Trust Fund Movie ~ Review

Since my foot is still not healing, there are not very many activities that AJ and I can do together for fun. One activity that we are able to do is watch TV. We were recently given the chance to watch a great movie from  Mapelle Films called, Trust Fund. We were also given the book, Love Was Near. The book is designed to be read after you watch the movie. I thought that they would make a fun family time activity for us. I was right!

Mapelle Films - Great movies

About Trust Fund

Trust Fund is a modern day adaptation of the Prodigal Son story from the Bible. The movie stars Jessica Rothe as Reese. Reese’s life is great until one day her mother tragically dies. Reese and her mother were very close and becoming close with her dad was difficult. They were both mourning the loss of her mother so even though she loved her father, they were not as close.

Reese was an aspiring writer. She didn’t want to go to college, but agreed with her dad to try it for a year. Her dad was fully supporting her, but she was not living within her means. She was quickly realizing that being an adult was a lot harder than it looked.

A modern day version of the prodigal son ,

She was lucky enough to find a publisher for the book she was writing. Having her own money from the advance made her want to become more independent. Her dad didn’t know that she spent all of the money she had received from the advance (and then some.) To encourage his daughter’s writing, he paid for her to go to a writing seminar in Europe. But she didn’t spend very much time writing. She met a guy and “fell in love.” And spent the time she should have been writing, seeing Europe on the back of a motorcycle. Reese wanted to stay in Europe with her new boyfriend, but her dad would not let her. She reluctantly returned home.

By accident, Reese saw some papers on her father’s desk. They showed that her mother had left a trust fund for Reese and her sister. Reese was angry! She thought her father was keeping her money from her. That he was being mean. She did the unthinkable. She took money from her father’s business and lest to Europe. Things there weren’t what she had thought and herd boyfriend ward not who he had said he was.

When Reese’s sister discovered what Reese had done, she wanted their dad to call the police, but he didn’t.

You will need too watch the movie to see what happens. It is a very touching movie about a father’s love.

About the Book – Love Was Near

The book is written in diary form. It is in Reese’s point of view. It shows why she did the things that she did. I really like that she didn’t make up a bunch of excuses. She admits that she made mistakes and even tells why she thought it was OK to do the wrong things in the heat of the moment.

A book to go along with Trust Fund

The book is gull of inspirational scriptures that focus on some of the issues that Reese struggled with in the book and movie. There are also numerous places in the book where you can write in it. Questions include things like, which action was worse, spending all of the money without finishing the book or telling a lie to her father. There are a lot of places where the reader is asked to give their opinion or tell what they would have done in the same situation.

While the book is designed to be used after watching the movie, I feel it would also be a great book for a teenage girl to read and work through on its own.

How We Used Trust Fund and Love Was Near

AJ and I watched the movie together. She thought the movie was good but thought that Reese made some bad decisions. I read through the book in about an hour. I really enjoyed it but decided not to have AJ read it at this time. It talks a lot about relationships with your father, and since she doesn’t have a dad I thought it wasn’t the right book for her at this time.

What We Thought

We both enjoyed the movie. The story line was good, it moved at a nice pace, and the acting was well done. There are some scenes that parents might find inappropriate for younger kids, but I think it would be fine for kids aged 10 and up. Of course use your discretion. The movie doesn’t follow the story in the average cookie cutter way. Instead there are twists and turns to keep you interested. Overall Trust Fund is a good movie with a great message!

The book was great. If AJ’s situation was different she would have read it. It discusses relationships and bad decisions. I would say the appropriate age would vary depending on your child’s maturity level. It encourages them to think through some difficult situations. I appreciate that there are scripture verses sprinkled throughout the book to help your child grow closer to God. I think the journal like feel of the book will keep teens interested in the book.

If you are looking for a great movie, then Trust Fund may be exactly what you are looking for! Love Was Near is a fun book to help you dig deeper into the themes of the movie. Together they make a great pair.

Mapelle Films has also designed a download study guide to help small groups dig deeper into the themes of the movie. So if you are looking for a good movie to watch with the family, or if you are looking for a product to discuss, Trust Fund will fit the bill!

Click on the graphic below to see what other members of the Home School Review Crew thought!

Disclaimer

 

The New Testament Activity-Pak ~ Review

*Read to the bottom to get a code for a free project from Home School in the Woods!*

We love using the hands on approach to learning, especially when it comes to subjects like history. We have used quite a few products from Home School in the Woods in the past, and have never been disappointed. So when AJ and I were given the chance to try out one of their Activity-Paks we were excited. There are a few different products available including; The Old Testament, The New Testament, Composers, Artists, and a new product Make-a-State Activity.

Home School in the Woods
We had the opportunity to review The New Testament Activity-Pak.

What is The New Testament Activity-Pak?

Hands-on History Activity-Pak: The New Testament
The New Testament Activity-Pac is a great way for your child to get an overview of the people and events of the New Testament. It includes a lapbook with 15 mini books for your child to create. Each one is a little different. Your child will learn about the lineage of Jesus, the miracles that he preformed, the prophecies he fulfilled, and more. They will also learn about each of his disciples and the places that Paul wrote to.

The study also includes The Armor of God activity. In this activity your child will learn all of the parts of the Armor of God that they should put on each day. You can glue a picture of your child on the page. Then after learning about all of the parts of the Armor of God, like the shield of faith, your child can symbolically put the armor on each day, as they put the armor on their picture. This is a great visual for younger kids to understand more about the Armor of God.

Hands-on History Activity-Pak: The New Testament
The final part of the study is the New Testament News. This is a news paper that your child fills out based on the events that took place in the New Testament. There are a few different ways to make the news paper. If you are crafty, you can make it look like a scroll from that time period, or you can simply make it like a regular newspaper. I love that there are options. The news paper has story headings and ads placed to help your child create their news paper.

