Wednesday, August 15, 2018

Branch Out World - Paddington Bear Review - Picture Book Explorers Review

Branch Out World

There are so many educational opportunities for kids just by reading books.  We recently had the opportunity to review the Paddington Bear study guide from Branch Out World which has created a wonderful Picture Book Explorers Series to go with your child's reading.

Picture Book Explorers - Paddington

Paddington Bear - Picture Book Explorers is a picture book based unit study that is meant to accompany the picture book Paddington Bear by Michael Bond.  It is meant to be used with elementary aged children through the age of 10.

If you are not familiar with literature based unit studies, they are very easy to use.  As a parent, you simply read the story daily with your child and the unit study helps you to highlight various educational opportunities that are within the storybook that you are reading.  It really is a relaxed approach to learning for both the child and the parent. 

In Paddington Bear - Picture Book Explorer literature unit study, children are introduced to topics such as migration, science experiments, grammar/writing activities, geography/map reading studies and even math related activities.  It includes all subjects in a 5 day study. 

When you first open up your PDF download from Branch Out World, it is broken down into suggested activities for each day during your study.  Each day you are to read the picture book with your student, and then go through the suggested activities.  I really liked the Parent suggestions at the beginning of the file.  Suggestions on how to make the best progress through were given, including information if you decide to do it over a longer period than five days.  There was even information included on how to keep records for your child's portfolio as you make your way though the literature study.  Extra book suggestions, and a supply list of what you will need for each day is also included.  This helps you to be ahead of the game and not scrambling for a library book or even a can of shave cream when you are working your way though each day.

Each day you as the parent/teacher literally can follow along each days activities, after you read the book with your child.  Everything is laid and and the majority of the work has been done for you!!

Some of the suggestions for geography include finding locations on the globe and even having a printed map of those countries in a small folder/binder, which in turn also serves as a record of your "travels" for your child's portfolio.  There are also lapbook pieces included that you can print for your child to fill out, and worksheets and maps also.  Like I mentioned above....the majority of the work has been done for you already!

Various art activities are included, including drawing suggestions and terminology.  I considered the architecture section to be art.  I actually learned a lot that day about all the different styles.  Instead of just pointing and saying I like that, now I actually know that each style has a name!  Such as Quoins.....who knew that's what the beautiful brick style on the corner were called.

The yeast/bubbles science experiment was fun also!

Caty absolutely loved going through this study, and it gave us a break from the regular book work.  In fact, this study has worked out so well with her, that I plan on ordering a few more to work with her own and give her a more relaxed school year due to her anxiety issues. 

Due to this relaxed approach helping Caty so much, I highly recommend checking out the other studies put together by Branch Out World.  I know that we'll be taking advantage of them over this next year!

Several members of the Homeschool Review Crew were given the opportunity to review Paddington Bear from Branch Out World.  Click on the link below to see how they feel about these literature studies and how they used them in their homes.

Paddington Bear {Branch Out World Reviews}
Crew Disclaimer

Saturday, August 11, 2018

"Not" Back to School Ideas - DIY Clipboards

It's almost that time, unless you are year-round homeschoolers.  We take a break from "curriculum" during July and August.  Not a break from schooling though.  The kids still participate in 4H, so we are super busy with projects, camps and art classes finishing projects for the county fair.  They always participate in the county fair baking contests, so that is math also.  We stay SOOOOO busy, most days I feel like I pass myself in our own kitchen.

I thought I would share a couple of the ideas that I am going to be doing on our first day of "not back to school" this year.  Last year I baked them their special chocolate chip cookie cake, gave them some new supplies and also they got new school uniforms -  This year I'm making some adjustments.  I'm down to three kids...homeschooling just three kids!!  So I'm trying to find the balance of Joey not homeschooling and the others still schooling.  It's going to be a learning curve in September.

