Marine Biology ~ Review

A few years ago AJ was looking at one of the catalogs from Apologia Educational Ministries and she saw their old Marie Biology course. She begged me to get it for her. She loves animals and plans to have a career caring for them in some way. At the time she was too young for the course. Technically she is still too young to take the course because it is an advanced biology course and she just started ninth grade. But when we were given the chance to review Apologia Educational Ministries new Marine Biology 2nd Edition Advantage Set  and Marine Biology 2nd Edition Audio CDI knew that I couldn’t turn it down!

Marine Biology 2nd Edition Advantage Set

The advantage set comes with the textbook, the student notebook, and a solutions and test manual. We also received a separate test booklet. In order for your student to successfully complete the course you will need to purchase the Slide Set and the Dissection Set. There is a lot of hands on learning with this course!

About the Textbook

Marine Biology 2nd Edition Advantage Set
The textbook is amazing! It is over 550 pages. The book is broken down into 16 modules that each take around two weeks to complete. They are:

  1. The Oceans of Our Planet
  2. Life in the Sea
  3. The First Four Kingdoms
  4. Marine Invertebrates I
  5. Marine Invertebrates II
  6. Marine Vertebrates I
  7. Marine Vertebrates II
  8. Marine Ecology
  9. The Intertidal Zone
  10. Estuary Communities
  11. Coral Reefs
  12. Continental Shelf Communities
  13. The Epipelagic Zone
  14. The Deep Ocean
  15. Ocean Resources
  16. Effects of Humans on the Sea

This is a college prep course that is designed to be taken after the student has taken biology. It covers a lot of information and uses advanced vocabulary. But there are plenty of diagrams, pictures, and experiments to help students understand difficult concepts. At the end of the book there is a glossary, reference figures and tables, fill in the blank module summaries, a list of needed lab supplies, and an index. It is a big book that is packed full of information.

What Does a Marine Biology Lesson Look Like?

In a typical day your student would read through four to eight pages in the textbook and answer two (give or take) “On Your Own” questions. They may also do an experiment or two.

All of the experiments have a purpose listed. Some of the experiments are very simple to preform but they teach an important concept. For each experiment there is a list of materials, a question that needs to be answered, instructions on the type of hypothesis the student should write, a detailed procedure, and instructions for a conclusion. I was pleasantly surprised to see such detail. I am confident that students would be able to preform most of the experiments with little help. (Except for the dissections.)

At the end of each module you will find the answers to the “On Your Own” questions. Each one has more than just a simple answer, it goes further in depth to explain the answer. I think this is a great idea because it will let your student check their answers and make sure they are understanding the topics.

There is also a study guide for each module. Each module is a little different, but they all have vocabulary for the student to define and questions for them to answer based on the entire module.

About the Marine Biology Student Notebook

The student notebook is a spiral bound, soft covered book that is just over 500 pages. The beginning of the book has a daily schedule. It is completely broken down and tells the student what pages to read, which questions to answer, and if they need to complete an experiment. While it would be possible to figure the schedule out with just the textbook, I found this very helpful. I could just tell AJ to look at the schedule and check off the box when she was done.

Marine Biology 2nd Edition Advantage Set
There is a section that explains how to take notes when reading. For each module there are a few pages for the student to write notes. I like that idea because all of their work and study materials are then in one place.

One major advantage of the Student Notebook is that it contains all of the questions from the textbook. Each “On Your Own” question is written and has plenty of room for your student to write their answer. It also has the study guide and the fill in the blank module summary from the book. The Student Notebook isn’t a necessity. Your student could answer the questions on their own paper and copy the module summary, this is just a more convenient option.

The back part of the Student Notebook is the Lab Notebook. It has the same information that the textbook has, purpose, materials, question, hypothesis, and procedure. There are also color photos and diagrams for some of the experiments.  After the procedure, there is a section for the student to fill in information about the experiment. There are sections for their hypothesis, observations, sketches, and conclusions.