How We Used The New Testament Activity-Pak

The Activity-Paks are recommended for kids in grades 3 through 8. AJ is just outside of this range as she just started 9th grade. Our goal was to use this Activity-Pak as a jumping off point for a year long study of the New Testament. This is not how it is designed to be used. Your student should be able to complete the study in about a month depending on the pace you go. There are not really any directions or a set schedule to follow. That is one thing that I love about Home School in the Woods, you can use the materials however they fit your family.

AJ started with the lapbook. She started with the Lineage from David to Jesus. I had expected her to have to look something up, but she didn’t. All she had to do was cut out the booklet and glue it into the lapbook. I decided she needed to do more than that. So I had her look up each verse that was listed that showed the lineage. There were quite a few verses. But I think having her look them up in her own Bible cements the facts better.

Then she worked on the Prophesies Fulfilled mini book. This had her cut out pages that had lists of Old Testament Prophesies and where they were found in the Old Testament. Then It had the verses in the New Testament where Jesus fulfilled the prophesies. There were text boxes with each verse written out that AJ had to cut out and match to the correct prophesies. This was one of AJ’s favorite mini books. As she was doing it, she looked up each verse in her Bible and then glued the verse that matched into the booklet.

She thought the Armor of God project was a little babyish, so she looked everything up and glued the pieces to the paper. Then instead of hanging it in her room, she just put it in her folder.

She also worked on the newspaper. She added a few articles to it and drew a few adds.

What We Thought About The New Testament Activity-Pak

Honestly, we were a little disappointed with the New Testament study. The products we have used in the past, like the US Election Lap-Pak, had more detailed instructions. There is not any text included, because you can use your own Bible, but I did expect some instruction. The news paper doesn’t give you details as to where to find the information to write the article. You are given an article headline and then have to look and find where in the New Testament the event took place. I think that simply adding the chapter where the child could read about the event would be extremely helpful.

The lapbook pieces include a lot of coloring and cutting, but they don’t really promote learning. None of the ones that AJ has completed required her to write anything. They have all of the answers available and just need to cut and paste. I understand that this is great for a third grader, but it isn’t as great for a seventh or eighth grader. I wish that there were at least a few booklets that had blank options available so that older students could write some of the information. That is one thing that I really appreciated with the US Election Lap-Pak.

This particular product was not a great fit for our family. But if you are looking for a simple supplement to your current Bible study this would be perfect. It would also be great for students who like Lapbooks but don’t enjoy writing. AJ did learn a lot from this study, and I plan to have her finish it, it just wasn’t as good as the other products that we have used from Home School in the Woods in the past.

Other Products from Home School in the Woods

Home School in the Woods offers numerous hands on history products that make teaching history fun. AJ loved their Middle Ages Study. If you are looking for a hands on approach to history you might want to try out one of their other product lines including; Time Traveler American, Lap-Paks, or their Timeline Trio. We plan to try out more products from Home School in the Woods in the future!

Home School in the Woods has also recently announced something NEW! They will be selling some of their products alacarte. You will be able to purchase individual items that are normally found in packages. There are quite a few learning games and time line pages available. To kick off this new idea, they are giving away a free Erie Canal project. Just use the code alacarte at checkout.

Click on the graphic below to see what other members of the Homeschool Review Crew thought about a variety of products from Home School in the Woods.

Hands-on History {Home School in the Woods Reviews}
Crew Disclaimer

Lightning Literature ~ Review

Finding a literature curriculum for AJ wasn’t easy. Most of the programs that I looked at wanted her to read ten or twelve books for the course. While that may be a good fit for some students, it isn’t a good fit for AJ. AJ is a reluctant reader who is a little bit below grade level in reading comprehension. She can usually read and understand any book that I assign her, but it takes her a little longer and she may need to read a section a few times to completely grasp it.

When I was about to give up and make my own literature program, I was blessed with an amazing review. We were given the opportunity to review the American Mid-Late 19th Century Lightning Literature book from Hewitt Homeschooling.  It looked exactly like what we needed.

Lightning Literature A High School Literature Course

American Literature: Mid-Late 19th Century

This is a high school literature and composition course. It is designed for students who are new to Lightning Literature. It can be used by a student at any level in high school.

The course is designed to last for one semester, but it can be used for a full year long course if you add in your own grammar program.

The main part of the course is the student guide. The student guide is a 170 page soft covered book. It is written by Elizabeth Kamath. The book starts with an introduction and is then broken into four units. The end of the book has discussion questions, additional reading lists, project ideas, and a course schedule.

Introduction

The course introduction does much more than explain how to use the course. It is full of information on how to properly read and write both poetry and prose. It has basic writing guidelines and is a good place for the student to reference throughout the year.

Unit 1

In this unit your student will read Uncle Tom’s Cabin. The literary lesson will focus on theme. Your student will also read selections from the poem, Leaves of Grass. They will learn about sound and imagery in poetry.

Unit 2

This unit has your student learning about humor while reading Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. They will also read a short story, “The Outcast of Poker Flat.” While reading the short story they will learn about local color.

Unit 3

Your student will learn about register (or tone as I was taught) while reading a selection of poetry written by Paul Laurence Dunbar. They will also read through The Red Badge of Courage while learning about description.

Unit 4

The final unit teaches your student about figurative language while they read through poems written by Emily Dickson. They will also study point of view while reading through The call of the wild.

All of the poetry and short stories are included in the Student Guide. You will need to purchase the four novels separately.

How each Unit is Set Up

Each unit begins with an introduction. It includes a short biography about the author and a little bit of information about the selection your student will read. It includes things for the student to think about while they read.

There are comprehension questions for the student to answer as they read. The questions are fairly easy and most of the answers can be found directly in the text. Some questions do require the student to think critically about the selection.

Lightning Literature A High School Literature Course

The student then reads through the literary lesson. In this section the author explains concepts while using examples from the reading selection. The lessons are very well written and self explanatory. I was impressed that after reading through the lesson, AJ was able to understand how the setting of a story can affect the theme.

