Thursday, July 30, 2015

Heirloom Audio Productions - With Lee in Virginia - Review

Recently my family and I were chosen to review With Lee in Virginia from Heirloom Audio Productions. I had no idea going into this review how much it would bring history to life and actually bless us.

With Lee in Virginia is a Civil War story of courage, honor, and duty. It's recommended for ages 6 - Adult. This dramatized version of G.A. Henty's book by the same title was a hit with my three daughters. We were blessed to receive the 2 1/2 hour audio theater on two CDs. We also received access to wonderful special bonuses online. 

The special bonuses include: 
  • PDF Study Guide and Discussion Starter 
  • MP3 download of the story 
  • eBook of the original G.A. Henty Story 
  • Official Soundtrack
  • Printable Promotion Poster
  • Printable of a saying from Robert E. Lee, 
  • Unlimited access to the Live The Adventure Letter E-Newsletter

The story follows a young gentleman by the name of Vincent Wingfield as joins the cavalry of the Army of Northern Virginia. He finds himself fighting alongside famous Confederate generals such as Stonewall Jackson and Robert E. Lee. He is ultimately inspired by the duty and devotion to God that Robert E. Lee shows and Vincent is determined to take a stand for his country. 

One of the first things I did was access the PDF Study Guide and Discussion Starters and print them. I was so thankful that this awesome guide was included. The Study Guide is 48 pages and it really helps parents engage children with the story. A fantastic plus in the fact that the study guide doesn't have to be printed out and can be viewed on any device. The study guide is bright and vibrant but as you can tell by my pictures I was running a little low on the color ink.

We choose to listen to With Lee in Virginia during our car rides. We live in an area that requires quite the drive just to be able to visit the dentist or even shop at a major retailer. Anyhow, during one of our trips to the dentist I popped in the first CD and away we drove. Seriously friends my children were so quiet. They were immediately drawn into the story even expressing dislike for the fact that we had to stop it at certain times.  After returning home the first day we turned our attention to the study guide. We spent the next week listening and then studying. We all loved the way the study guide is set up. Each disc and track has a corresponding page that includes a listening well, thinking further, and defining words section.  Some pages even include fun facts and a recipe. We chose to use a notebook specifically for the defining words section. It was fun for my daughters to look up each word and write their definitions. It helped their vocabulary tremendously.  I was pretty surprised at how much information my daughters retained during the course of listening and reviewing by using the study guide. I'm positive that the study guide was very beneficial in that regard. 

What we loved the most about With Lee in Virginia

Without a doubt, the story was ultimately the best part of this review. From the very beginning to the end, the audio drama is exciting and has a way of making you want to continue listening. It's filled with adventure and also includes funny and some pretty sad parts as well. The cast does an amazing job. Speaking of the cast! The cast lineup is so wonderful! It was so fun to listen to the characters and find out who was behind the voice and find out that I actually have grown up watching and/or listening to them many times. 

Final Thought

We highly, highly recommend With Lee in Virginia! It was truly a blessing for my family and I believe it should be listened to by everyone. I'm positive that this is a story that will bless people and make them feel like their purchase was worth it. I've known people to spend money on a product and then later regret it. I'm sure this isn't one of those products. It's a story that can be listened to many times over and still be appreciated. I'm planning a Civil War study in the future and I will definitely be using this again as part of the study. 

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Monday, July 27, 2015

UnLock Math - UnLock Pre-Algebra - Review

Hello Friends, My oldest daughter recently had the opportunity to review UnLock Pre-Algebra from the wonderful company, UnLock Math.  Much to my surprise, my daughter has always enjoyed math. As she gets older though, I'm finding it harder and harder to find math products that keep her interest. That's why I'm very thankful to have been chosen to review UnLock Pre-Algebra with her. 

UnLock Pre-Algebra is a 24/7 access online pre-algebra program that you can use at home or on the go.  It includes:

Engaging Teaching Videos
Interactive & Adaptive Testing
Unlimited Practice & Review
Complete Solutions
Immediate Feedback
Complete Grading
Extensive Reporting
Reference Notes
Pacing Guide

Each child has their own personalized dashboard to login into.  In the dashboard they can see their progress at a glance, choose their next lessons, view and print their progress report which is always updated in real time, access their grade book that contains in-depth details of each completed assignment, and download a pacing guide. The pacing guide is just that, a guide that shows the student how long each lesson should take to complete. It was helpful as it allows students to pace the course. 

What we loved about UnLock Pre-Algebra

I loved that UnLock Pre-Algebra is divided into sixteen units. We received a full year access and are really hoping to have all the units completed by the end of our year.

