Thursday, July 30, 2020

Journey Homeschool Academy - Experience Biology: Upper Level Review

Disclaimer: I received a FREE copy of this product through the HOMESCHOOL REVIEW CREW in exchange for my honest review. I was not required to write a positive review nor was I compensated in any other way.
I have yet another entering high school.  I was excited to get the opportunity to review a new to our family science curriculum from Journey Homeschool Academy.  We were able to spend the last few weeks using Experience Biology: Upper Level with Lydia.  She has really enjoyed this program, and I'm enjoying the easy to use self-guided study of Biology that Lydia is getting.

Journey Homeschool Academy provides families with Christian based science studies for elementary though high school grade levels.  Using video based learning, Luke and Trish Gilkerson help students explore biology and astronomy.  We had the opportunity to use the Upper Level, or high school level Biology program.

Experience Biology: Upper level provides a easy study program for high schoolers earning their credit for Biology.  The four step process includes use of video instruction, Comprehension quizzes, lab assignments for hands-on learning and research questions, and weekly reading assignments from The Riot and Dance: Foundational Biology. Also available are PDF printable note-taking guides for use during the videos.

There are 35 lessons that cover both lessons in human and animal biology.  

The interface is extremely user friendly.  Lydia is able to keep track of where she is easily.  The materials are available to print on your own, or you can order the books printed.

I chose to print the materials.  Each week, I print the lessons outlines from The Student Guidebook and also the Student Lab Guide.  We are only a few lessons into the studies, but this has worked out very well for us.  I also added tabs to help Lydia find the pages in her binder easier.  She does have a processing delay, so note-taking is something that she struggles with.  I love the Student Guidebook for this reason.  As she watches the videos, she can pause and fill-in the information inside of the outline notes.

I can also make adaptions for her learning disabilities by allowing her to use the notes on the graded quizzes provided with each lesson.  I like that they allow her to retake quizzes if she does not score a passing score.  This allows her to work at a pass she can with her processing delays, and I can also see if she is struggling in the understanding of a specific subject area.  

Each Lesson does include a hands-on lab activity.  This is also a PDF printable file.  I print the pages and place them with her lesson notes inside of her binder.

Lydia learns well with hands-on activities.  She is loving this part of her lessons.  We plan her week out though that she can work on her lesson videos independently and then her labs on days where I can be more hands-on with her work, just in case she needs a little help.

Our microscope hooks through my laptop, so she can take pictures of what she is seeing.  She prints that and then includes that in her binder for her assessment next year.

You can turn in lab assignment for grading.  Lydia has opted to not do this so far.  The labs have been very easy for her, but you can turn in 15 labs during the course of study.  

I can log into my parent account and see her quiz grades.  This is also where I can purchase other courses and assign them to Lydia, or even Caty if I chose to use the lower level programs for her.  I am considering this.  Journey Homeschool Academy can really be used independently, with just a parent overseeing their studies and confirming that they are finishing the work.  This is a great benefit for busy parents who are homeschooling and working.  There is a Curriculum Guide available to answer questions that you may have along the way, and also a materials list for the Lab Assignments.  Included are also Answer Keys for certain lab assignments, and a sample lab report just in case you are not familiar with what is required for these forms.  

I really have liked all that Journey Homeschool Academy - Experience Biology: Upper Level has offered my animal science girl.  She is able to work independently, which is something that she wants.  I am able to adapt it to her learning style, and I do not feel dependent on a curriculum guide or an extensive list of fancy lab supplies that many people may not have access to order.  I know that Lydia will be signing up for the Upper Level: Astronomy course when she finishes Experience Biology: Upper Level.  I hope that the Gilkerson's will come out with other courses for high schoolers to help me get through the rest of Lydia's science requirements.

You can check out Journey Homeschool Academy and the programs they offer by clicking below.  Several families from the Homeschool Review Crew were given the opportunity to use the various programs that Journey Homeschool Academy offers in their home during the review period.  See what they thought and how they used these in their homes.

