NotebookingPages.com ~ Review

AJ is a reluctant writer, but we found out a few years ago that she writes a lot more when she is making a lapbook or using a notebooking page. As she has gotten older we have started to move past lapbooks and into notebooking for some of her subjects. We were given a Lifetime Membership to NotebookingPages.com and I was anxious to see all of the different notebooking pages that were available.

Notebooking is a great way to let your child show what they have learned. The process lets them explain what they really know about a subject with a combination of writing and drawing. Notebooking can be used for kids of all ages. Kids in kindergarten and lower elementary may draw pictures about what they have learned and dictate something for you to write where older kids may draw diagrams to explain things or write full pages of information about a topic. NotebookingPages.com has pages for all ages and offers specialized pages in so many different topics.

Notebooking Pages Lifetime Membership Reviews
With a Lifetime Membership to NotebookingPages.com you are given access to all of the notebooking pages that currently exist and any that are added in the future. The site is very organized making it simple to find the perfect page for what ever topic your child is learning about.

When you log on to NotebookingPages.com you will see that there are ten categories that the notebooking pages are divided into.

Any Study – Here you will find pages that are not specifically meant for a certain subject. You will find numerous designs including pages with colorful borders and different set ups. This section also has 3D notebooking pages and mini books. These are wonderful for those who are transitioning from lapbooking to notebooking. It is a fun way to add mini books right onto the notebooking page. These pages were AJ’s favorite, she enjoyed being able to still fill out the mini books because they help her to organize the information that she is writing about.

A to Z – These pages are great for younger kids who are starting to use notebooking pages. It includes coppywork and pages about sports, animals and transportation.

Bible/Character – Here you will find pages about characters and events in the Bible as well as pages dedicated to learning about character traits. There are quite a few different designs with beautiful pictures. There are over 500 different pages to pick from in the Bible category alone!

Famous People – This section has pages about different people. There are pages about presidents, scientists, missionaries, artists, composers, and other famous people throughout history. The artist pages even contain full color pages of art prints from the artist and picture studies. This section could keep you busy, it is well set up so you have what you need right at your fingertips to easily put together a great study.

Fine Arts – This section also includes the artist and picture study section. You will also find pages about composers and musical copywork.

Geography – This was my favorite section! There are maps, country study packets, and USA notebooking pages. There are pages about the different states, monuments, parks, and memorials.

History – These pages include timeline pages and pages to make a Book of Centuries. It also contains pages on; Ancient History, the Middle Ages, Renaissance and Reformation, and Modern Times. There are pages about important people and events in each era of history.

Holidays – This section has holiday themed pages for each major holiday. You can search by month and find pages for that month’s holidays.

Language Arts – This section has Latin and Greek word study pages and 13 different categories of copywork pages.

Science/Nature – This was another one of my favorite sections. There are notebooking pages for science experiments, plants, nature studies, astronomy, animals, and anatomy. But these pages go way past simple notebooking pages. There are diagrams of the body and different body systems for your child to fill out, and pages where they can write about each body system. I really think that the anatomy pages and a few good books would be perfect for a high school Biology course. They are very well done. I see us using quite a few of these pages over the next few years.

As you can see there is a very large variety. Most of the pages come in different line styles so your older and younger children can be working on the same topic with pages that fit their writing needs.

Simplify your homeschool with NotebookingPages.com!

With so many pages available and our school year coming to an end we used pages from a variety of sections. I had AJ pick out some of the basic designs to write summaries about books she was reading. She used a few science themed pages to write about what she learned after watching some Bill Nye the Science Guy episodes, and used some of the experiment pages after doing some quick experiments. It is amazing how fun designs make writing up experiment reports so much easier. She has been learning about Greek and Latin words in vocabulary and used the notebooking pages to keep track of the words she was learning. She also used a few of the 3D pages to create some fun pages about animals. She also used some of the blank copywork pages to practice the poetry she is memorizing. In just a few weeks we got a lot of use out of NotebookingPages.com. But I have even more plans for next year.

I picked up a high school World Geography book at the Good Will and was creating a course for AJ to complete, the problem was that I couldn’t find any good maps to go along with it. But there are hundreds of different maps available on NotebookingPages.com. I found labeled maps for her to color and blank maps for her to label. There are so many different maps that I was able to find exactly what I needed. There are world maps and continent maps. When she is learning the world oceans I can print out a world map and when she is learning about Africa I can print a map of the continent. It has made planning so much easier.

I have also went through and printed out pages to go with topics she is going to learn about in history and science next year. NotebookingPages.com has made planning for the next school year so much easier.

