Stopmotion Explosion: Stop Motion Animation Kit (Review)

Sometimes my children complain about school work, but other times they beg to be able to work on it! I am so glad I took the opportunity to review the Stop Motion Animation Kit by Stopmotion Explosion because my son has loved it. He begs to have more time to work on videos and has multiple videos planned out that he wants to create. I expect that it will be a big project for him this summer when we have a bit more free time.

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Since this was not a subject that I require in our home school, I asked my son if he was interested before agreeing to the review. It seemed like a really good fit, because it was a way for him to combine his love of all things Lego with a new found interest in videography.

I expected to have to help him get everything set up and figure out how to use the program and the camera, but he took it out and had it set up in just a short time.  The Stop Motion Animation Kit includes a 1080p HD video camera with internal microphone, the Stopmotion Explosion book, and the animation software.

Once my son had everything set up he quickly worked on a short video just to get the hang of taking pictures and putting it all together. Then I gave him a specific assignment for this next project. I wanted him to combine his history lesson for the week with a stop motion video. We were working on Assyrian siege towers and so he decided to do a video of the modernization of an Assyrian siege tower and the tower knocking down a wall.

He was able to get all of the video shots (over 2,000) done without any problems but was having some difficulty uploading them into the software for editing and adding sound. I e-mailed customer service and was pleasantly surprised and the rapid response. They were exceptionally helpful. Once we realized that he had a corrupt photo file, we were able to delete that one file and get it all working.

Next, he added title screens and sound effects. The Stopmotion Explosion book has an excellent chapter that explains how to edit and add sound effects. My son learned the hard way that its best to read it before trying to make changes. He did not read it at first and made a mistake that lost all of his changes. Once he read, he understood what he had done and was able to do it correctly next time.

The Stopmotion Explosion book was an excellent resource. It was laid out with each step being a different chapter. It was easy to read and understand and did not have to be read all the way through to be helpful. My son was able to read the chapters that he needed as he worked through the project. For example, one chapter is dedicated to lighting, and other to sound. The chapters on video editing and Sound were particularly helpful as he finished up his project. The book also gives links to video tutorials with more information on certain subjects.

This was a well laid out and easy to follow way to learn the art of stop motion animation. The book and video tutorials were thorough enough to take someone that had never done stop motion and teach them how to make movies with many great features.

All in all, I highly recommend this kit and I’m so glad we gave it a try. If you are looking for a way to add some fun to your homeschool this might be your answer. You could have a child make videos about the books they are reading, the history they are learning or even their science.  It can of course also just be a fun hobby, they can make videos about anything. For a middle grades student it is laid out in such a way that as long as they read the book, they should be able to work with the program fairly independently. With the exception of a computer and whatever they want to use in the video (we did Legos and Popsicle sticks) everything they need is included in the kit. This would make a great birthday gift or a way to keep the learning going through the summer. Check out the Stop Motion Animation Kit and don’t forget to click below to see the videos and reviews done by the other Crew members.

Stop Motion Animation Kit {Stopmotion Explosion Reviews}

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Transcripts Made Easy (Review)

Some days I’m really excited about preparing my son for high school and college; other days I’m in denial about how rapidly that season is approaching. We started our homeschool journey when my oldest son began first grade and he is  now finishing  seventh grade.  My first thought when the review for Transcripts Made Easy: The Homeschooler’s Guide to High-School Paperwork by Janice Campbell became available was that the review would not apply to me since I did not have a high school student. Then I quickly realized that with my son taking Algebra in eighth grade next year I would need to decide how I was going to do his transcript. I had never heard of Everyday Education but a quick look around their website showed me that they had a lot to offer and I was excited to read the book.

Transcripts made Easy

We reviewed a digital copy of the book but my need to highlight gets the best of me and so I printed out the pages so that I could hold them in my hands and highlight things that I found interesting or important. I like to read in bed at night before I go to sleep but I was a little worried that this material might be too dense for bedtime reading. However, I was pleasantly surprised. Though there is a lot of information, the author’s style of writing made for easy reading.

 

Based on the title, Transcripts Made Easy: The Homeschooler’s Guide to High-School Paperwork, I was expecting information on how to make a transcript, forms, and recording keeping. While all of that is included, I was pleasantly surprised at how much more was packed into this book. The book goes through the planning process for high school and helps you decide what classes your student needs to study, skills and habits that they need to cultivate, various ways that you can schedule high school courses, college alternatives, special needs considerations, and how to document life experiences. I read the book through in just a couple of days, highlighting as I went along, but I plan to go back and reference this book again and again as we plan for and work our way through high school.

