Category Archives: Review Curriculums

Wizzy Gizmo Review

If your kids love to read, then they might like to learn about biblical stories and truth of God’s word with Wizzy Gizmo.

Wizzy Gizmo Review
 

My family was blessed to a review the first book in the Wizzy Gizmo series called Book One: Who Created Everything?   Wizzy Gizmo is a Christian curriculum collection of resources including books, audio, and flashcards centered around a group of kids and a Professor, named Wizzy Gizmo.

Who created everything (2)

Wizzy Gizmo Book One: Who Created Everything?

Ages 4-12
Retails $12.99
and currently offering a 10% off your order.
Check web site for more details.

Professor Wizzy Gizmo invented a machine called the Gizmovision.  The Gizmovision machine brings books to life, telling the readers and listeners the “who, what, why, and how” of the story.  Though the characters are fictional, they are relatable for kids, and explore true life events with real questions that kids (and adults) want answered.

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Wizzy Gizmo Book One: Who Created Everything? is a fun fictional story that looks at true events in the bible.  It explores biblical history during the first six days of creation.  Wizzy Gizmo places the bible on his machine and he and the kids head off on a fun exploration into learning about Creation in Genesis chapter one.  The story is continued in Wizzy Gizmo Book Two: In His Image.

For the purpose of this review, I had my oldest son read the book aloud to the younger children.  They were all fascinated with the bible adventure.  On of my sons is an audio-visual learner and he drew out parts of the story as he listened too.

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There are bright colorful illustrations in the book and dialog between the characters. The kids really enjoyed the pictures and it helped the kids imagination to follow along and keep their interest. I appreciated the book contained a lot of scriptures from the bible and then explained them to the kids.  The kids really felt like they were part of the story.

The book contains study questions and also a huge list of vocabulary words.  I really liked the vocabulary words for furthering their understanding, spelling, and questions.  This was a handy resource.  This book would go along great with a unit study of creation where you ad in science, history, math, literature, art, field trips (Creation Museum, farms, zoos, science lab, planetarium, machine shop, etc.), and hands on application of the learning.  Perhaps let the kids build their own Gizmovision machine to travel back in time to learn about biblical history.

We enjoyed book one, and I would love to have the additional resources and keep going with the learning. Book two is available and new books are being developed.  There is also currently an audio drama of book one with more on the way. The flashcards New Testiment Series look amazing!  The cards are BIG and have tons of bible study and historical helps on them.  All of this curriculum would make a great program for a homeschool, a Sunday school class, or bible club too.  I think kids of all ages would really enjoy them.

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Hewitt Homeschooling Review

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Hewitt Homeschooling has some great products for homeschool families. We are reviewing My First Reports: Bugs and Worms by Hewitt Homeschooling, and we are learning lots of great information and having fun at the same time.  If you are in the process of putting your curriculum choices together, I would encourage you to add products from Hewitt Homeschooling to the list.

pic of homeschool help

 

My First Reports

One unique product Hewitt Homeschooling offers is a curriculum supplement called My First Reports.  My first reports uses a step by step approach to help elementary age children learn about a subject they are interested in and write a report about it.

Skills used in My First Reports include:

Research
Organizing
Sorting
Writing
Penmanship
Vocabulary
Reading
Critical Thinking

There are several My First Reports to choose from and they are geared for different ages, but all are flexible and can be used for grades 1 – 8 depending on the skill level of your student.

My First Report: Music
My First Report: Transportation
My First Report: Weather
My First Report: Me
My First Report: Famous People
My First Report: Wild Animals / Large Mammals
My First Report: Wild Animals / Small Mammals
My First Report: Pets/Farm Animals
My First Report: Bugs and Worms
My First Report: Birds
My First Report: Reptiles/Amphibians
My First Report: Plants
My First Report: Solar System
My First Report: Marine Life
My First Report: Olympics
My First Report: Outdoor Activities
My First Report: Sports
My First Report: My State
My First Report: Eastern United States
My First Report: Western United States
My First Report: Middle United States
My First Report: Southern United States
My First Report: Lewis and Clark Expedition
My First Report: Focus On The World

You can purchase My First Reports individually for $8.95 , or buy 14 titles as a bundle for $69.95 and save nearly 40% off retail.

 

Our Experience:

Bugs and Worms

We chose My First Reports: Bugs and Worms for this review.  It is designed for kids in 3rd – 4th grades, but can be used for younger students in 1st-2nd grades or older students in 5th-8th grades too.  My First Reports: Bugs and Worms contains 52 pages including reproducible forms, worksheets, suggested reading and resources, and a unit study.

When we received the packet from Hewitt Homeschooling, I placed the pages into a binder.   The pages come already hole punched so you can put it into a three ring binder for convenience, or into your students completed notebook if you desire.  I am a unit study “collector”, or perhaps a unit study nerd might describe me better.   I guess and I love being able to insert them into a binder and keep them for future use.  If someday I pass along our schoolroom to my own grown kids, or to another family, hopefully all the unit studies we have acquired or created over the years will be easy to just grab and go because they are arranged neatly in their own binders.  You could fill a whole book shelf with them.  Ooohhh Awwhhhh.  Yep, I am a unit study nerd!

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We were very excited about this curriculum.  This package covers information about 12 different bugs and worms:

Grasshoppers
Flies
Ants
Bees
Fireflies
Crickets
Ladybugs
Spiders
Caterpillars
Butterflies / Moths
Dragonflies
Worms

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Unit Study Approach

This set is designed to used for 12 weeks, in a unit study method, covering one bug or worm and corresponding worksheets and suggested activities per week.  Being a unit study, many different ages of kids can enjoy it, and it is cross curricular for many different subjects and covers:

Math
Reading
Social Studies
Music
Art
Language
History
Science
Health
P.E.
Bible
Suggested Field Trips

DSC01754 (Picture my son took of hundreds of new born baby spiders emerging from their nest on a tiger lily).

During the process of learning about a bug or worm you will also do many activities mentioned in the accompanying unit study.  For example, various activities to choose from might include:  geography you will take a map of your state or a region and list bugs found there.  Younger students might cut out pictures and paste them on the map and older students would likely create a map and write a list of various insects identifying  them and their locations or to add in an art aspect, they might sketch them too.  In the bible they would learn about insects mentioned in various verses.  For reading and literature they would read various books, magazines, news articles, and poems about bugs.   For Language you would learn insect vocabulary words and spelling of each insect, as well as answer the report questions on the worksheets. You might create word puzzles and give an oral report too.  For Math, you put the insects in order based on a category such as length or color or weight ect.  Perhaps you could make a graph for comparisons.  You might calculate speeds and distance traveled or the amount of food they eat.  For Science you will make comparison graphs for body characteristics, learn about habitats and how to classify, catch-observe-release different insects when you are studying each one, etc.  One suggestion is to build a wormery when you study the worms section.  For art and science you might make a kite and then for P.E. you would go outside and fly it.  Also for P.E. you would take a hike through your neighborhood or a park to look for insects and study where they are found, what they sound like, etc.  For music you might study and recreate the sound of various insects, sing songs about insects and songs about creation including songs and praises to God.  Art has so many suggestions like making a spider web, visiting an art museum, making collages or mosaics, sculptures, and various crafts.  Field tips ideas include hikes or nature walks in various locations like parks, nature preserves, zoos, museums, the insect section of the library, a honey farm, or other farms where insects are used in some way, nature store, etc.

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While learning about each “critter”, my 3rd grader completed a worksheet for each bug we learned about.  The worksheet includes a picture of the bug, its class and scientific order, vocabulary words, and several questions to research further.   He is encouraged to write complete sentences when answering the questions.  When the week of learning about the insect is complete, and he has answered all the questions, he can transfer that information into a finished report by using his answers to help create paragraphs for a report about the insect he is writing about.

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I have always loved the hands on aspect of Field Trips.  My kids love the adventure and learning outside the classroom / house.  We took a field trip two weeks ago to the Creation Museum to learn more about the history of insects and see various species in their collections.

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This is a great curriculum resource and I would encourage other homeschool families to work it into their learning adventures this school year.  My First Reports would also be a great adventure for summer school, Sunday School, or afterschool learning adventures too.

