No-nonsense Algebra (Review)

Disclaimer: I received a FREE copy of this product through the HOMESCHOOL REVIEW CREW in exchange for my honest review. I was not required to write a positive review nor was I compensated in any other way.

Normally, when I agree to review a product, I am not really sure what to expect or what I am getting, but this review was a little different. My oldest son was already working through No-Nonsense Algebra by Math Essentials and I was excited to get the newest edition for my daughter to use.

No-Nonsense Math Pinterest

If I am being completely honest, I NEVER liked algebra. Not when I took it in eighth grade, not when I took Algebra II in high school, not when I helped tutor it later. I just never found it to be easy and I was not looking forward to teaching it in our homeschool. I would much rather sit and read aloud or do a science experiment. However, I know that algebra is an important part of my children’s education so I set out to find a curriculum that would help me through this process as painlessly as possible.

My son is very bright but struggles with the attention to detail needed for upper level math. He does not like a lot of frills and wanted a basic laid out approach. I needed something that could help teach him the concepts each day. No-Nonsense Algebra is a text book that provides written instruction and a short video tutorial (typically about 3-5 minutes) for each lesson. Then there are 12 to 18 problems for the student to complete related to that lesson and four review problems covering concepts from previous lessons. This provided enough practice and review to ensure understanding of the concepts without feeling like there was a lot of ‘busy work’. Often in math curriculums I see every practice problem similarly worked in an example. With Non-Nonsense Algebra the practice problems tended to be of increasing complexity, forcing the learner to ‘take the next step’ in solving the problem.

One issue we had with the older edition were occasional mistakes in the answer key (which is located in the back of the book). These simple mistakes were causing us a lot of problems, because I was not working out the problems and thus would not realize that it was wrong until he had tried it again several times and my husband would work it out later.  However, when we received the 2nd edition, I was pleased to find out that those mistakes had been corrected.  There are also some extra chapter quizzes included in the 2nd Edition to help with review and retention.

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No-Nonsense Algebra did not make my son fall in love with algebra. He would have still rather letters have never been included with math. However, he did like the way it was laid out and I feel like it was an effective program for him. Many days, especially once he started following the directions and writing down the practice problems with the video lessons, he was able to work through the lessons independently and understand the concepts. Other days, my husband would sit down and help him with the concepts that challenged him. The video lessons were still beneficial for those lessons because it gave my husband a quick review of concepts he hadn’t seen since middle school.

I think this program is great for student that wants to work independently and has a fairly good grasp of basic math concepts. A student that doesn’t need lots of extra practice and instruction can do very well with this program. It is also beneficial for parents who need a quick review. If you have a student that really struggles with math,  enjoys long(er) lessons, or needs lots of detailed explanations, this might not be the best fit.

Be sure to check out No-Nonsense Algebra over at the  Math Essentials website to get more information. Don’t forget to click on the graphic below to check out the reviews from other Review Crew members who reviewed this program and some of the other math products from Math Essentials.

 

No-Nonsense Algebra, Math Refresher for Adults &  Mastering Essential Math Skills Book 2 Middle Grades/High School {Math Essentials Reviews}

Beyond the Stick Figure Art School (Review)

Disclaimer: I received a FREE copy of this product through the HOMESCHOOL REVIEW CREW in exchange for my honest review. I was not required to write a positive review nor was I compensated in any other way.

 

When the opportunity to review Beyond the Stick Figure Complete Drawing Course PLUS 3 Bonus Courses by Beyond the Stick Figure Art School came available, I decided to show my daughter to see if she was interested. We watched the sample video and she was very excited to give it a try.

This program included a three-part drawing course, a pen and ink course, acrylic course, watercolor course, and a 3D design course. Over the last month or so my daughter worked through the first level of the drawing course. This consisted of 15 short video lessons (about five minutes each).  While it is designed to be done one lesson a day, we decided it fit best into our schedule to do art 2-3 days per week and do several lessons each day.

beyond the stick figure

The program starts with the very basics of understanding lines, dots, and circles. One thing that seemed insignificant but proved to be really helpful, was that the instructor had the students cut their papers into small sheets. This made the assignments less overwhelming because you had a smaller space to fill. To complete these lessons, we needed a nice set of markers that had both narrow and wider tips and paper.

