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.


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
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}


April 17, 2019

Chocohaulic {Wordless Wednesday}

Why yes, I DID make another Mile High Fudge Brownie Pie...

CrossWired Science~ A Smorgasbord of Science for Your Family {Curriculum Review}

Our family has two subjects that we enjoy more than anything else: history and science. We could fill our days with these two subjects and be perfectly content. Of the two, my boys definitely prefer science and I'm always on the hunt for more ways to add science or more ways to explore science topics within our classroom. For the last few weeks, we have been reviewing a new program called CrossWired Science and their first two projects: Sound, and Fluid Dynamics. Our family has laughingly nicknamed this science curriculum "smorgasbord" science and today I am going to share our review of this program and talk about why it did or didn't work with our family--you might be surprised at the answer!

About the Product

CrossWired Science (which I will refer to as CWS) is a new online science curriculum geared for multi-age learning and an eclectic learning style. It can be used as a complete or supplemental curriculum depending on the family needs for a science program. This is a Christian worldview science

April 16, 2019

Exploring Movie Making with Stopmotion Explosion {Product Review}

My boys have always been fascinated with the different videos of Stopmotion involving farm scenes. They will watch them for hours and then go to their own toy farm and plot and plan all of their own adventures. They've always wished for their own way to make stopmotion films of their own. When I had to chance to review the Stop Motion Animation Kit from Stopmotion Explosion, both of my boys were jumping up and down with excitement at the chance to make a video of their own toy farm. I'm thrilled to present to you my review today, including their final movie creation for your viewing pleasure!

About the Product

The Stop Motion Animation Kit is the #1 bestseller from Stopmotion Explosion. Designed to help even beginners bring their stories to life, this kit contains everything you need to get started:

April 11, 2019

Transcripts Made Easy by Everyday Education {Product Review}

High School. I won't lie and say that I'm super eager to homeschool that grade range. Things about it excite me, but also scare me to death. One of the things that can bring about anxiety is thinking about the official transcript I will have to make for each semester. I still have time (he's only finishing 7th grade), but it will be there before I know it! For the last several weeks, I've been reviewing Transcripts Made Easy: The Homeschooler's Guide to High-School Paperwork from Everyday Education. My goal with this review was to receive the tools and encouragement I needed to not be intimidated by this important document. So...how did it go?

About the Product

Transcripts Made Easy is the fourth edition for this best selling book. Designed to take the worry and hassle out of high school transcripts, it has already helped hundreds of homeschooling families breathe more easily about high school recordkeeping. This book was designed to show you how to do everything from grading to granting credit and everything in between! The result is that you will be able to create simple,

April 9, 2019

Exploring the Exciting Life of President Ronald Reagan with YWAM Publishing {A Unit Study Curriculum Review}

Heroes of History- Ronald Reagan Unit Study YWAM Publishing {Product Review}
We have settled into the fact that our family definitely has a literature-based learning style. We love to read read read! History is one of the areas where literature based products are the most useful to get away from boring textbooks. YWAM Publishing has a GREAT line of historical biographies on men and women throughout history who have contributed to the Christian cause or were key parts of world history in general. We previously have worked through Davy Crockett, Daniel Boone, Laura Ingalls Wilder, and Orville Wright (you can read the previous reviews of YWAM Publishing on my blog). I was surprised when my boys decided to have us review Heroes of History- Ronald Reagan from the Heroes of History series this time. Join me as I share our unit study of the 40th President of the USA!

About YWAM Publishing

YWAM Publishing is a company determined to produce quality biographies and unit studies on men and women who are considered heroes—either to the Christian Faith or to history itself. With that in mind, they have created two series, Christian Heroes: Then and Now and Heroes of History, offering an extensive collection of biographies of men and women throughout the ages, who need to be recognized for their accomplishments.

Here is a sampling of the titles included in each series: