Tag Archives: curriculum

Creation Illustrated Unit Studies Review

Have you heard about Creation Illustrated?  They are a magazine and curriculum publisher.  The photography in their publications is amazing and some of the best I have ever seen. Creation Illustrated has been called “the Christian answer to National Geographic” because of the amazing photography in their magazines, their focus on Father God our Creator, and the faith filled stories they publish.  I am sure you will be encouraged and inspired when you read Creation Illustrated.

Creation Illustrated is expanding and creating a new line of digital products and we have been asked to review two of their digital Creation Unit Studies.  Creation Unit Studies are fun hands on learning opportunities that expand on stories that have been published in the Creation Illustrated magazines.

Creation Unit Studies cover a variety of subjects, are filled with fascinating information that points the student a better understanding of Father God our Creator, and they are affordable.  They are easy to do and will help spice up the learning in your homeschool.  They are currently on sale for $6.95.  They have eight unit studies listed for sale at this time, and have plans for several more. The current list includes:

  • Badgers – The World of Badgers
  • Black Bears – Bear Essentials
  • Dragonflies – Dragons of Paradise
  • Fragrance
  • Joshua Tree National Park
  • Mellow Manatees
  • Pine Trees
  • Snow – Intricacies of Snow

We were sent Intricacies of Snow Unit Study and Pine Trees Unit Study from the Creation Unit Studies collection, and they are filled with fascinating information we want to share with you.

Creation Illustrated: Intricacies of Snow Unit Study

Intricacies of Snow

Creation Unit Study

Digital Curriculum

Downloadable PDF

17 Full Color Illustrated Pages

Teacher’s Answer Key

Grades 5-8

Primarily for grades 5-8, but younger grades can use with assistance or modified.

Lessons and Contents:

  • Reading Resources (page 3)
  • Educational Videos (page 3)
  • Writing & Penmanship (page 4)
  • Vocabulary & Spelling (page 4-5)
  • Bible Study (page 6-7)
  • Science (page 8-9)
  • Math (page 10)
  • Geography (page 11)
  • Art (page 12)
  • Puzzle (page 13)
  • Teacher Answer Keys (page 14-17)
  • and Other Fun Facts.

Example of Student Worksheet:

Example of Teacher’s Answer Key:

Creation Illustrated Magazine Winter ’18 Edition:

Winter ’18 Digital Edition of Creation Illustrated contains articles and beautiful photographs that correspond with the Intricacy of Snow Unit Study.

In addition to reading through the unit study and magazine articles, the unit study also contains a lot of suggested reading and research links and suggested videos to watch. When students finish this unit study about snow, they will have a better understanding and appreciation of snow and a better understanding of Father God and his creation.

Creation Illustrated: Pine Trees Unit Study

Pine Trees

Creation Unit Study

Digital Curriculum

Downloadable PDF

16 Full Color Illustrated Pages

Teacher’s Answer Key

Grades 5-8

Primarily for grades 5-8, but younger grades can use with assistance or modified.

Lessons and Contents:

  • Reading Resources (page 3)
  • Educational Videos (page 3)
  • Vocabulary & Spelling (page 4-5)
  • Bible Study (page 6)
  • Geography (page 7)
  • Science (page 8-9)
  • Math (page 10)
  • Writing & Penmanship (page 11)
  • Art (page 12)
  • Puzzle (page 13)
  • Teacher Answer Keys (page 14-16)
  • and Other Fun Facts

Example of Student Worksheet:

Creation Illustrated Magazine Fall ’17 Edition:

Creation Illustrated Fall ’17 Digital Edition contains articles and beautiful photographs that correspond with the Pine Trees Unit Study.

In addition to reading through the magazine articles, and unit study worksheets, there are also suggested reading and research links, and suggested videos to watch.  There is also an identification worksheet in the study that is great to use for taking a field trip, or a hike into nature to see the trees up close and identify them.  When students complete the Pine Tree Unit Study, they will have a better appreciation for these trees and how they have impacted our lives, and a better understanding about Father God and his creation.

Our Experience

We were sent the digital Intricacies of Snow and Pine Trees unit studies and the corresponding digital magazine editions, Winter ’18 and Fall ’17, of Creation Illustrated.

We have completed the Pine Trees Unit Study, and have started the Intricacies of Snow Unit Study.   We focused on the Pine Trees Unit Study for the purpose of this review.

We have experienced the end of winter and beginning of spring while doing this unit study.  You can see the snow on the pine trees in the two pictures posted above. Though the winter was cold where we live, we got very little snow, and it was usually gone within a day of falling.  In hindsight, I wish I would have focused on the snow study before the pine study as it would have been nice to have had snow actually on the ground that we could experience while studying it.  I will post how our snow study went soon.

Here are some pictures of our nature walk we took to identify pine trees in the forest.  We saw a variety of trees and lots of wildlife too.

We found pine buds full of pollen as well as fully intact pine cones on the same trees.

We harvested some of the young pine buds and pine needles for making recipes and several pine cones for crafts.

My kids enjoyed participating in this study, and the older kids did all of the worksheets, and the younger kids did a few of the worksheets.

We found an insect hiding in this pine tree.  We also found  bird nests, and lots of spiders (not pictured) that like living in pine trees.  We saw several squirrels check for food in the pine trees and jump from tree to tree playing tag with each other and shaking their tails.

We investigated pine cones, pine buds, pine needles, and tree bark up close.

We also found some wild grape vines that had climbed some of the tall pine trees in the forest and were starting to bloom with bright yellow flowers. The winding vines and yellow blooms were beautiful and smelled amazing, and were such a contrast to the tall pine.

Here are some examples of my kids worksheets and activities from this unit study:

Further The Learning:

Though we have finished the Pine Trees Unit Study, I plan to stretch this learning out further over the next several weeks this spring and into the summer.  I plan to add in a couple of building projects for the older three boys using pine lumber from the local lumberyard.

They have been learning woodworking skills using pine over the past year or so and they are getting better and better with their creations.  They helped make a workbench table from pine lumber during this unit study. You can see the frame of the table in this picture.  They have completed it since I took the picture and use it for a workbench for making handcrafts.  They are enjoying it very much.  They have been making lots of woodworking and leather projects on it.

They also helped make loft beds from pine lumber for their rooms last summer.  They love their beds and they had a lot of fun learning to work with wood.

They are also learning bushcrafting skills.  They are familiar with looking for dead pine trees in the forest, and they cut and chop these dead trees into smaller pieces for firewood.  We plan to learn to make “fat wood” with pine for fire starting and make several primitive traps too.  We have several templates and kits ready to make.

All of my kids enjoy whittling.  They usually just work on a stick and whittle away at the bark and usually focus on getting one end to a point.  The younger kids sit with daddy outside, and enjoy passing the time whittling.   The bigger boys have developed their skills and whittle when ever they want and don’t require being supervised like the younger kids.  The younger kids are only allowed to have their pocket knife while being supervised for safety.

One of my older sons has really taken a liking to whittling.  He enjoys sitting outside by himself, whittleing, with the quiet sounds of nature.  Sometimes he sits on the back porch and sometimes he sits on a bench he made in the forest.  He cut several pine branches to size, about 24 inches, and using cordage to attach the cut pieces to a tree that has two trunks with a gap between them, he created a bench seat with a ladder back that goes up the tree.  He can climb up to have a look around if he wants too.  He loves to sit in nature and whittle.  He has progressed into carving with pine, cedar, and birch trees.  He requested some chisels and has made some lovely wooden spoons.  He has made about six different spoons of different sizes and different purposes, and he has made walking sticks, and made a lovely walking cane with a handle.  He has whittled, chiseled, shaped, and sanded several projects by hand with the wood he collected from the forest.