While we found the Student Notebook very convenient, there were a few things that we didn’t care for. The paper is very thin. A few pages have already ripped at the spiral binding. AJ likes to write in pen and the ink bled through to the other side. She had to switch to pencil. It wasn’t the end of the world, but it bothered her. Our other complaint is that we would have preferred the labs to be with the study questions instead of in the back of the notebook. Then all of the information for each module would be together. Again, this would not be a deal breaker. I would absolutely by the student notebook.

Solutions and Tests Manual

Apologia Educational Ministries
The Solutions and Tests Manual is a soft covered book that is over 200 pages long. It has detailed answers for each module’s study guide, tests for each module, and the solutions for the tests. There are also four quarterly tests with solutions as well. I know that I wouldn’t be able to grade the tests without the use of this guide.

We also received a small test booklet. It is a 50 page booklet that is stapled together and simply has all of the tests. It is convenient to be able to hand the student the booklet without the answers, but there really isn’t enough room for the student to write their answers.

The tests for this program are fairly difficult. The student is expected to give full vocabulary definitions and answer a variety of questions. Some of the questions are a little confusing and make the student think. If a student passes the test, you can be sure that they really understand the information. These type of tests will help prepare your student for higher level science courses.

AJ is not use to these types of tests. We are slowly transitioning to more difficult tests, but these were a little too difficult right now. Her other classes are not “college prep” level. We will revisit the tests in the future. Right now I have her do a definition matching page that I made up and I reword some of the questions. The textbook tells you to base the grade of your student on their tests and labs with little if any points for their daily work. We have never been big on tests, so I plan to grade a little differently. That’s the beauty of homeschooling, you can do what fits your family.

 

Marine Biology 2nd Edition Audio CD

The Audio CD is perfect for slow or struggling readers, or those who are auditory learners. It is the textbook read by Marissa Leinart. This isn’t a substitute for the book though. Your student will need to look at the graphics and diagrams and read a few small sections that Marissa Leinart doesn’t read.

Marine Biology 2nd Ed Audio CD
AJ is a slow reader and this was a huge help! Not only did it help her get through her work faster, but it helped with pronunciation of difficult words. Ms. Leinart reads the book very well. It is at a decent pace and her voice is easy to understand.

Our only complaint is that it is not a regular CD. It is an MP3 CD so it can only be listened to on a MP3 compatible CD player or on a computer. We had to listen to it on my computer. It worked out, but it would have been a lot easier to be able to listen to it in her CD player that has better volume.

Sometimes AJ tends to space out when she listens to things. What we did was listen to the CD for a section and then have her read a section. She alternated reading and listening to the textbook. It worked out well and she seems to have retained a lot of the information.

What We Thought about Marine Biology

This was our first time using a science course from Apologia, and I can see why so many people recommend them. The textbook is beautiful. It has so much information that is just waiting to be absorbed. They have a good balance of reading, writing, and hands on learning. The lab experiments have a purpose and are not just busy work. I like that with the exception of the microscope slides and the animals to dissect, most of the labs use easy to find materials.

The other great thing is that the course is customizable for your family. If you are on a strict budget then you can buy just the textbook and the solution guide. Or if you want a little more convenience with everything laid out for your student, you can add in the Student Notebook. If you have a struggling reader or a student who would rather listen to a lesson then the MP3 Audio Book is for you. They even have a DVD option where a teacher teaches the lessons and your student can watch.

We are very thankful that we were picked to review the Marine Biology course. AJ has learned so much and enjoyed the process. Right now we are trying to decide if we want to continue with Marine Biology or if we should put it away for a few years and come back to it when she is a little older. I thought she would do fine with the course even though it is for older students. We have had to take the course slower and adjust a few things. This isn’t an easy course, and it isn’t meant to be. I would not recommend this course for younger (8th – 10th grade) students. Follow the guidelines on their website. Your student really needs a good understanding of basic biology to benefit the most from this course.

If your student is ready for an advanced science course and they love animals, then this is the course for them! There is so much to learn.

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

Marine Biology 2nd Edition Advantage Set {Apologia Educational Ministries Review}
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Introductory Physics from Novare Science & Math ~ Review

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

What is Introductory Physics?

