The Typing Coach ~ Review

When I was in high school we bought our first computer. It was around that time that all of my teachers were requiring reports to be either typed or written in pen, and sense my spelling skills left a lot to be desired, I typed everything. While spell check was wonderful, typing took me forever! Over the years I got a lot faster, but I was still using the hunt and peck method.

I have used numerous typing programs over the years, but never mastered typing correctly. I can type at a decent speed, but I glance at the keyboard too often and use the backspace button a little too frequently. AJ is the same way. She has tried various programs but the skill hasn’t stuck. Over the past few weeks we have been trying out a typing program that is different from anything we have used in the past. We have been using The Typing Coach Online Typing Course from The Typing Coach.

What is The Typing Coach?

The Typing Coach

The Typing Coach is a self paced online typing program. Instead of using animated characters or games, it focuses on typing. Consistent practice is key for this program. It is recommended that you practice for 20 minutes each day and that you work on each lesson until it is mastered with out any errors.

The course starts off with a lesson on Good Posture. There is an audio lesson that explains the proper way to sit along with a few videos that have examples. The videos also show correct keyboard and finger placement. Once you have mastered posture, you move onto the second lesson where you start to type.

Prior to the lesson you will need to print off a student packet and a learning checks packet. The lessons are completed in your own word processing program. We use Open Office, but any program that allows you to type should work.

Once your word processing program is open you click on the audio lesson online and follow the directions. What makes this program different from anything we have tried in the past is the audio learning. You are not looking at a picture of a keyboard on the screen or constantly looking down at the keyboard. Instead you are given directions like, “using your right hand type the L with your ring finger.”

There are also times during the lesson where you are instructed to practice typing the text in the student packet. While you are typing music is played. You are instructed not to use the backspace and to retype each line until you can do so with out any mistakes. I like that this forces you to practice typing something from paper, like you would normally do when typing something that you had written. The lessons seem to last about twenty minutes each.

The Typing Coach
When you think you have mastered the lesson you log into the testing and practice center. There you decide which test to take and you type a selection from the learning checks packet. Once you are finished you are told your score and how fast you typed. If you make any mistakes you are suppose to redo the lesson. If you master the section then you can move on to the next lesson.

What We Thought

AJ wasn’t too excited to try this program out. She likes to play games and enjoys fun colors. But obviously those programs haven’t helped her in the past. She doesn’t like to practice things she thinks she already knows, so the idea that she would have to redo a lesson if she made even one mistake didn’t sit well with her. But once she started it her attitude changed. The lessons are a simple part of our day. We still have a long way to go in the program, but I am already seeing her speed and accuracy improve.

I like the set up of the program, but it did take me a little bit to get use to. The biggest challenges were not using the backspace key and learning to practice typing each letter instead of looking at a word and typing the word. For example, looking and typing l e a r n instead of looking at the word learn, remembering it and trying to type it. This was different from any other program I tried, so it was hard for me at first. My speed has improve.  I am still working through the program but, I have noticed that I don’t look down near as often.

Overall, it is a good program that has helped both AJ and myself and I plan to continue practicing so that we continue to improve.

If you are looking for a no nonsense approach to learning how to type, that is affordable, and easy to use, then The Typing Coach may be exactly what you are looking for. There is the option to try a lesson before you purchase, so try it out and see if it will be a good fit for your family.

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

The Typing Coach Online Typing Course {The Typing Coach Reviews}
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High School Essay Intensive ~ Review

AJ has a love hate relationship with writing. She loves making up stories and telling them, but hates writing them down. About two years ago we were blessed to be able to try out a writing program from the Institute for Excellence in Writing. IEW changed how AJ viewed writing and changed how I viewed teaching it. Her writing has improved so much over the last few years, but there is still plenty of room for improvement. We were recently given the chance to review the revised version of the High School Essay Intensive   , and I knew it was something that AJ needed.

Institute for Excellence in Writing

What is the High School Essay Intensive?

Institute for Excellence in Writing High School Essay Intensive
The High School Essay Intensive is a course that is available streaming and on DVD that walks the student through the process of writing an essay. The course is taught by Andrew Pudewa. Mr. Pudewa has a way of teaching that keeps your interest and makes you want to watch him. While watching the course you feel as if you are in one of his live classes. There are students in the film and the majority of his time is spent at the front of the room writing on a whiteboard.

The course is broken into four sections.

Part 1: General Strategies for Essay Writing – This section takes up two DVDs. Mr. Pudewa goes through everything you need to know about writing an essay. He covers; different types of essays, how to organize an essay and what each paragraph should contain, how to determine the structure of an essay, how to determine what to write, ideas to improve the style of your writing, and so much more. He doesn’t just tell you to write an introduction, three body paragraphs, and a conclusion. Instead, he breaks each part down and explains what to write and how to write it. Even if you have a basic idea about how to write an essay, you will learn numerous ways to improve your writing skills.

Part 2: Understanding and Preparing for the New ACT Essay – This section has a DVD devoted to it. Mr. Pudewa explains the requirements for the New ACT. He goes into the time limit, grading scale, and gives tips for what the evaluators are looking for. He also provides writing strategies that will help you on the day you take the test.

