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Friday, September 27, 2013

VideoText Interactive Schoolhouse Review #hsreviews

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Algebra: A Complete Course is a mastery-learning approach program that starts with Algebra readiness and studies Algebra until you have covered all the material in a traditional  Algebra 1 & 2 program.  Students may move at a slower pace, but they will not have the overlap of completing 3 separate Algebra programs with Geometry in between Algebra 1 & 2 therefore they may actually finish algebra more quickly.  

When we were offered Algebra: A Complete Course from VideoText Interactive to review I wanted to ask  Amber if she would be interested in trying it since Math is not one of her favorite subjects. We watched some sample videos and checked out the description of the product together. I think part of the reason she gets frustrated with math is the instructions are too long, she likes instructions that get directly to the point. The 2 things she thought she would like with this program is that the instructional video is short and to the point, the second is that it covers Algebra readiness, Algebra 1, and Algebra 2. She was very excited at moving through the program at her own speed with possible chance of finishing them all 3 in less than 3 years. After using the program for the past several weeks she isn’t moving as fast as she first would have liked, but she is doing well with the program and hasn't gotten frustrated like she has with other programs.
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Algebra: A Complete Course is all online and contains 10 units that cover Pre-Algebra, Algebra I and Algebra II. There are 176 Video lessons lasting 5-10 minutes each, 360 pages of Course Notes, 590 pages of Student WorkText, Solutions Manuals, and Progress Tests. You can see the Algebra Course Schematic, and view a video of how this program is different from othersThis complete program with access to Module ABCDEF is $299.00 it is recommended for children grades 8 and up, or you can check and see if your 6th-7th grader is ready. This will give you access for two children for three years from the time each student is activated, more students may be added for $49.00. All online courses have a full 30 day money back guarantee.

It was very easy to get started. Amber has her login & I have my own. I have access to all the same information Amber has, but I also have the solutions manuals. Math is not Amber’s strong subject, so I printed out all the Course Notes, WorkText, and Tests and put them in a 3 ring binder. If there were any course notes that she needed to review more we slid them in the front plastic cover of her binder for easy reference. In Algebra: A Complete Course the video segments are actually the textbook with the printable material as a supplement.

Each day starts with either Quiz A or Quiz B of the previously taught material to make sure the student understands what they have learned. If Amber didn't do well on Quiz A we would go over the lesson again and take Quiz B the next day for the same lesson. Once she completed the quiz she would move on to the new video lesson. I watched each video segment along with her & we would pause it if she or I had any questions or comments. Once we were finished with the video I would go over the Course Notes with her and then have her explain to me what was taught before she worked on the WorkText. Once she was finished I would check her answers with the Solution Manuals online. We would go over any problems she missed together until she understood where she messed up.

As soon as Amber logged in and chose her lesson there was a Quiz Reminder Alert, so she wouldn't forget to take it before moving on to the lesson.
In the parent login after I chose the lesson that Amber was working on I could access any portion from the menu above. This is where I would find the Solutions Manual to check Amber's work.

I love companies with good customer service. VideoText Interactive knows they teach math different than most of us learned, so they will gladly help you or your student with anything you don’t understand or you have problems with.

Algebra: A Complete Course is very easy to use, the video lessons are all short and to the point. I like that Amber has access to all Algebra lessons in one place, and that she can work through it at her own pace. She said the best part is that the lessons were short and to the point & that they instructed her to not take notes, but just to listen to the video the notes were already available in the Course Notes. We both like the course notes included for each daily lesson, they contain only the main information, and make it easy for Amber to flip back through her folder to find exactly what she is looking for.

The only thing we didn't like about the program doesn't have anything to do with the material. The volume on some of the videos is very low & we had to plug in external speakers and turn them up really loud to hear the audio. In the Solutions Manual some of the the answers with exponents were very tiny and hard to see even after enlarging the text on my screen.

Amber has decided that she is going to continue using Algebra: A Complete Course instead of going back to her other math program, she is determined to get finished in less than 3 years. The price may seem high up front, but if you consider you get three years of Algebra instruction for two students it is well worth the price. Or you can choose one of the other purchase options that may work better for your family.

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Saturday, September 21, 2013

See It and Say It Flip Flop Spanish Schoolhouse Review #hsreview

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Several weeks ago we received See It and Say It Flip Flop Spanish from Flip Flop Learning. It is so easy to use that we started working on it as soon as we had it open. We actually opened the box then I read the manual for the first lesson and pulled out the correct flash cards and Amber had the audio CD lesson ready and we had our first lesson. It was sooo easy!!