The site is well organized, easy to use, and full of well made pages. One thing I really enjoyed is that I didn’t need to save anything to my computer. I could simply open the file in Adobe Acrobat and print the pages I needed. I know that NotebookingPages.com will be a resource that we use for years to come. I originally thought that I would find a few good pages, but the site has exceeded my expectations. If you use notebooking in your homeschool, NotebookingPages.com will be a great addition have.

Notebooking Pages Lifetime Membership Reviews
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Heroes of History ~ Review

I am always looking for a way to change up our school day. Since the next topic we are planning to study is American history after the Civil War, I have been on the look out for books and activities to help AJ learn about that era. When we were given a chance to review a book from YWAM Publishing, I knew that I wanted to pick an influential person to learn about. We were given a physical copy of Heroes of History Theodore Roosevelt: An American Original and a Digital Unit Study to accompany it. Since we reviewed a book from YWAM last year, I knew that we were in for a treat.

Theodore Roosevelt Review

 

Theodore Roosevelt An American Original is a 201 page soft covered book that is broken into 17 chapters. The book starts with a 39 year old Teddy Roosevelt marching up San Juan Hill as part of a Volunteer Cavalry. Then the book goes back in time and starts with him at five years old during the Civil War. His parents were on opposite sides of the war, and that made for a difficult time. His mother was helping out the South while his father was helping the North, even though he wasn’t fighting. The book goes on to tell about how sick Teddy was as a child and how he decided to make his body work by exercising and training. We learn that the Roosevelt family came into a lot of money and that because of that, Teddy and his family went on amazing vacations. He sailed up the Nile River and visited numerous countries in Africa and Europe. We learn about Teddy’s love of animals and his love of taxidermy.

The book then continues to show how he got into politics. It tells the sad way he lost his mother and wife and how he finally came back to society. Then the book talks about his road to the presidency, the obstacles he faced and how he dealt with them.

The book is easy to read and understand, but it does have some advanced vocabulary throughout the chapters. Reading the book alone gives you a great understanding of who Theodore Roosevelt was, but when you combine it with the Digital Unit Study, there is so much to learn.

The Digital Unit Study has options for classroom use, small group use, and for homeschool use. It is broken into two sections. The first section is the real study guide it is 71 pages long and has comprehension questions, social study activities, related themes, and more. The second part of the unit study is the printable pages. It included a fact sheet to fill out about Roosevelt, a world map, map of America, a map of New York, and a time line to fill in. The study guide is full of information to make the book really come to life.

I wanted this book to be our history study. Each week we read through three chapters of the book (except the first chapter that was really short.) and AJ answered the comprehension questions from the study guide. She also looked up different social study terms as we came to them. The Roosevelt family went on a lot of trips. AJ used the maps to chart their journeys. There are dozens of writing prompts, crafts, and ideas for places to visit while reading the book, we haven’t done those yet, but we still have a few chapters left to read.

AJ likes the story and has enjoyed following along with the Roosevelt family’s journeys. I have been reading the book out loud to her and she looks forward to finding out what is coming up next. If she enjoyed reading more, I could see the Heroes of History books being a great spine to our history study next year. Unfortunately, it wouldn’t work for her. I wish it would because the books from YWAM are full of history and bring a person to life. You get to know them so much better than you can in a few pages of a text book.

If you are looking for a book to supplement your history studies, or if you are looking for a good biography, these are great.

Christian Heroes {YWAM Publishing Review}
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The Dragon and the Raven (Audio Drama) ~ Review

Heirloom Audio's Newest Audio Drama- The Dragon and the Raven

Last year I kept hearing how amazing the audio dramas from Heirloom Audio Productions were. AJ is a visual person and often has a hard time imagining scenes from books, so I didn’t think the audio dramas would be something that she enjoyed.  I read numerous reviews about how realistic they were, but I still wasn’t convinced. Then AJ noticed that I was checking out their website. She was excited and asked if she had enough Christmas money left to buy The Dragon and the Raven because it looked like a fun story. So when she heard that we were blessed to receive a copy of The Dragon and the Raven to review she was thrilled.

The Dragon and the Raven {Heirloom Audio Productions Review}
 

About The Dragon and The Raven

The Dragon and the Raven is the fourth audio drama based on the works of G.A. Henty. It is far more than an audio book. Instead you are taken on a two and a half hour nonstop adventure. There are well known actors who voice the different characters along with breath taking sound effects and music.

