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

Wednesday, July 11, 2018

Bible Study Guide for All Ages - TOS Review

As a christian family, knowing our Bible is of primary importance.So I am often happy to try new curriculum that help accomplish that purpose. One of the most recent items we got to review on the crew is a Bible study curriculum called Bible Study Guide for All Ages. It comes in four different levels, and I requested the Advanced level (5th and 6th grade) o try out with my 7th grader.

What is Bible Study for All Ages? It is a bible curriculum that takes through the whole Bible in three years, teaching kinds about the whole picture of the Bible. Everyone in the family, or in your church can be studying the same Bible story at the same same but at different levels. All the levels come with a teacher's key and students pages. Optionally you can purchased Bible book summary cards as well as a timeline and song CD.

Each child needs to have his copy of the students'pages. I had my 7th grader go through this program. At the advanced level, it is very independent. Everything is there for the child. Each lesson, can take 1-3 day to complete, depending on the child. They each contain:
  • A remember it section: where a important facts from previous lessons are being reviewed.
  • A memory workout: where the kids are encourage to put certain facts to memory. This is where the song CD can come handy.
  • A Guess What section:  the kids are encourage and led to understand better certain facts about the lesson
  • A Time Line: where the kids are led to see where the characters from the story fit in the time line of History
  • An apply It section: where the kids are brought to think deeper, through a set of questions, on the implication and application to their own life of an aspect of what they just learned about.
  • A Discover the Bible section: where the kids dig deeper on the actual facts and events in the Bible Story. It serves as a sort of review.
  • An optional Get Active section: where kids get to be creative, commit to take further  action, work as a group.

What I love about this curriculum is that it goes through the whole Bible. It does study the text and helps the kids go to the Bible itself and reflect upon what they are reading. It is engaging, in that it has lots of activities to do, all relating to the story. It is pretty straight forward. I was not too keen on the physical format of the book itself, as the pages easily detach with use. That said this is a very good option if you are looking for a curriculum that will allow kids to explore the whole Bible and the full story line.

Bible Study Guide For All Ages {Reviews}

Crew Disclaimer

Thursday, June 28, 2018

The Master and His Apprentices - TOS Review

In all my 10 years of homeschooling I always have had a hard time including Art in our weekly schedule. I would have these big plans at the beginning of the year, but always fell short of keeping them.

Our team at Schoolhouse Review crew had the chance to review an Art program geared to the high school years or even for adults to benefit from. I jumped on the chance to try it with my soon to be 10th grader. The program in Question is called The Master and His Apprentices: Art History from a Christian Perspective, and put our by a company by the same name The Master and His Apprentices.

The Master and His Apprentices is written by a homeschool graduate who loves, studied and teaches Art and English. You can read her very inspirational story on the curriculum website. She is very knowledgeable and loves the subject as well as the creator of all Art: God. Her curriculum breathes owe and praises to the author of all Art. In her first chapter she truly makes the reader come away with a new appreciation of the beauty of Art and of its creator.

Throughout the curriculum besides teaching about the development of art throughout History, the main goal of the curriculum is truly to bring the reader to new appreciation of the author of it all. She does a wonderful job in accomplishing this.

The curriculum is available as physical copies as well as digital. They are available on the author's website as well as other book distributors such as and Rainbow resources. We got the digital version which I was able to put on both my computer and the boys'.
The curriculum comes with a textbook, as well as a teacher's guide which contains a workbook, tests and an answer key. I printed the workbook for my son to work on. If used with a high school student it is designed in such a way that it can count as a full High school credit.

We both found the chapters to be long, but after all this is a high school level program and also geared towards adult. I started reading the chapters with my son and found myself enjoying what I was reading ( I am not much of a Art person). The workbook is quite involved and my son did not find it easy to go through it. Some of the questions as factual (basic recalling of what has been read), some were more subjective and reflective, and some were meant for further thought.

The curriculum takes you through the different times in History after taking the student through an overview of the beauty of Creation in the second chapter. The sections are as follow:
  • Ancient Culture (Ancient Near East, Egyptian, Aegean)
  • Classical Antiquity (Early Greek, Etruscan, Roman)
  • Middle Ages (Early Christian and Byzantine, Medieval and Islamic, Romanesque, Gothic)
  • Renaissance (Proto Renaissance, Early Italian Renaissance, High Italian Renaissance, Northern Renaissance
  • Baroque Era and Beyond
It also includes nice extras such as timelines, charts, pictures, maps, an extended biography and more.

