Apologia’s Exploring Creation Through Chemistry and Physics Review

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We got the awesome and exciting opportunity to try Jeannie Fulbright’s newest science book through Apologia. Exploring Creation with Chemistry and Physics. In fact not only did we get to try the book out for review but they sent us the Exploring Creation with Chemistry and Physics Notebooking Journal and the Exploring Creation with Chemistry and Physics Junior Notebooking Journal to try out as well. This curriculum is used for grades K-6th. The notebooking journal is for older children that have mastered handwriting and can take notes. The junior notebooking journal is for the younger students with coloring pages. Both journals are good supplements to the book and both contain many of the the same things. The book is hardback and full color and it is priced at $39 and the notebooking journals are spiral bound and priced at $24 each.

Exploring Creation with Chemistry and Physics is a homeschool science curriculum that uses a Charlotte Mason approach to science. It’s very hands on and wants to immerse your child into the topic at hand. The book contains a supply list for all the experiments contained in the book as well as tons of fun experiments to teach your child the building blocks of creation and science. The Notebooking journals have suggested lesson plans along with additional activities to compliment the main book.

 photo juniornotebookingjournal_zpsa179a078.pngWe love Apologia. Especially the Exploring Creation books. I know the Chemistry and Physics is technically for K-6th grade but I believe older students can use this as well. My 7th and 8th graders are enjoying this right along with their 3rd grade sister. So I really think you can use this even up through middle school if supplemented. As mom I absolutely love the Notebooking journals. I wish they had these several years ago when we were doing photo notebookingjournal_zpsaa83790f.png Astronomy and Botany. I would definitely have purchased them. They add a little more fun to the child that likes worksheets and those that like to get creative in their lessons. These books have scored big in our homeschool. Doing the experiments together and making actual observations has made it come alive.

All three of my kids learn best hands on. So having a science curriculum that encourages that type of learning is best for them and for me as a mom. What I like the most about this is that you don’t have to do every single experiment in the book but if you want to you can. The lessons can be catered to you and you can learn one lesson per week or make it last longer. It’s solely up to you. It’s completely flexible and that is something that even my kids like.

This is definitely going to be on my lists of favorites for the year.

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VocabularySpellingCity Review

 

I got the opportunity to try VocabularySpellingCity ‘s  VocabularySpellingCity Premium Membership in order to review it. At first I wasn’t so sure this was something that I would use but the more we tried it the more I realized that this is exactly the spelling/vocabulary program that might work the best for my kids. This site features: spelling games, vocabulary games, language arts games and printable sheets for writing practice as well as flash cards for learning the words that you are using. You can input your own word list or access lists that are already there.  It’s premium membership is $29.99 per year and that includes up to 5

students. This program is for kids in grades: K-12th grade. With the premium membership you get access to not only the free membership benefits but there is so much more that is offered as well such as: record keeping, customizable lists in order to meet each students needs, differentiated learning, accountability and vocabulary activities.

Some of the activities you can print out as well and you know which ones they are because they have the little printer icon next to the activity. Like these flash cards that you can print out for your students or you can use them online as well. There are fun matching games and typing games which not only helps the child to learn spelling skills but typing skills as well. And in today’s technological world it is a must to learn how to type properly.
The games and activities are very colorful so they will attract the attention of younger students as well as still be useful for the older ones as well. If you have a competitive child they may like the fact that the high scorers initials are shown as the high scores on the site and that may give them a goal to strive for and in turn make them much better spellers.
For the younger kids and/or struggling readers, I like that there is audio on all the games. The narrator reads the words/sentences and instructions aloud so that the student understands what they need to do. You can also mute this option if you would rather read it for yourselves.
As the teacher I also like that I can track my kids tests and scores and view them in my teacher homepage. I have not utilized this as of yet but I am planning on working on this in the next few weeks. I can also leave notes to my students via my page in case there is something I need to let my student know and they can access it on their homepage. I don’t know that I will use this feature since I am a homeschool mom but I may if I get busy. I know that is a feature that will work great for schools and homeschool moms or even co-ops that might use this system. I really like the thought and ease of use they put into this and my girls enjoy spelling when its fun. They make it fun.
I do like that there are lists already set up I just wish the lists could be accessed more by grade or spelling level than going through the local school lists. But it’s really not that big of a deal that I can’t use it. Just a preference on my part really. Overall I think it’s a great program and look forward to using it throughout the rest of our school year.