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See It and Say It Flip Flop Spanish is a 2 year curriculum that can be used with anyone ages 3-93. The retail price is $129.95, but you may purchase it right now for $99.00. It comes with a 150 page curriculum manual, 3 sets of flash cards, 4 CD's of audio lessons, 1 dry erase paddle & marker, and 2 flash card holders.

The Curriculum Manual was already 3 hole punched to place in a binder. There are 45 lessons with 3 days material for each lesson plus games and activities that can be used any day. About every 6th week there is a break week, so you can review your flashcards or just work on your new vocabulary. Throughout the book the mascot Egg Head will explain grammatical concepts. The activities include games, charades, skits, and optional writing elements.

  •  Day 1 ~ Uses the CD
    • 1. Read the manual.
    • 2. Pick out the cards.
    • 3. Push play and follow the instructions you hear.
  • Day 2 ~ You will work on your flash cards and arrange them into sentences and then repeat the same thing as Day 1.
  • Day 3 ~ You will repeat what you did on day 2, but you will not use the CD. You will interact with your child using Spanish, not just the CD.
I used this program with all three of my girls ages 8, 11, & 12. Alaina (8) is a very beginner in learning Spanish and Amber & Delaney already know some. We have been completing each lesson as directed in the manual, but my kids beg every day to add more words. We have actually been using the curriculum 5 days a week instead of the suggested 3. After our lesson and activities the girls would arrange their flash cards into sentences over and over to see how many different ones they could make. I had Amber and Delaney write their sentences in a notebook, so they could work on spelling and grammar.

The words we learned the very first day are everyday words that we could use immediately in our every day conversation even mixed with our English. This curriculum is not your typical foreign language curriculum. It is very hands on & the games and activities encourage the girls to do more & to remember their words. The flashcards have a picture on the front and the Spanish word spelling and pronunciation along with the English word on the back. They are a huge component to this curriculum and my girls love making sentences with them. Amber and Delaney are writing their sentences and they are trying to spell the words correctly before they turn over the card to see the spelling. The first day we started putting 2 words together like "Me gusta el helado". The second day some grammar was added so we could make sentences using "Y" and "Pero" with our vocabulary cards. By lesson 3 we were able to ask and answer questions together.

When new grammar is introduced Egg Head is there with the rule in a speech bubble. Like he told us how adjectives have to match the nouns in number & gender. He also suggests that depending on the age of the student you may or may not want to stress the issue at this point. Since my older girls already know some Spanish I made them say them correctly and we help Alaina each time if she forgot.

We really like the CD's because they helped us to hear how each word is pronounced and it is easy to play it a couple times when we needed to.

We are having so much fun with this that we even bought the Flip Flop Spanish App for the girls iPods. It is basically the same flash cards as we received with our curriculum. We like this, because you can see the entire list and if you click on the speaker it will read the word to us. Each card has a check or X at the bottom, so you can check it off if you know the word or X it if you do not. It will then add them to a separate list of words you know and words you do not know. That way they can work on the ones they need more practice with.

My girls are bound and determined to learn to speak Spanish fluently, so they are even labeling things in our house. 

Their favorite game is when they have to point to the correct card. A word is spoken in Spanish and then they have to race to point to the card. We even played this with actual objects in our house. The girls had so much fun racing through the house to find the object & they were able to blow off some steam.

Flip Flop Spanish is great addition to any home that wants to have fun while learning to speak Spanish.
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Wednesday, September 18, 2013

The Presidential Game Schoolhouse Review #hsreview

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What kid doesn't like to play games for school? My girls love playing any games, no matter if they are for fun or for learning. They were so excited to get a The Presidential: The Most Powerful Game In The World. 
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The Presidential Game comes in a nice sturdy box with a 20"X30" game board, 1 score pad, 3 blue dice, 3 red dice, 80 politics cards, 40 "write-your-own" politics cards, 150 republican votes (red chips), 150 democrat votes (blue chips), 1 electoral WebMap Calculator access code. It is recommended for children ages 11-up and can be purchased for $35.00.

The game is played by 2 teams of one or more people. The object is to win the Presidential election by capturing at least 270 of the 538 electoral votes. During the game you may obtain way more than the 270, but you may loose them before the game is over. The chips you place on the states are votes that you will receive by rolling the dice. There are 30 turns in the game & should last about an hour.

