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Drive Thru History Adventures Review

Is your History curriculum boring?  Do you need to spice it up and get your kids excited about History?  Would your kids like to go on a fun adventure?  Would you like to see your kids (or the whole family) learn something new while they take a field trip through History right from their living room?

If you answered yes to any of these questions, then I encourage you to check out Drive Thru History Adventures from Dave Stotts and his terrific History Curriculum.

Drive Thru History Adventures

Drive Thru History Adventures

Online Subscription (Yearly or Monthly)

3 History Courses

Ancient History, American History, Biblical History

Adventures TV

Easy Accessible

24 hours a day 7 days  a week.

Courses:

Drive Through History Adventures has 3 History courses to choose from that cover American History Adventures, Ancient History Adventures, and Bible History Adventures.  These courses are based on the Drive Through History TV series and are presented from a Christian Worldview.  Your subscription gives you unlimited access around the clock 24/7 to all three courses to use at your convenience.  You can choose to do one course, or do all three.

Ancient History Adventures (12 weeks)

Covers Empires of Greece, Rome and Asia Minor

American History Adventures (12 weeks)

Covers Early American History From Columbus to the Constitution

Bible History Adventures (18 weeks)

Covers the Life of Jesus

Visit 50+ locations in Israel

Here is a short video by Dave Stotts explaining his mission with Drive Thru History Adventures.

For the purpose of this review, I will focus on the Bible History Adventures.

Bible History Adventures

Lessons:

There are 18 lessons in the Bible History Adventures curriculum so far with plans to add more.  The lessons focus on the Life Of Jesus of Nazareth written in The Gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John) of the Bible and include:

Episode 1: The Historical Landscape

Episode 2: The Announcements

Episode 3: Jesus is Born

Episode 4: Jesus Grows Up

Episode 5: Jesus Starts His Ministry

Episode 6: Jesus Returns to Galilee

Episode 7: Jesus Begins His Miracles

Episode 8: Jesus Teaches with Authority

Episode 9: The Sermon on the Mount

Episode 10: Jesus Travels the Sea of Galilee

Episode 11: Jesus Travels North

Episode 12: A Final Trip to Jerusalem

Episode 13: Jesus Arrives in Jerusalem

Episode 14: The Last Supper

Episode 15: The Trial of Jesus

Episode 16: The Crucifixion of Jesus

Episode 17: The Resurrection of Jesus

Episode 18: Who is Jesus?

Each lesson is a combination of videos, readings, photographs of historical places, historical people, architecture, art, illustrations, famous quotes, discussion questions, optional downloadable worksheets, and a dig deeper section that helps expand the subject material for older or upper level students.

Dave Stotts takes you on location to learn the history of Jesus of Nazareth’s life, the events that took place, and a close look at why over 1/3 of the world’s population believes he is who he said he was, the Son of God and Savior of the world, and why they follow’s his teachings.  He proves why Jesus is the most important person in history for over 2000+ years.

Here is a shortened example of the kinds of videos and information you will find in this curriculum.

In addition to access to all three History curriculums for the entire year, the Drive Thru History Adventures subscription also gives us access to the Adventures TV program extras.

Adventures TV:

Dave is a TV star.  He has had his own TV series called Drive Thru History for many years.   His program appeals to both Christians and non-Christians, because of all the travel adventures, architecture, culture, and unique exploration of history in each episode.   For subscribers of the Drive Thru History Adventures curriculum, he has given free access to many of his other videos available on Adventures TV.  You can view Adventures TV from your computer and mobile devices.

Our Experience

For the purpose of this review, we are focusing on the Bible History Adventures curriculum.

We have both older kids and younger kids in our family.  We used the curriculum differently depending on their age.  The older kids used the full curriculum on the computer.  For our younger children, we connected the TV to the computer so they could view the videos together in the living room.  The younger children only used the videos and discussion questions of the curriculum.

The Bible History Adventures curriculum covers the life of Jesus written in Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John of the New Testament in the Bible.  These are called The Gospels.  The kids go on an adventure to discover who Jesus is, what his life was like and what was going on in the world at that time and since, and why Jesus is so important in the history of the world even today after 2000 years since his birth.  The kids get to go on a virtual field trip and visit 50+ locations in Israel.

I thought it might help to show our readers some examples from the Bible History Adventures lessons.  So below are screen shots from Lesson 1.

Examples from Lesson 1: The Historical Landscape

We started out with a 27+/- minute video to watch.

Dave Stotts is adventurous, serious at times, engaging and funny and he has a special way of making the process of learning History interesting.

It is wonderful to see all these amazing places he visits as he explains what took place.

After the video, there is a famous quote that relates to the learning. 

Next is a photo on location.

Next is a summary of the learning.

There is a bible scripture (s) study.  The lesson gives the Scripture Reading and what verses to focus on.  It offers an in-bedded bible or “bible box” for reading the verses within the program as you do the lesson. You can select what version of the bible you want to use and adjust the font size for ease of reading.  Having the verses listed right in the lesson is helpful.

There are examples of famous art and additional historical information.

Next is more historical information.

Next are discussion questions.  The questions can be answered individually or discussed as a group with the family.

The discussion questions as well as the lesson summary and other info is listed in PDF format for printing if desired.

Printing out the downlable PDF’s are a great way to keep a record of the learning adventure.  It is also a great way for older students to practice writing their thoughts out in paragraph or essay format.

Finally, each lesson has a Dig Deeper section for additional reading and research for older students.

We love using this curriculum.  For our needs we opted to use our bible and favorite online bible, rather than the provided scriptures within the “bible box” offered in the lessons.   Sometimes you just need the bible in your hands while you read, and at other times, the online bible works great too.  The online bible we use is free, and we can choose any version to read from in any language, and even compare scriptures in different versions to improve our understanding, and search related key words etc.

Another reason we like the online bible is that it puts the verses up on a whole page and we can adjust the font size and it is easier to read. Another advantage to the online bible we normally use, is that it has an option to “read the verses out loud”.  Over the years, the read aloud option has helped the children read along and get a better understanding.  Another free bible resource we use also looks various words or subjects up in Hebrew or Greek and defines the true meaning of those words and shows how they are used through out the entire bible so you get an incredible deep understanding of the message Father God wants you to know.  I love these extra features when using the online study bible.

After starting this review, my kids were sent some suveniers.  Dave Stotts sent them Drive Thru History Adventures patches and stickers and an autograph signed picture of Dave on location in front of his Jeep. The older boys took possession of the patches right away to put on their outdoor adventure back packs.  The younger kids put the stickers on their folders.   I just wanted to mention this to show that Dave goes the extra mile to reach out to people and encourage them.  My kids were encouraged by his outreach.

Dave makes himself available to families through the use of social media.  One way he does this is through a Facebook group for families using the curriculum.  He also reaches out in other ways and you can leave a question for him through his contact form on the website.  I am very grateful that Dave is so personable and interested in real relationships with people.  You can see that he has remained humble and approachable even through he is so popular.

Final thoughts about using this program:

We really love the work Dave Stotts has done in both the Drive Thru History TV series (which we have been a fan for several years) and the new Drive Thru History Adventures curiculum.   Dave has a way of presenting historical facts in a fun memorable way.

In Bible History Adventures, Dave drives from place to place to over 50+ locations and takes you along for the ride.  The amount of historical sites and information covered is incredible!  The lessons are as short or as long as you want them to be and they are flexible.   Whether you use the bible provided in the popup box in the lesson to study the scriptures, or use another bible study resource is up to you.  Whether you verbally answer the discussion questions or print out the worksheets and write the answers in essay form is up to you.  You can access the curriculum 24 hours a day, 7 days a week as it is convenient for you to do so.

Most of my kids are audio visual learners and this curriculum fits their learning style.  My younger kids are able to enjoy the videos about historical places, people, and events, while my oldest son who likes to read on, is able to dig deeper and do the additional research he enjoys.   And with the annual subscription, we get to enjoy all of this wonderful history curriculum (Ancient, America, and Bible) for a full year.

Dave Stotts and Drive Thru History Adventures is a great way to spice up the learning and a sure cure for boredom.  There is something for everyone with this curriculum.

Discount Specials

There are several discount specials going on right now.  There is a free 7 day trial offer, and for new annual subscriptions Dave Stotts is offering a free set of DVD’s from Drive Thru History Adventures called The Gospels.

There is also a 20% off discount offer available for readers of The Old Schoolhouse Magazine.

Check out both resources to see the current offers and find one that fits best for your family.

Social Media

Dave Stotts is very active on Social Media.  Be sure to check out Dave and Drive Thru History on their social media for all the latest special offers, products, and updates.

Facebook 
Pinterest
Instagram
YouTube

Homeschool Review Crew

Be sure to check out what others on the Homeschool Review Crew had to say about using products from Drive Thru History Adventures in their home.

Please share.

Starfall Home Membership Review

Have you ever checked out the the Starfall Education Foundation website? It has a lot of learning fun to offer!

We were recently given a one year subscription to their upgraded paid version called The Starfall Home Membership in exchange for writing an honest review of our experience.

The Starfall Home Membership

Online Learning

Phonics, Reading, Spelling Games,

Music, Learning Games, Math

PreK – 2nd Grades

One Year Subscription

Retail $35

The Starfall Home Membership subscription includes free mobile App to access the membership account from a mobile device.

The Starfall Home Membership

The Starfall Home Membership is an educational program for younger kids.  It is designed for kids in PreK through 2nd grade.  It is also great for kids (or adults) of any age who are learning English As A Second Language, any age with Special Needs, or even older kids who need Remedial work, or to just for fun to brush up on some of the basic phonics, reading, and math skills.

Starfall Education Foundation offers both a free version and a paid version (The Starfall Home Membership) of their online program that is filled with supplemental educational learning games.  They also offer a FREE mobile app, a printed version of full curriculum for sale and other resources for sale, and FREE parent teacher resources including FREE worksheet generators, posters, books, and other free printables.  Requirements to use the program are access to Internet service, and a computer or a laptop or mobile internet compatible device to access the program.

Check out this video for a short demonstration of a phonics spelling game from the Starfall Education Foundation.

Here is an example of a fun math game.  To see it in action, click the “play button” on this video for a short demonstration.

The Parent – Teacher Center

Looking through the Parent – Teacher Center can help give parents ideas on how to use the program and incorporate the program into their student’s curriculum.

It includes supplemental worksheets, custom worksheets, posters, curriculum downloads, informative guides, and the latest information from Starfall to keep you up to date.

Starfall also offers an organized lesson plan already put together.  You can use this resource online, or purchase the printed curriculum.  They offer a full printed curriculum that comes boxed with several additional extras (books, games, toys, manipulatives) that go along with the curriculum too.  Be sure to check out their curriculum if you are looking for a helpful resource.

Our Experience

I used The Starfall Home Membership with both my six year old and nine year old sons.

Though they had to share the same dashboard (as families are only given one account), each boy enjoyed different aspects of the program.