Experience Biology: Elementary Level, Upper Level and Experience Astronomy: Elementary {Journey Homeschool Academy Reviews}

Wednesday, July 29, 2020

CTCMath Family Membership Online Math Review

Disclaimer: I received a FREE copy of this product through the HOMESCHOOL REVIEW CREW in exchange for my honest review. I was not required to write a positive review nor was I compensated in any other way.

Anyone who knows me, knows that I am not a fan of teaching upper level math.  I was grateful to get the opportunity to review the CTCMath Family Membership Online Math program from CTCMath with the girls.  It has helped me out so much already these last few weeks.

CTCMath is a online math program that provides extra help for students who may be struggling in various areas of math.  It offers video instruction which can be repeated as many times as the student needs.  Each lesson includes quizzes to reinforce and provide practice in the skills that your student needs extra help in.  You could use it as a standalone curriculum/teaching program or as supplemental to help reinforce skills your student may be struggling with.

CTCMath allows students to work at a pace that encourages them to master a skill, not just learn it.  The videos are short and yet are full of information which helps those with short attention spans.

CTCMath 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

We have been using CTCMath Family Membership for the last few weeks with the girls as their full math curriculum.  

They like the short length of the lessons.  If they do not understand the steps being taught, they can easily watch the video again and work at the skill they need to master.  CTCMath has been great for Caty.  She is getting someone else to show her (yes it's a video explaining and showing the steps), but it's not just mom showing her what to do.

One of my favorite things about CTCMath Family Membership Online Math.  The simple videos.  The videos on CTCMath are simple and to the point.  They give a great explanation.  If they need to, the kids can easily watch them again.  These videos save me an extraordinarily large amount of time in dealing with math instruction.  The video below contains some sample lessons that you can watch to see how easy the video instruction is.

I like that I can adjust the girls learning to where they actually are.  In some aspects of math they are at grade level, while other math areas they may be behind or ahead of their grade level.  I can easily assign them the areas where they need help or where they excel.  The parent area is easy to use.  I can sit down and assign out their weekly tasks in roughly 15 minutes.

Under the parent account, I can also print a checklist to keep with my lesson plans.  This allows me to plan out their weekly lessons easier.

Each day I get an email that is called and Expired Task list.  This email shows me how the girls did on their math lessons the previous day, or even if they tried to skip their lesson.  Because it shows what was completed.  If they try to skip a lesson or forget to do their math, I can easily reassign the task to be completed.

The girls are also rewarded when they finish a section with a printable certificate.  This is at all grade levels.  They used to care more, but I still print them and they are very proud and grin when I hand them the paper.

During the review period, I used several grade levels for the girls.  Some things I assigned identical, since they are both struggling there.  Others I was able to assign at various grade levels.  If Lydia was able to tackle higher level addition/subtraction, great.  That is what I assigned.  But other areas she needed help, so I would assign more practice.  This provides great flexibility when work with students who have learning disabilities.

I am recommending many parents that are new to homeschooling to check out the CTCMath Family Membership Online Math for their families.  We have used it for several years now, and my favorite recommendation for using CTCMath is for multi-grade level teaching.  The ease of use is also a great benefit.  And you can use CTCMath Family Membership Online Math for all levels PK through high school.  This is a great budget saver for families.

Click below to see what other Homeschool Review Crew families thought of the CTCMath Family Membership Online Math.

From Kindy to Calculus CTCMath 12-month Family membership {CTCMath Reviews}

Thursday, July 16, 2020

Favorite Art Curriculum

Some people choose to just let art projects to just happen.  Whatever they want to do on a whim.  Others though, need preparation and planning.  When we started our Art History this year, I definitely at least needed a basic outline plan of what we were going to do.

Beyond the Stick Figure

A friend shared this book online and I ordered it right away!  Vincent's Starry Night and other Stories.