The Dragon and the Raven {Heirloom Audio Productions Review}
You are whisked back to ninth century England in the days of King Alfred The Great. When the Danes have defeated almost every part of England, Alfred realizes that the nation will need to turn back to God if there was any chance of defeating the Danes. There are battles on land and at sea, and if you close your eyes you will feel like you are right there in the battle. From splashing water to sword fights, the sound is extremely lifelike and very well done. Audio books are going to seem rather dull after this adventure!

Other Fun Bonuses

We received a few fun items along with the two disk audio drama. We received a MP3 of the audio drama and the soundtrack, a beautifully illustrated e-book of The Dragon and The Raven, printable posters, behind the scenes video, access to the adventure newsletter, and a 49 page study guide.

AJ really enjoyed the behind the scenes video! We haven’t printed the posters yet, but we have enjoyed listening to the soundtrack. We looked through the e-book and were impressed. It is over 200 pages long and we plan to read through it a little at a time to go along with our history study.

Our favorite bonus was the study guide. It gave a brief history of the author, G.A. Henty and of King Alfred. It also had a very brief history of England. The study guide had questions and vocabulary for each track on the CD. They included basic comprehension questions, questions and activities that made you think a little more, and vocabulary. There were a few art projects and a recipe along with map activities and additional research questions. Really there is a little bit for everyone.

How Did We Use It?

We are currently studying the Middle Ages, so I had every intention on using this for history. We were going to listen to a few tracks a day and write the answers to the questions in the study guide. We had just finished learning a little about the Vikings and about King Alfred the Great so I thought that it would be perfect.

Our plan quickly changed. After I stopped the CD the third time to ask her the study guide questions, we were both frustrated. Instead we decided to listen to the audio drama a few times before we worked on the study guide. With so much going on in the story neither of us picked up all of the details the first time around. We also decided to just do the questions orally. We both learned a lot of history, and it was painless.

What We Thought

Overall, Heirloom Audio Productions lives up to and passes all of our expectations. AJ and I both enjoyed sitting back and listening to the CDs. Everything was easy to understand and the story kept our interest. This is our first audio drama from Heirloom Audio Productions, but it won’t be our last. We would recommend The Dragon and The Raven to anyone who enjoys learning about history in a fun and exciting way. This title is especially great if you are studying the Middle Ages. The only thing I would like to see would be a map of England included in the study guide. Other than that, it is perfect.

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

The Dragon and the Raven {Heirloom Audio Productions Review}
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Election Lap-Pack ~ Review

With the campaign season up and running I thought it would be a great time for AJ to review and learn more about the election process. When we were given the chance to review the HISTORY Through the Ages Hands-on History Lap-Pak: U.S. Elections from Home School in the Woods we were thrilled. We fell in love with the last product that we reviewed from Home School in the Woods, so I knew that this would be a hit!

Learn about the election process with this Lap-Pack from Home School in the Woods.

We were given a digital copy of the Elections Lap-Pack. It includes 21 different lapbook projects for you to print, cut, and assemble, and 13 pages of informational text about elections. One other feature included (that I really appreciated) was the MP3 files of the text. This Lap-Pack includes everything you need to have a solid study on elections for students in grades 3 through 8.

U.S. Elections History Lap-Pak Review
In order to complete the Lap-Pack you will need basic school supplies that you probably have on hand including things like; paper, cardstock, writing and coloring instruments, glue, tape, a file folder, paper fasteners, and ink for your printer. A few other items are listed on the supply list like liquid glue and Dura-Lar, but even without them we were able to learn a lot and complete the lapbook with no problems at all.

This Lap-Pack was a little different from most of the ones I have tried in the past. For most of the lapbook projects there is the option to print blank booklets so that your child can write the information on their own, and the option to print out the booklet with the text already printed on it. I thought that this was genius! There is a big jump in ability from kids in 3rd grade to kids in 8th grade and this small addition makes the lap-pack perfect for every learner.

Learn about the election process with this Lap-Pack from Home School in the Woods.

We worked on the Lap-Pack almost every school day for about 30 to 45 minutes. In that time some days we were able to get two projects done and other times she finished around four. There is no set schedule, you can simply go at your family’s pace. As I mentioned above a lot of the projects give the option to print the booklets with the information already filled in, or blank. I had AJ do a mixture of the two. Since she is in 7th grade I had her write the information most of the time, but for some projects we went with the already printed option.

Learn about the election process with this Lap-Pack from Home School in the Woods.

