CTCMath Algebra ~ Review

I have never stuck to a single math program in the past. I enjoy finding fun ways to teach and normally use a variety of sources. It has worked well up to this point, but now that AJ is taking Algebra I need to find one good program and stick with it for the year. We had the opportunity to review CTCMath last year and AJ enjoyed it, so I was excited to have another chance to review the CTCMath Homeschool Membership.

CTCMath Review
When you purchase the year long subscription to CTCMath you have access to all levels of math from Kindergarten to Calculus. CTCMath is considered a full math program for grades K through 8 and a supplemental course for higher grades. I don’t really agree with that though, because I feel their Algebra course covers all of the necessary topics. It covers things from basic algebra through quadratic equations and graphs.

What is CTCMath

CTCMath is an online program that uses video lessons, online questions, and printable worksheets to teach a variety of math concepts. For each grade level or topic there are multiple lessons for the student to complete. At the beginning of each new section there is an optional placement test. The placement test helps you see which lessons your child needs to work on, and which ones they could skip. One issue I have with this is that in order for your student to earn an award for each section, they need to complete all of the lessons.

CTC MathHow We Use CTCMath

AJ has been working her way through the first two sections of Algebra. Like most programs the first few lessons are review. She watches a video for each lesson. The concept is explained and a few problems are worked out. Once she understands the concept she completes a worksheet and enters the answers into the computer. Each worksheet is a little different, but usually there are 10 to 20 questions that she needs to answer. Then she matches her answer to a list of answers, usually listed A to Z.  The worksheets are multiple choice, but there are incorrect options that the student could chose if they didn’t follow the correct steps.

There are also questions for the student to complete online. I had AJ skip those after the first few lessons because a lot of the questions were on both the online questions and the worksheets.

One problem that we normally have with online math programs is that there are times when we can’t be on the computer. CTC Math makes schooling on the go possible. I had two options when we were going to be away from the computer.  I could have AJ watch the lesson before we left and complete the printed out worksheet while we were out and about. Then she could enter her answers on the computer when we got home. Or I could print off the lesson summary (which is the same information that is explained in the video) and have her go over it on her own time.

The program has let us have a large amount of flexibility. There are times when we don’t print off the worksheets and she simply looks at them while she is online and works them out on paper.

What We Thought of CTCMath

The video lessons are well made, but AJ feels they are a little dull. We both like that they explain math topics in an easy to understand matter. I like that there are plenty of problems to make sure she understands the topics, and that she can watch and re-watch the videos if she has any doubts about how to use the program.

This time around we found a few additional gems in CTC math. There is now a task section where I can assign certain lessons that I want AJ to complete. AJ is working her way through the entire Algebra course, so  I didn’t see the need to use the section.  I know I would have used the task section it when AJ was younger.

I also found games to help your child work on math facts. AJ has enjoyed playing the games.

Overall we both like CTC Math and we plan to stick with it until she finishes the Algebra course.

Find out what other members of the crew thought about CTC Math by clicking on the graphic below.

CTCMath Review

Once Upon A Time IN LATIN ~ Review

We are not classical homeschoolers, and I had no intention of teaching AJ Latin. That was until I realized that about half of the English language is derived from Latin. AJ really struggles with vocabulary so I hoped that learning some Latin words would help with her reading and writing. The problem I ran into was that the programs I looked into were either too expensive, too involved, or they required me to already know Latin. I wanted a quick and easy way to add in Latin vocabulary to our already busy homeschool day. We were recently given the opportunity to review Olim, Once Upon a Time in Latin: Derivatives I  from Laurelwood Books   and I hoped that it would be exactly what I was looking for.

Latin and Penmanship {Laurelwood Books Review}
Olim, Once Upon a Time in Latin: Derivatives I is a 143 page soft covered workbook that is broken up into fifteen chapters. Each chapter has ten Latin words that the student should learn along with a few English derivatives. The beginning of the book has a pronunciation guide and notes for the teacher that includes a suggested schedule. It is written on a fifth or sixth grade level, but it could easily be adjusted for older or younger students.

Latin Review 2

Each lesson is designed to take two weeks. There are different activities to do each day to help your student really understand the meanings of words. The exercises are simple enough to take only a few minutes, but they are very effective.