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Moving Beyond The Page Curriculum Review

Did you know that the first robot was invented in 1921? Did you know first knitting machine was invented in 1589, and the first golf balls were invented in 1400? Or did you know that the first computer game was invented in 1962, and the first artificial heart and liver was invented in 2001, or that the first DVD’s were invented in 1995? Can you believe the world-wide web was invented in 1990, or the iPhone was invented in 2007? I was really surprised to learn the actual dates of many inventions of everyday things we take for granted. They are so much a part of our everyday lives that we kind of forget the bigger picture that some where in time, someone invented them. That is some of the cool stuff my son is learning in his Moving Beyond The Page Language Arts and Science curriculum.

Moving Beyond The Page Logo

With Moving Beyond The Page you can order a complete age range curriculum for the whole year (ten Language Arts, ten Science, and ten Social Studies), or for a semester (five courses each in LA, Science, and Social Studies), or individual courses.

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Individual courses are made up of about 10 to 12 lessons and a final project, and each individual course takes about three to four weeks to complete if you work on them three or four days a week.

Semester and Lesson

Though the word “curriculum” is used, Moving Beyond The Page has a unique approach to education. They use RESEARCH-based educational STRATEGIES to CONNECT various subjects together through a common theme using literature, like a unit study approach, and connect information with real life, hands on, experience.

In my opinion, the cross curricular unit study approach is a wonderful method of learning, teaching, and retaining information.  I think every family can benefit from this method, because it makes these connections between information and real life, and helps a person be well rounded in their understanding.  It is not just a bunch of knowledge to be remembered, it is knowledge that manifests into real experience.

How Will Using Moving Beyond The Page Benefit Your Homeschool?

    • Help your child see connections in life.  Woven in the unit study approach are connections that your student will make between subjects of science and engineering, social and cultural studies, history, geography, language arts, and more.
    • The goal of this approach to education is to turn each child into a problem solver, an innovator, and challenge them through activities that involve critical and creative thinking.
    • The curriculum encourages real-world applications. It uses project-based instruction, and empowers each child in a way that meets his or her needs.
    • It supports various different learning styles, ages, and different skill levels.
    • It bridges and closes the gaps in each students learning as they meet and exceed state and national standards at each learning level.

We were sent 2 INDIVIDUAL COURSES from Moving Beyond The Page:

Science Package:Technological Design for ages 11-13 and retails for $31.94  This course contains a physical spiral bound consumable workbook, and a softcover textbook.  There are online options for the consumable workbook too, be sure you have a high-speed internet, Adobe reader software, and a printer if choosing the online version. Check the web site for pricing options:

Technological Design    Leonardo Da Vinci

This course covers:

  • What Is Technology?
  • Technological Innovator
  • Meaningful Technological Designs
  • Necessity vs. Luxury
  • Necessity Is the Mother of Invention
  • Da Vinci’s Inventions
  • Contemporary Design Approaches
  • Engineering
  • Modeling an Idea
  • Final Project: Final Exam and Model Bridge

Language Arts Package: Einstein Adds A New Dimension for ages 12-14 and retails for $39.98  This course contains an online printable workbook, and a large physical hardback cover textbook.  Be sure you have a high-speed internet, Adobe reader software, and a printer if choosing the online version. There is also a spiral bound softcover physical workbook option too, check out the web site for pricing options.

Einstein Workbook    Einstein Adds A New Dimension

This course covers the life of a famous scientist, Albert Einstein, and his contributions to science and the world through a Language Arts curriculum.  In this course, the student covers:

  • Expository Writing
  • Descriptive Writing
  • The Curies’ Discoveries
  • Process Writing
  • Envisioning Fission
  • Cause and Effect Writing
  • Relativity
  • Comparison and Contrast Writing
  • Avoiding Plagiarism
  • Problem and Solution Writing
  • Citing Sources
  • Final Project: Research Paper
  • Engineering
  • Modeling an Idea
  • Final Project: Final Exam and Model Bridge

 

How We Used This Curriculum

These courses are one part of a larger package of curriculum and are expected to take a student three to four weeks to complete.  The suggested syllabus has the student working in each subject area about an hour a day.

Einstein Adds A New Dimension

I found the Einstein Adds A New Dimension curriculum to be so fascinating!  The text-book is a 465 page full color textbook jam-packed with information and photos.  It is a learning buffet!  I have never seen a text-book quite like it before, except in college.  It is like Science 101 in college, and takes you on a journey of how science came to be, how it has changed, what is theory, what is proven, and how Albert Einstein had a significant role in science and our understanding of everything.  I can easily see this text being used in a science 101 course.

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My son was so interested in the textbook, he hardly ever sat it down.  Every time I turned around he was deep into the reading.  The workbook created by Moving Beyond The Page to correlate with the text, takes an informational text about science and scientists, and gives it a whole new twist in looking at it from a Language Arts perspective and learing hands on about writing, research, science, and engineering.  It challenges you to see the difference in theory and fact, and how to build a convincing argument in favor or against different scientific research.  This course receives a high score from my 13 year old!

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My son loved the Technological Design course and learning about inventions made by Leonardo Da Vinci.

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He is fascinated with science and design.  He wants to learn how things work and then build on that  knowledge to go even further.  He is a true engineer at heart.

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He found it fascinating that Leonardo Da Vinci was passionate about a wide variety of things including arts, theater and plays, engineering, inventions, practical jokes with family and friends, and so much more.

Mask

He made masks out of milk jugs.  He changed things a little bit from the manual to fit the supplies we had on hand and also his interests.  His sister also asked him to make a mask for her so he enlisted the help of his brother and they made a special butterfly mask per the colors she requested. He planed to turn his mask into a black cat.  He went outside and drew several cat faces using our kittens as his model and they all looked great.  He cut out his mask from a milk jug and then covered it in black paper and completed the eyes and ears, but got stumped at one point on making the mouth and decided to turn it into a Knight’s face mask instead.

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Both the Textbook and Workbook are hands on manuals filled with projects to do.  There are so many different projects to choose from your child will always look forward to their studies.

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I think my son’s favorite chapter about Leonardo Da Vinci Inventions was Leonardo’s War Inventions.  He took old ideas and tweaked them.  He problem solved.  He figured out a way to save lives on the “home team” and cause more devastation to the opposing team by reducing the human risk of injury, and making many weapons automated, or mechanized, or robotic if you will.   Leonardo “re-invented” many weapons of war.  He is most famous for the Trebuchet (automated catapult), the Armored Tank, a portable Safety Bridge, and his version of a Cannon.  The final project in the curriculum is to design and build a model bridge out of craft sticks that can support 5 lbs and this represents a full size bridge that can be positioned over a ravine for safe crossing and make a presentation about it describing the technological process involved. He has not made it to the end of the curriculum yet, but I am sure he will as excited as his is about each project he makes.

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He plans to build the Trebuchet project from the book later this week.  He built a Trebuchet from a pre-designed kit two years ago and loved playing with it and shooting clay balls all around the house.  For his birthday he bought a Leonardo De Vinci Catapult kit and decided to pare it up with this curriculum.  My son had a blast building this from the kit and likes it even better than the Trebuchet kit he built-in the past, because it is made from good quality wood and is large and sturdy.  Here is a picture of him with his Leonardo Da Vinci Catapult project.  He sanded each piece smooth before cutting to length, assembling, gluing pegs (wooden nails), etc. the various parts together.  This project has more power and shoots a lot further than his previous Trebuchet and he loves it!

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I definitely recommend Moving Beyond The Page curriculum.  There are tons of cross curricular subjects and they are all fascinating and hands on.  I am putting the whole year curriculum on my homeschool wish list!  I hope you will check them out and see how they can meet the needs of your family and homeschool.

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Veritas Press: Self Paced History Review

This school year we focussed on a lot of reading skills, spelling, math, science, computer tech, geography, health and physical fitness, animal husbandry skills (chickens, rabbits, cat and kittens, dogs), biblical study, and life skills.  The kids did really well and they have all progressed in their skills by leaps and bounds.  I am really proud of them. However, two areas we did not spend a lot of time in this year was history and grammar, and I am hoping to work on these subjects more through the summer and fall.  I was thrilled six weeks ago to find out our family was selected through the The Old Schoolhouse Review Crew for a Veritas Press Self-Paced History course through Veritas Press.  We were sent the Veritas Press Self Paced History: New Testiment, Greece and Rome and also a set of New Testiment, Greece and Rome Flashcards.  This history curriculum is just what our homeschool needed.

