Apologia Health and Nutrition ~ Review

Last year AJ and I were finally able to try out a science course from Apologia Educational Ministries. We had heard a lot of great things about their courses in the past and were pleased to discover that all of the great things we were told, were really true. So when I learned about their newest course for high school students, Exploring Creation with Health and Nutrition by Dr. Laura Chase, I was thrilled to have AJ try it out. We received  the Health and Nutrition Basic Set , and I was amazed at the quality of the information in the text book!

Apologia Exploring Health and Nutrition

About the Course

The basic set comes with everything you will need to complete the course, other than a few easy to find items for projects. The course is designed to be completed during any year in high school and can be completed over an entire school year by using the course three days a week. It can also be used daily and be completed in a single semester. It would be worth a half of credit of science on your student’s transcript.

When you purchase the set you will receive a 440 page hardcover textbook and a 365 softcover student notebook that is spiral bound. Unlike other courses from Apologia, the student notebook is not optional. It is needed to complete the course. Additional information for the course is available online. You can access it with a password from the textbook. Online is where you will find answers to study guides and tests. You will also find optional videos and other online resources that go along with each chapter.

The Textbook

The textbook is broken up into fifteen modules. Each module ends with a section called “Consider a Health Profession” where a health profession that goes along with what the student is learning about is discussed. In module 2 when the student is learning about the brain and nervous system, the section has information about neurosurgeons and a few other doctors.


There are “On Your Own” questions sprinkled all throughout each module. The final page of each module has an answer key for those questions where the student can check their answers.

This book goes way beyond telling the student to eat healthy and exercise. It focuses on the health of the entire person. It covers; physical, social, mental, emotional, and spiritual health.

The book is full of detailed information, charts, diagrams, and graphics. New vocabulary words are highlighted in blue the first time they are used, and the modules are broken up into plenty of sub sections. All of these things help break up the reading and help the student understand the science behind health.

The Student Notebook

The Student Notebook is full of useful information. The beginning of the notebook explains how the course is graded, and has a place to record all of the grades.

It also includes a suggested daily schedule. The schedule tells your student which pages to read, which On Your Own questions to answer, and which projects to complete. It is set up as a three day a week schedule.

The end of the book has the tests for each module.

Each module includes about four pages where your student can take notes. After the note pages you will find places for the student to answer the On Your Own Questions and instructions for projects.

The final part of each module is the study guide that the student needs to fill out.

We found the student notebook to be great. There was enough room for AJ to write and it had everything in one place. We did have a few issues with it though. It is big, and even though AJ has only been using it for about a month, the spiral bounding has come out of the bottom few holes. We fixed it, but I don’t know if it will last an entire school year. One thing we found helpful was using flags on the grading page, schedule page, and the page she was working on. It made finding her place a lot easier.

AJ’s only other complaint was the lack of blank diagrams included in the notes section. There are sometimes diagrams to fill out on the study guide, but she would have liked to see them in the note taking area. Her hand drawn diagrams were not done very well. We ended up photocopying some of the diagrams and glued them onto the notes pages.

What a Day Looks Like

Each day with the program is a little different. Most of the modules have a few different projects for the student to do, but not all of them do. I like that there are a variety of projects. In the first module she had a research project and personality tests.

But the second module didn’t have any projects. In module three she has to write out a decision making chart, go on a digital media fast for a day and write about it, do something kind for a caregiver, find an write a list of emotions, and a few other projects. Later in the course she will keep a food diary and then look at it fir ways that she can improve her habits. There is even a project that requires her to chart her dental health. Some of the projects take a little while to do, but most can be finished in a day or two.

Since we want to finish the course in a semester, I had AJ work on science for about an hour each day. Then she simply checked off each day once it was finished. Sometimes she was able to get two days finished, and others she didn’t even finish a single day. It usually depended on the amount of reading and the complexity of the projects.

How We Used It

Normally AJ doesn’t need to take notes. She can just read through the material, answer questions, and pass the tests. She found out the hard way that that wasn’t going to work with this course. When it came time to complete the study guide for the first module she had a hard time. This course asks questions that are not directly found in the text. She had to understand the concepts in order to fill out the study guide. After working on the study guide for a few days, I had her reread the module before she took her test. For the first time ever, she failed a science test. I think a lot of it had to do with the type of test. It had a lot of matching definitions. She didn’t pay enough attention and ended up making silly mistakes.

Luckily, the directions for the course state that the student can fix their incorrect answers for half points. Once she was more careful she only ended up missing a few questions. Her new score gave her a “C” on the test, which brought her grade for the module to a “B”.

She wasn’t too thrilled with a “B” so she approached the second module differently. She took a lot of notes and took a few days to complete the study guide while rereading the text.

Her hard work paid off! She ended up getting an “A” on the second test, and she was much happier. The course includes a lot of new vocabulary and simply reading through won’t be a possibility for her.