I really appreciated the fact that the book was trying to present a one-size fits all answer to our students. For example, when she talked about scheduling high school courses she gave six different schedule examples. Some of those, like college-style schedule and year round schooling, were familiar to me but there were others like sequential scheduling and the one-subject plan that were new concepts for me. After reading over our options, my husband and I are discussing the pros and cons of various methods to help us decide on a plan for my son.

The book also talks about how to document life experiences and skills. For example, Campbell shares how you could document work done on a family farm or time spent learning to create a web page.

“Do not let educational experiences slip by because you can’t think where to fit them on the transcript-just add them to a Subject Worksheet and consult the Course Classification System for ideas on where they will fit. …Your student is learning daily from all that happens, and there is no reason why informal learning experiences cannot be structured to become credit-earning courses and preparation for life.”

I highlighted that quote in my book because we highly regard those life experiences I really appreciated that they could be used for part of his high school courses. She goes further into detail in the book as to how to document those experiences.

The books goes over grading, how to grade, what to grade, and even how to write a transcript for those that are using the unschooling method for high school. She did not give one right formula but lots of examples and options that you can use to make it work for your family and still have an honest transcript.

Then at the end after having worked through planning high school, keeping records, grading, preparing for college or non-college options, there are multiple examples of transcripts and other record keeping forms. She gives blank copies of the forms in the back as well as detailed instructions for creating those forms in a word processing program.  She even gives examples and help with diplomas.

The final portion of the book is a glossary of important terms, a book list for parents, and a list of websites and resources that can are helpful for planning and learning. I had read several of the books, but I’m looking forward to checking out a couple of the ones with which I was not familiar.

All in all, I think Transcripts Made Easy: The Homeschooler’s Guide to High-School Paperwork is a great resource for middle school and high school parents. This book can help you prepare for high school or if your student is already in high school it can help you get your records and forms together for college or whatever experiences your student is preparing for after high school. Check it out over at Everyday Education and don’t forget to check out what other Crew members thought about this book.

 

Transcripts Made Easy: The Homeschooler's Guide to High-School Paperwork {Everyday Education Reviews}Crew Disclaimer

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Orville Wright: The Flyer, Heroes of History (A Review)

When I saw that we were going to have the opportunity to request to be on a review for YWAM Publishing I knew my son was going to be excited. He already has several books from their Heroes of History series, and was excited to be able to request a new title. After looking over the list his first choice was Orville Wright. As a child I was fascinated with the Wright Brothers and my son seems to share that interest. Living only a few hours away from where they made that first historic flight makes them even more interesting.

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Once we got news that we were selected for the review, we started watching the mail and waiting for the book to arrive. He was quite excited to open it and start reading when it arrived a few days later. Considering that we intended to use the Study Guide to accompany the book I had planned to take 2-3 weeks to go through the book, he loved it so much he completed the entire book in just a few days. He then used the book as he went back through and did the study guide activities.

The Heroes of History series are all biographies of heroes that had a historical impact and told from a Christian perspective. Some of these go back to the founding of our country, men such as George Washington and Benjamin Franklin. Others are more modern day heroes like Ben Carson and Billy Graham. Orville Wright sits in the middle of those, living from 1871 to 1948.

Orville Wright: The Flyer, tells of the life of Orville Wright from the time he was about six years old. It includes stories of him and his siblings playing with rubber band flyers when they were young, how they loved kites, and how they learned to fly. They began the first chapter looking ahead to a flying accident in which Orville broke his leg and then went back to his childhood. This was very memorable to my son who actually said, “I like how the authors use one of the most tragic moments to introduce the book.”

 

The study guide is a PDF including 83 pages of ideas and activities. You could use this to make the book into a complete unit study or you can pick and choose activities to make it fit your needs. There are discussion questions for each chapter, writing prompts, creative writing activities, hands on projects, and arts and crafts. It also includes a timeline activity, basic information sheet, and several maps. We chose to select a variety of activities to expand on his learning through the book.

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Fact Sheet, Map, and Timeline

I started by having my son complete the basic information sheet, timeline and a couple of the maps to help him show me what he had learned while reading the book. He then chose a writing project and a hands-on component from the study guide and we finished it off with a field trip to the Wright Brothers Museum in Kitty Hawk.