On the first day your student goes over the Latin words, their meaning, and the English derivatives. Then they trace the words, meanings, and derivatives that are written in cursive.


On the second day the student completes a fill in the blank activity where they write the English derivative that fits into the sentence.

The third day has your student matching the English word to the Latin word it was derived from.

Once Upon A Time IN LATIN - A simple way to add Latin to your day!

The next day your student completes another fill in the blank activity.

On the fifth day the student is given a sentence with one of the words under lined. They have to figure out the meaning of the word and circle it.

The next day the student is asked to write a short story using as many of the words as possible.

Once Upon A Time IN LATIN - A simple way to add Latin to your day!

On the final day the student is given a word search or crossword puzzle to complete.

When the book arrived I looked through it and was happy to see that it required very little from me! I gave AJ the book and told her to work on it four days a week. The first day seemed to take her forever. There was a lot of words to trace, but she was happy that she was able to trace them instead of write them. She also liked that she was able to practice her cursive.

Once Upon A Time IN LATIN - A great way to add Latin to your day.

The rest of the lessons only took her about fifteen minutes each. With a lot of vocabulary programs she has trouble with fill in the blank activities, but she was able to do these exercises without any help from me. There was a good mix of easy and difficult words to learn and I think that helped her to learn the words. There was also enough room for her to write. The only activity we skipped was the story writing. Instead she tried to tell me a story using the vocabulary words.

I saw a few ah ha moments while she was working through Once Upon A Time IN LATIN. At one point she was working on the Latin word “mater” which means mother. She said, “ Oh so that’s why they call them maternity clothes.” It was nice to see her learning and understanding the meanings of words.

If you are looking for a simple way to add a little Latin into your school day, then  Once Upon A Time IN LATIN  would be a great place to start. I know that we will be continuing to use this book over the next school year.

Click on the Graphic below to see what other members of the review crew thought about products from Laurelwood Books

Latin and Penmanship {Laurelwood Books Review}

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

VeritasBible.com ~ Review

I am always looking for ways to make learning fun for AJ. One subject that I don’t want her to dread doing on a daily basis is Bible. I want the time she spends learning more about God’s word to be enjoyable, but I also want her to really be learning. I have heard wonderful things about Veritas Press so when we were given the chance to review a one year family subscription to VeritasBible.com I was eager to get started.

Old and New Testament Online Self-Paced Bible Veritas Review
VeritasBible.com is a fun and interactive way for your child to learn about the Bible. The family subscription lets you have up to five students working on the program. There are three courses that your child can work on, Genesis to Joshua, Judges to Kings, and The Gospels. Each course covers 32 major events in the Bible. With the subscription to VeritasBible.com you have access to all three courses, you can skip around and work on a little of each course, or stick to one. The choice is yours. Each course has enough lessons to last an entire school year.

VeritasBible.com - The best way to learn the Bible!

When you first start on VeritasBible.com your student picks an avatar and then decides the course that they want to start with. During the review period AJ jumped around between the courses, but the course she worked on the most was Genesis to Joshua.

The student follows a path where they need to complete lessons in order to move on. AJ said that the paths reminded her of a video game.


Each lesson is comprised of videos, games, Bible reading, review, and memory work. Each lesson has about 15 parts but they are all a little different.

In the beginning of the lesson characters from Biblical times introduce the topic in short videos. These are well made and funny. Both AJ an I were giggling a few times. The Bible event is talked about and explained by one of the characters.

After the event is described there is often a section of the Bible that the student is asked to read and answer questions about. Sometimes they may be multiple choice questions, matching questions, or ordering questions. There is instant feedback and the student isn’t able to move on until the correct answer is given.

VeritasBible.com - The Best way to study the Bible

In between the activities there are short videos where the characters explain more about things in the Bible.

The student often is asked to apply knowledge from their own life to the event in the Bible. In this lesson the student is asked which thing would be an example of moral decay. Again, the student can’t move on until the correct answer is given.

VeritasBible.com - The Best way to study the Bible

There is review in every lesson. In this lesson about Noah and the Flood, the student plays a game where they need to answer questions about the Fall in the Garden of Eden. For each question they get correct they earn more time to play a game. The questions aren’t all simple, but because there is so much review AJ is really retaining the information and able to answer almost every question correctly.