What We Thought

Both AJ and I are very happy with the course. She has to work a little harder to pass the tests, but she is really learning and understanding the concepts. This course lives up to the Apologia name! If you are looking for a health and nutrition course, I highly recommend this one from Apologia. Click on the graphic below to see what other members of the Homeschool Review Crew Thought.

Health and Nutrition Basic Set {Apologia Educational Ministries Reviews}
Crew Disclaimer

God Schooling ~ Review

Over the years I haven’t read very many homeschooling books. Mainly because our family dynamic wasn’t the norm. I am homeschooling an only child while living in chronic pain and we were taking care of my grandma who had Alzheimer’s. We couldn’t stick to strict schedules or really even stick to a homeschooling method. We have been eclectic homeschoolers, almost from the beginning.

When I was given the chance to review God Schooling: How God Intended Children to Learn, I was a little skeptical. Would this book fit the needs of my family? After reading the back of the book, I thought that the book, written by Julie Polanco, could be very beneficial. I have enjoyed reading Julie’s blog over the years, and found some of her other writing very informative. In the end, I am thankful that I was given the opportunity to review this book.

God Schooling book

Book Basics

God Schooling is available in both print and digital versions. I was given a beautifully decorated soft covered book. The book is fairly short at just163 pages long. But those pages are full of inspiration, hope, and ideas.

The book is broken into two parts. The first section is made up of two chapters. It is called Dispelling Myths. In this part Julie shares some of her homeschooling experiences. It is always humbling to see that you are not the only one who has had bad days, or who has stuck with a curriculum that wasn’t a good fit for your child, because it was expensive.

Julie Polanco Books
The second part of the book contains the remaining seven chapters. This section is called, Practice. There is a chapter devoted to kids eight and younger, another to the tweens, and the third to schooling teens.

Each chapter gives advice about what kids need to Learn, and how learning can take place even without textbooks.

The final chapters in part two focus on how to get started schooling in a more relaxed way, and how to stay organized.

After each chapter there are a few questions for you to answer. The questions help you to apply the information in the chapter to your own situation.

God Schooling

As the title suggests, there is a high priority on what God wants for your school. There is a focus on prayer and not comparing your child to their public school counterparts.

Julie’s ideas are like a loosely based unschooling method. I don’t necessarily agree with every statement she makes, but overall I agree with her approach. I don’t think that text books are the only option for learning, and I agree that kids can learn so much from playing and exploring.

What I Thought

The book is well written and enjoyable to read. The tone is conversational and you feel as though you are just chatting with a friend about homeschooling. The ideas in the book are very useful. I only skimmed through the chapters about younger kids and tweens, because AJ is in high school. Even so, the sections had great ideas, especially when it came to reading and math for the younger years.

I really enjoyed the section for teens! It gave advice about getting into college, and ways to pay for it. But it also talked about the fact that college isn’t for everyone. The section gave advice for transcripts and what you need to cover. Overall it covered how to keep your schooling decisions on what God has planned for your family.

The book is full of encouragement! It would be a perfect book for first time homescholers to read. It would also be a great read for moms who are discouraged or looking for a way to make their homeschooling day more productive. Honestly, if you are a Christian homeschooler then this book would make a great addition to your book shelf.


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

God Schooling: How God Intended Children to Learn {Julie Polanco Reviews}
Crew Disclaimer

Code for Teens ~ Review

Over the past year AJ has become very interested in learning about coding. While her future likely won’t require a large amount of knowledge on the subject, she still wants to learn the basics. And honestly, I do too. We tried a free online program for a few months last year, but it wasn’t a good fit. She was able to do a few things, but she didn’t understand why what she was typing was giving her the results that she was seeing.

I wanted to try something different, but a lot of coding books and programs were out of our budget. Fortunately, we were given the chance to review a code book that is designed especially for teens, and AJ is having a blast with it. She asks to work on Code For Teens: The Awesome Beginner’s Guide to Programming (Volume 1) almost every chance she gets. Code for Teens is an affordable way to help your teen learn about coding!

About the Book

Code for teens is a 221 page soft covered book. The pages are glossy, colorful, and packed full of information. The book is broken up into ten chapters.

Code for Teens

It includes an answer key and a glossary at the end of the book. The idea of the book is that the parent gives the child the book and lets them read it and work through it on their own. The book is written directly to the student. Concepts are explained and then the student is instructed to take the learning to the computer.

You don’t need a special program to use the book. As long as you have access to Google Chrome and a word processing program, you will be able to complete the tasks in the book.

What is in a Chapter

Most chapters begins with new information. Once the concept is explained the student is instructed to type in lines of code. Sometimes the line of code contains an error. Then the error is explained and the student is taught the correct way to write the code.

Whether the code was written correctly, or contained an error, the student is told what response they should get on the computer. Through this process the student learns that spaces, capital letters, and placing a comma in the correct place, can make big changes to the code.