All of the kids really enjoy working with their hands, learning life skills, practicing those skills, and learning to make different projects they find interesting.

To further the learning even more, I am planning to do several additional art, cooking, and science projects with all of the kids, lap booking pages about pine trees, and a “Pp” letter of the week project for my youngest son to reinforce what he has learned about pine trees and pine cones too.

I also plan to use the knowledge we gained in this unit study about pine trees and apply it to an American History unit study we are also working on about a fronteir man named Davy Crocket.  Learning about pine trees and their special place in history, and use as a food and medicine and building materials, as well as the impact on economics of the pine tree lumber industry on the people, will go well with the American History study we are doing.

Final Thoughts:

My kids have enjoyed this unit study.  I appreciate the biblical worldview of the curriculum and the beautiful photography and stories in the magazine.

I definitely recommend Creation Illustrated magazines and Creation Unit Studies for homeschool families. It is easy to download the digital PDF files and put them in a binder, read the magazine articles online and click through the related links and watch a few videos, grab your bible, and complete the worksheets. Older students can do these studies independently and younger students can do the studies with help from parents and older siblings.

We have had subscriptions to Creation Illustrated in the past, and had it for several years.  It was a regular part of our homeschool learning.  We have also reviewed their magazine for our readers several years ago, way back in 2012.   I regret that I let our subscription expire when we moved a couple of years ago.  I have been so inspired again by the magazine while doing this review that I plan to purchase a new subscription, and purchase more of these unit studies, and I would like to order several back copies of the magazine too.  These make wonderful reading for my family, and inspire us in our faith.  These make lovely gifts for extended family and friends and church libraries too.  These would be wonderful to benefit communities and leave as reading material in offices around town too.

I would recommend Creation Unit Studies and the Creation Illustrated magazines to everyone!

Latest Eddition:

The latest edition Creation Illustrated Spring ’18 has just been published.

Current Spring 2018 Edition

NEW Ad-Free Keepsake Edition

Features include:

  • ​Creation Up Close: Nature’s First Responders –by Evelyn Sayler
  • Creatures Near and Dear to Us: Butterfly Birth –by Rosanne Pallini-Veriezza
  • Re-Creation Outdoor Adventure: Trekking Through Myanmar –by Janae Bowman
  • Creation Day 4 of the Creation Story: Sun, Moon, and Stars –by Nikolas Grosfield
  • Creation Highlights and Creation Stewardship news briefs
  • My Walk with God: Redeeming the Desert –by Shirley Conley
  • Gardens from Eden: A Season of New Beginnings –by Joanne Taylor
  • Genesis Cuisine: Korean Treats Recipes –Korean 3-Radish Noodle Salad, Korean Mung Bean Vegie Pancakes, Korean Sweet Rice Cakes.
  • Children’s Story: Bumblebee Rescue –by Tatiana Claudy
  • Creation Character Building Lesson: Service and Ministry –by Terry & Jean McComb
  • New Coloring & Photo Contests for all ages
  • Photo and Coloring Contest winners
  • Study Guide, Spring Family Fun Activities
  • Poetry: All Creation Sings –by Bret Suarez
  • And more!

Video:

I found this 2015 video interview of Tom and Jennifer Ish. They are homeschool parents who began publishing Creation Illustrated in 1993.  That is over 25 years!  What an accomplishment for the kingdom of God!  Only God knows how many people, perhaps millions, have been inspired to draw near to him because of this ministry.  This interview is filled with fantastic information about the mission of Creation Illustrated and it’s worldwide outreach.

Try before you buy:

If you would like to try it out before you buy, Creation Illustrated offers a FREE digital edition of their magazine, and a FREE unit study on Fragrance which includes the corresponding digital magazine too.  Be sure to check those out.

Social Media

Keep in touch and up to date on all the latest news and products through the Creation Illustrated social media links.

Facebook
Twitter

Homeschool Review Crew

Be sure to check out what other members of the Homeschool Review Crew had to say about using products from Creation Illustrated.

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Phonetic Zoo Review

Do your kids struggle with spelling?  Most kids do because the way sounds are spelled in the English language can be confusing.  If you want your kids to become great spellers, you might want to check out The Phonetic Zoo Spelling Level A [Starter Set] by Institute for Excellence in Writing (IEW).

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The Phonetic Zoo

Levels A, B, or C.
Take the placement test and choose the right level for your child before you begin.

Grades 3 – 8

Retails for $99.00

Each Phonetic Zoo Starter Set includes:

  • 5+ audio CDs (includes MP3 downloads)
    or also available for purchase as MP3 downloads and no CDs
  • Lesson Cards with spelling words and jingles
  • Personal Spelling Cards to keep track of your student’s typical misspellings
  • Zoo Cards that serve as a way to practice jingles or as rewards
  • 75 page Downloadable Phonetic Zoo Teacher’s Notes PDF file

In addition to the materials, you are encouraged to watch two videos to help you as the parent / teacher:  the “Excellence in Spelling” video and the “Spelling and the Brain Video Seminar”.

Each Lesson in The Phonetic Zoo has similar steps:

  • Phonetic Rule, Cards with Corresponding Zoo Animal, Jingle or Hint,
  • Discussion,
  • Word Lists (audio and print), Spelling Test, and Correction.

You move through the lessons at the pace set by your child.  Each lesson takes about 10 minutes and they will learn a phonetic rule, have discussion built into the lesson, and learn to master spelling 15 to 20 new words using the rule they have learned.

It is suggested to go as slow as, or as fast as it takes for your student to get a 100% score two times on a lesson to show they have mastered the material.  So a lesson may only take you two days, if your child can get 100% each time, or a lesson may take you 7 or 10 days.  Just keep repeating the material for 10 minutes a day, until they have mastered the given lesson twice before moving ahead to the next lesson.  If you taught the same lesson and did the same spelling words for 4 or 5 days each week, then start a new lesson the following week, program should last you the full school year.  But again, the key is to remain flexible and allow your student to progress at their own pace.

How we used Phonetic Zoo:

We were sent the Phonetic Zoo Level A Starter Set for the purpose of this review.  Level A contains 47 Lessons on 5 Audio CD’s (or MP3) ; large zoo rule and word cards, small flashcards, and the Teacher’s Notes e Book also includes all of the lessons, teaching notes, the final exam, printable word posters, zoo card pages, word lists and printouts.

I decided to write this story as a series of HOW TO steps.  WHY?  Because it helped me and it might help you too.   You can follow these steps too to help make sense of what you need to do, what your child needs to do to complete this wonderful program.  It is different than other spelling programs, and I think it may help you to see some steps we took to make it successful for us.  It is divided into two sets of steps: “Prep”, and “Lessons”.

Prep

Step 1:  I watched the 9 minute “Excellence in Spelling” video.

Step 2:  We took the  FREE Placement Test.  This is a great resource and helps your child start right where they need too.  There are three levels to this program: Level A,  Level B, and Level C.  You will want to place your child in the right level so they can be successful.

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Step 3:  Placed my order for the correct level (A, B, or C) of Phonetic Zoo my student needed based on what we learned from the results of the free placement test (see the red link above). We ordered Level A.

Step 4: Watched the 1 hour Spelling and The Brain video seminar.   You can wait for the product to arrive before you watch the video, or you can get jump started while you are waiting by watching this video now!

Step 5:  Organize my Zoo (my materials for Phonetic Zoo).