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

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

Parts of Introductory Physics

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

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

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

The 13 chapters are:

1. The Nature of Scientific Knowledge

2. Motion

3. Newton’s Laws of Motion

4. Energy

5. Momentum

6. Atoms, Matter, and Substances

7. Heat and Temperature

8. Pressure and Buoyancy*

9. Waves, Sound, and Light

10. Introduction to Electricity

11. DC Circuits

12. Fields and Magnetism

13. Geometric Optics*

How the Chapters are Set Up

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Teacher Resource CD contains:

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

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

Weekly review assignments help the student master the material.

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

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

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

How We Used Introductory Physics

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

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

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

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

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

What We Thought about Introductory Physics

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

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

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

What I Thought

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

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

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

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

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

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

Biblical Based Science {Novare Science & Math Reviews}
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Nature’s Beautiful Order ~ Review

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

Memoria Press

What is Nature’s Beautiful Order?

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

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

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

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

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

How We Used Nature’s Beautiful Order

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

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

What We Thought About Nature’s Beautiful Order

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

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

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

Latin, Nature and Trees {Memoria Press Reviews}
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Lab Reports ~ What to Include & How to Grade

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

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

Free Lab Report Grading Sheets!

Parts of the Lab Report

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Grading the Lab Report

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

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

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

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

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

CHSH Download Club ~ Review

AJ is a kid that enjoys doing worksheets, so I am often on the look out for things to supplement the topics we are learning about.  The problem is that since she is in 8th grade, a lot of  worksheets and unit studies that I find are too easy for her. Sometimes I make up my own worksheets for her to complete, but most of the time I just don’t have the time. We were recently given the opportunity to review the CHSH Download Club  from CHSH-Teach.com. When I first looked at the Christian HomeSchool Hub, I knew that it would be a resource that I would use frequently over the next year.

What is the CHSH Download Club?

I  had never heard of the CHSH Download Club before this review, but I wish I had. The CHSH Download Club is an online resource that gives you access to thousands of pages of educational materials. It includes worksheets, literature studies, full curriculum, supplemental materials, flash cards, puzzles, coloring pages, and more. For one small price of just $25 a year (or $99 for a lifetime membership) you have access to everything on the site. There are materials for grades preschool through high school.

Christian HomeSchool Hub {Download Club}
The site makes it easy to find exactly what you need. The materials are organized by; subject, grade, and month. I have to say that I was amazed at all of the different things available, and I was thrilled to see that there is an entire section for high school. It includes:

  • Literature Studies – Including Shakespeare
  • English Composition and Language Arts – 4 Years of High School English
  • Social Studies – Including a full World History and American History course
  • Math – Including a Collage Level Algebra Book and Answer Key
  • Science – Including Biology and Physics

AJ won’t be in high school until next year, but I looked over a lot of the high school resources and think we will probably use the World History and Biology courses next year.

How We Used the CHSH Download Club

We are studying modern history this year. We have been learning about different important people throughout history. I looked through our history curriculum and saw that AJ would soon be learning about Amelia Earhart and the Wright Brothers. So I looked to see if there was any information on either of the two topics. There was!

I quickly found three resources for Amelia Earhart under the Social Studies topic of “People throughout History.” There is a unit geared for 3rd through 6th grade and a unit geared for 4th through 8th grade. There is also an Amelia Earhart shape book. I decided to use both of the units about Amelia Earhart. The first one she did was the one geared for kids in 3rd through 6th grade. That one basically had her read about Amelia Earhart and then fill in charts and answer questions about the reading. I felt that study would have been perfect for the 3rd through 6th grade age range. After she finished with that unit she was going to start on the 4th through 8th grade unit. Unfortunately, when I clicked on that unit it said that the file was not found. I was a little disappointed about that.

This is just one of the many products from the CHSH Download Club!