VeritasBible.com - The Best way to study the Bible

There are also activities that help the student remember where everyone fits in the story. This activity had her put the people in order on the time line.

VeritasBible.com - The Best way to study the Bible

There are Bible Cards to go with each course that are sold separately. During the lesson the Bible card for the event is read. Since we didn’t purchase the cards I have AJ write down the information from the cards and keep them with her notes. I think they would be a good item to purchase.

VeritasBible.com - The Best way to study the Bible

The lesson ends with a multiple choice quiz about the lesson. The student is shown their grade, but it is not recorded in the system.

VeritasBible.com - The Best way to study the Bible

Most of the lessons also include the memory song. It is a slightly annoying but catchy song that lists all 32 of the events in order. AJ loves the song. I think it is a great way to help remember the order of the events in the Bible.

As you can see, this is a very thorough way to learn about the Bible. I had AJ take notes on each lesson so that she was able to remember all of the details. The student is kept engaged, there are a variety of activities, and plenty of games to make learning fun.

The only issue we had with the program is that because it is so vibrant and full of information, it can take a while to load. When AJ did the program on the desktop computer she never had any problems, but when she used it on the laptop with wireless internet the lessons often loaded slow and had issues. I am sure it was because of our internet, but if you have issues with your wireless internet that may be something you want to consider before purchasing. There is a free trial, and you don’t even need to give a credit card, I recommend that you try is out and see how your kids like it.

One thing that I wish would change about the program is the fact that it has to be done in order. I wish that we could skip to the 11th event, “Sodom and Gamorah” if we wanted without having to do all of the lessons before that.

I am thankful that we were able to review VeritasBible.com AJ and I have both already learned so much. I am making it her Bible curriculum for next year because she loves it and I love that she is really learning. I think that Veritas Press really lived up to all the hype, they really do make amazing products.

Old and New Testament Online Self-Paced Bible Veritas Review

MySchoolYear.com ~ Review

I am the first to admit that I am not the most organized homeschooler. I usually start off strong at the beginning of the year and plan to stick to a schedule, but I never do. Life happens and then time runs out and suddenly I realize we are not as far along in our curriculum as we should be. AJ will be starting 8th grade in a few weeks, and that means I need to stay more organized. This is the last year that I can wing it before I have to start tracking everything on her transcript. I can’t believe that next year she will be in high school! Since AJ is doing a lot more independent work, I need to be more organized. I have tried a few different online planners to help me stay organized, but none of them seemed to fit our needs. When I first heard of MySchoolYear.com I was a little hesitant, because I expected it to be just like all of the others that I have tried, but it isn’t.

MySchoolYear.com Review
I was given an annual membership to the My School Year (Homeschool Record Keeping). It has a lot to offer, but it is simple to set up.

When I first started to use the program AJ was still working on the last of her school work for 7th grade. I thought it would be a great idea to go back and add in lesson plans for what she had done for the year. It ended up taking me way too long to try and input everything she had completed, so I decided to try and set up her schedule for the upcoming year.

In just a few short minutes I was able to set up our homeschool, add AJ as a student along with all of her information, set up the classes that she was going to work on, decide the dates for the school year, and schedule her time off. Everything was simple to understand and I didn’t have any issues with getting everything set up.

MySchoolYear.com ~ A great way to organize your year!

The next thing I decided to do was to plan out the lesson plans for the year. Normally I don’t write out lesson plans very far in advance because we get to review and change up what we study throughout the year. There are a few different ways to input the lesson plans, and I found the options to be a big help.

Add a New Lesson – This is where you can add in detailed lesson plans. You are able to enter grades and the amount of time the student spent on the subject as well.

Rapid Repeat – This allows you to set up a lesson or activity that the student does on a regular basis. I set it up to have AJ work on Spanish in Duolingo each day. I also set up Bible this way. Since I know she will do one lesson in Bible three times a week, but I know that the program we use can change, I was able to set it up so that on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday it tells her to do 1 lesson in Bible. I liked that I was able to set it up so that even if our plans change I won’t have to change the schedule.

My School Year 2

Quick Split – This lets you put in a number of lessons, chapters, or pages that the student needs to complete in a time frame of your choice. I set up Literature and Math this way. I simply put in for her to read a book that had so many chapters over so many days, and the system figured out how to schedule it.