After the main part of the lesson there is a Follow Along Section. In this section the student learns a concept by following along and typing exactly what they are told. These are fun little assignments that get more complex as you work your way through the book.

Next up is a quiz. The student types their answers into a word processing program and can then check their answers.

Each chapter ends with a Key Concept section that states what a student should understand after working through the chapter. Then there is a Drill section where you practice what you learned in the chapter.

The final section of each chapter is the Do-It-Yourself project. Your student will need to put everything they have learned together to complete a project. They start of some what simple. In chapter one your student will write a code that will figure out the average age of their family. By the time they reach chapter 10 they will be making a hang – man game.

Answers for everything are in the back of the book. So if a student gets stuck they can look at the solution to see where their mistake was made.

How To Use the Book

The student needs to take their time and fully understand the concepts before moving on. Learning to code is learning a new language. Instead of requiring AJ to finish so much of the book each day, I decided to have her use it for 30 minutes a day. Sometimes she works on it longer.

What We Thought

This book is amazing. AJ is understanding what she is doing, and having a good time while learning. The author uses humor throughout the book and explains concepts in a way that lets teen (or adults who are not quite tech savvy) learn easily. I think it is perfect for independent learners, and those who learn visually. This is the first volume, and when AJ finishes this one we plan to buy volume 2.

Code for Teens

If your teen wants to learn how to code, AJ and I highly recommend Code for Teens! See what other members of the Homeschool Review Crew thought by clicking on the graphic below.

Code For Teens: The Awesome Beginner's Guide to Programming {Code for Teens Reviews}

Crew Disclaimer

Project Passport Ancient Egypt ~ Review

Over the past few years we have been blessed with the opportunity to review numerous projects from Home School in the Woods.They are an amazing company that creates hands on history curriculum. From timelines, to lap-books, games, crafts, and activities, they have it all to help make history come alive! Your child won’t just learn boring facts and dates. They learn about the lives of the people during the time-period in history. What I have always appreciated about their projects is that there isn’t a bunch of useless crafts that just fill time. Everything they suggest you do really helps the child to learn more and understand a different aspect of history.

Home School in the Woods
When we were given the opportunity to review one of their Project Passport World History Studies both AJ and I were excited. We picked Ancient Egypt and have had a good time learning and exploring more about the time period.

What Are Project Passports?

Project Passports take your student on a virtual trip to a different time-period in history. There are currently five different ones available. There are; Ancient Egypt, Ancient Greece, Ancient Rome (this one was just released), The Middle Ages, and Renaissance and Reformation. Throughout their journey, your child will learn about famous people, events, inventions, and what life was really like for people during the time in history.

Project Passport Ancient Rome

Each project passport is designed to last about eight to twelve weeks. But depending on how you decide to use it, it can last longer. They are designed for students in grades 3 – 8, but I think older students will enjoy it as well! All of the project passports are available as a digital download, and all but the Ancient Rome one are available on a CD. We received a digital download.

Getting Ready for Ancient Egypt

We have previously used the Project Passport for the Middle Ages, so I had a basic understanding of what we would be doing. Each one of the studies starts off by having the student create a passport and luggage folder for their journey. Since AJ already had them we were able to skip that step and dive right into the lessons. The first stop (lesson) is where you really prepare for your journey. You print off the cover page for your scrapbook of sights (this is the folder where all of the papers are held), the papers for your timeline, the postcard holder, and in this case, a map of Egypt. During stop two you will be putting together the newspaper.

There are a total of 25 stops along the way. To finish in the 8 to 12 weeks you would need to do about two stops a week.  There is a lot of printing involved when you use these. As long as you follow the directions, it is fairly simple to do. I highly recommend reading through the introduction before you start! You will need a folder, plenty of card stock and printer paper, file folders, and other basic supplies to create the different projects.

What Will A Stop Look Like?

Each stop is a little different. Some times there will be more hands on projects, while other times there may be more newspaper writing and activities that go in your scrapbook of sights.  Here is a look at what your 8th stop would look like. Stop number 8 is all about Literature and Writing.

You would start off by reading, or having your student read the text for the stop. Most are about one and a half to two pages long. Stop 8, is two pages long. Your student will learn all about the Rosetta Stone and Hieroglyphics.

The first activity is to add a few things to the timeline. Your student colors different important people or events from history. Then they cut them out and glue them to the correct place on their timeline.

The next activity is to add to the newspaper. In this stop the student will write an article about the Rosetta Stone.

Next up is a postcard. Throughout the stops your child will receive various post cards from famous people of the time. These add a personal aspect to the lessons. The student simply reads the postcard and draws a picture to go on the front of it. Then they add it to their Scrapbook of Sights in their postcard holder. This stop has a card from, King Ptolemy V Epiphanies.