Part 3: Understanding and Preparing for the Redesigned SAT Essay – This section also has a DVD devoted to it. This section is set up very similarly to part 2. Mr. Pudewa goes over the new requirements for the SAT while giving tips and tricks to help you write the best essay possible.

Part 4: Strategies for the “Personal Essay” – This section is on the final DVD. Writing about yourself is often a difficult task. In this section Mr. Pudewa gives examples of essay prompts from a few different colleges. He gives strategies for what to write and how to organize your personal Essay.

Along with the DVDs you also receive a 25 page student handout and the Portable Walls for the Essayist. The student handout includes an initial exercise and a final essay practice. It also has plenty of room for the student to take notes while watching the DVDs. Once your student fills in their student handout, they will have a great reference to look back on when they write an essay in the future. The Portable Walls for the Essayist is a very valuable tool. I think any student who is learning about essay writing would benefit from it. It is a foldable resource that contains all kinds of tips and tricks to help you write an essay. It is available to purchase separately, and I would highly recommend it.

What We Thought of the High School Essay Intensive

When AJ heard we were trying out a writing program she wasn’t too excited, until she found out it was from  the Institute for Excellence in Writing. She understands the way Mr. Pudewa teaches and enjoys watching his DVDs. Since AJ hasn’t written an essay before this course was a little intimidating to her at first. But once she started to understand that an essay isn’t that hard to write, she was more comfortable. Each day I had her watch the DVD and take notes for a while. We finished part 1 and since she has a few years before we have to think about the SAT or ACT we are going to hold off on the other parts of the course for now.

Mr. Pudewa took something that AJ didn’t think she could do, write an essay, and made it something obtainable. By explaining each step he made the task of writing easier. Writing still isn’t her favorite subject, but her skills are continuing to improve.

We only had one complaint about this course. At times the camera would zoom out while Mr. Pudewa was writing something on the whiteboard. AJ found that a little distracting. It didn’t happen too often, but I felt it was worth mentioning. Other than that, the DVDs are very high quality.

If you have a student who is planning on taking the ACT or SAT, or one who needs to improve their essay writing, then the High School Essay Intensive from the Institute for Excellence in Writing may be exactly what you are looking for.

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

High School Essay Intensive {Institute for Excellence in Writing Reviews}
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Using Khan Academy for High School Math

We have had the opportunity to review quite a few math programs over the years. AJ loves math, but she hates to have to do pages of problems once she understands a concept. I don’t blame her. If she understands a concept, I would rather move on to something new. That lets us spend time on the things she may take a little longer to grasp and speed through the concepts she picks up easily.

We started out using CTC Math for Algebra 1. It worked well in the beginning. AJ liked the video lessons and the worksheets didn’t take her too long to do. As the year progressed and she was coming up on problems that took longer to do, those worksheets started taking way too long. AJ was frustrated and so was I. I couldn’t afford to purchase a new math program, so I decided to go back to a program we had used in the past, Khan Academy.

There were some changes from when AJ used it as a supplement a few years ago, but everything we liked about it was the same.

What We Like About Khan Academy

  • Short lessons. – AJ can watch a video lesson on a topic and then work a few problems. Depending on the type of problem, she has to get 3 to 5 questions correct in a row. So if she understands the concept she can prove it and be on her way. If she is having some trouble the program makes her practice longer. It even has her do similar problems to the ones she missed just changing little things to ensure she really knows the concept.Khan Academy - A great option for high school math!
  • Mastery Challenges. – Once you get the 3 to 5 problems correct in a row your status in a concept changes from not practiced to practiced. In order to master the concept you complete mastery challenges. The levels are: not practiced, practiced, level 1, level 2, and mastered. The mastery challenge can be on anything you have already learned, and if you miss the question then you go down a level. When you get a question correct you go up one or more levels. I like that old concepts are thrown in, this makes sure she really learned a concept, and that she didn’t just temporarily understand it. There have been a few times that she has had to remaster a concept because she forgot how to solve a problem.
  • Step by step hints.- When working on a new concept, you are forced to enter the correct answer. If you get the problem wrong you can not go to the next one until the correct answer is entered. If you need help you are given step by step hints to help you solve the problem. This is great because often you don’t know where you messed up on a problem, this lets you know so that you can fix it.Khan Academy - A great option for high school math!
  • Flexibility.- As her learning coach I can assign lessons for AJ to complete. She can also work on any topic in a specific mission. Or she can stick with one concept like functions until she masters it. This is great because if she is having trouble with functions she can leave it and work on something else for a few days and then come back.Khan Academy - A great option for high school math!
  • Badges and Patches. – You earn points for each activity you complete. Badges can be earned for having so many points, answering so many questions correctly, working so many days in a row, and other things. Challenge patches are earned every time you master a section of concepts, like third grade multiplication. Earning the badges and patches motivates AJ. She will some times say she needs to practice another concept so that she can earn a badge for the week.