One of the special activities I'm going to do with the girls and Brayden is to give them the opportunity to design their own clipboards.  Clipboards are an essential homeschool item in our house.  We use them daily.  In the past I have found animal clipboards at various office supply stores.  But this year I am struggling to find cute boards that do not cost a fortune.  So I decided to let them design their own.

I ordered these clear, but colorful clipboards from Amazon.  It was a 6 pack of clipboards for $12.99.

I ordered them various sticker books then, individualized to each kid.  Dover has several inexpensive sticker books for kids.  I ordered these for the girls.


Video Game themed for Brayden (these were $10.00)

I ordered these paint markers for the project also.

I figure the paint will take a day to dry at least.  I can't wait to do this project with the kids in a couple weeks.  They are going to be excited to create their own clipboards.  Plus they can easily adjust their clipboards throughout the year if they want.

Next week, I'll share some more fun things I have planned for our first day "not back to school"!  Here's a post from last year about more of our favorite school supplies.

Friday, July 27, 2018

Smart Kidz Media - Smart Kidz Radio Review

Smart Kidz Radio

There are definitely limited options for children's radio and music.  We recently had the opportunity to review a new project from Smart Kids Media - Smart Kidz Radio.

Smart Kidz Radio

Smart Kidz Radio has been created for ages 2 - 12 that features age appropriate music for children.  The original songs that are being played encourage positive self-esteem, good work and family relationships.  

Currently, we have been listening to Smart Kidz Radio on my laptop while working on art projects.  We have had zero problems just streaming off our laptop.  The songs are very cute and I really do like the various themes.  Suddenly we are singing along to a song about helping out with chores and living peacefully in our family "by thinking before you fight".  Little words of encouragement happen between songs.  The one segment reminded children that even when    It's kids music, but not "too kiddyish" was Lydia's response.

We listened to songs about what do to when you are bored, how to treat your family (since they really can be your best friends), how to help out others, and so many more learning experiences. There are over 1,000 original songs that stream 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

The user interface was very easy to use:

We just hit the Play arrow when we wanted to listen and a pause arrow would pop up in it place, and then we could pause the station play when we were ready.

There are even audio book podcasts available to listen to:

We really thought Smart Kidz Radio is a great new concept.  It will be available for other portable formats, you will soon be able to easily download the apps onto your kids electronic devices, and know that they are listening to quality entertainment with good values.  

If you have younger children in this age range, I encourage you to check out Smart Kidz Radio.  It's a budget friendly option for families.....and I really found it much better to listen to than some of the kid's songs series that my older kids used to be obsessed with....anyone remember the big purple dino???  Smart Kidz Radio is so much easier to listen too.  And the audio book podcasts are such an awesome added bonus for our family.  This was one of the girls favorite things, they love audio books.

Several members of the Homeschool Review Crew were given the opportunity to review Smart Kidz Radio.  Click on the link below to read how they enjoyed the materials presented and used it in their homes.
Smart Kidz Radio Homeschool Reviews

Crew Disclaimer

Thursday, July 26, 2018

Northwest Treasures - Dinosaurs and the Bible Video Course Review

Northwest Treasures

As a Christian, how do you answer your child's questions about dinosaurs?  We recently had the opportunity to review Dinosaurs and the Bible video class and Taking the Mystery out of Geology from Northwest Treasures.  What a great concept, so glad we were able to review this.

Dinosaurs and the Bible Online Course

Teaching Geology can be challenging.  The force behind Northwest Treasures was sharing their finds/rocks at homeschool conventions.  People were requesting that they create a curriculum, and Northwest Treasures was born.  Northwest Treasures teaches from a Biblical view, with evidence showing that we live on a young earth and the Great Flood really took place.  Geology really lays a foundational basis for many other science studies, so a good understanding is vital.  Northwest Treasures makes this possible for parents, and makes it fun for the kids too.

Dinosaurs and the Bible is a 6 week video course, that you can complete at your own pace.  Each of the six lessons runs approximately 18 - 21 minutes long, so great for short attention spans.