I love how easy to read, colour, and pleasing to read the textbook is. Though the chapters are long (as mentioned earlier - 10-15 pages), Gena really brings you in and captures your attention. Reading the textbook prompted me to highlight stuff, which I encourage my son to do as well, as often time, these were the things asked in the workbook.

One thing to note about this program is that it is written from a young earth perspective. Though I do not necessarily embrace that view ( I am not rejecting it all together either), I think what she has to offer in this Art overview tromps any objection to that bias. It is just that packed-full with valuable Art appreciation concepts and facts
I personally loves this curriculum and am looking forward to use it during the course of the next 4 years in concurrence with our History program, as will starting back with Ancient Times in the Fall.
My son thought that the emphasis on God being the master artist was really cool and that the questions really make you ponder about your views on art and God.

You can find the Master and His Apprentice on both Facebook and Pinterest.

The Master and His Apprentices: Art History from a Christian Perspective {The Master and His Apprentices Reviews}
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Thursday, June 21, 2018

Silverdale Press - TOS Crew Review

This is my first year homechooling a high schooler. It has not gone quite has planned and one of the subject that I am still working on with my 9th grader is writing. As a boy he did not like writing in the elementary levels and I did not push it until about 5th grade. Now with the high school years upon us, writing has become a must. So, when the chance to review a writing curriculum came up, I took the opportunity to try it out.

Persuasive Writing and Classical Rhetoric: Practicing the Habits of Great Writers is a writing program put out by Silverdale Press LLC, a company dedicated to providing high quality education to homeschooling families, especially for the middle and high school years. Founded by a couple with high credentials (a Ph.D and a lawyer), their goal is to cultivate knowledge and sharpen skills in students.

I was immediately attracted by the fact that they were classical and using the framework of classical rhetoric to teach students persuasive writing, given that our homeschool bent has been classical. I was not disappointed.

Persuasive Writing and Classical Rhetoric is a full high school 36-week curriculum, designed to be used 4-days a week. One of the main emphasis of the curriculum, as is of classical education, is the imitation of great writers. In each chapter of the curriculum the students read a great writer, analyses his writing and then is led to learn from it. Also, at the beginning of the curriculum, the students are encouraged to make a list of 10 books to read over the course of the program to widen their exposure to good writing as well as their knowledge base so as to have content to engage and write about. My son got actually excited bout picking up the books.

The curriculum comes with a textbook, a reader, which contains all the reading selections, a workbook, and an answer book for the teacher. I like that the curriculum can be done by the student independently. It is done workbook style, but the questions are both factual as well as thought provoking. I like how it forces the students to truly understand what they read as well as see how the writing itself contributes to the power and effectiveness of what was written. It is very cleaver. My son is not a quick thinker (he likes to take his time) and I had to really push him to look at the text more carefully instead of the surface.

Another important aspect of the curriculum is the practice. The student is asked to write a 500 words essay with a given prompt at the end of each chapter. The idea is that you learn best by not only exposure and study of good writing but by constant practice.

As soon as we got the curriculum we dived into it. I printed the workbook and made sure my son had the textbook and reader on his computer. My son had trouble with completing the essays, but I encouraged him to push through and keep working on them. Some topics inspired him better than others.

I personally like the selections that they put together in the reader. It includes:

  • Winston Churchill
  • Jane Austen
  • Alexander Hamilton
  • JFK
  • Abraham Lincoln
  • Augustine
The way the curriculum teaches writing is somewhat different than traditional curriculum. It takes the student on a journey to discovering what makes good persuasive writing good. As mentioned earlier one of the means is through imitation and study or great writings, the other mean is through a careful, systematic teaching of what constitutes or makes good writing. They take the student through an understanding of how one can have a good topic, how to arrange one's arguments, what good arguments are and how to be ready to defend one's position.

I really like that the last few chapters cover style, punctuation, and the aesthetic of good writing.

I am looking forward to finishing this curriculum with my son. It really looks promising to me. Bonus is that my son does not mind it at all except for the essay every week.

Makes sure to check the other crew members' review as some got to try out their study guides.

Persuasive Writing & Classical Rhetoric: Practicing the Habits of Great Writers & White House Holidays Unit Studies {Silverdale Press LLC Reviews}

Wednesday, June 6, 2018

Critical Thinking Detective: Vocabulary from The Critical Thinking Co. - TOS Review

If you love logic and critical thinking and want to impart that to your children, The Critical Thinking Co. has been in the business of doing that for years. I have been homeschooling for 9 years and I have always heard of them, and always in a positive way. I myself have used some of their products and have not been disappointed in them. So it was natural for me to ask for one of them again and it came up for review. This time a lot of the choices were totally new products to me and they look quite intriguing. I opted to give Critical Thinking Detective: Vocabulary Book 1 a try. It comes both as a physical book and an ebook. We received the e-book version.