 

    

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Diary of a Real Payne: True Story Review

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Geek Girl, Princess and I got the opportunity to read Barbour Publishing’s book Diary of a Real Payne by Annie Tipton for review. It’s on sale for $4.49 through Barbour Publishing. It’s 192 pages softcover and geared for ages 8 and up. Diary of a Real Payne follows the diary entry’s (which share her thoughts and feelings about her life) of EJ (aka Emma Jean) Payne who lives in the small town of Spooner, Wisconsin where her dad is a pastor and her mom is a teacher at the local elementary school. It follows EJ’s many adventures in everyday life as well as her imagination, that may or may not, get her into quite a bit of mischief. EJ learns many life lessons through her adventures especially that her life in Spooner may not be as bad as she thought… and this is only the first book in the series.

Geek Girl, Princess and I have been reading it as a read aloud book. We have found it to be quite humorous and are curious as to what EJ is going to get her self into in the next book. We’ve found it fun to read and have been amazed and laughing out loud at EJ’s antics throughout the story. It’s amazing to me the imagination on this child and reminds me very much of my girls and how their imaginations run away with them.

This book is a good addition to our library. I believe the author has written it very well and has really engaged the elementary/middle school aged kids in the story. Whether you are a kid or kid at heart it was a lot of fun. And to think this is just the beginning for EJ Payne. We wonder how much more trouble she can get in as the series progresses. It’s a nice change to some of the other books for kids that are out there right now. And it addresses a genre that no other Christian children’s author has yet tried to go after “the diary” type of books.  As a mother its always good to find a good variety of kids books to give each of my kids a chance to find something they love to read.

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God’s World News: News Flash Review

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I received a subscription for God’s World News magazine for grades 3rd-4th, News Flash, in exchange for an honest review. The magazine is specifically for grades 3-4 and priced at $28 per year. There are also group and school rates available as well. You get 10 magazines per year along with a full color map for your kids to use to map the news. In each issue you will find 32 full color pages about the news going on today from a biblical perspective and geared toward the grade level you choose. Also inside are activities that go along with the stories. Also included in the subscription is access to the God’s World News Kids site. There is a magazine for ever grade level.
 
We received a map and two back issues from the summer to read the articles and see how we can utilize it in our school. Boo, my 3rd grader, found some of the articles very interesting and enjoyed reading it with me. Many articles opened up a bunch of questions about things and we could discuss it. Her favorite was the September issue where a lot of information about robots were discussed. They showed articles about how robots are being used all over the world for very different reasons. We were able to see some very interesting things that are being tested in this field and we shared our own opinions of why we think these are good or bad.
 
I think News Flash will be a welcome addition to our homeschool and it will be a nice break from the norm when it comes each month. My only thing with it is that we will devour it within the first week and then have to wait 3 more weeks before we get the next one. I guess that’s not the bad thing. However during the time you are waiting for your next magazine to arrive you can fill it up with stuff from the website. There are articles, fun stuff and so much more.
 
Plus the publishers of God’s World News also has World which is the adult publication and shares world news from a Biblical perspective. They also sent us a free preview of World magazine as well and its really cool. I haven’t had the chance to sit down and really look through it yet since I just got it but I’ve already marked some articles that really interested me. With your subscription to World you also gain access to their site and all it has to offer.
 
World Magazine is a bi-weekly magazine and its priced at $59.76 per year and that includes digital access as well. Or you can go strictly digital for $35.88 per year. If you want to view the world’s news from a much different perspective then I recommend this product.