               

 

Veritas Press Self Paced History Courses are designed for kids in 2nd through 6th grades.  They could also be used by older students as a review.  Each online course costs $199 for the first student, and $99 for each additional student in the same family.

 

Self-paced history courses to choose from include five specific time periods:

               Old Testament and Ancient Egypt
 
               New Testament, Greece and Rome 
 
               Middle Ages, Renaissance and Reformation
 
               Explorers to 1815
 
               1815 to Present

Be sure to check out FREE samples of each course.

Each on-line self paced course requires a computer with high speed interenet, and a set of flashcards specific to the course.   Flashcards are available for purchase on the web site and range in price.  The New Testiment, Greece and Rome Flashcards we used cost $19.95.   There are also optional Literature books you can aquire to enhance the course.  You can buy them either individually, or as a kit from the web site, or find them at your local library, or online.

 

Once you have purchased the course, the student will be given one year online access to the course materials on the date you choose to begin the course, and the flash cards and Literature books will be mailed to you if you also purchase them.   
 
These Veritas Press Self Paced History courses are unique because each course includes 160 interactive class lessons and cover 32 specific events in time learned in a classical or chronological way.  So for each self paced history course you take, it is the equivelent of sitting through 160 classes.
                
 
How We Used This In Our Homeschool

 

We were asked to review  Veritas Press Self-paced History New Testiment, Greece and Rome  and a set of New Testiment, Greece and Rome Flash Cards. We had a few of the listed Literature Readers on hand to get started.  I also found a few Literature Readers online.

 

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Setting up for class is easy.  After setting up your parent account, next you set up your student account, and then select the course or courses you want to register for, select the date you plan to begin, and then proceed to check out.  Once your course date begins, your student can log in and get started.  You will have access to the self paced program for 1 year from the date you selected for the course to begin, so it will be plenty of time for your student to complete.
                

 

I must confess that I had a hard time choosing which of my kids to use this program with. Several are in the suggested age range.  The older son needs it as a review, and the next two sons both need to learn the history course too and both are audio visual learners who would most benefit from how this material is taught.  It was a really hard decision for me make.  We are using the program with my oldest son, but I can clearly see how our whole family would benefit from this class.
He is able to work independantly on the course each day.  He logs in, watches the online videos and slide (like a power point present) for each lesson and completes the interactive questions and games.  After every five lessons there is a quiz or test.  I can log in at anytime and monitor his progress.  He will be given a year end grade at the end of the program which will include an average of all his scores.  He watches videos, answers questions, reads flash cards, plays games, and completes quizzes and this is a great way to learn history.
                
Why is this course different from others and fun?  The interactive course is a combination of educational videos and slides, history and geography, silly songs to help you memorize historical facts, interactive online quizzes, and interactive games to see what your students learned from the course.  The videos are fun, even silly at times, and packed with information.  My son is always saying “Mom, did you know…” about what he is learning and lets me know he really enjoys it.


These self paced history courses are like having a history tutor at your finger tips walking you through a specific time in history through the computer.  You get so much helpful information in a fun presentation for about $1.24 a lesson. WOW!  I know $199 seems like a lot of money, but when you put it into perspective of $1.24 a lesson, it makes it seem very affordable for this kind of resource.  I am so amazed how technology can be used in a helpful way like this.  I used to tutor various subjects on a college campus through a tutoring program.  If those students only had access to resources like this, many college students would have a better grasp on their materials and do so much better in their course work too.

 

All five self paced history courses are going on my wish list for the fall.  I want to find the funds in our budget to order more of these classes and the recommended literature reader kits for all of my students.  I love the way this course includes geography, history, cultural studies, biblical studies and more in an interactive all in one class.  I can’t believe what a good fit this program is for our homeschool, and a fun way to learn history.  This program is absolutely WONDERFUL!!!
 
                

 

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We Choose Virtues Review

We have been blessed with a set of Parenting Cards from We Choose Virtues to reveiw and tell our readers about.  
We Choose Virtues Parenting Cards
13 Double Sided Heavy Duty Cards (12 Virtues, 1 Teacher)
Size: 8.5″ x 5.5″  Each
Designed for Early Developement and Elementary Ages,
Reusable and appropriate for the whole family, all ages benefit
Available in English and Spanish Languages
Available in NIRV or King James Bible Versions
Comes with a FREE download pdf Family Character Assesment
Retails for $38.49
These Parenting Cards are a part of larger character building system for creating a culture of Godly character with family menbers in your home.  Be sure to check out the web site for a listing of all their products.  The Parenting Cards are brightly colored and animated with cute characters.  These cards are loaded with helpful parenting tips on how to introduce your family to the concept of the 12 Virtues of good character.   
The front of the cards include the Virtue in big letters, a rhyming phrase to help them remember the Virtue, a saying in “first person” for them to repeat and understand how to practice the Virtue, and a scripture that reinforces the character trait.
The back of the cards include the name of the featured “Virtue Kid” that your kids will relate too. They also include an encouraging and inspiring story, a challenge to practice the Virtue, “What to say after ‘I’m sorry'”, the Virtue catchphrase, antonyms for the Virtue, and a Bible memory verse.
How We Used the Parenting Cards
We choose one of the 12 Parenting Cards to work on each week.  There is no right or wrong way to choose a specific card so we just chose one we wanted to work with.  
        
 
Virtues we learned about include (written in first person):
I am Obedient
I am Attentive
I am Gentle
I am Persevereant
I am Self Controlled
I am Forgiving
I am Helpful
I am Diligent
I am Patient
I am Content
I am Honest
I am Kind
        
We set aside 10 minutes each day to learn and practice a Virtue from a card.   The order you teach them in is up to you.  We have a mix of older and younger kids in our home and somedays I allowed the older ones to take on the challenge of using the Parenting Cards to teach our younger kids.  The older two boys are maturing rappidly and it is a very special feeling to see them act like young responsible men and show Godly character in their attitudes.
We used the ideas listed on the back to practice using the Virtue.   We also looked for practical opportunities to reinforce the specific Virtue through out the week, at home with mom and dad, with siblings, the park, at 4H meetings, at church, etc.  
You can also reinforce practicing Virtues through reading story books, doing Bible study, coloring pages, and making fun craft projects that correlate with the Virtue you are learning about that week.   I hope to do more crafts with the children over the summer as we ran out of time to complete all that I had hoped to do.  We plan to use these cards over and over and build a deeper understanding of Godly Character in our home.  By using these cards your family will be inspired to learn about, develop, and practice a lifestyle of Godly character that will last the rest of their lives.
          
We were also sent a pdf copy of the WCV Download Bundle retails for $7.99.  We used this resource a few times for the coloring pages and teaching tips, but we plan to implement these resources more when we restart the next round of using these cards.  I would like to be able to afford to print off all of the coloring pages for all 6 of my kids, as well as several other things I want to print off from this bundle including a wonderful award (like a diploma) for completion of the study that I can include in their homeschool portfolios of their accomplishments.  These resources will be great to enhance our study of Godly character traits. Hopefully, by completing all these steps in learning about Virtues we will create a happy homeschool that inspires others too.
Want more?  These Parenting Cards are included in the We Choose Virtues Homeschool ($98.99) and Family Kits ($69.99).  I would love to have the larger curriculum kits as they come with so many great teaching resources, posters, mini posters, achievement charts, stickers, flashcards, and other reinforcements.  Be sure to check out the web site for more details on these great resources.
        
Be sure to follow We Choose Virtues on their social media links for all the latest updates on their products and parenting ideas to build persons of good character in your home.  I found some great ideas on the blog like creating prayer jars, and a making a blessings calendar with my kids.  Lots of great ideas!
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Learning Palette Review

I wish I knew!

I wish I knew how easy it could be!

I wish I knew about Learning Palette and Learning Wrap-ups when I first started homeschooling.  Learning math skills does not have to be a struggle.  I wish I had known about these resources, because it would have made teaching math to my first three boys so much more fun for them and for me.  




Instead, we started off with a standard text and workbook the way I had learned math growing up…boring!  Though my oldest son seemed to grasp math easily using the textbook method, the next two sons had a completely different learning style.  I spent the first few years teaching math to them and pulling my hair out!  

We were frustrated, because by the time they were in second grade math and having to learn more complicated subtraction and early multiplication, these two were no longer willing to complete their boring math workbooks everyday.  This created a learning gap between them and their older brother who understood the concepts easily and was willing to do his assignments.  We trudged on through the past few years hating math, except for fun online math games we used.  

It wasn’t until this winter that the now 5th grader and 3rd grader and myself figured out how they learn math best.  We knew it was going to take a combination of hands on tools and somehow combine those with an online program, because they are both audio visual and kinetic learners, and reading a textbook was not working for them.   Just a few months ago we experienced a new kind of math curriculum that was online lessons and tutorial videos.  These work great and the 5th grader is now mature enough that this was very useful for him.  However, the 3rd grader was definitely not getting “it”.  Now we have the perfect hands on supplemental resource to complete the learning gap. 
Ever since we learned we were chosen to review these products, my son in third grade waited at the door daily for the delivery man to bring them.  He had helped me look over the products on line, and decide if this was something he wanted to try out or not. He begged me to ask for it in his grade level rather than for a sibling.  I was hopeful that his enthusiasm about these products meant that even he could see this was the hands on ingredient we need to get him over the frustrated math hurdle.  Finally on the day they came, he could not wait a minute to open them and dive in!



We have been so blessed with this awesome opportunity to review 3rd Grade Learning Palette Mathematics 1 Base Center Kit, 3rd Grade Learning Palette Reading 1 Base Center Kit, and the online program called LearningPalette.com .  We also reviewed Math Learning Wrap-ups , Vocabulary Intro Kit Learning Wrap-ups and even more math facts practice through 10 Days To Multiplication Mastery Workbook , and 10 Steps to Addition Mastery Workbook.  Every homeschool family needs to know about these wonderful resources. 




Learning Palette Mathematics 1 Base Center Kit
Grade 3 (grades K-5th available)
Retails for $71.99
The 3rd Grade Math 1 Base Center Kit comes with 1 LP Base, 6 curriculum packs with 12 cards each, 864 questions and answers that cover: Addition & Subtraction with 3 & 4-Digit Numbers, Fractions-Money & Decimals, Multiplication & Division, Algebra Concepts, Geometry & Measurement, and Probability & Statistics. It is packaged in a clear vinyl bag for easy storage and organization.  This kit is great for travel, visiting Grandma, Summer Vacation, Home Use, After School Programs, Tutoring, and many other situations where there are only one or two students working at the same time.

He loves the hands on method of answering questions.  He takes out the base and chooses a card to work with.  I read the directions written in very small writing that is on the card.  He is not a strong reader, and the fact that the writing is so small makes it a bit harder for him to work independently.  He needs someone to explain the directions. He is then able to read most of the simple questions, and read options for answers and occasionally still needs assistance.  He can also “read” the pictures and graphics on the colorful cards.  Then he uses the colored disks and places them into the corresponding slots on the base to show his answers to the questions.  Finally he flips the card over and checks his answers.  Each answer has the correct color marked on the backside, so all he needs to do is to see if his colors match the colors on the card.  He loves checking his answers!  He does not love it if I ask him to repeat the card and try to get all of his answers right, because he hates to repeat any lesson in any subject! He wants to get it done and move on.  I am still hoping he will mature in this area soon and realize the value of practice and repeating things until they are done well.   



Learning Palette Reading 1 Base Center Kit
Grade 3 (grades K-3 available)
Retails for $61.99

The 3rd Grade Reading 1 Base Center Kit comes with 1 LP Base, 5 curriculum packs with 12 cards each, 720 questions and answers that cover: Prefixes & Suffixes, Reading Comprehension, Synonyms-Antonyms & Homophones, Vocabulary and Grammar. It is packaged in a clear vinyl bag for easy storage and organization.  This kit is great for home use or situations where there are only one or two students working at the same time.



He really enjoyed the reading resource kit too.  But it was more difficult for him.  It has long questions to answer and some choices seem like there is more than one right answer and you really have to pay attention to grammar, spelling, and deduction.  He is not a strong reader and he found this kit to be a bigger challenge than the math kit.  My oldest son loves a learning challenge and he enjoyed the reading kit very much.  I did not have my 5th grade son try the reading kit yet, but plan to in the near future.  I think it will help him greatly too.

LearningPalette.com
Online Learning Program for Grades K-5
Retails for $
For up to 5 students per household.

Four of my school aged kids are using LearningPalette.com everyday, and all of them love it.  They actually argue about who gets to go first on the computer for schoolwork. I have seen a huge improvement in their math and reading skills since starting this program.   I wish I had a computer for each of them and they did not have to wait for it.  I have a son using grade K, a daughter using grade 1, a son using grade 3, a son using grade 5. Also my 7th grader used it twice to review some geometry concepts to help him in other math curriculum and he voiced that it was a good review for him.  



The online program is a virtual copy of the hands on resource kit.  The kids choose their grade level, the math concept they want to work on, and then progressively work through the cards that relate to that concept.   They can work out of order if they want to. 



They can even work together.  The youngest student likes to have his sister sit with him and work together.  The rest of the kids work independantly.  The computer checks their score for them and color codes passing or not passing on the card bubble so it is easy for them to see.  Not done yet is no color, passing is green,  and not passing or incomplete is yellow.  They can re-do any card they wish and get a better score.



I love it that my younger kids can benefit from the online program.  There skills are improving as answering questions involves a lot of eye hand coordination to place the correct colored disk in the correct space.  Controlling the mouse and moving the disks is challenging, but not boring.     

I hope I can buy the hands on program for the younger ones too, because I believe this resource can help every kid with every learning style.  I wish I had known about this when I first started homeschooling.  I know I said that already but it is worth repeating. Having an easy time of learning math and reading skills and having the tools to convey the concept and practice the skills rather than being frustrated, because the method doesn’t work or they don’t “get it”, is priceless.


Math Learning Wrap-ups
For ALL grade levels for learning and review.  
Even adults can improve using these tools.
Retail $44.99
This kit includes one set each of Addition, Subtraction, Multiplication, Division, and Fractions. You’ll also receive a teacher’s guide with ideas, activities, charts, and award certificates. This kit is a great value for home school families, tutors, parents or teachers who deal with students of varying degrees of ability and skill level.







Vocabulary Intro Kit
For all ages.
Retails For $35.99

4 Wrap-ups covering:
Antonyms, Synonyms, Homonyms, Compound Words and comes with a teaching guide.  Contains almost 1,000 words.
All of my kids loved using the Learning Wrap-ups.  Every day they grab them up and sit and practice their math skills.  My 3rd and 5th grader especially love the challenge these provide them.  Both boys can get easily distracted when using workbooks, but using these hands on tools allows them to use several senses at once, and helps them concentrate and focus.   They are able to compute and process information easily in an active hands on way.  We love them!
Ten Days To Multiplication Mastery 
Is a simple strategy with big results!
Retails for $12.99 for the book and wrap-up combo, or $4.99 for the book only, or $9.99 for the wrap-up only.


Ten Steps To Addition Mastery
Retails for $12.99 for the book and wrap-up combo, or $4.99 for the book only, or $9.99 for the wrap-up only.

You can learn more about Learning Wrap-ups and Learning Palette products through their social media links:
Learning Wrap-ups and Learning Palette products are great for homeschools and classrooms too.  I have shared with you the homeschool or family level products, but there is a whole lot of larger classroom options too.  Check out the web site for more details on other options that might meet the needs of your students.  The curriculum has been carefully crafted to meet the needs of State and National Math Standards and is flexible enough to be used along side any math curriculum.
Learning Palette and Learning Wrap-ups are anything but boring.  These learning resources are exciting hands on fun!  

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Little House In The Big Woods Study Guide Review

For the past several weeks my kids have been learning about the life of Laura Ingalls Wilder through the Little House In The Big Woods Study Guide by Progeny Press.  I was thrilled to learn that TOS was going to review a unit study based on Little House In The Big Woods.  I knew this was just the guidance we needed to maximize this learning experience.   
 

Little House In The Big Woods Study Guide
For Upper Elementary or Grades 3-5
Downloadable Interactive PDF Study Guide
Retails for $15.99
This is an interactive 56 page study guide.  You can fill in the blank on the computer, and save your work, or print it out and fill in the blanks and activities on paper.  It also comes with an answer key in a separate downloadable file.
Have you heard of Laura Ingalls Wilder?  Almost everyone has.  Little House In The Big Woods is on the library shelves of most homeschool families I know.  It is a mainstay in homeschooling, a right of passage so to speak for every homeschooler to read.  Last year we acquired our own copy of this wonderful book and I had big plans to use it for a unit study with our homeschool park group.  Then life happened, and we packed everything up and moved out of state. So our study on Little House In The Big Woods had to wait.
 
Laura lived from 1867 to 1957 and she wrote a series of stories about her life, and these stories were published in a series of nine books.  Her father was a pioneer and she moved several times as a child in the process of her dad securing food, areas to hunt, local work, or land to farm, until they eventually settled on a homestead.  Her stories have been compiled into books, a tv series, and movie.  There are several historical museums that honor her life in the towns where she lived.  I visited one of her childhood homes turned museum when I was growing up in Kansas.  She is an American icon.
This story shares the ups and downs of her family’s life on the frontier.  All of us can identify with growing up, and with relationship issues with family, friends, and neighbors.  But that is where much of the similarities end and a whole new adventure begins.  Laura grew up learning how to raise and hunt for food, trade and barter for things, bake, fish, travel by horse and buggy, and a one room schoolhouse, and other things most kids these days don’t experience on a day to day basis unless you are Amish.  
 
You can pick up a copy of her books at your local library, or find them online.  You might find them in used books stores too.  When writing this review I came across an audio rendition the book too.  If you have an audio learner, or just want to add another dimension to this learning experience by listening to the book being read outloud, here is a link to the audio of the first chapter. http://youtu.be/Svby9kpiWto and additional chapters are available too.
 
 
For the purpose of this review, I had both my 11 and 13 year olds read the book and study guide.  Sometimes the younger children would sit on their lap or nearby and listen to them read too.  Though this study guide is for grades 3-5, it is very adaptable for other ages too.   However, I was not as organized as I wanted to be to work with the younger kids on this project so I just let the older two work on it with assistance from me when needed.
 

 
In the 1980’s a TV series was also made based on the stories of Laura’s life called Little House On The Prairie.  This was one of my favorite TV shows growing up.  I am sure it has been the favorite show for many Americans, especially from my generation. I am so excited it is still around and my kids can enjoy it too.  This year is the 40 year anniversary of this program and there was a recent news broadcast of the cast reunion and new high definition blue ray technology that has improved the entertainment experience.  I sure would like to get a hold of the new dvd’s and be able to watch episodes with no commercials.  This is going to enhance the experience a lot when we re-do this learning adventure and include these too.


 
There are so many fun activities listed in the Interactive Study Guide to make this learning adventure lots of fun in a hands on way.  Besides reading the book, listening to the book, and watching the hit TV show or a movie, they have listed lots of great activities through out the guide.
 

 
The Interactive Study Guide corresponds to the chapters in the book.  It has summaries, questions, bible verses, vocabulary, word puzzles, writing prompts, and suggestions for activities.  It suggests field trips such as visit a local cheese factory, maple syrup farm, chicken farm and see eggs processed,
 

 
carve soap, visit a museum, make homemade butter, make pancakes and johnny cakes, graph the weather, make a seasons collage calendar, visit a beekeeping farm and also eat some fresh honey, give a speech, write a report, etc.  
 

 
Some of the fun activities we did similar to Laura’s childhood experiences included gathering eggs from chickens, 
 

 
hunted for animal tracks in the back field and found dear, racoon, squirrel, rabbit, dog, and bird tracks.  We found Indiana crawfish holes in the mud, and in the picture above we also found a 3ft long snake.   
 
We went out several times and hunted for wild food and found asparagus, dandelion greens, and wild strawberries, but we did not find any mushrooms.  The wild mulberry trees have green fruit that will soon be ripe and ready to harvest too.
 
 
My boys love to whittle, and the study guide suggested whittling or carving soap with a dull knife, but my boys just wanted to carve lots of sticks with their pocket knives.  We did several cooking projects and made butter in a jar from cream, ground oats into flour, made pancakes (we used the blender because we don’t have an old fashion grain grinder), and ate local honey on fresh homemade biscuits.   I really wanted to tap the maple trees in the front yard a few months ago too, but we could not locate the equipment to borrow in time.  We heard from several folks who tap that it was not a good year for maple sap this year due to the long winter weather we had and it messed up the season’s harvest.

 
I think this study guide is adaptable and you could easily add a lot more fun hands on options to help kids relate to Laura’s childhood.  I plan to do this study again with my younger kids and do things like: read the bible or other book by candle light or lantern, grow a historical garden or a kitchen spice mini garden, make beef jerky, preserve food for winter, listen to someone play the fiddle or try to play one yourself, go fishing and cook your fish for dinner, visit a horse farm and watch them shoe horses and care for them, take a horse and buggy ride, visit a dairy farm and milk a cow or goat, harvest and grind corn or wheat or rye (get some grain still on the stock or cob, thresh the grain and remove corn from cob, grind it into flour and make something with it), dye yarn or cloth and weave it or make something like a rug or scarf, sew an apron, set up a barter with a neighbor (trade tomatoes or something you grew in exchange for eggs or sugar or flour, or trade your labor or the scarf you made for sugar or flour), butcher a chicken and cook it for dinner, render lard or beef tallow, split and stack firewood, visit a living history farm and learn how things were done in the 1800’s, and make a scrap book or lapbook to record all the fun activities and store the worksheets and questions you answered in the study guide, etc
The study guide has lots of character building opportunities through in depth questions about the story and characters.  It also has bible study in a section called Dig Deeper.  I really liked how it related scriptures, dilemmas in the story, and real life for my kids to tie it all together with their faith.  Here is an example of the dig deeper sections of the study guide.  This one is dealing with the character trait of envy, jealousy, revenge, and choosing what is right to do :
 
This is a great hands on Interactive Study Guide that helps bring the book Little House In The Big Woods to life and I definitely think it is a great addition to our homeschool learning.  I plan for our family to redo this study this fall with all the kids all together, and either read it to them or have them listen to the audio of the book and then I will read the study questions to them and we can discuss as a family.  I hope to spread out some of the activities and begin them this summer so that they can relate more to Laura’s character in the book.  I want the younger children to have the opportunity to benefit from this learning experience and we will repeat many of the activities in the study guide.  We will also set aside a regular time each week to watch the reruns of the hit TV program to enhance our learning experience.  I am very excited and I am sure the kids will be too.  
 

 
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What On Earth Can I Do? Review

If there was one Christian Worldview Curriculum we have reviewed in our homeschool learning adventures, that I have consistently enjoyed teaching my kids, it would have to be the What We Believe series through Apologia.  





What We Believe

Why should we teach a biblical worldview?  Because we should be ready at all times to give a testimony of what we believe, and why we believe it.  Our children need to know how to understand the world around them, and see the world with eyes and understanding of biblical truths.  They need to understand what the bible says is right and wrong and that their decisions should follow what they believe.  They need to see how to apply their beliefs while walking out their faith on a daily basis.
There are four volumes in the What We Believe series:
Who Is God?
Who Am I?
Who Is My Neighbor?
What On Earth Can I Do?

Each volume has four component options:
Textbook
Workbook
Jr. Workbook
Coloring book


What On Earth Can I Do? 

We were recently given the opportunity to review the fourth volume in this series called What On Earth Can I Do.  This is a wonderful resource for families and faith based classes too. 