The videos are presented in a lecture style, but in more of a slide presentation that includes pictures to make it easier for the kids for attention span and to understand.  They can see charts and pictures of what they are listening about, kind of like having a library book read to them at times.  Which I think is wonderful, because this worked great for our kids as we worked through the course.

At the end of each lesson, there is a printable set of comprehension questions for your student to answer.  These can be used in multiple ways.  You could use them after you watch the lesson, or when working with special needs kids like we do, we used the questions during the lessons.  So as they watched we would pause the video and discuss the questions or have them fill in the answer to the questions.  I do not give them "tests" over material, so this helped them write it down immediately while it is fresh in their mind.  When you have finished all six lessons, there is a comprehension test of all six lessons that is available.  An answer key is provided for each set of questions and also the final test.  These questions and test are made available for easy download in PDF format.

Dinosaurs and the Bible is packed full of information.  I had never heard of most of the people that he discussed during the videos.  They were well-written and kept in line with Biblical teachings.

Dinosaurs and the Bible can be used by students in Grade 5 and up.  And it's a very budget friendly option for families.  When you purchase, you get six months access to the six video lessons.  Plenty of time to complete the materials provided.  They recommend a 6 week time period, but since we are on a part-time schedule, we did 2-3 lessons a week and finished in just under 2 1/2 weeks.  You can really adjust it to your families needs.  If 20 minutes is too long for your child (and we all know that is possible), the VIMEO player is very user friendly, and you can pause, stop and start when you need to.  Although we found it didn't save where we were, so we would guess about where we were if I forgot to write it down.

Lesson 3 - Dinosaurs and the Bible, The Great Dinosaur Rush from Patrick Nurre on Vimeo.

You can purchase an extra fossil pack from Northwest Treasures that was specifically created for the Dinosaurs and the Bible online class.  

We have enjoyed the Dinosaurs and the Bible class from Northwest Treasures.  I am so happy to see a class that centers around Biblical teachings and not trying to discredit the Bible.  Science and the Bible do go together, and Northwest Treasures helps parents out in this area.  I am planning on signing up for more of the classes from Northwest Treasures for the boys.  They also offer a high school level geography course as well as a wide selection of geology courses that center around some of our country's greatest national parks.  Their curriculum ranges from pk through high school.

Several members of the Homeschool Review Crew were given the opportunity to view the Dinosaurs and the Bible video course, as well as two other courses.  Click on the links below to see how they used these programs and what they thought about them.

Online Geology Classes{Northwest Treasures Reviews}
Crew Disclaimer

Wednesday, July 25, 2018

Great Waters Press - No Longer Little - Parenting Tweens With Grace and Hope Review

Raising Real Men

Raising teenagers is hard, and we have discovered that raising 'tweens' is even more challenging.  Recently I had the opportunity to review the newest title, No Longer Little - Parenting Tweens with Grace and Hope written by Hal and Melanie Young and published by Great Waters Press.  What a great reminder to the eye-opening pre-teen years we are struggling with.

No Longer Little by Hal and Melanie Young

We are surviving something totally new to us.  We have teenage boys, but the girls are nearing those teen years.  We are living it just a bit differently though, since all of our children are diagnosed at various levels on the autism spectrum.  It was quite weird.  One morning we woke up and the sweet little girls we knew were gone!!  We were faced with these mean and emotional roller coasters.  Since they are already diagnosed with mood disorders, we had no idea what to do.  We were in constant contact with their psychologist about this sudden change in our oldest daughter, even trekking in a few times for emergency appointments.  About this time, I received my copy of No Longer Little - Parenting Tweens with Grace and Hope.  All I could think is this going to help me???

I started reading between meltdowns, and realized that what I was reading about we were experiencing.  We were on a never ending emotional roller coaster.  We were living the totally forgetful and flakey behavior that Hal and Melanie were talking about.  Unfortunately we were experiencing it on a much larger scale due to their diagnosis, but it was explaining a lot for me.