Then it is time for a craft. Your child will make a Cartouche. It is basically a nameplate from Ancient Egypt. The student can either make it on paper, or on salt dough.

In the next activity, they will translate some words from hieroglyphics to English and then a third language.

The final activity is an audio tour. The students take a virtual tour of an Egyptian classroom and see how they learned in those days.

The amount of time spent in each stop will depend on which activities you decide to do and how artistic your student is.

What We Thought

Honestly, AJ hasn’t completed too many of the projects and activities yet. My grandma took a turn for the worse and has just passed away. I had her read through the text, listen to the audio tours, and do some of the paper activities. Once things settle down we will go back and complete the newspapers, timeline, postcards, and some of the crafts. Even though we were not able to do all of the activities, AJ has learned a great deal of information!

The texts for each stop are very informative, the audio tours are very realistic, and the activities she did complete were both entertaining and educational. If you are looking for a fun way to help your student learn about history, Home School in the Woods can not be beat! They offer many other things aside from the project passports. You can learn all about American History with their Time Travelers American History or learn about elections or the Bible.

Find out what other members of the crew thought by clicking on the graphic below!

Hands-on-History, Project Passport, À La Carte Timelines and Time Travelers {Home School in the Woods Reviews}
Crew Disclaimer

Dinosaurs and the Bible ~ Review

When I come across a non-believer who finds out that I believe in a Biblical creation one of the first things they usually ask about is dinosaurs. How could dinosaurs exist with people? Where are they mentioned in the Bible? When I was younger I always wondered how dinosaurs fit in, so the questions are not far fetched. Over the years I have researched some things and have come to believe that dinosaurs did in fact exist during Biblical times. But I am always willing to learn more.

Northwest Treasures
We were recently given the opportunity to review two courses from Northwest Treasures. We were given access to a 20 minute course called Taking the Mystery Out of Geology and a six part course called Dinosaurs and the Bible. Even though AJ took a Biblical Earth History course in 8th grade, I thought these courses would provide some additional information. And they did!

The Courses

Both of the courses are in a digital format. The videos are hosted through Vimeo and are available for you to watch for a period of time. There are worksheets to go along with the videos for the Dinosaurs and the Bible course as well. Both courses are recommended for students in grades five and up.

The videos are very interesting to watch. They include plenty of graphics and real world examples. The instructor, Patrick Nurre is very knowledgeable and explains difficult terms and concepts in a way that kids can easily understand, while still being entertaining to adults.

Taking The Mystery Out of Geology

Take the Mystery out of Geology Online Course
This is a short course. It is only one video long, but that video contains so much information. The video explains some of the more difficult terms that you come across when studying geology. It goes further into each term explaining how the terms fit in with the Bible and how they fit in with a young earth belief.

If you have a student studying geology, I think that this course is a must! It is very inexpensive, and will really get them off to a great start. It would also be great for those who just want to learn a little more about geology.

Dinosaurs and the Bible

Dinosaurs and the Bible Online Course
This course is broken up into six videos. Each video ranges from about 16 to 20 minutes long. The videos included in the course are:

  • How We Got Our Modern View of Dinosaurs
  • The Classification of Dinosaurs
  • Dinosaurs and the Bible, The Great Dinosaur Rush
  • The Extinction of the Dinosaurs
  • Dinosaurs and the Ice Age
  • Fossils, Age, and Soft Tissue

By the end of the course your student will have gained a lot of knowledge. They should be able to defend their faith and their belief in a Biblical creation with details and facts. Both AJ and I learned a lot of new information! Did you know that prior to the 1800’s people believed that fossils were a creation from Noah’s flood? Or that what we know about dinosaurs isn’t really even science?

The Worksheets

There are worksheets and answer keys for each of the videos that can be printed off for your student.  The worksheets have about ten questions each. While the course is designed for fifth grade and up, I think that 5th and 6th graders may have a little difficulty with some of the questions. Most of the questions from the worksheets are answered in the videos, but younger students may need to re-watch the video to be able to answer all of the questions.

We decided not to print the worksheets. Instead after watching the video I pulled up the worksheet and AJ and I discussed the questions and then compared our answers with the answer key. We were just using the course for fun. If I was using it for school credit then I would have made her write her answers down.

What We Thought

I am very happy that we had the chance to review both of these courses. They confirmed my beliefs and have given me even more faith in a Biblical creation. They are high quality and well made. If you are looking for a Biblical course on geology, Northwest Treasures is the place to look.

They have so many other products available that I would like to try out in the future. They have hands on kits to help students learn about rocks, minerals, and fossils. Those kits would have been very nice when we were studying earth science a few years ago. They even have a curriculum for different topics and even a set for high school students!

Find out what other members of the Homeschool Review Crew thought about these and other courses by clicking the graphic below.