For his writing project he chose, “As Wilbur did in 1896, write a letter to the Smithsonian Institution, requesting information about an area that interests you. You can contact the museum at Smithsonian Center for Education and Museum Studies, P.O.Box 37012, MRC508, Washington, DC, 20013–7012 or via e-mail at learning@si.edu.” This was a lot of fun for him and he is waiting and hoping to get a response from them on his request for information.

 

For his hands on project, he chose to find a small household machine that he could take apart and study. He found an old drill. He took it apart, labeled each of the parts, and shared with us how the parts worked together to make the drill run.

 

 

We finished our unit study off with a wonderful field trip to the Wright Brothers monument and national park. We had a lot of fun learning even more about the brother, running down the runway and flight path of those very first flights, and even eating lunch in the lifesaving station from which the famous telegraph of their success was sent in 1903.

C.S. Lewis once said, “Since it is so likely that (children) will meet cruel enemies, let them at least have heard of brave knights and heroic courage. Otherwise you are making their destiny not brighter but darker.” I think that Orville Wright: The Flyer like the other books from YWAM Publishing offer children great examples of real life heroes. The books work great as a family read aloud, independent reading, or complete unit studies when combined with the study guides.  If this book interest you, you might also want to check out my review of one of the other books in the series about Alan Shepard . You can also click below to check out the variety of reviews by other Crew members. There are so many great choices to choose from.

Study Guides - Christian Heroes Then & Now & Heroes of History {YWAM Publishing Reviews}Crew Disclaimer

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This post may contain affiliate or referral links, including Amazon affiliate links. As always I will never recommend a product that I don’t believe in and you will never be charged more for purchasing through our links. It does help pay for the costs associated with the blog.

 

Fix It! Grammar (A Review)

Grammar has been the thorn in the side of my existence as a homeschool mom; finding a program that worked but that wasn’t dull and dry has been a real challenge. Along came an opportunity to review Fix It! Grammar  which promised short lessons and the opportunity for students to apply grammar concepts in context. I knew that Institute for Excellence in Writing (IEW) created quality products and so I decided I would give it a chance and see how it worked for my daughter. We started at the beginning and review Student Book 1, The Nose Tree.

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The program is built around four, approximately fifteen-minute long lessons per week. The first day took a bit longer than that as we got set up and my daughter and I both got learned how the program worked. After the first day, she was able to finish each day’s assignments in 10 to 15 minutes. I went over each day’s work with her but (after that first day) she was able to complete the work independently.

In each lesson a student only has to work with one sentence. They read the sentence and then in their notebooks define the one word that is in bold print.  Next, they mark the sentence for grammar by marking the parts of speech that have been taught thus far as well as fixing any mistakes. Once they have it corrected, they turn to a second section in their notebook and add that sentence to the story that they are working on, making sure to include the correction punctuation and any fixes they noted in their books. Each sentence from the beginning to the end of the book adds to the same story. This makes it fun for them to find out what happens next. This whole process generally takes no more than fifteen minutes.

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Grammar Cards

The student workbook also includes grammar cards with the different concepts to cut out and use for review. They are double sided with the concept on one side and an explanation on the other. For example, the first card says “Nouns N” and then the back gives the definition of a noun and a couple of tips for helping determine if a word is truly a noun.

“I liked the story and how it kept adding on to the same story. I also liked how it slowly added in things like nouns and pronouns and did not have me try to remember them all at once. ” Elizabeth, Age 11

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Teacher’s Manual

The teachers manual shows the sentences that are in the student workbook with the appropriate corrections. It also includes explanations and helpful tips.  For example, when it taught about quotation marks, the teacher tip explained why quotation marks were supposed to be curved but were sometimes straight because of type writers.  There is also a glossary at the back of the teachers manual and the student workbook which have lots of great grammatical information. It explains concepts like Oxford comma, capitalization rules, and clauses.

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Glossary Sample

Fix It! Grammar turned out to be a great program for my daughter. Institute for Excellence in Writing (IEW) did an excellent job offering a high quality, thorough program that is easy to implement (all the busy moms rejoice) and engaging. Other reviewers from the Review Crew checked out other levels of Fix It! Grammar so make sure to check out some of the other reviews at the link below.

Fix It! Grammar {Institute for Excellence in Writing (IEW) Reviews}Crew Disclaimer

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When you sign up for the Schoolin’ Swag free resource library you will get a link and password to the library, we are adding to the library each month with new items. You will also get a bi-weekly newsletter email to keep you up to date on what we have going on.

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This post may contain affiliate or referral links, including Amazon affiliate links. As always I will never recommend a product that I don’t believe in and you will never be charged more for purchasing through our links. It does help pay for the costs associated with the blog.