Each lesson in the units are broken up into six parts:
  • Warm Up 
  • Lesson Video: In this section the instructor, Alesia, gives a small lesson on a math concept that your child is going to be working on. 
  • Practice Problems
  • Stay Sharp
  • Challenge Yourself
  • Reference notes: A PDF of all the concepts that Alesia explored in the lesson video. 

One of the things that my daughter expressed that she really liked was the lesson videos. My daughter has had trouble in the past with the lessons that do not have videos included. Including the videos has really helped my daughter understand the new concepts she was learning. Another thing she said she liked seeing was the window that popped up after she completed a lesson that said lesson complete. 

She also expressed how easy it was to use the program, which I can appreciate. I know how hard it is to enjoy a program when it is a hard to navigate and use. Thankfully this is not the case, as UnLock Pre-Algebra is very easy to navigate. 

One thing I really enjoyed as a parent was the progress reports.  Being able to see where my daughter excels and where she may need extra help at has truly been helpful and I'm very thankful these reports are included. 

Another thing that I have enjoyed is the course gradebook. I can't say it enough, I really love programs that include grading. It takes a lot of pressure off of the parent when they don't have to worry about going back over and grading each lesson. Having the gradebook has made using the program more enjoyable for not only my daughter but for me as well. 

Final Thought

My daughter still has a ton of lessons and units to complete but I foresee us continuing on through the program and hopefully finishing it by the end of our year. I'm very thankfully that UnLock Math has put so much work into making this a program that will benefit many families. We highly recommend it.

Do they have any demo lessons?

 Absolutely! A Demo Lesson can be found at the link below:

What does UnLock Pre-Algebra Cost?

You can currently purchase UnLock Pre-Algebra for:
   Annual $299.00 USD 
Monthly $49.00 USD

Would you like $100 off on an annual purchase? 

Sounds great doesn't it? Well you can by clicking the link below.

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Sunday, July 19, 2015

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Saturday, July 18, 2015

Home School in the Woods ~ Project Passport World History Study: Ancient Egypt ~ Review

These past few weeks have been filled with wonderful hands-on lessons and projects thanks to our opportunity to review Project Passport World History Study: Ancient Egypt from Home School in the Woods. My daughters have always been fascinated by Ancient Egypt, so this study was a huge win for our homeschool. 

Project Passport World History Study: Ancient Egypt is a hands-on study that spans around 8-12 weeks. During the course your children will witness exciting events and meet interesting people of Ancient Egypt. Topics include: 
  • Everyday Life 
  • Agriculture
  • Trade
  • Education 
  • Writing
  • The Sciences 
  • The Arts
  • Great Builders and their Architecture
  • Religion
  • Medicine
  • Government
  • The Dynasties
  • Kingdoms
  • Famous Pharaohs
  • Fitting Egypt into the Bible
  • Archaeology

The suggested grades for this study are 3-8.  For the purpose of this review, we were provided with the digital download version of the study. However, it is also available as a physical CD. Included in the study are 25 "Stops". Every stop has Guide Book Text to read on a topic, and a Travel Itinerary for project choices and directions. Masters for all the printables are also included. I do recommend having plenty of computer ink for printing. 

My daughters were very eager to begin. As soon as I downloaded the file, we launched the program to check it out. I was pretty blown away at the amount of wonderful content. The first thing I did was read the introduction. After reading the introduction, we made our way to Stop #1 where we were advised to create a passport and a luggage folder.  We also created a guide book, "Scrapbook of Sights" book, and "Snapshot Moments in History" Timeline.

As we made our way through the "Stops" we were able to take part in many hands-on learning adventures such as mapping Upper & Lower Egypt, creating "Wish You Were Here" postcard greetings, writing our own newspaper, making a dining out guide, learning about what the Egyptians wore, and many other very fun projects, There are also 8 audio tour included in the study as well. My daughters loved the audio tours. We listened to them as we worked on projects. 

I loved how the study was laid out in "Stops". 25 Stops in all. Each stop worked into the previous stop wonderfully. Allowing my children to understand each piece of information better. I also loved how we could view sample pictures of completed projects by clicking on an orange photo button on the right side.  This helped us tremendously. A photo example is included below. 

My daughters favorite project from the study so far as been making their own bricks. They thought this project was very cool. I thought it was a little messy, but I'm just thankful that my daughters were so excited about it. 

Final Thought

We haven't finished all the stops on this wonderful journey yet and we plan on continuing through them. So far this study has been more than I could have imagined. We actually studied Ancient Egypt last year, but in no way did it come close to this study. I couldn't have put a study this good together. I'm very thankfully we had the opportunity to review Project Passport World History Study: Ancient Egypt and I highly recommend it to anyone wanting to learn about Ancient Egypt. I always feel like my daughters learn better with hands-on projects and that is just what this study has provided us with.

