Super Teacher Worksheets ~ Review

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

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

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

What is Super Teacher Worksheets?

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

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

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

How did we use Super Teacher Worksheets?

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

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

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

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

Spanish worksheets from Super Teacher Worksheet mask learning fun!

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

Plenty of history and geography supplements at Super Teacher Worksheets!

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

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

What we thought of Super Teacher Worksheets

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

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

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

Super Teacher Worksheets Review
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Mayan Mysteries Review

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Dig-It! Games Review
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Why We Only School 4 Days A Week

Welcome to my third installment for the Back to Homeschool Blog Hop! Last time I shared how I give AJ independent work each day. When you read the post, it was obvious that we school 4 days a week. We live in a easy state when it comes to homeschooling, we are required to keep attendance but we don’t have to log a specific number of hours or days.

Why We Have a 4 day school week

We don’t have a co-op or any outside class that causes us to school 4 days a week. Honestly, we don’t use Friday’s as a free learning day like I have seen others talk about. We do book work 4 days a week, unless AJ doesn’t finish something, and that is it. Here are our top 3 reasons for having  a 4 day school week!

  1. It allows for flexibility. – With doctors appointments, trips to the pharmacy, and blood work, I can be out of the house a lot. AJ can get her independent work done on some of those days, but not all. There are some subjects that you need to concentrate on, and it isn’t exactly quiet in the waiting rooms. Only schooling 4 days a week gives us a buffer. If I know we have appointments on Tuesday then we just work Friday that week instead.
  2. We can work on a subject longer. We do history and science each twice a week (unless we are reviewing something and then it is three times a week) but we are able to complete more than a days worth at a time. It is great to work on science and history for long periods of time. It lets us dive deeper and explore topics more. I know she isn’t going to burn out because it is only twice a week.
  3. We Learn Every Day. We do book work 4 days a week, but she learns every day. She learns how to cook, clean, do laundry, garden, and how to be a care giver. She learns lessons that are not able to be taught from workbooks. She learns life skills, that unfortunately too many kids are lacking. The extra “day off” lets her explore her own interests and ensures we have time to learn  those other skills.

Having a 4 day week is wonderful, but there are 2 main challenges.

  1. Most curriculum is written for a 5 day schedule. While some homeschoolers school 4 days a week, the majority still follow a five day schedule. Because of that, most subjects are scheduled 5 days a week, 3 days a week, or twice a week. That doesn’t really work when you have a 4 day school week.
  2. It can make for long days. Since I have 5 days of school to spread among 4 days, some days are longer than others. We average about 2 hours of independent work and 3 and a half hours with me. Of course on days when attitude or lack of motivation are involved, those times can easily double.

For some subjects I combine days. She may do Thursday’s and Friday’s work on Thursday. Other subjects I just schedule longer for the book or program to be completed. Spelling You See is the perfect example! There are 5 lessons a week, I could easily skip one day of dictation, but instead she just works on it every day that we do school. She may do day 5 on a Tuesday and start the next week’s lesson on Wednesday. It seems to work well. We may be using the book a little longer, but she is still practicing the same skills.

For our family a 4 day school week is the perfect fit!

How many days a week do you school?

Don’t Forget to Check Out Other Bloggers in the Blog Hop!

Blog Hop

Independent Work

As AJ enters 7th grade, I know that she needs to become more independent. I don’t want a homeschool where she sits and completes all of her work on her own, I want to be involved. But she needs to have some responsibility with her schoolwork. In the middle of last year I decided to print off weekly lists for her with things that she could do on her own. This year I have taken it a steep further.

Fostering a Sense of Responsibility with Independent Work

Each week I make a spreadsheet with the work she needs to complete. I don’t plan for more than a week at a time, because we often have amazing items to review that change up our schedule. This week we have 3 review items; Fantastic Education – a biology program, Dig It! – a fun computer game, and Superteachersworksheets.com.