My School Year 3

Scheduling was a lot faster than I expected.  I love that I can print off reports that give me a printable schedule of the work she needs to do for the week or for a longer period of time. I can even print off the entire year of lesson plans to put with her records.

There are quite a few different options with My School Year, you can grade assignments with letter grades, a pass/fail, or leave them ungraded. There is also the option to have different types of work be weighted, like tests, so that they are worth more than daily work. I haven’t decided how I am going to do grades yet this year, but once I do I know it will be easy to set it all up.

MySchoolYear.com ~ A great way to organize your year!

There is more to My School Year than just scheduling and grading. You can keep track of a reading list, extra curriculum activities, track attendance, print off report cards, and create transcripts. When you log on you can see at a glance how much work your child needs to do in each subject to be finished for the year. I feel that My School Year has everything you need to organize your year all in one place. I look forward to using it this next year.

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

Homeschool Record Keeping {MySchoolYear.com Review}

LearnBop ~ Review

AJ is at a difficult point in math. She has finished a few different pre algebra courses, but I don’t feel that she is ready for algebra yet. She will be finishing 7th grade is a few weeks and I felt a little lost as to where I should put her for 8th grade. I decided that for her 8th grade year I was going to go through all of the math standards that I could find for first through 8th grade and make sure that she was proficient in all of the standards so that she would really be ready for algebra. That sounded great in theory, but I knew it would be time consuming. Then I learned about LearnBop, and it sounded like exactly what I needed. We were given a 12 month subscription to LearnBop for Families, since I only have one student we were given the Single Student Plan.

LearnBop for Families Review
LearnBop has been around for a while and has been used in public schools, but LearnBop for Families is a new product that can be used by homeschoolers and those who want to help their child catch up or get ahead in math. It is common core aligned, but I didn’t see anything that I found odd or different from the way math was taught when I was in school. The program adapts to where your student needs to be and focuses on mastery. It is geared for kids in grades 3 to 12, but there are some lessons available at the first and second grade level.

Learn Bop Review

When the parent logs on to LearnBop they create an account for their student and decide which Learning Roadmap the student should be placed in. You have three options:

  1. Roadmaps by Grade – These are available for third through eighth grade. Your student is given a number of units to complete based on the concepts they are expected to master in that grade.
  2. Rodemaps by Subject – If your student needs to brush up on a specific topic, or if you want to conquer math a subtopic at a time this is the roadmap you would want to pick. There are ten different options, each one varies on the grade level they cover, but there are concepts covered from first through eighth grade. I love that they offer the roadmaps by topic, they would have been great for AJ last year.
  3. High School Roadmaps- There is the option of; Algebra, Algebra 2, and Geometry. They are the same as the Roadmaps by Grade.

The Roadmap can be changed along the way and you can even switch the order that units are completed it. There is a lot of flexibility and personalization available with LearnBop. I decided to put AJ on the 8th grade roadmap. She worked on math about 30 to 45 minutes a day during this review.

LearnBop for Families Review
When the student first logs in they get to pick an avatar. The avatar doesn’t really serve any purpose, but AJ liked it.

The next step is for the student to do a warm up for the unit they are working on. AJ started with Developing Understanding of Similarity. From the title I had no idea what that was, but it has to do with shapes on a coordinate grid and how to flip them and change them to make the shape move to other places on a coordinate grid. As I have said before, we have had a mastery approach to math in the past and AJ didn’t learn a lot about geometry, so I knew that this would be a difficult unit for her.

The warm up is about ten to twelve questions. Some are multiple choice, some are fill in, some are matching and some had her plotting points. The results are not given from the warm up, but your student may find that they need to complete some Building Blocks before they are ready to work on concepts in the unit.

I normally don’t like warm ups or pretests because AJ gets frustrated when she is expected to answer questions that she doesn’t know how to do. Much to my surprise, we both liked the warm-ups. I think they were very accurate when it came to skills that AJ needed to work on. I wish they would have a button that says I don’t know how to do this problem, or a skip button because a few times when she didn’t know how to do the problem she was able to guess correctly.

Once the student finishes the warm up they are able to start on the first Building Block or Unit Concept that they want to work on.