Rhythm & Writing (A Review)

My four year old had been wanting to learn to write more than just B (the first letter in his name) and this review of Rhythm & Writing with the Get Write Crew came at just the right time.  Rhythm & Writing has created a cute program of videos, stories, and practice to help young children learn to write. I was excited to find out that it was created by an occupational therapist who knew and understood the importance of fine motor skills in handwriting.

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When we first got the package in my son had an opportunity to take a ‘pre-test’ where he copied words to get an idea of what he already knew. This would be especially beneficial for a child that had learned some of his letters and just needed to work on trouble spots. I was excited to be able to have it to compare his progress. If your child already had mastery of some of the letters you could skip through those and only focus on the ones that needed work. Since my son only really knew the letter B, we decided to start at the beginning and work our way through the book.  The book covers both the upper and lower case of each letter, but not at the same time.

There is a song/rap for each set of letters to help you remember how to form them. If I’m being honest, I was not a huge fan of the raps but my son LOVED them. He wanted to watch the videos over and over again and I think they helped him learn to write. Their effectiveness made up for the fact that I didn’t enjoy listening to them. The videos feature the same characters as the story in the book: “Big Country” Guitar, “Hip Hop” Lyricist, “Mo Rock” Drums, and “Jazzy Faith” Keyboard and Vocals. You can even listen to a sample on the website.

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The rhymes that help them remember how to write the letter are simple but effective. For example, letter V was down stop, up stop. Capital H is long line down jump out, long line down and across. Those combined with the songs and the practice made it easy to master the letters.

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Sometimes you just need to ‘do school’ outside.

One of my favorite parts of this program is that they sent a transparency with the workbook so that a child could practice as many times as needed to gain mastery. As a four year old my son is still working on those fine motor skills needed for writing letters and requires quite a bit of practice. If he had done the workbook page without the transparency he would have been unable to keep working on it until he had it mastered. Once you feel they have mastery, you can remove the transparency and allow them to write on the actual page.

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After practicing with the marker and transparency for a couple of days, he did the worksheet in pencil.

My son also enjoyed that there was a picture he could color on each page. The pictures add visual interest for the student but also give them a little extra fine motor skills practice.

We moved slowly through the program, averaging a letter or two a week because of my son’s age and developing motor skills. If I tried to do too much, he would get frustrated and not do his best work. I had to remember that it takes a lot of focus and work for young hands to form the letters.  If you were working with an older student or one who was just missing some of the letters the program could be done at a faster speed.

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Same robe, different hair cut, different day.. more letter practice.

Overall, I think Rhythm & Writing with the Get Write Crew is a creative and effective way to teach handwriting skills. The videos and story make it fun, the transparency and catchy rhymes allow for plenty of practice and make proper formation easier. We plan to continue using this with my son until he reaches mastery of all of the letters. Make sure you click below to check out the experiences of the other Crew members.

Rhythm & Writing with the Get Write Crew {Rhythm & Writing Reviews}Crew Disclaimer

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This post may contain affiliate or referral links, including Amazon affiliate links. As always I will never recommend a product that I don’t believe in and you will never be charged more for purchasing through our links. It does help pay for the costs associated with the blog.

Tied 2 Teaching STEM Challenges (Review)

Can I be honest with you for a minute? We love science in this house, but our formal science program had fallen to the wayside this year due to other life events. I really wanted to get some science going again but knew that right now I just couldn’t tackle our regular program. I knew that my personality would not do well with just doing part of a textbook and I didn’t have time to complete an entire textbook between March and May. I didn’t want to be doing school all summer, but I didn’t want to ignore science completely. The STEM Activities, Full Year of Challenges with Close Reading from Tied 2 Teaching offered just the solution I had been looking for.

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While this is a full year of challenges, each challenge stands on it’s on which means I do not feel like I have to complete all of the challenges or do them in any particular order. Many of them are designed around monthly themes. For example, there is a Leprechaun trap as one of the March activities and a spider web activity for October. They do download with each activity as a separate PDF, so if you want to use them thematically, you need to look at the list on the website. If I was going to be using them thematically I would probably separate them into monthly folders on my computer to make them easier to find.

I love that aside from finding a few fairly readily available supplies, these were very open and go activities. The supplies consisted of things like marshmallows, toothpicks, recycled materials, building blocks (we used Legos), a card deck, and dried cranberries. Aside from the fact that we ran out of toothpicks after a couple of challenges I did not have to buy any materials to complete the challenges that we have tried.