Once the list and any worksheets that are needed have been printed, I put them in the schoolroom.

Schedule 8-10-15

Scheduling Independent Work

We go over the list on Sunday night, (or Monday morning if I am behind) and make sure she understands everything she has to get done. When she gets up in the morning she is responsible to complete any of her Bible, spelling, geography, spelling, music and reading before she is able to have free time. Depending on the assignment for the day, she may also do her Spanish, grammar, art and computer work.

The catch is that when I am ready to start school she has to stop what she is working on and do the subjects that she needs me for.

When I am done with my part of school she has to finish any of her left over work. I don’t remind her to hurry and get the work done, and I don’t offer to help. If she needs help with an assignment I will gladly help – after she has tried her best, and only when she asks for help. She is in charge of her independent work. She can work ahead in any subject, (except geography which I want her to do daily) and do her assignments in any order.

If her independent work isn’t done by the time she has to go to bed, then there are consequences.

So far this has been working wonderfully! I often find her in the school room getting her work done without being told. She has about 2 hours of independent work a day when you include the piano practice and reading. It is amazing how much faster she is able to work when she knows she gets to pick what order it is done in. I feel 2 hours is a great amount! It is less than the amount of homework she would receive in public school and enough that she has to plan out the best way to do it. She takes pride in marking each item off of the list and has taken a sense of ownership with it. This is the third week and so far she has completed all of her work early in the day. I know we will run into bad days where she doesn’t complete her work, but I think they will be great teaching moments.

For us this is the best fit. She is learning study skills and time management, but I am involved in the teaching of her major subjects. I think having some independent work will prepare her for high school and possibly college. It also ensures she is learning even on days that I can’t work with her until later in the day.

Do your kids have daily independent work?

Check out the other bloggers in the blog hop!

 

 

Amazing Homeschool Giveaway

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Don’t you just love giveaways? I know I do! We have an AMAZING giveaway for you this week. I am really excited about this one and wish that I could enter it. As homeschoolers we know that learning science in a hands on way not only makes the subject fun, but it also helps build a deeper understanding of the topic. This microscope and camera will make the day of some young scientist.  Enter the Rafflecopter below, but don’t forget to come back each day next week to find great advice from over 50 homeschoolers as part of the back to homeschool blog hop!
Giveaway - HBC and SRC

Welcome to the Back-To-Homeschool Giveaway!

A group of bloggers from Your Homeschool Blogging Connection and the Schoolhouse Review Crew have teamed up to bring you this fun homeschool giveaway. We are so excited to be giving away this awesome Microscope with the special Digital Camera that goes with it!

One winner will receive these two items – valued at $1894.99!!!

Homeschool Giveaway for Awesome Microscope and Camera!!!

OMAX 40X-2000X Lab LED Binocular Compound Microscope with Double Layer Mechanical Stage + 100 Glass Blank Slides & Covers + 100 Lens Cleaning Paper

Here are the specs on this microscope:

Total magnification: 40X-80X-100X-200X-400X-800X-1000X-2000X; Eyepieces: wide field WF10X and WF20X; Objectives: achromatic DIN 4X, 10X, 40X(S), 100X(S, Oil); Viewing head: 45 degrees inclined 360 degrees swiveling binocular; Sliding adjustable interpupillary distance: 2-3/16inch ~ 2-15/16inch(55~75mm); Ocular diopter adjustable on both eyetubes

Nosepiece: revolving quadruple; Stage: double layer X-Y mechanical stage with scales, size: 4-1/2inchx 4-15/16inch (115mm x 125mm), translation range: 2-13/16inch x 1-3/16inch (70mm x 30mm); Stage upward moving lock protects objectives and slides

Condenser: NA1.25 Abbe condenser with iris diaphragm; Illumination: transmitted (lower) LED light, intensity adjustable; Focus: Coaxial coarse and fine knobs on both sides

Full solid metal frame construction with stain resistant enamel finish; Power supply: AC/DC adapter, 7.5V/7.5W (UL approved) – Input: 100-240V; 100-piece blank glass slides with 100-piece cover slips and 50-sheet lens cleaning paper included

5-year warranty against manufacturing defects

Homeschool Giveaway for Awesome Microscope and Camera

OMAX 5.0MP Digital USB Microscope Camera with Advanced Software and Calibration Slide

Here are the specs on this Microscope Camera (It’s made to go with the microscope and hooks up to your computer!)