Each concept has three videos that teach the concept to the student. The videos are like power point presentations with a teacher walking the students through the problems. There are different teachers that explain the concepts so there is a nice variety. There are also optional videos that the student can watch if they need additional help. The student doesn’t have to watch the videos, but they are the main teaching portion of the program.

Once the student watches or skips the videos they move on to the Bop Section. The student needs to complete at least five Bops and gain a mastery of 90% in order to master the concept. The Bops are just the problems that the student needs to work through.

If the student needs help they can be walked through the problem step by step. If they get the problem wrong the problem is broken down into bite size pieces that they need to solve. If there are a lot of mistakes made the student may be assigned additional Building Blocks to help them understand any concepts that then need help with.

LearnBop helps students master concepts.

AJ ended up being assigned more building blocks in the first unit. She was upset that she had to do more work, but after watching more videos on concepts that she needed help with she understood what she was doing wrong and was able to master the concept. She often doesn’t check her work and gets things wrong because she misreads problems. I noticed that she was always checking her work and making sure exactly what the problem was asking her for because it was a lot easier to go down in mastery than to go up.

LearnBop helps students master concepts.

It took her over five hours to master the first unit because there were a lot of concepts that she didn’t understand, but unit three only took her 29 minutes to master. I like that concepts she understands can be finished quickly and that she is given more practice when needed. AJ enjoys watching the mastery graph go up and will often work on a concept until she passes it.

LearnBop helps students master concepts.

As the student moves along they are able to earn badges for mastering concepts, staying focused, being persistent, and other good qualities. AJ is really motivated by these badges. She also likes the fun Growth Mindset section that gives an inspirational quote to her when she logs on.

LearnBop motivates students to master concepts.

We both found LearnBop to be a great program. I am assured that she is learning the same things as her friends in public school, I can instantly see where she needs extra help, and she isn’t stuck working on concepts that she has already mastered. The parent can easily see the student’s progress and detailed feedback on problems that they got wrong. I think that LearnBop is a solid program. We plan to continue with the 8th grade plan over the summer and then work through the subject roadmaps before moving her on to the Algebra level. I think this will be a big blessing to us.

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

LearnBop for Families Review

Forbrain ~ Review

When AJ (13) reads out loud she often mispronounces larger words. When I correct her, her response is almost always, “That’s what I said.” I don’t know if she says that out of embarrassment because she doesn’t want me to correct her, or of she really thinks that she says the word correctly. She also has a hard time reading at a decent pace. She will read part of a sentence and pause and then other times she will not take a breath and smash three of four sentences into a single breath. When she reads like that it makes it hard for me to understand what she is reading and makes it hard for her to remember what she has read. It is something we have been working on and we have seen improvements, but not very quickly. I didn’t think there was anything to help her, but then I learned about Forbrain – Sound for Life Ltd.

Forbrain – Sound For Life Ltd Review
Forbrain is a bone conduction headset. The child, or adult, puts on the headset on and adjusts the microphone the needed distance. Then they simply read, talk, or complete a variety of exercises. In very simple terms when you speak into the headset you are able to hear yourself. I recommend looking at the website where the science behind the product is explained because it is very interesting. It claims to help with reading difficulties, speech issues, attention issues, and memory issues. After learning all about Forbrain I thought it would be a good fit for AJ.

Forbrain – Sound For Life Ltd Review
Forbrain is designed to be used daily for six to ten weeks for the best results. When it arrived we plugged it into the computer to charge and then I just let AJ play around with it for a little bit. She instantly liked how it felt and how she could hear herself in her head. After she got use to it I had her read out loud while wearing it. I also had her work on things she was memorizing while she was wearing it. She enjoyed just wearing it around the house sometimes.

I instantly noticed that she was more focused on her work when she was wearing the headset. I didn’t have to constantly tell her to do her work. I also noticed that the longer she wore it the more she began to read at a consistent rate. She also seemed to catch herself and correct herself when she would mispronounce a word. I didn’t notice any difference in her reading comprehension so far, but it is recommended to be used for six to ten weeks, so maybe we will see more improvement when we get closer to the ten week mark instead of the six week mark.

The issue that I noticed is that while she had improvements when she was wearing the headset, I didn’t see those same improvements once she took the headset off. When she took the headset off the same issues seemed to return. I was expecting to see results that would transfer even when the headset was off.