How We Are Using Khan Academy for High School

My goal is for AJ to master concepts. Khan Academy is perfect for mastery! Our goal for Algebra was to have AJ complete both the Algebra Basics and the Algebra 1 missions in Khan Academy. I had her sign into her account each day and start by taking four mastery challenges (usually 6 questions each) and then practicing two concepts. I had her do so much because a lot was review. After about a week there were not as many mastery challenges available each day. At that point she would do the one or two available mastery challenges and then work on two or three new concepts. It took her about two months to master Algebra Basics.

When she got to Algebra 1 and the concepts became harder I decided to change things up. She still did any mastery challenges, but then she would work on new concepts for a half an hour. Some days she was able to speed through them and other days she would only get through one new concept. I make her watch the videos and take notes on any new concept that she isn’t able to figure out by herself. She has improved on her note taking and has a good set of notes for future math.

About a month ago I decided to have AJ go back and work on math from previous years. I had her work one day a week on lower level math to master it. There are a few areas that she struggles with, mainly word problems. Having her go back and master Early Math, Arithmetic, an pre algebra helped me to make sure that she didn’t have any gaps in her learning. Since then she decided that she wanted to get 100% mastery in kindergarten through 8th grade math. I figure the more she completes the better.

Khan Academy - A great option for high school math!

Right now she has completed 92% of Algebra 1. The only section she has left to complete is quadratic equations and functions. I am sure in the next few weeks she will be finished with Algebra 1. Once she masters all of the concepts I will be giving her an A. I feel that by mastering all of the concepts she will show that she really understands algebra. Since there is a lot of review with the mastery challenges, I know that she has seen a variety of  problems and has had plenty of review. I am also sent a weekly report with what she has worked on so I have proof that she has done the work even though there isn’t any worksheets or book work.

I feel Khan Academy is a great option for high school math. What are you using for math?

ArtAchieve ~ Review

 

Over the last few weeks AJ has been trying out an easy to use art program called, ArtAchieve. There are five different levels in the program. Based on AJ’s drawing abilities I decided to have her try out the Entire Level II. She might have been able to use a higher level, but since she was new to the program I felt level two would be a good place for her to start.

ArtAchieve - An easy to use online art program.

What is ArtAchieve?

ArtAchieve
ArtAchieve is an online subscription based art program. When you log into the program you see a list of all of the art lessons that you have available. The lessons range in price from $4 to $6 each, or they can be purchased as a bundle. Level two has 14 different projects based on art from around the world. From a Swedish Dala Horse, to a Ukrainian Cat, to a mermaid from Denmark, there are a lot of different things to learn about.

Once you decide on the lesson your student wants to do, you print off a warm up worksheet, and begin the lesson. You have the option of watching a video of the lesson or watching a power point presentation. Both give basically the same information, it just depends on your preference. AJ liked the power point better because she was able to stay on a page as long as she needed. She could pause the video when needed, but felt that the power point was easier for her.

Each lesson begins with a list of standards that are being addressed in the lesson. Then the student is shown a real life picture of what they will be drawing. They are then given information about the item. AJ learned that Korean wedding ducks were given to couples at their wedding and that the ducks had either blue or red on them. Blue for the grooms and red for the brides. We learned a lot of interesting facts.

The next step of the lesson is Preparing to Draw. In this section the student is given a list of supplies and is told the goals of the lesson. They are told to do a relaxation technique to get them ready to draw and then they do the warm up worksheet. The warm up is a sheet of paper that has parts of the drawings in boxes. The student traces the lines to become more familiar with the types of lines they will use in their own drawing. The student is given a list of rules for drawing and then they can begin.

Learn to draw with ArtAchieve

In the lesson, the student is taken step by step through the drawing. They start off by planning the picture, and add a little to it at a time. Once the basic drawing is complete the student is shown options for customizing the project. They finish the project using either paint or markers depending on the project. Again they are shown different ideas but are encouraged to come up with their own ideas. At the end of the lesson there are questions for the student to think about relating to their art work.

Projects from ArtAchieve Level II

Your student will learn some history and art, but there is also the option to take the lessons further. Each lesson has a section with Cross-Curricular Connections where there are ideas to further your child’s learning. You will find book ideas, writing activities, geography activities, and more depending on the project.

What We Thought

AJ and I watched the first lesson together. I had her do the relaxation techniques and the warm up worksheet. We read through the rules and then she started her project. AJ thought the rules for drawing were silly, and she didn’t see the point in the warm up. I think it might be her age, but she thought those parts of the lesson were wasting her time. She wanted to get to the fun part – the drawing.

After the first lesson, I let her skip the warm up. She used the program independently. Each day that she did art, she would read through the background information and then do her drawing. She would tell me all kinds of neat things she learned. She would color or paint the picture on a different day.

Overall AJ enjoyed this program and asks if she can work on the next project almost everyday. AJ liked that the drawings were step by step. She didn’t get lost and was able to make her drawings look similar to the one that the instructor drew. This program taught her more about drawing than the projects she made. She has learned how to plan out her picture, and how to use different lines to make a beautiful picture. I have noticed that she has used these new techniques in her sketches and drawings that she has done on her own. Her only complaint was that she didn’t like a few of the pictures that she had to draw.