The final assignment after each reading selection is the writing exercise. The student is given a choice of five or more writing assignments. There is a variety of options including; opinion papers, compare and contrast papers, augmentative papers, short stories, poems, and more. For each novel the student completes two of the writing exercises. They complete one exercise after poems or short stories.

Lightning Literature A High School Literature Course

I also received a teacher guide. It included additional information about the course and scheduling. The main perk of the teacher guide was that it included all of the answers to the comprehension questions.

How We Used American Mid-Late 19th Century

Since AJ struggles with literature, we decided to follow the full year plan. We added in a grammar program and followed the schedule in the back of the book. Most weeks it had her reading five chapters in the book and answering the comprehension questions.

Uncle Tom’s Cabin is a very long book, so we were not scheduled to get to the literary lesson or writing assignments during the review period. I wanted to provide a full review, so I had AJ read through the literary lesson on theme for Uncle Tom’s Cabin. She hasn’t completed a writing assignment yet, but she thinks that they look interesting. Right now she thinks she will answer the following question.

Write a paper focusing on any character other than Tom in Uncle Tom’s Cabin. Discuss the ways Stowe used that character as an argument against slavery.

The year long schedule gives her a week to write and revise each paper.

Lightning Literature A High School Literature Course

What We Thought About American Mid-Late 19th Century

American Mid-Late 19th Century is the literature and composition course that is perfect for AJ. It would be too much for her to complete two student guides in a year, but one guide is very doable. This option is a huge selling point for me! The novels, poems, and short stories offer a good amount of variety. We both enjoy that there isn’t any busy work. The student reads and writes quality material that is related to the lesson.

I like that she is challenged to write in so many different ways, and that she is given enough time to do a good job on her writing. I do wish that there was a bit more writing instruction in the book. The introduction is great, but there are some writing types that it doesn’t cover. That is our only complaint about the program.

I feel the lessons about poetry will really help AJ to finally grasp some of the difficult concepts. Poetry can be difficult to teach, but I think this will make it possible.

If you are looking for a literature and composition course that is flexible, free of busy work, and cost effective, then the American Mid-Late 19th Century Lightning Literature may be exactly what you are looking for. Click on the graphic below to find out what other members of the Homeschool Review Crew thought about Hewitt Homeschooling.

Hewitt Homeschooling {Reviews}
Crew Disclaimer

Introductory Physics from Novare Science & Math ~ Review

AJ plans to go into a scientific field after high school. So I am constantly looking for good quality resources that will really prepare her for college and beyond. I want something that helps her to fully understand the information, beyond just learning to pass a test. When we were given the chance to review Introductory Physics from Novare Science & Math I thought that it would be a great fit for AJ.

What is Introductory Physics?

Introductory Physics is a textbook written by John D. Mays that is almost 400 pages long. Unlike most physic courses, it is designed to be used by freshmen students. The book provides a very solid overview of physics in a way that a student who has taken or is taking Algebra 1 should be able to understand.

Novare Introductory Physics, 2nd Edition
It is smaller than most high school science texts because it is a mastery based program. A student should be able to learn and understand the information in this textbook over the course of a year. That is not often the case with other science textbooks.

Parts of Introductory Physics

The book begins with a Preface for Teachers. In this section the philosophy behind the textbook is explained. The mastery approach is explained as well as information about calculator use and class homework. It also lists optional materials that would be helpful in teaching the course; including the Teacher Resource CD that we received. (We received a download of the CD for review purposes, but if you purchase one you will receive a physical CD.) This section is fairly short, but I felt more comfortable teaching the course after reading it.

There is then a Preface for Students. This section explains what is expected of the student. It also provides study strategies to help them become successful in the course.

The book is then divided into 13 chapters. Two of the chapters are optional, chapters 8 and 13. The author recommends skipping them when used for 9th grade students because the other chapters provide more than enough to cover in a course. The math is also more difficult. These chapters can be used if the student is older or has more math experience.

The 13 chapters are:

1. The Nature of Scientific Knowledge

2. Motion

3. Newton’s Laws of Motion

4. Energy

5. Momentum

6. Atoms, Matter, and Substances

7. Heat and Temperature

8. Pressure and Buoyancy*

9. Waves, Sound, and Light

10. Introduction to Electricity

11. DC Circuits

12. Fields and Magnetism

13. Geometric Optics*

How the Chapters are Set Up

Each chapter begins with a list of objectives that the student should be able to do by the end of the chapter. Throughout the chapter there plenty of examples, diagrams, and color photos to help explain topics. When new formulas are explained there are multiple worked out examples. The author shows all of the steps so that the student can completely understand how and why to use the formula.

One thing that is neat about this science book is that the student learns about more than scientific concepts and formulas. They also learn about famous scientists who changed history. AJ enjoyed learning about the scientists as well as the theories that they came up with.

At the end of each chapter there is a set of exercises for the student to complete. For most chapters the exercises are broken into two sections; mathematical conversions or computations and study questions. The number of questions and question types varies by the chapter. Chapter two has 36 mathematical questions and 16 study questions, where chapter 12 just has 12 study questions.

The answers to the mathematical questions are listed in the textbook after the questions. This way the student can check their answer to make sure they are using the formulas correctly. The only down side is that the problems are not worked out, the answers are just given. So if the student doesn’t know why they got a question wrong, they are forced to figure the answer out on their own. The good news is that you can purchase all of the answers worked out separately. The answers to the study questions are not listed, but they can be easily found in the chapter.

The student should complete five experiments during the course. The directions and helpful information about the experiments are listed in the back of the book.

The last 62 pages of the textbook is devoted to helpful information. It includes a glossary, reference data, formulas and objectives, the laboratory experiments, important scientists, a section on accurate measurements, and an index. I was surprised by how much information the back of the book contained. I especially liked having a list of all the formulas and objectives that AJ needed to master in one place.

You could teach the course using only the textbook, but it would be easier with the Teacher Resource CD.