We worked on this review of Starfall during January and February.  It is accessible 24/7 and we used it on weekdays as a supplement to our curriculum and weekends if the kids requested to play on it.

The first thing the kids did each day they worked on the program was view the interactive calendar.

This was a fun exercise to see and learn more about the days and months.

The calendar lists the main holidays each month, and then you can add items, such as students can dress it up with the provided border options and stamps or print and color it.  My boys changed the border for the holiday and marked the weekends stamped with stars.

Holidays for January included:

  1. New Years Day
  2. Martin Luther King Jr Day

Holidays for February included:

  1. Groundhog Day
  2. Valentines Day
  3. Chinese New Year
  4. Presidents Day

The calendar feature also asks the kids a few questions about what day of the week and other questions that helps them get familiar with reading and using the calendar.

Another fun personalizing feature of Starfall is the avatar.  Because there is only one account per household, there is only one avatar to share.

The six year old got to choose the avatar features and dress it up and then both boys worked together on answering the questions about items in the room or various rooms of the house.

A nice feature of Starfall is the dashboard filled to the brim with learning opportunities.   The Learn To Read tab is really nice.  It brings you to a list of letters, words, or combinations, and then after those skills are mastered, the student proceeds to the books that feature those letters or word combinations for more practice.

The six year old is learning letter sounds and using them in short words.

He is also counting to 20 and using simple math such as adding numbers.

Math songs help him remember different concepts.

Starfall offers lots of math games that make learning math concepts fun and motivate him to want to do more fun practice of skills.

There are plenty of activities to choose from.  I am just barely skimming the surface in sharing these things so far.  There are also puzzles, activities with subject themes, and some basic learning games in Sign Language such as the ALS alphebet and some signing words in the music activities too.

My nine year old son is a strong reader already and really enjoys reading books.

Here are a few pictures from some of his activities, books, songs, and learning games he has been working on.

A nice feature for strong readers and those just learning to read is the option for the book to be read aloud to you.  My older son did not need this feature, but my younger son did.

Sometimes after my older son read the page, I would go back through it with him and push on the little ear button to have the sentence or paragraph read to him.  He was like “Mom, I already read that!”   However, even though he did a good job reading, I wanted him to hear the deflection in the reader’s voice as it read through the different characters and with different emotions.  Learning how to express emotions and vary the sounds enhanced the learning for him.

Every option, whether it was phonics, books, math, music etc had even more opportunities for him to read.

He is enjoying the various math games.

There are a lot of musical options too.  There are folk songs, nursery rhymes, math songs, abc songs, classical composers, and more.

There are lots of extra learning activities too such as holiday cards, and more.  In one of the activities, my son helped a mouse practice writing a letter to his grandma.

Final thoughts about the program:

This program has a lot of activities to offer and can help kids learn and improve their reading and math skills.   It is affordable at just $35 a year for the entire family, so if you have multiple younger children, you only have to pay one low price and they can all use it.  You can try out the free version and see how it works for your family.  The paid version offers a whole lot more.  Also it does not keep scores after the activity, and kids can repeat the activity as many times as they want.  You can take it on the go with you by using the mobile app so it can give kids something fun to do while traveling in the car or when “waiting” on appointments or waiting for other activities to begin.  It is flexible and my younger kids have enjoyed using different parts of the program.

I would have loved to have had this program when I was teaching English as a Second Language to International college students.  A program like this would have helped immerse the International students in the English language and engage them with fun activities, songs, and audio visual interaction.  The read aloud option of the books, with emphasis on tones and expression would have really helped practice speaking and understanding language and how it is applied in conversation and different situations.

One consideration to keep in mind for religious homeschools, and especially Christian families, is that there are themes in the books and games options (such as aliens, fantasy, dragons, magic, Halloween, etc) that would be part of public school education, but may conflict with bible teaching and a homeschool with a Christian worldview.  However, each activity is optional and you can choose which games or books you want to use in the program and avoid selecting certain topics that do not agree with your religious beliefs and cultural practices. The program is flexible and has many different options and you can use what you want from it.

Starfall learning games and books are interactive and engaging and the program has a lot of different things to choose from to build skills and practice reading and math.  It is a publicly supported non-profit educational foundation, and it’s standards are aligned with the public school Core Curriculum of both European Union and USA and other countries.

Social Media

Facebook
Twitter
Pinterest 
Instagram
YouTube

Homeschool Review Crew

Be sure to check out what others on the Homeschool Review Crew had to say about using The Starfall Home Membership in their home.

Please share.

UltraKey Online Review

We are currently reviewing UltraKey Online Family Subscripton from Bytes of Learning in our homeschool.  My kids love it!  This program really makes learning to type fun.

UltraKey Online Family Subscription

UltraKey Online

Typing Course

Easy To Use

Self Paced

Family Subscription for up to 8 people

Ages 5+ – Adult

(8+ independent, and ages 5-7 with parental involvement)

Engineered for all Mac OS X and Windows computers

UltraKey is a self paced typing program, and likely the only typing training program you’ll ever need.  All you need is a subscription, a computer with a keyboard, and internet service.  You can set personal goals and proceed to achieve them at your own pace.   It is adaptable to various ages and skill levels.

Lessons:

UltraKey Online lessons are self paced and accessible 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.  There are 12 main lessons and you can use the program at your convenience and take as long as you need to master each lesson.  UltraKey Online uses voice supported instruction, and the lesson format includes audio voice, video, and graphic animation.  Lessons appeal to a wide range of learning styles and skill levels.

Dashboard:

Each student has their own dashboard.  From your dashboard, it is easy to access lessons, set goals, see progress, print awards, and generate and print reports too.

The parent / family administrator also has a dashboard and can view and access the records, goals, reports, etc of all of their students at the same time or view each student individually.

Goals and Reports:

UltraKey has a great record keeping system.  It is easy to access everything you need and helps parents review and keep up with their students progress.  Parents can adjust program settings to guide the students as they operation the program, or leave it in default mode and the student can control their own settings.  You can easily print progress reports for individual students to keep in their portfolio and also reports for the entire class of students if you are teaching more than one.

Parents and students can also create or import their own content for further practice or customized practice if desired.  The program is flexible and allows you the option to import occupation-related, religious, or topics of your choice for practice and testing.

UltraKey is individualized learning and practice.  You can choose from several different levels from beginner to very advanced.  Many different options are available for challenge levels and the amount of practice can be tweaked to your individual preferences.  It helps identify remedial problems and offers help if needed.  Other ways UltraKey encourages progress is that it praises the student as typing improves and congratulates students when goals are achieved.

Game Zone

Game Zone is a lot of extra fun for the kids if they want to use it.  It helps build typing knowledge and fluency.

There are different categories to choose from such as:

  • Mixed Up Words
  • Spelling’s Important
  • What’s Missing
  • To The Finish
  • Rhymin
  • Capitals Capitols

International Typing Performance Standard

With UltraKey Online, you can also generate certifiable typing performance reports based on International typing assessment standards.  Below are the key International standards set for typing performance:

  • 5 keystrokes is a typing word.
  • The gross speed is the number of typed words per minute.
  • A typing word error is any typing word with one or more errors in it.
  • The net speed score is the gross speed less a penalty of 2 typing words per typing word error, per minute.
  • The best speed is the highest net typing speed.
  • The accuracy score is the number of correct keystrokes, divided by the overall number of keystrokes completed.

Video

Here is a video that explains more about how UltraKey Online works.

Our Experience

I am very pleased with our Family Subscription to UltraKey Online.  Before using it with our kids, I spent some time exploring the instructional interface, and the management dashboard to familiarize myself with the program.

In the “Dashboard” section, I can set goals and choose various settings.  I can also let my older kids set their own goals and give them more freedom to create their own unique experience with the program.

All three of my older boys (ages 17, 15, 13) have used this program for 20 to 30 minutes almost every day.  They all love using it.  Two of the three boys are audio visual learners.  One of the three boys can easily learn from just about any kind of program regardless if it is audio visual or not.  This program has met the needs of all three of them.

Two of my younger kids have also used it a few times a week though they are proceeding much slower than the older kids.

The fact that the kids can play the video lessons, and listen to the instructions, and then follow the examples has been a great help to them.  They started out completing the introductory videos, setting up his dashboard preferences, and set their typing level to beginner and practice level to heavy.  At the end of practice each day they do skills checks and typing tests.  Each day they practice, they make more and more gains in this program.

The 13 year old has improved from typing 7 words per minute to 27 words per minute with 99% to 100% accuracy consistently.

He just finished the program two days ago, got his diploma, and asked me to wipe the program clean so he can start over and improve his score.

After he started over and rewached everything from the beginning, his first few lessons and skill checks he was already mastering 34 words per minute.  We will see if he maintains that and continues to improve.  He is highly motivated to master this program.

My 15 year old really loves this program too.    He has improved from typing 10 words per minute to typing 24 words per minute with 100% accuracy.

Here is an example of the progress the 15 year old made during three of the lessons and skill tests.  Each day he worked through the program, I could see that he put in his best effort.

Skills test 1: 10 words in 1 minute 96%

Skills test 2: 20 words in 2 minutes 99%

Skills test 3:  22 words in 2 minutes with 99% accuracy.

and so on.

Every day when he is finished, he prints out a report of his skills check.   It records what he typed, for how long, how many wrong keys, missed keys, additional keys, etc and generates a score of words per minute/accuracy percentage/result of passing or not.  This has been great feedback for him.

My 17 year old is an independent learner.  He has taken a typing class before, but did not have this kind of instant feedback to his efforts and see these kind of results.  He is really enjoying this program and has improved from typing 15 words per minute to currently typing 30 words per minute with 99% to 100% accuracy.

UltraKey Online Family Subscription is great for a wide range of ages in the family.  My kids are enjoying using it.  The younger kids need more time and practice than the older ones to grasp the concept, but they too are doing really well with the program.  I hope to start my youngest son as well as my husband and myself as students on it soon since we have the large family subscription with space for up to 8 people of any age from the same family.  I can’t wait to see my own typing skills improve as much as I have watched my kids skills improve.  The results from this program are very impressive!

Social Media

Be sure to check out Bytes of Learning and the UltraKey Online Family Subscription on their social media links for all the latest news, updates, and product information.

Facebook https://www.facebook.com/bytesoflearning/

YouTube https://www.youtube.com/user/BytesofLearning

Blog https://www.bytesoflearning.com/blog

Homeschool Review Crew

Be sure to check out what other families on the Homeschool Review Crew had to say about using this product in their homes.

Please share.

Schoolhouse Teachers Review

My kids are loving the variety of Homeschool Courses available with the Yearly Membership from SchoolhouseTeachers.com.

There are almost 3 million children currently being Homeschooled across all 50 states in the USA.  SchoolhouseTeachers.com is a great “go to resource” for these Homeschool families, for both students and parents. They offer great courses and Homeschool helps at an affordable price.  Be sure to check out the time limited special offer below.