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When I asked my daughter what she thought, she shared, ” All in all, I like the program. She went through each video quickly and it was easy to understand. However, it did take a lot of videos to get to where it felt like we were really drawing.” She felt like it would be a good program for people that are interested in learning to draw but do not have much of a drawing background and recommended it for ages 8 and up.  She also mentioned that she was disappointed that she never got to draw something like what was in the sample video, however, she plans to continue the lessons over the summer to see what else she can learn.

We took some time to look through the rest of the drawing program and take a look at the pen and ink course. She is excited to give that course a try and likes the fact that it takes fewer days to have what she felt like was more of a ‘finished product’ than the geometric designs she did in the drawing course.

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As a parent, I loved that the lessons were done via video (art is not my strong suit) and they were short and simple. The fact that it started with the very basics and went step by step meant that we didn’t feel left behind or like it was too complicated. However, I do think it might be a bit too simple and broken down for some students. I am excited to try more of her other courses including the 3D design; however, I dislike that I have to mark each of the lessons in the other courses complete before I can move to that course. Once you have marked them complete you can still go back and view them but you cannot move onto the next lesson or course until each one has been marked complete.

If you are looking for a step by step drawing program that is very easy to implement and does not require a lot of parent involvement you might enjoy this program. If your child does well learning one step at a time in small chunks this might be a good fit, however, if you have a child that will be frustrated to not jump right into a big art project this might not be the program for you.

Be sure to check out Beyond the Stick Figure Art School to get more information about Beyond the Stick Figure Complete Drawing Course PLUS 3 Bonus Courses. Don’t forget to click on the graphic below to check out the reviews from other Review Crew members who reviewed this program and see what their artists created. Some of those reviewers also focused on other parts of this course.

Beyond the Stick Figure Complete Drawing Course {Beyond the Stick Figure Art School}

Fermentools Starter Kit (Review)

Disclaimer: I received a FREE copy of this product through the HOMESCHOOL REVIEW CREW in exchange for my honest review. I was not required to write a positive review nor was I compensated in any other way.

Most of the time when you see a review here on the blog it is for homeschool curriculum or books, but I have a real treat for you today.  I had the privilege of trying my hand at fermenting using the Starter Kit from Fermentools. This great little company is run by another homeschool family and offered wonderful customer support and service.

Fermentools pinterest

Through no fault of the company, the timing for getting the Starter Kit was not ideal. It arrived shortly after our state was put on social distancing restrictions and when grocery stores were still a little short on fresh produce. This limited my options for our first trial, but thankfully my son had some cabbage in the garden ready to be picked. The kit included an air lock system, a stainless steel lid, pink salt, a glass weight, 2 rubber stoppers, and instructions for using the kit as well as making sauerkraut (other recipes are located on their website).

In my excitement to get started, I used the wrong attachment in my food processor.  That head of cabbage turned into finely chopped pieces instead of nice pretty strips.  I was concerned that this would not work correctly, but since it was all I had, and I wouldn’t be getting groceries again for another week, I decided to give it a try.  Following the directions that came with the kit, I put my shredded cabbage into a bowl. Then I added the salt that came with the kit and mashed it until it was soft and I had gotten some of the liquid out of the leaves.

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Next, I put the cabbage into a jar and because I did not have enough liquid, I added a brine to finish covering the cabbage. The next step should have been to place a glass weight on top of the cabbage to keep it under the brine. However, because I had shredded the cabbage so finely it actually sank down into it. Then I set up the air-lock and put the jar into the cabinet (to keep it out of the sun), to wait and see what happened.  I had to keep a watch on it through the week to make sure it stayed submerged because of the weight not working properly but at the end of the time, I had some salty but tasty kraut! Perfect for serving alongside grilled bratwurst and some of my husband’s German potato salad.

I let the first batch ferment about two weeks, and by the time that batch was done I was able to purchase more cabbage at the store. This time I remembered to use the right attachment and the weight set perfectly atop my cabbage and kept it below the brine. Also, because I had shredded it correctly it made enough of its own brine and I did not have to add any more.