Online Geology Classes{Northwest Treasures Reviews}
Crew Disclaimer

Art History ~ Review

AJ and I were recently given the chance to review a high school art history program from The Master and His Apprentices that is written from a Christian perspective. The course is called The Master and His Apprentices: Art History from a Christian Perspective . It can be used for a full high school credit.

We received a digital download of both the textbook and the teacher guide.

The Textbook

The Textbook is 380 pages long and is broken up into 19 chapters. While this book can be used for a full credit of high school, I feel it would be a great addition to any Christian homeschool family! The chapters are grouped together by time period and contain a great deal of historical information. We have learned a lot of historical facts just by reading through the chapters. The book would be a great supplement to any history curriculum.

The Master and His Apprentices
The book starts off with an introduction that explains about art and how we study it. My favorite quote from the introduction was:

While the timeline of human history does reveal many beautiful works of art, we must not forget that art created by man begins as a “copy” of the work performed by our highly intelligent and masterfully skilled Creator.

This book is different than anything I have ever read before, and really made both AJ and I think about art in a whole new way.

The book goes on to a chapter about the days of creation, where you learn about art in nature. And then it covers art history from Ancient Cultures through today focusing mainly through the 1600’s.

The Chapters

Each chapter is broken up into several subtopics that breaks the reading into easy to read sections. The book is written in a conversational tone that most textbooks lack. We didn’t find it a chore to read the book, in fact we enjoyed it. There are hundreds of beautiful photographs throughout the book. There are also maps and timelines.

The chapters vary in length and content depending on the time period.

The back of the book is full of even more information. It includes art terms, a list of art pieces by location, a time line of art, and more. This book is very user friendly. These added sections would make it easy to study art along with either history or geography.

The Teacher Guide

The teacher guide explains how to use the book for a full credit. It gives you optional questions for your student to answer along with the answers. Your student will need to write a few papers to get a full credit and the teacher guide explains what they need to do. The guide is very helpful to ensure you student is understanding the material, and for planning purposes.

Using The Book

Since it is summer time AJ and I mainly read through the book a little each day. I had her answer some of the questions orally, but we used it informally. She is studing world history in the fall and will be using this book right along side of her history program. We won’t be following the teacher guide exactly. Instead we will read through the chapters that coraspond to the era in history that she is studying and then do some of the activities from the teacher guide.

>There are so many ways to use the book. In reality, I feel the book alone could be used as a spine for a world history course. You could also read a chapter one week and then do art projects imitating the art the next week to combine both art and art history. The book is full of information and if it was printed instead of digital, it would make a great coffee table book.

We really enjoyed The Master and His Apprentices: Art History from a Christian Perspective and would highly recommend it to anyone wanting to learn more about art history. We look forward to using it in the fall.

Find out what other members of the Homeschool Review Crew thought by clicking on the graphic below.

The Master and His Apprentices: Art History from a Christian Perspective {The Master and His Apprentices Reviews}

Crew Disclaimer

Classical Composition Sets ~ Review

Writing is a subject that AJ struggles with. We have tried quite a few different writing programs over the years, and while her writing has improved, she still struggles. I recently learned about a writing program from Memoria Press and I thought it would be a good fit for AJ. We were sent the first two levels of their program, Classical Composition I: Fable Set and Classical Composition II: Narrative Set.

Both Sets

The sets each include a Teacher Guide and a Student Guide that are both soft covered and spiral bound. They also include a set of DVDs that has a teacher who teaches the lessons to your student. Each set is color coded so it is simple to see which books and DVD set go together.

The program is designed for students in grades 4-12. Everyone who uses the program starts with the Fable level. Depending on the grade level your student is in when they start, they should complete either one or two books in a school year. We were given a set of lesson plans to follow so that AJ could finish the first two levels in one school year.

The Fable Level

Classical Composition I: Fable Set

In the Fable level there are 20 lessons. Each lesson is broken down into 8 parts.

The Fable

In this part of the lesson the student reads the fable and goes over any difficult vocabulary. Then they give examples of Recognition, Reversal, and Suffering in the fable. Each of those plot components are explained to the student in the beginning of the book, and on the DVD.

Variations Part I

This section has the student list synonyms for some of the words in the fable. Then they have to rewrite sentences changing either the word choice, word order, or both.


The student creates an outline that summarizes the fable.


The student narrates the fable either verbally or in writing with out looking at the fable or their outline.

Paraphrase I

In this section the student rewrites the fable and makes changes according to the directions. They may need to describe a character in more detail, or describe the setting. Each fable they will have a little different instructions.

Paraphrase II

This section has the student paraphrase the story again. But this time they change the sequence of events.

Variations II

The students do the same exercise from variations I, but they use two new sentences.

Final Draft

The students pick either of the paraphrases that they wrote and they correct them and write a final draft.

