Educational Activity Notebooks

Products were provided to us through our participation of the Homeschool Review Crew for review purposes

Bookworm Beauty has always loved activity books, of any kind. When she was still in the public school system, Grandma would take her to the store at the beginning of summer to buy her a BrainQuest book for a summer bridge activity book and she would lug that one-plus-inch book around everywhere we went. All of this to say that I was not in any way surprised by her reaction when we received the ability to review the USA Activity Bundle by The Crafty Classroom.

For days, Bookworm Beauty asked me if we had received the download links for the product. She was eager to have something fun to lug around and work on through the summer time. Her good morning hugs quickly turned to a happy squeeze when I was able to hand her the awaited binder.

To start, The Crafty Classroom is a fantastic online resource shop. One visit to their website is all you need to turn a gray sky into rainbows. Ok, so that will not literally happen, but I do find myself in a better mood when I visit. It is welcoming and everything is bright and cheery. If it were a physical store, it would be somewhere that my kids would want to visit again and again. They offer fun and fabulous resources for a wide array of homeschool subjects as well as art tutorials, free printables and more. The bottom line is that anyone that homeschools, or just has young children around, should have this site bookmarked.

We received three links as part of the USA Activity Bundle, a $15 value. The bundle includes three activity books:U.S.A. State by State Activity Notebook,U.S.A. State Bird Art Cards, and U.S.A. 50 State Mazes. I took one look at them and decided that I did not want three books for Bookworm Beauty, but rather a single and organized book. I started by printing the State-By-State pages single-sided and put them back into the printer to print the corresponding state mazes on the back side. I then printed the state birds out separately. I did not realize, before printing these out that there are many states that have a common state bird with other states. I guess I got to learn something new with this product as well! Once everything was printed, it was only a matter of minutes for me to divide the proper state – now double sided worksheets – into groups corresponding with each bird. I had to battle with my own OCD traits to do this as there was no longer an alphabetical order to the mazes and state info but rather a seemingly random grouping. It does make it difficult to flip through and find a particular state, but I got over it quickly. All of the pages received a three-hole-punch and was placed into a binder. The only hiccup I had was when I was printing out the mazes and noticed that there was not a maze for Wyoming. I quickly emailed Valerie McClintick at the Crafty Classroom and shortly thereafter I noticed that the link had been updated and included Wyoming.

Bookworm Beauty has had fun looking up various state facts for each state in our union. She, of course, thinks that the state-shaped mazes are simple and fun and the birds are fascinating. For me, I like that she has do a little bit of research to look up the various facts for each state when completing the State-By-State pages, such as the state flower, which number it is in the union, their nickname and state abbreviation. She also gets to color their state flag, locate the state in a US map and then locate it’s Capital, Rivers, Lakes and Mountains. Lastly, there is a section on each page that allows the child to write out some facts & notes on the state. I had to chuckle when writing this review and seeing that although she has worked on a lot of the states, Colorado is the only one that appears to be completed and the facts & notes lists nothing more than “I live here!” Well, I guess that is a fact.

This has been a fun product and one that I believe every family should pick up at some point. It would be a fantastic addition to a road trip. A few years ago, we took a trip to Hawaii. We rode the Amtrak train from Colorado to Oakland, California and I knew that we had over 30 hours of train time to fill with the kids. We found similar worksheets to these and printed out one for each state that we would pass through: Colorado, Utah, Nevada, California, and of course, Hawaii. It was fun to cover facts for each state and introduce the kids to their current surroundings as we passed through or visited. I can see this particular Activity Bundle serving us for years to come as we prepare for various trips.

If you have not checked them out, go over and visit The Crafty Classroom. We are studying Chemistry this year and they have a fantastic corresponding resource, Periodic Table of the Elements Activity Pack for a mere $5. The purchase was easy and I received an immediate email response verifying the purchase with the link. I had the product printed out within minutes of my finding it on their website and completing the transaction. That was simple.

The Crafty Classroom is bookmarked on my computer and I have a feeling I am going to have to start explaining to Handsome why we have so many transactions with them!

 

 

The Ultimate Planner

A subscription to Homeschool Planet  was provided to us through our

participation of the Homeschool Review Crew for review purposes

Planning may very well be the single most important element of my homeschooling family and after subscribing to and using Homeschool Planet through the Homeschool Buyers Co-op, we may be gathering together for a calendar burning party! This program has been nothing short of a perfect fit for our busy family’s many needs.