The Republican Team & the Democrat Team compete against each other. When it is your turn you have the option of campaigning or fundraising:

  • Campaigning ~ If your team decides to campaign you will choose 3 states to campaign in. You will then roll 3 dice and allocate the number on one dice for votes for one state, one dice for one state.
  • Fundraising ~ You can go fundraising in California, New York, Florida, or Texas. If you choose to go fundraising you will choose one state where you will fundraise. You will roll the dice and half of the total has to go as votes to the state you chose to fundraise in. The other half can be placed on any other state. While you are fundraising you will earn one Political Card. This card may give you a reward or a penalty, some have to be played immediately & other may be kept to play later. There are blank cards, so you may write your own.

On the Score Card you will keep track of the amount of electoral votes you receive or loose during your turn. You will also receive access to an Electoral WebMap Calculator that you may use. While using the Score Card you will have to add and subtract each state that is won or lost on every turn. If you use the Electoral WebMap Calculator you will just click on the state that is won for each political party and it will keep a running amount of electoral votes for each in the top corners and the state will change to red or blue. You will also click the counter after each turn so you know when you reach the 30th week of campaigning.

We played this as a family & my girls (ages 8, 11 &12) played on their own. We divided up into two teams and being girls they wanted to make up their Presidential candidates name. They also used double sided tape to wear their "vote republican" or "vote democrat" button. They not only had fun with this game, but they also saw how the Presidential election works and how it can change throughout the campaign. They learned about electoral votes and how the "winner-takes-all" rule for the electoral college. Amber knows the location of all the states, but Delaney & Alaina still get messed up with the eastern states. I have noticed that after playing this game several times, they were becoming more familiar with their locations.

We followed and printed several maps with the electoral votes in the last Presidential Election & discussed how the voting process worked and why each state gets different amounts. While we were playing the Presidential Game my girls had even more questions and it really helped them see and better understand how this process works.

This game is a wonderful addition to our collection of educational games that my girls want to play over and over.

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Monday, September 16, 2013

Wipe Clean Activities Review

Alaina was thrilled when I gave her the new Wipe Clean Activities book. There is something about writing, wiping, writing, wiping that she loves. This new book is full of fun activities and Bible stories. There are mazes, matching, dot-to-dot, drawing, coloring, hidden objects, and so much more in this 72 page book. The pages are laminated and it includes a felt-tip pen.

Each page contains a one sentence Bible fact along with the directions for the activity. They are very easy for small children to understand and for young readers to read on their own. The pages are bright, colorful & very fun for children.

Alaina is 8 and she loves this little book even though the activities are more appropriate for younger children. I would recommend this to anyone with young children. It would make a great gift and could entertain kids for long periods of time when they need to sit still and be quiet.

Bumper Wipe Clean Activities 
Author: Juliet David Illustrated by: Marie Allen
Pages: 72
Size: 6.5X8 inches
Published: 2013
Price: $12.99
ISBN: 978-1-85985-766-3
Format: Spiral Bound

Disclaimer: I received a free copy of Wipe Clean Activities free of charge in order to write my review. All opinions are my own and no other compensation was received. 

Saturday, September 14, 2013

PeopleKeys Schoolhouse Review #hsreviews

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Personality traits often show up in peoples lives very early, even as kids. I know some of the personality traits my kids had as toddlers they still have as an adult. The jobs my older kids have had reflect some of their personality traits.

Amber (age 12) just had the opportunity to take an online DISC Career Style Assessment from PeopleKeys and we received a DISC Career Style Report to explain the results. We received an email with our key code and a link to our assessment. Amber entered her name, email, and key code & started right away. The assessment took about 15 minutes for her to complete and all the questions were set up the same. Each question would have her number a set of 4 answers in the order that she thinks they apply to her. There are no right or wrong answers to the questions and the student isn't suppose to over think their answers. The questions dealt with her personality, how she responds to certain situations around her, her dress, her manor, and her actions.

We received the DISC Career Style report as soon as she was finished taking the assessment. It is 9 pages long and included:

  • Description: Understanding Your Style ~ Includes general characteristics, what you are motivated by, and your ideal environment.
  • Workplace: Your Professional Style~ This describes the style of job that you would be good for & includes a list of style characteristics.
  • Workplace: Tips For Your Professional Style~ Shows what you tend to like and dislike in a workplace.
  • Career Match: Close Match~ This is a list of occupations/careers that your style may naturally enjoy.
  • Scoring Data: Graph Page of DISC~ This graph shows how you score on the DISC scale.
  • Career Match: Best Match~ This is a list of occupations/careers that would best fit your personality. 
DISC represents the four quadrants of a personality and was created by William Marston. Basically everyone has a combination of the personality traits.
  1. Dominance (Drive) ~Relates to power, control, problem solver, argumentative, and assertive.
  2. Influence ~ Outgoing, enthusiastic, optimistic, persuasive, impulsive, emotional.
  3. Steadiness (Submission)~ Patience, thoughtful, good listener, understanding, supportive, friendly, and generous.
  4. Conscientiousness (Compliant)~ Accurate, precise, careful, correct, systematic, analytical, high-standards.