I could print off the sheets, make sure we had the supplies, and hand the papers over to my children to work through the challenge. We utilized the challenges in a several ways. Some of them I had my 12 and 11 year olds work through together, some I had both of them do the challenge individually, and then I was also able to do some of them individually based on interests.

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Each challenge starts with a reading passage. I chose to copy and paste those into a word document and print them out, but they can be accessed through a QR code on the paper or linking on the computer. Once the students have read the passage, they answer some comprehension questions about the passage. Then they are issued a related STEM challenge. There are several different forms included in the package that can be used for planning and commenting their work. There are also follow up questions to help them reflect on what they learned and explore the topic more in depth.The challenges tend to be fairly open ended and allow for a lot of creativity and not necessarily a right/wrong answer.

I found that most of them could be completed from start to finish in about an hour. This varied somewhat depending on how focused my children were and how much time they wanted to spend working on different ideas and variations. For example, they had multiple ideas for the spider web and so it took them a little longer as they tested out several theories. The Lego flags that they made did not take as long because they knew exactly what they wanted to do and just built them.

The first project that we did was the spider’s web design challenge. For this project they read an article about spiders and their webs. Then the challenge was, “using toothpicks and yummy marshmallows, design and build a super cool and slightly creepy spider web.”  They ended up building one that they called a bat mobile after trying out a couple of different ideas.

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Their favorite project so far was a flag building block challenge.  Both of my older children love building with their Legos and being allowed to use them during school is a sure way to get their attention. My oldest son is also a flag enthusiast, so I knew this challenge would be a hit. They had to research the flags of five different countries and recreate them using only building blocks. I loved that they were dealing with history/geography while also working on the building/engineering skills. They decided they wanted to do the American flag but thought that it would be hard to get one with 50 stars, so they went with the historic Hopkinson flag which only needed 13 stars.

In addition to those two projects they were able to make bugs from Lego’s, towers from dried cranberries, and more. We have also picked out our next two projects which are a house made from cards and a model of a lighthouse. We are hoping to go on a field trip to see a lighthouse next week and then complete the lighthouse challenge when we return home. While I would not want these challenges to replace my children’s entire science education we felt like there were a great fit for this semester. I think that they are perfect for those times in life when you need open and go science/ STEM activities or as a fun addition to your regular curriculum.  It is also a fun way to get in a little bit of reading comprehension practice with the reading passages that go along with each project.

Visit the website to see a full list of the challenges that are included in STEM Activities, Full Year of Challenges with Close Reading. You can also click below to see all of the different reviews from the Review Crew to see which challenges each person chose and how they utilized them in their home.

STEM Activities, Full Year of Challenges with Close Reading {Tied 2 Teaching Reviews}Crew Disclaimer

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When you sign up for the Schoolin’ Swag free resource library you will get a link and password to the library, we are adding to the library each month with new items. You will also get a bi-weekly newsletter email to keep you up to date on what we have going on.

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This post may contain affiliate or referral links, including Amazon affiliate links. As always I will never recommend a product that I don’t believe in and you will never be charged more for purchasing through our links. It does help pay for the costs associated with the blog.

Drive Thru History® “Acts to Revelation” ( Review)

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Our family does not watch a lot of television or movies. While each week is different, on a given week our television is not normally on more than once or twice and it is not unusual to go an entire week without turning it on at all. Since we watch so little television, I like to make sure that what we do watch is very high quality entertainment or educational material.  Drive Thru History® “Acts to Revelation” is one of those programs that fits the bill of both educational and entertaining. Drive Thru History® is a company that we have come to love and trust and this newest production is no different.

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These DVDs could easily be assigned as schoolwork to coordinate with your Bible and/or history studies. However, my children love them and ask to watch them in their free time. Dave Stotts is funny or ‘punny’ as my children like to say but also does a great job providing an amazing amount of Biblical and historical knowledge in each episode.

Last year we were blessed with the opportunity to review Drive Thru History®: The Gospels as a part of Drive Thru History Adventures. When the opportunity came to review Drive Thru History® “Acts to Revelation” , I knew it would be a great chance to continue with our studies. This time instead of getting the online subscription, we received the DVDs and study guide that are ours to keep and revisit as we wish.

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Drive Thru History® “Acts to Revelation” is an 18 episode series on three DVDs.  In each episode, the host, Dave Stotts, goes on site to learn and teach. Being able to see the actual locations where Biblical events took place really helps make them real to my children. They know that Athens, Thessalonica, Corinth, and Malta are all real locations but it can be so hard to conceptualize. This allowed them to see what they look like today, see the historic sites, and visualize what it might have been like in the days of Paul.