Now that fresh vegetables are becoming more plentiful at local farms and in the grocery store, I am looking forward to trying other fermented vegetables and fruits. It is strawberry season here and they even have a recipe for fermented strawberry preserves. I think this will be a fun way to add in new recipes and store some of our garden produce, in addition to the health benefits of fermented foods.

Be sure to check out the Starter Kit from Fermentools to get more information or to purchase your own kit.  Don’t forget to click on the graphic below to check out the reviews from other Review Crew members who reviewed this kit and see how they used it with their families and what recipes they tried!

Fermentools Starter Kit {Fermentools Reviews}

Perfect Reading, Beautiful Handwritng by Everyday Education, LLC (Review)

Disclaimer: I received a FREE copy of this product through the HOMESCHOOL REVIEW CREW in exchange for my honest review. I was not required to write a positive review nor was I compensated in any other way.

perfect reading cover

 

Last year, I really enjoyed an opportunity to review Transcripts Made Easy by Everyday Education, LLC and so I was excited to get the opportunity to review another one of their wonderful products. I received the Perfect Reading, Beautiful Handwriting ebook for review. This book contains both phonics and writing, but we used it mainly for writing. The author asserts that students could learn to read and write in as few as 60 days using this book, though she does explain that some students will need longer.

The most obvious use of Perfect Reading, Beautiful Handwriting ebook is with lower elementary students that are learning to read and write. However, I chose to try it out with my eighth-grade son, who needed some work on his handwriting.  We had done handwriting in the past, but somehow his writing seemed to be getting messier as he got older and I wanted to make sure that he had the practice he needed to write legibly. I felt like the beautiful italic style of handwriting was great practice for him and that he showed improvement in his everyday handwriting after consistent practice.

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In addition to having my son use the handwriting portion, I spent some time looking over the reading portion of the book. It is an older style phonics program that is set up very basically. First, students learn their letters and sounds. Then students learn short vowels sounds, consonant blends, and so forth getting into gradually more difficult phonics. For the short vowel sounds there are pages of words for each sound for the student to sound out and a story using those words that the students can both sound out and copy for handwriting practice.

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I loved that the program was very simple to use. Since it was an ebook, I simply printed out the pages that we wanted to use. The first few pages of the chapter showed him what to do and then he was able to do a page a day independently. I think that even a younger child could work on the handwriting portion without much assistance. The reading would require more parental assistance (as does most any reading program) but is still very open and go without a lot of parental preparation.

Parents who are fairly confident in teaching phonics and want a simple, open and go program may really enjoy Perfect Reading, Beautiful Handwriting ebook . However, if you are looking for a program with lots of explicit directions and step by step scripts this is not the program for you. There were suggested schedules and teaching tips, but it was not a scripted program.

Be sure to check out Perfect Reading, Beautiful Handwriting ebook  at Everyday Education, LLC to get more information or to purchase the book. You can also check out my review of their Transcripts Made Easy book from last year.  Don’t forget to click on the graphic below to check out the reviews from other Review Crew members who reviewed this book and see how they used it with their families.

 

Perfect Reading, Beautiful Handwriting ebook {Everyday Education, LLC Reviews}

The Hidden Message of the Great Seal (Review)

Disclaimer: I received a FREE copy of this product through the HOMESCHOOL REVIEW CREW in exchange for my honest review. I was not required to write a positive review nor was I compensated in any other way.

The Hidden Message of the Great Seal is a book that delves into the history of the seal of the United States, the signers and writers of the declaration whom also created the seal, and the symbolism of the seal. With almost 300 pages of historical information, 295 images, and interpretations this paper back book by Micheal Kanis is rich with history and research. Published by Hidden Message, LLC the book is a treasure trove of pictures and images relating to the founding of our nation.

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The book begins with chapters discussing the significance of the seal, discussion of the values system, and information about studying the seal. Then he goes into chapters that discuss some of the key players in the creation of the seal. Then he goes into the various elements of the seal, before finishing up with research-based interpretations. Throughout the chapters it is clear that he is writing from a Christian perspective and he includes various scriptures in a few places, as applicable.

