Friday, June 23, 2017

Homeschool Review: Homeschool Planet #hsreviews #HomeschoolBuyersCo-op #savings #smartpoints #homeschoolplanet #freecurriculum

I like to be organized (yes, my calendar IS color-coded) and I like to have a plan, so I'm working on getting my life back together again after a crazy, crazy year of activity.  We've married a daughter and graduated a son and been involved in some pretty big events in our community this school year and I'm feeling the need to slow down and get organized.  There are piles of stuff in my house from where I walk in the door and place the things I needed for one activity down -- just to pick up the things I need for the next activity and turn and walk right back out the door.  Please tell me you get where I'm coming from?  In order to make life happen, I realize I need "easy."  I need resources that come right alongside wherever I am and step into how we do life.  Homeschool Buyers Co-Op offers an "easy button" resource for moms and families in its Homeschool Planet that does just that.  It steps right into life and holds my hand.  I fell in love with Homeschool Planet when we reviewed it a few years ago and I shared the nitty-gritty of how it all works with you.  Now I'm reminded just how much of a friend it is and I want to share some of the newest features offered (ready-made lesson plans, anyone?) and what parts I'm better utilizing now to help me stay sane.  How's that sound with you?
Homechool Planet

It's summertime so that means we are taking a break from the day-to-day of homeschool lessons which gives me ample opportunity to make some plans for how we are going to attack next year.  For the first time in forever (can you even read that without singing it?) there will only be one scholar at Long Leaf Academy -- and boy, do we have work to do.  Accessible from my my computer and from my iPhone (through an on-screen icon), Homeschool Planet offers me a world of planning right at my fingertips.  Not only is it super easy to sit down and map out the daily subjects that must happen to keep her on-track for graduation, the new Lesson Plan Marketplace offers TONS of ready-made lesson plans for a host of curriculum.  There's stuff there for all grades, all ages, all subjects, and all of your favorite product families.  [And for the rest of this month, when you sign up for a FREE one-month trial, you'll get a FREE lesson plan.]  The best part is that when you buy a lesson plan, the work is done for you.  You simply answer a few questions (like who is this for?, when do you want them to begin?, how often do you want them to do this subject?) and VOILA! -- lessons are planned and scheduled and ready for my girl to get started.  That's one of the hardest parts for me -- planning out the who, what, where, when.  I chose lesson plans for a grammar curriculum that we own and Homeschool Planet did all of the work.  When she signs in to her portion of Homeschool Planet, she knows what to do and what pages to complete so there is no guesswork and no excuses. Perfect for my quest of easy.

A great tool for moms who want to get it all together, Homeschool Planet offers an individualized planner experience.  Yes, I like that I can choose my theme and color scheme, but even more than that, I like that I can see the weather forecast, read an inspiring quote each morning, be reminded of how much GOD cares for me through a daily Bible verse, organize my family to-do list (and make sure they have it in their possession by printing it out or sending it digitally to their phone through text or email), AND even keep my shopping list current (and text it right to my phone) -- all on the same screen.  How cool is all of that?  THIS year, I'm even utilizing the Reading List because I've got a stack of books that I need/want to read.  Some are ministry-related, some are school-related, some are just for fun.  The Reading List is helping me to make a plan and stick with it.  It is helping take the overwhelming out of my life.

Homeschool Buyers Co-op

Y'all, there is SO MUCH good over at Homeschool Planet.  You simply MUST check it out for yourself.  You're going to be absolutely floored.  You can find out more about this most wonderful, MUST-HAVE resource for your homeschool by checking out the following Social Media sites:

Crew Disclaimer

I was given the opportunity to review Homeschool Planet from Homeschool Buyers Co-Op as a member of the Homeschool Review Crew.   You can check out the Crew Review and see what other members of the Homeschool Review Crew thought of this curriculum and other resources we reviewed (or just click on the banner below.)

Homeschool Planet {Homeschool Buyers Co-op Reviews}
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Thursday, June 22, 2017

Homeschool Review: UnLock Math's Geometry #hsreviews #highschoolmath #onlinemath @UnLockMath

I had the absolute BEST teacher for Algebra 1 and Geometry in high school.  Mr. Lee was super creative and he made us all fall in love with numbers and theories without even realizing that we were.  I have wanted that love for my children but have struggled to find the perfect program to bring them the sheer joy that Mr. Lee shared with us.  I wanted my son to review UnLock Geometry in hopes that he might develop an unbridled enthusiasm through this newest program offered by UnLock Math.  While I cannot claim that he is enthusiastic about geometry [yet], I can say that he is willing to sit and work through more problems now than before as he seeks to improve his ACT math score.  That's a start and I'll take it.