SchoolhouseTeachers.com

350+ Courses Online

Available 365 days a year

24 hours a day at your convenience.

 Preschool through Highschool and courses for Parents too.

Resources for Teachers

Resources for Parents

Online Subscription Membership

With a membership to SchoolhouseTeachers.com it is easy to find just the right courses to fit your family’s needs.

Courses are available by Grade Level and are easy to access.

Courses are also available / organized by Subject Area so you can find what you need that fits your interests.

These courses are USER FRIENDLY.  Besides being extremely convenient and available 24/7 many of the courses also have varying components like choosing either to use the lessons online or download them to your computer, printable lessons, printable worksheets and video components, etc.

Once you select the class or classes you want to do, then each class has more user friendly information such as:

How to Use This Course
Course Details
Course Introduction
Components
Length
Ages/Grades
Course Outline
Transcript Information
Download a Preview
For courses with videos – Watch a Preview Video
Course Completion Certificates
Links to lessons
Links to lesson plans if available

Additional Resources and Help For Members:

In addition to the huge variety of courses, some of the other features I love about our Yearly Membership to SchoolhouseTeachers.com include:

Media Center which includes a FREE subscription to The World Book eBook Library.  World Book is an online educational encyclopedia and resource hub filled with eBooks, written articles, videos, games, worksheets, quizzes, experiments, trivia, lesson plans and more.  This is a new component of the Yearly Membership to SchoolhouseTeachers.com

Preschool Playground which includes a full curriculum covering a wide variety of subjects, plus lots of tutorials and helpful resources.

Bible
Language Arts
Multi-Subject Learning
Numbers, Patterns, and Cognitive Skills
Manners and Healthy Habits
Arts, Crafts, and Music
Science
Social Studies

Focused Learning Centers for kids who are struggling.

High School Helps includes a list of courses and tips and resources for fulfilling transcripts.  There is also a really neat Highschool Planner you can print out to help your student set goals, organize assignments, and stay on track. 

Special Needs Resources includes helpful tips for choosing curriculum and making modifications and adaptations to the lessons.

Literacy Center includes how to teach your child to read in 101 easy steps, and includes activities for better comprehension.

Just for Parents section that includes courses, planners, and unit studies to make it easier to balance homeschooling, managing your home, maintaining a healthy marriage, and much more.

Schoolhouse Expos is like being able to get all the great information at a homeschool conference (great speakers on a wide variety of homeschool topics) from the comfort of  your living room!

Monthly Menu section helps you create family meals that your family will love.

TOS Magazine Resources

Certificate Library includes downloadable, printable certificates so parents can reward and motivate their students.

Help Charts include printable charts for homeschooling and household management.

Videos Library includes hundreds of free streaming videos.

Our Experience

We have been using SchoolhouseTeachers.com consistently for the past year in our homeschool.  A great feature with this site is that no additional text books are required.  Also most of the supplies needed for courses are usually found around your house or easily acquired through a local store or online if needed.  But usually you can find away to do the class without additional expenses.  Sometimes library books are suggested, but you can usually find everything you need on the internet for FREE.

We had used SchoolhouseTeachers.com a few years ago, prior to this past year, with a break in-between, and after using it again this past year I can honestly say their website just gets better and better each year with more classes and resources offered with your membership.  I missed it the year we took off and was truly glad to have a subscription for 2017.  As a member of the Homeschool Review Crew, we were sent a new 1 year subscription for 2018 in exchange for writing an honest review.

I like the variety of courses available to us, 350+ courses, plus videos, World Book eBook Library, printable resources, and more.  I also like the freedom to choose as few or as many courses as we want that fit our family’s needs.  I like the flexibility of doing the classes at our own pace and the ability to change courses if we desire and there are no penalties.  I like all the special features for parents like making calendars, lessons plans, certificates of completion, and help with dinner menus.  I especially like the variety of self-paced highschool courses available.

Some of the classes my kids used this past year from SchoolhouseTeachers.com are:

  • Introduction To Architecture
  • Elementary Art
  • Drawing With Realism
  • Leadership 101
  • Public Speaking
  • Studio Art For Teens
  • Digital Art and Product Design For Small Business
  • Introduction to Graphic Design
  • Art Tips with Jan Brower
  • Preschool Playground
  • Bible Stories For Kids

Here are two examples of SchoolhouseTeachers.com courses the kids have taken.

Course Example 1:

Introduction to Architecture.

My son loves this course and he highly recommends it to other kids.  It includes 37 lessons and qualifies for a full highschool credit on his transcript.  This is a big course and covers 246 pages.  Each lesson is several pages long and includes background and historical information, geography, maps, research, videos, websites, vocabulary worksheets, and architecture projects.

Module 1 – Ancient Structures

Lesson 1 – Introduction/Architecture in the Beginning
Lesson 2 – Pyramids
Lesson 3 – Pantheon

Lesson 4 – Parthenon
Lesson 5 – Coliseum
Lesson 6 – Petra
Lesson 7 – The Great Wall of China


Bonus Lesson 8 – Gingerbread Houses and Christmas Architecture

Module 2 – Transportation Structures

Lesson 9 – Tower Bridge
Lesson 10 – Brooklyn Bridge
Lesson 11 – Golden Gate Bridge
Lesson 12 – Panama Canal
Lesson 13 – Hoover Dam
Lesson 14 – Channel Tunnel

Module 3 – Living Structures

Lesson 15 – Neuschwanstein
Lesson 16 – Mount Vernon
Lesson 17 – Fallingwater

Module 4 – Entertainment/Touring Structures

Lesson 18 – Guggenheim
Lesson 19 – Eiffel Tower

Lesson 20 – Statue of Liberty
Lesson 21 – Washington Monument
Lesson 22 – Grand Canyon Skywalk
Lesson 23 – Spaceship Earth
Lesson 24 – Sydney Opera House

Module 5 – Skyscrapers

Lesson 25 – Empire State Building
Lesson 26 – Willis Tower
Lesson 27 – World Trade Center (before and after 911)


Lesson 28 – Petronas Towers
Lesson 29 – Taipei 101
Lesson 30 – Burj Khalifa

Module 6 – Worship Structures

Lesson 31 – St. Basil’s Cathedral
Lesson 32 – Cathedral of Notre Dame
Lesson 33 – St. Peter’s Basilica

Module 7 – Government Structures

Lesson 34 – Capitol Building
Lesson 35 – Pentagon
Lesson 36 – Architectural Fails
Lesson 37 – The Architect

For this course, and most of the courses we have used, we have had the option to download all of the lessons onto our computer with the provided link or use the lessons online.  He wanted to download them, and he had quick and easy access and it was easy to download and save them to the computer.

Each time he logs in to his course at his convenience, he reads through his lesson, watches a few linked videos, prints out and completes a worksheet that includes vocabulary and definitions, world maps of locations of buildings, he researches and then puts this into his 3-ring binder, and then he completes a building challenge in almost every lesson.

Some of the building projects have been 3 D paper models of famous structures around the world such as Roman Coliseums and Pantheons and the Great Wall of China.  One of the projects was building a ginger bread house.  In the curriculum, there are many links to paper models you can print out and build and my son has made a few of them, but he prefers to use 3 D models made of metal, plastic, wood, or building blocks for building famous bridges and other structures.  He has made a wish list of various models available on Amazon and Ebay that he wants us to buy for him and he plans to put them on a display shelf in his room when he finishes them.  He is only half way through the course at this time and is really enjoying it.

Course Example 2:

Elementary Art

Elementary Art covers 22 lessons /weeks including learning about 12 famous artists, 10 advent art lessons, art techniques, suggested library books, and looking up resources about each artist online and more.

12 Artists

My kids have enjoyed studying about 12 famous artists and their unique styles of art, and the projects they did in each style.

Lesson 1: Michelangelo
Lesson 2: Pablo Picasso
Lesson 3: Vincent van Gogh
Lesson 4: Georgia O’Keefe
Lesson 5: George Caleb Bingham
Lesson 6: Cassatt
Lesson 7: Grant Wood
Lesson 8: Rembrandt
Lesson 9: Pierre Renoir
Lesson 10: Andy Warhol
Lesson 11: Leonardo da Vinci
Lesson 12: Claude Monet

Here is an example of Lesson 2 and learning about the Abstract Art Style called Cubism by the famous artist Pablo Picasso. 

Their project assignment for this lesson was to use various shapes cut from colored papers to make their own masterpiece.  They really enjoyed this lesson.

Here is an example of Lesson 3 and a Van Gogh painting project.

We found a coloring page of Starry Night by Van Gogh.  The kids didn’t want to finger paint this day, so they modified painting the picture using the pressure technique with a brush.

Advent Art

The course also contains another 10 lessons called Advent Art that centers around the Christmas holiday and the birth of Jesus Christ.

Lesson 1: First Saturday of Advent – Luke 1:26-28, 31 An Angel Appears
Lesson 2: First Sunday of Advent – Luke 1:46-55 Mary’s Song
Lesson 3: Second Saturday of Advent – Matthew 1:20 Joseph’s Dream
Lesson 4: Second Sunday of Advent – Luke 2:4-5 The Journey
Lesson 5: Third Saturday of Advent – Luke 2:6-7 He Has Come!
Lesson 6: Third Sunday of Advent – Isaiah 9:6 Prince of Peace
Lesson 7: Fourth Saturday of Advent – Luke 2:8-11 Good News of Great Joy
Lesson 8: Fourth Sunday of Advent – Luke 2:13-18 Glory to God in the Highest
Lesson 9: Christmas Eve – Matthew 2:1-11 Three Visitors, Three Gifts
Lesson 10: Christmas Day – John 1:14 The Word became Flesh!

We did not do all of the Advent Art section of the course as it is listed.  Many of the arts and craft projects are designed to create a baby Jesus with felt, or paper plate angels, or star ornament with popsycle sticks, etc.

However there were a couple of projects in this section that I really liked such as Lesson 6 where the kids learn the “Names of God” and create a word picture.

Father God has many names.  The lesson provides several names for your picture, however there is still room on the page to add several more.

Yahuah = Father, He who breaths life

Yahusha = Yahuah Saves

1. YAH (“I am”) = Father and Judge (Creator and King)
2. YAHuah (“I am He who breaths life”) = Father (Abba)
3. YAHusha (“I am He who saves”) = Yahuah Saves = Son (Jesus)
4. Ruach HaQodesh (“the Dedicated Breath”) = Holy Spirit
5. Adonai (“Master”) = Lord
6. HaMashiach (“the Dedicated One”) = MessiYAH (Christ)
7. HalleluYAH = “You follow The Way of YAH”

Learning the names of God and making a list of his names on beautiful paper is fun to do.  This makes a lovely picture to hang on the wall, or put in a frame, and remind yourself and your kids of how great and loving Father God is and that he sent a part of himself, his only son, to save us.