When we started on the lapbook I printed out the text and made it into a little booklet. There is also the option to print it and add it to a folder instead. I also printed the first three lapbook projects. While AJ and I cut out the projects we listened to the text being read to us. We started off by learning the definition of election and about different types of governments. We listened to the audio through the information we needed for the third project and then we stopped the audio. Most days were completed the same basic way. AJ would answer as much information as she could remember from the audio and then read the same information in the text if she needed to. I loved this. She was able to hear it read to her and then able to read the information to herself. I found she really comprehended what she was learning this way. Although she is getting a lot better, she still struggles with reading, so that means I usually end up reading a lot of history and science to her. The audio really made this perfect – for both of us. It also made the time she spent cutting things out feel more productive.

Learn about the election process with this Lap-Pack from Home School in the Woods.

The lapbook projects in this study were more complex than most that I have seen. The directions are very easy to understand, but you won’t see a bunch of the same type of lapbook projects over and over. There are projects that have 3D elements, projects with multiple cuts and folds, projects with moving parts, and a few that require difficult cutting methods. AJ really enjoyed that there was so much variety.

Learn about the election process with this Lap-Pack from Home School in the Woods.

By the time AJ finished this Election Study, I think she had a very good understanding of the election process. She even explained the difference between a caucus and a primary to an adult the other day.

There was only one small thing that we didn’t care for. The MP3s for the audio were not separated by lesson, instead they were simply divided into two parts. The time you need to skip to in order to get to the start of each lesson is included, but I feel if each lesson was a separate MP3 file that it would be a bit easier.

Both AJ and I enjoyed this Election Lap-Pack. It is full of hands on learning and is very customizable to fit your needs. If you are looking for a fun way to learn all about the election process, I would highly recommend the HISTORY Through the Ages Hands-on History Lap-Pak: U.S. Elections! Home School in the Woods definitely didn’t disappoint.

Click the graphic below to see what others had to say about the study.

U.S. Elections History Lap-Pak Review
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Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Printable Pack

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was an inspirational man who helped to change the world. Throughout our homeschool journey AJ has studied some fascinating people, from biblical characters to kings and queens. Unfortunately, we have only gotten as far as the Civil War and the abolishment of slavery when it comes to recent history. Next year our focus will be on history from the Civil War to the present, but right now we are in the Middle Ages and Renaissance periods.

Since there have been so many influential men and women in the recent years, I have decided to spend a little time having AJ learn about some of those people a few times each month.

Martin Luther King Jr. printable pack - free for subscribers

Since Martin Luther King Jr. Day is coming up, I decided to start our new study with him. AJ has learned a little bit about him over the years and knows that he fought for equal rights for all people. It was hard for her to understand why he had to fight for the equal rights though. It is hard to try and explain how people use to believe when I have a difficult time understanding it myself.

Normally I would go to the library and check out a bunch of books for AJ to look through and research. I still can’t drive for another month at least, so our research was limited to the internet. I am still not comfortable with AJ searching the internet by herself, so I found a few good websites that I knew would be appropriate. I used information from those sites (and a few others) to make a printable pack about Martin Luther King Jr.

The four main websites I had her visit were:

Ducksters

Social Studies for Kids

Kids Play and Create and

National Geographic Kids

Martin Luther King Jr. Printable Pack includes:

Word Search

Fill in the Blank Activity

Quotable Quotes Page

Writing Prompt

and a page to write about Martin Luther King Jr.’s character traits

This printable pack is avaivable for free to all of my subscribers. If you haven’t signed up yet, enter your email address below to subscribe to my newsletter and get access to all of my subscriber only freebies.



 

 

I hope you and your child enjoy learning all about Martin Luther King with this printable pack. Which influential person would you like to learn about next?

 

Writing Through Medieval History ~ Review

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Over the last few years we have been given the chance to review quite a few products from Brookdale House, and almost all of them have stuck around after the review period. When we were given the chance to review Writing Through Medieval History Level 2 Cursive, I was excited. We reviewed a different Writing Through History book a few years back, and AJ enjoyed it.  Since we are focusing on Medieval history this year, I thought it would be a great fit. For this review we were given a digital copy of the book.

 Brookdale House Review
 

What is Writing Through History?

The Writing Through History series is a writing program created by Kimberly Garcia. It is based off of the Charlotte Mason Methods. Using narration, copywork, and dictation this program combines penmanship practice, thinking skills, writing, grammar, and history. According to the website it is appropriate for children in 1st through 5th grade, but I feel they are appropriate through 8th grade at least!