Have you ever heard the saying “not my monkeys, not my zoo” ?  Well in this case these are my monkeys and this is my zoo.

We are homeschooling 6 kids and it is so easy for the shelves and stacks of books and supplies to get messy and piled up fast (see the example behind him,  that shelf holds math manipulatives, crayons, pencils, flash cards, and notebooks and the kids get in a hurry and when they are done using them, they just shove their stuff in fast and go, and it quickly becomes a mess).  Since we were about to enter the Phonetic Zoo, and knowing how fast books and supplies can go missing or stacked in the wrong place in “our zoo”, it is best to set my self up for success,  be a good “zoo keeper”, and get my self organized!

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When you receive your Phonetic Zoo shipment, organize the kit you receive and your supplies (large and small zoo cards, CD’s, headphones, notebook, pens NOT pencils (or use a pencil without the eraser), etc.),  in an easy to access storage box (shoe box, milk crate, table organizer, book basket, shelf, or whatever works for your family, etc.).

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Put a metal ring (or use a clip) on the large cards, and a rubber band (or a baggy) around the small cards.

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Be sure you have a computer that can play an audio CD (or MP3 device), and it is helpful to have headphones (we have ear buds) for your student to use while listening to the CD’s (or MP3).

Step 6: PRINT out the Phonetic Zoo Teacher’s Notes  e-Book (Teacher’s Guide) from the link on the IEW website you are provided with after making your purchase, and put your teacher’s guide into a binder.  This is a 70+ page teaching resource you will want to keep handy.  You can also download the MP3 files of the CD’s and store them on your computer device too.

Teacher's Notes e-Book

Teacher’s Notes e-Book, Phonetic Zoo Level A

Step 6:  Yahoo!  We let out a shout and smacked ourselves on the back!  Great Job!  We finished our prep work and were ready to get started!

Lessons:

In this section, I will walk you through Lesson 1.  It may look like a lot, but each lesson only takes about 10 minutes a day.

Step 1: We got out our zoo supply basket we made.  This was so nice to have everything all together and ready.  I read through our first lesson in the Teacher’s Notes that I also keep in the basket with everything.

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Lesson 1, Phonetic Zoo Level A

Step 2: I read the phonetic rule from the lesson and provided him with the large zoo flash card to review. The rule is listed on the back, and on the front are a picture that corresponds with the rule and words to practice using the rule.  It is a nice way to practice going over the rule and remembering it.

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Step 3:  Next I gave him the small flash card to read.  It has the rule we just learned on one side and the zoo animal on the other side.  He can use this to remind himself about the rule we learned.IMG_1212 - Copy

Step 4:  He set out his paper to write on, set out his flash cards, put in the CD for Lesson 1, and his ear buds.   When he started the lesson, on the screen popped up a small box that controls the lesson.   The lesson is all audio (not a visual lesson) and requires him to listen closely to what is being said on the CD.

Step 5: My son numbered the lines on his paper from 1 to 19 (some lessons were to 18 and some were to 19).  You can pause the CD lesson as needed.  If you don’t want to print out your own numbers, there is a pre-numbered printable you can keep re-printing for your student to use for each lesson.  We just used a spiral bound notebook instead.

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Step 6:  Next he wrote out the words in the spelling test spoken by the instructor on the CD.

Step 7: Next he corrected his words on the list by writing a second column of the same words on the same lines next to the first words he wrote.    The correct words are both on the CD and on the zoo flashcards.  This process allowed him to see how he did and where he needed more practice.   The instructions from the curriculum are that he must receive two 100% scores on the material before he can proceed to the next lesson.

Step 8:  Personal Spelling.  We repeated the same steps for every 4 lessons BUT on the 5th lesson (lessons 5, 10, 15, 20, 25, 30, 35, 40, and 47) we were instructed to use his favorite words he picked himself.  These words could come from each section of 4 lessons, or be other words he wanted to use.

Step 9:  Final Exam.  We have not completed this yet.

That is it in a nut shell.  10 minutes a day.  Master the spelling test by 100% twice then move forward to the next lesson.  BOOM!!!

I am excited about using this spelling curriculum with my kids.  For the purpose of this review, I started this program with my 5th grade son.  But now that we have used it and know how simple it is and how much confidence he feels from mastering this technique, I will be using it with my other children as well.  This will give them all the added confidence in knowing how to spell a variety of words, and it only cost them 10 minutes of their day.  WOW!  I wish everything could be accomplished in 10 minutes a day.  Maybe it can and I just need to see a new perspective on how it can be done, just like mastering spelling.  Definitely worth it for both of us.

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Institute for Excellence in Writing makes learning fun and easy.  IEW has a way of making Language Arts skills easy and interesting to kids, those very skills that kids might otherwise find hard or boring.  Kids develop an internal motivation to challenge themselves and reach their achievable goal.  They have developed simple systems of teaching parents and teachers how kids really learn effectively and their materials are top notch.  I would encourage you to check out how you can fit these wonderful curriculum resources into your homeschool learning.

Social Media

Be sure to connect with IEW on their Social Media links to keep up with all the latest teaching tips, news, and product updates.

IEW  BLOG   http://iew.com/help-support/blog

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

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

Vimeo  http://vimeo.com/iewtv

Twitter  https://twitter.com/iew

You Tube  https://www.youtube.com/user/iewtv

Google+ https://plus.google.com/+Iewriting/

Instagram  https://instagram.com/iew/

IEW Review

Check out what others on the TOS Review Crew had to say about using The Phonetic Zoo and other products from IEW with their families.

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Sam The Minuteman Study Guide Review

What is a Minuteman?  That is a very good question, and it has a lot to do with American History.

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We recently reviewed Sam The Minuteman Study Guide by Progeny Press to learn more about these important people and their role in American History.

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A Minuteman is an American Citizen who is ready to defend his/her person, family, property, neighbors, town, state, and country with just a “minute’s notice”.    There is an interesting fictional story that helps kids learn about these defenders and their role in history called  Sam The Minuteman.  This story is about a boy who’s dad was a Minuteman when the colonies were still occupied by Britain.   This study guide helps you dig deeper into the lives of people, their character, family and community dynamics, and their faith as well as the battle they fought for independence from Britain.

Sam The Minuteman Study Guide

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Sam The Minuteman Study Guide

For Elementary 1st – 3rd Grades

42 pages

e-Book PDF download

Retails $11.99

Table Of Contents

  • Note To Instructor
  • Synopsis
  • Background Information
  • About the Author
  • Before You Read Activities
  • Vocabulary
  • Cause and Effect
  • Word Pictures
  • How the Author Creates Mood
  • Looking At The Story
  • Important Words to Remember
  • Thinking About the American Revolution
  • After You Read Activities
  • Additional Resources
  • Answer Key

How We Used The Sam The Minuteman Study Guide

We received a PDF download of Sam The Minuteman Study Guide to review in our home.  I printed the study guide and put it into a three ring binder.   This study guide was a great addition to our study of American History this fall.

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To complete this study guide, you will need a computer, an email address, and printer, as well as the book Sam The Minuteman.  The book is easy to find at local libraries or for purchase through book stores, or even easier is to find it as a read aloud on youtube where you can listen, watch, and read along with the word in the story.

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When you purchase the study guide, you can either print off the whole study guide and put into a three ring binder, or have it bound, or you can just read it from the computer screen and print off what pages you need as you go along in the study.  This is so flexible and will fit with just about everyone’s needs.