I liked the simplicity of the program. It was really open and go. She was able to do it all by herself, and she was really learning. I was thankful that we didn’t need any crazy supplies. Everything she needed was in our craft drawer. I also appreciate that the student is learning about culture and history while they draw.

If you are looking for a program that is easy to use, affordable, and will improve your child’s drawing skills, then ArtAchieve may be exactly what you are looking for. See what other members of the Homeschool Review Crew thought by clicking on the graphic below.

Art Lessons Inspired From Around the World {ArtAchieve Reviews}
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Iliad & Odyssey Complete Set ~ Review

Over the past few weeks AJ and I have been reading and studying Homer’s Iliad. We received the Iliad & Odyssey Complete Set from Memoria Press it has made the process of learning about these ancient texts a lot easier. We looked forward to reading these Epics and were excited to get started.

Iliad & Odyssey Complete Set

The Iliad

Iliad & Odyssey Complete Set
We received a copy of the Iliad translated by Samuel Butler. The book is 447 pages long and is broken up into 24 books. The print size in the book is nice. AJ commented that she didn’t have to squint to read the words and that she could actually see them easily.

Along with the book we received a Student Guide and a Teacher Guide. For each book in the Iliad there are two pages in the Student Guide to complete. The first section lists important places and characters and gives more information about them. The next section has comprehension questions. These vary in difficulty. Some are simple answers that are pulled straight from the book while others require a little more thought.

The third section is Quotations. A few quotes from the book are listed. The student is expected to become familiar with these quotes and know them for tests. The final section is Discussion Questions. These questions are mostly opinion based. An example from book 15 is;

 Who is the better warrior- Ajax, son of Telamon, or Hector. There isn’t a correct answer but the questions do force the student to think about the story on a deeper level.

Since The Iliad was written so long ago, it can be a difficult read. The Student Guide tries to make it as simple as possible. In the appendix there are genealogical charts and other helpful information to help your student keep track of who is who and which side different cities are on. We found this section very valuable.

The Teacher Guide for The Iliad is different from other Memoria Press guides we have used in the past. While the Teacher Guide has all of the information contained in the Student Guide, it has so much more.

Each book begins with Background and Drill. This section gives more in depth information about important topics. There are also sections on Discussion Help, questions the students should mark for tests, Teacher Notes, and additional assignments for the student to complete. There are writing assignments for almost every book. These include memory work, summaries, compare and contrast, opinion, and more.

There are three tests included in the Teacher Guide. These tests are not easy! When your student is able to pass the tests they will have a great understanding of The Iliad.

The best part of the package was the Instructional DVDs. Sean Brooks gives a video lecture for each book in The Iliad. The lectures were not boring, in fact AJ enjoyed watching the lectures. Mr. Brooks is excellent at explaining what is going on in each book and why it is important. I felt the DVDs were what made me feel confident to teach these books. They really took the study to the next level.

The Odyssey

Iliad & Odyssey Complete Set
Our copy of The Odyssey is also translated by Samuel Butler. It is 358 pages long and broken up into 24 books. Like The Iliad, the text size is nice and the book is well made.

The Student Guide and Teacher Guides are set up very similarly to the guides for The Iliad. I appreciate that because when we get to The Odyssey AJ will already be familiar with the set up.

There looks like a lot of fun assignments to go along with The Odyssey. One that I think AJ will like is from book 7. It asks the student to choose a location for Scheria and defend it geographically. They have to describe how to get back to Ithaca from that point. I like that they are forced to think deeper.

I watched a few of the DVD lectures, and they did not disappoint. I am sure that AJ will like them as much as she likes the lectures on The Iliad.

How We Use It

At first we tried to use the program as it is designed in the Teacher Guide. The student reads a book each day and completes the work. Together both books should take around 18 weeks to complete. The study really seems to be written for more of a classroom student with classwork and homework, than for a homeschooled student. It was just too much for AJ. This book is not an easy read and requires a lot of concentration. We are not classical homeschoolers and she had never heard of the Trojan War. I think a student who is use to Memoria Press would be able to catch on a lot faster.

After a few days I decided to change things up. We are currently not using the Student Guide at all. We are reading a book out loud over a day or two depending on the length and then on the following day watching the lecture and discussing the discussion questions.

My plan is to have her read through both books and watch all of the lectures. When she is done and is more familiar with all of the characters and what is happening in the story she will read them again. At that point I will have her fill out the study guides, take quizzes, do the memory work, and dig deeper. I plan to give AJ a high school English credit when she is completely finished.

What We Thought

If you are looking for a way to teach your child these difficult texts, this is hands down the way to go. I don’t think you will find a better study. Between the Teacher Guide and the Instructional DVDs you will have everything you need right at your finger tips.

First Form Greek, Iliad/Odyssey and American History {Memoria Press Reviews}
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Bessie’s Pillow ~ Review

This year AJ has been learning all about modern history. Learning about things that happened only decades ago instead of hundreds of years ago has been really interesting to her. It is amazing how far our world has come in such a short time. Most of the topics we are learning about happened after my grandma was born. Knowing someone who was actually alive when wars and other things happened really puts things into perspective.  One topic that AJ has really enjoyed learning about is the American Dream. And how that dream wasn’t easy for a lot of people.