I used this to make our outline for the year.  I had a few projects in mind as I was going through the list, but usually planned out a month in advance.  I really liked this book.  It gave a little story for each.  We also watched a quick biography video on all the artists that we could and looked up their art work.  Another suggestion I got from a friend was to print coloring pages of each artist's work and let the kids color those.  So that is what we did for most of the artists.  We all know that Pinterest is the mecca of art projects!!  So I would surf around if I didn't have any ideas and borrow from here and there to create our projects each week.

Behold the Beauty Art Curriculum - I used this along with the above book.  It was a great addition to our year this year.  This copy is for Grades 4 - 6, but you can also purchase for lower grade levels and beginning artists.

Great American Artists

Discovering Great Artists

Online resource.... Art Hub for Kids ... the girls love drawing these pictures!  Their Youtube channel is jammed packed with fun art lessons.

Artistic Pursuits is a wonderful program.  Projects are completely laid out for you.  So very little planning needed, other than pre-reading lesson and collecting supplies

You honestly could find thousands of tutorials on Youtube to help with drawing basics.  There are also online schools such as that also offers several levels of drawing classes.  (Remember Youtube is FREE for almost all the videos, so that is always budget friendly!!)

You can read more reviews both at the 

Cathy Duffy Reviews

and also

Homeschool Review Crew

Wednesday, July 15, 2020

Pitsco Education - Code Cube Single Kit Review

Disclaimer: I received a FREE copy of this product through the HOMESCHOOL REVIEW CREW in exchange for my honest review. I was not required to write a positive review nor was I compensated in any other way.

We recently had the opportunity to review the Code Cube Single Kit from Pitsco Education.  What a fun way for kids to learn basic coding and take their projects around with them.

The Code Cube Single Kit is a wearable tech tool that students can build creations on and wear just like they would a watch or bracelet.  The kit includes a programmable LED screen with its built-in accelerometer and sound output features.  You also receive access to a 10 page teachers guide, USB cord to plug into a computer for charging and connecting to your Code Cub, a wearable band, and access to several different resources to use for programming the product, including videos for students/parents to view.  

It is super easy to get started using the Code Cube Single Kit.  It's very small enough in size to make the students want to wear it around and not be overwhelming on students that may have small arms.  For kids with sensory issues, this is a big deal.  When we received the kit, I simply plugged it into my computer.  There is not a software package that is needed to be downloaded.  Which is great because that is the last thing I need on my laptop is more software bogging it down. 

I simply plugged it in and my computer asked me if I wanted to open the Pitsco Web interface.  I was able to click on that.  And simple programming began.

I call this drag and drop coding, similar to Scratch, since students can simply drag over what they want to do or program they want to create.  Unfortunately my girls do not like drag and drop coding.  Lydia has studied it for a few years now, and gets very frustrated with it (she does not like computer programming though).  Most students excel at it though.  They can create simple scrolling programs for their watch and even sounds.  Yes sounds!  The Code Cube does allow students to add sounds to their projects.

Students can also create their own picture on the screen with pixel art. 

Students can display their pixel creation on the screen of their wearable device.

The Code Cube Single Kit is a great starting point for students who are learning beginning programming.  It is very easy to use.  And they can save the programming that they have created on their computers, even if there is not a program downloaded.  This is great benefit for students that are easily distractible and need to come back to a project, or like Lydia who was getting frustrated when she could not get a project coding just right or to run the way that she wanted.

The suggested age range is Grades 3-5 and I believe that is a great age range.  The Code Cube Single Kit would make a great gift for that kid that has everything or for the kid you just do not want to buy another plastic toy for.  This gift will allow them to have some real fun while learning basic coding.  And they can show off what they create while walking around.

Several members of the Homeschool Review Crew were given the opportunity to review several of the fun and educational projects from Pitsco Education.  Click on the banner below to see what other amazing educational products that they offer.

STEM At Your Fingertips - Elementary, Middle & High School STEM Kits {Pitsco Education Reviews}

Friday, July 10, 2020

Progeny Press Study Guide Review - Animal Farm and My Side of the Mountain

Disclaimer: I received a FREE copy of this product through the HOMESCHOOL REVIEW CREW in exchange for my honest review. I was not required to write a positive review nor was I compensated in any other way.

