Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Brinkman Adventures Review

Product:  The Brinkman Adventures Season 2: Episodes 13-24
Price:  $25.00 suggested donation
Age Range:  the whole family

We usually end up spending a lot of time in the van.  I try to take advantage of that driving time by listening to audio books.  We have a fairly wide interest and age level with the kids.  So I have a hard time finding something that all the kids will want to watch.  I was very excited to get the opportunity to review The Brinkman Adventures Season 2: Episodes 13-24 from The Brinkman Adventures.  

The Brinkmans are a missionary family that have had a lot of adventures. Their family has turned them into old-fashioned radio dramas.  The radio dramas are based on real adventures that the Brinkman family actually do act out.  They encourage children to remember to rely on God, even during difficult times. 

The Brinkman Adventures Season 2: Episodes 13-24 takes you on an adventure fleeing Mexican bandits, diving for pirate treasure and explore an ancient French castle.  

You can visit the Brinkman Adventures website to read the story behind each episode. I enjoyed reading about the inspiration of each radio drama episode.  The kids could see that the stories were not made up.

My kids really had not heard radio dramas before this set of cds.  We took them with us on a long trip, since no one could decide on one book.  Joey said it was fun to hear the stories and imagine what was happening.  Lydia thought they were fun to listen to also.  Caty said they were fun, but she still prefers watching a movie of the story.  

Brayden listened, and was able to answer questions that I was asking him, to see if he was listening.  I liked that when I asked what the episodes were all about, he was able to respond "that we need to be with God to help us."  That was a big deal to me.  

Joe and I really liked listening to the dramas also.  I found myself really imagining the adventures as I was listening.  They are written very well and really set the scene for your imagination to lead the way.  

These are such fun stories that interest our entire family.  We are going to be getting the first season as well.  I plan on keeping them in our van for our long trips.  They are stories that the kids like to listen and didn't complain when I started them again.  Normally they don't like to listen to a story more than once, and will remind me that they heard that already.  I also like the talks that we have about the episodes while we are in the car.  They keep the kids talking.

You can follow the Brinkman Adventures on Facebook.

Several members of the Schoolhouse Review Crew had the opportunity to try out the The Brinkman Adventures Season 2: Episodes 13-24.  See how their families used this product and how if they enjoyed them as much as we have.

Click to read Crew Reviews

Crew Disclaimer

Friday, April 25, 2014

CTC Math Review

Age Range:  K - Grade 12
Cost:  On Sale - $118.80 for 2 or more students (Regular Price $297.00)

I am very nervous about teaching math.  It's not the add 1 and 2 and get 3 problems.  It's the more advanced stuff.  Some days it's really hard though working with the simple addition.  It's usually days where the kids want me to be mom and not their teacher.  But those same days are the ones that I feel like we are not getting enough schoolwork done. 

I have been looking for a little extra help in math.  So I was very excited to get the opportunity to try CTC Math.  CTC Math is a online math program that provides extra help for students who may be struggling in various areas of math.  

CTC Math offers video instruction which can be repeated as often as a student needs.  To go along with each lesson, there are quizzes to reinforce and provide practice in the skills that your student needs extra help in.  

CTC Math provides:
  • Almost 1,400 math videos and interactive lessons
  • 57,000 interactive questions
  • Diagnostic tests
  • Instant feedback for both parents and students
  • Help with higher level math such as algebra, trigonometry and calculus
  • Math lessons are available for students in levels from kindergarten through high school

CTC Math can be used as a supplement or as your math curriculum.  It allows students to work at a pace that encourages them to master a skill, not just learn it.  The videos are short and yet full of information that helps those with short attention spans.

We have been using the 12 month Family Plan for a few weeks now.  The Family Plan allows up to 5 students in one family to use CTC Math at their own level.  So we started using CTC Math right away.

At first I thought of just using it as a supplemental material to go with what the kids are already using.  But I really like the video instructions for each lesson.  They are not flashy or full of cartoon characters, so they are not distracting.  They explained the topics well.  So we have gradually started using CTC Math as more of our Core and we use games now to supplement the topics we are working on.