Image sensor: Aptina 1/2.5inch color CMOS; Resolution: 2592×1944 pixels (5.0M pixels); Pixel size: 2.2um x 2.2 um; SNR: 40.5dB; Dynamic Range 66.5dB

Frame speed: 5fps at 2592×1944, 18fps at 1280×960, 60fps at 640×480

Interface: USB 2.0; Reduction lens: 0.5X, fit to 23.2mm eyepiece tube; 0.01 mm calibration slide: 1mm/100 division; Adapters fit 30mm and 30.5mm eyepiece tubes

Compatible with Windows XP, Windows Vista, Windows 7, Windows 8, Mac OSX, Linux

1-year warranty against manufacturing defects

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Science Unit Studies ~ Review

Science is one of AJ’s favorite subjects. She loves any subject where she can learn new things in a hands on way. We were given the chance to review a great book, Science Unit Studies for Homeschoolers and Teachers from Funtastic Unit Studies. We use unit studies a lot in our homeschool, so I thought this book would be a great fit.

Funtastic Unit Studies Review

What is Science Unit Studies?

Science Unit Studies for Homeschoolers and Teachers is a 201 page soft covered book. It is broken up into 20 chapters. The first 10 chapters are geared for ages 4 to 7 and the last 10 chapters are for ages 8 to 13. It is recommended that you teach the chapters in order, but it isn’t necessary. There are a variety of different topics covered including:

  • Senses
  • Human Body
  • Dinosaurs
  • Animals
  • Insects
  • Plants
  • Health
  • Atoms and Molecules
  • Chemistry
  • Weather
  • Light and Sound
  • and more

Each unit varies, but most will take about two weeks to complete. At the beginning of the chapter you are given a list of supplies that you will need in order to do the experiments. Most of the items needed are easily found around the home, or in a regular grocery store. Some units require you to make copies of pages in the book, but there are not very many worksheets included. Hands on learning is key with this book!

The lessons are written to the teacher and give step by step directions of what to say, do, and explain to your student. It is written in simple language making it easy to teach. At the end of the chapter there is a multiple choice test to help you gage how much your child has learned.

How We Used Science Unit Studies

We were asked to complete any unit in the book. We have studied a lot of different science topics, but she hasn’t learned much about chemistry. We decided to go with Chapter 13: Atoms and Molecules.

The first activity had me explaining what an atom is and introduced the Periodic Table. The activity was to have the student rip a piece of aluminum foil into small pieces and to then find aluminum on the Periodic Table. AJ thought the activity was odd, and I wished that there was more explanation about the Periodic Table. The only explanation given was that it was a list of all the atoms in the world.

The second activity had AJ a little more interested. She was learning about molecules. The only way to learn about molecules is with marshmallows! She made quite a few molecules including water, carbon dioxide, methane, and carbon tetrachloride. This activity helped her to understand how atoms can come together to make molecules.

Science Unit Studies~ Learning about Molecules

The third activity had her take the molecules she had made and combine them to make crystals. They didn’t turn out too well, but I think she understood the concept. There were a few other activities to learn about crystals including looking at salt with a magnifying glass and seeing Epsom Salt dried on dark paper. Her favorite activity was growing sugar crystals.

Science Unit Studies - learn about crystals.

We have had this experiment in other science courses, but it never works. The recipe for this one worked very well. Over night we had a large piece of sugar crystal (rock candy). AJ enjoyed eating it.

The best part of science is eating your experiments!