There are 4 different books based off of the four year history cycle, and each history period is available in 2 levels. Level one is for younger students, where level two is for older students. Each level is available in either print or cursive. You are also given the option to receive the book as a soft covered book, or as a downloadable version. If you only have one child, I would highly recommend the soft covered book. Everything is laid out for you. On the other hand, if you want to use the same book for more than one child, the digital copy might be the way to go, but there will be quite a bit of printing involved.

What is Writing Through Medieval History?

Now that I have explained a few of the overall basics, I can explain more about the book we received. Writing Through Medieval History (the downloadable version) is 405 pages long.  It is broken into four different chapters. The first chapter has 29 different historical narratives. These are each about two pages long and then have assignments to follow. Chapter two contains 15 primary source documents that vary in length. Chapter three has 11 different poems, and Chapter 4 has 15 cultural tales  from or about Medival History.

A Charlotte Mason approach to writing and history.

There are not any lesson plans included, however there is a suggested daily schedule. Day one your student reads a passage and completes both oral and written narration. On day two your student works on grammar and copywork, and day three they work on studied dictation. On the fourth day they do oral narration and copy work, and on the fifth day they do more studied dictation. You can really use the book however it best suits your needs. Detailed information on what to do each day is included in the book.

If you are not familiar with the Charlotte Mason methods, there is plenty of helpful information in the book to help you along the way. The front of the book has explanations of what your student should do each day along with ideas on how to adapt if your child finds the material too difficult. I found this section helpful as it goes into detail on what your child should do during dictation and the correct way to do narration.

How We Used Writing Through Medieval History

Since we have previously reviewed Writing Through Modern History, I knew that the suggested schedule didn’t really work for us, so I decided to try a different way.  While this is a writing program, we used it as a history supplement. Of course, AJ is still getting the benefits of the different writing elements while we learn history.

Each week I looked over the topics that we were studying in history to see if there were any narrations or primary source documents about any of the thing we were learning. One week in history we were learning the very basics about the Justinian Code. Her regular curriculum glossed over the subject, but I found both a historical narrative and a primary source document about Justinian the Great.

The first day I had AJ read the historical narrative about Justinian the Great. Then she narrated about the reading. She has a little trouble retelling what she reads, so this was good practice. After she was finished she did a written narration. The next few days AJ and I read through the Justinian Code, it was a long document so it took quite a while. Each day she read a little bit and then did some copywork.

The grammar element is added by marking the parts of speech after copywork and dictation. AJ has the hardest time picking out each part of speech in a sentence, so each day we focused on a single part of speech.

She worked on copywork, dictation, and narration about Justinian the Great and the Justinian Code for about two weeks. By the time she was done, she had a very good grasp on the concept.

When there wasn’t a historical narrative or primary source that fit our current historical studies, then we would work on a poetry selection or a myth. AJ enjoyed reading about the different myths. Some of the poetry she enjoyed and others she didn’t understand very well. After each selection she would do dictation, narration, and copywork.

It is hard to say how long each lesson took. The writing, copywork and dictation exercises took about twenty minutes to complete, but the reading time varied depending on the document.

What We Thought About Writing Through Medieval History

AJ doesn’t love dictation, and some days she felt there was too much reading, but overall she likes it. I think it is a wonderful book. And plan on using it as a supplement throughout the year. Honestly, if you have a child around fourth grade, I think Writing Through Medieval History (or any time period) could be the backbone of their curriculum. In one book your child learns a great deal of history. There is reading practice that is fiction, nonfiction, and poetry. With a few supplemental books from the library, this could cover history and all of language arts.

The only thing I didn’t care for was the large amount of printing, but as I have said before, I prefer physical books. If you are looking for a Charlotte Mason approach, then I highly recommend this series.

Click here to see other reviews I have done for Brookdale House.

Members of the Schoolhouse Review Crew reviewed a lot of different products from Brookdale House. Click on the graphic below to see what they thought.

 

 Brookdale House Review
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Super Teacher Worksheets ~ Review

When we study different topics in history and science, I often try to find worksheets to help AJ understand concepts a little bit more. One site that I have found very helpful is Super Teacher Worksheets. They have quite a few free worksheets available that AJ has enjoyed using, but to access all of the worksheets you need a membership.

Super Teacher Worksheets is a quick and easy way to supplement what we are learning!

We were recently given a year long  Individual Membership  from Super Teacher Worksheets. I use the free version all of the time, so I was anxious to see if the paid membership was worth it. It is!

What is Super Teacher Worksheets?