We were recently given the chance to review the book, Bessie’s Pillow by Linda Bress Silbert. It is an amazing book from Strong Learning, Inc. that is based on a true story of a young immigrant’s journey to America. I thought that the book would be a great way for AJ to get a better understanding of the personal side of history. It is easy to learn facts, but it is nice to get a look into how people felt and handled what was going on. AJ seems to enjoy books that are based on a strong female character, so I thought that she would enjoy this book.

Bessie's Pillow 

What is Bessie’s Pillow?

Bessie’s Pillow is a 276 page soft covered historical fiction book. It is broken into 40 chapters and includes a section called Bessie’s America. This section is full of historical information about the things going on in Eastern Europe that drove hundreds of thousands of people to immigrate to America in the 19th and 20th century. It also includes information about what America was like in that time period.

The book is told in first person point of view. It starts off with 18 year old Boshka Markman waiting to leave her family and everything she knew to come to America. It was 1906 and Lithuania was no longer a safe place for her to live. At such a young age she would leave her family and make the long difficult journey to America on her own.

Just getting to America was a challenge. There are numerous health checks and inspections to make sure she was healthy enough to enter America. Once she finally reached America she was told that her name would have to be changed to make it more American. From that day on she was known as Bessie.

Bessie was a strong woman. We see her grow from a young 18 year old child to a strong wife and business woman. She faces struggles and overcomes them. She is kind, compassionate, and has a strong spirit.

Beyond the Book

Just reading the book will teach you a lot about history. But the author has taken it a step further. She has created a site, Bessie’s America that takes learning about the time period to a new level. There are picture from the time period and tons of information about daily life back in the beginning of the 1900’s.

There is also a teacher’s guide. The guide includes; discussion questions, a timeline of events, character analysis, themes, symbolism in the book and more. This book can easily be a jumping point for a full on history and language arts study.

Unfortunately, when we were reading the book there were some issues with the website and the links were not working. Now that it is working, we have enjoyed looking through and learning even more about the time period.

What We Thought

Originally the plan was to read a few chapters a day as a read aloud. After the first few days though, it seemed impossible to stop after a few chapters. The book was exciting and AJ didn’t want to stop reading. We ended up finishing the book in a few days. It was well written and really gave insight into what it was like to be an immigrant in America.

There were a few difficult to read chapters, because lets face it, Americans were not always the most welcoming to immigrants. It is sad that Bessie had to face those difficulties, but I am glad that they were included in the book. I feel it is important to share both the good and bad parts of history. That being said, you may wish to read the book yourself before handing it over to your child. I think a 5th grader could easily read the book, but I know AJ would not have been emotionally ready to read it in 5th grade. She is in 8th grade now and the book brought up a lot of great discussions, especially considering all of the talk about immigration in our political world.

Overall, if you are looking for an exciting, well written, inspiring story of a strong female character who overcomes many difficulties, Bessie’s Pillow may be exactly what you are looking for.

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

Bessie's Pillow {Strong Learning, Inc. Reviews}
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5 Things I Wish I Knew When I Started Homeschooling

We all decide to homeschool for a reason. Maybe that reason has to do with health issues or scheduling. It might be because of bullying or poor school choices in your area. And it could be a decision that you made long before your child was ready to start school. Whatever your reason, you have decided to take this unconventional path. There will be good days and bad, and some days you might question your decision.

When you start on your homeschooling journey it can be easy to feel overwhelmed. With so many different options, just picking curriculum can be daunting. I know when I was first looking into homeschooling I felt stressed. I wanted to make the “right” choices and do the best for AJ. If I could go back, the first thing I would do would be to relax. We are now in our sixth year of homeschooling and I have learned quite a bit along the way.

With the knowledge I have now, here are five things I would tell myself six years ago at the beginning of our homeschooling journey.

5 Tips For those who are starting to homeschool

1. You Don’t Have to Do it All!

Some homeschoolers are able to teach all of the core subjects along with art, logic, Latin, Spanish, and do huge hands on projects. That is great for them, but it isn’t for everyone. When you are starting out, focus on what you have to teach according to your state laws. Then if you have the time and desire add in an additional subject or two. If your third grader isn’t learning Latin, it isn’t the end of the world. Focus on your child and what is best for them. Give them a strong foundation in reading, writing, and math, and the rest will follow.

2. Ask Your Child for Input.

Giving your child options about their learning can change their entire attitude. If your child is not enjoying their current history study then give them a few options for what historical period they want to study next. I don’t give AJ final say, but I will ask her what topics she wants to study. In the beginning I made all of the decisions. Now I have a list of things I want her to study and give her the choice of what to learn about next.

3. Sometimes it is Worth the Money to Buy a Good Curriculum.

Writing has been a difficult subject since she was in public school. I tried a few free and cheep options to help her improve. We tried daily journal writing, but nothing seemed to help. She hated writing and it was a subject that brought constant tears. We were finally blessed to review IEW (Institute for Excellence in Writing) and it has changed the way she views writing. I wish I had spent a little bit more money in the beginning. I can’t imagine how much better her writing would be by now if she would have been using it from the start.