I have been searching high and low for the perfect planner over the years, physical or electronic and have tried several in the process. In the end I began to accept, reluctantly, that I would simply need to accept the fact that I would need to continue to use multiple planners or systems. Which was a fate that assured that some things would fall through the cracks. After years of pondering the perfect planner, you could imagine my delight as I was able to mentally check off each element that I would include in the perfect planner as I watched the introduction video of Homeschool Planet.

Not wanting to wait another day to get started in planning our crazy life, I set up my free 30-day trial of Homeschool Planet before my review period even started. To do this, I first had to join the Homeschool Buyers Co-op. Looking back, I am glad that I had to join the Homeschool Buyers Co-op because I had heard about this group over the last few years and kept putting off looking into joining it because I did not realize that it was a FREE resource. Yes, I am kicking myself now for missing out on this fabulous group that provides their members with discounts on many products and curriculum.

To make this FREE membership of the co-op and the FREE trial of Homeschool Planet even more incredible was that I also received a FREE lesson plan (a $5-15 value) from their Homeschool Planet Lesson Plan Marketplace. PLEASE NOTE – this FREE lesson plan deal is only being offered as an incentive for the month of June 2017. Of course, I chose a free lesson plan. I selected IEW Poetry Memorization to allow us to add it into our new electronic removing-the-stress-and-chaos-family-planner. Simple. Quick. I was even able to select which of the 125 days of lessons that I wanted to move into the calendar as we are well into the curriculum already. Within minutes we had an entire lesson plan in our planner! The best part is that as life happens and schedules change, I do not have to dread the process of changing things in our planner; I simply (yes… there’s that word again… simple) shift the lessons forward however many days needed. I can shift the one lesson or apply it to all of the lessons, I can even choose whether to apply it to one person or all!

It gets better! Handsome and I used to use a phone app that was a combined calendaring system. We managed our previously very busy household, pre-homeschooling days, to keep track of the older three high school girls’ schedule. We had the ability to maintain to-do lists and shopping lists, as well. It was wonderful. However, it was seriously coming up short when I began homeschooling and needing to plan our schooling as well. As I experimented with other planning systems, they were coming up seriously short when they could not include the features that we had relied on from our other electronic system. Those struggles are over… Homeschool Planet allows the ability to add multiple widgets! We have added shopping lists, which can be separated by stores, and to-do lists as well. Not only are the lists on the planner, they can be sent to our cell phones! Next time that Handsome is unable to get in touch with me, on his way home, to find out the grocery needs that I have, as we live an hour away from any stores, he can simply text SHOP to our planner number and the list is sent back immediately. I can also click the “send” button and the list will be emailed to us both. Ahhhhh, I can literally feel stress melting.

It gets better still! I was able to include the kids’ chores into the calendar! Not only can I add their ongoing chores, I can also add additional one-time chores as needed, with notes that indicate the value of that chore. This is going to make Handsome’s job much easier when he sits down to pay the bills and determines how much they have earned for the month. For me, what is more exciting about this element is the accountability. Handsome can look on the calendar during the day while he is at work and know whether or not their individual chores are done for the day. He can also see about their schoolwork, music or sports practice, or whatever else is going on in each individual life, such as appointments.

We are in full-swing summer mode around here. Yes, there are things to do still, but school scheduling needs are slim. As a result, we are not using the planner to it’s full potential. I am okay with that. We are learning it together, as a family, and creating a new normal. We will be well into our new planner habit by the time school is in full swing in August.

Although the ability to add lesson plans and homeschooling tasks is expected, I need to also share that this really is a whole family planner. Each individual can look at their own schedule or they can look at the whole family schedule. Lists can be made individually as well, so Bookworm Beauty and Sweetness can maintain their own lists of things that they want to work on or accomplish, beyond school. Birthdays can be added with notifications placed on the calendar. This is literally a whole family maintenance system. It is also a gradebook and I can keep track of hours and even generate transcripts. I feel like I can go on and on about the many facets of Homeschool Planet and I think I have only scratched the surface in understanding all of it’s features.