The fourth set of activities had her learning about the characteristics of molecules. It involved putting food coloring in water to see how molecules move, putting food coloring in different temperatures of  water to see how fast molecules move based on temperature, spraying perfume to see how molecules move through the air, watching water evaporate into steam, and a few other activities.  We both felt these activities would have been great if she were younger, but that they were boring and too babyish for  7th grade.

Learning about molecules with hands on activities

The last activity was to draw different atoms. The book gave very basic information about protons, neutrons, and electrons and explained how they made up an atom. Using the sample in the book AJ drew the different atoms. She thought it was fun.

Drawing atoms

But then as I was flipping through the book I came to chapter 15 where the book explains all about electron shells. It says, “Tell your students that electrons don’t just randomly move around the nucleus of an atom, there is a pattern to their movement.” That would have been helpful to know before she drew all of those atoms! She redid the drawings and then we read a little more about atoms in chapter 15.

Learning about atoms and electrons

What We Thought About Science Unit Studies

There were a lot of hands on ideas in this book, but I really don’t feel that there is enough information to say that it would work for kids up to age 13. I think it would work well for elementary students but that middle school students would need more. Some of the activities felt redundant and at times the information in the book needed a lot more explanation.

I think it would be a great resource for those with younger kids, and those looking for basic information. AJ had fun with the study, but I don’t feel that she really learned much. It is great resource to get kids interested in science, but it needs some supplements.

Find out what others had to say by clicking the graphic below.

Funtastic Unit Studies Review
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UnLock Math ~ Review

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AJ recently had the chance to review an amazing online math program from UnLock Math, UnLock Pre-Algebra. We were given year long access to the course.

Unlock Math Review
UnLock Pre-Algebra is a full pre-algebra course that is taught by an energetic math teacher, Alesia Blackwood. Utilizing interesting videos, lessons that break concepts into bite sized pieces, and constant review, your child can gain a better understanding of math!

UnLock Pre-Algebra is broken up into 16 units. It begins with a few review units that cover topics your child may already know, and gets progressively harder as the units go on.

When your child logs on to the program they are taken to their home page. This page has all of the units available so your child can jump to a section that they need extra practice in, or do the course in order. The home page has their course average and their progress in the course in a colorful graphic. If a unit is clicked on then there will be a graph on the bottom of the home page that shows the progress for that unit. There is also a downloadable pacing guide to help you through the course and a welcome letter that explains more about the course and how grades are configured.

Unlock Math Review
Once a unit has been launched there is a screen with all of the lessons, quizzes and tests for the unit. There is a short quiz (less than 10 questions so far) after every two lessons. The units each end with a review and a final test. Your student has access to all of the lessons and tests and can do them in any order, but I would recommend doing them in order.

How UnLock Math Works

The lesson format is the same for each lesson. It is set up where you follow a path to complete the lesson. Each lesson starts with a Warm Up. The Warm Up is usually about 5 questions long and covers topics previously covered, and basic math skills.

Following the Warm Up is the main part of the lesson, the Video. The videos vary by length, but I would say they range from about 5 to 10 minutes each. The videos are humorous and teach math the way I remember being taught. I love how the teacher starts with a simple topic and then takes it to a new level. She has an amazing way of explaining math topics! She works out problems and shows step by step how to solve them.

After watching the Video the student completes the Practice Problems. The student answers 10 questions that are directly related the lesson they just finished. Following the Practice Problems is a Stay Sharp section. In this part of the lesson, the student answers about 15 questions about anything that has been covered in the course up to that point.

For extra credit there is a Challenge Yourself problem. These really vary, some AJ was able to answer with out any problem, and others I walked her through. She really enjoyed this section.

Each lesson also has a Reference Notes section that has a printable page of the information that was presented in the video.

For each section the student is only shown one problem at a time so they are not overwhelmed by an entire page of problems. At the end of each section the student is given their score and they can see each problem worked out.

