTube: MaxScholar LLC 


Google+: MaxScholar 

MaxScholar Reading Intervention Programs Review


Friday, June 3, 2016

Hey Mama! Schoolhouse Planner - TOS Review

It is planning time for many homeschoolers, and we on the Schoolhouse review crew have a great product we want to let you know about. The Old Schoohouse has come up with a planner just for you homechool moms. They call it the Hey Mama! Print Schoolhouse Planner 2016-2017. As a planner junkie, even if I have a hate/love relationships with planning,  I personally find it very handy and useful.


First off I find this planner attractive to the eye. I love the pretty pictures and homey feel it has. I also love all the yearly calendars it comes with, right at the beginning of the planner. You have 2016, 2017, 2018 covered. The planner itself starts in July and ends in June. Each month takes 2 pages and has lots of space to write up what needs to be done.

On top of the dated planning calendar, it also contains undated weekly planning pages, also spread over two pages. These are my favorites. I can write the days of the week in them and plan my subjects. The spaces for these are also wide, making it easy to write in.



These two parts are the heart of the planner but there is much more add-ons to it. First, you have lovely inspirational notes in the front page of each month of the planning year. These directly speak to the heart of the homeschool mom - hint: they all start with "Hey Mama".  Second, on top of these inspirational notes, every four weeks into the weekly pages, you also have tidbit facts, about different tools, such as the spin wheel, the dibbler, the wash board, the dolly stick and some more.

And guess what? That's not all. There is even more. At the end of the planner, you have pages for:
  • Attendance (5 pages)
  • Monthly goals
  • Semester goals
  • Monthly goals
  • Yearly goals
  • Curriculum planning sheets (my favorites)
  • Homeschool contact list
  • Books read this year
  • General writing prompt list
  • Story starters
  • Fact sheets on the Thirteen Colonies
  • Timeline of Inventions
  • US Presidents and their wives, with dates
  • List of Branches of Federal, State and Local Government
  • A section on Academic Transcript



We will be doing some school in July and August, so I have started filling in the plans for these months.

What makes this planner unique is that it is simple, spacious, and full with practical, useful and encouraging pages.

Want to give it a try, we have a coupon code for you for $10 off. It is valid through July 15!









Hey Mama! Schoolhouse Planner 2016-2017 Review






Thursday, June 2, 2016

Essential Skills Advantage - TOS Review

Today I have a great product for you to check out! We recently got the chance to review an online K-6 product called Essential Skills Advantage. It has been a blessing for our homeschool. We receive their Complete Home Learning Suite for review.

   

What is ESA?

ESA is a self-paced curriculum that covers reading, Writing, Science, Spelling, Language & Grammar, as well as Geography. The whole curriculum contains about 43 individual programs, 998 learning units.

This program is quite extensive in scope. Note though, on the screen to the right, that not all grades are covered depending on the subject. ESA is easy to sign up for, and easy to use. Once you are logged in you choose your grade level and your topic, and start going through the different units for that particular topic.


I had the boys, grade 5 and grade 7, focus on the Geography and Writing units. My grade 5, because his geography knowledge was terrible, and my grade 7 to cover any learning gaps that he has in the writing mechanics area and in Geography. Both did Writing and Geography, on a daily basis.

Once you are logged in you get this screen and you are ready to go. This is where you get access to your lessons as well as the reports.


Essential Skills Advantage is an online curriculum, so you will need internet to use it. It is very interactive and engaging. The activities are very varied and offer instant feedback. Depending on the subject you are studying, you get to do:
  • Matching exercises
  • Point and click
  • Multiple choice
  • Placing on a map
  • Identifying 
  • Correcting errors
  • Unscramble words
Each unit, in the different subjects, vary in length between five to close to a hundred activities. For those small units, my boys would do them in one go. For the longer ones, they would break it up through several days. Working on ESA daily was no problem for them, as it goes pretty quickly.

My boys enjoyed working with ESA. It is colourful and straight to the point. Most of the directions are clear and easy to understand. They like that there was a button that allows you to have the direction repeated and that you got stars for correct answers. They also enjoyed the satisfaction of the grade at the end of each unit.

   

I personally like ESA. I like how comprehensive it is. My youngest learned a lot in Geography, and my oldest was able to review what he already knew and fill in whatever was missing. I also like that as a parent you can look through the reports and see where they are doing well, and were they are having trouble, as well as check on their completion progress. I like that you can redo the activities, and you can also skip the ones you do not want to do. It is just a very flexible, easy to use curriculum all around.

The only complaint that I would have is that it would sometime glitch, and we had trouble with one of the activities, as we could not figure out how to write down the answer (it was on coordinates). Also it would have been nice to see the mistakes that the students have made. My oldest also regretted that, though it tells you right away whether you got it right or wrong, it did not tell you what the right answer was when you got it wrong. That said, as a whole this is a really good program. Once we finish our current spelling curriculum, I will have both of the boys use the spelling part of this program. I probably also will have my rising 6th grader do the grammar part when we resume school in a few weeks.

I would definitely recommend ESA as a practice or review curriculum (at least for the older grades).

Check them out on their social media:
Facebook
Twitter
Pinterest
Google +
LinkedIn
Blog

Essential Skills Advantage Review



Monday, May 9, 2016

Top 5 Bible and Devotional Resources for the Middle School Years

As a Christian family, teaching the Bible and a christian worldview is a very important element in our homeschol. When one studies Scripture, it is not just about reading the stories and making up our own interpretations. Studying the Bible is about discovering God's story and His plan for our world. It is about finding out what God has to say about the world, ourselves, who He is and about His plan of salvation for His people. There are many Bible curriculum and devotional books out there, but not all are equally solid or usable in a homeschool context. Today I thought I would share with you my to 5 recommendations when it comes to choosing a devotional or Bible curriculum to use in your homeschool.




Bible Road Trip - This is a three-year Bible curriculum that takes you through the whole Bible in three years. It is theologically rich and sound. You get to read through your Bible and complete notebooking pages to help you remember and truly grasps what it teaches. Bible memory is an integral part of it.

See all the great Firmly Planted resources.

Firmly Planted - This is another rich and sound in theology Bible curriculum. You can read my review of it here.








Write Through the Bible
Write Through the Bible - What I love about this curriculum is that you get to tackle several subjects at the same time, vocabulary, Bible Memory, and handwriting practice. This is more of a complementary resource, but if that is all you can get in, that is better than nothing.



536915: Exploring Grace Together: 40 Devotionals for the Family

Exploring Grace Together - I love this devotional! It is about what the title says, exploring grace and the wonderful news of the gospel. This is really good in helping your kids truly grasps what the Gospel is all about in practical terms applicable in their day to day lives.

946720: What&amp;quot;s Up? Discovering Jesus, the Gospel, and Who You REALLY Are, Participant&amp;quot;s GuideWhat's Up? - A more systematic study of who God is and what he has done for us. This a really Gospel-centered curriculum  worth checking out.





Here are a couple other resources highly recommended (because 5 is just not enough!)


*****   What's in the Bible DVD series - one of the best products out there to give your children an overall picture and overview of what the Bible is all about.


*****    The Gospel project You tube video - This a resource great for both adults and children. Always wondered or unclear about certain books of the Bible, or about certain biblical concepts, they've got you covered!




Homeschool Copywork Membership Sign-Up
Write Through the Bible
Main business logo--medium
Subscribe