The Teacher Resource CD contains:

Course Overview and Schedule – This shows how you can teach the course in an average of four days a week. It breaks down each lesson showing what parts of the book the student should read and what problems they should work out. To me, this section was very valuable. It would be hard to figure out how much a student should do each day and how long you should spend on a chapter without the schedule.

Weekly Review Guides – These are for the student to do in addition to the book work. It includes things that the student should reread or study so that they retain the material. It also includes a few problems that the student should be able to work out.

Weekly review assignments help the student master the material.

Weekly Quizzes and Keys – Each answer is worked out so that you can easily grade the quiz. In the course overview there is an explanation on how to grade and what percent each thing is worth.

Semester Exams and Keys – Again everything is worked out for you.

Sample Answers for Verbal Questions – This has answers to the study questions from the textbook as well as the written answers from the quizzes and exams.

How We Used Introductory Physics

AJ worked through the book a few times a week. Chapter one was really hard for her. It went in-depth about what truth is and how we know something is true. She had a hard time grasping the information. To be honest the section was a little hard for me to understand. It is well written and there isn’t anything wrong with it, but it is something that I was never taught before. I feel the chapter is important as it explains how science can change and that scientific facts are not necessarily true. She was a little frustrated, since science usually comes easy to her, but once we got past chapter one things got a lot better.

Your 9th grade student will understand Physics with this course!

Chapter two was on motion. This section had her start off by converting measurements. She liked how each step was shown. It showed her how to convert gallons per seconds into liters per hour and other similar conversions. It also went into detail about significant digits. She had learned about significant digits in the past, but this was the first time that she really understood why they were important.

Each day she would read through the section that was assigned and we would discuss it. She would try to do the sample problems on her own and would answer any questions as we got to them. She would also complete whatever review activities were assigned.

I decided not to have her do the weekly quizzes at this time. We had already planned to have her do biology this year and will put this course away until next year. At that time I will have her do the quizzes to make sure she remembers everything, and then she will do the quizzes weekly.

What We Thought about Introductory Physics

After the first chapter AJ really enjoyed the course. She liked that there were enough pictures and diagrams to help her understand the topics. She also enjoyed the touches of history throughout the book. Her favorite part was the math. She loves math and liked to see it used in real life situations. The word problems were often set up to model real life. AJ struggles a little bit with word problems, but I can see that doing the problems in the book have helped her to improve already.

She wasn’t a fan of some of the reading. She is a struggling reader, so there were times when I had to re-explain something to her. There is a higher level vocabulary than she is use to and there are a lot of scientific terms used. But I don’t think this would be a problem for a student who is reading solidly at a 9th grade level.

AJ’s only other complaint was the number of experiments. She is use to programs that have experiments almost every week, only having five for the entire course was disappointing to her. What I did was use the objectives in the back of the book to add in a few more experiments to help her. I actually like only having five experiments. Then I can add more if I want, but I am not forced to find materials for twenty or thirty experiments that may not really help her learn anything. If you want to make this a lab course, you can purchase Experiments for Introductory Physics and ASPC it is designed to go along with the course.

What I Thought

I really liked the companion CD. It made teaching the course easy. All I had to do was print the weekly review sheet and follow the schedule. Having the answers to the study questions made grading AJ’s work easy. I didn’t have to read through the chapter to make sure she had the correct answer.

I feel like the lessons were broken down into a good size. The amount of reading and problems to be completed in a day was reasonable. Even my slow reader was able to finish her daily work in under 45 minutes. I also like that the course can be taught in four days a week. This leaves time for additional studying and lets you spend longer on a section if needed without falling behind.

I think the idea of this mastery based science is genius. I know when AJ finishes the course next year that she will have a solid grasp on physics, and that she won’t forget it right away.

If you are looking for a mastery based science textbook that includes scientific history, has great explanations, plenty of examples, and doesn’t include a lot of busy work, then Introductory Science from Novare Science & Math may be exactly what you are looking for.

Introductory Physics is just one of many books from Novare Science & Math

Novare Science & Math also offers other science courses. Other members of the crew received Earth Science: God’s World, Our Home   (a middle school science course) and General Chemistry. Other members of the crew received a neat reference book for teachers called, Science for Every Teacher. Click on the graphic below to see what other members of the Homeschool Review Crew thought about the products from Novare Science & Math!

Biblical Based Science {Novare Science & Math Reviews}
Crew Disclaimer

9th Grade Elective Choices

Last week I shared our core curriculum choices for AJ’s freshman year. Today I will be sharing the electives that she will be taking. My plan was for her to take two electives; Spanish and something of her choice. She didn’t want to pick between the few that I offered her, so she will be taking a total of four electives. She won’t do them all every day and some she won’t get to every week. I told her I would let her take more electives but that her core subjects had to be completed first. Here are the electives that AJ plans on taking.

Bible ~ New Testament Overview

I wasn’t sure if I wanted to have Bible listed on her transcript. But after thinking and praying about it, I decided it was the right decision for her. Right now my plan is to let her earn up to two credits for Bible study throughout her high school years. One year she will focus on the Old Testament and one year on the New Testament. This year she will be reading through the New Testament. She will use two main resources; Hands-on History Activity-Pak: The New Testament, from Home School in the Woods, and I Can Study Acts Alone With God. Both are products that we are reviewing. I will link the reviews once they have posted.

Hands-on History Activity-Pak: The New Testament
The New Testament Activity-Pak will have her creating a lap book with a lot of information from the New Testament. She will explore the lineage of Jesus, His birth, works on earth, death, resurrection, and ascension. She will also study the fruit of the Spirit, the Armor of God, and a lot more. In addition to the reading and research activities, she will also be completing a newspaper all about the New Testament. While she could easily finish the lapbook quickly, she will take her time and read through the majority of the New Testament this year.

I Can Study Acts is a really neat Bible Study. It only takes about ten minutes a day and has her closely reading through the book of Acts a few verses at a time. The book is set up to last an entire calendar year, so she will need to double up on the work some days to finish by the end of the school year.