We recently had the opportunity to review two e-study Guides, My Side of the Mountain e-Guide and Animal Farm e-Guide from Progeny Press.  These guide introduced new books for our teenager to enjoy, but it also gave me help to keep up her reading comprehension lessons for summer reading with little work from me!

Progeny Press has written these study guides, E-Guides from a Christian perspective, so applicable scripture memory and questions are included with each chapter.  The mission statement for Progeny Press has caused me to love their materials even more.

"To teach our children to think clearly, to understand literature, and to rely on the scripture for truth and values, and enjoy themselves while they do it!"

Progeny Press Study Guides combines literature, critical thinking skills, along with Biblical text.  The Study Guides provide a great way to encourage your student's love of literature, and also give them scriptural reminders about behaviors to discuss. 

When classically educating your child, one thing parents can do is draw out as many educational experiences as possible in literature books.  This can become a time consuming endeavor, but Progeny Press has done all of the work for you.  

My Side of the Mountain is the classic tale of a young man who sets out to find himself.  After being told by so many that he was not made for the outdoors and working in the outdoors.  He sets out with only $40.00 and a few tools and string. Will he be able to reach his family's homestead in the mountains?  Will he be able to make it there?  Sam captures and befriends a falcon, who makes a great friend and helps with supplying food.  Does Sam really find a place where he belongs?

The My Side of the Mountain - eGuide  can be used at your own pace.  The questions are very though provoking with each chapter.  They encouraged Caty to really think.  But at the same time, due to her learning disabilities, she struggled a bit with writing the answers and really getting her thoughts lined up.  The My Side of the Mountain - eGuide really adapt to their learning style by allowing them to move at whatever speed they are most comfortable.  One day I had her just type up her answers to the questions, instead of handwriting out the responses.  The eGuide gives students the ability to type in their answers and print the pages if that is what they need at that time.

Each eGuide breaks down the study/reading of the book into a certain amount of chapters being matched up with questions.  Included also are questions and activity suggestions that include areas of interest in geography, science, math, and also language arts.  So when using a Progeny Press Study Guide, you are really getting a total study unit.

The other tale that Caty has started is the Animal Farm eGuide and store.  Animal Farm is a classic tale of a farm that is taken over by its overworked, mistreated animals.  This tale has shown to be sort of a fable for grown-ups exhibiting the evolution of a revolution against tyranny to a totalitarianism state.  It is required reading for many high school students in literature.  

This tale is causing Caty to struggle a bit more, since it is for high school level literature classes.  So the critical thinking questions are a lot more challenging for her.  But she is enjoying the story.  I definitely rate this as an excellent study to use for your high schooler in their studies.  I am going to use this with Lydia when she finishes up her current eGuide.

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.  Caty had to create sentences using the vocabulary in her own sentences also, looking at the means and also the antonym of the word too. Since vocabulary is a weak area for her, this really pushed her brain to look for answers. 

Each guide includes ideas for field trip activities (which we really could not take too many of due to our restrictions), art, research/science questions.  For example the My Side of the Mountain - eGuide includes ideas on researching types of plants in your area.  This is something that Caty is really into right now.  She wants to learn about edible plants.  So this was a fun science activity to do alongside reading this book.

We have had nothing but success with any grade level of eGuides that we have gotten from Progeny Press.  They are definitely a bonus for homeschool families.  They are easy to use.  Packed full of information.  Completely budget friendly for families.  The bonus for our family is that they are written with a Christian viewpoint, so when a student is struggling to understand how material could fit into their lives, there are scriptural points that they can use to point them in a direction to turn to their Bibles to help them apply it to their lives.

Several members of the Homeschool Review Crew were given the opportunity to review various eGuide literature studies from Progeny Press.  Click on the link below to see what materials they reviewed and how they used these products in their home.

Study Guides for Literature - A New Coat for Anna, In the Year of the Boar and Jackie Robinson, My Side of the Mountain, Animal Farm & Little Women {Progeny Press Reviews}