 

The next unit study I had AJ work on was Wright Brothers: Bicycles to Airplane. It is an 85 page unit study that has 17 different tasks for the student to complete while learning about the Wright Brothers. It begins with pages of information about the Wright Brothers. There are a variety of different tasks including; creating a magazine cover about the Wright Brothers’ flight, making an anemometer, researching aviation, locating important places on a map, art projects, poems, giving a speech and more. AJ didn’t complete all of the tasks (we still have another week left) but, this unit study is great. It includes so many hands on activities to help students learn about flight. I was excited to see a study that was geared towards older students, and look forward to other studies in the future.

These graphic organizers make learning new concepts fun!

We also used various worksheets throughout the review period. AJ enjoyed the blank periodic table that she could fill in. She also liked the different charts and venn diagrams that were available in the Graphic Organizer download. There are 80 different ones to choose from.

We planned on using one of the literature studies for the novels that AJ is reading. There is a study for almost all of the books she is reading this year.  Even though the literature studies are for grades 4 through 8, I found them to be too simple and easy for AJ. They were mainly simple questions about the plot of the novel and didn’t ask any thought provoking questions. I think it may have been perfect for younger students, but not for the 8th grade level.

What We Thought About the CHSH Download Club

After trying out various products from the CHSH Download Club I think it is well worth the cost. There really is something for everyone. Almost all of the resources I looked at were well made and well thought out. I enjoyed how easy it was to use the site and how quickly the downloads came up. Other than the one file about Amelia Earhart, there were no glitches on the site.

Christian HomeSchool Hub {Download Club}
If you are looking for a way to supplement your child’s learning then the CHSH Download Club may be exactly what you are looking for. This would be perfect for those who enjoy unit studies or those who want to dig deeper into a concept. We have tried a few different sites over the years that have downloadable resources, and I think so far that this one is the best, especially if you have older students.

Find out what other members of the Review Crew had to say by clicking the graphic below.

Christian HomeSchool Hub {Download Club}
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8th Grade Math & Science

Post Contains Affiliate Links

Last week I shared our 8th grade English choices, today I will be sharing our choices for  math and science. AJ enjoys math and science most of the time. Since she was little she has enjoyed watching The Magic School Bus and reading nonfiction books. I think that my choices this year will let her enjoy both subjects and allow me to stick to my very tight budget.

Math and Science picks for 8th grade

Math

AJ is ready for Algebra this year! I didn’t know if she would be ready to take Algebra in 8th grade or if she would end up taking it in 9th grade. After looking at all of the concepts that we have covered over the years I was happy to see that she was ready for a higher level of math. I am not one that usually sticks to a math program, but I am determined to stick with two main programs that we were blessed to review this year.

I wanted a little bit of variety with a good amount of structure to our math plan. Right now I have her scheduled to work on lessons from CTC Math three days a week. The other two days a week she will work on Learn Bop. Between the two programs she will have plenty of practice and she should be able to master the different concepts. We will continue to play games like Sudoku (download a few for free) and Zoologic. We like to add games to our day whenever it is possible.

Science

Science was a hard decision for me this year. We have studied a lot of concepts over the last few years and almost every curriculum that I looked at had a lot of information that we already covered. I know that some things will be reviewed, but when you spend an entire year on Earth Science you don’t want to learn about volcanoes again two years later. The thought of making my own study seemed overwhelming this year. I haven’t felt well so I decided I needed something that was at least outlined for me. After looking at quite a few different options I decided on Easy Peasy Physics and Chemistry.

If you haven’t looked into Easy Peasy, you should check it out. It is free to use and gives you a 180 day schedule of assignments for your child to do. Science has videos, articles, games, and experiments. There are also notebooking pages and lapbooks for your child to make. We will probably skip a few things and we might follow a few rabbit trails and get off schedule. But I like that I have a strong foundation that I can have AJ follow on days that I can’t help her.

Some of the topics we will be studying are:

  • Elements of the Periodic Table
  • Atoms
  • Molecules
  • Sound
  • Acids and Bases
  • Mater
  • Forces
  • Motion
  • and more

Supplements

AJ loves science so I plan to let her do extra experiments on her own. We will also to borrow plenty of books and videos from the library to go with the concepts she is learning about.