 

In this series, we start at Pentecost and follow along as Saul becomes Paul. Then we follow Paul through his missionary journeys. The final disk includes the martyrdom of Paul and Peter as well as John on the Island of Patmos and the book of Revelation.

We have been going through the episodes together as a family and using the included study guide to help facilitate our discussions afterwards. The study guide is a great resource and is conveniently located inside the DVD case. The study guide includes beautiful pictures, a summary and discussion questions (and answers) for each episode, and Bible readings for each episode. Since we watched the episodes together, I generally did not need the answers to the discussion questions, but they would be really helpful if you were having your child go through the series independently.

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The VW that my son liked so much!

I love how he drives to all the different places that Paul visited and lets us see them. I also like all the different cars he drives.  My favorite car was the VW Beetle.  Matthew, Age 12

We watched two of the discs during our review period look forward to finishing the last disc over the next few weeks. Each episode is just under 30 minutes, includes a short review of the last episode and then moves forward in the story of the New Testament. My children would have binge watched all of them if I had allowed it, but we felt that this program was best utilized by watching one episode at a time and discussing it together before we moved on to the next episode.

 

Included in each episode was the relevant scripture, a video or retelling of that part of the story, and the sights and information about the modern day place. For example, in one episode we heard a reading from Acts 27 and saw the story of Paul’s shipwreck on the Island of Malta. We then were able to see what modern day Malta looks like. They also included maps with most episodes to help you understand the geography of the locations that he was visiting in that episode.

I recommend Drive Thru History® “Acts to Revelation” for any family that is looking to learn more about the Bible or wants a fun and entertaining series to watch together. We watched with children ranging from 4-12 and they all enjoyed it, but I would say it is probably best for upper elementary through adult to get the full understanding. This is a great addition to your home school curriculum or your family Bible study time. You can also check our my review of their Drive Thru History ® Adventures program.  For more information on how other Homeschool Review Crew families used Drive Thru History® “Acts to Revelation” click the link below.

 

Drive Thru History® Crew Disclaimer

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This post may contain affiliate or referral links, including Amazon affiliate links. As always I will never recommend a product that I don’t believe in and you will never be charged more for purchasing through our links. It does help pay for the costs associated with the blog.

Artistic Pursuits (A Review)

I remember drawing one good picture of a flower in middle school, it was purple and large and my art teacher really liked it. Aside from that one drawing, artistic skills and abilities have never been a strength for me. My son is very interested in drawing and I wanted him to have the help he needed to develop his skills. He has been doing an art program with my daughter and enjoying it, but wanted more instruction how to draw well. I was very excited to give him the opportunity to try one of the books in the K-3rd Grade Level, Volumes 1-8 series by ARTistic Pursuits Inc.

When looking at the series I knew they were designed for younger students (my son is a 7th grader) but decided after talking to him to go ahead and give it a try. I did get Art in America, K-3 Vol. 8 which is generally recommended for the older end of that range and specifically focuses on drawing with graphite and colored pencils. I was prepared for him to feel like it was to ‘babyish’ for him, but the book is laid out in such a way that it works for a wide range of ages. Though a second or third grader could have done the lessons, it did not feel ‘babyish’ for my middle schooler and did a great job of giving him more basic drawing instruction.

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This program is a combination of book lessons with some short video lessons. The book includes both a DVD and a Blu-ray.  For this particular volume the only supplies that I needed to purchase were graphite pencils. He also needed plain paper and later in the book colored pencils but we already keep those supplies on hand.

The lessons were short and only took him about 15 or 20 minutes to complete. They are set up to be one lesson a week but since he is older I had him go ahead and do a couple of lessons most weeks. For each lesson you have instruction either in the book or a short video (about 5 minutes) and then a practice activity. This particular volume is twelve text lessons and six video lessons. In addition to basic drawing instruction, the book also includes information and lessons about various famous artists. Each of the twelve text lessons included a different artist.  I loved that they were introduced to some great artists, including John Copley and one of my personal favorites, John James Audubon.

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For the lesson featuring John Singleton Copley the student was introduced to the artist with a bit of background information about the artist. Then they showed how he used basic shapes in his drawings using an example of one of his famous pieces. The student is then given instructions on how to translate that skill into their own drawing of an object they can see or a photograph. There is also an example picture done by a nine year old student. I think this feature is nice because it gives both the student and the parent a better idea of  a reasonable expectation for the assignment.