Super Teacher Worksheets is a website that is full of different printable resources. Most of the worksheets are geared for kids up to sixth grade with some for seventh and eighth grade.( I think a lot of the worksheets that are geared for fourth and fifth grade can easily be used to help older students learn topics.) AJ is in 7th grade and we have used  dozens of worksheets over the last few weeks.

While there are plenty of regular worksheets, there are also flash cards, puzzles, maps, graphic organizers, holiday worksheets, and worksheet generators. There are worksheets for almost any topic. You can browse by subject or use the search bar and find what you need in seconds. Once you find a worksheet that you like you can print it right away, or save it to your file cabinet and use it when you need it.

The site is easy to navigate, and extremely fast. You really have access to thousands of worksheets right at your fingertips.

How did we use Super Teacher Worksheets?

Each week I make out our schedule on Sunday night, depending on what we were learning I would look for a few worksheets to go along with our studies. Normally that would be time consuming, but not with Super Teacher Worksheets! It took me just a few minutes a week to find and print worksheets to supplement her learning.

There are a lot of science worksheets on Super Teacher Worksheets!

This week AJ is learning about food chains in science. I typed “food chains” in the search box and it brought up 50 different results. Some were articles to read, some were math or phonics activities, and others were exactly what I needed. I found three that went along with her lesson perfectly. They were geared for 3rd through 5th grade, but they helped her practice the vocabulary and concepts that were explained in her regular lessons. When she was studying cells there were a few different worksheets that helped her memorize the parts of a cell.

In math she is working on algebraic equations, and was struggling a little. I found a worksheet for her to have a little extra practice. For fun I also printed her off a math mystery puzzle where she plots points on a coordinate grid and makes a picture. She thinks she is just having fun, but really she is practicing math skills.

Spanish worksheets from Super Teacher Worksheet mask learning fun!

There is also a section with Spanish vocabulary. I printed out flash cards and an activity for her to do each day this week. I was even able to use the worksheet generator to create a quiz for her.

Plenty of history and geography supplements at Super Teacher Worksheets!

We have found a lot of great worksheets! In history she was learning about castles. I found a really fun map activity where she had to follow directions and find different rooms in the castle. I also found a multiplication mystery puzzle that was a castle.

I have used the worksheet generator at least once a week, I make a lot of worksheets up for AJ and the worksheet generator has made it easy.

What we thought of Super Teacher Worksheets

I loved it! There is only one thing that I would change about the site. When you want to view a worksheet it takes you to the PDF and off of the website, I would rather have the PDF pop up in a new window so that I could easily compare multiple worksheets. Other than that, the site is perfect.

I love the fact that I can type in a topic we are learning about and I have numerous worksheets available at my finger tips. AJ is a child that likes worksheets and workbooks, so this has been a great fit. I can add a few worksheets each week to keep her engaged, but I don’t have to spend a lot of time searching for them. I like that I can print off a worksheet on a topic like longitude and latitude and have a short lesson on something I wouldn’t have thought to do.

There are so many worksheets that I plan to use over the next year. From science worksheets, to book studies, Super Teacher Worksheets will be a huge asset to us over the next year.

Super Teacher Worksheets Review
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Drawing Around the World ~ Review

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We have had the opportunity to review a few different products from Brookdale House the last few years, and they are almost always a perfect fit for us. When we were given the opportunity to review a geography program from them, we jumped at the chance.

Drawing Around the World is a great program that is quick and simple to add to your daily routine.

We received a digital copy of both Drawing Around the World Europe, and Drawing Around the World USA. The books are very similar. The Europe version has your child learning about the countries in Europe while the USA version has your child learning all of the states. Aside from that, they are almost identical.

The goal of the Drawing Around the World series is to help your child learn to draw large portions of the globe. It isn’t an art book, and you can’t expect your child to draw the states and countries exactly, but instead they should be very familiar with what they look like and where they are on a map.

The Drawing Around the World series takes a Charlotte Mason approach to learning geography. There are 24 weeks of work in the Europe version and 27 weeks of work in the USA version. Each week has four days of work.

The first day introduces one or more countries or states to your student. They trace the country or state and fill out a fact sheet about it. The information needed to fill in the fact sheet is not provided, but the author gives a few different websites where the information can be found. After the fact sheet, they fill in a few maps.

The rest of the week has your child tracing and drawing a map each day. The final day also has them list each country or state that they have learned about so far.

How We Used Drawing Around the World

In the beginning we used the books as written. Each day I would print off new maps and AJ would trace and draw the states and countries that she had learned. I quickly realized that it was taking up way to much paper and ink.