Even though she seems to need the headset on to improve, I plan to have her continue with Forbrain after summer vacation. I plan to have her wear it during poetry memorization, some reading out loud, and when she is working on learning the places for different countries in her geography course.

AJ says she doesn’t notice any difference in her reading, but she does like to wear it because she likes that she can hear herself better. She says it does help her to focus though and I never realized that she had problems focusing. Overall we are pleased with the results that we have seen so far and we hope to see more in the future.

Forbrain is an expensive product, but I think it would be a lot cheaper than speech therapy. If your child has significant difficulties this may be the answer.

Find out what other members of the crew thought about Forbrain by clicking on the graphic below.

Forbrain – Sound For Life Ltd Review

The Glass Castle ~ Review

AJ is quite particular about the types of books that she enjoys reading or listening to. She has broadened the types of genres that she enjoys over the past few years, but if it isn’t about animals or an exciting adventure then she most likely isn’t going to enjoy it. According to her a book is only good if she can see the story in her head and really feel like she is on an adventure with the characters. When we were asked to review The Glass Castle by Trisha White Priebe and Jerry B. Jenkins from Shiloh Run Press I was a little hesitant. I didn’t think she would want to read another book when we were so close to the end of the school year. Then I read a phrase about the book, “The setting of Chronicles of Narnia meets the adventure of Alice in Wonderland.” After reading that, I thought it would be something that AJ would enjoy.

The Glass Castle, an exciting adventure story perfect for middle grade kids!

The Glass Castle is a 251 page hard-covered book that is broken into 41 chapters. It is an action and adventure book for middle grade students. There are quite a few moral lessons woven through the book along with a few Bible verses. Even though prayer and God are mentioned a few times throughout the book I personally would not consider it a faith based book. I think that most kids with a fifth grade reading level or above would be able to read it independently.

It was a great book and AJ would give it 5 out of 5 stars. That is a big complement coming from her.

The Glass Castle {Shiloh Run Press Review}
(There are some spoilers below)

The Glass Castle follows the story of 13 year old Avery. She is walking with her brother and feels like she is being followed, and it turned out she was. She ends up being kidnapped and is later told that her brother was taken as well, but that she wouldn’t be able to see him. Avery ends up in a room with a bunch of thirteen year old orphans. The only problem is that Avery isn’t an orphan, or is she?

After some exploring Avery realizes that she knows where she is, not because she had been there before, but because her mother had told her all about it in stories when she was little. Avery thought those stories were just fairy tales, but it turns out that they weren’t. Avery realizes that they are all in the castle of an evil King. For some reason the King had ordered all 13 year old orphans to be destroyed and the kids were all being held in the castle for their own protection. She soon learns that the kids all do work in the castle, and really they almost run it. From dress making to baking, they do it all. These 13 year olds are much wiser than their years. She becomes friends with a girl, Kate, who seems to know much more than any one else.

Avery wants to escape and return home, but she is told her brother will be harmed if she leaves. Just when she is about to try and escape the kids decide to elect a child king to be in charge. A kind boy named Tuck ends up being elected King, and surprising everyone he appoints Avery as the new queen.

She needs to find out more about the castle and why they are all there. Upon exploring the castle she learns that the King is sick and needs an heir to his thrown. But that isn’t all she finds out. Who was the first Queen, and why did her mother know so much about the castle? Who can she trust, and are her feelings for a boy clouding her judgment? Will the kids escape?

Unfortunately, by the end of the book you won’t have the answers to most of those questions. I am all for series of books and cliffhanger endings, but I hate when a book ends and the majority of the problems haven’t been solved. Especially when the next book won’t be available for a few months! I really felt this book needed at least one more chapter to tie in some loose ends and I hope that the next book is able to answer those questions. I look forward to reading the next one, I am sure it will be as good as this one.

I wanted to read a few chapters a day to AJ, but we got busy with school and doctors and just didn’t seem to find to sit down and read the book. I sat aside an entire school day where we did nothing but read the book. It turned out to be a good thing, because we wouldn’t have wanted to put it down after a few chapters. I expected some complaining from AJ, but she didn’t want me to stop reading. I read the book to her in a little more than five hours, and it was a very thrilling experience. From the first chapter to the end we were learning new details, making discoveries, and attempting to figure things out. I’ll admit that I kept reading ahead because the story was so intriguing.