Amber's career assessment came back with her high score being an I. She scored I=48, S=44, C=30, and D=28. I have to say her scores were right on. She is a very optimistic, outgoing person who tries to encourage and influence others for the better. I can see some of the traits from each group that could apply to her, but her DISC order fits her well. She is a problem solver and likes to prove she is right, but she doesn't have to be in control. 

The list of best match careers for Amber contained 54 occupations. They are a wide range of jobs that goes with her I Style personality. I asked her if she thought she would want to do any of these when she grew up and she said she would like to do about half of them. She said some of the others would be fun, but she wouldn't want to do them as a career. There are some on there that would be a perfect fit for her.

Amber is only 12 and her personality may change as she gets older, but this assessment was right on this time. It would be interesting to have her take this again in a few years when she is seriously thinking about college & careers to see how she has changed over the years. 
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Online DISC Profile: Career Style Report

Ages 13-adult

PeopleKeys offer many more products that work with the DISC personalities and members of the Schoolhouse Review Crew received some of them. Sail over to the Crew Blog to read about those products. 

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Friday, September 13, 2013

Friday School

My girls love when we have a school day that is different. Today was one of those type of school days.

We spent our morning in the kitchen. We cooked and canned 10 quarts of spaghetti sauce and 8 quarts of salsa. I shared my recipes awhile back on my blog. I like to can enough for the entire year, but last year our tomatoes didn't do as well as I would have liked & we ran out of both. We tried several store bought spaghetti sauces and never found one we liked. Amber didn't like the salsa from the store either. The first bunch of tomatoes we picked she wanted to make salsa and one more batch this year should get us all the way to 2014 tomatoes!

This afternoon we had some fun school. We like to trade Art Cards & we belong to a group that sets up swaps every once in a while. Amber wanted to make a sports card so we initiated a swap this time. The girls finished up their cards & they are ready to mail when we go out.

We are also participating in a circle letter. The idea for this came from a Lily Lapp book. It involves a group of kids that will write a letter and then mail all the letters to the next one on the list. We received our circle letters in the mail today. We are 4th on the list, so we got to read about 3 kids that we knew nothing about before. The girls introduced themselves in their letter and it is ready to mail too.

The Casey's closest to our house had a regrand opening today, so we headed over and the girls got Slurpee's for $.59 a piece and I got a free cup of coffee. What a great way to end our school day!

The Rhythm of Handwriting Cursive Schoolhouse Review #hsreview

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With the use of computers for almost everything, good handwriting seems to have gone by the wayside. I do have to admit that we don't write in cursive that much, but I want my girls to have nice penmanship. They all three have pen pals and I make them hand write their letters, so I want their writing to be legible and take pride in their letters. Alaina has been learning cursive using The Rhythm of Handwriting from Logic of English.

The Rhythm of Handwriting Cursive is 174 page book available for $15.00 for either the softcover workbook or the PDF file. It teaches fluid handwriting and can be used with children of all ages. The letters are first taught on a large scale using the pointer finger before using a pencil. Short instructions describe the motions to write each letter, and they are divided into groups by the initial stroke to simplify the learning process. Each page also contains all the sounds each letter makes in case you are starting your student with cursive and they don't know all of the letter sounds.

We received the workbook along with an 8 1/2 X 11 foldout reference chart. The first 14 pages of the workbook contains instructions on how to teach handwriting, tips for better handwriting, suggested schedules, and ideas for handwriting practice. Lowercase letters are taught first and writing words start after learning 14 letters. The uppercase letters start about halfway through the book & are used with words after learning 13 letters. Each lesson contains large letters and words, so the student can trace with their finger to help learn the flow of each letter.

The glossy trifold reference chart is basically two 8 1/2 X 11 sized pages that fold inward and contains all the lowercase and uppercase letters with a brief description of how they should be made. The third fold is 4 1/4 X 11 and this flap contains an example of every stroke with their brief description. The lowercase & uppercase letters appear in the order they are taught in the cursive book.

Alaina has been using the Rhythm of Handwriting and she is 8 years old. It is very easy to use and really only takes a few minutes every day. I really like that each letter contains 4 different size lines, so she could decide which size is right for her. The first couple of days she tried them all, but she decided she liked the 2 sizes in the middle the best. The day she learned a new letter she would use the larger of the two and then she would use the smaller line the next day for more practice. The first day she used a pencil and then each day she would go back and write a couple more letters using a different color each day. I liked her idea, because I would immediately know if her writing had improved from the previous days.