 Activities We Did In The Sam The Minuteman Study Guide

  • Make Homemade Butter  (in the story they ate homemade bread and butter).  Recipe for making butter provided in the study guide.   We purchased cream, put it into the stand mixer (because shaking it in a jar takes to long) and made our own homemade butter.   We used to do this every week when we had our own fresh milk from our cows.   We also made homemade bread, and made biscuits on another day, to eat the butter on.
  • Historical Timeline (dates and headings provided in the study guide)
  • Crossword Puzzle
  • Worksheets: Vocabulary Words
  • Worksheets: Several “Question and Answer” worksheets throughout the study guide.
  • Bible Study:  Several scriptures and question and answer were listed and encourage character and understanding of the Christian faith.
  • Worksheets: Coloring Page of the Liberty Bell
  • We used several online resources to complete the study guide through Progeny Press, and also to learn more about this period in American History.
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Crossword puzzle and worksheets from Progeny Press Sam The Minuteman Study Guide

About the story:  Sam The Minuteman

The story book is historical fiction.   The characters are made up, but are based on historical facts so it is a great addition to any American History study.   Reading this story will help kids understand and relate to people who lived at this period in American History and America’s fight for independence and birth as a nation.

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screenshot of Sam The Minuteman read aloud on youtube

We have a copy of the book, but we also found the book as a free read a loud on youtube (read by Stories with Sarah), and this was a perfect option for us.  The kids had fun hearing another child read the story aloud and following along.  This is a great option for those folks who don’t own their own copy, don’t want to go buy one, or who have kids who are fascinated with everything on digital media like my kids.

The read aloud is only a 10 minutes long and the kids can read right along with Sarah as she reads the book on the video.  In addition to the book, we added in watching several other videos about Minutemen and read through the wikipedia explanation, did coloring pages, made a lapbook, and more too.  These activities really helped the kids appreciate the learning material and activities, and deepen their understanding in the Study Guide even more.

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screenshot of Sam The Minuteman on youtube

The main character in the story is a boy named Sam Brown who lives with his mother and father on a farm in Lexington, Massachusetts.   America has not become a nation yet and is still a British colony, but has formed it’s own local governing proclamations. The people living in the colonies are upset because of the increased taxation and trade regulations placed on them by Britain, and the increased presence of British soldiers and governors the King has sent to enforce the new regulations.

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screenshot of read a loud book on youtube

During the story, Sam experiences the beginning of the war.  He sees British soldiers from Boston pass through his town as they trying to keep orders for the King, and he feels the frustrations of his father and neighbors.   Then one night, the church bells ring and wake Sam and his family and this is the signal to his father that it is time to go and defend his freedom.

They meet with other men and learn that the British soldiers are marching to Concord where the colonists have hidden weapons.  Then Sam goes with his father and the other minutemen to try to hold back the British and give the Americans time to defend their supplies and hidden weapons.  One of Sam’s friends gets shot, but survives.  Eventually the Minutemen Militias grow stronger in their fighting skills and are able to drive off the British soldiers.

Additional Resources We Used To Further The Learning:

We love turning everything into an expanded unit study.   That is what I love about study guides, they spark your curiosity and invite you to dig deeper.    We expanded our learning with several additional fun activities including videos, reading, Legos, cooking, life skills, and more to learn about this fascinating period in American History.   We would like to take a field trip too. Several years ago, we went to see some Revolutionary War History in Charelston SC,  another trip to Kings Mountain where the Mountainmen (Mountain Minutemen) fought a battle with the Brittish Soldiers, and another trip we went to a Revolutionary War Museum and State Park with a Ford (where the militia crossed the river).  We are also creating a lapbook to hold our completed the Sam The Minuteman Study Guide activities, and additional projects we did while learning about Minutemen Militia.

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Minuteman received notice (image source)

Legos:  I have 6 kids and 5 of them are boys.  We love building with Legos and it just makes learning fun!   We recreated and retold the story and the events we learned in the study guide with Legos.  The kids set up a village and a house for Sam’s family, and showed him and his dad riding a horse out to meet the other Minutemen to fight with the British soldiers coming down the road.

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Sam and his dad are in the Minutemen Militia. Story retold with Legos.

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Coloring Page Paul Revere (notified the Minutemen the British were coming and then rode out to the army to notify them the British were coming to take away their weapons and subdue them).

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Coloring Paul Revere as he rode out from Boston on his horse to warn the Minutemen the British were coming.

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Who were the Minutemen?  Wikipedia

Geography Map

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Geography and History video:  The American Revolution in 9 minutes.  This was our absolute favorite “quick” video that explains the history and geography of the war, and best of all it is told with stick figure animation.  This is much more fun for kids to watch than other history videos.   The kids also have fun watching a grade school class retell the events in a video they made called American Revolution.

History of the part time militia known as Minutemen 

History video: the Force Of Citizens

History video: Minutemen Militia from “History of the US Constitution”.

Visit the Minutemen Historic National Park

Volunteer with Friends of the Minutemen

American Revolution Lapbooking Pages

It is amazing what you can learn from history and how it applies today.  A Minuteman is a person who is ready to handle trouble at any minute.   Formed in 1645, these homegrown militia men were to be ready within 30 minutes of being warned and carry with them three days provisions of food, shoes for both snow and regular weather, and weapons.  They played important roles in history from 1645, 1750, 1774-1776, through the Civil War (mountain men), and beyond.    The government passed the Militia Acts of 1792 by Congress requiring all citizens to arm themselves with a musket, a bayonet, and no less than 24 bullets.   The Militia Acts of 1903 passed by Congress states that 1) the organized Minutemen Militia will become the basis of the National Guard and 2) a provision that states able bodied citizens ages 17 to 45 are to take up arms to defend themselves and the country.

American Minutemen (image source)

American Minutemen (image source)

We actually learned there are Minutemen Militia (also known as Watchmen Militia and Family Protection Group, etc) today all across this great nation we live in that are ready on a moment’s notice.   The Discovery Channel produced a documentary about them.  They meet together in groups and are trained to use weapons, and secure resources such as food, water, and have supplies on hand to last from several weeks to several months. These groups are made up of people from all races and from all walks of life from mechanics to librarians to students, etc. The documentary followed men and women from across the USA who get together and practice drills in Florida, Indiana, and Arizona for combat in the event the government cannot protect or help it’s citizens.  That kind of circumstance could happen when mobs breakout in the cities, such as when natural disasters happen (hurricanes, tornadoes, floods) and folks are without resources, nuclear meltdowns or if there is an EMP or asteroid that takes out communications and infrastructure, and during racial tensions in inner cities and mobs breakout, as well as illegal drug smugglers coming across the borders, and with mass shootings and terrorists attacks.

Just like they were through out American History, these modern day Minutemen Militia are ready at any minute to handle any trouble that arises to defend our towns and people from threats of danger.   Approximately 30% to 70% of Americans are legally armed depending on what part of the country you live in.   The nationwide average is about 80 million gun owners who own at least one registered gun, (there are between 280-310 million guns), or approximately 1 out of 3 households are armed.  These registered gun owners are willing to protect their homes, family, friends, and neighbors from attack from those who would attempt to cause harm to life, liberty, and the pursuit of freedom in our country.

Progeny Press has created a great study guide to get young people interested in American History using a simple story with characters they can relate too.  Would you like to learn more about the Minutemen Militia and the American Revolution?  Then you might want to go on this learning adventure, and check out this great study guide from Progeny Press, and perhaps your family will be inspired to be a part of the Minutemen in your local area and will gain a deeper appreciation for the sacrifices so many have made for the freedoms we enjoy today.

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You can follow Progeny Press on their social media sites for all the latest news and product updates.