Narrative Set

Classical Composition II: Narrative Set

This set is set up very similarly to the fable set. It also has 20 lessons that are broken into 8 steps. The main difference between the two is that the students are looking for 9 components in each narrative instead of three. Each of the other sections has the student doing the same type of exercise as the fable level.

The Teacher Guides

The Teacher Guides are extremely helpful. They give step by step instructions, vocabulary definitions, and completed student pages. They have everything you need if you want to teach the lessons without the DVD or if your student isn’t understanding something.

The DVD Lessons

With the DVD you don’t need to teach. The teacher on the DVD reads the selection to your student, explains vocabulary, and tells them what they need to do. They just pop the DVD in and follow the directions. This was very helpful for AJ. She didn’t need to wait for me and the teacher was interesting to watch. She was able to work more independently with the DVD. The only thing I didn’t like was that when she went back on the third or fourth day, she would have to fast forward to be at the correct place on the DVD. I wish that there was a separate part on the menu for each section of the lesson, not just each lesson. But it was something that we just made work.

How We Used It

Some days AJ would use the program independently and other times I would sit and watch it with her. Aside from the paraphrase lessons and the final draft, each lesson section took about 20 minutes for her to finish. The others took longer depending on her attitude about writing for the day. This is something I am having her stick with for next school year. I am excited to see her improvements in writing.

What We Thought

The DVD was the perfect fit for AJ. So far she has enjoyed this program. The lessons are short but meaningful, and she is learning different writing techniques. We have tried a few products from Memoria Press in the past. Some have been a hit and others were not a good fit for us because we are not classical homeschoolers. But this seems like a great fit. AJ is engaged, and producing a better quality of writing.

If you want to improve your student’s writing, check out the Classical Composition Sets! See what other members of the Homeschool Review Crew thought by clicking the graphic below.

New American Cursive & Traditional Logic {Memoria Press Reviews}

Crew Disclaimer

Something Fishy at Lake Iwannafisha ~ Review

This past school year AJ and I joined a co-op for the first time, and we loved it. I was able to teach last semester, and one of the classes that I taught was called Mystery Detective. In the class the students used clues and logic skills to solve mysteries. The class was a hit! The kids were excited and you could just see the wheels in their heads turning. So I decided to do a similar class when we meet back up in the fall.

When we were given the chance to review A Whodunnit Forensic Mystery called, Something Fishy at Lake Iwannafisha , from The Critical Thinking Co.™. I thought it would be the perfect product. The plan was to have AJ work through the book now, and if we liked it I would purchase it for my co-op class. After working on the mystery for a few weeks, it is definitely going to be the book I use in my co-op class next fall!

The Critical Thinking Co.™

What is Something’s Fishy at Lake Iwannafisha?

The students are given some basic information about a crime. They are told that the police were called to a fishing cabin where they found a building on fire, a dead body, bones in the woods, stacks of money, and a few guns. They are given the crime scene report and a map of the crime scene. Then it is up to them to solve the crime. They have to decide how to proceed with the investigation. Do they want to look at witness statements? Maybe they want to look at the anthropology report to learn more about the bones that were found, or the ballistics report to learn more about the bullets found at the scene.

Throughout the mystery the students use logic skills along with information they have learned about forensic evidence to figure out what happened.

I received a 124 page soft-covered book, but it is also available as a downloadable e-book. It is designed for students in grades five through twelve. It can be worked on individually, but I feel it would be better suited for small groups of students.

How the Book is Set Up

Something's Fishy at Lake Iwannafisha

The book begins with Teacher Instructions. This section lists everything that you as the parent or teacher needs to know to use the mystery with your students. It tells you which pages you need to print out for each student, or group. It also has step by step instructions and helpful hits for solving the mystery. This section also has background information about the crime, suspect profiles, and more so you know exactly what happened.

The next section is the Forensic Evidence Lessons. This section is presented to the students before they start solving the mystery.

Each lesson is two to four pages long. They learn about:

  • Anthropology
  • Arson
  • Ballistics
  • Counterfeit Money
  • Entomology and Autopsy
  • Handwriting Analysis and
  • Fingerprints

The main section of the book in the Crime Scene Reports and General Forms. This section has all of the pages that the student will need. It has all of the witness statements, forensic reports, and worksheets that the student will need to solve the mystery.

The final section is the Answer Key which has detailed answers for all of the worksheets.

How We Used the Book

Because of slow shipping, we have only had the book for about two weeks, so AJ has not finished the mystery yet. We started off with the forensic evidence lessons. Each day we did one lesson. The lessons were extremely interesting. In the anthropology lesson she learned how bones could be used to determine age, gender, and race. She also learned how height estimates can be made when only some bones are found. This lead to measuring bones and using the calculations to see if they were close to her height. She enjoyed the fingerprint lesson as well. She has learned about fingerprints before, but this went in to much more detail.