Caty is working at the Kindergarten level currently.  The lessons are not lengthy.  The videos for her level last roughly 2 - 5 minutes.  Depending on how well she grasps the new concept, we continue on to the questions.  If I think she needs a little more work on the topic, we will play a game or practice using a whiteboard.  The next lesson, we'll watch the same video again.  If she is ready, we move on to answer the questions.  The look on her face when she sees her score just makes me smile every time.  She gets so excited.  

Lydia is actually doing to reinforcement exercises as we prep into third grade math.  I noticed that she was missing a few facts in her math memory, so we are doing some lessons in both first and second grade level to reinforce skills she may have missed or was struggling with.  So we are using CTC Math as her curriculum right now.  She watches the videos, which are roughly 3 - 5 minutes each.  Then answers the questions provided.  Lydia is very much driven by seeing high scores and those green checks that she got the answers right.  The instant feedback is such a wonderful feature for her.  She is so proud and I have to print off her certificates right away!

Joey is my struggling math child.  CTC Math has been helping him as I took him back to basic concepts that he is still struggling to grasp.  These past few weeks have provided him with more confidence.  He will always struggle with math, but the videos have really helped him.  The length of the material is not overwhelming.  He can easily navigate the website without help.  Most of the questions are read to him.  I do wish a few more were read to the students or an option given to them to have the questions read to them.  Joey would have really benefitted from this as he has a reading comprehension delay.

We have been using CTC Math for a few weeks now, and we will continue to use the program.  I am going to keep using the program as Caty's primary math program.  She enjoys the videos and I know that she is covering topics that she needs to be doing at this level.  This level also allows us to incorporate puzzles and games to reinforce the videos that she is watching.  For Lydia we are going to continue doing our review schedule that I have set up so she is on track for 3rd grade math.  Joey we will continue following the schedule I have set up for him to follow to continue to give him confidence in completing his math assignments.

I know that the price seems a little high, but when I sit down and figure how much I spend on textbooks and other curriculum sources for math, I can justify it since I can have all the kids on one program.  I am easily able to make a list of lessons that I want them to complete.  I like that I can print the quizzes for their portfolios, and can print the certificates they earn to hang them up to show off the kid's accomplishments.  CTC Math is easy for the kids to navigate on their own.  Even with her trouble reading, Lydia has been able to finish quite a few lessons almost completely on her own.  That means her confidence is boosted even more!

I am going to mention one more of my favorite things about CTC Math.  The simple videos.  My kids like playing math games online.  But sometimes the flashier the program, the less they learn.  The videos on CTC Math are simple and to the point.  They give a good explanation.  I found one or two videos that confused Joey just a bit, but after watching them a couple times he was able to grasp the basic concept.  

We are going to continue using CTC Math for all the kids.  The ease of use for myself in helping the kids with their math education is priceless.  We are definitely at a busy spot in our lives where CTC Math came in at the right time and is able to help our family.  Here are some links to a few lessons so that you can see how the lessons are presented and how material is covered.....

Several other families from the TOS Review Crew had the opportunity to try out CTC Math.  Be sure the visit the Schoolhouse Review Crew blog to see how CTC Math worked for their families.

Click to read Crew Reviews

Crew Disclaimer

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Curiosity Quest DVD Combo Review

Vendor:  Curiosity Quest
Age recommendation - Ages 7 - 14

Anyone who knows me, knows that I am a HUGE fan of using documentary materials with the kids.  Joe and I really enjoy watching the History channel, PBS Specials, etc.  We learn new things every time.  I hope we are showing the kids that learning is lifelong and not just for when you are a kid.  

I recently discovered Curiosity Quest shows on a field trip and fell in love.  I was super excited to get a chance to view more of the Curiosity Quest specials.

Curiosity Quest is a family television show that goes on quests to explore questions sent in by fans.  Joel Greene is the host and he goes out to answer viewers "letters of curiosity".  Unlike watching documentary shows on the cable channels, Curiosity Quest is written on a level that kids will understand.  

Each episode takes you on locations to learn more about various topics and answer questions that can range from baking bread to how Goodwill Inc. works. Curiosity Quest really encourages kids to explore their questions with hands-on learning.  

I really like the host Joel Greene.  He has such an upbeat personality.  He is funny and energetic, no matter what the topic.  Even if your child might not be interested in learning about a bakery, he'll make it seem very interesting.  Our kids love the Fun Facts that pop up throughout each episode and we make sure to quiz them on them.  I learn something new every time I watch an episode.