Critical Thinking Detective™ – Vocabulary Book 1
Critical thinking is an essential skills to develop. Including logic and critical thinking in our curriculum every year has been a priority of ours since we started homeschooling. Now that my boys are in 9th and 8th grade the kind of logic books we use has changed a bit. With kids in Middle School and High School you want challenging but still fun books, and if it can do double duty even better. This is what you get with the higher grade selections from The Critical Thinking Co.

I am planning for my son to take the SAT and one of the things he need to be good at is vocabulary. So, what best way to hit two birds with a stone than to go through a book that allows you to practice critical thinking and at the same team enhance your vocabulary.

Critical Thinking Detective: Vocabulary did not fail. What this book is is a collection of mysteries that your child has to solve. The trick is that the setting and the clues use vocabulary that your child most likely do not know. This forces him to have to look for their meanings in a dictionary.

This particular book contains 12 mysteries where you have to figure out who is guilty based on series of clues. The child the has to understand what is being said and analyze the clue to deduct who the culprit is. After each mystery, you are then suppose to work through a worksheet where your child can practice the words he just learned. This is the part that my son had a hard time with. He was able to solve the mysteries quite easily, but when it came time to fill the worksheet, he had troubles. Actually, when I tried it myself I found it quite challenging. The worksheet is a fill in the blank kind where you need to figure out which of the new word (18-15 words listed at the top) fits in the sentence. It was also confusing that there were more words listed than needed in the worksheet. Even with having to look up words, the whole process is not overly long, about 1/2 hour max. My son preferred to do the mystery on one day and the worksheet on another day. I discovered a couple mysteries in that you could fill in the worksheet right on the screen, but I son still preferred to print them. And, thank goodness, all the answers are at the back! I certainly needed that.

Geared toward kids grade 5-12, Critical Thinking Detective: Vocabulary is engaging, colourful and right up what you expect coming from The Critical Thinking Company. It can be done independently, but kids on the younger spectrum might need coaching. The only objection I have is that it only works on Windows computer, given that my boys use  Mac. They had to do the work on my computer. All in all I would definitely recommend this book for vocabulary enhancement which doubles up as critical thinking practice. Some kids, like my 7th grader may not like the tedious side of having to look words over, but some might thrive on it. My 14 year old who likes to use big words is actually enjoying learning new words.

The Critical Thinking Co has a wonderful and wide array of products for you to check out. For you crew readers they have a couple of offers:

  • Free Shipping + 15% Off Any Size Order! Use Coupon Code: TOSCREW18. Expires 12/31/2018.

Critical Thinking, Understanding Math & Vocabulary {The Critical Thinking Co.™ Reviews}

Friday, May 4, 2018

CodeWizardsHQ - TOS Review

In this new technological word our kids more and more need exposure to the world of computer science and coding. Computer programming is an ever expanding field that our kids do well to get their hands on learning. There are a few companies that are dedicated to have children learn the language of coding, and CodeWizardsHQ is one of them.  The kids of the Schoolhouse Review Crew got to preview to first lesson of their level I course.

CodeWizardsHQ is a homeschoooling computer curriculum that offers live classes in computer science. It is important to note that these are "live", meaning a real-time teacher teaching and interacting with your kids. It is not self-pace. It is a full, comprehensive coding curriculum that can prepare your kids for college. It is intended for grade 5-10 students.

For more about the uniqueness of the program, check their website.

CodeWizardsHQ is comprised of a set of 12 week courses. They offer 3 levels of computer programming and coding instruction, ending with a fourth level that consists of a 6-month internship program with a partner non-profit organization.

This video gives you a nice snapshot of what this program is like:

From the one off class my son (for whom this was the first exposure to coding) participated it, we can say the following:
  • the teacher was very friendly and knowledge. She was articulate and connected with the kids.
  • the pacing was good, as my son said he was not bored and found it  quite interesting
  • it was enough to pick his interest in the subject
In this one hour class that the kids took, they learn some basics code language and were able to create a comic strip web-page. Your children has constant access to his work, which means they can work on it anytime.

These coding classes look really interesting and I am happy that my son got interested in coding.  it would make for a perfect elective class. I am really considering having one of my kids enrolling for this.