The UnLock Math programs are complete math programs -- online.  This means that your high schoolers can choose one of the math courses offered (Pre-Algebra, Algebra 1, Algebra 2, or Geometry) and studiously work through it for the entirety of the school year to satisfactorily complete the course for credit.  When working for about 30 minutes a day for three days a week, students can expect to complete any one of the courses in a nine month school year.  Each of the UnLock Math courses can also be used as a supplementary program to other math curriculums.
UnLock Math

The UnLock Geometry course is currently divided into 12 Units with 3 more on the way.   The course begins with Prerequisite Skills, moves into Logic and Proofs, Triangles, Polygons, and Circles, and ends with Perimeter, Area, and the Coordinate Plane.  Each Unit is divided into Daily Lessons (5 -9 Lessons per Unit) which each include 4 Assignments, a Video, and a Reference Notes section.  Quizzes are provided for every 2 - 3 Daily Lessons and there is a Unit Test Review and Unit Test at the end of each Unit.

As each assignment is completed, students "unlock" access to the next step.  Here's how it works:

UnLock Math

  1. Students "get into math mode" with 5 Warm Up problems.  The problems offer a quick review of concepts learned thus far.  After a student answers the math problem, they "verify" their answer by answering "yes" to the question "have you read the solution to this equation?".  Talk about accountability and follow-through.  Immediate feedback is given so that students know if they have given answers that are correct or incorrect.  Once an assignment has been started, students are allowed only one answer per problem.  If incorrect, they see an explanation as to how the problem should have been worked.  Students have unlimited opportunity to work through each section of assignments.  They can move on if they are satisfied with their work or try, try again for a perfect score.  The only catch is that they must re-do the entire assignment or quiz and not just one problem in it on their quest for a better grade.  I LOVE this -- especially since re-doing an assignment does not mean a student re-works the same problems.  Nope!  New problems appear each time a student chooses to try again.  It's a great way to make sure that you are truly grasping each concept.
  2. After completing the Warm Up section of math problems, students watch a short Video Lesson (usually 5 - 8 minutes long) that introduces the new math concept.  The videos are fast-paced so not at all boring and can be watched and re-watched as much as needed to understand the concepts presented.  (Thank goodness that we have the ability to watch and re-watch.  The Metric System still kicks tail at my house.)
  3. Following the video, students answer 10 Practice Problems that coincide with the lesson taught in the video.  This is not review work.  The problems are a direct reflection of the new information and follow the same format as the Warm Up problems.  After working the math problem, students submit their answer, see the problem worked in its entirety, and verify that they have read through the solution.  Immediate feedback makes sure that students understand what they are learning and students have the option of trying again if they are not satisfied with their grade.  
  4. The Stay Sharp assignment combines new and old material as students work 10 comprehensive math problems.
  5. Each lesson ends with one Challenge Yourself problem designed to make students think through several concepts.  These serve as brain teasers and are actually quite fun to work through.
  6. Reference Notes are provided for each lesson in the form of a printable PDF.  These notes are taken directly from the video lessons and can serve as a textbook for students when printed and placed in a notebook.
As they work, students see a cumulative average and percentage of course completed.  In addition, parents have complete access to progress reports and a grade book that shows exactly how much time is spent on each section of learning, how many attempts a student makes to perfect their score, and which days they sign in and how long they work once signed into the program.  I don't know about your house, but this kind of accountability is a necessity at mine.  I like to know who is doing what when and I like to see progress when my kids head off to their rooms to "do school."  I KNOW that math is getting done when I can log in and check it for myself.

It's officially summer vacation at Long Leaf Academy, but that doesn't mean we have completely stopped learning.  My kids know that education is a year-round opportunity and they are expected to continue working to improve -- even when mom isn't calling the day to order.  UnLock Math allows my son the chance to keep math skills fresh while the flexibility offered makes it easy for him to go to work, enjoy summer activities, AND continue prepping for the ACT.  I like that it takes the pressure off of me, but gives him excellent instruction.   Mr. Lee would be proud.   I recommend all families with high schoolers in need of math credits check out UnLock Math.  They make it easy for us to better serve our kids.  