I had a lot of friends tell me that some of what we were dealing with, was "typical" behaviors at this age.  I honestly had a hard time believing them.  I mean....I didn't remember acting this bad.  Our sweet little girls, especially our sweet youngest was totally turning around.  I'll be honest...there are days I wait for her head to spin around during a meltdown/tantrum.  How could hormones be causing this much behavior change?!?!

As you can from above, my copy is now full of sticky notes and highlighting.  It stays on my night stand for reading and constant reminders.  I actually shared this title with the girl's psychologist.  He said we definitely need to watch hormones as they enter their teen years, but yes since the girls were already diagnosed with mood disorders....hormones would cause even great emotional changes.  He wrote the title down to share with other parents.

I'll share some of my favorite points from No Longer Little - Parenting Tweens with Grace and Hope .....

1.  Turn to the Bible for help.  God does not leave us alone, even on our parenting journey.  We don't know the full extent that Mary and Joseph needed help with Jesus, but we know they relyed on God.  He can help you and give you strength.  Throughout the various chapters, Hal & Melanie keep referring back to your own copy of the Bible for scriptural references on how to correct behaviors in the kindest ways possible.  They remind us that referring to the Bible with your child only strengthens relationships.  Your child's relationship with God, as they are sitting confused about why they are feeling like this.  Your relationship with your child, as you show them that you are not perfect and need help and guidance to help them.  Your relationship with God, as you continue to remember to lien on him in these troubling times.

2.  I am not crazy....somewhere deep inside the person that has screamed at me for the last hour is the sweet girl I knew just a few months ago.

3.  Yes your child is being disrespectful to you, and yes that NEEDS to be handled.  But everything handled in due time.  Tackle each situation in multiple levels.  DO NOT let the bad behavior go undisciplined, but DO NOT jump straight to discipline.  Help your child to see what has gone wrong and how they need to correct it.  Turn each situation into a training session.

4.  These years turn the ENTIRE household into an uproar.  We have been experiencing this.  Since Hal & Melanie have a large family, they saw this happen.  They point out over a couple chapters how to handle this with the whole family.  They even mention having a couple children going through this stage at the same time (the boat we are in), and they suggest how to handle this situation in the best way possible.

5.  Reminder for me that when disciplining....look at all angles, including removing outside influences such as social media.  Yes they are balls of hormones and emotions, but WE need to be the major influence in our child's life.  Open communication about what they are reading/watching/seeing online and in movies and books needs to be discussed.  They have no idea how they are truly feeling, and we need to help guide them.  

6.  Anger returned will not be well received.  Yes your child you screaming at you...but you CAN NOT scream back at them.  It's very hard, but produces nothing good.  No one likes to be attacked.  But I know our girls do not even remember and will deny when they are screaming at us.  

I had no idea that the tween years were going to be like riding a rapids.  Some areas smooth and others like a rough river with strong waves and currents.  As I was starting to feeling like I was drowning with my child, I had the opportunity to have the life-ring of No Longer Little - Parenting Tweens with Grace and Hope thrown at me.  I'm very grateful to have their reminders as we work on correcting our thinking in how to handle the situations with our pre-teens.  Now I feel more confident that I can canoe through the rapids with the girls and we can work together.  Even when we feel like we are going to capsize- we can refer back to our faith and the Bible as our life-ring to stay afloat.  

Hal and Melanie Young have really done a great job helping parents and giving them great reminders!!  If you are heading into those emotional tween years, or maybe you have already entered this time period, I encourage you to check out No Longer Little - Parenting Tweens With Grace and Hope.  It will truly help you to keep a strong relationship with your child through the rough waters!!  Our copy will be well worn over the next three years!

Several members of the Homeschool Review Crew were given the opportunity to review titles from Great Waters Press.  Click on the link below to see how they used these titles in their homes, and what they thought of the reminders from Hal and Melanie Young.