What We Thought About UnLock Math

AJ was able to log in to UnLock Math each day and complete her lesson with little assistance from me. It is easy to navigate and was really self explanatory. The first two units were fairly easy for her and she had lessons finished in about 30 minutes. When she got to the third unit it started taking her about 45 minutes for each lesson because she had to work out harder problems.

We both loved this math program! The videos were well made and interesting. Having a person who is engaging and full of life work out each problem really made a difference, AJ didn’t lose interest. AJ is a math lover and this program has helped her to love math even more. Normally she hates review problems since she wants to constantly learn new concepts. I wondered how all of the built in review was going to go over with her, but she never complained! I think the fact that there were a few problems at a time made it more manageable.

The only thing that I would change would be the number of review problems before a test, and the number of questions on each test. The last test she took had 50 review questions, and she was getting a little restless after about 30. The great part is that you have the option to save the work and finish it at a later time.

One unexpected benefit we found was that she learned quite a bit of math vocabulary. I have never really made her memorize the different properties of addition or roman numerals, but this course made her. And it wasn’t for just one lesson. She learned about roman numerals in unit 1, and had questions about them in the last few lessons of unit 3.

I have also noticed her being more careful with her math. Some questions are multiple choice, but a large amount of them have the student enter the answer manually. She has to focus and make sure she enters the negative sign, or that she has the numbers entered correctly.

AJ’s favorite part is that there is no offline work! Everything is done online with no writing other than the writing needed to work out the problems. At first I will admit that I was skeptical that there would be enough work, but she has completed 3 units and has a 97%. She is able to do a lot of addition and subtraction of negative numbers in her head, and her multiplication has gotten a lot faster. She is able to answer questions about things she learned a few weeks ago, so that tells me she really learned and understood the topics, she didn’t just momentarily learn the concept and then forget it.

We have tried out a lot of math programs, and when I gave AJ her choice of which math to use for her 7th grade year, she picked UnLock Math. I think this is a great program that will help your child understand math! It really is the answer for homeschoolers who want a math teacher to explain all of the hard topics.

The wonderful people at UnLock Math have offered my readers $100 off of an annual purchase of a course! Click for your discount code. Offer ends August 18th.

UnLock Math Review
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Shape Whiz – Review

I love when I am able to make learning fun! Recently we were given the opportunity to review a game from SimplyFun, Shape Whiz. We had a blast playing and learning geometric topics at the same time!

Simply Fun Review
Shape Whiz is a card game for two to four players where speed and geometry come together. It is recommended for kids ages 10 and up, but I feel an 8 year old would be able to catch on fairly easily. It is a quick game, most of our games lasted about 10 minutes.

The object of the game is to be the first player to play all of their personal shape cards.

Each player is dealt a number of shape cards. The box has 45 blue shape cards and 35 green shape cards. The blue cards have simple shapes where the green cards have complex shapes. You have the option of just using the simple shapes or using both sets of cards. We found that using both sets actually made for an easier game.

The front of the shape cards feature different sized shapes. On the back of the card all of the shape properties are listed. It includes information about the shape’s area, perimeter, lines of symmetry, angles, parallel lines, and number of different length sides.

In the middle of the table you place the stack of 40 double sided whiz cards. The Whiz Cards have a sample shape and then a specific geometry question listed. The card might say “Total Area Less Than Or Equal To 3”, “One Line Of Symmetry”, or “Total Perimeter Greater Than 10”.

Simply Fun Review
To start the game you flip over a Whiz Card. Each player checks the cards in front of them and the cards in front of the other players to see if they can find a card that matches the properties on the Whiz Card. The best part is that if there are any disputes over how many 90 degree angles a shape has, all you have to do is flip over  the card and check.

It is fast paced and once you get going you start to learn how to figure out the approximate area and perimeter of shapes very quickly. AJ would look at the back of her cards constantly in the beginning to help her figure out the properties of her cards, but by the fourth time we played she was able to figure a lot of them out on her own.