Hardcover   294 page textbook
For ALL ages 
Retails for $39.00

This is a great big full color book made of very good materials.  You can tell it is a book that will last a long time.  My kids really enjoyed the variety in this text.  Colorful pictures and stories criss cross so much of life today and through history and keeps the focus of the learning material very interesting to kids.
There are eight lessons, and suggested to be spread out over 24 weeks.  But go at your own pace.  The focus areas of the lessons are easy to read and understand.  
Each lesson contains these focus areas:
Big Idea – main topic of the lesson
What You Will Do – learning object
Short Story – Characters similar age as your children work through life situations.
Think About It – Questions that probe your students understanding.
Words You Need To Know – vocabulary words
Hide It In Your Heart – Two Bible memory verses 
Integrated Learning – Additional articles with interdisciplinary topics to help the student apply what they have learned.  It involves various areas such as math, art, history, science, and more.
Prayer – Lessons conclude with prayer.
Parables Of Jesus
Going Deeper
House Of Truth – Four lessons in the text work together progressively to help tie the learning in with the other textbooks in the What We Believe curriculum series.    
  

What On Earth Can I Do?  Notebook Journal and What On Earth Can I Do? Jr. Notebook Journal are a hands on way to apply what your students are learning in the textbook.  It is filled with questions, vocabulary cross word puzzles, mini books, prayers, scriptures, ministry ideas, observations of faith in action, and more. The regular Notebook Journal is for older students and retails for $24.  The Jr. Notebook journal is for students ages 6 to 9 and retails for $24.   


For younger students and corresponds to lessons in the textbook and journals.
64 coloring pages
Retails for $8.00

Be sure to check out the table of contents and free lesson samples of the above resources on the Apologia web site.  

How we used this curriculum in our homeschool:

It is suggested to set up a schedule to use the curriculum that works for your own family. The curriculum is flexible and adaptable to any family’s needs.  My oldest worked independently and read the textbook on his own, and I read the text to the rest of the children. We discussed the details and answered questions all together.  



The curriculum has a combination of reading, writing, vocabulary, prayers, faith in action, self evaluation, social observation, and various suggested activities.  It criss crosses through the bible, through history, math, science, social studies, language arts, cultures, practical life skills, art, and more.  We enjoy this variety and cross curricular approach.  It is a great big unit study and a very familiar format for us.  It is easy to teach to multiple ages and skill level of children using this curriculum.

Here is a small example of how we implemented chapter 4 and tied it to our real life learning.  Chapter 4 is about “Where Is Your Treasure?”  It covers how we can get trapped in thinking our value is measured by what we own.  It exposes greed in our home, our society, and our world.  It takes a closer look at history and how greed shaped our culture, war, and other events.  It also looks at the opposite of greed and how giving generously and hardwork can also shape a culture and bring positive change.  


In chapter 4 the kids also learned about Victory Gardens during the 1940’s and the impact they had on the nation during World War II.   The text challenged the kids to build their own garden too.  We read the text, answered questions and had discussion. We completed our notebook journals for the lesson which included bible study, vocabulary, word puzzles, coloring pages and more.  



This chapter corresponded so well with our life right now.  We went outside and made our own victory garden.  Check out our recent garden story for all the details.  Here is a picture of my 11 year old’s tomato plant.  It is blooming and has a few small tomatoes on it already.  


They also learned about the history of money, different things used as money before paper money and coins were invented, and studied about famous people like William Hamilton, John Wesley, Charles Foster Cane “Citizen Cane”, technology, countries like Great Britain, USA, Germany, China, special events like D-Day, World War II, etc. 



The kids enjoy the activities in the notebook journals.  We used both the regular Journal and the Jr. Journal format to record our answers, observations, further thinking, vocabulary practice, word games, scripture study, etc.



This curriculum is very easy to implement.  The textbook gives a suggested schedule of spending two days a week and three weeks on each lesson, for a total of six days spent on each lesson lasting about 24 +/- weeks.  The notebook journals also list a suggested schedule to use them in combination with the curriculum.  We worked on the curriculum three days a week for the purpose of the review, and will take a break now that our school year is winding down and pick this up on the suggested schedule for our faith building curriculum for the coming school year.  It is a keeper!



I would definitely recommend this curriculum to all my homeschool friends, families with kids, church groups, parenting classes, etc.  This is a wonderful curriculum to work through and learn about what you believe and why, and learn practical ways to apply what you believe in real life.  I love it!

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Micro Business For Teens Review

My oldest sons ages 13, 11, and 9 have wanted to start their own business for the past several years.  This excites their dad and me.  We both did odd jobs and had our own little mini businesses at those ages too.  We have owned businesses as adults too.  It is really exciting to see our kids have that drive to want to work, be creative, and be self motivated.  

Even though my husband and I have both owned businesses in the past, I wasn’t exactly sure how to help my kids / teens understand and explore their options and see the big picture of running a business until an opportunity to review Micro Business For Teens was offered to us.

          

Micro Business For Teens

Great for ages 10-18 
Even though it is designed for these ages, I think it is adaptable to all ages, and great to do together as a whole family too.
Curriculum includes the following items: Starting A Micro Business, Running A Micro Business, and Micro Business For Teens Workbook.  It is created by Carol Topp, CPA.  Having this curriculum is wonderful because it is like having a CPA teach your teen how to set up and run a business they are interested in.  In addition to the curriculum, there are several videos available on Youtube, and she has a blog with lots of helpful articles that can be of additional assistance.  
          

Starting A Micro Business $9.95 paperback or $4.95 e-Book
112 pages with 7 chapters by Carol Topp, CPA.

Starting A Micro Business covers:
 
Chapter One: What is a Micro Business?
Characteristics of Micro Businesses
Simple and Fast Start Up
One Worker
Sole Proprietorship
Little Start Up Money Needed
Home-Based
Low Risk
Manageable
Purpose to Learn and Earn

Chapter Two: Getting an Idea: A Collection of Micro Business Ideas Best for Teenagers
Ideas for Micro Businesses
Avoiding Scams

Chapter Three: Problems and Pitfalls and How to Avoid Them
The Problem with Products
Solutions for Problems With Products
The Problems With Service Businesses
Solutions for Service Businesses
The Problem With Partners

Chapter Four: Plan It First: Writing a Business Plan
Business Concept
Marketing Plan
Financial Plan
Example Business Plan
Product Business Example

Five: Financing Your Business Without Breaking the Bank
What Do You Need to Start a Micro Business?
No Money Down
The Problem With Debt
Where Will the Money Come From?
Start Without Risk

Chapter Six: Taking Care of Business: Extra Information to Get You Started
Home-based Business Series
Babysitting
Cleaning
House Sitter
Food Preparation
Lawn Care
Pet Sitting
Self Publishing
Sewing
Web Design

Chapter Seven: Encouragement: Final Words to Motivate You
Keep Learning
Keep It Manageable
Learning Has Benefits
You Can Do This
Get an Encourager
Persevere and Press On
Share Your Story

          

Running A Micro Business $9.95 paperback or $4.95 e-Book
134 page paperback book with 9 chapters by Carol Topp, CPA.

Running A Micro Business covers:

Chapter One: Sales
Your Sales Statement
Selling in Person
Your Sales Presentation
Making the Sale
Getting Paid in Person
Selling Online
Getting Paid Online
Chapter Two: Marketing
Describe Your Customer
Reaching Your Local Market
Reaching a Distant Market
Progress Step by Step
Make a Marketing Plan
Chapter Three: Customer Service
Serving Customers is Good for Business
What to Charge
Tips and Secrets of Customer Service
Chapter Four: Record Keeping
What Records to Keep
Record Transactions
Keep Supporting Documents
Keep Official Letters
How to Record Your Start Up Expenses
Record Purchases of Equipment
Chapter Five: Bookkeeping Basics
A Simple Bookkeeping Method
What to Do and When
Daily, Monthly, Quarterly, Annually
Should You Learn Bookkeeping or Accounting?
Hire Help If You Need It
Chapter Six: Using Software
Personal Money Management Software
Small Business Accounting Software
Recommendation
Chapter Seven: Legal Names and Numbers
Does a Micro Business Need a Name?
When is a Business License Needed?
Should a Micro Business be a Sole Proprietorship?
Should a Teenager Start Business With a Friend?
When Is a Tax ID Number Needed?
Chapter Eight: Reducing Risk
Is Insurance Needed?
What’s an LLC?
Chapter Nine: Time Management
Goal Setting
To Do Lists
Time Management
What if YOu Cannot Get it All Done?