Love, Honor, and Virtue  AND No Longer Little {Great Waters Press Reviews}
Crew Disclaimer

Thursday, July 19, 2018

Progeny Press - The Scavengers e-Guide Review

Progeny Press

We recently had the opportunity to review The Scavengers Study e-Guide from Progeny Press.  This guide introduced us to new books for our teenager to enjoy, but it also gave me to use lessons for summer reading!

Progeny Press has several Study Guides that they have created for all grade levels (elementary through high school).  These are written from a Christian perspective, so I do not need to worry about inappropriate content (which saves me tons of pre-reading time).  The Study e-Guides are easy to download PDF files, which also include an Answer Key document, also saving me a lot of time if I have not already read the book.  

Scavengers eGuide

Each of the Study e-Guides include pre-reading ideas before you start the book, chapter-by-chapter questions, and some even have a suggested schedule if you are using it along with other materials during your school year.  This allows your child to really more intensely look at their reading selections.  The high school level e-Guides will actually give you 1/4 credit toward your student's graduation requirements (if your state requires this).  The Scavengers Study e-Guide could be done over a suggested period of up to ten weeks (it did not take Lydia that long...she LOVED this book).

We had the opportunity to review The Scavengers Study e-Guide written by Michael Perry.  The Scavengers Study e-Guide was written by Michael S. Gilleland.  This story takes your student to a world very different from their own.  Maggie, or Ford Falcon as she likes to be called, must save her family.  She and her family live outside of a Bubble City, or protected area.  There are so many dangers that she and her family must face as they work on their survival.  The Scavengers introduced Lydia to solar bears, URcorn, and GrayDevils.  She said she felt like she was on the edge of her seat all the time.

So you may ask yourself, why buy The Scavengers Study e-Guide?  The short answer, the work is done for you.  The Scavengers Study e-Guide has comprehension and vocabulary requirements already done for you.  I could either print the pages for Lydia to fill out, or she could type her answers into the sheets, and I could print them for her records.  You use these specially created Progeny Press Study Guides to easily fulfill Literature requirements for school.

The Progeny Press e-Guides are written from a Christian perspective, and also include scriptural text.  This allows your student to read about everyday life and apply scripture into their life.  You can see a sample text below.

Optional activities are also included with several chapters.  One suggestion from The Scavengers Study e-Guide surrounded the limited food choices that this family faced.  How would your child handle only being able to eat what they grow?  Would they be able to survive knowing that they could not have that mid-morning snack they have grown so used to?  Could your whole family handle this?  What meal would they plan if they had to grow the food in the area you currently live?

Vocabulary is presented in terms of both definition and use of sentences.  I really liked how this was presented.  It wasn't just presented as, this is what this word means.  Lydia had to create sentences using the vocabulary in her own sentences also, looking at the means and also the antonym of the word too.  

Toward the end of the guide, there are writing and activity suggestions for when your student is done reading the book.  These suggestions included extra research projects on both geography and social sciences. We did these more verbally, but as school starts winding back up, I plan on adding more of these assignments in for Lydia as she tackles more middle school level projects.

We did not spend several weeks on this particular study, simply because she was on break from several of her other subjects during this review period.  So she had extra time to tackle reading and study guide work.  But I definitely see how you could easily stretch this over several weeks.  The comprehension questions and vocabulary are well-written and will get your student thinking.  I was not disappointed in this selection from Progeny Press, and I'm working on picking out the next study that Lydia will be starting soon!  This is definitely a budget-friendly option for families to work through Literature studies!

Several members of the Homeschool Review Crew were given the opportunity to review various e-Guides from Progeny Press.  Click on the link below to see what they thought of these educational options, and how their student's enjoyed them.

New Study Guides for Literature From a Christian Perspective {Progeny Press Reviews}
Crew Disclaimer