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YWAM Publishing George Washington True Patriot Review

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My older two girls and I recently finished doing YWAM Publishing’s George Washington: True Patriot and George Washington: Unit Study Curriculum Guide. George Washington: True Patriot is a 224 page book available in paperback, audiobook, Nook, or Kindle editions. It is priced at $6.99 and is for ages 10 and up. George Washington: Unit Study Curriculum Guide is a 64 page paperback study guide priced at $7.49. YWAM Publishing has lots of great Heroes of History and this is just one of many. You can view a complete list of biographies in chronological order by going to the website. For this review we received the Kindle version of the reader along with a PDF version of the study guide.

At first my oldest two were not real thrilled about this book. They will get bored a lot of times with the readings of other biographies we have done but I must say after we got started not only did they enjoy it but their interest comparing George Washington’s government to how far our government has gone today was piqued. GeekGirl made many comments along the way how our country GW Unit Study photo YWAM-GWUnitstudy_zps416f4e51.jpgshould go back to what it once was and how she wished we had a man like George Washington today to help lead us out of the mess we have gotten our country in. That being said, we all learned a lot even me. I am a HUGE lover of History and especially early American history and having read a lot about Washington previously was surprised to learn even more about the first President of our country.  The story was captivating and written so well. The only thing I am disappointed about was that I don’t have this one in paperback so I am thinking I will go back and purchase this and many others for our homeschool library. We had to laugh at Princess. She was so disappointed the story ended. She wanted more. I love that it left her thirsty for more knowledge about this era of our history. I am sure there will be much more research of this subject in her future.

The study guide is awesome. It has loads of questions for each chapter to make sure your children are comprehending what is being read. There are so many fun activities and research possibilities throughout. There are also suggestions of related themes you can explore for the study that incorporates the other subjects along with a list of other books and resources that you can use to further deepen your George Washington study. There are also maps, a fact sheet and timeline to utilize in your study. I’m actually looking forward to using this again with Boo as we have at least one more year before she will be doing this. But I’ve got a ton more ideas of what to do with her thanks to doing this with the older two.  I’m also looking forward to doing more unit studies by YWAM publishing. We were very happy with this product.

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VideoText Interactive Review; Algebra: A Complete Course

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VideoText Interactive has given GeekGirl the opportunity to try out their Algebra: A Complete Course online video curriculum program. This is a complete Algebra course beginning with what we would call Pre-Algebra and ending in Algebra 2. It is taught straight through rather than taking a break from it to do Geometry. Which they also have a course for that. The Algebra course starts with 8th grade and works its way through high school. So you have a complete math course. The online price for the complete course is $299. But your getting at least 3 years worth of math. If you want you can also order it in physical form which is priced at $529. I recommend the online version. That is what we have been using and my daughter seems to like it. She seems to understand it fairly well.

With the online version you get the video lessons (there are 176); 360 pages of course notes; 590 pages of student work text; Solutions manuals and progress tests. The student is supposed to sit down and take a test taken from the previous lesson to make sure they understand and remember what was taught. Then, you would watch a 5 to 10 minute video introducing the next concept. Finally the student would then do the student work text which can be printed. The manuals, course notes, test and work text are all in PDF form so they can be downloaded and used by the student.

I love the fact that each lesson is started by a test to make sure the student has understood and retained the previous lesson before going on to the next concept. The over all goal of this course is to teach a complete mastery of Algebra by teaching it in a logical order. There are no shortcuts or tricks to this program which makes certain your student understands the concepts presented to them. Geek Girl seems to be understanding and what she isn’t we have stopped and taken the time to go over it together and make sure the concepts are being understood and remembered.  Math has never been her favorite subject but I am hoping that the more we use this program the less afraid she will be at doing her math work. I’m hoping it will boost her confidence in this area. I think it will be a huge help for her. I am already seeing improvement in her in this area and am looking forward to continuing to see improvement and mastery of this subject. So far both Geek Girl and I are happy with this program. We have used this at least 4 days a week as we work through this course together. I do recommend that the parent be very involved in this to make sure that your student is actually understanding the lesson and not just guessing. Overall I do believe this is a great program and is set up in a much more logical way of teaching Algebra. Had this been around when I was in high school I would have loved it and I believe it would have been a help to me especially in making sure I actually retained the knowledge I gained.