I think between the two resources she will be able to earn a full credit of Bible.

Spanish

Living in Southern California, AJ needs to learn Spanish. She has been learning Spanish off and on since fifth grade. Last year she worked through Middlebury High School Spanish 1. She liked it, but it took forever. It also was another program that took up my computer. This year I decided that I wanted an offline program. Let me tell you, it was not easy to find what I was looking for!

Finally after searching for a few months, I found two books that I like. I think they will really help AJ to improve her reading, writing, and vocabulary. She will be using two books from the Practice Makes Perfect Series; Spanish Verb Tenses and Spanish Vocabulary. She won’t finish them both this year, but she will make some good progress. So far I like the variety of activities in the books. She will work through two units of the vocabulary book and then one unit in the verb tense book. She will continue that until the end of the school year. In addition to the book work, she will also continue to use the Duolingo app. (It’s free.)

Photography

This is the class that AJ is the most excited about. She will be taking Photography from SchoolhouseTeachers.com.

Photography - Just one of the amazing courses offered from schoolhouseteachers.com

It has weekly lessons that she will work through. The course is only a half credit course, but we are combining it with Image Editing and Creation to giver her a full credit of Photography.

Just one of the amazing courses offered from schoolhouseteachers.com

This class focuses on editing the pictures once they have been taken. She will learn to use a free photo editing program and will have weekly assignments to complete. She received a digital camera for her birthday and can’t wait to learn better photographing techniques. I may take this class with her, it looks like a lot of fun.

Computer Animation

The last elective she will be taking is from Khan Academy. It has so much more than math! She will be working her way through the computer animation course. She started it at the end of last year and really enjoyed it. It uses Pixar characters to teach about animation. It involves math and science. After learning about a concept then she has to apply the knowledge and animate something. She will probably only work on this a few times a week, so I plan to give her a half credit. Once she is done with the lessons on animation she will go on to learn computer coding. The best part is that theses courses are all free!

It looks like AJ is going to have a fun year that is full of learning! What electives are your students taking this year? Have you used any of the other courses offered from Khan Academy? If so, what did you think?

UnLock Geometry ~ Review

AJ loves math and it comes easy to her. The only thing she doesn’t like is writing everything down and taking forever to work out the problems. It is almost like torcher to her to have to show her work when she can easily figure a problem out in her head. Since it is a subject that she excels in, I want her to enjoy it.

A few years ago we had the chance to review the Pre-Algebra course from UnLock Math. AJ loved the set up. It had video lessons, enough practice and repetition, and didn’t take her all day to complete. When I saw that they were coming out with a new course, UnLock Geometry , I knew we had to try it out. AJ was excited to see how geometry would compare to UnLock Pre-Algebra.

UnLock Math
 

What is  UnLock Geometry?

UnLock Geometry is a full high school geometry course that is completely online. It is taught by Alesia Blackwood, a certified teacher who is engaging and interesting to watch. The course is broken into 15 units with an average of about 8 lessons per unit. The units are:

  1. Prerequisite Skills
  2. Logic & Proofs
  3. Distance & Length
  4. Angles, Lines & Transversals
  5. Triangles
  6. Polygons
  7. Circles
  8. Circles Pt. 2
  9. Perimeter
  10.  Area
  11. Geometry in the Coordinate Plane
  12. Triangles Pt. 2
  13. Transformations
  14. 3D Geometry & Volume
  15. 3D Geometry & Surface Area

When your student logs in to their account they see a list of the units in the course, their grade so far in the course, and how much of the course they have completed. In the beginning all of the units have a purple lock next to them. When the student is working on the unit the lock opens, and when all of the lessons have been completed the lock turns blue.

UnLock Geometry - A full high school level course that is completely online.

When the student clicks on the rocket they are taken to their unit page. There they will see a list of lessons, quizzes, and tests for the unit. There is a quiz after every two to three lessons and a test at the end of each unit.

UnLock Geometry - A full high school level course that is completely online.

When they click on a lesson they are taken to a page where they see their lesson. It is broken into six sections.

UnLock Geometry - A full high school level course that is completely online.

Parts of the Lesson

  • Warm Up – This section has 5 questions based on the previous lesson.
  • Video Lesson – This is the main part of the lesson. The teacher introduces new concepts and vocabulary, explains new theorems and equations, and works out sample problems. Each video varies, but most range from 7 to 15 minutes.
  • Practice Problems – This section has 10 problems related to the lesson. The student can complete this section as many times as they need. Each time they will get different problems and only their highest score is saved. After almost every problem the student is shown the solution to the problem and how it was worked out. That way the student is able to learn from any of their mistakes.
  • Stay Sharp – This section has 10 problems from any previous lesson. This is a great way to practice skills from other units. It also forces students to really master the material. If the student gets a problem wrong they are given a similar problem so that they have the opportunity to practice the skills that they need more assistance with.
  • Challenge Yourself – This is a single question that requires the student to think beyond the lesson. Sometimes AJ finds them too difficult to even attempt, but most of the time she can at least try them. She likes these because they make her think. Once the student tries it once they can not attempt it again, but they are given a detailed explanation as to how it was solved. This section doesn’t negatively affect the student’s grade, but correct answers can help them to earn up to 5% extra credit at the end of the course.
  • Reference Notes – This is the lesson in printable form. It has new vocabulary, notes, and worked out examples. The notes are colorful and have a lot of information.

Grading

After each part of the lesson the student is given their grade for the section. They are able to review anything that they got wrong and they can redo the section if they want or need. A passing score isn’t required to move on to the next part of the lesson, but the student should make sure they understand the concept before moving on.

On the main page the student can see their grade. They can view a more detailed grade by clicking on the Progress Report. There they will see a cumulative grade as well as a grade for each unit.UnLock Geometry - A full high school level course that is completely online.When you click on the Gradebook you can see everything that your student has done. It shows each part of the lesson as well as when it was completed and how long it took. You can also click to see the problems that the student worked on and the solutions. Both the Progress Report and the Gradebook have the option to print so you can keep the grades for your record.