After a few weeks we changed things up. I printed off the fact sheet for any new states or countries and one map that she had to fill in. On the first day she would trace the new state or country and fill in the fact sheet. I bought a plastic sleeve and put a copy of the map she traced on one side and the map she filled in on the other. Each day she would use a dry erase marker and do the work. On the final day of the week she would  draw on the paper map and I would put it in her folder.

At the beginning of the review period she worked on the USA book one week and the Europe book the next. Now that school has started she is using the Europe book for her geography book this year.

Each morning she works on geography for about 10 minutes. The lessons are short, simple, and fun. I can see her learning new countries and her drawing of the map is getting better as well.

What We Thought of Drawing Around the World

We love this program. The lessons are easy to fit in our day and can be done independently. Having her trace and draw the countries or states each day is helping her to really learn the information, not just for the short term.

I would recommend this curriculum to anyone who wants their child to learn geography in a simple way. It is easy to teach and easy to learn!

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Mayan Mysteries Review

There are so many educational apps for lower elementary aged students, but as AJ has gotten older there are not many available. Games for her age seem to be just for fun and have no real value. I am all for a game that is just fun some of the time, but if she wants to spend a good deal of time in front of a screen I would really like her to learn something.

Dig It! Games Review
When we were given the opportunity to review an educational computer game from Dig-It! Games, we were both ready to try it out. We reviewed Mayan Mysteries.

Dig It! Games Review
Mayan Mysteries is an online game for kids in 5th to 9th grade. We reviewed the online version from my laptop, but it is also available for iPad.

It starts of with a comic book like story. The story is that there has been a lot of looting and artifacts dug up in Guatemala.  Chief Mateo is given a clue, but needs help to solve the mystery. He enlists the help of team Q (which includes the player) to find out what is going on. Throughout the journey you have to prove yourself worthy and try to find the mythical city of Ich’aak.

Dig-It! brings history to life better than any book or movie!

The game takes you to different archeological sites in South America. At each site you find team Q along with locals from the time of the Mayan. You can click on any of the people and one of two things will happen. Most of the time when you click on a person there will be information about the Mayans or some part of their culture. You can read it, or have it read to you. The information is given from each character’s point of view. Once you read it there is a little quiz. In order to pass the quiz you have to pay attention to the information presented, and use common knowledge. Some of the questions were difficult. There is so much information given, way more than I was expecting!

About two people from each site will take you to a game or activity. There are a lot of different games. Some have you deciphering hieroglyphics, others have you excavating artifacts or solving puzzles. There were math and logic puzzles and games where you had to do a scavenger hunt through a tomb. Each game is fun and exciting, but most of all educational.

As you complete tasks in each area, more of the storyline is given and you explore other areas. In the end of the game, if you have proven yourself worthy, you find out who the thief is and you may or may not end up finding the city of Ich’aak. (You will have to find that out for yourself)

We started with Mayan Mysteries right before our second week of school. AJ woke up sick and whiny so we decided to just work on a few things. We started with Mayan Mysteries and about three hours later I had to make her get off. For the rest of that week she played on the Mayan Mysteries game a few hours a day. By Wednesday of that week she saw that her name was on the leaderboard. Then it was a race to the top, she wanted to earn enough points to make the top 5. The following week she finished the game. She ended up second place on the leader board, and as of when I typed this, she is still there. It was self explanatory and easy for AJ to navigate.

Throughout the game you earn points, see where you rank on the leaderboard!

She loved the game. She thought it was fun and challenging. She even enjoyed learning new topics. Even though she was capable of reading the text we set it up so that the characters read her what was said. This was huge for her. I expected generic voices to read the text, but that was not the case. Each character had a different voice and personality which brought the story to life. It was like an audio book and a game all linked together. She had never studied the Mayans before so everything she learned was brand new to her.

The graphics were beautiful, and the story line was easy to follow. It really felt like we were being talked to by people from an ancient civilization. I think there was a great balance between learning and fun. I learned a few things along the way as well.

The only thing we didn’t care for in the game was the spirit animal that is your guide and the focus on Mayan religion in the beginning of the game. I don’t think the religious focus could have been avoided because the Mayan people were very spiritual. I just have a personal issue with learning names of gods (including the Greek and Roman ones) so I didn’t care for some of the questions about the Mayan gods.

Dig-It! Games is a wonderful way to learn history in a hands on way!

The best part was how much AJ enjoyed it. I saw her reading directions for games, solving difficult math equations (their place value system was quite different), learning geography, and learning about a different culture.  This took a boring subject and brought it to life better than any book or movie could have.