I plan to tweak the Advent section of the Elementary Art course. I want to add in a few other bible art projects, while still focusing on the suggested bible scriptures about God sending his son Jesus to save mankind.  One tweak I am making is to help my kids create a bible art journal that includes the scriptures about Jesus Christ the Messiah.  I alternated colored paper and lined writing sheets so they can have plenty of space for writing and for art.  It has a “Jesus Christ Messiah” theme instead of a “Christmas holiday” theme and I believe will be more beneficial in learning about and focusing on faith in Jesus year around.  I am debating what binding to use for this project, so for now, the pages are loose and put into a folder.  I may simply use a three ring binder for them so it will be easy to add more pages when desired.  This journal will be a great way to keep related bible art projects and bible scriptures together and will make a fun memory book and encourage their faith.

Coming UP for 2018

Coming up this semester, some of the courses we will be using include:

  • Classic Architecture
  • All About Art
  • Accounting 101
  • Starting A Micro-Business For Teens
  • Early American History
  • Changes in Transportation, Communication, and Technology
  • Whole Foods Cooking with Sue Gregg
  • Fun With Cooking
  • Machines
  • Health and Fitness
  • More Preschool Playground!
  • Camping With Jesus course is filled with activities and discusses issues such as: What Will Heaven be Like? What Is Sin? Who Is Jesus, and Why Did He Die on the Cross? What Does It Mean to be Forgiven? How Do I Grow to Know God More?

Special Offer

New Members can SAVE BIG when you join SchoolhouseTeachers.com’s 2018 Fresh Start New Years Special!

Sale valid from 01/03/2018 – 01/31/2018

Be Sure to use the Special Code of your choice at checkout:

$90/yr (reg. $179/yr) Coupon Code: NEWYEAR18

                                 OR

$9.95/MO (REG. $19.95/MO) Coupon Code: MONTHNEWYEAR18

Sale ends: 31 January 2018

Social Media

Be sure to check out SchoolhouseTeachers.com on their social media sites for all of the latest classes, news, and product updates.

Facebook

Twitter

Youtube

Instagram

Pinterest

Google+

Homeschool Review Crew

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Forbrain Review

We recently learned about a specialized high tech headset that can help boost brain function.  It uses the power of your own voice to improve memory and help you become a better listener, speaker, and singer.

 Forbrain from Sound For Life LTD

FORBRAIN

Forbrain is a specialized technological headset which conducts sound through bone conduction vibrations.  Forbrain can be used by children and adults from all walks of life.  Forbrain was designed for people with Attention difficulties, Speech and language issues, and poor memory.   It is recommended to be used once or twice a day for 15 minutes each session, and for a duration of 6 weeks or longer. Recommended for ages 4 and older.

Forbrain comes with the adjustable headset that can be used by various size heads, and contains the microphone, extra microphone covers, dynamic filter, built in bone conduction transmitters, internal rechargeable battery, and the unit also comes with a USB charger, protective case, and a quick reference pamphlet with instructions for implementing, and a users manual.

Benefits of Using Forbrain:

  • Forbrain helps improve speech fluency, pronunciation, sound discrimination and rhythm.
  • Forbrain improves hearing of your own voice.
  • Forbrain reduces sensitivity to noise.
  • Forbrain trains the brain to be more attentive.
  • Forbrain improves auditory processing and sensory integration.
  • Forbrain improves short term memory.
  • Forbrain improves attention.
  • Forbrain improves skills such as reading, writing, speaking, and singing.
  • Forbrain delivers sound to brain 10 times faster than normal.
  • Forbrain contains a “dynamic” filter that enhances frequencies.
  • Forbrain improves confidence in the speaker / listener as their communication skills improve.

Various Uses:

There are many ways Forbrain can be used.  It can be used at home or at work and can benefit a variety of people in a variety of different settings. 

Forbrain can be used alone for situations such as:
reading aloud, for pronunciation and conversation exercises in your native language or in a foreign languages, ESL, speech preparation, lesson revision, singing songs, read poems, dictation, read a play aloud,  read aloud a book with various characters and varry their voices.

Forbrain can be used with Parents at home or on the go for situations such as: teaching kids to read, practice with learning language and ESL, help with homework, creating sentences and communication.  It might benefit some parents to hear themselves when talking with their kids just to give some insight.

Forbrain can be used in Professional, Theraputic, and Occupational situations such as: On the job for practicing presentations, practicing interviews, used by a professional therapist, speech-language pathologists, audiologists, and scientists or reaserchers that deal with speech, language, and hearing, teachers, coaches, tutors, caregivers or medical professionals could use it to improve or tweak their bedside manner, or various opportunities at work.

Forbrain is especially helpful for folks with language and speech difficulties, for brain stimulation, auditory processing disorder, ADD, ADHD, and those who need to improve their attention.

Our Experience:

I used Forbrain with my youngest son to practice pronunciation as he learns the alphabet with various worksheets and props.  There was a noticible improvement as he used the headset.  He also spoke quieter after using Forbrain as he was more aware of his volume level than before.

I also used Forbrain with my second grader as he read aloud.  He said he enjoys using it and it helps him become a better speaker.

My oldest son also practiced with Forbrain.  He read all the paperwork, read through the website, and watched several videos before he started.  He also researched the technology.  He was very impressed with Sound For Life LTD and what they have to offer.  He started with practicing his posture.  He also practiced turning the headset on and off while wearing it.   He especially enjoyed sitting in the sunshine and practicing, or taking a walk and practicing.  Some of the other things he has practiced are reading aloud, poetry, singing, his pronunciation in Greek language, and his math multiplication facts.   He plans to use this product long term to improve his speech and tone and knows this will help him reach his goal.

From my son: “I enjoyed using Forbrain during this review and I will continue using it.  It was interesting to hear myself talk.  It felt good to use.  I could tell when I was talking to loud or not loud enough.  I feel like I have exercised parts of my face I have never used before after I used it for the first time. It felt more natural after a few times of practice.  I look forward to continuing my journey to improve my speech and ability to listen.”

I also used Forbrain myself to practice singing.  It is amazing to hear what I sound like through the headset.  I was a singer years ago.  I would have loved to use Forbrain to help with my music training back then.  We often cupped our hand around our ear during practice to hear ourselves and make adjustments in our pitch and tone.  However, this technology would have greatly helped reach musical goals quicker and more accurately.

Here is an inspirational video by Rafaele Joudry, Author, Therapist, Instructor, and the Founder of Sound For Life LTD about using Forbrain.

Social Media:

Be sure to follow Forbrain and Sound For Life LTD on their social media links for all of the lastest news, techniques, and product updates.

Facebook : https://www.facebook.com/forbrainLTD

Twitter : https://twitter.com/forbrainheadset

LinkedIn : https://www.linkedin.com/company/forbrain—retrain-the-way-you-process-information

Youtube : https://www.youtube.com/user/ForbrainLTD/videos

Blog :  https://www.forbrain.com/blog

Homeschool Review Crew

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Innovators Tribe: Engineering Review

If you are interested in helping your kids explore and develop their engineering skills, then you might want to check out the online courses from Innovators Tribe

Innovators Tribe currently offers 3 hands on courses for kids who want to learn to design, create, and build.

Thinking Like An Engineer 

Thinking Like An Architect

Thinking Like A Carpenter (coming soon)

We were recently sent a 2 year subscription to Thinking Like An Engineer for the purpose of this review.

Thinking Like An Engineer

Online Course

Interactive Lessons

Activity Guides

Design Software

Online Support

Thinking Like An Engineer is taught by Wayne Kroeplin, an experienced engineer and educator.  This is an “Introduction To Engineering” course designed for kids in 6 grade through 12th grades.  This course qualifies for highschool science credit, (check with your specific state for more info on highschool transcript requirements).

Thinking Like An Engineer is an online self paced course with 30+ hours of interactive lessons broken into 6 units.

  • Unit 1 – Introduction to Engineering
  • Unit 2 – Introduction to 3D Computer Design and Solid Modeling
  • Unit 3 – Engineering Rollercoasters
  • Unit 4 – Engineering Bridges
  • Unit 5 – 3D Computer Design
  • Unit 6 – Nano-Engineering

Thinking Like An Engineer includes 38 interactive lessons, 10 design and build challenge activities, activity guides, online support, and 3D design software, etc.  With the subscription to Thinking Like An Engineer, we were also sent a bonus course called Thinking Like An Innovator that contained 9 additional lessons plus 3 challenge activities.   Listed below is the course outline for both of these courses.

Course Outline / Table of Contents

Unit 1 – Introduction to Engineering

Lesson 1 :  What is engineering?

Challenge activity: Design the tallest paper tower

Lesson 2 :  Different types of engineers

Challenge activity: Design a paper structure that can carry the most books

Engineering in the News!

Lesson 3 :  Engineering clean water

Challenge activity: build your own water filtration system

Lesson 4 :  14 Grand engineering challenges of the world

Unit 2 – Introduction to 3D Computer Design and Solid Modeling

Lesson 1 :  How to get ideas out of your head (Tools of modern design and innovation)

Lesson 2 :  Introduction to your software

Lesson 3 :  Creating basic objects

Lesson 4 :  Moving and connecting objects

Lesson 5 :  Grouping objects

Lesson 6 :  Edges and faces

Lesson 7 :  Adding, Intersecting and subtracting material

Lesson 8 :  Material properties

Challenge activity:

Lesson 9 :  3D scanning

Lesson 10 :  Rapid prototyping – 3D printing

Unit 3 – Engineering Rollercoasters

Lesson 1 :  Types of roller coasters

Lesson 2 :  Roller coaster design

Lesson 3 :  Energy and a little math

Lesson 4 :  Roller coaster construction

Engineering in the News!

Lesson 5 :  How to become a roller coaster engineer

Challenge activity: Build a paper roller coaster

Unit 4 – Engineering Bridges

Lesson 1 :  An engineering mystery that stunned the world!

Lesson 2 :  5 types of bridges

Lesson 3 :  Parts of a suspension bridge

Lesson 4 :  How to build a suspension bridge

Challenge activity: Build and test your own suspension bridges

Engineering in the News!

Lesson 5 :  Bridges and physics

Lesson 6 :  Famous (and scariest) bridges in the world

Lesson 7 :  Structural engineering (and a little math)

Lesson 8 :  Testing the wind (gathering clues)

Challenge activity: Build your own wind tunnel and test your own model bridge sections.

Engineering in the News!

Lesson 9 :  What really happened that day

Lesson 10 :  Out with the old, in with the new

Lesson 11 :  What engineers have learned

3D challenge: Bridge design software

Unit 5 – 3D Computer Design

Lesson 1 :  Quick introduction to 3D computer design

Lesson 2 :  Introduction and installation of 123D Design software

Lesson 3 :  Learn how to use 123D Design (Tutorials)

Lesson 4 :  Let’s make a car rim!

Design Challenge: Create a piece of furniture!

Lesson 5 :  3D printing (3D what?)

Design Challenge: Make it better in 3D!

Unit 6 – Nano-Engineering

Lesson 1 :  How we see small things

Lesson 2 :  The discovery of a new world!