My thirteen-year-old son is an avid reader and has been reading this book over the last several weeks. He said that it was a good book, but it had a lot of information and was not one of those books he could just sit down and quickly read. He had to stop and think and digest what he was reading. While he does not mind reading fiction books of this length, he found the length combined with the depth of the information to be a bit daunting. He was reading about one chapter per school day and is a little over half way through the book.  My husband will be helping him work through the rest of the information a little bit at a time.

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A few of the beautiful images included in this book.

My husband, our resident history buff, also read part of the book and shared his opinion.

“The Hidden Message of the Great Seal is well researched and supported, yet not too academic in nature. Riding a fine line between broad history and specialist style evaluation and assessment of some of the most notable public symbols of the United States and her government, focusing the majority of the work on the Great Seal.  Author Michael Kanis delves into the past, exploring the “foundational truth” during the first nine chapters and setting the stage for Francis Hopkinson’s work on finalizing the seal in 1782. Hopkinson is of course closely associated with several early American symbols, perhaps most famously the flag, likely creating the 13 star and 13 stripe flag authorized by congress by the June 14, 1777 Flag Act. Kanis points out that the 1782 seal revision, which resulted in our current seal, was influenced by the new American flag.

Popular fiction aside, symbology is a deep and meaningful subject, well explored and easily subject to conspiracy theory.  Kanis steers clear of conspiracy and tends to walk a rather conservative path, building the symbology of the seal piece by piece. Exploring the history and inspiration for dozens of symbols incorporated into the nation’s seal.

I believe, Kanis’ ultimate message to be one of inspiration and hope. Echoing a theme from the scientific community. We can advance our society and improve our civilization by understanding the past and striving to improve ourselves as well. Kanis’ closing chapter focuses heavily on virtues and their importance in maintaining our freedom as a nation and a people.”

Overall, I think this is a well researched and written book, but it is a pretty dense piece of research, it’s not light reading and it definitely has a specific message and objective, the “rescue [of] a republic in peril”. From an educator’s standpoint I think this book would make a great unit study for something like a high school history club. Or perhaps as a component of an advanced civics class. I would not consider it light reading and for any student younger than high school it would probably need some guidance. I see our family using it again when we do high school civics in a couple of years as a component of our study of American government.

Be sure to check out at the book The Hidden Message of the Great Seal at the The Hidden Message, LLC  website to get more information or to purchase the book.  You can even get a 50% off discount if you purchase by May 30, 2020. Simply go to the website and use the code: HOMESCHOOL. Don’t forget to click on the graphic below to check out the reviews from other Review Crew members who reviewed this book.

The Hidden Message of the Great Seal {The Hidden Message, LLC Reviews}

Christian Focus: Not If, But When (Review)

Disclaimer: I received a FREE copy of this product through the HOMESCHOOL REVIEW CREW in exchange for my honest review. I was not required to write a positive review nor was I compensated in any other way.

Most of the time when I recommend books, I am sharing books that are fun to read with your children or to let your children read for themselves. If I am being totally honest, I don’t think I would call reading Not If, But When with my children fun. However, I do believe it was very beneficial and I am grateful to Christian Focus for the opportunity to review the book.

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Not If, But When is a hardcover book written by John Perritt that covers the topics of Biblical sexuality and pornography. The books is 56 pages long and includes a variety of full cover illustrations by Alice Mastropaolo. It is designed to be read with children ages 7-11, though I got it to use with my twelve-year-old daughter because pornography was a topic that I knew we needed to discuss to make sure she knew how to handle it if she was accidentally exposed.

The book is divided into two main parts, one to be read with girls and the other part to be read with boys. They cover the same material and are written in very similar styles but the girl’s portion of the story has a mom and daughter discussing the topics and the boy’s portion uses a father and son.

Each story is divided into eight sections, each section teaches a lesson through the story and includes a Bible reference, main point, and question/statement about what was learned in that section. The story is based around a child seeing inappropriate pictures from friends, telling their parent, and then learning about God’s plan for sex and the sinful nature of pornography through a conversation with their parent.