This program could easily be the basis of a history study. AJ went through it quickly, but I think it could easily be used over a month or two to study the Mayan people. It is a great game that is very affordable.

Dig-It! Games Review
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7th Grade Curriculum

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We started 7th grade this week! AJ is officially a middle-schooler now. It seems like yesterday that I was teaching her to count and write letters, the time has sure flown by. We are making a few changes this year as I try to get her to become a little bit more independent. We are using a lot of products that I reviewed, a few I purchased used, and a few that I am making up. It may seem like a lot, but most subjects are not done daily. Some lessons are very short and others are included at her request. My main goals this year are to help her become more independent and improve her study skills, improve her writing, and to make sure she has a solid grasp on all of her major subjects. One resource that we will be using for a few different subjects is SchoolhouseTeachers.com

Here is our 7th grade Curriculum plan.

7th Grade Curriculum Plan 2015-2016

Math

We have been blessed to review quite a few online math programs over the last few months. AJ loves math and did well with all of them, but she has found a favorite – Unlock Math. We have been reviewing the pre algebra program and she will continue with it. So far it is complete enough that I don’t feel I need to supplement it at all. There is enough practice built in that I think by the time she is finished with it she will be ready for Algebra. I will have a full review in a few weeks, but if you are looking for a great way to help your student with pre algebra I would really check this out!

Science

We are going to study biology this year using Christian Kids Explore Biology. This is the first time we have used this science, but I think AJ will enjoy it. I plan on supplementing it with library books and videos from Visual Learning Systems. She loves science, so I am sure this course will go over well.

History

Last year my plan was to use Diana Warring’s history for 6th through 8th grade. We didn’t get as far along as I wanted last year, and I felt it was too much for AJ.  I think we will put off the rest of that curriculum for a few years and take a lighter approach to history this year. We are going with Home School in the Woods Middle Ages. We have been using it for a few weeks and AJ loves it! It is hands on and fun but most of the work is done for me. It will not last all year, if finances allow we will do the Renaissance and Reformation set from Home School in the Woods when we are finished. If that doesn’t work out, we will either revisit Roman History from Memoria Press or tackle the Renaissance and Reformation through unit studies. History is a little up in the air, but I know what we will be using for the first part of the year at least.

Geography

This year we will be focusing on European geography. She will be using the Geography Drawing Series. It is a simple approach that is a quick and easy part of her day.

Bible

For the first half of the year she will be working through the Teen Prasso. Once that is finished she will continue with year 1 of Bible Road Trip. Last year we got off track, but I would like for her to finish year 1 this year.

Spanish

AJ has practiced Spanish with a few different programs, but this year I wanted more. We will be using a few different resources to make a year long study. For a workbook approach we are using Instant Immersion Spanish. We are also using Fun Spanish Level 1 and a few fun apps.

Music

When we reviewed Easy Piano Basics, I was sure the novelty would wear off and she would want to quit practicing the piano in a few weeks. Surprisingly, that is not the case. She has been teaching herself songs and practicing without me saying a word! So she will continue to work through the lessons this year. She is also involved in the choir at church and has practice every week.

Art

Art has been lacking from our homeschool, so I decided that this year we were going to make more of an effort. For drawing practice she will be working through Draw and Write Through History. It will line up pretty well with our history study. For an actual art course we are going with Easy Peasy All in One Homeschool Art Cultures. It is just once a week, so I am hopeful that we will stick with it.

PE

We have never had to worry about PE since AJ was in gymnastics. Unfortunately, finances no longer allow gymnastics so we are making up our own curriculum. Until it is too cold to swim she will be working on different skills on the Red Cross skills list. She will be working her way through each level. Once it is too cold to swim she will be doing different exercise videos and practicing the skills needed to pass the California fitness test that she would take this year if she was in public school. She doesn’t have to take it, but I feel working on the skills that will be on the test will help keep us on track.

Language Arts

I left the hardest subject for last!

For writing she will be using Institute for Excellence in Writing B. It has been the first writing program to click with her.

For spelling we are sticking with Spelling You See Level F.

For grammar she will work through the Grammar Workbook – I will have a review of this soon. We will also use copywork from Homeschoolcopywork.com

For Handwriting she will finish Cursive Logic.

For Literature I am creating my own study for the Chronicles of Narnia. With each book we will learn about different literary elements. I will be sharing each study after we go through it. (That way I hope to catch any issues before I offer it to you. ) Once Narnia is finished we plan to read The Giver.

It looks like AJ will have a full year of learning! Do you have your plan for next year yet?