Download Version - $33.95
CD Version - $34.95

(Mac & PC Compatible)

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Monday, July 13, 2015

Homeschool Planet - Homeschool Buyers Co-op Review

I'm a huge planner! Well not really, I'm a person, but I love planning. You see what I did there? Okay, I'll admit I chuckled a bit. Anyhow, I have tried many planners and honestly nothing has stood out to me as much as Homeschool Planet from Homeschool Buyers Co-op. I'm so thankful that I had the opportunity to review it. I know my family is also very thankful. You ever notice how smooth things go with you are organized? Homeschool Planet has for sure helped me stay organized. 

Homeschool Planet is a full-featured online planner that doesn't require hours to learn how to use it. All you have to do is launch Homeschool Planet, click on the calendar, and start adding your classes, assignments, and appointments! Since it is an online planner, you can use it anytime you have internet connection. There is no need to download any software. 

What's the wonderful features?

  • I love the Calendar View that lets you see anybody's or everybody's calendars at once. It's nice to be able to see everyone's lesson assignments and appointments or just look at my stuff only. 

  • A Planner View with a simple list of everything you need to do and when. I also love how I can view everything by the day, week, or month. 

  • A Resource View that shows you all the books, DVDs, websites and more that you are using for your lessons
  • There are also a ton of Widgets you can add and use to do research, plan meals, send text messages, make shopping lists and more

  • You can even have separate logins to view assignments and check them off when completed.
  • Daily Digest emails to everyone in your family with their own schedule, assignments, and chores for the day. My husband has really enjoyed this. One afternoon my daughter said mom are we doing history today and my husband responded "No honey, that is Wednesday." I was so impressed. I mean seriously daily digest emails are awesome! They have allowed my husband to keep up with everything his daughters are doing in a better way than before.

  • Easy attendance tracking, grading and transcript creation

  • Shopping lists  that you can text to your spouse or have sent to your smartphone when on the go. This has been such an amazing help. As soon as something comes to my mind, I add it. It has helped me not forget those things that I use to say "Oh, I'll remember"

  • Mobile Version -- Ability to view and edit your calendar on Smart Phones and tablets

  • Calendar sharing -- View the contents of your Google Calendar inside Homeschool Planet, and vice versa! This also works with Apple iCal and other online calendars. This has been very helpful as well. I had already added a ton into Google Calendar, so being able to join the info together was a very nice surprise. 

  • Lesson Copying -- Copy any lesson for use at a later time by another student.

Another thing that I loved is the ability to customize it with the theme I wanted. It was also very easy to do in the settings area.

Another great feature is the show me! button. This button helped me understand so much. If I wasn't quite sure how a portion worked or what to do, I would push this button. After pushing it, a window with a video would pop up that would help me.  Very, very helpful and I loved it!

Final Thoughts

I am blown away by Homeschool Planet. There is so much wonderful features. I'm so thankful that I had the chance to review it. It's for sure here to stay with our family. Now that I have it, I don't even want to think about life before it.

How much does Homeschool Planet Cost?

You can currently purchase Homeschool Planet for only $65 for a year

Want to try it out first?

You can get a FREE 30 Trial (no credit card needed) 


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Preparing Your Kids for the Real World

Kids learn a lot at school. Reading, writing, math, science and social studies are just the basics. Then there’s PE, Computers, Art and a foreign language for many. By the time they’re done with high school, they’re armed with a wealth of information. And yet, precious few are ready for the real world.

High school graduates are old enough to clean up after themselves and prepare a meal independently, yet most have barely any experience doing so. They have never sewn a button back on to a shirt, or cleaned their own toilets. They don’t know what to look for when renting their first house or buying their first car. They have no experience with important paperwork such as that required to open a bank account or to change their mailing address. Theoretically, homeschooled children are at an advantage because they are exposed to these tasks a lot more than their counterparts who go to school. However, unless parents take an active approach to imparting life skills to their children, they will find that their adult children aren’t ready to lead an independent life.

But where should you start? And how do you teach kids the important skills they need for the real world? Every family may have different opinions when it comes to the details, but here are some broad guidelines that will help you get started.

  • Personal hygiene and grooming: Your children are ready to start taking care of themselves by age 3. Encourage your little ones to brush their teeth and wash their face on their own, but be sure to stay with them and show them the proper way to do these tasks. You can also get three-year-olds to dress themselves with help from an adult. In a year or two, your kids will be ready to do these tasks independently. By five, they should also be able to choose their clothes themselves. By eight, kids should be taking care of their personal hygiene without any reminders. If you find your kids slacking on personal hygiene, there are many fun books that you can consider to remind them of the importance of combing, brushing and bathing on a regular basis. By twelve, kids should learn how to iron their clothes. With these skills, high school graduates should be able to dress up and groom themselves for formal occasions such as a job interview.