This is a program for any student really, but CodeWizardsHQ is making a special offer for homeschool students.  There is a significantly lower per-student pricing based on the # of students in the class and the flexibility to pick their own class time.

You can also check them out on their social media platforms:
You Tube
They even have a Facebook group for parents interested in their child learning to code. It includes sharing of resources, ideas, tips and support for teaching programming to kids.

Live Class Computer Programming for your Students {CodeWizardsHQ Reviews}

Wednesday, April 25, 2018

A+ Interactive Math - TOS Review

Math curriculum abound, yet it can be quite difficult for parents to find just the right Math curriculum that works for their child(ren). Well, today I have a Math curriculum to share with you that might just be what you are looking for.

A + Interactive Math (by A+TutorSoft Inc) is an online Math Curriculum that offers you a full Math Curriculum for grade 1 to Algebra 1. It offers an array of  Math instruction packages, two of the main ones being their Family Math Package, which gives you access to all levels, and their Adaptive Math Curriculum Online, which comprises a Placement Test followed by individualized Lessons Plans based on the test. These were the two that the crew members got to review. Since we had reviewed the adaptive Math Curriculum in the past, I opted for the Family Math Package this time around. The The Family Math Package gives you access to the program for a full year for up to 10 students.

A + Interactive is online, so you will need a computer with internet access and log ins for each students as well as for the parent. It does work on both Mac and Microsoft, but not on mobile. We had used this program before, so we already had log-ins, I just needed to enroll the boys in the Family Math Package program, and we were ready to go.

Though I enrolled both boys, I had my 7th grader gives this a try first. He is doing pre-algebra at the moment and was struggling with graphs , so I decided to have him start the program at the coordinate planes section and move on from there. It was not easy to skip the first few chapters, but eventually got there. I suppose the program is meant to be used from start to finish, but there is a manual and somewhat tedious way to move ahead. That is one aspect of the program that I have to warn against, some of the functionalities are not intuitive at all. You have to dig around to figure out where things are and how the functions work. I wish they had tutorial videos.

The things that I like about  A+Interactive before are still the same though|:
  • It is interactive. They complete the lesson, which is narrated to them and very visual. Then they complete interactive questions with instant feedback.
  • It is a full, complete Math program. 
  • It is very independent. It teaches, corrects, grades and explains what is done wrong one question at a time. No parent involvement needed.
  • I love the variety of ways you can practice and test the students, through the printable or online worksheets and exams.
  • I love that it has the whole text of the curriculum available to view or/and print
  • I love the printable reference chart

In the parent account, you can check the student progress and score.

The program also allows the parent to set up some features for the student account as seen below:

My son did a couple of chapters independently and enjoyed it. He found it easy to follow and understand. He thought that the teaching was pretty clear. He did not like the fact that once you are done a section you have to update your status yourself otherwise it will not let you move on.

Overall, I think this is a great program which could potentially be appealing to a wide variety of learners.

Family & Adaptive Math Online {A+ Interactive Math Reviews}

Saturday, April 21, 2018

Ideas to Keep Your Toddler Busy

My little baby has turned one a few weeks ago. Wow, times fly! He has learned to walk and he is a rather busy toddler. What do I do to keep him busy? Here are a few ideas to keep a 9-18 month old busy:

Food exploration: food is always fun to play with. At that age babies love exploring and discover new textures; food offers a wide range of those. I am not one to like mess, so I do not let him play with his food at meal time, but during play time I give him textured food to explore with.

On/off , in/out play activities: I have discovered that my little boy loves to put covers on top of things (pots, bottles, anything.). Also, taking stuff out of containers is one of his favorite activity to do. So go fill a basket, a pot, anything you have on hand with all sort of different stuff and watch your child having fun emptying it. Only downside is that you have to refill it again....

Peekaboo and hide and seek game: My baby has always enjoyed me playing peekaboo with him. This game has reached new levels as he can now do it too. Use hands, blankets, whatever you have on hand will do. He loves it too when I hide somewhere and call him name or say "Where is mommy". I love doing that especially when I do not want him to go a certain place.

Playing with balls: Balls are fascinating to babies and toddlers. My son loves playing with balls of any size. He enjoys playing with it himself or watching his brothers play with it.

Books: My boy loves books. So what I do is recreate the library in my home by making book displays at different spots in the house and let him have at it. I even heard of someone who would set up books at the corner of the staircase. I probably will try that one my little one stops dropping things down the stairs.

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