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For younger children, you may want to read one section at a time over the course of several days or weeks. It is carefully worded and appropriate but could be a lot of information to absorb at once. However, since I was dealing with an older child, we chose to go through it all in one afternoon session. I would read the story, she would use her Bible and read the scripture reference and then I answered any questions before moving onto the next section. I feel like it was a good way to open up the conversation in ways that were age appropriate and not overwhelming.

We also chose to go through parts of the book with my thirteen-year-old son. He had more background that my daughter but there were some points that I thought were important for him and this was a good way to get that conversation started. The story was written to a younger audience and so was a bit childish for him, but it did help us start the conversation and we were able to have a good discussion.

Overall, I think this book is a great way to start a conversation with your child about the appropriate context for sex and the dangers and evils of pornography in a way that is developmentally appropriate and God honoring.  Christian Focus recommends this book for ages 7-11 and I think that is a fair assessment.  While this book does not need to be your only conversation about sex with your child, it can give you a good foundation to start on and open up the dialogue between you and your child.

Be sure to check out at the Not If, But When book at the Christian Focus website to get more information.   Don’t forget to click on the graphic below to check out the reviews from other Review Crew members who reviewed this book as well as several other Christian Focus titles .

 

Psalms for my Day, 30 Prophecies: One Story & Not If, But When {Christian Focus Reviews}

BJU Focus on the Fives ( Review)

Disclaimer: I received a FREE copy of this product through the HOMESCHOOL REVIEW CREW in exchange for my honest review. I was not required to write a positive review nor was I compensated in any other way.

Over the last month, I had to the opportunity to review BJU Press Focus on Fives which is a kindergarten phonics and literature program that also includes science, heritage studies, and Bible.  The program is produced by BJU Press Homeschool.

BJU fives

The program arrived in two boxes and included the teachers manuals, write now book, phonics practice, worktext, review cards, teaching visuals, phonics flip charts, and reading books.

The program is split into five lessons per week. Each week has a theme, for example, week two was Firefighters at Work and week five was Healthcare Workers. The curriculum includes learning center ideas for each week as well as a snack of the week.

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My kindergartner loved the program. He enjoyed singing the songs, learning about the different children that were included in the stories, seeing the puppets that helped you work through the program and the fun activities. He happily asked to do it each day.

Each day includes a variety of activities that may include singing songs, heritage study, listening story, comprehension questions, phonics and English skills, handwriting, science, Bible, and practice. Each day includes a variety of this activities but not all in one day. There are also extension activities that you could use at the end of every day that includes categories such as science, story time, arts and crafts, motor skills, and learning center.

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In addition to the basic reading and phonics, students will learn about different community helpers, planting a garden, pets, and so much more. There are even review lessons included that can be used at different holidays such as: Labor Day, Veterans Day, Christmas, Martin Luther King Jr. Day, Valentine’s and more.

I found that it took us about twenty or thirty minutes to get through a complete lesson without any of the extension activities.  The extension activities varied and based on which ones and how many you chose could take just a few minutes or several hours to complete everything.

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The student does work in three books for their independent practice. The first is the Write Now! book which develops handwriting skills. It starts with lines and tracing, moves into letters, and by the end of the curriculum the student is copying sentences.  The phonics practice book starts with letters and moves into blends and words to coordinate with the lessons in the teacher’s manual. Finally, there is the worktext which includes a variety of activities such as matching, tracing, and cut and paste. The worktext works on different skills and often includes a connection to the theme for the week.

Extension activities includes suggestions such as drawing their favorite patriotic symbol, making a seed mosaic, using a carnation and food dye to understand how plants get water, tic-tac-toe with words, or show and tell of a favorite vegetable.

Overall, I think that this program is well laid out, has some great educational opportunities, and would give a child a firm foundation. I loved that Bible was interwoven into other aspects. For example, the alphabet song they used also taught them about Jesus. However, as a mother of four children, it was honestly more than I would want to try to keep track of and use for a whole year. It was a bit overwhelming with all of the different components and parts of it were more geared towards a classroom with multiple children. They have a series of videos coming out this summer that are designed to help teach the program through distance education. Those videos may help simplify the approach and make it easier for a parent to coordinate everything.