You can find out even more about UnLock Math courses on the following Social Media sites:

And just so you know, Pre-Calculus and Calculus courses are joining the UnLock Math family soon.  This is a win for homeschoolers.

Crew Disclaimer

I was given the opportunity to review UnLock Geometry from UnLock Math as a member of the Homeschool Review Crew.   You can check out the Crew Review and see what other members of the Homeschool Review Crew thought of this curriculum and other resources we reviewed (or just click on the banner below.)

Pre-Algebra, Algebra and Geometry {UnLock Math Reviews}
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Thursday, June 15, 2017

Homeschool Review: Internship for High School Credit (Apologia) #hsreviews #highschool #highschoolcredit #internship

My walking partner and I were discussing our girls recently and talking about what they wanted to "be" when they "grow up."  We agreed that an unfair amount of pressure is put on kids as they finish high school and move into the next season of life.  It is so hard to really KNOW what you want to do FOREVER and know how to plan accordingly when you've been busy learning the required basics for credit in high school.  I was interested to get my hands on a new resource from Apologia Educational Ministries called Internship for High School Credit (Practical Help to Explore and Direct Your Career Plans) to see if it might help me help my children.

I was even more interested in the Internship book after receiving a midnight text from one of my married daughters asking "what do you think I would be good at career-wise?"  Oh, my stars -- the pressure.  I understand where she's coming from as she tries to make wise decisions about life.  I know that the average college student changes their major at least once, but usually two or three times as they find their place.  I can't help but think that there must be a better way to see what you like and explore options through high school -- and what a bonus if you can use that time of career exploration to also earn high school credits for your transcript.

Internship for High School Credit
That's exactly the benefit that Internship for High School Credit offers homeschooling families.  Written directly to the student in a conversational tone, Internship for High School Credit is a 99-page spiral-bound book that specifically explains what an internship is and how it can be of benefit to students.  Families are walked through the process of finding and completing a high school internship or two and students learn how to write resumes and introductory letters (we used to call them cover letters) while also developing their strengths and improving their weaknesses.  What I really like here is that the entirety of the book focuses on the GOD-given talents and strengths that each person possesses.  Students are encouraged to find their passion and explore how GOD would have them use their gifts.

Way back in the day, I taught courses titled Interview Preparation and Job Preparation at a local technical college.  I was in charge of teaching students (mostly adults entering the work force after a long absence) how to create a resume that would get them an interview and how to present themselves once they were invited to interview.   This included information about what to take with you to an interview and what to wear.  We also covered the business basics of thank you letters after an interview has been completed.   Internship for High School Credit combines all of those things in such a way that allows my high school junior to be prepared now instead of later.

The bulk of the book serves as a workbook for her to set goals, track hours, and follow-up with career shadowing experiences through question-and-answer sections and fill-in-the-blank charts.  There's even a section that tells me how to help her choose the appropriate place to intern, how to document the completed internship on her transcript, and how to assess a grade and assign credits for each internship opportunity.  With 16 weeks of hands-on activity assessments (a full year of coursework),  my daughter is reaping positive benefits as she learns to self-monitor her hours and offer her very best in job performance.  She is learning to take careful note of each of her assigned tasks and is able to better understand what she might want to "be" when she "grows up."  I am so thankful to have this resource for her and wish I'd had it for the three that I've already graduated.

Apologia Educational Ministries

Apologia has long been one of our family favorites -- from science curriculum to personal encouragement for momApologia has you covered.  You can connect with them and find out how they can best serve your family through the following Social Media links:

Crew Disclaimer

I was given the opportunity to review Internship for High School Credit (Practical Help to Explore and Direct Your Career Plans) from Apologia Educational Ministries as a member of the Homeschool Review Crew.   You can check out the Crew Review and see what other members of the Homeschool Review Crew thought of this curriculum and other resources we reviewed (or just click on the banner below.)  Several members of the Crew reviewed a brand new resource that I think would be especially encouraging for new homescoolers.  It's called How to HOMESCHOOL with Stunning Confidence, Contagious Joy, and Amazing Focus (DVD & Coursebook).  Make sure you check those reviews out, too.  