Facebook: http://facebook.com/ProgenyPress
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Cursive Logic Review

When you are ready to teach your kids to write in cursive, you will will want to consider using the CursiveLogic Workbook by CursiveLogic.

Workbook_p73

This is a unique and easy to implement approach for kids to learn how to master writing in cursive letters.

What we received:

Workbook_cover

96 page, hardback, spiral bound, full color workbook.
Contains both the teacher instructions, and the student practice pages.
Retails for $29.00

The first portion of each lesson teaches students to write each CursiveLogic letter string through a five-step process. After learning the string method, a student can begin writing connected letter groups and real words. After finishing four lessons, the student will be able to write the entire lowercase alphabet and to connect letters fluidly.

The student will learn how to form lowercase letters and capital letters. Students then practice cursive by tracing and then writing famous historical sayings.

The workbook contains three dry-erase surfaces that recap all of CursiveLogic’s exercises the student used to learn and practice the four CursiveLogic letter strings.  Dry-erase pages enable students to practice and review again and again.

Additional helpful tips, and printable practice pages are available through the CursiveLogic newsletter.

How we used the CursiveLogic Workbook:

Workbook_p22

Each day, my son works in this notebook and loves it.  He is mastering writing in cursive and I am so grateful for the opportunity to learn about this resource.

tracing

He is learning the CursiveLogic method, and loves working in the workbook.  He is learning 4 different skill sets:

Letter shape:

CursiveLogic groups the lowercase alphabet into four groups based on the shape of the initial stroke of the letters.   The workbook teaches all of the similarly-shaped letters in the same lesson.

Workbook_p15-01

Letter strings:

CursiveLogic teaches the similarl shaped letters in a connected flowing string. Letter strings teach students to connect letters,  students gain an understanding of the flow of cursive handwriting.

Workbook_p13

CursiveLogic also uses visual and auditory cues to reinforce the shape patterns.  My son loves this curriculum.  He is an audio visual learner.  He usually hates to work in workbooks or to write, but he is loving his workbook.

writing cursive

Theme colors: 

Each shape string has a color—orange ovals, lime loops, silver swings, and mauve mounds.

Workbook_p74

Verbal task analysis :

A simple, verbal saying that describes the path of the writing instrument as the letter shapes are formed.

IMG_7825

He is surprising himself (and me too) that he likes this curriculum and is mastering cursive writing skills.   I am really proud of him.  He has been a boy who previously hated to sit still and write.  But he really is enjoying mastering this skill and I don’t even have to ask him.  He does it all on his own.

I would encourage everyone to put this workbook on their homeschool curriculum list.

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IEW Teacher and Student Writing Package Review

If you haven’t yet heard of the Institute for Excellence in Writing  (IEW) curriculum company, I would encourage you to check them out.  We were sent their Teaching Writing: Structure and Style, Student Writing Intensive Level A  Package for review.  This would be a great curriculum to add to your schedule this coming school year. 

IEW Writing Level A Package

 

Teaching Writing / Student Writing Package Level A

Package Combo Retails for $249 (Save $49.00!)

Teaching Writing: Structure and Style DVD seminar

Student Writing Intensive Level A

For Elementary Grades 3-5.

Grades

 

What We Received

Teaching Writing: Structure and Style DVD Package Level A:

12 Seminar DVDs 

  • Nine DVDs with instruction on the nine structural models and multiple stylistic techniques (14 hours total viewing time).
  • Three DVDs of sample Student Workshops at four different grade levels.

TWSS Seminar and Practicum Workbook

  • 3 ring binder with dividers  and printouts.  The binder serves as the syllabus and workbook for the seminar and contains charts, word lists, sample lesson plans, and more.

1 year Online Subscription

  • Streaming video of the entire Teaching Writing: Structure and Style teacher training course, providing instruction on the nine structural models and multiple stylistic techniques (14 hours total viewing time—may be watched all at once, or viewed one disc at a time throughout the school year)
  • Streaming video of sample Student Workshops at four different grade levels to help you with the first lesson
  • Free access to our monthly training webinars, August through May
  • Audio MP3 downloads of Andrew Pudewa’s most popular conference talks
  • Several PDF downloads

Student Writing Intensive Level A
5 DVDs
SWI Level A Student Notebook with student handouts, a student 3 ring binder with dividers, and daily lesson suggestions for the teacher/parent

Here is the author Dr. Pudewa, explaining more about the program.

 

How We Used IEW Writing Curriculum

We did a trial run for a few weeks at the end of our school year to see if we want to include this curriculum in our studies this fall.  I was really impressed with the quality of the materials we recieved.  The 3 ring binders are heavy duty and we were sent over 100 pages plus nice dividers to put into each of them and help us stay organized and on plan.  The case that holds the Teachers Seminar DVD’s is really nice too.

I found the Level A Package to be a wonderful writing program and useful for teaching English to Elementary 3rd, 4th, and 5th grades.  This curriculum fits right into our life right now as we have several in this grade range, and some older ones who can sharpen their skills too.  This program is helping improve my skills as a teacher so really all of my children will benefit from this.

For this review, I used this program with my 12 year old to help him get a better understanding and improve his writing skills. This program will work great for older students who might not like writing.  My 12 year old does not enjoy writing and would much rather do math. This curriculum would also be useful for teaching English as a Second Language, and also for remedial learning for older students who need more practice with writing skills.

IEW has put so much together for the parent teacher.  The Teacher Seminar gives you the tools you need to confidently teach your students to write well, think and express themselves clearly. It helps parent teachers learn how to effectively teach their kids to:

  • Outline and summarize
  • Write paragraphs
  • Create stories
  • Write critiques and reports
  • Develop essays
  • Communicate their thoughts and ideas into writing
  • Change sentence structure
  • Use vocabulary in interesting ways

When we first received the materials, I put the binder notebooks together.  Then I viewed the lesson on the corresponding disk in the Teacher’s Seminar DVD’s before having my son watch it with me. Then we watched the lesson together, and followed the teacher notes and presented the lesson to my son.

The lessons are designed to do one a week, but some students will take two weeks to do a lesson. The teacher’s portion of teaching the lesson and use of the DVD takes about 1 hour at the start of the week.  Then he can work on the daily practice assignments the rest of the week. We did not need to watch the Student version of Structure and Style overview as it is basically the same as the teachers DVD.

After watching the Lesson on the DVD, we used the checklists to complete the lesson assignment.  The workbook has sample assignments and ideas to help,  and there are also student workshop videos to watch that can help give more ideas on implementing the lesson.   I found these to be very helpful.  In a nut shell so to speak, my son is learning how to create an outline from a paragraph using key words.  Then learning how to use his outline to write and add adverbs and verbs to make it more interesting.  He is learning to be more creative in writing stories.

Our first few weeks of lessons:

Teacher’s Notes: Lesson 1

“Sea Snakes”

Key Word Outline,

Composition Checklist

Key Word Sentence: 1 word

Key Word Sentence:  2-5 words

Key Word Sentence:  6 words

“Desert Tarantula”  Optional Resource

Repeat steps learned

“Pillbug” and Composition Checklist

Repeat steps learned

Teacher’s Notes: Lesson 2

“The Boy and the Nuts”

“The Cocks and the Eagle”

Once we complete the first lesson in the teacher’s seminar (or student set), we can move ahead and master the material in the next one.   Not all of the lessons use the disk system, some can be completed without it.  For example, Lesson 1 used the disk, but Lesson 2 did not.  You can easily keep track of what’s what as everything is layed out very nice and easy to follow.  I am saving the rest of the work to begin in the Fall at the start of our school year.