 

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The Presidential Game Review

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The Presidential Game company sent us their game for review. We were so excited to receive it and try this out.  photo GameImage_zps8848e8d7.jpg

This is a fun game for at least 2 or more players ages 11+. The game itself is priced at $35.  You divide into two teams Republicans and Democrats. The goal of the game of course is to become the next President of the United States by winning with at least 270 electoral votes. The game includes: game board; 6 dice (3 red, 3 blue); 80 politics cards; 40 “write your own” politics cards; 2 Vote cards (1 republican, 1 democrat); 150 Republican votes (red chips); 150 Democrat votes (blue chips); score pad; rules; and access code to the online webmap calculator.

When we read the rules there was a couple things that were not completely clear and therefore we had to go online to check out the FAQ’s, which were a great help. We have since learned that they have updated the rules to clarify and you can download the new updated rule book by going to the FAQ’s where the link is at the top of the page.

The girl’s were really excited to play this. Boo was too young to play so she just watched her sisters “campaign” and “fundraise” across the nation for their right to become the next President. We found the game to be much fun and it showed how the electoral vote works. Which helped them to understand better how our countries political system functions. The game of course has to set specific parameters of course by only allowing you to fundraise in three specific states but we know that is not the case in real life.  The girls quickly learned why certain states were called “battle ground” states. So as we played the game I took the opportunity to teach them important lessons about our nations voting system and why it works the way it does. I like the fact that you can choose how many “weeks” to campaign. This allows you to play longer or shorter games depending on how much time you have that day. Everyone still gets the same amount of turns and it all works out in the end. I think this was one of the most relaxed games we have ever played together. The girls loved it so much they can’t wait to play it again and again. This makes this mom happy to see them love an “educational” game. But it also makes me happy to see them playing together.

I highly recommend this game. It’s a great addition whether you are using it just for fun or as an educational supplement to government. My kids also give this game two thumbs up.

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PeopleKeys The Personality Style Workbook Review

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PeopleKeys sent to us The Personality Style Workbook to review for the TOS Review crew. It’s for ages 13 to 18. It uses their DISC personality system in order to gain a better understanding of your child’s personality style. It includes: A student DISC assessment, scoring instructions, personality style descriptions and an action plan for improving communication.  This workbook is priced at $13.00 and it is a 16 page paper workbook.

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GeekGirl and I worked through this together. For her it was more of an eye opener to her own personality and for me it just confirmed much of what I already knew. She pretty much did the assessment on her own. I just helped to clarify anything she may not have understood. I let her choose how she felt she would answer the questions and did not answer them for her. We found that she didn’t just clearly fall into one style overall. She was a cross between two styles. I find that to be true with most people as I have had experience myself in these kinds of assessments.

As far as the assessment itself it was pretty easy to understand what to do. Since GeekGirl is at the younger end of the age range I did have to clarify what some things meant but overall she understood what they wanted her to do. We worked on it a little every day because she gets overwhelmed very easily when trying to make decisions especially about herself. So to break it up we would cover the main assessment in one day and over the next week finished it out.

It can be done fairly quickly but my advice is to take your time. However, don’t over analyze your answers. I find that usually your first answer is the right one to go with. If you really try to think about it too hard then it could affect the assessment and come out different and not be a true assessment. Also let your child answer the questions and pick what they think is best. If you try to do it for them because you “know” your child then it might come out as being what you want your child to be like rather than what your child is really like. Some of the choices that GeekGirl made did not shock me. I expected them. But there were a few that she answered differently than I would have thought and it actually allowed me to see how she viewed herself.