Denise Eide is the author of Rhythm of Handwriting and she includes 6 reasons why learning cursive before manuscript is a good idea. This never occurred to me before, but it makes sense. I have one daughter that is left handed and she always (no matter how many times I reminded her) starts her manuscript letters from the right side and move to the left. Once she learned cursive, it was easier for her to write correctly.
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The Rhythm of Handwriting is part of the Logic of English program. It teaches how to read, spell and write using a systematic multi-sensory approach. They use 74 phonograms and 30 spelling rules to explain 98% of English words without learning sight words. They also include meanings of root words, suffixes and prefixes to unlock definitions of thousands of words.
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Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Time4Learning Schoolhouse Review #hsreviews

Time4Learning is an educational website for students grades preK-12. It is a student-paced approach in Language Arts, Language Ext., Science, Math, & Social Studies making it a good option for kids who homeschool, public school, after school, or skill sharpening.

The Schoolhouse Review Crew received 6 months access to Time4Learning and I chose grade 4 to use with Alaina. PreK-8 is $19.95 per month for the first student and $14.95 for each additional student. Each student will have access to the grade level above & below the one you choose that way if your child is stronger or weaker in one subject area they can move up or down while still learning at their grade level for the other subjects.

Once we signed up Alaina had her own login account to access the Time4Learning program & I had my login to access the Parent Admin Account. Alaina didn't have any trouble logging into her account and she could navigate the program completely on her own.

When Alaina logged in she had this screen where she could choose what she would like to work on. The 4th grade program has 154 activities for Language Arts, 168 activities for Language Arts Extensions, 356 Math activities, 167 Science activities, and Social Studies contains 204. If you click on the links above you can see the scope and sequence of each subject and there is a free Daily Activity Worksheet to help plan your child's work.
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After Alaina chooses the subject she wants to work on she would get another screen that would show her the different lessons. Once she completed a section a green check mark with the word "Completed" appears across the lesson icon. An arrow will appear where she should begin her next lesson.
This lesson in Science is talking about Sound. There are 8 slides in this lesson that the child should read. Once they are finished reading the lesson there are a few questions to answer. There were two lessons in Sound and once you finish both of them there is a quiz to take. Some lessons have additional worksheets that can be printed. The student also has access to a toolbox for Math and Honors Algebra help. 

In the Playground, kids have access to a variety of games & activities. There are puzzles, educational games, Arthur, Clifford the Big Red Dog, and more.  
The word finds are very easy to use. The student just clicks on the letters for the word they have found and then it will also be highlighted in the word lists, so it is easy for the student to see what words have been found. 
Alaina's favorite games are Arthur & Clifford the Big Red Dog. We had some fun educational games from both of these for the computer, but with the new operating systems they no longer work. Alaina was thrilled to have these games to play & I know they will always work regardless of what computer she is on. 

After using Time4Learning for a month your student will then gain access to the Art section. It teaches several aspects of Art including color, portrait, movement, lines, eyes, value, and so much more. There is also an Art Gallery that shows a piece of art and tells us who, when, & where it was created. There is also a glossary of terms, and a portfolio to upload your students artwork. 
In the parent administration section I can see how Alaina is doing on her work. I can look at her recent work for today, the week, or the month. I also have access to her assignments & reports. This is also where you can access worksheets & supplementary teaching guides with answers, and the comprehensive lesson descriptions.

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In our homeschool all 3 of my girls study the same thing for everything except English & Math, so I had Alaina focus primarily on the Language Arts activities, but adding in the other subjects as well. She loves using Time4Learning and will even ask to login after school, and she asks to work on it first thing in the morning. The graphics are very appealing to kids, but I don't feel there is a lot of wasted time going between activities. I love that we have access to 3rd & 5th grade in addition to Alaina's 4th grade level, because some subjects just come easier for her than others & I don't feel she is wasting her time working through things she already knows & she doesn't get frustrated with things she isn't ready for. 

This program is written from an evolution stand point & we believe in Creation. Alaina already knows what we believe and what others teach & we use this time to go over what the Bible teaches. 

Time4Learning is a great addition to any child's education. It is flexible enough for every subject to be completed every day, for your child to brush up on skills, help a struggling learner, or just for fun. 

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A Personalized Demo is available for your child's grade level & there are 99 more reviews on the Crew Blog for you to read and decide if Time4Learning is right for your child. 
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