          
Micro Business For Teens Workbook $14.95 paperback or $9.95 e-Book
“How To” put everything you learned from both the “starting” and “running” books into practice.

Micro Business For Teens Workbook is full of hands on assignments and is meant to be done in two parts, the first half with the first book, and the second half corresponds to the second book in the curriculum series.  The workbook covers:
Chapter One: What is a Micro Business?


Chapter Two: Getting an Idea

Chapter Three: Problems and Pitfalls

Chapter Four: Writing a Business Plan

Chapter Five: Starting Without Debt or Risk

Chapter Six: Research and Learning More

Chapter Seven: Encouragement

Chapter Eight: Sales

Chapter Nine: Marketing

Chapter Ten: Customer Service

Chapter Eleven: Record Keeping

Chapter Twelve: Bookkeeping & Software

Chapter Thirteen: Names, Numbers and Insurance

Chapter Fourteen: Time Management


How we used Micro Business For Teens curriculum in our home:

Our oldest son, age 13, read the materials for the purpose of the review, however all three of our older boys (13, 11, 9), want to learn about running a business.  We hope to get two more workbooks soon so the other boys can write in it and keep track of all they are learning about how to start and run a micro business.  They all want to start earning their own money. 
The books give lots of expamples of possible businesses kids / teens can start and run with little expense and little risk. That is essentially the definition of a micro business.  A micro business is something that is easy to start up, requires little expense, can be done from home if needed, has flexible hours, and can be done by one person, or a couple of people.  

We did some brainstorming and we looked through the lists of possibilities offered in the books, and they decided they wanted to use a resource we already have available.  We have a homestead with a large yard and some farm land. Another resource the kids have is their livestock through their 4H projects. They are welcome to use these resources in planning their first businesses if they want too.  They want to expand someday and work both on and off the homestead, perhaps first by taking their extra products to the farmer’s market.  Eventually the boys want to be involved in farming, construction, landscape design, and computers. 
They plan to do a combination of farming projects, construction projects, and computer projects to earn money.  The oldest wants to farm, sell eggs and garden produce, and work with computer design. The 11 year old wants to farm, run a landscaping business, and do construction.  The 9 year old wants to farm, and run a construction business.  We plan to continue with this curriculum so that all three of the boys can put this material into practice.  They can begin by openning a business together, or businesses that compliment each other and build on each others strengths and shared resources. They have the resources of the farm available to use, so farming related business seems like the most logical kind of business for them to start with first at this point in time.  We live about 3 miles outside of town, right on the highway.  We have neighbors along the highway, but we don’t live in a subdivision.  So they will need a way to market their products and services to folks going down the highway. 

The simplest products they thought about raising are fresh eggs and garden produce.  The 13 year old has made a business plan and wants to make money selling eggs and garden produce to customers that come to our farm.  All three boys are in 4H through Wayne County and learning about chickens, goats, rabbits, contruction toys (Lego and Robotics), and aquaponics and gardening.  They will show their projects in the local county fair in June.  They plans to sell the eggs and extra produce that are the end result of their 4H projects this summer.  Since all three boys are doing similar projects in 4H, they will join together with in this business plan.

So the kids set out to learn how to start their business, set goals, and implement steps to reach their goals.
Goals starting and progressing their business:
Fresh Egg Business Goals:
1. Select a chicken raising location on the farm.
2. Build a chicken coop with nest boxes and fence.
3. Aquire feeding and watering equipment
4. Aquire chickens after researching egg laying breeds.
5. Provide ongoing care for chickens (feed, water, heat, safety).
6. Aquire egg cartons
7. Advertise and reach customers
8. Sell eggs year around.
9. Keep records of expenses and sales

Garden Produce Business Goals:
1. Selecting a garden spot.
2. Tilling a garden and prepping the soil.
3. Selecting seeds and plants.
4. Planting.
5. Tending the plants, weeding, fertilizing.
6. Harvest the produce July-September.
7. Advertise and reach potential customers and make a sign
    to post at the roadside,
8. Sell produce,  and build a produce stand to display the
    produce on.  May need a cash box with a calculator and a
    notebook, or a portable cashregister to keep track of sales.
9. Keep records of expenses and sales

Progress:

Fresh Egg Business:
1. The boys helped daddy select a location to raise the chickens.  They picked a spot in the back yard between the house and the barn.
2. The boys helped daddy build a small chicken house with nest boxes from some leftover materials.  It is built on dirt.  We hope someday we can add wheels or someway to move it around the yard when it needs to be moved to fresh ground.  Daddy works in construction and had some materials left over from a project he worked on back in December.  He helped repair a barn that was damaged from storms and there was some metal and wood materials left over.  Because Daddy had these things on hand, the boys had very little expense building the chicken coop, but they did have to buy a roll of chicken wire and some posts for the outside fence and the inside divide, because those were not materials we had on hand. It took a few hours to build the coop. They learned so much about carpentry and recycling on this project.  Normally their dad would have thrown away most of the scraps when he finished a job, but thankfully he saved these and they were perfect to build this little coop with.  Though it is small, it is a good start for their business and when finances become available we can expand into a larger coop for them to accommodate a larger flock.



3. They set up the chicken house / coop with watering can, feeder, heat lamp, next boxes, and a roost.

4. A friend gave our family eight laying hens they no longer needed.  Some of the hens were a year old, and some were two years old.  Because they were going through a molt, a rest period of loosing and replacing feathers, not all of the hens were currently laying eggs, but every other week or so, another chicken seems to finish her molt and start laying.  

We went to her house and picked up the chickens and transported them in a dog crate.  There were three Barred Rocks, three Road Island Reds, one Americana, and one Black Australorp.  When we first got the chickens home, we set them up in their new home.  We kept them inside their pen for the first day or so to get acquainted with their surroundings.  But eventually we opened the outside pen and now they roam the back yard freely and eat bugs and young plants all day long.


Within two days of being set free to eat fresh grass and bugs and freely roam the back yard, some of the hens started laying eggs.  They were giving us one egg on one day, and then two eggs on the next day.  They kept that pattern for several weeks.  Then a few more started laying and we seemed to get three a day fairly regularly. After several more weeks, now we are getting anywhere from four to five eggs a day, and on Mother’s Day we actually got six eggs.  Yahoo!
          

The kids also have baby chickens, called pullets, for their 4H projects, and will show them in the county fair in June.  The pullets should be ready to lay eggs sometime by late July or early August.  Hopefully by early fall, the kids should have a good steady supply of fresh eggs they can sell.


They started off keeping the baby chickens in our house, in the kitchen, for two weeks where it is a lot warmer than outside.  Then they moved them to the chicken house into a brooding box they built out of plywood.  The chicks lived in the brooding box for several more weeks before turning them loose to join the adult chickens.  They had to feed and water them daily, and clean out the poop and re-bed the bottom of the box weekly.  I am so thankful my husband is able to teach the kids carpentry and husbandry / farming skills.
5. The boys have taken care of the chickens daily, providing food, water, shelter for all of the chickens, and heat and safety for the baby chickens. 
6. The boys have been saving their egg cartons and have about 25 saved so far.  They will need to collect a lot more.  They will also need to offer an incentive for people to return egg cartons to be re-used.  Perhaps they can offer a .10 cent discount if customers return clean cartons that can be re-used.
They still have a ways to go to reach all of their Fresh Egg Business goals.

Garden Produce Business:
The boys have worked as a team and accomplished the first 4 goals of their garden business so far. 

1. We located two areas for gardens and staked off their locations and size.  One garden is going where we had a garden last summer, and one garden is a new location.  