How We Used UnLock Geometry

AJ logged into the program most days of the week. She was able to easily navigate the program and use it independently. She completed one lesson a day most days. In the beginning some of the prerequisite skills were very easy for her. On those days she did two lessons a day.

When she logged in she would start with the Warm Up questions and then watch the video. Even though the reference notes are printable, AJ takes notes during the videos. I think it helps her to remember the information a little bit better when she writes it down.

UnLock Geometry - A full high school level course that is completely online.

She works out the problems in her head or on a whiteboard. Since I can print the grade reports I don’t mind not having a written record of the problems that she worked out. If she has any issues while solving the problems I have her read the solution so that she understands why she got it wrong. If she isn’t happy with her score she completes another set of problems. When she is all finished we look over the reference notes and see if she needs to print them out.

Each day the student answers 26 questions, but they vary in difficulty. Most days a lesson takes her 30 to 40 minutes.

Then when she is done with the lesson she takes the quiz if there is one.

What We Thought About UnLock Geometry

AJ loves UnLock Geometry. The lessons are to the point and explained very well. The teacher teaches new concepts a little at a time so that the student is able to really understand how to complete difficult problems. She also explains the why behind math. There are a lot of theorems and properties to learn in geometry. The teacher goes through and explains each one and why they work. She also encourages the students to try and prove the theorems on their own to help improve their logical thinking skills. AJ says the best part is that the teacher is fun to watch and not boring.

If you are looking for a solid math program that will make sure that your student really understands the concepts, You need UnLock Math!

AJ also likes that she doesn’t have to work anything out on paper. There are plenty of problems where she has to show her work on the computer by showing the correct next step of a problem, so she is still getting the practice but she doesn’t need to write it all down.

In the beginning there is a little bit of a learning curve. You have to enter the answers a specific way and have to pay attention to how a problem needs to be submitted. Once your student knows what to do though, it is smooth sailing.

I like that I can easily see everything AJ has done. I can see if she completed a set of practice problems a few times because she didn’t understand something, or if she was able to speed through a section because she really understood it. One thing that I find very useful that I can print out whatever I want for my records.

As with any online program there will possibly be a few glitches along the way. We only ran into one, and customer service was wonderful. I had a reply to my email in a few hours and the problem I had was fixed.

UnLock Math is a wonderful program. In fact we like it so much that AJ will be using it as her main math program this year. If you are looking for a solid math program that will make sure that your student really understands the concepts, I would highly recommend trying out UnLock Math. They currently have courses for; UnLock Pre-Algebra , UnLock Algebra1, UnLock Algebra2, and UnLock Geometry .

Would you like to get $50 off on an annual purchase of UnLock Pre-Algebra, UnLock Algebra1, or UnLock Algebra2? Here is a coupon for you.

See what other members of the Homeschool Review Crew thought by clicking on the graphic below!

Pre-Algebra, Algebra and Geometry {UnLock Math Reviews}
Crew Disclaimer
 

 

Freshman Curriculum Choices

We school through the summer and take Thanksgiving through New Year’s off. We started our new school year about three weeks ago. AJ has officially started high school! Time has gone by so fast. I still remember making the decision to pull her out of public school like it was yesterday.  Picking out her high school courses wasn’t easy, but we are both happy with the final decisions. Here are the core subjects that she will be working on for her freshmen year.

Math

UnLock Math
She will be taking Geometry this year. A few years ago we were blessed with the chance to review Pre Algebra from UnLock Math, and it was amazing. When I found out that UnLock Math had a new Geometry program, I knew that I wanted to have AJ try it out. I was ecstatic when we were blessed with the opportunity to review it. My formal review will be in a few weeks, but we love it. Everything is explained in a step by step manner and there is plenty of review built in. She will be sticking with UnLock Math for the year.

In addition to UnLock math she will continue to work on Khan Academy for 15 minutes twice a week. UnLock Math is more than enough, but I want her to continue to work on skills other than geometry so that she doesn’t forget those algebraic skills. I figure mastering a few new skills a week will make Algebra 2 easier when she takes it next year.

History

This year she will be taking World Geography. We had planned on her taking this course last year, but she didn’t get very far. Instead of using just a textbook approach, she will be using an online course with the book as a supplement. She will be using the World Geography course from Easy Peasy High School. So far we both really like it. She is using the book we have to help her with map work and to do research.

English

This was the hardest subject to decide on. I decided I really wanted something that was put together for me. For middle school I made most of her book studies and pieced things together. It worked out and she learned quite a bit, but it was a lot of work for me. Reading novels is not something that AJ really enjoys. So I wanted a program that had her reading, but that didn’t require her to read so many books that she would feel overwhelmed. I had my options narrowed down to a few programs, and then we were given the chance to review Lightning Literature. It was one of the programs I wanted to try out! We have been using it for a few weeks now and will use it for the rest of the year. Our review will be posting in a few weeks.

 Lightning Literature and Composition Pack American: Mid to Late 19th Century
She will be using their American Literature: Mid – Late 19th Century. There are a few ways to use the program. I decided to have her use the course over an entire school year. She will read four books during that time; Uncle Tom’s Cabin, Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, The Red Badge of Courage, and The Call of the Wild. There are also short stories and poetry that she will be reading.

In addition to literature, she will also continue with Analytical Grammar. Even though Lightning Literature has writing assignments for each novel, short story, and poetry selection, there isn’t really writing instruction. Since writing is the subject she struggles with the most we decided she needed something that would provide more instruction. She did very well with IEW’s Writing Intensive level B so we decided to try out another one of their products – US History Based Writing Lessons. It has the instruction she needs but isn’t overwhelming so it can easily be added to her workload.

Vocabulary will be taken from her literature books and from her writing lessons.