I keep discovering new elements of the Homeschool Planet program. I have always been one to jump in and figure things out instead of investing time in reviewing manuals and such. However, I decided with this program that I really wanted to understand it’s capacity. I plan to use this life-saving resource for our family, well beyond reviewing it. Fortunately for me, there are several tutorials on how to use different features. This shortened the learning curve immensely. Whenever I want to learn a new thing, I watch another tutorial and decide if it is a feature that I want to add to my planner.

I have one fear with this program. It is entirely electronic. It is not a program stored on my computer so I have no control in it’s storage. I have to have total faith in the hosting servers that our planner will be there each and every day. There are abilities to print out calendars (nice for a road trip day) but something that I will be unlikely to use on an ongoing basis. I am confident that the system will be in place without fail for the most part but I believe it is important to plan for the unexpected issues that can happen. Most schools have “Snow Days” accounted for in their annual schedule In our community it isn’t “Snow Days” per se, it is “Mud Days” from rainy days and dirt roads. As homeschoolers, weather rarely has an effect on us, but we can learn from the school systems planning and we will have “Unexpected Days” in our school. Simply preparing for the possibility of a server going down, maintenance needs (that I did not prepare for) or the like, relieves even more stress. If we wake up one day and the planner is out for some reason, we will officially be utilizing one of our “Unexpected Days” and either move into a pajama read-in schedule, impromptu field trip or any other on-the-spot-decisions we happen to make. Pre-planning for such possibilities just makes me smile.

This next school year already feels less chaotic. There is no reason to spend another day feeling overwhelmed with the many tasks of a busy homeschool mom. Maybe I will have some time to read a book entirely for pleasure this next year.

 

 

The Joy of Babies

Babies, babies, babies… they all bring me so much joy! Right now I am relishing in my delight and joy of garden babies! To fully appreciate these little guys, one must understand that out here on the plains, growing anything can be a challenge. I have had to tweak my gardening skills a bit over the last few years to make gardening a little more conducive to the harsh winds and dry soils.

Babies are sprouting up all over the garden. Seeing these little babies, and the hundreds more all througout the garden bring me more than just joy, but hope too.

I will be walking with a little extra hop in my step today!

Curing the Summer Lulls: A Review

As our school year was winding down and the sunshine was beckoning us to come outdoors to play, the kids were beginning to show severe signs of cabin school fever; that point where it seems as though suddenly everything they have learned, like basic math principles, are missing. As Sweetness was in a constant state of squirming in her chair, K5 Learning‘s online program showed up to her rescue.

Okay, things may not have been quite this drastic this year, but truly, K5 Learning has brought us an easy solution to our summer woes. As homeschoolers, we are not tied to the typical school calendar but the world around us seems to still have that influence on us. We lessen our schedule, tremendously, but education is a way of life for us year round. This allows much more freedom for us, as the kids’ learning continues instead of spending the first month back to school reviewing what was learned the previous year that was also forgotten over the summer.

K5 Learning is an online subscription-based supplemental program providing materials for K5 Reading, K5 Math, and K5 Spelling. Although this is our summer hero, it would be a great reinforcement for students needing a supplement anytime of the year. Subscriptions can be purchased either monthly ($14.95 first child/$9.95 additional children) or annually ($119 first child/$79 additional children.) They also offer a FREE 14-day trial, so there is no risk in finding out if it is right for you. Although K5 Learning is primarily an interactive online program, they also offer FREE worksheets  for anyone, anytime. Worksheets are available on subjects such as Math, Grammar, Comprehension, Cursive Writing and even flash cards.

After we received access to K5 Learning, we proceeded to set up our account, which was a simple process. I had to set up the parent account and then create the student accounts. Sweetness was able to choose her own login name so she became a superhero; Sweetness is now Airtrin when she is doing K5 Learning. I think they empowered her super powers too, because she seems to be laser focused when doing this program!

Our next stop was to take the assessments. I liked that although you select a grade level for your student, the system still has them take an assessment to determine where exactly in that grade level he or she needs to be. This allows for a student to get reinforcement where needed and not having to complete the level from step one,which could be unnecessary review for some kids. Your kids are likely to start right where they need to, once they complete their assessments.