2. We are trying to keep all expenses to a minimum.  Thankfully a friend from church loaned us a small garden tractor with a pto tiller for a day to help till the garden plots. The boys learned to run the tractor and helped till two large garden plots. They learned to operate a stick shift transmission and operate a clutch and drive the tractor in 2nd gear, reverse, and raise and lower the pto tiller.  We paid for desile fuel to help run the tractor.  It took about 5 hours to till both locations.
3. We have seed leftover from previous garden years, so we will not need to buy seed other than sweet corn.  We did however buy started tomato plants.  I also just got word that our family was chosen to receive a gift of seeds through a kids seed swap program. This is a program we just joined and know very little about except that they had extra seeds and were looking for a family to send them too. Today we found out we won the entry to receive the seeds.  We have just supplied them with our contact info, and can’t wait to see what seeds they send to us! 



4. The kids and I planted 1/2 of the first garden in seeds, and the other half of the first garden in tomato plants.  All six of the kids pitched in to help plant.  So far, we planted peas, green beans, kale, spinach, red onions, white onions, beets, radishes, savoy cabbage, cauliflower, Jalapeno peppers, red chili peppers, sweet banana peppers, sweet bell peppers, acorn squash, and transplanted 52 tomato plants.  The kids operated a hoe, hand shovel, and a stringer to make rows and holes for planting. They also applied a few shovel fulls of rabbit manure to the tomato plants to help fertilize the soil more.  We worked in the garden until rain forced us to stop. Then we had rain for the next 7 days and were unable to progress further until the ground dries out. 

 

They still have a ways to go before reaching all of their Micro Business goals and business plan.  Their Garden Produce and Fresh Egg Business goals are a work in progress.  Things they have not yet had time to do are marketing things like work on making business cards, flyers, or a website. We have software to set up a spreadsheet for expenses, but have not implemented it yet.  It would be nice to have software that is specific to farming, but we can use the basic program that we have for now.  Since their 4H projects are due at the fair in late June, I don’t see the kids finishing a whole lot more on this or getting customers until after the fair is over. They should have items (produce and eggs) ready to sell by mid July. The produce harvest should continue through the end of September, if the weather stays nice, and the eggs should continue all winter.  If we can afford a greenhouse at some point, then they will be able to produce lettuce and greens all winter too. They are really interested in a solar greenhouse aquaponics set up.  But that is not an option today.  

One big goal they are still learning from the workbook is a file system for paper record keeping.  They have a project record book for their 4H projects they will turn in to the judges at fair time.  But they still need to set up a file folder system for their business to keep track of EVERYTHING!
But overall, they are well on their way to getting their new micro business started. 

Thank you Micro Business For Teens for helping us learn, and apply, practical skills about how to start and run a micro business.  We hope to continue with our learning, get a few more workbooks, and be ready to open for business when the produce and eggs and in peak supply.
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Foundations A by Logic Of English Review

I am so thankful for the opportunity to review Foundations A by Logic Of English.  



Foundations A

Ages 4 to 7
Various components listed below:
Foundations A Teacher’s Manual – Printed   $38.00
224 pages. Case-bound hardcover. Full color.

230 pages. High-quality paperback. Full color.

These two books go hand in hand, and you need both to use the program.

Additional recommended add-ons for the Foundations A curriculum we received to facilitate this review include:



Doodling Dragons: An ABC Book of Sounds  $15.00
56 pages. Hardcover. Full color.



Basic Phonogram Flash Cards $18
Handwriting Tactile Cards $28
Phonogram Game Cards Red $10
Phonogram Game Cards Blue $10
Rhythm of Handwriting Quick Reference Chart $10
Small Student Whiteboard $9
Why Choose Foundations A?


Foundations A is a “hands on” begining reading, phonics, spelling, and writing program.  It covers lots of different learning styles (visual, auditory, tactile, etc)  for children and gives them opportunity to practice a variety of skills.  It helps you, the Parent / Teacher establish the correct “foundation” for building reading and writing skills in your child.  

The curriculum includes:


48 Lessons (40 instructional lessons
and 8 Assessment and Review lessons)
6 Student Readers that develop true reading
 comprehension skills rather than encouraging 
students to “picture read”
22 Phonemic Awareness Games
28 Phonogram Games
10 Reading Comprehension Games
2 High Frequency Word Games

Summary of goals your child will accomplish when working with Foundations A (adapted from the Logic Of English web site): 

By the time students finish Foundations Level A, they will: 

Have an awareness of how sounds are formed in the mouth.

Blend and segment words auditorily (with no printed words).

Be able to identify the initial and final sound in a word and 
match it to the correct single-letter phonogram.

Read all the sounds for / from A-Z.

Write the lowercase alphabet in manuscript or cursive.

Read consonant-vowel-consonant words.

Be able to decode 25 high-frequency words with some fluency.

Spell short vowel words.

Read short vowel words with consonant blends.

Read and comprehend phrases with all lowercase letters 
and short vowels.

Check out the web site for more information about the benefits of Foundations curriculum and why it can meet the needs of your homeschool.

How we used Foundations A:
I am using Foundations A with the recommended add ons, with my 5 year old son for the purpose of this review.  We are completing one lesson a day, and sometimes going back over the lesson again the following day if he needs more work in that skill.  The lessons are short and easy to do. This is a very nice beginning level learning product and he is really enjoying it.  He is so proud of “his” curriculum!
I like Foundations A so much, that I want to purchase an extra workbook for my 6 year old daughter as soon as I can.  My youngest child, age 2 1/2 also loved to follow along and mimic his older brother too.  I will get him a workbook in the next year or so when he is ready. The reusable resource kit will last for several kids and through all the various levels of the curriculum for future use too. There is an app available to use on your smart phone (or other devices) that I would like to get too.  My son loves to use my phone, but I hope someday we can get a learning device like an Ipad or a tablet so they can do a lot more.


First off, I was thrilled with the quality of these materials.  Logic of English has spared no expense on the materials these products are made of. Everything was heavy duty and of good quality and will last for a long time.

The Teachers Manual is a large hardback book.  It is full color and laid out very nicely.  It was very easy for me to stay organized, follow instructions, and implement the lessons. There are lots of colorful graphics that organize everything and provide extra tips too.  I think it is the nicest Teacher’s Manual I have ever owned.  If all Teacher’s Manuals were made to these standards, it would be so easy and wonderful to teach various subjects.  

The Student Workbook is a large full color paperback workbook.  There are lots of bright colors and interesting graphics for the kids.  He really likes it and I think that partly has to do with the fact that there is not too much information on a page, as the instructions for each lesson for the workbook are located in the Teacher’s Manual.  This helps to keep the workbook easy to read and do for young learners.  They must listen to the instructions from the Teacher and follow along and then complete the answers.  Below is a picture of the very first lesson my son did and he was listening to me explain compound words, learning how to “glue” words together to make a compound word, and then locating the matching picture.


The Tactile Flash Cards are very nice.  We have never had a set of tactile flash cards before.  It incorporates more than just your sense of sight, it blends sight learning with your sense of touch to help your brain remember and process the information.  You remember better the more senses you incorporate when learning new skills and information.  The cards are made on very heavy paper and include a sandpaper shape and letters.  The student traces the shape or letter with their finger.  Then practices writing the shape or letter on the wipe off board.  They first learn shapes or directions of lines before learning the letters that are made up of those shapes and lines.

He loved using the wipe off board to copy the tactile cards.  He is left handed so that made it a little challenging for him.  When you use your left hand and write from left to right on a wipe of board, you tend to accidentally wipe off what you just wrote as you move along.  That got him a little upset after it happened several times, but he kept working at it, and re-wrote his work so he could show me that he completed it.
The curriculum is full of learning games and hands on activities.  There are games that involve large and small motor skills where you move through out, spelling games, listening games, card games using the Phonogram Game Cards, and more.  An example of a silly learning game is to use a fly swatter and slap the correct phonogram card when the teacher calls out the sound.  There are also 6 readers, or picture books in the back of his workbook that he gets to assemble.  

The curriculum is fun, easy to implement, multisensory, and my son is so excited about all the different activities in his curriculum.  I would definitely recommend these materials for homeschools, classrooms, afterschool programs, tutoring, and ESL programs.  They are great resources.
 
Great news! The Foundations A is the first level in a series of learning materials. Each level is progressive and builds on the last.  There is A, B, C, and D levels.  Would you like to try out a sample of the different levels before you buy?  There are FREE SAMPLES of ALL student levels, teachers manuals, readers, and more.  


  
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