Lesson 3 :  What is Nano-Engineering?

Engineering in the News!

Summary – What do I do now?
Links for additional research in the world of engineering
High school offerings and career pathways

BONUS COURSE 

Thinking Like an Innovator

Lesson 1 :  The 6 steps of innovation (A tragedy at sea)

Lesson 2 :  What is a problem?

Lesson 3 :  What is an idea?

Challenge activity: Brainstorming!

Lesson 4 :  How to create more ideas

Lesson 5 :  Brain Games!

Challenge activity: Mental fitness

Lesson 6 :  4 Poisons to innovators

Lesson 7 :  The secret ingredient

Lesson 8 :  How to make money!

Challenge activity: Solo cup

Lesson 9 :  Woman Innovators

Check out this short video for more information about Thinking Like An Engineer course from Innovators Tribe:

Our Experience:

We have only had this course a few weeks so far and all I can say is wow!  This course is a wonderful way for kids to explore the field of engineering in a hands on way.   Their time is divided between spending some time at the computer watching the lessons or designing, and other times actually creating different challenge projects.  I am thrilled this course can be listed on my kids highschool transcript and can help them meet those requirements for graduation, while at the same time learning practical knowledge and skills that will help them as adults.

Each time my son sits down to work on his course, he is able to work independently and progress at his own pace.  He logs into his program, watches the video lesson, then proceeds to the challenge activity if there is one for the lesson.  Some of the lessons have challenge activities, and some do not.

My son has finished the first four lessons and challenge activities in Unit 1 and is currently working in Unit 2.  I have primarily focused this review on his experience with Unit 1.  His favorite part so far has been the challenge activities.   There is a course outline / syllabus and a basic materials list that you can download and print.

For the first unit challenges, we gathered materials from around the house, and picked up a few at the local store too: pencil, paper, scissors, clear tape, ruler, measuring tape, masking tape, a small construction level, recycled soda bottles, measuring cup, spoon, water, dirt, coffee filter, rocks, sand, etc.

The Challenge Activities kids get to do include designing and building: various towers, structures, water filters, and more.  The Design Activities kids get to do include:  roller coasters, bridges, Rube Goldberg machine, and learning to design with 3D CAD software.

This is a great opportunity to learn about engineering.

Here are some of the hands on challenge activity projects my kids have been building:

Challenge Activity Lesson 1 – Design the tallest paper tower as tall as you can using only 4 sheets of paper and 1 foot of masking tape. Try to reach a goal of 5 feet tall that can stand on its own without falling over.

He tried several times to get his tower to five feet, but I didn’t get a picture of all of his attempts.  The tower was difficult to get it to stand straight without it falling over.

He eventually built his base wider and wider for better stability and it resulted in a shorter than 5 foot tower.

He wanted to explore this concept even more, so he tried a different method on his own with four more sheets of paper and 1 more foot of masking tape.  This time he turned his paper into a grid so he could work with it better.  He said he prefers working with blocks instead of circles.

He went with a wider base again to support the upper levels and prevent it from falling over.  This base was tall too.  We discussed that he could have used a shorter base that was still wide.

He came up with a model he liked, that wasn’t as tall as 5 feet, but stood straight without falling over.

Challenge Activity Lesson 2 – Design a paper structure that can carry (support the weight of) the most books.

Again, he chose to work with block shapes for his support structure.

He managed to load 31 books just fine, but on the 32nd book his tower of books collapsed on 1 side.

He made various structures several times to try different systems to see which design could support the most books.

Challenge Activity Lesson 3 – build your own water filtration system.

This was a fun experiment.  My son used a plastic bottle, cut in half, and covered the pouring end with a coffee filter secured with a rubber band. Then he added a layer of small pebbles, and two layers of sand to create a water filtration system.

Next, he mixed dirt into water in a measuring bowl and stirred it with a spoon until most of the dirt dissolved into the water.  Then he slowly poured the dirty water into his filter system.

He was very pleased when the water coming out of the homemade filter was clear and all of the dirt was gone.

This is an excellent lesson for kids and adults of all ages.  There is a shortage of clean water in this world.  There are people in in various places who don’t have clean water to drink, to cook with, or to bath in. Many people die from diarrhea from bacterial and parasite contamination they get from dirty drinking water.  Knowing how create a water filtration system could save your life someday.

He would definitely want to make a few modifications to this homemade filter before actually drinking this water.  If left as is, he could use the clear water by boiling the water to kill any pathogens before consuming it.   Or if he had access to add a layer of charcoal to the bottom layer, and a layer of grass to the top layer of this filter, and possibly even use a bandanna or tee shirt as the first layer the dirty water is poured through before it enters the filter system, would help to get the water as clean as possible.

Even his little brother was impressed he could turn muddy water back into clear water.

It seems like kids are natural engineers.  They love to explore, build, create, and problem solve.  From birth their mind is filled with wonder and great potential. Kids naturally have an optimistic outlook and most of the time they still believe that everything is possible.  Father God is the greatest engineer of all time, and we are created in his image.   No wonder kids are natural engineers!

My son really likes this course and says he enjoys learning from the instructor, Wayne Kroeplin, because he explains everything very clearly and he gives lots of examples.  He is interesting to listen to.  When the course is finished, hopefully he will have reached the goals of what it means to think, problem solve, design, create, and build like an engineer.

Goals kids will be able to reach by the end of this course include:

  • Explain and apply 6 steps of problem-solving.
  • Know how to use techniques.
  • Explain ideas.
  • Explain “solution.”
  • Demonstrate the use of different brain-games that boost innovation skills.
  • Identify the 4 poisons to innovation and their cure.
  • Explain the importance of engineering and problem-solving using real-world examples.
  • Explain 14 grand problem-solving challenges that need solutions.
  • Define: tension, compression, twisting, bending, shearing, torsion, vortices, vortex shedding, aerodynamics, dead load, live load, structural-engineering, girder, truss, friction, potential and kinetic energies, g-force.
  • Give examples of how math subjects are used in engineering: Algebra, Geometry, Calculus, Advanced Calculus, Trigonometry, Probability & Statistics, Physics.
  • Demonstrate the correct use of various tools: ruler, construction level, 3D design software, etc

Thinking Like An Engineer is a terrific course.  We are having a lot of fun with it. I would encourage everyone to give it a try.  A great skill to have is to learn how to identify a problem or need that might be in your own home or community or across the world, and solve the need with things we can design and create.  Father God has truly blessed us in his image with an intelligent mind and so much creative potential.

Social Media

Be sure to check out the website and social media for all the latest news and product updates.  There are also some interesting videos on the teacher’s youtube channel and you can get an even better feel for the kind of teacher he is and the materials he teaches.  Right now InnovatorsTribe is running a special sale of 35% off all their courses.  The current sale runs through 11/11/17.

Website (InnovatorsTribe): https://www.innovatorstribe.com/

Youtube (Wayne Kroeplin):  https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCRZ9sOi8qIKqFH3Z5g7VURg

Homeschool Review Crew

Be sure to check out what others on the Homeschool Review Crew had to say about using products from Innovator’s Tribe in their home.

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Thin Stix Creativity Pack Review & Giveaway

All six of my kids love using tempera paint “stix” by The Pencil Grip, Inc.  We were recently sent 24 beautiful colors in their Thin Stix Creativity Pack to review in our home.  The Pencil Grip, Inc is also offering one of their sets of Thin Stix as a Giveaway free to one of our readers.

Thin Stix Creativity Pack

There are many reasons you will want a set of Thin Stix Creativity Packs to use in your home or office.

  • 24 Colors
    • 12 Classic Colors
    • 6 Neon Colors
    • 6 Metallix Colors
  • Solid Tempera Paint Sticks
  • Easy To Use
  • Uncap, Twist & Paint
  • Non-toxic
  • No Mess
  • No Fuss
  • No Water Needed
  • Dries in 90 Seconds
  • Won’t Crack or Split
  • Paint like finish
  • Great for painting on poster paper, cardboard, wood, and canvas
  • Other surfaces too (we tried them out on lots of surfaces!)

These paints are great!  They are MESS FREE and recommended for everyone 3 and older, and yes, adults have fun using them too!  They are available at many big box and online stores.  Thin Stix Creativity Pack retails for $24.99 and are currently on sale for $19.99 at BJ’s.

They offer a regular style called Kwik Stix and a thin style of Kwik Stix called Thin Stix.  They also offer lots of colors. Check their website for information on the different sizes and various color sets they have available. Here is a video from The Pencil Grip, Inc demonstrating how to use their tempera paint stix.

How We Used Thin Stix:

I was thrilled to be given another wonderful opportunity to review Thin Stix with my kids!  We love using Thin Stix in our home ever since we reviewed Thin Stix 6 Pack of Classic Colors earlier this year.

This kit is so much more!  It has the bold 6 classic colors plus + more classic colors for a total of 12.  Then it has 6 Neon colors plus 6 Metallix colors too, for a total of 24 vibrant colors of tempera paint sticks.  The Metallix colors are really speacial because they have a sparkle effect that reflects the light.

Thin Stix are easy to use and hold on to that even my youngest kids can do art projects easily.  It is as simple as taking off the cap and using them.  If you need a little more paint, then you simply twist the bottom of the stick like a tube of chapstick.  The paint comes up at the other end and you are ready to simply draw with them again.  They are mess free and ready to paint with.  There is no need for water and no clean up.  I am always looking for projects my kids can do that are simple, and I especially like MESS FREE arts and crafts!  Check out this short video that shows how mess free they really are:

Projects With Thin Stix Creativity Pack:

Here are a few of projects we have made with our Thin Stix Creativity Pack over the past few weeks.  I am sure we will have many more great projects using these paints in our arts and crafts and school work this year.  I have shared a few pictures below and I will link the stories about how we made these projects and what materials we used as I get them posted.

  • Art Class Fall Season Painting (Multimedia Art Books)
  • Art Class Wooden Creations (Popsicle Stick)
  • Organizer Container Art (Recycled Milk Jugs)
  • Organizer Container Art  (Recycled Shampoo Bottles)
  • Lunch Box Art  (Recycled Milk Jugs)
  • Candle Flower Art   (Recycled Milk Jugs)
  • Butterfly Art & Science (Recycled Milk Jugs)
  • Bird House Art & Science (Recycled Milk Jugs)
  • Bird Feeder Art (Recycled Milk Jugs)
  • Birthday Cards (Construction Paper)
  • Get Well Cards (Construction Paper)

Art Class Fall Season Painting

(Thin Stix & Multimedia Art Books)

We took a walk and looked at trees and gathered a few fall leaves for inspiration and to inspect the colors of fall more closely.

The kids found similar colors in the Thin Stix and used their own creativity to paint a fall scene.

Organizer Container Art

(Thin Stix & Recycled Milk Jugs)

These are so cute!  You can use them for just about anything you need to organize.  Kids could use them for their Thin Stix and art supplies, Legos, crayons, etc.  You could use them in your drawers to hold socks or miscellaneous items.  You could use them to hold fruit (or candy) on the counter. It could hold napkins on the table as a cute centerpiece too. 

