May 15, 2019

Mother's Day at Fort Boonesborough {Wordless Wednesday}

We had the pleasure of enjoying Mother's Day at Fort Bonnesborough with my parents, my husband, and my brother with his fiance! We had a simply wonderful time exploring the former home of the American hero Daniel Boone. I love living so close to so many historically important locations!
Here are some photos from our adventure!


Watching how an heirloom 18th century loom worked.

Measurements used during this time period


More fiber work! Learning how they used a drop spindle and did spinning

The blacksmith making a candle holder
I especially loved speaking with the women who specialized in fibers and medicinal herbs. I would have bought some of the handspun yarn if they had made the ones I wanted for purchase. But I loved squishing it. And I loved seeing them doing the natural dyes. The boys got hand made candle holders from the blacksmith. 
My mom and dad absolutely love it! It was the perfect day for Mother's Day!

May 14, 2019

Nothing by Natalee Creech {Children's Book Review}

It can be a challenge at times to find children's books which are not only rich in text, but also biblically based AND beautiful to look at. I don't like to get your run of the mill books as gifts, so I am always looking for something exceptional. Enter Nothing by Natalee Creech, a book I was given to review by WorthyKids, an imprint of Hachette Book Group. From the moment I laid my eyes on it, I had a feeling it was going to pass my test. Join me as I share my review of this illustrated children's book today!

About the Book

Nothing by Natalee Creech is an absolutely gorgeous book! The rich blue on the cover grabs your eye and makes you want to open it. Opening it, you will discover a beautifully illustrated children's book that emphasizes the amazing love of God. Based on Romans 8:38-39, the book shows the reader how there is no place anywhere in creation that can take you out of the realm of the love of God, but also that there is nothing that you could do which would make Him stop loving you.

May 9, 2019

Critical Thinking Detective™ – Vocabulary Book 2 {Product Review}

We are big fans of The Critical Thinking Co. and the products they offer. I have reviewed several of their products before and always look forward to having more to explore. We recently were given Critical Thinking Detective - Vocabulary Book 2 (Grades 5-12+) to review with my boys (ages 8 and 13) and I looked forward to seeing how this product would work for us--especially since expanding our vocabulary is one of the goals I had for this year.

About the Product

The Critical Thinking Co. is an award-winning company for a reason! Their materials continue to be top notch resources for all things--critical thinking! Offering full lines of choices over the traditional subjects and electives, there is something for every grade! A few of the selections include:

May 8, 2019

Spontaneous Adventures {Wordless Wednesday}

We took a spontaneous trip to Cave Run Lake, KY for a day out on a Party Boat with my parents. It was the perfect day--hot enough to even go swimming! It was just what we needed before finishing our school year! :) 






*****

May 7, 2019

Pathway to Liberty's US History Curriculum {Curriculum Review}

I am always on the lookout for good history curriculums and I've been blessed to have been introduced to several through the Homeschool Review Crew. For the last several weeks, we have been reviewing a new (to me) history company, Pathway to Liberty Homeschool Curriculum, and have been working through the Pathway to Liberty's US History course from the Pathway to Liberty's History Curriculum collection. My hope for this curriculum was to discover another great American History curriculum which I could use for both boys at the same time, even with their different grade levels and learning styles. Join me today as I share our review on this curriculum and you can learn if this material fulfilled my requirements!

About the Company


The Pathway to Liberty's Homeschool Curriculum was created by founder Jayme MacCullough after she couldn't find what she was looking for in the homeschool material world. She wanted a strong

May 1, 2019

The Hamelin Stoop Series from 12 Gates Publishing {Book Review}

The Hamelin Stoop Series {Book Review}
One of the age groups that is lacking in quality reading material--as in books I'd actually allow my children to read because they aren't filled with smut--is the post-elementary, pre-young adult genre. What is technically considered to be the "middle school" genre. Many of the chapter books for elementary are too young for this grade, yet the young adult genre is really more geared to ages 16+ and deals with a lot of less than desirable content (what I like to call smut!). It's even HARDER to find a good fantasy series to bridge this gap! 12 Gates Publishing is trying to fill this need starting with The Hamelin Stoop Series by Robert B. Sloan. Join me as I share our review of the first two books [Hamelin Stoop: The Eagle, The Cave, and the Footbridge (Book 1)
 and Hamelin Stoop: The Lost Princess and the Jewel of Periluna (Book 2)] in this new fantasy series for all ages!