We were able to review two of the combo packs that Curiosity Quest offers.

The first pack was the DVD Combo Pack - Produce.  The combo pack include 3 full-length episodes.  This particular pack includes: Mushrooms, Orange Picking, and Cranberries.  

Joel Greene takes you straight to the farms where our food is coming from. He makes all the information exciting and interesting.  You will learn how mushrooms are grown for food and how they are picked and shipped to you.  How cranberries are grown and harvested.  And shows us how to pick oranges.

The other pack that we tried was the DVD Combo Pack - Swimmers of the Sea.  This combo pack includes 3 full-lengths on Salmon, Sea Turtles and Penguins.

In this DVD Joel takes you on an adventure to a Sea Turtle hospital in Florida, a Monterey Bay Aquarium to learn more about penguins, and then up to Alaska to learn about salmon at a Salmon Hatchery.  

How did our family use these?

Well Joey is working on a 4H project about local foods and the importance of purchasing as much as we can locally.  So the DVD Combo Pack - Produce was a great addition to this project.  He has not been on a local food farm yet, so he was able to learn more about one of his favorite pizza toppings....mushrooms.  (Oh and I got to learn more about that also.  Did not know that is how we get the mushrooms we buy in the store.).  The cranberry episode was very interesting, and since we won't get a chance to tour an orange farm or a cranberry farm where we live, was a great way to experience what it would be like to work on one.

DVD Combo Pack - Swimmers of the Sea was a fun watch for the girls and I.  The girls love turtles and penguins, so obviously these were favorites.  But I really liked the episode on Salmon.  This tied so well back to Joey's 4H project that I watched it with him too.  We both got to learn more about a fish that we enjoy eating and how the salmon is raised to help keep the salmon rates high.  The salmon episode also tied in a bit to our reading of American Girl - Kaya, since the Nez Perce relied on salmon.  Lydia and I could learn a little more about how we are able to eat this delicious fish still today.

All the episodes are a good length, usually about 20-25 minutes each, for short attention spans.  Like I mentioned earlier, the host Joel Greene is a favorite of mine in the way he keeps such an upbeat attitude.  I also enjoy how all ages, elementary through high school can use these videos and learn something.  Even myself as an adult was learning new things.  You can use these as tie-in to unit studies or just as a fun day video to encourage learning while playing a game or spending time together.

I HIGHLY recommend these packs from Curiosity Quest.  The DVD Combo Pack - Produce  and DVD Combo Pack - Swimmers of the Sea have been a great addition to our home.  I HIGHLY recommend all the Curiosity Quest DVD episodes.  We really enjoy all the episodes that we have seen and will continue using them.  

We really enjoy following Curiosity Quest on Facebook.  They love to get suggestions and keep you up to date on where they are heading and what episodes are now available.  

You can also check them out on their YouTube Channel.

Other members of the Schoolhouse Review Crew were given the opportunity to try out the Curiosity Quest DVD Combo Packs that we did.  Be sure to visit the link below and see how they worked in their homes.

Click to read Crew Reviews
Crew Disclaimer

Friday, April 11, 2014

Our triumphs and accomplishments for Week 44 & 45

Ok...So I am a week late on this.  We are actually in week 45.  Things have been hectic.  First we were having issues getting the Homeschool with Minecraft classes up and going.  It was just a matter of getting all the new classes uploaded and ready to go.  The house was a mess and I have not been feeling great, so it made it very hard for me.

Then we received the news that my father-in-law was very ill.  So we changed everything to see him.  He was seriously and passed away on Wednesday night.  My husband is experiencing many different emotions right now.

We also have a big event to help with this weekend and the viewing/funeral for my father-in-law is Sunday and Monday.

All the running this week has taken a toll on all of us.  Because we had some field trips early in the week that we had already been on.  I think by next Thursday we may crash, because everyday for the next week is full of events.  I know I may not be moving by next Friday.

Needless to say, it's been an unschooling week.  We have been watching some videos on geology to go with our science unit.  Joey has been reading his book.  We played a couple math games and the girls are playing their new engineering game, Goldie Blox and The Spinning Machine

The kids have been playing Minecraft a lot also.

Last week though we had a good week of school.