I was very impressed with her ability to analyze herself pretty accurately and when I read the description of her two strongest personality styles they really sounded like her. I think this assessment was a major help for me just as much as it was for herself. Now we know how to deal with certain things in her life. I advise doing this with all your kids as they get to this age range. It will help, not only them, learn and understand themselves better but it will help you as the parent as well.

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Doorposts Beauty in the Heart Review

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Doorposts sent me their Bible study called Beauty in the Heart for me and my daughters to review. This comes in either as a softcover study or you can get it as a PDF download. We received it in softcover format. It’s priced at $14 and is geared for girls ages 12 and up.

In Beauty in the Heart your children will learn what God’s word says about beauty. What attitudes can actually detract from Godly beauty. Also in this study you will learn fundamental Bible study skills like: how to use a concordance, how to perform a character study, how use marginal study notes and much more. There are ten in depth studies on different women of the Bible like: Ruth and Esther as well as modesty and what the Bible says about adornment, etc.

My girls (Geek Girl age 13 and Princess age 12) and I are using this as our main Bible curriculum this year. We have been working through this together a little every day in order to glean together what Godly beauty is. As each of us answers questions and listen to the portion of scripture over and over again we have gained more and more insight into the Word of God. We have learned not only how important it is to look at not just that verse but at the time period the scripture was written, who wrote it and what was it that motivated the writer to put those words on paper. We also look at who it was written to. What is going on around the time it was written and so much more. All of that can have an effect on what is written and why.

The girls seem to be enjoying this study. I know I certainly am. I would be interested in checking at more of Doorposts products and possibly purchasing more in the future for us in our home. I believe teaching children how to study the scripture is important and it’s the MOST important skill in any Christians education. I like the simplicity of the study where it guides you into deeper knowledge rather than leading you to “their” point of view like I have seen some studies that I have done in the past. It’s all based on scripture not doctrinal beliefs and that is important to me. This is a product I do recommend.

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Reading Kingdom Review

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We had the opportunity to try Reading Kingdom’s online program to review. This program is for kids ages 4-10 improve their reading skills. It’s an easy to use program and teaches a child to read up to a third grade level. When you sign up for Reading Kingdom online you get your first 30 days free after that it’s $19.99 a month or $199.99 a year (which is a 20% discount). This program teaches six skills that are needed to teach proper reading and writing skills. Phonics programs only teach sounds and Whole Language programs only teach comprehension but Reading Kingdom teaches not only those but also sequencing, motor skills, meaning and grammar as well as sounds and comprehension. To find out more information about how they teach here is a link to a pdf download to How the Reading Kingdom is different from other reading programs.  Below is a few screenshots from the program to show you the fun images and “game like” lessons.

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I’ve been using this with Boo my 8 year old (third grade) who, although doesn’t really have any issues that prevent her from reading, doesn’t like to take the time to sit down and read. With this program she not only loves her lessons she is at the computer before I am waiting for me to start the program. I’ve already noticed great improvement in her reading. As I would ask her how she felt about this program she said “this is more like a game than school.” Which is a huge compliment coming from her.
 
We used this program for several weeks (so far) at least 5 days a week. Because of the improvement and success I have seen we will continue to use it until she has completed it. I feel it is an important part of our schooling. This is an aspect that is important to any child’s education. If a child struggles in reading it can affect every area of their education. Yet if a child can read, they can learn anything.
 
The lessons are really short compared to other programs yet they are perfect for the attention span of younger users. I like that at the end of a lesson you have the option to either review a previous lesson, go to the next lesson or quit for the day. Depending on how quickly your child comprehends the lessons is how quickly you can move through the program.  Also I just want to make a note that if you have a struggling reader over the age of 10 it can actually be beneficial to them as well.
 
You can choose to use either an onscreen keyboard, like in the 2nd screenshot above, or use your computers actual keyboard. Depending on your child depends on which one you should use. Boo uses the regular keyboard. She started out with the onscreen keyboard but because she was used to the computer keyboard we switched over to that instead. Which you choose depends on what you/your child is comfortable with.
 
We highly recommend this product.
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