One thing that I really liked about the book was that it was clean. There wasn’t any magic or witches, and while there was some obvious chemistry between a few characters there wasn’t as much as a kiss between them. There is mention of a drunk man and a few people die, but there were no details. I really think that most parents would be comfortable with their child reading The Glass Castle.

If you have a kid who enjoys adventure and mystery, then The Glass Castle may be just the book for them. Mom will probably like it too.

Find out what other reviewers had to say about The Glass Castle by clicking the graphic below.

The Glass Castle {Shiloh Run Press Review}

Hey Mama! Planner ~ Review

It’s that time of year, the time when the majority of homeschooling families are planning for the next school year. I love planning and deciding what topics we will be studying and figuring out the skills that I think AJ is ready to learn. Normally I would be making lists and would have at least partially planned the first few months of school. Unfortunately, due to me having a few surgeries and trying to switch AJ to more independent work, we are behind and still have about a month of school left. Even though I am not ready to sit down and make a detailed plan, I have been doing some planning. I have tried quite a few different planners on the computer over the past few years, but I never end up sticking with them. I need to be able to grab my planner write in it and be on my way. That’s why I was happy to have the chance to review the Hey Mama! Print Schoolhouse Planner 2016-2017 from The Old Schoolhouse.

Hey Mama! Schoolhouse Planner 2016-2017 Review
The Hey Mama! Planner arrived at my house on one of those days when nothing was going right. I started flipping through the pages to see what it had to offer and I landed on a page that said:

Hey Mama,

What does the IDEAL Mama look like? Easy – look in the mirror and smile big. There she is!

It made me smile and brightened my day. I instantly knew that I was going to enjoy this planner.

The Hey Mama! Planner is soft covered, spiral bound, and 192 pages long. It has plenty of room to help you plan out your school year and is full of forms to help make your year run as smoothly as possible.

The beginning of the planner has calendars for 2016, 2017, and 2018 each on a single page. It is nice to be able to quickly glance at the entire year and see where birthdays, holidays, and other important dates fall during the year. After those calendars there are monthly calendars from July 2016 through June 2017. Each monthly calendar is spread out over two adjacent pages. For each month there is also a page for notes, and a Hey Mama! Letter. Each letter is inspiring, uplifting, and heartfelt. I look forward to reading those letters throughout the year. I know that they will come in handy when I am dealing with those difficult days.

Following the monthly calendars you will find the weekly planners. The top of each one has a blank line where you can fill in the date for the week. I was so glad that they are not dated! The weekly planner pages each have five columns and seven rows. It is completely blank so you are able to use them in whatever way you feel will work the best for your family.

Sprinkled between the pages you will find some more Hey Mama! Letters and pages with information about different items shown on the front cover. I found those pages very interesting and learned a few new things. I plan on sharing those pages with AJ when we come to them throughout the year.

Next up you will find the Goal sheets. There are pages for yearly goals, semester goals, and monthly goals. On each one there is a place to write down goals for different aspects of life. I never thought about writing down goals in that manner before, but after seeing the pages, I am sold. As I said before, we are still finishing up our school year, but I have already added a few things to the yearly goal page for next year.

There are also attendance charts. On one page there are 180 boxes to check so that you can easily keep track of how many days of school your child has completed. There are five copies of the attendance chart. Since I only need one, I am planning on having AJ use the others to keep track of some of her independent work. Once she completes the work for that day she will check it off, that way she won’t have to remember where she left off if she gets ahead or behind for some reason.

There are a few other forms that I think will come in handy over the next school year. From book logs to curriculum planning sheets, and skill check lists, I can’t think of anything that this Hey Mama! Planner is missing.

All of the pages to help you plan and keep track of things are great. But there is even more! In the back of the planner you will find a lot of fun extras including:

  • Writing Prompts
  • Story Starters
  • The 13 Colonies by date
  • Timeline of Inventions
  • U.S. Presidents and their wives
  • Branches of the Government
  • States and Capitals

I know that these pages will help me throughout the year.

I thought I was getting a planner, but really this is so much more. I am looking forward to planning out AJ’s 8th grade year with the Hey Mama! Planner. It is pretty, full of encouragement, and has every form I could ever think of needing. The pages have plenty of room to write on. If you are looking for a planner to plan out the next school year, I highly recommend the Hey Mama! Print Schoolhouse Planner 2016-2017 from The Old Schoolhouse.