Some of the resources we plan borrow from the library are:

Our plan is to really focus on English and Math this year so I think that Easy Peasy’s Science will be the perfect fit for AJ this year.  With a few extra books and videos I know she will have a year full of learning What are you using for math and science this year?

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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Learning About Butterflies

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Spring is in the air . . . the grass is getting greener, the weather is warmer, and learning is all around us. Why not take this changing time of year to study the beautiful butterfly? There are so many different types of butterflies that learning can be endless.

Great ideas and printables to help you learn about butterflies

 

There are a lot of great book resources for butterfly studies, ranging from simple picture books to advanced scientific type books for adults. One fun book we really enjoyed was From Caterpillar to Butterfly Big Book (Let’s-Read-and-Find-Out Science 1). Around our house The Magic School Bus books and videos are always a hit. My little one loves to learn all that she can from Mrs. Frizzle, and often I pick up a thing or two too. Here are a few of the Magic School Bus books that are full of fun and information all about butterflies.

After reading about butterflies there are numerous hands-on ways to continue learning. If your family enjoys lapbooks, there are a few great (free) ones that are available. There are also numerous paid options available.

If there is one in your area, a trip to visit a butterfly farm or house to see the beautiful creatures up close would be fun and educational. If that isn’t probable, you can purchase a kit and watch a caterpillar grow into a butterfly. Spring is the perfect time of year for it.

You can also download my free butterfly lifecycle worksheet.

Butterfly lifecycle Worksheet

When I do a unit study, I like to include as many subjects as possible. We have already covered reading and science but so many other subjects can be covered quite easily.

For spelling, you can use words related to the butterfly. Depending on the age of your child words could include; fly, egg, larva, thorax, insect, and antenna. Continue the fun by having them see how many words they can make from the letters in “butterfly” (there are 144 words possible) or “butterflies” (there are 690 possible words).

Writing is another subject that can easily be incorporated. You can cut a butterfly out of lined paper and then glue it to a piece of construction paper. Here are a few writing prompt ideas:

  • One day I woke up and I was a butterfly. I spread my winds and……..
  • My best friend is a butterfly………….
  • Describe a day in the life of a butterfly.
  • What would happen if there were no more butterflies in the world?
  • Write a descriptive poem about butterflies.
  • Write an acrostic poem about butterflies.

For geography, you can study the habitats of different butterflies. What types of butterflies live in your area?

For math, you can study symmetry and angles. Butterflies have six legs so practice your 6 times tables, or for the younger kids practice making groups of six.

Butterfly art can be extremely fun!

Butterfly Art

Here is one project that brings together math and art. Cut a symmetrical butterfly out of construction paper. On one side of the butterfly, put different colored drops of paint. Put enough paint that most of the construction paper will be covered, but not so much that paint will get everywhere. Then fold the butterfly in half and press down. When you open the butterfly back up there should be a symmetrical design. Here are a few more ideas.

  • You can paint a butterfly and then glue pom poms and on it.
  • Make a butterfly out of pipe cleaners.
  • Sculpt a butterfly out of clay and paint it.
  • Make a diorama of a butterfly habitat.

A unit study can be as quick and simple or as long and detailed as you want. You don’t have to reinvent the wheel either. Find some free resources that are available and then go with your gut. Find a subject, do a little research, and have fun making learning fun for your kids.

Free Printable Biome Book

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This year AJ is learning about biology in science. We started off the school year with two different science reviews, and only recently started with our planned curriculum. We are going through Christian Kids Explore Biology. It is geared for kids up to 6th grade and AJ is in 7th, but so far it is exactly what I was looking for!

Some of the concepts that she is learning are review for her, but she is learning plenty of new things as well. This curriculum doesn’t require a lot of writing, in fact I am adding in different worksheets and activities because I think she needs more practice. Super Teacher Worksheets has really come in handy for supplementing and digging deeper.