Joey made us dinner of chili con carne.


It goes with his 4H Project, Food, Fitness and Fun  We made a few adjustments and Joey even ate sauteed red pepper!!!

The kids had some "excavating" projects that they worked on.

 Lydia worked on multi-digit addition.
 Caty started a new reading program from Logics from English.
 Lydia is driving me nuts, "hen pecking" at the keyboard.  I am trying to get her to type correctly.  So she started Dance Mat typing.  She is not a huge fan.  I need to find something for her.
 Joey and Caty played a lot of Cars 2 Monopoly last week.
 The new kittens
 Caty is working on reading her color words.
 We did schoolwork at the piano teachers house.  Caty's working on recognizing color words.
This week we had art class on Monday.

 We played games and watched videos all week.

 We also had a field trip to the Mazza Museum - Art of Picture Books.  I'll post about that trip next week.

Yesterday we made ginger syrup and made homemade ginger ale to go with our lunch.  It was very yummy and 4 out of the 6 of us LOVE it!!  I haven't had soda in ages.  This was soooooo good!

It's been a rough week, but we are chugging along :)

Bring on Week 46!!

Supercharged Science - e-Science Review

Age Range - K - 12 

Science is an area I struggle with.  I feel like I cannot give the kids a good scientific explanation to go along with experiments they do.  I get nervous that the kids will keep asking me questions that I don't think I'll be able to answer.  I am very grateful when they do not seek out further questions.  

We recently had a chance to try out Supercharged Science K-12 e-Science Program ($57.00 a month).  I thought how awesome, a science program laid out for me.  I had no idea at the time how much information was included.

At Supercharged Science they want to take away the boring part of science.  There is not stacks of textbooks and piles of papers.  They want to take you into the fun stuff, the experiments.  They want to help provide your child with a strong foundation that will help them through college.

The Supercharged Science K-12 e-science program includes over 900 science activities, experiments and projects for pk - high school.  They provide lesson plans, data/lab sheets, exercises, reading materials, and quizzes.  There are also videos of real scientists in action.  Supercharged Science even provides a tutorial on how to start and keep a science journal to help track your student's progress in science

We were getting ready to start a study unit on Geology, so we jumped ahead to work on studying our Earth.  So we dug into the lessons.  The amount of reading material provided was unbelievable.  I did not need to get any extra library books or have a textbook out.

I was very impressed that there was so much information that I needed to weed out what Lydia and I were working on.

Several hands-on Experiments are included under each science topic.

If you want to use them, questions and quizzes are also included.  I didn't use them other than to draw Lydia out about the topics.  But there are plenty of questions included.

We are still working on our science unit in Geology.  We do science 3 days a week, and we are drawing out this unit for a few weeks.  

Here is one of my favorite parts I discovered on Supercharged Science.  The questions section.  You can actually post a question to help you explain the topics to your children!!  They answer the questions to help you out!  You can read through some that have been asked even, so your question may already have been answered.  

We have had some failed crystal experiments that we are repeating.  So our science journals now list, "Make sure to read all directions and follow them."

Supercharged Science actually has science topics broken down into grade level suggestions.  

They really try to make science such an easy subject to teach.  Not only is all the material included, but they also make sure that parents know how to use the website correctly so that you get the most out of the information you have been given.

I really like that I have all the information and material there at my disposal, and I can choose to present what I want and when I want to.  Lessons can be made as long or as short as I need to for that science class.  Supercharged Science does provide a lot of flexibility.  

Will we continue?  I am debating continuing using Supercharged Science only because of the cost.   The monthly cost is a bit steep for our budget.  Even with cutting our field trip budget back, it would be difficult to afford.  Although if we begin traveling more, it will be worth using Supercharged Science because I will have Science curriculum with no textbooks to carry in and out of hotels.  I keep leaning toward yes.  I believe that we will be continuing with the lower level K-8 option since it has a lower price of $37.00. 

Supercharged Science is allowing our readers to try their program for a month for only $1.00.  Simply visit this link from Supercharged Science to enroll for this trial.  You can experiment to see if Super Charged Science is a program for your family.

Other members of the School House Review Crew were able to use Supercharged Science with their families, visit their blogs below to see how it worked for them.

Click to read Crew Reviews
Crew Disclaimer