Although I am singing the praises of K5 Learning, and the assessments, I have to admit that we experienced great frustration with the assessment process. I set Airtrin up to take the Math assessment and proceeded to work on other things. When I came back into the room, she was in tears. She is a sensitive, yet diligent child. Since she knew this was something she was supposed to do, she will do it to completion even if she is struggling along the way. She does not stop and get help or tell us that she can not do it, she continues to work through tears. After noticing her frustration I found that the assessment was asking questions that she had no idea of the concept, yet alone the answer. They may not have even been grade level questions. The questions presented were multiple choice, however and she was frustrated that she could not determine which answer to select. I was surprised to find that there was not a way to skip the problem or identify that she does not know the answer and move on. For some kids, this would be fine and they would pick any random answer and keep moving. For her, it was a roadblock. We stopped the assessment and emailed support at K5 Learning.

This is where K5 Learning really shines. I immediately received a response back from support informing me that the assessment is created this way because many students will pick the path of least resistance instead of pushing themselves to try. If there is a skip button or a way to indicate that he or she does not know the answer, students will likely select that when they are unsure of themselves. They gave us two options. We could persevere and select any random answer on those questions and finish the assessment or we could avoid the assessment altogether and move on into the program for the overall grade level.

Airtrin and I talked it over and we decided to persevere. I stayed with her this time and when she came upon an problem that she had absolutely no clue of what was even being presented, I encouraged her to just pick an answer and move on. This was still a struggle for her, picking any answer is just not her style but we persevered anyway. I did notice that there were a few times that she randomly chose the right answer and I worried that it would throw off the assessment so I contacted support again to ask about that possibility and I again received an almost immediate response from them with assurance that the system has built in features to allow for false positives.

Upon completion of her assessments, I received an email (again immediately) with the assessment results. This provided us with valuable feedback as to her overall progress in these subject areas, which I appreciated. It also helped us to identify which worksheets would be good for her if we chose to print some. She logged back into her account and started with the lessons that were provided for her and has been off and running since.

Although we have spent a majority of time on the Math section of K5 Learning, because that is where our greatest needs are, they also have a Reading section. Airtrin completed that assessment too.

For me, the FREE worksheets and the ease of use for my child are a great plus but the greatest feature is being able to have an accessible customer support team that is quick to respond to inquiries and eager to provide solutions. I believe that this is the most important aspect of any online program and K5 Learning has raised the bar!

We have enjoyed using K5 Learning as a supplement to our homeschool. Airtrin has been eager to get online and work through her lessons now that the sun is shining and she wants to get outside to play, as if pencil and paper in her math workbook is that much more difficult. Nonetheless, it is a great change of pace and she is getting to work on getting reinforcement on the targeted areas. We both appreciate that she can login, spend 30 minutes on K5 Learning and get the reinforcement that she needs before heading outdoors for her summer adventures!

 

 

Our Annual Read-a-Thon has Commenced

For many families, June marks the beginning of long drawn out days of basking in the sunshine and endless fun. We delight in our fabulous fun times outdoors, just like most others, but June marks the beginning of daring adventures, heroes, folklore and more. Yes, for us, it marks the beginning of exploring piles of books!

We always participate in our local library reading programs and sometimes we even venture out to neighboring libraries to participate in theirs as well. Before you shake your head, realize that we have a policy of only applying our reading time to a single program at a time. More programs means more reading.

This year our library teamed up with Beanstack and is taking their summer reading program to a whole new level! Participants earn badges for completing various activities (including reading) from nine different areas such as play, listen, write, make, and more. Each category has several activity options; kids select a few items to complete to earn the corresponding badge. If they complete all 70 activities they will earn the coveted Master Engineer badge.

It is exciting to see the kids looking over the activities and planning out the adventures to come. I am hoping to take you along with us to see our progress. Our first stop is to find a geocache tomorrow…

Prairie Joys

When we made the decision to move to the prairie, we dreamed of all of the open space and the ability to spread our arms. We were excited to be far enough from our neighbors to not know when they were home or what they were doing. We delighted in the ability to work the land, building a garden and raising animals.

After three years, most of our dreams have been fulfilled, albeit a little at a time. We knew there would be challenges but there were a few things that we were not necessarily prepared for. Coexisting with rattlesnakes, was something we had not choice to be prepared for. The windy conditions is another thing we knew we would need to get used to. The one area that we were aware of but did not really prepare for was the wide open space, literally wide open. In other words, not a single tree in sight on our 35-acre spread.