IEW

IEW Review

Before we start our next school year, I hope to get a couple of my boys set up with this curriculum too so they can work through it together.  You are allowed to make copies of the student workbook for use within the same family, so this will be really nice to have the boys working on this together and strengthen their writing skills.

There are some additional items available through IEW to help with this curriculum.  I hope to purchase the Portable Word Walls and A Word Write Now before our Fall school year begins too.   IEW also has a clearance section and you can find a lot of discontinued items there. Many of these are previous versions that have now been updated. For example, I found some Word Walls and Bible Based Writing Lessons workbook on clearance for 4th-12th grades. Kids learn to outline bible passages, diagram them, and write paragraphs retelling the story. There are also US History Writing Lessons too. How cool is that?

I can really see how this curriculum is going to help my kids learn how to write with excellence and help me learn how to better help them too.  I am thrilled to schedule this material for their daily writing curriculum for the coming school year.

I hope you will check it out IEW, and all of their various writing curriculum products and see if their curriculum would be a good fit for your family too.

IEW Writing Packages

 

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Be sure to follow IEW on social media for all the latest news and product updates.
Facebook https://www.facebook.com/excellenceinwriting
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Vimeo http://vimeo.com/iewtv
Twitter https://twitter.com/iew
Youtube https://www.youtube.com/user/iewtv
Google+ https://plus.google.com/+Iewriting/
Blog http://iew.com/help-support/blog

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Digital Science Online Review

We are enjoying our subscription to Digital Science Online by Visual Learning Systems.

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Digital Science Online

We received a one year subscription to Digital Science Online: Elementary Edition (Grades K-5) and Digital Science Online: Secondary Edition (Grades 6-12) .  Each edition retails for $99 a year, and can be used by up to 8 students in the same home.  It can be accessed 24/7.  These programs can also be licensed for classroom use (price determined by classroom size), see the web site for more information.

Digital Science

Digital Science Online: Elementary Edition (Grades K-5)

We chose to focus on the Digital Science Online: Elementary Edition (Grades K-5) for the purpose of this review. My children really enjoyed learning a variety of science topics with this program.  The Elementary Edition includes two levels of learning: Primary K-2 (Physical Science, Earth Science, Life Science, Health) and Elementary 3-5 (Physical Science, Earth Science, Life Science).  Units / Topics covered in each level are listed below.

Digital Science Online is divided into 5 easy to use parts in each edition: Video, Animations, Images, Student Content (Printable Activities,Worksheets), Teachers Content (Lesson Plans, Video Script, Materials Needed for experiments and hands on investigations, Quiz /Worksheet/Test Answer Keys, Teachers Tips).

areas

Basically this is an easy to use guided classroom all wrapped up in one convenient online package. All you need is a computer and printer to use, and gather the supplies recommended for the hands on activities. Though older students may be able to work independently, younger students will need the parent / teacher’s help.

How We Used Digital Science Online:

We chose a few unit/topics from the Elementary Edition (Grades K-5) that we wanted to cover during the review (see list below).  You can go through the subject however best fits your needs, but we went through each topic with this plan for our lessons:

  1. Pre-video Quiz given by me (the parent/teacher) to learn what the kids already know about a science topic,

  2. Then they watched a video or video clips that reinforced the topic.

  3. Next they answered Video Review questions during the video or video clip as they are discussed.

  4. Then they took a Post-video Quiz,

  5. Next my kids completed several optional activities to explore the topic in a hands on way (observations (some observations were done outside), experiments, review the online animations and images quick guides, and complete several printable worksheets that reinforce the topic),

  6. Finally my kids took a Topic Assessment Test.

what are plants

The videos and video clips of the various topics are observed online.  You can choose the topic you want to study and watch the entire video, or select a few short video clips to watch and stop to discuss or write down answers as you come to them.

Learning about 3 types of worms from the Simple Animals unit.

Learning about 3 types of worms from the Simple Animals unit.

Some of the topics have a hands on experiments and activities to do, and some topics only have worksheets as the hands on component.  Sometimes we substituted some of the materials for an activity based on what we had on hand.  All of the worksheets are cross-curricular and promote skills in science, but also language arts, English, math, public speaking if done in groups, etc.  All of the quizzes, tests, and worksheets are downloadable printables for the student to complete.

hole punched worksheet

I printed off the worksheets, quizzes, and tests for each unit/topic we were learning about.  I used a three hole punch to put holes in the printables, and made a folder for each of my kids to put their completed worksheets in.

How to Measure Length Unit.

How to Measure Length Unit.

There is a huge list of approximately 136+ science units/topics available in both English and Spanish in the Digital Science Online: Elementary Edition (Grades K-5), and another 125+ science units/topics in the Secondary Edition (Grades 6-12), so this program can last your classroom through out their school years.   It can be used as the curriculum, or used as a supplement for other curriculum.  I have only listed the unit/topics from the Elementary Edition below.  You can choose to do them in any order you choose.  We loved the freedom of being able to move around and choose the topics we wanted to learn about.

Topics in Digital Science Online: Elementary Edition (Grades K-5)

      • Units of study: Grades K-2 collection
        activities of plants, adaptations, animal behavior, biodiversity, blood and circulation, cells, changes on earth, changing climate, chemical changes, classifying living things, complex animals, cycles in living things, day and night, describing matter, describing matter and its properties, describing problems, designing solutions, earth and you, earth’s nearest neighbors, earth’s rotation and revolution, ecology, fundamentals, electrical circuits, electricity, environmental problems and solutions, everyday simple machines, exploring desert biomes, exploring earth, sun, and moon, exploring energy, exploring energy and heat, exploring forest biomes, exploring fossils, exploring freshwater biomes, exploring grassland biomes, exploring landforms, environmental problems and solutions, everyday simple machines, explorando el sonido (exploring sound), explorando la energía y el calor (exploring energy and heat), explorando sólidos, líquidos y gases (exploring solids, liquids, and gases), exploring desert biomes, exploring earth, sun, and moon, exploring energy, exploring energy and heat, exploring forest biomes, exploring fossils, exploring freshwater biomes, exploring grassland biomes, exploring landforms, exploring marine biomes, exploring solids, liquids, and gases, exploring sound,
        exploring the building blocks of matter, fall, fascinating fossils, food and digestion, food chains, forces in fluids, forming bonds, fósiles fascinantes (fascinating fossils), gravedad (gravity), gravity, grouping living things
        hábitos saludables (healthy habits ), healthy habits, heat and energy
        helping us work, how to measure length, how to measure volume,
Using a ruler to measure worksheet.

Using a ruler to measure worksheet.