Homeschool with Confidence & Internship for High School {Apologia Educational Ministries Reviews}
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Thursday, June 8, 2017

Homeschool Review: Nature's Beautiful Order (Memoria Press) #hsreviews #memoriapress #classicalchristianeducation #classicalchristianhomeschooling

Memoria Press offers remarkable curriculum choices for those pursuing a classical Christian education and I am always blessed when the opportunity to review for them comes my way.  We were invited to use Nature's Beautiful Order:  An Introduction to the Study of Animals Taught by the Classic Naturalists and I hoped that my daughter would be excited.

Memoria Press

Nature's Beautiful Order is a lovely set that reflects the wonder of GOD's creation through a deep study of the Animal Kingdom as taught from the works of classical naturalists such as John James Audubon, Jean-Henri Fabre, and St-George J. Mivart.  What this means for our students is that they begin to develop a love for animals and the world around them as they delve into nature looking through the eyes of Christian men and women who recognize that GOD knew just what HE was doing "in the beginning".  An introductory study, Nature's Beautiful Order can easily be used by middle school students (grades 6 - 8) as a stand alone science curriculum AND/OR as a biology supplement for high school age students.  My 10th grader has always loved all things animal and is most at peace when she is outside exploring.  As I hoped, she is delighted to be studying through the pages of this science resource.

Nature's Beautiful Order is divided into 18 Chapters.  Students study a variety of animals including cats, lobsters, bees, turtles, birds, farm friends, and more -- one chapter per animal -- and end with a study of the anatomy of man and a reminder that man was created to act as a steward of all animals.

Nature’s Beautiful Order

The Nature's Beautiful Order set (pictured above) includes a Textbook, a Student Guide, and a Teacher Key.  Each student will need their own student guide book -- and once they have completed it, they will want to keep it for reference for years and years to come.

All three books are softcover and printed in black and white copy.  The 187-page Textbook is written directly to the student in a straightforward manner that shares fascinating facts about the animals being studied and offers in-depth insight for the reader.  It is minimally illustrated with black and white line drawings that share the beauty of GOD's creation.  My personal favorite chapters are the ones that discuss birds, migration, and the miracle of flight.  Growing up, my mother was a watcher of birds and she would share tidbits of information with me -- tidbits that I never really cared to hear.  Now, I find myself becoming my mother (please don't tell her I have admitted to this) and I enjoy feeding the birds that visit at my feeders and watching the flight patterns of a pair of buzzards that are nesting in my woods. I cannot even begin to explain how beautiful their flight is and how much I enjoy watching them careen through the air.  There is even a red-tailed hawk that has made my yard its home -- we caught video of it capturing dinner Sunday afternoon -- and Nature's Beautiful Order helps us to appreciate this "lord of the air" even more than we already did.  A perfect study tool, the Textbook also makes a great "outside" resource manual just for fun.

The 51-page Student Guide helps students develop skills of observation as they read and follow along in their Textbooks.  Students answer 17 questions from each chapter read (with the exception of Chapter 17 which only has 14 questions).  Although blanks are provided for answers, this is not a super easy fill-it-in workbook.  Students are required to read, think, observe, and understand.  After answering the questions in her Student Guide, my daughter checks her work against the Teacher Key (51-pages that correspond directly to the Student Guide).  She is able to make corrections as needed and add information that she may have left out of her answers.  Once completed, she will have a handy resource manual for outdoors.

As always, Memoria Press has given us a beautiful resource to encourage students to fall in love with GOD's gifts to us.  I love that the writings come from men with a heart to further the Kingdom and our appreciation of all that is in it.

You can find out even more about Memoria Press on the following Social Media sites:
Instagram (@memoriapress)

Crew Disclaimer

I was given the opportunity to review Nature's Beautiful Order from Memoria Press as a member of the Homeschool Review Crew.   You can check out the Crew Review and see what other members of the Homeschool Review Crew thought of this curriculum and other resources we reviewed (or just click on the banner below.)

Latin, Nature and Trees {Memoria Press Reviews}
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Sunday, May 28, 2017

Rest and Reset {Scripture & a Snapshot}

My soul found rest.

I'm joining with my friend Jennifer over at a glimpse of our life as we give glory to GOD through our photos.

Scripture and Snapshot
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Friday, May 26, 2017

Random 5 on Friday (May 26)

1.  You really do need to push the reset button every once in a while.

 That tiny dot in the middle of the lake?  That's my graduate/birthday boy way out on the paddle board.