My son loved personalizing his organizer!

Organizer Container Art

(Thin Stix & Recycled Shampoo Bottles)

These containers are so cute and just the right size.  They are so simple to make.  They are small enough to fit into a backpack or purse. They can hold a variety of things from art supplies, small journal, cell phone, camera, first aide, small sowing kit, to snacks, etc.  They will make great gifts to give away too.

 

Lunch Box Art

(Thin Stix & Recycled Milk Jugs)

I can’t wait to share the finished product of this project.  Stay tuned for another story.  This was so easy to make and personalize using our Thin Stix.  It can fit easily into a backpack or purse and hold a huge variety of of foods from sandwiches, juice boxes, granola bars, crackers, fruit, bags of veggies, fruit cups, yogurt, etc. 

The lunch boxes are not water tight, but they will prevent your foods from getting smashed in your bag or backpack.  It has a lid and is large enough to keep several loose items altogether, so it is easy to pull it out and have everything inside the lunch box without searching for something that got misplaced.  These containers are special because you made them yourself.  You can also use this to organize various non-food items too.

Butterfly Art & Science

(Thin Stix & Recycled Milk Jugs)

The kids had a lot of fun learning about butterflies and making their own creations.

Candle Flower Art

(Thin Stix & Recycled Milk Jugs) The kids had a lot of fun cutting out their petals, painting them with Thin Stix colors like Metalix Purple and Classic Purple, and hot glueing the petals together to create lovely flowers. 

Then they attached a small tea candle in the center of the flower. 

These lovely candle holders will look very pretty on our table, and we made some to give away too. 

If you want a safer version without a flame, then instead of using real candles, use battery operated candles.  They will look just as beautiful.

Birthday Cards Fall Theme 

(Thin Stix & Paper & Construction Paper)

Get Well Cards

(Thin Stix & Paper & Construction Paper)

Projects With Thin Stix 6 Pk Classic Colors:

Here are a few projects we made using the Thin Stix 6 Pack of Classic Colors of tempera paints.  Some of these have additional stories about making those projects and to read them, just click on the link.

Art Class Paint Project

(Thin Stix & Multimedia Art Book)

DIY Portable Art Kits

(Thin Stix Tempera Paints Various Colors, Colored Pencils, Charcoal Pencils, Pencil Sharpener, Gel Pens, Water Colors, Multimedia Art Book, Sketch Pad, Recycled Zippered Container)

Father’s Day Cards

(Thin Stix, File Folder, Bible Verse)

Garden Pots

(Thin Stix & Flower Pots)

I am also amazed how durable these paints are.  I painted these pots with Thin Stix 6 Pack of Classic Colors several months ago.  Even after the rains and later the scorching heat on the back deck all summer, the bugs and flowers we painted my pots have endured and still look great!

Final Thoughts:

I really like the fact these tempera paints (Kwik Stix and Thin Stix) are mess free. I also like the fact they have so many applications, they are portable so you can take them with you, and you can use them to personalize your space, beyond just using them on a piece of paper.

GIVEAWAY

Want to win a set of Thin Stix from The Pencil Grip, Inc? Then enter this giveway for a chance to win.  Giveaway entries will be accepted between 11/9/17 and 11/22/17 for your chance to win.  If you would kindly share this giveaway with your family, friends, and on your social media: facebook, twitter, pinterest, etc I would greatly appreciate your help in getting the word out.  Be blessed and I hope you win!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Social Media Links for Pencil Grip:

Follow The Pencil Grip on their social Media links for all the latest news, special sales, and product updates.

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/thepencilgrip/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/thepencilgrip   @thepencilgrip

Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/thepencilgrip/

Youtube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCLmKo4Es5M5VwzXuFKk7j6w

Blog: http://handwritingathome.blogspot.com/

Homeschool Review Crew

Be sure to check out what other families on the Homeschool Review Crew to say about using Thin Stix Creativity Pack with their kids.

Please share.

Kid Niche: Weave Your Word In Me Bible Study Review

We are instructed to think about Father God and his word continually.  His word is full of life and having a relationship with him and obeying his word brings blessings.  The scriptures tell us to talk about them with our children when we rise up, when we walk along the way, and when we go to bed so they will know who he is and all the mighty works he has done, they will honor him and will love him too.

“Now this is the commandment, and these are the statutes and judgments which the Lord your God has commanded to teach you, that you may observe them in the land which you are crossing over to possess, that you may fear the Lord your God, to keep all His statutes and His commandments which I command you, you and your son and your grandson, all the days of your life, and that your days may be prolonged.

Therefore hear, O Israel, and be careful to observe it, that it may be well with you, and that you may multiply greatly as the Lord God of your fathers has promised you, a land flowing with milk and honey.  Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one! You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength.

And these words which I command you today shall be in your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, when you walk by the way, when you lie down, and when you rise up. You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.”  Dueteronomy 6:1-9

Sometimes, even with the best of intentions, parents can forget to follow these instructions and weave the word of God into their daily activities as the busyness of other day to day challenges can get in the way.  Kid Niche Christian Books offers a bible study called “Weave Your Word In Me – Part 1” by Susan Case Bonner that can help parents teach their kids about building a deeper relationship with Father God.

Weave Your Word In Me – Part 1

Bible Study

36 Lessons

Answer Key

Illustrated

77 Pages

Ages: 4th – 6th Grades

Retail $20

Weave Your Word In Me Part 1 helps kids learn who Father God is, build a relationship with him, think about the wonderful things he has done, and learn how to pray to him daily from their heart just as Jesus did.  It is designed for kids in 4th – 6th grades (Tweens).  This is the first part of a 2 part bible study series.   Part 1 contains “God the Father” and “God the Son” and Part 2  contains “God the Holy Spirit” and “What God Wants”.  Part 2 is available for $20 as a separate purchase. A bundled set that contains both Part 1 and Part 2 together is also available for $30.

The Lessons (72 pages) + the Answer Key (5 pages) + Free Enrichment Activities on the website make up this Bible study curriculum.  This Bible study use scriptures, prayer, plus a variety of other methods to develop the thought process about the topic.  Various methods used include scriptures, prayer, pictures, charts, definitions, drama, drawings, fill-in-the-blanks, illustrations, matching, sequence, multiple choice, and true or false type questions.  There is a place to write down your prayer at the end of each lesson.  Every prayer begins with “Dear Father in heaven…” and then have a different focus depending on the focus of the lesson.

Lesson include:

Part 1:   36 Lessons

God the Father: 14 Lessons

1) God is our heavenly Father. He likes us to talk to
him. Talking to God is called prayer.

1 Meet God the Father
2 Where God Lives
3 Our Listening God
4 Talking With God
5 The Name of God
6 The Greatness of God
7 Two Types of Pray-ers
8 An Encounter With God
9 True Humility

2) God loves and cares for all people.

10 God Loves All People
11 God Shows Kindness to All
12 God Loves Children
13 God Highly Values Us
14 No One Is Too Bad for God to Love

God the Son: 22 Lessons

3 a) Jesus’ Early Years and Preparation

15 Jesus’ Birth
16 Jesus’ Childhood
17 Jesus’ Baptism
18 Jesus’ Temptation

   b) Jesus’ Ministry on Earth

19 Jesus the Teacher
20 Jesus the Healer
21 Jesus the Leader
22 Jesus’ Lessons in Faith
23 Jesus the Miracle Worker
Background Information
24 Jesus’ Identity Revealed
25 Jesus the Giver of Life
26 Jesus the All-Knowing God

  c) Jesus’ Betrayal, Trial, Death, Resurrection, Ascension, Return (Jesus’ Sacrifice and Reward)

27 Jesus’ Betrayal and Arrest
28 Jesus’ Trial
29 Jesus’ Death
30 Jesus’ Resurrection
31 Jesus’ Ascension
32 Jesus’ Return and Reign

4) Anyone who receives Jesus as God and Savior
becomes God’s child.

33 Rejecting or Receiving Jesus
34 The Benefits of Receiving
35 What Jesus Is Preparing
36 The Receiving Criminal

Part 2:  44 Lessons (sold separately)

God the Holy Spirit: 16 Lessons

What God Wants: 28 Lessons

When I received my Bible study, it came unbound and printed on brightly colored heavy duty paper.  It is hole punched and ready to be inserted into a binder of your choice.  I chose a bright colored 3 ring binder with a clear pocket on the front and I put the provided cover page in the clear pocket of my binder and added the hole punched pages inside.  It was that easy and looks very nice.  I also added a pencil case (not pictured) with a highlighter, pencils, and gel pens too.  This study can be done at home or slip the binder and bible into a bag or backpack to take on outings too.

This study is flexible and can be used in a way that fits best with your schedule.  It could be used for the whole school year for 36 weeks doing 1 lesson a week, or 1 semester for 18 weeks if done with 2 lessons a week, or finish in 12 weeks if doing 3 lessons a week, or work on it every day and complete it even sooner.  It is up to you how fast or slow you want to proceed.

Each lesson is filled with colorful illustrated pages, large print and large places to write your answers.

The author has done a nice job of including scripture in each lesson and getting kids to think about it and write down answers.  Lessons are short and are usually only 1 to 3 pages long.  Some lessons include additional background information for a mini history lesson.   At the end of each lesson are a few questions that vary in style from fill in the blank, to multiple choice, to true false, etc.  At the end of each lesson is also a place for the kids to write out their prayer regarding what they learned in the lesson and how it applies to their life.

The Answer Key for questions in each lesson is found in the back of the study and is compatible with 6 different Bible translations: KJV, ESV, NKJV, NIV, NASB, NABRE.

The study can be adapted to other translations though the Answer Key won’t reflect the exact wording as it does with the 6 translations it covers.

The main component in Part 1 is a prayer guide that helps kids learn who God is and how to talk with God.  It helps kids understand the Lord’s Prayer that Jesus taught us to pray in the scriptures.  The bible study uses both the Lord’s Prayer and another prayer written by the Author called “My Whole Self Before You”.

At first I was somewhat put off by using “another” prayer as a guide for a bible study.  At the beginning of the study, it compares the “The Lord’s Prayer” vs “My Whole Self Before You” prayer, and seems to indicate that they have basically the same meaning.  This bothered me at first because I was taught not to put my own spin on the scriptures, and not to add or take away from scriptures.  Jesus taught us how to pray and that is enough.  We don’t have to “tweak” it.

My husband and I discussed these points in depth.  Sometimes praying can seem repetitive and even Jesus said we should not repeat the same things over and over (like chanting) that we have memorized and we should speak from our heart.  So I decided to press on and after digging further into the bible study, I realized that the “My Whole Self Before You” prayer is an example to teach kids how to pray to Father God in their own words and by learning how to pray, they also build a relationship with him.  It is not intended to replace the Lord’s Prayer Jesus spoke (even though at first it seemed to be indicating this), but instead the Bible study follows the blueprints of what Jesus prayed and helps kids see through a step by step process that they can also pray following his blueprint.