      • Units of study: Grades 3-5 collection
        ALL OF THE ABOVE PLUS:
        impacto en la tierra (impacts on earth), impacts on earth, interacciones de los seres vivos (interactions of living things), interactions of living things, investigando la herencia (investigating heredity), investigating chemical reactions, investigating earth’s natural resources, investigating heredity, investigating mixtures, solutions, elements, and compounds,  investigating water, investigations and data, invierno (winter), keeping earth healthy, landforms, language in science, life cycles, light, listening and speaking in science, los ciclos de los seres vivos (cycles in living things), magnets and electromagnetism, making observations, measuring, microscopic life, migración e hibernación (migration and hibernation), migration and hibernation, minerals,  moving muscles and bones, moving things, natural resources, needs of living things, nuestra preciosa tierra (our precious earth), nutrition,  objetos en movimiento (moving things), observando el clima (observing weather), observing weather, otoño (fall), our distant neighbors, our precious earth, particles and matter, physical changes, planetas (planets), planets, plant life cycles, plant parts, plantas (plants), plants, plants with flowers, plate tectonics in action, primavera (spring), reading in science,  reading maps, recursos naturales (natural resources), rocks, scientific method, seguridad climática (weather safety), simple animals, soil and rocks, solutions at work, spring, stars and galaxies, starting with questions, suelo y rocas (soil and rocks), summer, sun and stars, the air around us, the changing phases of matter, the nature of waves, the rock cycle, the water cycle, things in motion, traits and heredity, trees, tu cuerpo ( your body ), tu dieta ( your diet ), usando la electricidad (using electricity), using electricity, using the scientific method, using tools in science, uso del método científico ( using the scientific method), verano (summer), vibrations and waves, water, water, everywhere, weather around us, weather on the move, weather safety, weathering and erosion, weighing things, what are magnets?, what are plants?, what do living things need?, what is a bird?, what is a fish?, what is a mammal?, what is a reptile?, what is an amphibian?, what is an insect?, what is light?, what is science?, what is sound?, what is the water cycle?,  why do we measure?, winter, working with data, writing in science, your body, your diet, ¿qué es el ciclo del agua? (what is the water cycle?), ¿qué es la luz? (what is light?), ¿qué es un anfibio? (what is an amphibian?),  ¿qué es un ave? (what is a bird?), ¿qué es un insecto? (what is an insect?), ¿qué es un mamífero? (what is a mammal?), ¿qué es un pez? (what is a fish?), ¿qué es un reptil? (what is a reptile?), ¿qué necesitan los seres vivos? (what do living things need?), ¿qué son los imanes? (what are magnets?),
Build a pulley system for Simple Machine's unit.

Build a pulley system for Simple Machine’s unit.

So as you can see there are several years worth of fun learning units/topics to do, and you can do them in any order you chose.  My advice would be to put a “short list” together of the units/topics you want to cover for a school year, or semester, or even for just a month at a time, and then spend a week +/- on each topic.  Some students may want to go faster or slower, but you have the freedom to go at any pace that fits your family 24/7.

about worms

A science curriculum program like this is a real asset to families.  Whether you are a homeschool family or not, if you want to teach science to your kids or if you are looking for an after school science program to help boost your child’s knowledge, give Digital Science Online a try.

You can download a FREE sample lesson to try before you buy. Just click on each square for the sample video, animation, student content and teacher content separately.  You can also watch a tutorial for how to use the Digital Science Online resource program. This is a great way to see if you and your student will like using this program.  You can also sign up for a FREE 10 Day Trial subscription.

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Hewitt Homeschooling Review

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

pic of homeschool help

 

My First Reports

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

Skills used in My First Reports include:

Research
Organizing
Sorting
Writing
Penmanship
Vocabulary
Reading
Critical Thinking

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

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

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

 

Our Experience:

Bugs and Worms

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

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

IMG_1592

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

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

DSC01865

 

 

Unit Study Approach

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

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

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

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

IMG_1589

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

IMG_1593

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

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

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Activity Bags

Do you want a learning activity that is quick and easy to do with your kids? I am a busy homeschool mom with 6 kids, and I am frequently looking for a quick project the kids can do. I don’t know where the time (or my energy) goes, but there are days we need a fun project that is already prepared and easy to implement.

Roll and Color Activity Bags

Do you want something for kids to do that is portable? Do you need a quiet and busy activity for the younger, or older kids? Do you want a fun project that is easily adaptable to do with various ages, and with both small or large groups? Need a fun activity to do with your coop, church group, club, birthday party, or neighbor kids? Do you want to give homemade gifts that kids will love?

I have found a great solution to fill all of these needs:

Activity Bags Logo

Activity Bags are simple project bags you create. Yes, YOU build them! I love projects that my children and I can build ourselves. I don’t like complicated projects. I need easy, fast projects that we can build together and projects that include the oldest down to the youngest and we all benefit from. Activity Bags definitely meets my needs.

Activity Bags We Made

The method to build the bags, and all printouts are provided for you in an eBook (pdf) downloadable form. Every step is simple and easy to follow and projects are designed to cost about $1 +/- by using a few low cost items and household supplies.

Activity Bags, LLC was created by two busy homeschool moms, check out their ABOUT page. They know the needs of moms with kids of various ages. Sometimes you need a busy activity for the toddlers. Sometimes you need an independent activity for the older kids. These moms got creative and turned their activity ideas into a business to help moms everywhere provide fun, educational, and inexpensive activities to their own children.

Below is a list of the current Activity Bags eBooks available. If you click on the PRODUCTS link, there will be a link for an explanation of each eBook. On each product page there is another link to view free samples if you would like to see what’s included and try it out for free before you buy. There is also a free Coordinator’s Handbook if you plan to use your activity bags in a swap. Also there is a free download sample eBook sent to you in exchange for filling out a short survey and signing up for the email newsletter.

Preschool Activities In A Bag eBook 1

Preschool Activities In A Bag eBook 2

Preschool Activities In A Bag eBook 3

Science Experiments In A Bag eBook 1

Science Experiments In A Bag eBook 2

Science Experiments In A Bag eBook 3

Reading Games In A Bag eBook

Travel Activities In A Binder eBook

Math Games In A Bag eBook

Daily Activity Journal eBook 1

Daily Activity Journal eBook 2

Coordinators Handbook eBook FREE

Be sure to watch for more subjects in the Activity Bags product line. We heard there was a Crafts In A Bag eBook coming soon. I can’t wait to try it. I also want to try the Preschool In A Bag and the Reading In A Bag. Oh who am I kidding? I want to try ALL of the ” …… In A Bag” Activity Bags! They all look great and I know my kids would have fun learning with all of them.

SCIENCE

I am currently reviewing the Science eBooks 1, 2, and 3. Each Science eBook costs $15 and includes 25 activities. Discounts are available when you combine purchases and order several eBooks at a time. Check the website for full discount details. Printables included for each experiment include a supplies list (with supplies calculated for 1, 10, 15, and 20 bags), a project label, an experiment project sheet with step by step instructions to do the experiment, a scientific method observations sheet with questions about the project, a warning or disclosure statement to remind parents about safety.

Science 1

Science Experiments In A Bag eBook 1 is 164 pages and includes 25 activities that focus on biology, nature, and general science. For grades K-8th.

Science 2

Science Experiments In A Bag eBook 2 is 153 pages and includes 25 activities that focus on chemistry, human body, and general science. For grades K-8th.

Science 3

Science Experiments In A Bag eBook 3 is 151 pages and includes 25 activities that focus on chemistry. For grades K-8th.

MATH

We are also reviewing Math Games In A Bag eBook 1. This is a great hands on resource for math practice.

Math Games

Math Games In A Bag includes 33 activities. It contains 201 pages complete with instructions and printouts. For elementary grades, though I think it is great review for older students too.

WHAT WE THOUGHT ABOUT IT

Fun!

These Activity Bags are fun! They work great for busy homeschool moms. I have used a similar idea to take projects on the go with me to keep my toddlers busy when I had an appointment, and when my older children had music lessons. I have also taken my own version of these on trips to keep everyone busy. I have lots of times each day when I need a busy activity for the toddlers so I can help the older children with their school work. To be honest, I have had times with toddlers when busy activities didn’t keep their attention, and the only option was to go outside and release their energy with play.

Instructions for activity bags

But having someone lay it all out for me in an eBook is such a blessing. I don’t even have to think about it. All the thinking and planning has been done. I just print out my pages, locate the items listed in the eBook for each activity, and place it in the bags. These are easy to make ahead activities. You can choose what you want to do for the week ahead and make them up and place in your students workboxes for a hassle free project for the kids to do.