If you only have one or two children, your five-year-old is your youngest, or if you really want to replicate a classroom style program then this may be a great fit for you. It is a solid educational program that includes a lot of topics in one program.  The videos that are being released this summer might also make it more adaptable to large families and lower the parental time commitment.

Be sure to check out BJU Press Focus on Fives at the BJU Press Homeschool website to get more information.   Don’t forget to click on the graphic below to check out the reviews from other Review Crew members and see how it worked for their families.

BJU Press Focus on Fives {BJU Press Homeschool Reviews}

Reading Unlocked ( Review)

Disclaimer: I received a FREE copy of this product through the HOMESCHOOL REVIEW CREW in exchange for my honest review. I was not required to write a positive review nor was I compensated in any other way.

My kindergartner has been fighting me on learning how to read, so I was excited to review this 12 month subscription to Reading Unlocked.  This program is online and designed to be used three to five days a week for 10 to 15 minutes each day.  Reading Unlocked uses what they term, ‘simplified phonics’ to teach students to blend sounds into words.  They start with simple three letter words that have three sounds and build up to four letter words.

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During each lesson of  Reading Unlocked the student goes through a series of activities related to the letters that are being worked on and reviewing the letters that have previously been covered.  The student has an opportunity to hear the sounds, say the sounds, write the letters and words, match the words with pictures, and at the end of each lesson the parent reads a poem and the student reads one or two words that they learned that day as you reach them in the poem (they are noted in red).

Each lesson has ten to thirteen different short activities that the student completes. There is a series of open dots at the top of the screen that are filled in as the activities are completed to show the student their progress. A student that was very motivated and grasping the concepts could finish this in about fifteen minutes. However, if a student is struggling it could easily take thirty minutes or more.  For example, my son was learning a lot about writing his letter and the letter sounds but really struggled with remembering from one day to the next how to blend the letters to make words. This meant that some of the sections were very challenging for him. to help keep him motivated, some days we only did part of a lesson and then finished it up the next day.

A student could complete most of this program unassisted which is helpful for a busy mom trying to juggle multiple children and lessons. However, I do think it is important to note that on most of the activities they can select multiple answers until they get the answer correct. This is good for building confidence; however, I also sometimes found my son just clicking answers until he got the right one and not trying to figure it out.

 

I think this simplified phonics approach of Reading Unlocked could be very beneficial for some students. Particularly those that are really ready to learn to read and just need some basic instruction. For my son, it moved a bit too fast for him because he struggles with the letter sounds. However, I saw huge improvements in his writing skills because of this program. He diligently practiced the letters that he was learning and was finally able to write his name independently and have the confidence to copy words that I would write for thank you cards and other tasks.

Be sure to check out the Reading Unlocked website if you have a student that is learning to read, they even have a free trial so you can see for yourself if it is a good fit for your student.   Don’t forget to click on the graphic below to check out the reviews from other Review Crew members.

Reading Unlocked {Reading Unlocked Reviews}

History on Horseback ( Review)

Disclaimer: I received a FREE copy of this product through the HOMESCHOOL REVIEW CREW in exchange for my honest review. I was not required to write a positive review nor was I compensated in any other way.

History and books are one of my son’s favorite combinations, so we were excited to get a chance to review History on Horseback: The Early Years. This nonfiction book, published by Sonrise Stable Books, shares great stories from history through the eyes of the horses that were present for the events.

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The book was written by Vicki Watson. The illustrations included a variety of pictures and drawings of horses from various sources which are credited at the end of the book. The book is a study paperback book with a full colored cover and black and white illustrations on the interior of the book.

The book is recommended for ages 12 through adult and is good for an independent read or as a supplement to a history curriculum. They are also currently working on a study guide that would allow it to be more of a stand alone history curriculum. My thirteen-year-old son chose to review it and used it as a fun read and not a part of our history curriculum.

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History on Horseback: The Early Years includes stories from the years 1493 through 1866. There are 53 chapters and each chapter is a short story about a different horse or event. For example, one chapter focuses on several different important horses in the Confederate army, another focuses on a horse named Copenhagen from the battle of Waterloo.  Each chapter is relatively short with most of them ranging from two to six pages in length, for a total of just over 180 pages.