About the Book


"The campfire was almost out, but it didn't matter that they were letting it burn down to its last smoky smell. The trackers were coming, but for just a moment longer, Simon wanted to look at her lying in the crook of his arm and at the infant asleep between them. Funny what you think about when you should be panicked..." (The Eagle, The Cave, and The Footbridge)

Thus the world of Hamelin Stoop opens to the reader immediately thrust into the middle of the adventure. Hamelin Stoop is the name given to a baby boy who is discovered in an old tomato crate

Homemade Bread {Wordless Wednesday}

I just bought a fresh jar of yeast, so naturally, I needed to try it out.
*****

April 28, 2019

Upcoming Reviews for May/June 2019: What Are We Working On?

It's the last Sunday for April (woah!) which means that it is time for me to share what we have got in house for reviews! We've got some books, some history, some vocabulary, and more! We are really enjoying some of these and are looking forward to getting started with a couple we are waiting to arrive. In case you missed them, make sure you check out the April reviews of products from YWAM Publishing, CrossWired Science, Techie Homeschool Mom, Everyday Education, and Stopmotion Explosion.



UPCOMING REVIEWS FOR MAY 2019

1. The Hamelin Stoop Series12 Gates Publishing
I'm adding this one because it is a review that carries into May. The Hamelin Stoop series is a new fantasy series for the middle grade/Young adult age range. Designed to help the middle-grade readers bridge that gap to the young adult books, this series has content at a higher reading level,

April 24, 2019

April 23, 2019

Solar System: Online Unit Study from Techie Homeschool Mom {Curriculum Review}


Solar System Online Unit Study Review
If you have been a follower of the blog for a while, you know by now that our family does really well with unit studies when it comes to homeschooling certain topics. We love being able to bring together different resources and dive down different rabbit trails as we explore a topic. One of the hardest parts about a unit study, however, is the gathering of materials. They tend to be much more intensive in their preparation--one of the reasons some homeschool parents just can't do them. I recently was introduced to a series of Online Unit Studies from Techie Homeschool Mom. An online unit study where all the "work" is done for me? That still lets us dive deep into topics with a variety of resources? Something that my kids can do independent of me? Could this even really be true? Join me today as I share our experiences with reviewing the Solar System Online Unit Study from Techie Homeschool Mom--is it really the answer to so many issues with unit studies?

About the Product


Techie Homeschool Mom is the brainchild of homeschooling mom Beth who loves cool web tools and online learning resources. One year she decided to start creating fully Internet-based unit studies for her own children and decided to start offering them the homeschool community. Each Online Unit Study is an eLearning course that focuses on a specific topic but integrates various subjects. The course allows students to access websites and videos in order to learn about a topic. Incorporated into this are hands-on and digital projects to apply what they've learned. Unlike other unit studies, there are NO downloads or paper activities. Everything is recorded ONLINE. 

There are several different online unit studies available including:
Ancient Egypt Online Unit Study
Ancient Greece Online Unit Study
Ancient Rome Online Unit Study
Famous Artists Online Unit Study (Vol. 1)
Famous Artists Online Unit Study (Vol.2) 
Famous Inventors Online Unit Study
Solar System Online Unit Study

We have been reviewing the Solar System Online Unit Study. This course includes studies on the following areas:

Solar System Overview
The Sun
Planetary Orbits
Gravity
Planets
The Rocky Planets
The Gas Planets
Comets, Asteroids, and Meteors
Project: Solar System Model
As a bonus, along with hands-on projects, students will learn to use Google sheets to record and evaluate scientific data.

We completed this review as a family with both boys working together on the assignments.

Our Thoughts on the Product


First off--I will just go ahead and tell you that this was possibly the EASIEST science course I have ever done. Why? Because I basically didn't have to do anything but pull the course up on my computer. Techie Homeschool Mom did everything else! And--NO BOOKS! Nothing. It truly is a "paper-free" unit study option.

Okay, so now that I have that out of the way, let me share what this program looks like and how we used it. First off, you will need to log in and just start the course. We easily completed all the assignments and videos with a Chrome browser. If you don't have good internet this course WILL have issues as it is 100% internet driven. There aren't any issues with navigation--simply login and get started!

These courses are designed for students who can read and navigate around the internet--so I would put this at starting with 2nd grade and up--unless this is being used by a family. We used it with a 3rd and 7th grader and it was perfect for each of them.