Then I printed off the pages she would need to solve the mystery. The physical book gives you access to an online library of the pages to print off in PDF form to make it easy to make copies for your family or class. I found that to be very helpful. That way if she made a mistake, I could simply print off a new sheet.

Each day I have her ask for a new piece of information, and she fills out the pages that go with the section. She learned about the bones at the crime scene when she looked at the anthropology report.

Then she had to use her prior knowledge to decide if the bones belonged to a male or female, their race, their age, and their height. Each report, statement, or piece of information that they want to see has a worksheet with questions for the student to fill out to help them solve the mystery.

What We Thought

I was expecting this book to give vague information about each area of forensics, but I was wrong! I learned so much right along side AJ. She is having great time solving the mystery.

The book is well organized and easy to teach.

Solving the mystery takes time and a lot of logic skills, but it is doable. It has become a part of the day that I look forward to.

The book is perfect to use in a co-op or classroom. I can’t wait to use Something Fishy at Lake Iwannafisha with my co-op class this fall. I think they are going to love learning more of the forensic side of the mysteries.

If you are looking for a mystery to keep your student thinking and having fun while learning, I highly recommend this book! Members of the Homeschool Review Crew received different items from theThe Critical Thinking Co.™Find out what they thought by clicking the graphic below!

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

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Home School Navigator ~ Review

For the past few weeks AJ has been working on the Home School Navigator Reading and Language Arts Curriculum. The curriculum is divided into levels based on the colors of the rainbow with red being the easiest and indigo being the most difficult. AJ used the indigo level from Home School Navigator. The program is a little below her skill level since she is in high school, but we focused on the interactive notebooks portion of their program.

Home School Navigator

What is Home School Navigator?

The Home School Navigator Reading and Language Arts Curriculum takes the guess work out of planning. It is an online program that has everything your child should be doing each day all planned out for you. It uses online videos, worksheets, and more to ensure your child practices a variety of skills. While each level is a little different, they cover basically the same topics.

In the indigo level your student will have work in the following areas:

Read Aloud

Listening to books being read aloud is an important skill even for older students. Each day there is a book listed that the student should listen to. Most of the books can be easily found at the library, but we found all three of the books (Each book is used for a few days) on YouTube. AJ was able to listen to someone read the book to her each day, and I didn’t have to search for it at the library. It worked well.

Reading Skills Practice

This usually involves a short video where the student learns a new skill and is then instructed to practice that skill in a book that they are reading on their own.

Literature / Comprehension

In this section the student completes different activities based on the book they are reading. There are numerous activities ranging form finding the name of the author and publisher on the book, to discussing the story with their parent, to completing character sketches on different characters.

Writing /Grammar

This section is fairly laid back in the beginning. The student is instructed to write for 20 minutes most days. Sometimes they will have a topic other times it is up to them. Some days they may be asked to find all of a specific part of speech in the book they are reading and list the words. Other times they are told to look at their previous writing and to make adjustments to it. Later in the level they write stories and have more structured writing.

Word Study / Vocabulary

In the indigo level the student works on different word roots. In month 4 week 1 the root work is “cent” the student has vocabulary words that all use that root word. Each day they do a different activity with the words. Some of the activities include matching the definitions, writing sentences, playing games, and taking quizzes.

Computer Skills

The student is instructed to practice some type of skill. The indigo level seems to focus on typing skills and using various programs on the computer. They may be instructed to practice their keyboarding skills, or type their vocabulary sentences.


This section introduces your student to different poets and types of poems. Often they will be asked to find the rhyme scheme of a poem or to try to decide what a poem is about.

Independent Reading

This section either has your student reading a book of their own choosing, a recommended book, or has them complete an interactive notebook. There are four interactive notebooks in the indigo level; Holes, Number the Stars, A Single Shard, and Tuck Everlasting.

Each day the student will have assignments in some of the areas listed above. Sometimes they will have just four or five assignments while other days they have eight. The best part is that you decide what you want your student to do.

What We Thought

The program is planned out very well, and aside from the books, paper, scissors and glue, it includes almost everything you need to give your student a solid year of learning. It is perfect for the homeschooler who wants things planned out for them, but wants some wiggle room as well. The lessons are short and to the point and lets the student learn at a nice pace. It is well organized and easy to find what you need. There is even the option to scan you child’s work into the system for easy record keeping. I would highly recommend this program!

The Interactive Notebooks

While the interactive notebooks are part of the program, they are also available to purchase separately. Since AJ has already read Holes, we decided to start with the second book available in the indigo level, Number the Stars.

An interactive notebook is basically like a lapbook for older students that is done in a spiral notebook. Once you download the file, you print it out. Your student cuts out the different pieces and glues them into their spiral notebook. Then as they read they answer questions about the book.

The interactive notebook for Number the Stars is 20 pages long. The student starts with some pre-reading activities where they find and color Denmark on a map and fill out a char with some basic information on the Holocaust and World War 2.