“One of my favorite stories is the story about George Washington and his horses Nelson and Blueskin. One of favorite things in this is why he rode the horses for different occasions. He rode Nelson on campaign and in battle because he was much calmer under gun fire. However, he almost always rode Blueskin to formal events as he was a nicer looking horse. I think this would be a good read for anyone who likes history or horses. I think the book is a great book for people between 10 and 15.”  Matthew, age 13

 While my son enjoyed reading the book for fun, I think it would be a great book to use along side of a history program to help give a different perspective. It would also be a great way to engage a student that loves horses but may not be as interested in history. With the chapters being short and specific to a certain horse or event, you could easily read the chapter or chapters that coordinate with the topics in your history curriculum as an introduction to the various events. You could also use it as the basis for creating your own history curriculum by adding some extra research or projects to the reading.

The book is recommended for ages twelve through adult and I think that is a fairly accurate recommendation. The chapters are interesting but contain a lot of factual information that might be a bit dense for younger readers. If you had a younger student that really enjoyed horses or history, you could use it as a read aloud.

Be sure to check out the History on Horseback: The Early Years if you have a horse lover that would enjoy learning more about history.   Don’t forget to click on the graphic below to check out the reviews from other Review Crew members.

History on Horseback: The Early Years {Sonrise Stable Books Reviews}

Make-A-State Activity-Pak Home School in the Woods(Review)

Disclaimer: I received a FREE copy of this product through the HOMESCHOOL REVIEW CREW in exchange for my honest review. I was not required to write a positive review nor was I compensated in any other way.

For history this year, out family decided to focus on state history. We had covered world history in a four-year cycle and completed a year of American history and we wanted to go more into detail about North Carolina. When I had the opportunity to review the Make-A-State Activity-Pak  from Home School in the Woods, I knew it would be the perfect way to round out all we had been learning and give them a fun way to present what they knew.

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The Make-A-State Activity-Pak is a large lapbooking set that includes geography, history, timelines, and landmark components for each state. We chose to just focus on North Carolina because that tied in best with our studies but you could even use it to work through each state if you were covering the entire United States. The project is recommended for grades 3-8 but I think you could use it with younger children if you were giving them more assistance or working on it as a family project.

I printed out all of the different components for each of my two older children (12 and 13) and gave them the instructions.  The components are each included as an individual PDF so you are able to chose to print as many of them as you wish to use and leave out any that do not apply to your study. They then had the task of doing the research, filling out the lapbook components, and putting them together in a cohesive way. The instructions included details about how to put them together but I allowed mine to follow the instructions or chose another format that worked for them. My son slightly modified the lapbook layout but stayed fairly close to the original design, but my daughter put most of her components on a poster.

When they finished, they each presented their work to the rest of the family and explained what they had learned. Some of the material was review, but my son said he learned a lot about the way the state government is structured and how many electoral votes North Carolina is allotted. He was also excited about drawing the state seal. My daughter said she really enjoyed the part of learning about the state symbols and finding out that milk is our state drink. She also said that she enjoyed coloring the pieces and making everything look pretty.

There is also a bonus game included in this set to help students learn to recognize and name the shapes, as well as learn other important information like the date the state was admitted to the union.

In addition to the Make-A-State Activity-Pak, Home School in the Woods has a wide variety of products covering both world and US History. She even has a lapbook to cover the US Elections which is very timely this year. I am considering using that in the fall as we gear up for the Presidential election.  You can also check out my reviews of Get Your Kicks on Route 66, Time Travelers , and Project Passport: Ancient Egypt (Review). Her blog also has some wonderful articles to help you as you teach and learn history, like this one on Charlotte Mason and Hands-On History.

Be sure to check out the Home School in the Woods website for more information about all of the wonderful products and don’t forget to click on the graphic below to check out the reviews from other Review Crew members which cover a variety of different products from Home School in the Woods.

Home School in the Woods Collections - Lap-pak, Timeline Figures, History Studies & Activity-Pak {Home School in the Woods Reviews}