There is a booklet included in the box that explains all of the symbols used in the game. AJ was introduced to a few new symbols including the approximate sign. It also includes how to find the area and perimeter of different shapes.

Since it is such a quick game with very little set up, we were able to play this game quite a bit. Most of the time it was just the two of us, but we also had AJ’s grandma play a few hands with us. She said, “Wow! This game sure makes you think, but it’s pretty fun.” It has been AJ’s pick for game night ever since we tried it out.

We ended up making one switch to the game the first few times we played to make it a little less competitive. Instead of being able to play the cards of other players, we decided to only play our own cards. If you are playing with a younger child I would recommend this little change to help them get use to the game.

It has definitely improved AJ’s knowledge of geometric shapes. We both enjoyed playing it and I am planning on using the cards to help teach when we get to the next geometry unit in math.

If you are looking for a fun, fast paced game that will help your child master some geometric principles, I would recommend Shape Whiz!

 

Simply Fun Review
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Home School In The Woods – Review

AJ is a hands on learner who enjoys lapbooks. The more activities involved in a project, the more she learns and remembers the topic. I try to bring as much fun into school as possible, but sometimes putting it all together can be time consuming. When we were given the opportunity to review the Project Passport World History Study: The Middle Ages, from Home School in the Woods we were both excited. History has never been our favorite subject, but if we can bring it to life it makes the subject so much more enjoyable.

Home School in the Woods Review
It is available as a digital download (which is what we received) that is compatible for both Mac and PC or as a CD.

The Project Passport for the Middle Ages is a 25 stop unit study all about the Middle Ages. It is designed to take between six to twelve weeks, but I don’t see how anyone could finish it in six weeks! It is packed full of information. You are touring the Middle Ages learning about different topics as you go. The first three stops on your trip cover background information to bring you up to date on the topic. You also set up your passport and gather your materials. Using the guidebook, audio tours, timelines, crafts, and other hands on activities, it brings the time period to life. Throughout the study your child creates a newspaper, a scrapbook, a lapbook, and many memories all about the Middle Ages.

Hands on learning about the Middle Ages with Home School in the Woods

We received a digital download that included; texts for each stops, itineraries for each stop, masters for all of the projects and worksheets, audio tours, teacher keys, printables for the notebook, and a guide full of tips and additional information.

At first I was a little overwhelmed with everything that was included. But I soon realized that if I took everything step by step it was all broken down and told me exactly what to do. We decided to print the itineraries but to read the text off of the computer.

Each week I would pull up the itinerary for the stop we were working on and follow the directions on what to print. I love that it tells me what to print and how. It tells what to print on cardstock, plain paper, and what needs to be printed on white paper. It even tells when to print a page on the back of another page. If you follow the directions it really is fool proof.

Once everything was printed for the week I would put the papers in her notebook and when we worked on history we had everything we needed.

There are a variety of activities in each stop. Some took longer than others. We started each stop by reading new information from the text. We found the information interesting and well written. There were a lot of facts in the reading, but it wasn’t overwhelming.

After the reading was finished she would cut out timeline figures to add them to her snapshot moments pages. These were neat, and since we were learning about things from different time periods it helped to keep everything in perspective. The directions called for her to color the pictures, but she doesn’t like to color so we decided to leave them plain.

Scrapbook of Sites Middle Ages

When that was finished she often had a post card to read and color. This was one of the activities that helped to bring the Middle Ages to life! The post card came from a famous person from the period and gave their perspective on a subject.

Often she had to add an article or drawing to the newspaper. She had the hardest time with this project because she struggles with creative writing. The assignments are short and should be fun.

Middle Ages Newspaper

Some days there was an audio tour. The audio tours were amazing and by far her favorite part. They are professional quality and introduce you to various people from the Middle Ages. We met a quite a few different people and learned a lot about how they lived.

There are map projects, lapbook pieces, and hands on projects with each stop.