Getting trees to thrive in our windy, arid conditions is not for the faint at heart. Fortunately, for us, we are not faint at heart, we are bold and courageous and have set about bringing trees to our barren land. The first two years were unsuccessful, but this year we have witnessed growth on our trees! It may be only an inch, but we celebrate as if they have grown ten feet!

A Product that Every Human on Earth needs daily!

Guest Post by Keith Flint

Keith Flint – GodsWaterBoy.Com

When you think about what a Body needs, Daily, three things come to mind.  Air, Water and Nutrition!  And yet, the world is full of attempts to sell  you every thing except the best of the above.

What would it mean to you to discover that you could have a Machine in your kitchen that restores your local water to the quality of a Snowflake? Pure, Energized, Natural and Healing!

AND that the water you produced could be shared with your family and friends with amazing results coming back to you. Acid Reflux gone; Gout gone; Irritable Bowel Syndrome gone; Arthritis gone; Energy restored; Sleep improved; Mental clarity renewed? and the list could go on and on.

A pipe dream?  NO!  A fact!

Really, Water can do that? Well, what is your body supposed to be 75% of?  …..Water!  BUT, Isn’t all water pretty much the same?  Not in this world.

check out this independent brief web video www.KangenDemo.com

Now, what if the Company that produces this machine was a privately held, business that wanted you to share the water your machine produced. Don’t you think that they would want to reward YOU the customer, for referring those like  yourself who wanted a unit in their kitchen for the rest of their life?

Supposing that this water was so effective that if you shared it, people began to discover the results in their own body, proven by medical tests showing restoration of cholesterol levels, lowered blood pressure, increased Oxygen delivery, improved Liver enzymes, etc  Don’t you think that they would be asking you “How can I get a machine like  yours?”

Well 10 years ago, I started sharing water freely, no gimmicks, no pressure, no underlying sales efforts, with my friends, FROM MY KITCHEN!  They began to come weekly to refill their bottles, sometimes from over 90 miles away!  and yes, they began to ask “How do I get a machine like yours?”

That was 10 years ago, today I have a plastic bin with over 5,000 referral check stubs in it.  I have people with every kind of testimony of how the water helped their body restore itself and the disease symptoms that it shed.

By the way, yes the machine cost nearly $4000 back then. But it paid for itself in just 3 months and has been a steady income ever since.

You say, ” You must spend a lot of time and travel to make that kind of money!”  LOL, I spent about 18 months sharing from my kitchen, doing a few small meetings in friends homes answering questions and a couple of citywide Hotel meetings to educate others.  But after 18 months, retirement circumstances put me in a new community many miles from my 28 years of relationship building in Oregon. My living in a 2nd story condominium, with limited parking made giving water away nearly impossible.  And I desperately needed a Retirement break to spend time with my grandchildren. YET! the checks just kept coming in!

I’m not here to tell you that every person who shares the water will have the same result that I had, but there have been over 32 who have exceeded a 6 figure income over the past years that got started because I shared water from my home.

Doesn’t it make sense to take a little time to discover about a water that can change your Life, not only in it’s Health, but in your Wealth also?

Please check out 9 videos about the water and the worlds problem with whats available to you at this time. www.HSCWater.net/keithf

Or perhaps www.ChangeToWater.com/PurifyingH2O

OR if you have questions, please text me that you would like a call. Keith Flint (GodsWaterBoy) 720-281-3965

Have a truly Blessed Life! Drink enough good water to  make a difference.

Captain Absolutely: A Superhero Worthy of Being Looked Up To

 

The Boy (6) eagerly checked the mailbox for several days as he anxiously anticipated the arrival of our recent review product, Captain Absolutely by Focus On The Family. You would have thought it was Christmas the day that the book finally arrived!

Although a first grader and a decent reader, immediately The Boy let Bookworm Beauty (11) read it aloud to him. I am pretty sure that she forcibly suggested doing so, but regardless when I turned around I found two kiddos snuggled up on the couch reading together. Before long, Sweetness had found her way into the readers circle and together they took it all in. I am not certain how much they read that afternoon, but they remained in their positions on the couch for quite some time.

The following day, we had a houseful of kids and the sun was shining radiantly as most everyone enjoyed the fantastic spring day. I then noticed that Bookworm Beauty and her friend (13) were sitting on the couch reading it aloud with each other! I had to chuckle. It was one of those fun sights to see but I had to force them to stop and get outside to enjoy the beautiful day.