4. Start Independent Work Early.

This was one of my biggest mistakes! Independent work is important. The child needs to be able to practice what they have learned on their own. Since it was just the two of us, I usually was close by to help AJ when she needed it. That made her very dependent on me. It got to the point where she wouldn’t do any work unless I was sitting right with her. I am glad we have moved passed that point, but if I could go back I would make her do at least two subjects by herself daily. They wouldn’t have to be major subjects. It could be writing spelling words or working on math problems. Copywork is another subject that can be easily done independently. Find something your child can practice on their own. It will help to build their confidence and improve their work ethic.

5. It is Okay to Make Mistakes.

Making mistakes is part of the learning process. Let kids know that they don’t have to be perfect, that they need to work hard and do their best. Sometimes failing a math lesson or a spelling test is a good thing. It lets them know they need to work harder. It may mean they need to approach a task from a different perspective and try new methods. This goes for parents too. You might make the wrong choice on curriculum or feel like you are not getting through to your child. It will be okay. Try something new the next day and learn together.

Homeschooling is a journey. You will have hard times, but there will be so many great times. You will get to see your child grow and learn. You will see them preserver through subjects that are difficult. The best part is you get to be with them as they discover the world and how it works.

What is something you would go back and tell yourself at the beginning of your homeschooling journey?

Educeri ~ Review

We are always looking for new ways to help AJ learn, so we were excited to have the chance to review Educeri Lesson Subscription Service from Educeri …….  Educeri a division of DataWORKS .

What is Educeri?

Educeri is an online based program designed to help teachers teach specific learning objectives to their students. There are currently 1108 lessons and resources for kindergarten through high school levels. The majority of the lessons cover math and language arts topics, but there are other lessons available depending on the grade level. When you subscribe to Educeri you are given access to all of the lessons and resources.

Educeri Lesson Subscription Service Reviews
In addition to math and language arts there are, 21 Science lessons which are mainly for middle school students and 26 History lessons mainly for grades five and up. There is also one lesson in Art, Music, PE, and Spanish.

The site is set up so you can search for your desired grade level or subject. You can also search by the concept that you want to teach.

For all of the Math and Language Arts lessons there are downloadable student handouts that you can print off for your student. Your student works on the handout while you are teaching them the lesson. Then they complete some independent work after the lesson is completed.

How We Used Educeri

When I logged onto the site I decided to simply go to the 8th grade section. I found 73 lessons and resources for the 8th grade level. I was surprised to see that the 8th grade section also had a few different history lessons. Since we are not using a complete Language Arts program this year, I decided to check out the Language Arts lessons first.

There were lessons covering:

Analyzing Analogies

Symbolism

Analyzing Themes in Literature

Literary Devices

Analyzing Conflicting Viewpoints

Writing

Grammar and

Vocabulary

One of the lessons AJ worked on was on Idioms. I decided not to print off the student hand outs, instead we discussed the information.

When I clicked to teach the lesson I the first page lists the objective of the lesson and the prior knowledge that students should know about the topic. The following slide went on to explain the difference and give a few examples of literal and figurative language.

educeri-review-1

Then there is guided practice. The answers are all blank and then as you click the mouse answers are revealed. There is a highlighting and pen tool to use so you can interact with the lesson. Once the guided practice is finished there is a section about the relevance of the skill and then a review of how to use the skill. The lesson ends with the independent practice. In this section the answers are again blank, and with each click of the mouse an answer is revealed.

I decided to spread the lessons out over a few days. One day we would introduce the concept and do the guided practice. Then another day we would go over the relevance of the skill and how to use it. At the end of the week I would have her do the independent work.

I feel that she learned some new skills through this review. We mainly used the Language Arts lessons, but she did use a few of the math lessons.

What We Thought About Educeri

While I felt AJ learned a few new skills, I felt that this product was much more than we needed in our homeschool setting. There was a lot of focus on objectives and how each skill would help the student preform better on tests. In a school setting where they have to stick to standard based learning, this would be perfect. I just felt it was a little over kill.

AJ thought that the lessons took too long and didn’t like that a single part of the answer would be revealed at a time. She didn’t like the way that math was taught and felt that there was a lot of unneeded steps when she could easily figure out problems. A lot of this has to do with the fact that the lessons are common core aligned, and it is not at all what she was use to.

I see this product being a better fit in a group setting. Since we do so much one on one learning, the set up of the lessons was just not the right fit for us. In the future I think I will just print of the hand outs for her and teach her off of them.

If you want to ensure that your child is learning all of the skills that their peers in public school are learning, then this might be exactly what you are looking for. The best part is that you can try it out for 30 days risk free! See if it is something that will work for your family.