Science

This year AJ will be taking two science courses. She would take more if I let her. AJ loves science and anything that has to do with animals. She will be taking Biology and Animal Science from SchoolhouseTeachers.com

Biology is offered at schoolhouseteachers.com!

Biology is a great introductory biology course. It has a lot of flexibility and lets you go as in-depth as you want with the course. There are optional microscope experiments and dissections that we will be doing to make sure AJ gets a lab science.

Animal Science is one of the many science courses available from Schoolhouseteachers.com

Animal Science can be either a half credit or full credit class depending on the activities you decide to complete. There are 27 weekly lessons that will teach your child all about animals.

Nature’s Beautiful Order
There are a few activities that I don’t plan to have AJ complete, but I wanted to make sure it was a full credit course. She has been working on Nature’s Beautiful Order from Memoria Press and between the two there will be more than enough work to award her a full credit of Animal Science. So far AJ loves this course.

Those are the core subjects that AJ is taking this year. She is also taking a few different electives that I will share later on this week. Have you decided what courses your child will be taking this year?

Internship for High School Credit ~ Review

If you have a high school student then the product that AJ and I were recently able to review will interest you. AJ just finished her 8th grade year. While I thought long and hard if homeschooling her through high school was the right decision, for us there really wasn’t another option. One of the amazing opportunities that we are presented with when we homeschool through high school is the ability to tailor their education to fit them and their future goals. One way we can do that is to offer them electives that will give them the skills they need to succeed in the future.

An internship is something I had never thought to look into for AJ. But when we were given the chance to review Internship for High School Credit from Apologia Educational Ministries I began to discover all kinds of opportunities that AJ can take advantage of in the future. She wants to be a veterinarian, so an internship might be the perfect thing for her.

What is Internship for High School Credit

Internship for High School Credit is a 99 page spiral bound book written by Sherri Seligson. It is a workbook that is jammed full of information that will help you in every step to getting and completing an internship. It is broken into five sections. Some are for the parent and others are designed to be used by the students.

Internship for High School Credit

Part I: Getting Started

This section of the book is basically an overview about internships. You learn types of places that you can intern, how to get high school credit, and things to do to prepare for an internship. Resumes are explained and a sample is provided to help you create your own. You are also given a sample letter of introduction, the letter you would send to prospective job opportunities. It also includes interview tips and what to do once you get the position. This section while great for internships, would be great for anyone looking for a job. It includes practical advice and things your student might not think about – like not wearing too much perfume to the interview.

Part II: Information for Parents

This section is for the parents, but the student should read through it as well. It is a short section that has some great advice. It talks about child labor laws. This section also focuses on how to name the course and how you should assign grades for an internship.

Part III: First Semester

This section is for once your student has secured their internship. There is a worksheet where the student lists skills that they hope to obtain during the internship.  At the end of the first semester they list both office skills and career related skills that they have learned.

It also contains 16 weeks worth of worksheets that the student is to complete while they are completing their internship.  In the beginning the worksheets ask the student simple things like; their position, a description of their duties, and their workplace attire. As the weeks go on their are questions that require the student to ask their supervisor for things they need to improve. They are also asked to list areas of specialty in their chosen career and how the internship has affected their career goals. Each weekly worksheet is only a few questions and should be able to be completed in less than 30 minutes.

There are also work performance sheets for both midterm and the end of the semester. These are worksheets that the student has their supervisor fill out and rate them regarding their performance. I like that this is all set up so that the parent doesn’t have to come up with something. And the student knows what they will be evaluated on in the beginning.

Part IV: Second Semester

For the second semester things are changed up a little. Instead of filling in worksheets there are writing assignments every two weeks. Some of the assignments include comparing your first weeks of the second semester to the responsibilities you had at the beginning of the first semester. There are also questions based on what the student thought the day to day experience in the job would be like compared to what it really was. Each assignment is a little different, but they all require the student to take a greater look at the job and themselves. Since these are all one to two page writing assignments they will take longer to complete, but the student is given two weeks to complete them.

This section also includes two more work performance sheets for your supervisor.

Part V: Course Wrap-Up

This section is for once the internship is complete. It includes a final writing assignment and a sample thank you letter to send to your supervisor.

What We Thought of Internship for High School Credit

AJ is a little too young to use this book right now. She isn’t old enough to complete an internship in our area and isn’t mature enough to handle the responsibility. That said, we are both extremely grateful for the chance to review it and will be using it in a few years. It has everything broken down and organized to make the process on completing an internship easier. I like how everything is open and go. As a parent I don’t need to do very much other than help her make choices regarding the internship and grade her work.

I really like the idea of the performance evaluations. They will help to keep the student on track and teach them how to take criticism and improve themselves. I also like that the worksheets help to keep the student focused on their goals. Throughout the book tips are included that will help the student to become a model employee. As someone who was responsible for hiring and evaluating employees in the past, I feel that some of the tips would help the majority of new employees, even if they are not completing an internship.

If you have a high school student who is interested in learning more about their chosen career then an internship is a great idea. Internship for High School Credit would make a great addition to your high school resources. Do you think your student would enjoy an internship?

Apologia Educational Ministries

The people at Apologia Educational Ministries  also gave the choice to review a different product, How to HOMESCHOOL with Stunning Confidence, Contagious Joy, and Amazing Focus (DVD & Coursebook). We didn’t try it out, but other members of the Homeschool Review Crew did, and it looks like a great resource for beginning homeschoolers. Check out the reviews for both products by clicking on the graphic below.

Homeschool with Confidence & Internship for High School {Apologia Educational Ministries Reviews}
Crew Disclaimer

Nature’s Beautiful Order ~ Review

AJ loves science and wants to become a veterinarian, so we were both excited with our recent review. We were given Nature’s Beautiful Order from Memoria Press.

Memoria Press

What is Nature’s Beautiful Order?

Nature’s Beautiful Order is, “An Introduction to the Study of Animals Taught by the Classical Naturalists.” It came with the book, a student guide, and the teacher key.