The short video lessons demonstrated examples of different skills. One of them showed how to use shading to create light and dark and another taught students how to draw lines and circles with a ruler and compass. After each lesson the student had the opportunity to take what was learned and create their own art work.

As a seventh grader, my son was able to easily work through this course without any assistance from me. He enjoyed the short lessons and I could see improvement in his skills. If I were using this with a younger student, I would go through the lessons with them to make sure they understood the reading and be prepared to assist as necessary. it would still not take much prep work for the teacher and is a very easy to implement course.

Each volume of this series focuses on a different set of skills including watercolor, print making, paper construction, etc. With elementary aged children each volume is designed to be covered in one semester. If you are using it with older students, you could easily cover two or three in a semester. You can find more information about the other volumes at ARTistic Pursuits Inc. and donn’t forget to click the link below to read reviews from other Crew members. You can find reviews for each of the different levels and see how families with different ages used the program.

 

Kindergarten to Third Grade Art following History in Chronological Order {ARTistic Pursuits Inc. Reviews}Crew Disclaimer

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When you sign up for the Schoolin’ Swag free resource library you will get a link and password to the library, we are adding to the library each month with new items. You will also get a bi-weekly newsletter email to keep you up to date on what we have going on.

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This post may contain affiliate or referral links, including Amazon affiliate links. As always I will never recommend a product that I don’t believe in and you will never be charged more for purchasing through our links. It does help pay for the costs associated with the blog.

 

Homeschool Complete (Review)

What do you do with a child that is ready to start kindergarten work, when you are already balancing two other older children and a baby? You look for a product that will give him what he needs in a simple easy to use format that doesn’t take all day. I’m researching curriculum for my son who turns five next month and is in that very situation. Homeschool Complete offers full programs that are all inclusive and feature a unit study format. I decided to try out the first semester of Kindergarten Complete with my son and see how it worked with him and with our schedule.

The semester is broken up into various units including: All About My Family, Fall, Farm Animals, Zoo Animals, Winter, Sea Life, Martin Luther King Jr. and more.  Most of the units are about four lessons long with each lesson being one day’s work. They suggest using the unit for four days and having the fifth day of the week be activities of your own choice.

*Some of the links in my posts may be affiliate links see below for more information. *

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My son was excited about ‘doing school’ and eager to try this program most days. I found that it took us between 45 and 60 minutes to do the lessons most days. He really enjoyed the math and reading components (which at this point were mostly read alouds with comprehension questions). He was starting to learn some of the letter sounds but struggled with those as well as the writing components. I felt like the math was moving at a really good pace. He could easily keep up but was not becoming bored.

He struggled to keep up with the writing even though it was mostly copying words that I had written. He enjoyed learning how to write his name but when he had to write other words, he seemed to struggle. This will vary based on the child and it is worth noting that he is on the younger side and another 6 months or a year’s worth of fine motor skills may make the writing much more attainable for him.

Each day they would go through their calendar activities, talking about the date, days of the week, moths of the year, etc. There was a short math lesson, followed by language arts which generally consisted of reading a book or passage aloud and then discussing it. Often the book or passage related to the theme of the unit study and included the science or social studies for the day.

Most days also include some type of enrichment activity. Also days often include a Bible lesson, physical education lesson, art lesson or music lesson.  These extras are typically very simple and easy to implement. For example, practice a low crawl for fire escape is one of the physical education ideas.   An example of an art lesson was to create colorful fall trees by painting with sponges.  One of the enrichment/science activities was carving a pumpkin and having the child feel the inside and then use adjectives to describe it.

I thought this program was well thought out and provided good coverage of the basics with some other fun activities. We are a very science and history heavy family and I would include more of that in our studies but those would be easy to supplement. If you are a family that starts those subjects later or puts less emphasis on them at a young age, there is probably plenty included in the curriculum.

In addition to the curriculum you do need to be prepared to purchase or borrow books for each unit. Many of them are fairly common and not difficult to find. We also utilized videos of a couple of them being read aloud on YouTube for books that we did not have. There are materials needed for some of the art and science projects but in general they are common materials or inexpensive. For example, we needed pennies for counting one day and paper and crayons for an activity.

Overall, if you are looking for a simple and easy to implement complete kindergarten curriculum Homeschool Complete may be a good choice for you. They also offer complete curriculum for grades first through fourth and unit studies for grades K-6. I encourage you to check out their website as well as the other crew reviews to see if this might be a good fit for your students.