Then there are some vocabulary words for the student to define. Up next is the reading. For this book the student is assigned about four chapters at a time to read, then they have questions to answer. Questions range from simple comprehension questions, to opinions, to more advanced things like foreshadowing and themes in the book.

The more advanced literary terms are defined for the student and explained very well. The student also puts the definitions in their notebooks.

At the end there is a detailed answer key.

Since this book covers a difficult topic I read it along side of AJ. She was able to complete the interactive notebook on her own. It lead to some good discussions. Aside from the cutting and gluing, each section took about an hour to complete including the reading.

What We Thought

I love when learning can be hands on. The interactive notebooks add an element of fun that a simple book report or worksheet can’t. I was very surprised by the content in the interactive notebooks. I was expecting simple comprehension questions, but these go way further. By the time the students get to the final book they are looking at symbolism and metaphors in the book. These interactive notebooks are very well thought out and AJ will be finishing the other two that are available in the level. I wish that Home School Navigator made interactive notebooks for more advanced books. I would buy them in a heartbeat.

If you are looking for a solid language arts program, check out the Home School Navigator Reading and Language Arts Curriculum and their Interactive Notebooks. I was very impressed with how well done the program is.

Find out what other members of the homeschool review crew thought by clicking on the graphic below!

Home School Navigator Reading and Language Arts Curriculum {Home School Navigator Reviews}

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CodeWizards ~ Review

Last week AJ had an amazing opportunity. She was able to take a live online class that taught her the beginning basics of how to code with HTML. The class was a sample of what students would take when they sign up for CodeWizardsHQ

What is CodeWizardsHQ?

While AJ took a special one time class, each regular course is 12 weeks long. Students start at the very beginning with a course called Intro to Programing. For 12 weeks your student will log on to their computer at a designated time. They will be in an online class with other students from around the world. During the class time the students can interact with the instructor and the other students by using a chat box, or a microphone. After each class the student will have some homework to complete that will help them to practice the information that they learned during the class.

Live Class Computer Programming for your Students {CodeWizardsHQ}
There are assignments and even quizzes given to make sure the students are understanding the information. Once your student successfully completes the first course they are then able to move onto the next one. There are quite a few classes available.
Levels of Code Wizard

As your student completes classes they move up the Wizard Levels. Once they successfully complete all three Wizard Levels (9 classes that are each 12 weeks long) students are able to complete an internship with a non profit organization. I thought that was a really cool option. If your child wants to do something with coding in the future, an internship would look amazing on their college application!

What Did AJ Learn in the Class?

AJ wasn’t exactly excited to get up early for an online class. The times we were offered were all in a different time zone, so her class was earlier than she normally gets up on a non co-op day. But once she started she was interested. Her class was made up of other homeschool review crew kids, there were only six kids in total. I know that CodeWizardsHQ keeps their class sizes small, but I am not sure if six kids is a normal class size.

Logging onto the class was easy. I simply followed the directions that were sent in the email, clicked a link, checked that the microphone and speakers were working, and she was all set.

The instructor was nice, funny, and explained things very well. The goal for the class was for each of the students to create their own nine square comic using only HTML code. He began by asking what the kids thought parts of an HTML code were for. We had two kids in AJ’s class that had some coding experience, but the others were all fairly new. AJ had played around with animating HTML code in the past, but she didn’t know very much.

You can see her full comic here!

This is the comic that AJ made

The kids learned about each part of the code. Then they learned how to change and modify it. After about 20 minutes the kids knew enough to begin to make their own comic, but the instructor was their if anyone ran into trouble. HTML can be tricky and things need to be typed just right or you will get errors. The instructor could see the code that the students were working on and was able to help the few times that kids ran into trouble.

CodeWizardsHQ class screen shot
Hands on learning is the best way to learn. Being able to see boxes not work correctly or see how misspelling a word causes that dreaded white box with an X to appear was really good for AJ. She was able to quickly see what she did wrong and fix it. By the time she was working on her fourth scene, she didn’t need any assistance at all. She was flying through the steps.

What We Thought

We were told that usually there was a little more in-depth information learned in the class and that the comic would have been homework. AJ learned so much in the class time. She was engaged, having fun, and doing a great job.

When the class was over she thought that she got to do the next class the following day. She wasn’t too happy when I explained that we only got to take one class. She was willing to get up early for more classes, because it was fun and she understood what she was doing.

I think the class went very well, and if we had the money I would be signing AJ up for the next class. I haven’t seen her so excited about learning in a while. The good news is that they do have scholarship opportunities available. I am seriously thinking about having AJ apply for a scholarship, I think she would really enjoy a 12 week course.

If you have a student interested in coding, or who wants to learn how to code, I highly recommend these courses!

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

Live Class Computer Programming for your Students {CodeWizardsHQ Reviews}

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