Nature’s Beautiful Order
The book is a 187 page soft covered book. It is broken down into 18 chapters. The book starts off by explaining what an animal is. Then through various chapters, different types of  animals are examined in more depth. Some of them include; lobsters, bees, turtles, deer, birds, and farm friends. The final two chapters in the book are about man, the upright animal. Each chapter is broken down into smaller sections making it easier to study the book a little at a time. There are black and white diagrams and illustrations sprinkled throughout.

The book is written by Christopher O. Blum and John A. Cuddeback. Throughout the book the authors quote and use works from other famous scientists including; Aristotle, James Audubon, Jean-Henri Fabre, and St-George J. Mivart. Nature’s Beautiful Order is full of fascinating information that is sure to please any animal lover. However, because there is a lot of information in the book written by scientists of a different time, sometimes the wording and vocabulary seem odd. In the beginning AJ had some difficulty in reading those sections. I had to re-explain some of the concepts. As she continued to read, she became more use to the wording. Your student needs to be a strong reader to use this study on their own, even then you may need to help explain a few things.

The student guide is 51 pages. There is a two to three page section for each chapter in the book. All of the questions in the student guide are short answer. Most of the answers can be found in the text, but some require a little more critical thinking. If the book is read and understood, the student shouldn’t have any problem filling in the student guide.

The teacher key is also 51 pages long. It is an exact copy of the student guide, but it has the answers all filled in.

How We Used Nature’s Beautiful Order

There was not a schedule included with the study, so I decided to have AJ work on the study at a pace of about a chapter a week. Since each chapter was broken down into a different number of sections, the amount of work each week varied. Some weeks, like the first one, there were five sections in the chapter. So each day AJ would read the section and then answer any questions in the student guide that went with the reading. Other chapters, like the one on bees, only had three sections. So that week she only worked on the study three days of the week. I decided to have her do it that way so that she would read the entire chapter over the week.

Most of the time we would discuss the reading and I would help to explain anything that she was unsure of. Then I would check her answers with the teacher key to make sure she understood what she was learning.

What We Thought About Nature’s Beautiful Order

Overall AJ really enjoyed the study. She still has more to do and she will continue to use it as a supplement to  her Animal Science course. While the reading level surprised me, it was a good challenge for her. She has read numerous books about animals, but she still learned new things in each section that she read. I like that the study is laid back and isn’t full of activities to complete. It was easy to add to our day.

If you have a student who is interested in animals, Nature’s Beautiful Order may be exactly what you are looking for.

Other members of the Homeschool Review Crew were given the chance to review different products from Memoria Press including; Latin and various Latin programs. Click on the graphic below to see more reviews.

Latin, Nature and Trees {Memoria Press Reviews}
Crew Disclaimer
 

Lab Reports ~ What to Include & How to Grade

As AJ gets older, I wan her to start writing better lab reports. She wants to go into a scientific field when she gets older, so knowing how to write a proper lab report will be an essential skill. She has been writing simple reports about science experiments for a while. They usually included a hypothesis and the results of the experiment.

For her 8th grade year, I decided she needed something more. I wanted her to get use to following a guideline for the report and to include age appropriate information. After looking all over for a rubric or guideline for middle school science reports, I couldn’t find what I needed. So I made one for her. I wanted to share it with you incase you are searching for a solid lab report guide for your child.

Free Lab Report Grading Sheets!

Parts of the Lab Report

Title Page – The lab title should be centered on the page. Name and date should be in the bottom right hand corner. 2 Points

Objective – One or two sentence statement that outlines the purpose of the experiment. 2 Points

Introduction – Should include detailed information about principles, terms, and techniques used. Must include a clearly stated hypothesis that is underlined. 10 Points

Materials – List all materials that were used in the experiment, including equipment. Include labeled diagram of the experiment set up. 10 Points

Procedure – Describe all of the steps for the experiment in an orderly manner. Write in paragraph form using the past impersonal tense. 10 Points

Qualitative Results – Write a description of your observations. Results should include all of the senses that you used. What did you see, hear, smell, feel, or taste? ONLY TOUCH OR TASTE IF INSTRUCTED! Include a table or sketch if needed. 15 Points

Quantitative Results – Show completed graphs and tables of measured results. Make sure units are included and that all graphs and tables are properly labeled. If any calculations were done, show a sample of each type. Show your work and explain each step.  25 Points

Conclusion – Summarize the results of the experiment. Was the objective met? Was your hypothesis correct? Do the results make sense based on prior knowledge? Was there any chance of error? What would you change if the experiment was repeated? This should be at least a paragraph. 10 Points

Bibliography – Include a works cited page for any sources you used. This should include any textbook, video, book, or website that you used for background information. You must list at least one source. Use MLA format. 6 Points EasyBib is a great website to help you with MLA format. 

Neatness and Formatting – Report should be typed and double spaced. All graphs and drawings should be neat and fit on the page correctly. 5 Points

Spelling and Grammar – Proper spelling and grammar should be used throughout the report. 5 Points

Grading the Lab Report

I started by going over each section of the lab report and what I expected from her. My goal was to help AJ get use to writing lab reports and following directions, so I was fairly lenient in grading. As long as she followed the directions and included what was necessary she received the points.  Points would be taken off for missing information, improperly labeled graphs, or sloppy work.

I had her include a Lab Report Grading Sheet with each report she completed. It lists each section of the report and the points possible. There is a place for her score as well as any notes. I was able to easily grade her report and file it away with the grading sheet.

I found that some experiments didn’t provide measureable results. When those experiments came up I gave her a Lab Report Grading Sheet without the Quantitative Results. Those reports became worth 75 points instead of 100.

I didn’t make her use this format for every lab, but I did make her write one formal report each month. Her reports have improved quite a bit and she enjoys the process.

You can download a copy of the Lab Report Grading Sheet. I also included a printable version of what the student should include in their Lab Report. I hope it helps your young scientist!