The Boy spots Captain Absolutely on the New Releases shelf at the Focus On The Family Bookstore

Bookworm Beauty took it upon herself to read the entire book within the first few days of us having it. She admitted to me that she had been just as anxious for it’s arrival as The Boy was. Over the last several months she had been reading snippets of the comic in the Focus On The Family Clubhouse Magazine that we receive whenever we visit the Focus On The Family center in Colorado Springs.

Most of the book has been read to The Boy by Bookworm Beauty. I finally got a chance to sit down with The Boy and do some reading and found the story a bit choppy. I can not help it, I have never been one to enjoy comics. I have been told that it is not choppy it is simply a comic book. Ok, I stand corrected! The story itself seemed well written and is about a superhero named Captain Absolutely who fights against relativism with God’s Word (truth). The book retails at $9.99 and the suggested age range is 8-12 years old, which is a perfect fit for my family. The Boy is almost seven and although he had a difficult time reading the book alone, he had no difficulty following along and enjoying it being read to him.

As a Christian parent, I really appreciate God’s Word woven throughout the entire story. There are several bible verses laced throughout the entire book and the gospel message of salvation is shared.

Captain Absolutely has found it’s permanent home on the The Boy’s beside bookshelf alongside his bible. I imagine this is a book that he will read and reread and continue to enjoy.

Institute for Excellence in Writing: Review

Call me crazy, but I was thrilled to be able to review the High School Essay Intensive program by Institute for Excellence in Writing. Even crazier, I enjoyed the entire 5 hours of DVD instruction!

Let me explain. I am a homeschooling mother and my greatest frustration in educating my children over the years has been centered around writing. I can remember in the earlier days I literally would sit in bed at night in tears because I could not teach them to write. I was constantly trying to figure out where to draw the line between telling them what to write and having them write their own pieces. It was back then that I first heard of Institute for Excellence in Writing and Andrew Pudewa’s method of teaching writing. Following some of his key ideas allowed me to feel a bit liberated and enabled me to relax more in our homeschool classroom, even during writing time.

As the kids grew, and I grew in my understanding of how to teach writing, their writing skills continued to improve. We have come a long way from my nearly giving up and quitting homeschooling to the kids producing great writing. Surprisingly, writing has become one of our favorite subjects!

To start with, Institute for Excellence in Writing never lets down with their presentation. Everything arrived in a nice full-colored box that fits well upon a shelf, keeping the items protected. However, if the box is cumbersome or takes up too much space, it can be eliminated as the DVD set has it’s own beautiful leather-type case. Also included is a high-quality tri-fold pocket folder holding the seminar notes. The folder itself is extremely useful. It is titled Portable Walls for the Essayist and all six sides have important writing notes covering topics such as: Types of Essays, Essay Models, Essay Writing Process, Essay Writing Strategies, Sentence Pattern Variety, Specific Models, Transitional Words and Phrases, and more.

The DVD’s themselves provide more than five hours of instruction on the various strategies for writing essays. Two of the DVD’s provide specific instruction on writing the optional essays when taking the ACT or the SAT tests. These were informative, even for an individual not planning on taking the tests as they provide a strategy for breaking down the task of writing an essay in a short amount of time, covering an assigned topic. Although the essay portion is not exactly required for all students taking the exams, it is worth understanding the tests themselves and how to write an essay that will score well if a student is planning on taking them for college. The tests are timed and can be well practiced beforehand, building confidence for any student.

Our kids are still young and finishing the first, second and sixth grades; hardly the age to fully benefit from the High School Essay Intensive. I was thrilled to receive the product anyway. I knew that Mr. Pudewa would lace this program with many nuggets of wisdom that I can incorporate into our homeschool classroom, and he did not let down. Even more exciting is that as I watched the five DVD’s from my computer, with my headphones on,  the kids could not help but be curious as to what I was doing. I unplugged the headphones a couple of times and they would listen in for a few minutes and then go find something else to do, with the exception of Bookworm Beauty (11). She planted herself next to me, looking disinterested as she slowly crept closer and closer. Then the funniest thing happened! Andrew was telling the viewer to pause the film and complete a task, which I did not do because I was only viewing the program, and she said, “Can we pause the film and do the activity?” Wow! I did not expect to be doing this review product, but rather just gaining knowledge as a parent needing to teach her kids. I relented, eagerly of course.