The actual blueprint for praying is honoring God first, and thanking him for his blessings in our life and his provision, and asking him to forgive us, helping us to forgive others who have wronged us, ask him to guide and direct us, and keep us from harm, and acknowledging that he has all authority, power, and dominion forever.  Praying with this method, in our own words from our sincere heart, brings us closer to Father God and builds our relationship with him.

I had originally intended to use this study daily with my 10 year old as a supplement to her other studies.  She is at the “Tween” age and this was written for kids in 4th – 6th grades.  However, she wasn’t so excited to work on it by herself.   Even though the lessons are manageable, there is reading and looking up scriptures that involves even more reading.  Reading is not her thing right now.  She is a slow reader and she would rather do other things.  Some of my kids would jump at the opportunity to read and explore.  However, she is an audio visual learner and she doesn’t enjoy reading very much at this young “Tween” phase she is in.  I hope that one day soon she will enjoy reading, but for now, she doesn’t prefer it.  She does like hearing others read, she likes audio stories, videos, and social interaction and she absorbs a lot from those methods.

There are some additional learning videos and enrichment activities with hands on learning available on the website that she has jumped at the opportunity to do and has enjoyed.

Enrichment Activity 1a & 1b: The Potter

Enrichment activity 1c: Jesus Prays To Father

Enrichment activity 2a, 2b, and 2c: Emerald Rainbow and Northern Lights.

We did two versions of this activity.  One version was a freehand style painting of the Northern Lights using watercolors and wax crayons as directed in the activity.  The second one was a pre-printed page we found online of the Northern Lights as seen from Canada.

So I decided after digging into the first couple of lessons with her, to change things up a bit and make this a weekly Bible study for my whole family.  I spent some time reading through it before I read it aloud to my husband and kids.  I am glad I made this choice for our family.   It got Dad and big brothers in on the discussion with the younger ones and we can all learn from each other and my Tween is benefiting even more from doing it this way than when she was doing it alone.

I tucked the bible study into my travel bag and took it with us on our weekly road trips.  We are using it as a study and discussion tool.  I read it aloud to my family and then have one of them read the bible verse(s).  Then I asked them the questions and have more discussion.  We waited to do the enrichment projects until we were home to reinforce the message.  I was surprised how deeply our discussions as a family have went on these trips.  This has been a great study tool.

We got all the kids involved in the enrichment activities.  They love hands on learning and Unit Studies are our prefered method and this Bible study plus the enrichment activities is like a great big Prayer Unit Study.  The kids have enjoyed learning about what a potter does.  It helped them understand how our Father God is like a potter and we are his clay.  We watched the suggested video on Youtube, and then the kids got out our playdough and pretended to be potter’s and created their own creations.  All six of my kids really enjoyed this activity and talked about how their life is like clay in Father God’s hands.

Jesus Praying in the Garden:  We don’t have stained glass or similar items, though I saw a tutorial on making your own “shrinky dinks” or “light” catchers by staining / painting plastic and heating it in the oven and it comes out looking similar to stained glass and we may try something like this soon.  For now we printed out the page and some of the kids used paints, some used crayons, etc. to finish it.

Another brother used colored pencils enjoyed quiet time outside alone with Father God contemplating yielding his life to Father God as Jesus did.

Another one of my sons wanted to draw his own sketch of the picture. He spent some quiet time and sketched free hand the picture of Jesus praying in his sketch book.

Northern Lights activity:  We watched a video and also looked up information on Wikipedia.  Then my kids used various methods: watercolors, water colors with wax crayons, and sketching with charcoal pencil and colored pencils, to create their own Northern Lights or Emerald Rainbow pictures.

An upcoming enrichment activity the kids are looking forward to making soon is prayer boxes.  We have collected some altoid tins already and plan to print out some scriptures about praying on small cards that are business card size so they fit in nicely, and put in a pencil and small note pad.  We also plan to make a bigger version with a metal cookie tin.  For these large tins we plan to put in items that help to study your bible such as a highlighter, book mark, pen, as well as a nice notebook that can be used as a place to write down prayers and journal about bible study.   Both of these types of boxes will reflect God’s promises about prayer.  So when you open it, you can pull out a scripture and read it and be reminded that God loves you and hears your prayers.  These will make a wonderful activity for kids and wonderful gifts to give away too.

There are several suggested activities that relate to the Bible study lessons and way too many enrichment activities to mention.   You can take a look yourself on the FREE Activities page of the website.

I believe it is important to point everyone, and especially kids, to Father God.  The prayer opportunities at the end of each lesson in this bible study tie it all together and are my favorite part because they build the relationship with the Father.  These lessons, enrichment activities, and prayers teach kids to take time to talk to Father, honoring him, thanking him, and reaching out to him from their heart.

About the Author:

Susan Case Bonner is a woman who wears many hats.  She is a wife and mother, and over the years has been a Homeschool teacher, Author, Sunday School teacher, Chapel Speaker, Conference Speaker, Christian Education Director, and is a graduate of Columbia State University.

Susan says she believes “boring” and “Bible” don’t belong in the same sentence.  She is excited about her faith and wants to share it.  She has developed this bible study and a website full of enriching activities such as topic related activities, puzzles, projects, music, art lessons, and videos from the web, that help bring the bible to life for kids.

I found these videos with Susan Case Bonner on her Youtube channel discussing the book with the poem she wrote for younger children “My Whole Self Before You” (which this bible study for Tweens was based on):

And this one:

Be sure to check out more Books and Bible Study Resources by Susan Case Bonner available at Kid Niche Christian Books.  In addition to the FREE Enrichment Activities, she also has a blog with tips for using the curriculum and support for homeschool families.  She has Bible Study Curriculum products for kids of all ages, including books for younger children, for Tweens, and Teens, as well and the Whole Family too.

 

Social Media

Follow Susan Case Bonner and Kid Niche Christian Books on their social Media links for all the latest news and product updates.

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/susancasebonner/

Twitter: https://www.twitter.com/susancasebonner  @susancasebonner

Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/susancasebonner

Youtube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC4SCgeUO5YDJUqZDr6P2ljQ

Blog: http://kidniche.com/blog/

Homeschool Review Crew

Be sure to check out what others on the Homeschool Review Crew had to say about using Weave Your Word In Me Bible Study in their home.

Please share.

Pencil Grip and Ultra Safe Safety Scissors Review

I am excited to tell you about  The 3 Step Pencil Grip Training Kit and The Ultra Safe Safety Scissors from The Pencil Grip, Inc.

The Pencil Grip, Inc. is a world renown company and a leading manufacturer of ergonomic writing aids and therapeutic toys and educational products. They have lots of wonderful products that benefit both kids and adults. They have built a reputation with parents, teachers, and therapists worldwide who have used these products and believe in the value of the product and methods applied.

The Pencil Grip, Inc. specializes in unique products that have many applications. The Pencil Grip, Inc. company was created by educational therapist Dr. Lois Provda in 1992.   Their products have many decades of successful use in homes, pediatric therapy, occupational therapy, and classroom settings.  The company has grown into an irreplaceable resource for unique and innovative products.

The 3 Step Pencil Grip Training Kit

Ranked #1

Recommended Family of Grips

The Cross Over Grip, The Pinch Grip, The Pencil Grip Original

For Children & Adults

Latex Free & Phthalate Free

Fit A Variety of Writing Instruments

Increases Neatness

Increases Comfort & Control

This kit is recommended by doctors and therapists for both left handed and right handed children and adults. By using the three step method, folks are able to reduce their frustration and strain.  They also reduce the normal time needed to learn (or re-learn) how to hold a pencil (or pen) correctly when writing.

The 3 Step Pencil Grip Training Kit contains 1 each:

  • Step 1: The Crossover Grip (Training)
  • Step 2: The Pinch Grip (Transition)
  • Step 3: The Pencil Grip Original (Graduation)

These products help correct hand position, dexterity, and reduce stress on the hands and knuckles. They help control the grip of the writing instrument and improve performance. A free instructional poster is available on The Pencil Grip website. These products are fun and easy to use and help motivate hesitant learners too.

The Crossover Grip

Step 1: The Crossover Grip is used for training.  It has a “super hero cape” design built in.  The cape is over the finger design provides the maximum reinforcement of correct position and structure.

When I worked with my five year old on using this grip, he kept wanting to put his middle finger in the wrong postion, placing it below the grip instead of behind it.

After a few times of reminding him, I was able to get him to hold it correctly and he felt more control and did very well with it.

I also had my eight year old try out using this grip.

He liked the feel of it.  I tried him on the next grip in the kit and he preferred the first grip more.  Perhaps it is the “super hero cape” on this grip that he is excited about.  He is left handed and sometimes it can be challenging to write going forward rather than write sliding the hand backward across the paper as right handers do.  This grip feels comfortable to him and right away we noticed an improvement in his control.  So he will be using this one for a bit longer until he is ready to move forward.

 

The Pinch Grip

Step 2: The Pinch Grip is used for Transitioning.  It has wings.  The wings help the user to see their grip and allows both freedom in writing and also more  structure.

Since my younger sons weren’t ready to move on to the next grip in the kit just yet, I used the Pinch Grip with my daughter after she tried out the Crossover Grip first.

This was the perfect grip for her.

For some reason, she liked to push the grip up higher on her pencil though.  I kept bringing it back down for her, but she said she liked using it up higher.

I noticed improvement in her control of the pencil right away.

 

The Pencil Grip Original

Step 3: The Pencil Grip Original is the Graduation phase.  It provides ongoing comfort and control and assists the user in continuing what they have learned.

My older boys and I tried out each grip in the kit.  The Original Grip was the most comfortable for me.  It is soft and gave me very good control and felt natural between my fingers.

I found this informative video online that explains the many benefits of using various kinds of pencil grips.  The video is not from The Pencil Grip company however, it is informational and gives credit to Dr. Lois Provda from The Pencil Grip, Inc.

With the 3 Step Pencil Grip Training Kit, I am certain our family will see improvement in their writing.  As each person works their way through the series of grips, they will be able to write with more control, less wobbling and produce straighter and neater lines.

The Ultra Safe Safety Scissors

Ergonomic Design

Ultra Safe

Concealed Blades

Safety Shield

Training Lever Action

For Ages 3+

These scissors are sharp and cut cleanly with precision.  They have sharp blades that are covered with a permanent shield to prevent kids from cutting themselves. They are easy to hold thanks to their ergonomic design. They have a spring assist opening feature that helps those with limited abilities, but can be folded in for less restricted use.

My 5 year old son and I both used these scissors for the purpose of this review.

To use the scissors you have to place the paper in a very small space between the plastic guard and the top blade.  It feels a little awkward at first. But eventually you get the hang of it.

The blades are very sharp and cut easily through paper.  But you don’t have to worry about cutting fingers because a finger cannot fit into the tiny space between the guard and the top blade.  