So many hands on projects with Homeschool in the Woods!

One of AJ’s favorite projects so far was the Middle Ages puppets.

Puppets to learn about the Middle Ages

Overall the Project Passport World History Study: The Middle Ages is a solid history program. It is full of learning opportunities and makes a boring topic entertaining. The numerous activities help your child to really remember what they are learning. It doesn’t just focus on dates and places, but the people as well. The author includes lists of books, movies, and audios that can enhance the study. I love that we can take each topic as in depth as we want.

We had planned to use a different history curriculum for the upcoming school year, but AJ is learning so much and enjoying history again so we are going to finish this one and if finances allow, we will do the Renaissance and Reformation one next.

The main downfall to the program is the amount of printing. It uses a lot of ink, paper, and cardstock. It was a little confusing at first with how to get started, and it is more time consuming than other programs. For us, the fun element overrides the downsides. We can’t wait to continue learning about the Middle Ages.

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Home School in the Woods Review

CursiveLogic Review

Cursive writing is all around us, and I feel that it is important for AJ to learn how to read and write in cursive. Whether she decides to use the knowledge or not will be up to her. I NEVER use cursive other than to sign my name, because my cursive writing is horrible. I remember in 6th grade the teacher would only let the class turn in our final drafts in cursive, everyone in the entire class except for me. I was given extra practice to do, but she said she wasn’t going to try and figure out what I had written! It wasn’t until I started to teach AJ cursive in 3rd grade that I realize I was taught incorrectly! Sure I could write each letter, but connecting them was my problem. I don’t know how no one ever realized that I wasn’t being sloppy, but that I was not connecting my letters correctly.

CursiveLogic-A wonderful way to teach cursive!

AJ seemed to have the same issue, she could write the letters, but connecting them to form words was difficult. Now that she is entering 7th grade I knew that we didn’t have time to go through another program that taught a letter at a time, but she wanted to learn to write in cursive better. Enter CursiveLogic. We were given the opportunity to review the CursiveLogic Workbook – An intelligent new way to teach cursive handwriting.

CursiveLogic is not just another workbook, it is a new method for teaching. Instead of teaching the letters one at a time, they have divided up the alphabet into 4 letter strings based on the shape of the letters. Each string of letters is color coded and has a catch phrase that the student says while learning to write the letters.

Letter strands make learning cursive fun

The 96 page full color workbook includes the teacher’s guide right in the book. It is spiral bound at the top making it easy for both right and left handed children to use. The last three pages of the book are dry erase pages that your child can practice over and over again.

The lessons start off very basic having the student trace the letters with their finger, by the end of the lesson they are writing the letter strings and learning how to connect different types of letters.

The majority of the book focuses on the lowercase letters, but there are lessons on the capital letters at the end of the book.

Capital Letters are practiced at the end of the book

AJ has a tendency to speed through writing practice and not focus on her letters, so I had her work on one page a day and then let her practice on the dry erase pages as much as she wanted. The dry erase pages are perfect for her. I don’t know what it is about dry erase markers, but she really enjoys using them to write with.

CursiveLogic is the first handwriting program that I didn’t have to keep reminding her to work on. Each day she would have it done quickly and neatly in just a few minutes.  She even told me, “This is fun!” She liked learning the different letter strands and was able to remember how to write the letters based on the strand they were in.

Throughout the program AJ’s cursive has improved greatly. She still needs additional practice, but what she writes is legible and written correctly. I saw confidence in her writing while working through CursiveLogic, and can’t wait to see how well she is able to write once she finishes it.

We both liked the method that was used to teach the letters. AJ enjoyed the short lessons and I loved that they focused on how to correctly transition from one letter to the next. The program is short, simple, and worth every penny. If you have a child who is struggling with cursive, or a child who is just learning I would recommend checking out CursiveLogic. It really is the last handwriting book you will ever need to buy.

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CursiveLogic Review