And this hot guy?  He's the MainMost.  Always and Forever.

2.  Friendships are your biggest commodity.  Treasure them.

THIS is what 30 years of friendship looks like.

3.  GOD is the MASTER ARTIST. 

 The view from the boat at sunset.

4.  Your dog loves you.  Love him back.

He missed us.  Ignore the luggage in the foyer, but check out the back of my couch.  He was lonely while we were gone and totally squished the couch down -- even though he had company come and play three times a day.  #spoileddog

  He's up-close-and-personal now that we are home.  Not letting us out of his sight.

5.  Life is good.  Don't forget.

Heart connections were made this week  My heart is full.

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Monday, May 22, 2017

Homeschool Review: Thin Stix by The Pencil Grip, Inc. #hsreviews #MessFreeCreativity #ThinStix

We had so much fun with Kwik Stix at Christmas a few years ago that we couldn't wait to get our hands on the Thin Stix 6pk of Classic Colors.  This newest product from The Pencil Grip, Inc. makes creating your newest masterpiece easy-peasy -- especially since there is no nightmare set up (just take them out of the box and begin) and absolutely no mess to clean up when you are finished (simply place the cap on the sticks and put away until next time).

Thin Stix by KwikStixLike their predecessor, Thin Stix are solid tempera paint sticks that offer painting fun for children of all ages (and even adults, too.  Ask me how I know?).  Did you catch that?  Thin Stix offer tempera PAINT in a stick form.  They are fast drying tempera paints that look like markers and can be used on the same materials that regular tubs of paint can be used on -- but they require no smocks, no brushes, no cups, no water, and even better, they leave NO MESS.  Not only are they easy to use, but they dry to the touch in about 90 seconds.  That means your young (or old) Picasso can paint a masterpiece without turning your kitchen table into a disaster area and you can hang the finished work on the refrigerator for all to see within minutes.

I love these things.  I love the boldness of the classic colors and I love that my girl can use them for fine details within her artwork and that she can write with ease with Thin Stix in her art journal.  The ease of use helps keep her creative juices flowing.  She enjoys pulling them out whenever inspiration hits -- and she feels confident sticking them in her purse as she heads out the door in case she finds herself with freetime at church, Girl Scouts, or other activities.  She says that the Thin Stix are convenient to use (she even uses them in the car) and the finish is fabulously professional.  Believe me, she would know.  She's an artist through-and-through.  Creating beauty is in her veins.   Her life's motto is seen on the cover of her art journal and she takes it to heart:

She is VERY particular about what types of pens and pencils she uses on the insides of this journal, so when she shared this artwork with me I knew Thin Stix had received her stamp of approval.  That's the ultimate compliment so I thought you might like to see the "up close and personal" on this one.  Don't you just love the colors?  They are deep and luxurious and do not bleed.  There is no smudging and the rest of the art journal pages are not left wrinkled like other paints tend to do.  Because the paint is in stick format, the book remains in perfect shape.  The paint doesn't bleed through to the back of the paper, so my girl can turn the page and keep right on going.

An easy medium that makes art on the run a viable option, Thin Stix 6pk of Classic Colors make my daughter happy.  She's interested in acquiring some of the other color sets, too, and thinks the neon set would be super cool addition to her collection and would allow her to add even more pizzazz to her journal.  I think she just might be right.

For now, she's packed up the Thin Stix and her art journal for our trip to the lake and plans to spend some time painting while we relax on a houseboat.  I'm just hoping she'll share the wealth and allow me to create a thing or two myself.  I am looking forward to this week away and am certain it will be the perfect reset for me after a super busy school year and before an even crazier summer.  Won't painting be a fun activity for us to do together?

The Pencil Grip, Inc
For more information about cool projects you can make with Thin Stix, Kwik Stix, and more from The Pencil Grip, Inc., make sure to visit the following Social Media pages:

Twitter  @thepencilgrip

Crew Disclaimer

I was given the opportunity to review Thin Stix 6pk of Classic Colors from The Pencil Grip, Inc. as a member of the Homeschool Review Crew.   You can check out the Crew Review and see what other members of the Homeschool Review Crew thought of this marvelously creative paint set that we reviewed (or just click on the banner below.)

No Mess Art with Thin Stix Classic Colors {The Pencil Grip, Inc. Reviews}
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