This year I wanted a science curriculum that gave us a guide of what to study and left plenty of room for rabbit trails. The book is designed so that each lesson takes a week to complete, but AJ is able to do the lesson and book work in one day and then dig deeper if we need to, or go on to the next lesson. We have added in a few videos and experiments to some lessons while a few others she has simply read through.

One lesson that we decided to take a step further was on biomes. After reading about the purpose of breaking the world up into biomes AJ’s assignment was to look up a few of the major biomes. We decided to spend a few days learning about different biomes.

 

She used a few different books from the library and searched web sites to find information about the different biomes. I then had her create a book where she gave basic information about each biome.

Subscriber Freebie - Printable Biome Book

I am sharing the Biome Book that I created with all of my subscribers! If you are already a subscriber, you will find the link in your email. If you haven’t subscribed yet, enter your email below and you will receive a link where you can download your copy.


What are your kids learning about in science?


 

Fascinating Biology ~ Review

One of AJ’s favorite subjects is science, so she was excited when we were given the chance to review a biology course from Fascinating Education. We received year long access to the Fascinating Biology  course and a short review course on chemistry.

What is Fascinating Biology?

Fascinating Education is an online science curriculum that uses audio and visual aids to teach science concepts in a fascinating way.

It is a self paced program, geared for high school students, that is broken down into 18 lessons. Throughout the course your child will learn a variety of topics including:

  • Components of life
  • Cell membranes
  • Taking in nutrients
  • Creating chemical energy
  • Growing and repairing
  • Reproducing
  • Maintaining a stable internal environment
  • and adapting to a changing external environment

Each of the 18 lessons has a presentation to watch where information is read to the student. It is really more like a slide show. On the left side of the screen there is a list of each slide. Your student can watch the presentation straight through or they can skip to the section they need to revisit.

The lessons themselves are long and cover a lot of information, too much information in my opinion. Your student may decide to only watch part of the presentation at a time, and it is easy to jump back in the next time they work on science. In addition to the audio presentation, there is also the option to print out the lesson script.

At the end of each lesson there is an optional multiple choice test. The test can be taken online, or you can print off a PDF version for your student. Progress and test results are not recorded in any way, so if you need or want a record of the test results you will need to print the results immediately following the test.

The program doesn’t contain any worksheets, labs, or experiments. It is more like listening to a professor lecture in a classroom setting.

This is a secular based course, so it talks about evolution and refers to the world being millions of years old. While I disagree with that opinion, I do not have an issue with it being taught. By the high school level I feel a child should be able to listen to differing beliefs and stand firm in what they believe.

How We Used Fascinating Biology

When I looked at this program I thought it would be a great fit for AJ. She is in 7th grade, but I thought she would be able to handle the information. The real selling point for us was that it had audio and she wouldn’t have to read through a science book.

Unfortunately, this program was not a good fit for us. We tried using it a few different ways. In the beginning I had AJ watch and listen to the presentation, we discussed some of the information and then she took the test. It was the first time she ever failed a test!

We went over the lesson again, but no matter how hard she tried, there was just too much information in the lesson for her to remember.

For the next few lessons I had her take notes, that still didn’t help. She has pages and pages of notes from the lessons, but couldn’t pass the tests or explain what she was learning.

What did we think of Fascinating Biology?

The program was a bad fit for AJ! I think the lessons really had too much information jammed into them for her retain the information. We both found the narrator to be monotone and I even found myself not paying attention during the lessons because I was not interested. We both thought that some of the test questions were poorly worded and confusing.

I think that at this time a lecture based program is too advanced for AJ. She needs a way to practice what she is learning and the lack of worksheets or experiments had her dreading the subject. Even when she took notes, there was so much information that she had problems knowing what was the most important information.

I really feel that this program would have worked a lot better if there would have been optional worksheets to go with the lessons. It would have helped to reinforce key topics.

If you have a student who doesn’t need the hands on element and is an audio learner, this may be exactly what you are looking for. It is easy to navigate and does a good job of covering a lot of information.

See what other members of the Schoolhouse Review Crew had to say.

Fascinating Education Review
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