If you purchase the print planner by July 15th 2016 and use the code CREWCODE you can get $10 off the purchase price.

Coupon Code Hey Mama Planner 2016 2017

125 members of the Crew reviewed the Hey Mama! Planner, see what they had to say.

Hey Mama! Schoolhouse Planner 2016-2017 Review

Poetry Memorization ~ Review

AJ can memorize any song or commercial, but she has a hard time remembering math facts and dates that she needs to remember for her school work. When I heard about a new poetry memorization product from Institute for Excellence in Writing, I was a little torn. AJ made great progress with their writing curriculum, but I didn’t know if I wanted to add extra work to our already busy schedule. After reading through the samples on the website, I decided that having AJ memorize poetry would be beneficial to her.

Linguistic Development through Poetry Memorization IEW Review
We were given Linguistic Development Through Poetry Memorization. It includes; five CDs that have all of the poems the student is to memorize, a DVD of the seminar “Nurturing Competent Communicators“, and a Teacher’s Manual. Inside of the Teacher’s Manual there is a page that tells you how to download the 170 page student book, and seven audio MP3’s of wonderful workshops. We were given a physical copy of the Student Book, but it is sold separately.

Linguistic Development through Poetry Memorization IEW Review
I don’t know what it is about Andrew Pudewa, but his seminars and workshops are always enjoyable to listen to and watch. It often seems like he is talking about AJ! I haven’t listened to all seven of the seminars, but the ones that I have really changed my thoughts on teaching and language arts in general. I had a few light bulb moments when I was watching the DVD about Nurturing Competent Communicators. If you have a struggling student at all, I recommend listening to any seminar or workshops of his.

Linguistic Development through Poetry Memorization IEW Review
There are five different levels of poetry that your child will memorize over the years with this program. Everyone starts at level one and moves on at their own pace memorizing nineteen provided poems and a personal selection for each of the first four levels. The fifth level has twenty different speeches for your child to memorize.

The poems in level one are fun and silly most of them are between one and five stanzas long with short sentences. AJ’s favorite poem that she has memorized so far is called Celery by Ogden Nash.

Celery, raw

Develops the jaw,

But celery, stewed,

Is more quietly chewed.

As the levels progress there are longer poems and some that are more serious, but there are short and funny poems sprinkled throughout as well. I was very happy with all of the different selections. Some of them are poems that I remember reading when I was younger and others are poems that I remember dissecting in English class. There are also quite a few that I have enjoyed reading for the first time.

The program is very simple to use. I decided to learn the poems along with AJ (I don’t know if I will stick to that when she gets to the speeches though, they look hard!) and it has become a fun activity for us to do together. Each day AJ and I both recited all of the poems that we had memorized. If she could recite the newest poem that we were working on, then she would color the picture at the bottom of the student page and highlight the name of the poem on her progress page. Then we would start working on a new poem. If she had any issues or missed any words then we would simply continue to work on the same poem. After reciting the poems we listened to the CD of the poems being read aloud until we came to the poem we were working on. We would listen to the poem we were currently working on a few times and then read through it in the student manual. Then AJ would put a check mark on the progress chart to show that she practiced them that day.

In the back of the teacher’s manual there are optional lesson enhancements. Some of them are poetry and literary elements to talk to the student about while others are activities like learning about worms when she memorized the poem, Ooey Gooey. We talked about different elements of each poem, but we didn’t decide to complete any other enhancements because our days our fairly busy right now. I like that they are there if I need them.

The entire process takes us less than 10 minutes a day, and it is a time that AJ enjoys. When I first told her we were going to memorize some poetry she wasn’t excited, but now if I forget to have her do it, she reminds me.

One of the reasons that this product interested me was that AJ has a very hard time writing poetry. She is a very literal thinker and writing silly verses was a hard concept for her. I hoped that introducing her to different poems would show her that not all poetry had to rhyme and that they were not all suppose to be read in a sing song tone. Having the poems read correctly with the correct pronunciation was wonderful! I am very glad that we had the opportunity to review the Linguistic Development Through Poetry Memorization , we plan to continue with it for years to come.

Linguistic Development through Poetry Memorization IEW Review