086

I teach homeschool learning programs in the park, workshops, and a science and engineering 4-H club, and I think some of the projects in these science activity bags will work great for these classes. And these bags are such a great way to organize my teaching materials and have everything ready to go. I found several experiments in the Science Experiments In A Bag eBooks that will work great to add to our learning programs for both of the group programs, as well as at home for our homeschool.

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I would love to make up a batch of these bags for birthday parties. You could choose a party theme around a science theme, then choose which science activities to fit the party theme. You could have the kids work on an activity bag during the party. They could also be used as party “take home” favors for the kids. I am always looking for party favor ideas that are more than just candy and stickers. I love giving kids something educational as well as fun at the same time. Activity Bags say they are “fun and education fit together in the same bag”. It works for me!

057 - Copy

Some science / birthday party examples might be: a pirate party (why some things float, salt water salination and desalination, study the ocean, preserving with vit C, wind power, weaponry with cata
pults and combustion); a “mad science” lab party (fun experiments with chemistry); a doctor party (human body experiments); a detective party (fingerprints, secret codes experiments); a summer pool party (water experiments); a garden party (learn about soils, compost, worms, trees, filtration, plant and insect science); a construction party (make geometric shapes, learn about soils, trees, architecture); space party (learn about air, rockets, solar power, make a sun dial); etc.

Another thought I had was to make up several bags to fit into shoe boxes or the USPS postal boxes, and send to kids who may not have access to learning projects such as these. What a wonderful gift these would make! A child would enjoy receiving a bag in their Christmas box like a learning project or math game with dice and everything he or she needed to practice and play with a friend or sibling.

SWAP

Instead of a “cookie swap” with your friends, how about an Activity Bag Swap? Moms can use these bags in their own homes, or give them as gifts. It is a very easy process to do. One person (the coordinator) buys the eBook and organizes the swap. The coordinator sends out the printouts and materials list to each participant. Each person makes enough activities to exchange with their group.

For example, 10 moms could each make 10 exact copies of 1 activity bag, then get together with the other moms for a swap. Each mom would leave the swap with 10 different activity bags for her kids (a larger group of 25 moms would leave the swap with 25 different activities, etc).

A swap would be a great way to use up identical supplies that you otherwise might not need again. For example, I found dice for math games 10 pairs for $1, enough to make 10 math games using pairs of dice or 20 math games using a single die. I also bought wooden skewers 24 for $1, surgical gloves 10 for $1, 10 balloons for $1, etc. If I am only going to need one set of these items to make an activity bag project, I could use the extra sets of supplies for a swap. Instead of buying supplies for every experiment, I can buy bulk supplies of one experiment and let someone else buy the other supplies for other experiments, and we can both reap the benefits.

How to store your activity bags?

Basically any designated box, bin, or container will work for storing the bags. The thinner bags, such as the bags for math, reading, and travel eBook activities will store neatly in a binder, magazine holders, or files. You can 3 hole punch the bags to fit right into a large binder to easily take them “on the go”.

I store my bags in an inexpensive hanging file folder box, like we use for our workboxes. When I was a kid, we called them milk crates.

Activity Bags in Workboxes

These boxes retail for about $5 at the local Walmart, but I found some on clearance for $2.50 there during the “off season” too. These boxes will hold lots of file folders filled with bags, but some of the science experiments are too bulky to sit nicely in a file folder. Instead, I can stack my bags in the box laying on the bottom, or stand them up. In the picture above, I have seven bags prepared, and as I filled the workbox with more and more projects, it was easier to stand them up. I wrote the name of the project in the bag at the top of the bags so I could easily read it when they are standing up in the workbox. These workboxes hold way more than I can count of the thin activity bags in hanging file folders, and about 25 or 30 bulky science bags. That is enough activities to keep the kids busy for a long time! These boxes stack nicely on top of each other, take up little space, and are a handy storage storage option with or without using hanging file folders.

Costs To Make Activity Bags

There was very little expense involved in making the actual activity bags. I purchased a box of gallon size zip close bags (20 for $2 = .10 cents each), sandwich size bags (40 for $2 = .05 cents each), and a few supplies at Walmart and the dollar store. The supplies I bought actually had 10+ more items to a package for $1 (10 for $1 = .10 cents each).

Each Activity Bags project is designed to cost you around $1 +/- to put together using some supplies and materials you might already have on hand, and maybe a few things you will need to purchase. We were able to make up several bags with very little expense.

Here are my costs (no cost figured for supplies I had on hand) for just 3 of the science experiment bags we made:

Where's The Water? Bag

“Where’s The Water?” science project cost .20 cents:
.10 for the gallon bag
.10 for the surgical gloves
.00 for the paper cup saved from a hotel room stay. ( .02 cents if I had to buy one)
.00 for the left over diaper kids outgrew before using it. (.50 cents if I had to buy one)
.00 water

Instructions for activity bags

“Balloon Skewer” science project cost .50 cents:
.10 for the gallon bag
.30 for 3 balloons (we actually used more balloons to repeat the 3 experiments in this project because it is so much fun)
.10 for wooden skewers
.00 for a stick pen we had on hand (.01 cent if had to buy, a box of 100 of them for $1)
.00 for a small drop of vaseline we had on hand (could buy a container for lots of needs for $1)
.00 for a small piece of tape we had on hand (could buy a roll of tape for .50 cents)

Marble

“Marbleous” science project cost .50 cents:
.10 gallon bag
.10 sandwich bag
.10 chalk
.20 for 4 clear plastic cups
.00 plastic spoon we had on hand (could by 24 for $1)
.00 paper we had on hand (could buy a pack of paper for $1)
.00 paper towel we had on hand (could buy a roll for .50 cents or less in bulk)

So you can see how inexpensive making these hands on learning activities can be. You can also see where a swap could benefit you if you are getting a bulk package that contains enough supplies of one specific item. You could do the project several times to use up the extra supplies. But even better, you can use up the “extra” by swapping out the projects with friends. I think realistically you might be able to make exact replicas of a project to swap with 10 friends for a $5 to $10 investment, 25 friends for a $15 to $20 +/- investment, and not have supplies left over taking up space in your already space deprived storage closet.

There was some additional expense in printing out the materials. You can print them at home, or send them over to your local office supply / copy store for printing. You can also choose to print on regular paper, or on card stock, and to laminate, or not. It all depends on how much you want to spend.

printouts

I chose to print the activity bag projects on fast draft mode (saves on ink), at home (saves on labor and gas to go to town), and on white copy paper (cheap purchased in bulk). The kids and I cut out what needed separated (flash cards, number tiles, labels, coloring pages, etc.) and the kids had lots of fun helping me fill the bags with our printed materials and supplies.

However, if you really wanted to save money and not print them the eBooks, and you were not doing these bags as part of a swap or gifts for others (definitely print them for gifts and swaps), you could just write the number of the experiment on the bag, and refer back to the pdf on the computer for instructions when needed. This would be a very viable option for folks who don’t have a printer, or don’t want to spend the money on ink and paper. I personally like having a printed copy of everything in front of me. I don’t know if it is just my generation, or what, but I do much better if I have actual printed items in my hands instead of having to read everything on a computer screen. That might change someday if I get a handy gadget like a kindle or ipad etc,( hint, hint…. Birthday? Christmas? Husband I hope you are reading this!) and doesn’t require me to sit any longer than I have to at the computer. Until then, I’ll keep printing!

Activity Bags are a great addition to our homeschool!

Check out what others on the Schoolhouse Review Crew had to say about Activity Bags.

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