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

Educeri Lesson Subscription Service
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Working It Out ~ Review

One subject that I enjoyed learning about in school was poetry. I enjoyed breaking down poems and trying to figure out what they meant. It was always an enjoyable experience, but something that took some effort. When AJ started to learn about poetry however, she hated it. She was a very literal thinker and the idea of nonsense poems was hard for her to understand. We worked on poetry for a while and eventually she started to enjoy it. She even wrote some decent poems of her own. Now that she is older, I have been trying to incorporate some poetry that has more meaning. It has been a little difficult to find the right balance for her.

We were recently given the chance to review a product from Everyday Education, LLC called Working it Out: Poetry Analysis with George Herbert. I thought that it would be a great product to help AJ learn more about poetry.

Beautiful Handwriting, Literature and Poetry {Everyday Education, LLC}

What is Working it Out: Poetry Analysis with George Herbert?

Beautiful Handwriting, Literature and Poetry {Everyday Education, LLC}

This book (we received an e-book) contains over 50 poems that were all written by George Herbert. He was a poet who was born in 1593. George Herbert lead a rather fascinating life even though he didn’t live to see his 40th birthday. He was a well educated man who ended up becoming an ordained minister.

Working it Out is a collection of poems that can be used as a devotion. The interesting thing about this book is that it is written in a way to help even those who are not poetically gifted to understand and enjoy the experience of reading poetry.

The poems in Working it Out are broken into 12 main categories.

  • Looking Back, Moving Forward
  • Letting Go
  • Confession
  • Grace
  • Separation
  • Petition
  • Praise
  • Depending on God
  • Grief
  • Prayer
  • Special Blessings of the Church
  • More Insights

The number of poems in each section varies, as does the length of each poem. Some are only a few stanzas long where others are pages long.

After each poem there is a breakdown of the poems meaning. I like how the breakdown lets you see the poem as much more than just words on a page. Each poem has the following explanation:

  • The Big Picture – This section gives an overall meaning of the poem.
  • The Parts of the Picture – This section breaks down the poem by stanza. Literary elements are discussed in this section.
  • The Parts of the Picture Come Together – This section explains the movement throughout the poem. I personally felt this was one of the most helpful sections.
  • Reflections – These are questions about the poem that ask you to reflect about the meaning of the poem.
  • Scriptures for Further Reflection – These are additional scripture verses that relate to the poem.

How to Use Working it Out: Poetry Analysis with George Herbert.

You can simply read through the book and learn a lot of information. After reading each poem you learn about the meaning of it. Through this process you and your student will be able to grow in the knowledge of poetry while becoming closer to God.

If you want deepen the learning process there are ideas in the book to help take the learning to the next level.

You are encouraged not to rush through this book. It is actually meant to be used over a school year by learning about one poem a week. There is a lot of flexibility to help you make the process of learning about poetry enjoyable.

How We Used Working it Out: Poetry Analysis with George Herbert.

Learn the meaning behind poetry while growing closer to God!

We started off by reading through a poem at the beginning of the week. Then the next day we would read it again and discuss what she thought the poem could mean. The process was difficult for AJ so we would read through the meaning of the poem a few times.

After learning about a few different poems I could see AJ was just not ready for this book. Instead we have decided to just read through a poem each week and talk about any literary elements she can find. I have also had her color code a few of the poems. She would highlight words that had to do with love red, and words that had a sad connotation grey.

It the poem, “The Flower” I had her mark the words about spring in yellow and the words about winter in a dark color. The poem is about renewal, and while she may not understand that yet, I know that the next time we come to this poem and try to understand its’ meaning it will be a little easier for her.

What We Thought About Working it Out: Poetry Analysis with George Herbert.

It is a well put together study, but it ended up being too far over her head. She is in 8th grade right now and I think she will be able to get far more out of the study in another year or two. She is able to read the poems fine, but even when I help to explain their meanings, she seems a little lost. I look forward to using it with her in the future though, because it is a neat way to learn about poetry.

I would recommend this book to anyone who wants to teach their child about poetry. It breaks everything down and makes the process a lot easier. It is also great for personal growth and reading too. I have read through quite a few of the poems and have enjoyed them. The best part is I can see the meaning behind the poem and compare it to what I thought the poem was talking about.

Click on the graphic below to see what other members of the Homeschool Review Crew had to say about Working it Out and two other products from Everyday Education, LLC

Beautiful Handwriting, Literature and Poetry {Everyday Education, LLC}
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If You Were Me And Lived In… Book Review

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While AJ is a reluctant reader, she loves books that teach her things. If she was able to only pick books out of the nonfiction section of the library, she would. But give her a text book and she normally finds it boring because of the lack of pictures. We were asked to review a few books from the, “If You Were Me and Lived in…” series brought to you by Carole P. Roman and Awaywegomedia.com.  This review came with a fun twist, we were able to pick two books from the series and the company sent us two of their choice. It was a hard decision because there were so many great options. In the end AJ and I decided on, If You Were Me and Lived in…Ancient China: The Han Dynasty and If You Were Me and Lived in… Elizabethan England (An Introduction to Civilizations Throughout Time) (Volume 3). We picked the book about China, because we haven’t learned very much about that country in our history studies. We picked Elizabethan England because AJ will be reading her first Shakespeare play this year (YIKES!) and I wanted her to learn more about that era.