**Update**  Homeschool Complete  is offering 10% off to our readers right now!! Just click on that link and use code CREW2019 through 3/31/2019. ***

Homeschool Complete K - 4th Grade & Unit Studies {Homeschool Complete Reviews}Crew Disclaimer

Resource Library and Affiliate Disclosure

When you sign up for the Schoolin’ Swag free resource library you will get a link and password to the library, we are adding to the library each month with new items. You will also get a bi-weekly newsletter email to keep you up to date on what we have going on.

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This post may contain affiliate or referral links, including Amazon affiliate links. As always I will never recommend a product that I don’t believe in and you will never be charged more for purchasing through our links. It does help pay for the costs associated with the blog.

Victus Study Skills System (Review)

All students’  need good study skills but knowing how to teach those skills can be a challenge. For some reason teaching study skills has always been a difficult abstract topic for me and with my oldest being a 7th grader I knew that it was something we needed to focus on. I enjoyed this opportunity to review the Victus Study Skills System particularly using Level 2: Elementary and Level 3 (Grades 5/6-10/11). This included a workbook for each level, a teachers manual, and a supplemental manual for the elementary level. I used level 2 with my fifth grade daughter and level 3 with my seventh grade son.

The Victus Study Skills System is built on three major parts or cornerstones. First, “Where am I now?” This section focuses on  learning strengths and an assessment of current study habits. Second, “Where do I want to be?” This covers creating a mission statement and setting goals. Finally, “How do I get there?” This is where you really get into learning new study habits and skills to help you achieve the goals that you created in the second section. This cornerstone focuses on things like time management, listening, note taking and test taking.

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There are examples for each section or lesson and then opportunities to practice. When comparing the elementary level with level 3 (5/6-10/11) you see a very similar layout of concepts, but the elementary level has shorter assignments and does not always go as in depth. Sometimes, the assignments are are entirely different. For example, in one of the lessons my daughter was doing a word search and my son was working on a calendar. There are other lessons where they both needed to answer questions or fill in the blanks but the elementary lesson has fewer questions.

Lessons in which my daughter had the same but fewer questions were very easy to combine. I would teach the lesson and we would go through the work together. However, for some of them I felt like they really needed my individual attention because of the differences in the layout. In hindsight, when I use this program again, I will give an introduction the program together, but plan to spend time individually with each child.

I liked how, instead of just telling them that note taking was a good study strategy, it went through and taught them how to take good notes. The book explained using short hand, keeping things brief, not needing to use complete sentences, and even how to determine which things are important to note. They then have the opportunity to practice taking notes using several sets of information. Once they have practiced, they can compare their notes to a set of well-taken sample notes on the same information.

I also really appreciated how it showed them how to get from where they are to where they want to be. By starting with an assessment of their own learning styles, they can progress into self advocates and choose to study and use the strategies that work best for them. Another step that I think was really important was setting goals. If you do not know where you want to go, you will not be able to figure out how to get there. I think that helped them to understand why the study skills that they learned in the the third part of the program were important.

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Overall, we enjoyed this product but I do feel that it is worth noting that while they say you can teach multiple levels at a time, I found it very difficult to teach both Level 2 and Level 3 together. The overall topics were similar but the activities and such were different enough that it became confusing for my students. I recommend considering individual times for different levels.  If you had multiple students on the same level, I think it would work fine with group instruction.  The other thing that I would note is that while they say it is a five hour course, it took us significantly more than 5 hours to work through the course. That might change somewhat if I was not trying to do two different levels at once. The extra time is not a big deal in a home setting like ours, but an important consideration for planning if you are using it for a larger time bound setting like a co-op.

I think that the Victus Study Skills System   is a good system to teach study skills and help students understand the importance of those skills. I love that it helps each child look at themselves as individuals and teaches them a variety of tools and strategies that they can work with to best meet their individual learning styles and goals. There is also a primary level (K-2) and a college level that we did not use at this time. If you would like to find out more about the other levels or see how other families utilized the program, I encourage you to check out the other Review Crew reviews using the link below.

K through College Study Skills {Victus Study Skills System Reviews}Crew Disclaimer

Resource Library and Affiliate Disclosure

When you sign up for the Schoolin’ Swag free resource library you will get a link and password to the library, we are adding to the library each month with new items. You will also get a bi-weekly newsletter email to keep you up to date on what we have going on.

Resource Library 

This post may contain affiliate or referral links, including Amazon affiliate links. As always I will never recommend a product that I don’t believe in and you will never be charged more for purchasing through our links. It does help pay for the costs associated with the blog.