He was able to cut straight lines, curved lines, and zig zag lines too.  It was a good feeling knowing his fingers were safe and he can use these scissors independently.

I definitely needed these when he was younger and needed some protection from injury.

Thankfully, he has better coordination now, but I still keep scissors put up and he only uses them with supervision.

Now with these Ultra Safe Safety Scissors, I will be able to leave them in his supplies for him to use at anytime and I won’t have to worry.

We have enjoyed using these products from The Pencil Grip.  This is our second time to review a product from them and their products are well made and definitely beneficial for all ages.

Social Media

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/thepencilgrip/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/thepencilgrip @thepencilgrip

Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/thepencilgrip/

Blog: http://handwritingathome.blogspot.com/

Homeschool Review Crew

Be sure to check out what others on the Homeschool Review Crew had to say about using products from Pencil Grip, INC in their home.

Please share.

Reading Eggs Review

If you are looking for a fun, no fuss way, to improve your kids reading skills, then you might want to check out Reading Eggs and their award winning online reading program.

Reading Eggs is used by over 10 million kids worldwide.  That is quite an accomplishment for a reading program.  They have also achieved numerous awards and can be found in many homes and schools.  We were recently asked to review a six month subscription to Reading Eggs which also includes Reading Eggs JR and Reading Eggspress.  We were also given a subscription to Math Seeds.  You can get your very own 4 Week Free Trial and see if Reading Eggs is a good fit for your family.

Reading Eggs

Online Subscription

Reading Eggs Jr. for Ages 2-4

Reading Eggs Ages for 3-7

Reading Eggspress for Ages 7-13

24/7/365 Access

Reading Eggs Special Features

Reading Eggs is an online reading program available for either a 6 month or 1 year subscription.

Reading Eggs contains 120 animated reading lessons (plus additional lessons in Reading Eggs Jr. and Reading Eggspress).  Each lesson involves around 12+ tasks or mini-lessons.  Some of the other special features of Reading Eggs includes:

  • Student Dashboard for independent student navigation (and motivation) of lessons, spelling, games, books read, etc.
  • Phonics
  • Phonemic Awareness
  • Letters
  • Sight Words
  • Vocabulary
  • Grammar
  • Reading Comprehension
  • Fluency
  • Songs
  • Games
  • Kids earn spending “eggs” they earned for completing lessons and quizzes that can be used in the arcade, designing their avatar, spend in the store, etc.
  • Printables: Worksheets, Awards for completing Lesson Maps and Quizzes
  • Over 2,500 Online Books To Read each with a Comprehension Quiz (of 5 to 10 questions each).
  • Spelling Quizzes / Driving Tests
  • Parent Dashboard: track lessons and quizzes completed, scores, and books read.
  • Parent Emails (also keep you updated of student progress)
  • Homeschool Guide (Grades K-2)
  • Additional Supplemental Books Available

How Does It Work?

Reading Eggs helps kids succeed in their reading abilities by focusing on mastering skills and strategies which are essential for reading success. The Reading Eggs developers are an experienced team of teachers, educational writers, animators, and website and app developers.  Reading Eggs is beneficial for kids just learning to read as well as kids with strong reading skills. It is also beneficial for kids with learning difficulties, struggling readers, and English As A Second Language (ESL).

There are 3 Levels to Reading Eggs and in all it covers kids from ages 2 to 13.  No prior knowledge is needed to start the program at the lowest level, Reading Eggs Jr, however those in Kindergarten (and some Preschoolers too) should be able to begin at the Reading Eggs level.

Reading Eggs will actually teach the kids to read through a series of progressive lessons that takes them from not yet able to read to master a second grade reading level.  Students with stronger reading skills will progress quicker than beginners.  Reading Eggspress is the next level in the program and covers skills from first through sixth grades.  This level offers lots of reading comprehension challenges, books, and more learning games.

There is a comprehensive 35 page User Guide available to help parents learn to use the programs.

The basic motivation for kids is to make progress is earning golden eggs they can store up and spend like cash within the program by doing tasks like lessons, quizzes, books, etc.  In the Reading Eggs program there are 12 Maps with 10 lessons on each map to master (120 lessons).  At the end of each Lesson Map is a quiz for kids to take before they can move forward to the next Map.

Lessons also contain printable black and white activity worksheets as well as colourful activity pages to complete.

The worksheet printables also include lesson plans for each lesson.  There are 120 Lesson Plans to help the parent understand the big picture of what the child is learning and how the online lesson and worksheets go together and additional suggestions to enhance the learning skills.

The links for the downloadable printable worksheets that include lesson plans, and more colorful activity pages for each lesson are found in the “bonus” section of the parent dashboard for additional practice.

After completing about five (5) lessons in Reading Eggs, kids will have earned enough eggs to begin using the Games section.  At Games, they can choose a game they want to play.  The more eggs they earn, the more they can spend, and the more games they can play.  Kids love playing games, and games become a reward for the efforts they make, and it motivates them to want to do more.

Reading Eggs now offers a Homeschool Guide for parents for kids in grades K-2.  There is a schedule for each grade and it integrates reading, math, science, and social studies and offers a suggested schedule of lessons, activity pages to complete, spelling, books to read, and learning themes. The Homeschool Guide can also be found in the “bonus” section.

Videos:

Watch this video to learn more about Reading Eggs (Math Seeds is now a separate subscription):

Watch this video to learn more about Reading Eggspress (ages 7-13):

Requirements:

Reading Eggs online programs can be accessed on a Computer with high speed internet service and an operating system of Windows 7 (or higher), or Mac 10 (or higher), iPad, and is available on some Smart Phones (Apple, Android, etc).  It is currently not supported on some devices (Dell Venue 7, Kindle Fire Tablets, Pendo Pad, Thompson Tablet, or Tesco Hudl Tablets).

Our Experience:

My kids love using Reading Eggs.  Reading Eggs is colorful and engaging.  This fun program has helped my kids practice reading, spelling, and grammar skills in a fun interactive way.

For the purpose of this review, I will focus on the Reading Eggs level of the program and share with you some of our experience using this program with my 5 year old son who is new to Reading Eggs, and my 10 year old daughter who has some previous experience.

Though it is a “no-fuss” learning program (meaning the kids are not frustrated and resisting to use it), instead it is just the opposite and my kids do fuss if I they don’t get to use it.  The kids are very motivated to get on the computer and practice their reading skills each day.

I have my own dashboard when logged in as the parent.    I can see my kids progress in each program we are subscribed to.  I also receive an email after my kids complete quizzes describing their reading progress and what skills and concepts they learned.

A special feature that I like is the option to choose starting my kids off at a specific lesson (there are about 120 different lessons), or letting them start at default mode which is at the beginning lesson on Map 1, or I can have the kids take the placement test.  The placement test includes 60 questions.  The test stops when the kids miss 3 questions and places them at the level where the missed questions corresponds to their skills.  A parent can choose for the kids to continue where the placement test says they should be, or have them “Redo Placement Test”, or you can just adjust the lesson they are on within any level without retaking the test.

My kids also have their own dashboard when logged in as the student.

Even the youngest of kids are able to learn how to navigate their dashboard after a few times of using it because of the colorful pictures.

From the kids dashboard they can navigate around Reading Eggs.  They can read stories, do spelling, quizzes, games, shop, etc.  To get to their Lesson Map, they choose the “My Program” link and it takes them to their books and lesson options.  Then they can choose the Lesson link and it brings them to their Lesson Map.

Here is my 5 year old son pointing to his avatar when it was on lesson 9 on Map 1.

Another fun feature for Kids is to design their own avatar for their dashboard.  There are unlimited options in the design.

When they have unlocked more of the program based on their lessons, more options show up on their “Program” page.   In this picture below, you can see how my daughter’s page differs from her younger brother’s page.  She had master 106 lessons and was ready to start lesson 107.

After they choose “Lesson”, it takes them to the Lessons Map and hers opens up to lesson 107 on Map 11.

Another favorite feature for my kids is the driving test.  Each of my kids are different, but my daughter especially enjoys doing these.

Math Seeds

We were also given a complimentary subscription to Math Seeds and I wanted to briefly mention it here.  It is an online math program that operates in a similar way to Reading Eggs.

Math Seeds was created by the same team that created Reading Eggs and shares the same dashboard with Reading Eggs if you have subscribed to both programs.  However, you have the option to only subscribe to Math Seeds or only to Reading Eggs if you wish.

In Math Seeds, my kids collected golden acorns to spend instead of eggs.  Math Seeds involves 180 lessons with numbers and math skills for kids ages 3 to 9 years old.  They have recently expanded the program to cover some skills at the third grade level (including times tables fractions, angles, subtraction with regrouping, etc).

Math Seeds Video

Here you can see the parent dashboard that shows one of my kids Math Seeds progress.  We haven’t spent a lot of time in Math Seeds yet as we mainly focused on Reading Eggs during this review.

Final Thoughts

Pros:

  • Access 24/7/365 (use it anytime on your schedule)
  • Kids love it.
  • Kids can complete online lessons independently or you can expand learning with parents and additional lesson printables and suggested reading that reinforce the learning.
  • Proven reading improvement.
  • Affordable  ($49 for 6 months and $59 for 1 year).
  • Keeps parents/teachers informed of progress (emails and dashboard reports).
  • Parents can tweak program by moving child ahead or back in lessons, and can have child repeat placement test if desired.
  • Printables
  • Homeschool Guide

Cons:

  • Non-Christian Worldview.  May or may not be a good fit for everyone.

This “con” won’t pertain to everyone, but some religious objections may arise to the non-Christian worldview and undertones of some lessons and book options within the program.  Some families choose to homeschool rather than send their kids to public school for religious reasons.  This program is used in state sponsored public schools in the USA, and other countries and corresponds to common core education and also has many non-Christian themes that some families do not wish their kids to participate in.

Thankfully, parents can tweak the lessons if they see themes they might object to by skipping a specific lesson and moving the child up to the next lesson, or choosing not to read a specific book.  Another way to use the program is avoid using the books that you object too, but still have the kids take the lessons and read other books, and then use what was in the lesson as a teaching point of discussion about your faith with your kids, and this is the way we handled it. You have some flexibility to make these adjustments through the parent dashboard.

Overall, kids of all ages like the Reading Eggs programs.  With all of it’s colorful interactive games and ability to earn spendable eggs and awards for achievements, it is easy understand why it is so successful in teaching and motivating kids to read.

If you would like to try before you buy, be sure to try out the free lesson on their website, or sign up to get your 4 Week Free Trial subscription.

Social Media

Keep up with all the lasted news, product updates, free offers, and special sales at the social media links for Reading Eggs:

• Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/readingeggsUSCA/
• Instagram (handle): readingeggs
• Twitter: https://twitter.com/readingeggs @readingeggs
• Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/readingeggs/
• YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/user/ABCReadingEggs

Homeschool Review Crew

Be sure to check out what others on the Homeschool Review Crew had to say about using Reading Eggs in their home.

Please share.