AJ’s first pick was If You Were Me and Lived in…Renaissance Italy (An Introduction to Civilizations Throughout Time) (Volume 2). She fell in love with Italy when she studied the Renaissance in 3rd grade. She was thrilled to see that the company decided to send us the book about the Renaissance! We also received If You Were Me and Lived in…Colonial America (An Introduction to Civilizations Throughout Time) (Volume 4).

About the Books

The books all follow the same format. They begin with a picture of the country today and the country during the time period that the book is covering. The books cover all different things from the food that was eaten, the clothes that were worn, the types of homes, and other interesting information. Then at the end of each book there is a list of important people during the time including dates and detailed information. Following that there is a glossary in each book.

If You Were Me and Lived in…Renaissance Italy (An Introduction to Civilizations Throughout Time) (Volume 2)

If You Were Me and Lived in ... {by Carole P. Roman and Awaywegomedia.com}
This book is 55 pages long. It is illustrated by Silvia Brunetti. The pictures in the book varied. Some were lifelike, some looked more like paintings, and others looked like cartoons. We enjoyed the variety. It began by reviewing a little bit about the Middle Ages. It talked about the wealthy Medici family and how the family encouraged changes in architecture and supported many artists.

The book explained that girls were expected to be married by the time they were 16 and were expected to act like adults from a very young age. It also talked about how the clothes that were worn were a symbol of status in the town. In the end of the book there was a short section about art in the Renaissance. AJ was happy to see the Hands of God &Adam by Michelangelo in that section. That was one of the first pictures she ever saw in real life. I still remember when she was 9, we walked into a doctor’s office and a replica of it was hanging on the wall. She was so excited to see it and told everyone in the waiting room what it was and who painted it. Her only complaint about the book was that it needed to have more art in it. She learned a lot of new facts and was thrilled to remember things she had previously learned. This was her favorite of the books.

If You Were Me and Lived in… Elizabethan England (An Introduction to Civilizations Throughout Time) (Volume 3)

If You Were Me and Lived in ... {by Carole P. Roman and Awaywegomedia.com}
This book is 50 pages long. It is beautifully illustrated by Paula Tabor. The pictures are lifelike and vivid. The book starts off by explaining why the time period was called the Elizabethan Period. Then it went on to explain what your life would be like if you lived in a bakery with your family. One of our favorite parts was learning where the expression, “it’s raining cats and dogs,” came from. We also learned that most people ate with their hands. Then we learned about the acting companies and how the boys had to play girls. The book ended by talking briefly about how the religion you were able to practice depended on who was leading the country.

We simply read through the book and learned quite a few new things. AJ loved that it was simple to read and full of both pictures and information. The important people section in the back of the book was really helpful. It let AJ easily learn more about the time period.

 If You Were Me and Lived in…Colonial America (An Introduction to Civilizations Throughout Time) (Volume 4)

If You Were Me and Lived in ... {by Carole P. Roman and Awaywegomedia.com}
This book is 61 pages long. It is illustrated by Sarah Wright. While the pictures are colorful and cute to look at, they are cartoonish. Since we have learned about Colonial America a few times, I didn’t think that AJ would learn very much from it. I was wrong! The book starts off where volume 3 ended. It explained in a lot more detail about how the ruler of the country decided the religion in England, and how a lot of people were unhappy. Then it goes on to talk about the Mayflower Compact and how hard the first settlers had it. It explains how corn became a very important crop and how becoming allies with the Indians helped everyone. This book is full of information.

If You Were Me and Lived in…Ancient China: The Han Dynasty

If You Were Me and Lived in ... {by Carole P. Roman and Awaywegomedia.com}
This is a long book. It is 76 pages long and the writing is quite a bit smaller than any of the other books. It is illustrated by Mateya Arkova. The pictures in this book look like they were painted in muted watercolors. AJ and I both felt that a lot of the pictures seemed blurry.

This book (and the Colonial America one as well) is told from a male perspective. The other two we have were told from the female perspective. It starts off by explaining that the Han Dynasty was a very important dynasty in China’s history. It also explains that it is often called the Golden Age of Ancient China.

We learned that the most important area in the home was the shine and that it was very important to the Confucianism religion. We also learned that clothing was important and that only the Emperor could wear the color yellow. One fact that AJ thought was amazing was that the process of making silk was so secretive that a person could be put to death if they told the secret.

There is so much more for AJ to learn in this book. She still isn’t finished with this one because I want her to take her time and really process the information.

The book covers so much! Some of the things she will be learning about are; the different social levels, the importance of honoring their family, their school life, the process of making paper, the three main religions, calligraphy, and a lot more.

What We Thought

All of the books were full of information. They are well written making an often boring subject interesting and easy to learn about. I feel that these books can be the basis of a period study for a child in elementary grades. You can easily add crafts and activities to make it a very fun study. They would be perfect for older children to review a subject or to go over the basics of a new topic. I admit that I learned a few new facts too.

If you are looking for a great book to learn about history, any of these would be a great pick.

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

If You Were Me and Lived in ... {by Carole P. Roman and Awaywegomedia.com}
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