After each lesson is completed, the student simply clicks "complete and continue" and the next lesson or assignment opens up. If there are website images or hyperlinks, you just click them and they open up in new tabs (LOVE THIS!). If you see a video, you click it to get it started. If you get lost somewhere along the way or don't remember where you left off, simply go to the left side of the screen and look at your course menu. The lessons that are completed have check marks--so just click the next one in line.

Our unit study began with basic chitchat about scientific theory as well as introducing some of the free reading book club ideas to go with the topics. With the book club, there is a commenting box where the students can talk to each other about the books they are reading.

Unfortunately, we couldn't get any of them, so we just went to the library and found some other solar system themed books to work through.
Reading about the Solar System

Reading about the Hubble Telescope

There are eight modules and a final project in this unit study. Each module could easily be completed in a week as there are three to four lessons in a module--typically 2 lessons, a project, and a book club discussion. It would totally be possible to do multiple modules in a week if your students wanted to move quickly. But I think a week per module works best. At this point, we are finishing up our 6th module working through one per week.
Sample Page View of a Lesson

The lessons are mixed media collection of internet materials. Some are videos, some are slideshows, some are readings, some are diagrams/images. Most of the lessons have quizzes to check the comprehension--they are all multiple choice/true or false. Every module also has a project--this is where the experiments, data collection, or art projects happen.

Let me take a minute to talk about the data collection projects.
Entering Sunspot Data

Sunspot Data to Record--we chose to print it off

Graphing the data we collected in order to answer questions
These projects were amazing because they TEACH my sons how to insert data into excel like spreadsheets using the ONLINE resource Google Sheets. Not only do they learn how to enter the data, but they learn how to tweak their chart AND how to turn the data into a graph.

Side note: I had NO IDEA that Google Sheets was so amazing, nor had I ever used it before! I am well versed with excel, but having an ONLINE option for this was a serious bonus for me as a teacher! I even was able to upload the Google Sheets app to my phone!

My boys took turns recording the data--it worked well having one read the information off and the other to record it. We recorded the number of sunspots from 1960-2014, compared the data of average hi/low temps for our city in Kentucky with my sister-in-law in Arizona, recorded information from our Gallileo experiment, and recorded planet data to compare different aspects. 

Our art project kicked off the course and we all enjoyed using chalk pastels to create a solar system.
The Inspiration for the Art Projects
My Oldest's Rendition

My Version

My Youngest's Solar System

We enjoyed adding planet identification apps to my iPhone so we could observe the night skies more clearly.

And I look forward to the final project that we will be completing in 2 weeks--making a solar system model. The course offers different suggestions on how this can be completed and encourages the students to share their creations on social media.

Okay--so what about the boys? What did they think?
They loved it. They enjoyed varied videos and information. One of their most favorite activities was the Mars exploration activity where they got to completed a "realistic walk-through of a 3-D model of a Mars base for the first humans to land on Mars. Over 100 images representing a Mars habitat, a greenhouse, a Mars car, and robot rovers." I think they spent about 30 minutes looking at every single thing in that walk-through activity!

I think the boys will be really sad to finish this unit study. It's been so nice to let them have their independence working through the program. They worked together to answer all the quizzes helping one another remember the answers. 
This takes them to a video for them to watch--and then a comprehension quiz

One of the boys enjoyed the data collection activities more than the other--my youngest. He's my math guy, so those activities of entering numbers and making graphs were right up his alley. 

It seems like this unit study is about an 8 week study. Unfortunately, there isn't an entire year's worth of science unit studies available from this company yet. The online studies available cover a range of topics from science to history to holidays to fine arts. I think these would be excellent for someone who is getting started with homeschooling and just needs something to take some burden off the planning. They would also be useful for a family on the go--like an RV homeschooling family--who needs the option of schooling WITHOUT papers. And of course, for the unit study family who wants everything already laid out for them! 

I think the biggest selling points of this product are:

1. Completely online--no extra resources or paper needed
2. Complete planned out for you--just turn the kids loose
3. Kid-Friendly and engaging!

These three things set this product apart from all the other unit studies I have explored for my family. I would absolutely use this product again!

Want to Know More?

We have spent the last several weeks reviewing the Solar System Online Unit Study from Techie Homeschool Mom. I encourage you to visit other crew members on this review to see what unit studies they completed to get an idea of the range of options this product provides.
Solar, Ancients and Famous People Unit Studies {Techie Homeschool Mom Reviews}

*****