Bookworm Beauty did not follow the activity as expected on the DVD. Instead of writing an essay and working through it as she followed along with the program, she instead transferred the skills outlined to a writing piece that she is already doing in school. For example, she took out her first rough draft for chapter one of a six -chapter book that she is writing in class and went through it to identify her sentence patterns. She quickly realized that she tends to write subject opener sentences. After walking through the Sentence Pattern Variety activity she went through her rough draft and made several sentence revisions to make her writing more lively and a pleasure to read.

The following afternoon, Bookworm Beauty went back and reviewed the DVD’s that I had already watched. She said that she is really glad that we have this program because Mr. Pudewa breaks down the writing process into an understandable format that can be used for lots of things. Recognizing that she is still pretty young and will not be taking the ACT or the SAT for years to come, she will hopefully have excellent essay writing skills by then as a result of his methods of teaching.

At a mere $79, the High School Essay Intensive is an excellent resource for any homeschool classroom!

Move over Wheaties!

We have been starting the day the best way possible, nourishing our body and our minds by breaking the fast the right way with healthy proteins, minimal carbohydrates and Algebra for Breakfast. My children have truly enjoyed our review of Algebra For Breakfast Grades 3/4 and Grades 5/6 math enrichment programs.

Bob Hazen has a wonderful and simple way of teaching various math concepts that help us to fully understand math. All three of my kids are fairly confident in math and rarely are they struggling to grasp mathematical concepts. However, his methods of teaching concepts, even some that they already knew, deepened their understanding and moved them from grasping to mastering. A good example of this is his lesson titled First Name, Last Name. He explains that virtually everything in the world around us has both a first name and a last name. The wooden table: first name wooden, last name table; the red blocks: first name red, last name blocks; Sally Smith: first name Sally and last name Smith. Math is no exception. The first name of anything mathematical is the number itself or how many; while the last name is what it is. This is a foundational concept that helped my children understand the importance of grouping like things while working through math problems.

Algebra for Breakfast provides lessons for 3/4 grades or 5/6 grades and teaches the use of hands-on manipulatives  to further understanding and enable mastery. The 164-piece set of math manipulatives by Mortenson Math, math dice and their skip counting CD is necessary for completing the program and is available for $122 (includes shipping and the first month of access to Algebra for Breakfast lessons). A reduced package is available for individuals that already own the Mortenson Math manipulatives and includes the dice, the CD and the first month of access to lessons for $42. The last option available is for those that already own all of the manipulatives; for $22 per month.

The lessons themselves are online video clips of Bob Hazen teaching a concept to a class of kids. It is nice for viewers to be able to hear the answers to other kids’ questions when watching an authentic teaching. You also have the ability to watch and go back and review anything presented along the way. Each lesson also provides a downloadable worksheet to coincide with the concept taught.

My only frustration with this program is of the website itself. I found myself lost on this site, more than once. I quickly learned to not click on my name when I got lost. I had assumed that it would lead me to a customer portal; it did not. It took me to my dashboard where I could enter profile information and it seems to be a WordPress dashboard for the website itself. It was confusing. Oftentimes I would need to go from a grades 3/4 lesson to a grades 5/6 lesson and inevitably I would get lost somewhere. Fortunately, I would just go to the history on my address bar and find what I was looking for. For me, this was just a frustrating inconvenience that I was able to see beyond. I am not looking into this program to have a fanciful online experience but rather to have rich math lessons!

We used this program many times throughout our review period. Our kids are in grades 1, 2 and 6. We reviewed several of the grades 3/4 lessons but spent far more time viewing grades 5/6 lessons together. I found that with his instruction and our working on the worksheets together, the younger kids were able to follow along quite well. However, I would not have done this if I only had younger kids that did not already have a solid mastery of quick mental addition and a decent understanding of multiplication. For us, this worked well.

The use of the math manipulatives made this program not just easier to follow but also easier for the kids to see the mathematical concepts. These really are essential to this program and I could argue they are simply essential to math period. The more that the kids can actually experience math, the greater their mastery will be and the greater their mastery of the basic concepts the less they will struggle in all levels of math.

We enjoyed this program and will continue to work through the lessons. Move over Kix, Algebra for Breakfast is kids tested and mother approved!