  • Cleanliness: It is important to start lessons in cleanliness early on, and teach your kids to keep their surroundings clean on a daily basis. Get your three-year-old to assist you in putting toys away. At this age, kids are also ready to take on simple tasks such as putting their used clothes in a laundry hamper and taking their used plates to the kitchen sink/dishwasher. Over the next few years, have the kids take on additional tasks such as wiping counters, clearing the table after a meal, making beds and assisting in putting laundered clothes away. By nine, your kids are ready to fold clothes, wash dishes, use a vacuum cleaner and sweep and mop floors. In a few more years, kids can start using the washing machine and dryer on their own. Many homeschooling families struggle with getting the house clean on a regular basis. Assigning chores and printing chore charts help a great deal. Ensure that each child has a list of daily tasks that stay the same, and a list of weekly tasks that are rotated. 

  • Finances: Learning to deal with money and manage finances is an essential skill for young adults, and one that can be learnt early in life. Your child will begin learning about money in first grade, and you can begin lessons in practical life at about the same time. Allow your young learners to count out money for you at the grocery store. By third grade, they can start going to the store for you and paying for their purchases without help. If your kids play pet games like Neopets, encourage them to get involved with monetary tasks in the game such as setting up a bank account, investing in stocks and running a store. This will give them a deep understanding of the economy that is hard to teach any other way. It will also teach them about important aspects of managing money as an adult. Give them pocket money and have them buy the toys they want out of their own money to teach budgeting and careful spending.

by Makiko TAKEMURA is licensed under CC BY 2.0

  • Food and nutrition: Help your kids learn what goes into their daily meals by involving them in your kitchen chores. Get your seven year olds to assist you in simple tasks such as measuring out ingredients, stirring and pouring. Teach them to make no-cook dishes such as sandwiches without help. By the time they’re ten, they’re ready to follow a recipe and prepare a simple meal. You can also get their opinion while planning meals for the week and encourage them to take into consideration the ingredients on hand and nutritive value while making their suggestions. In a few more years, they can plan meals, create grocery lists, go grocery shopping and cook the entire meal independently.

Obviously, this list is far from complete. Think about the other skills you want your kids to have by the time they’re adults and then go about giving them the experiences they need to develop those skills. It’s not going to come to them any other way!

Author Bio:

Corinne Jacob is a wannabe writer who is convinced that kids learn best when they’re having fun. She is constantly on the lookout for new and exciting ways to make learning an enjoyable experience. Corinne loves all things that scream out un-schooling, alternative education and holistic learning. 

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Monday, June 22, 2015

SmartKidz Media Library for Homeschoolers ~ Review

My daughters love getting in screen time and any chance I have to allow them to have screen time and learning at the same time is wonderful. My daughters are very visual learners, so being able to learn using videos and media has been great for them. Recently we had the opportunity to review SmartKidz Media Library for Homeschoolers from SmartKidz Media. We loved it!

SmartKidz Media Library for Homeschoolers provides award-winning online educational videos, flash-animated eBooks, interactive study guides, music and other media. Children learn by using visual instruction and it is wonderful for learning in a homeschool environment. It is designed to be used by children over the age of 13 independently, but it's also great for younger children with the supervision of parents.

SmartKidz Media can be used on any device such as the PC, TV, Mac, iPad, iPhone, tablets and even mobile phones. We absolutely love that SmartKidz Media can be streamed any where, at any time and that it can be used for the whole family. 

My daughters enjoyed searching the library and finding subjects that interested them. I allowed them to pick subjects that they wanted to learn about rather than pick for them. 

SmartKidz Media Library for Homeschoolers has so much content to choose from. The subjects are broke down into two categories - Family Media and Reading and Learning Center. A few of the subjects included in these categories are:
  • Animals & Wildlife Collections
  • Documentaries & Culture Collections
  • Travel & Adventure: World Wide Discovery Collections
  • History Titles
  • Health & Fitness
  • Science
  • Lifestyles & Cuisine
  • Living Skills
  • Special Needs Learning
  • Cooking Instruction
  • Classical Music Collections
  • Cultural Music Collections
  • Relaxation Music Collections
  • Mighty E-Book Collection
  • Sign Language Collection
  • Fun Zone
My daughters found the media to not only be very educational, but entertaining as well. My daughters set aside a notebook specifically to be used for watching the videos. They enjoyed taking notes and reviewing them at later times. They even enjoyed testing me on my knowledge of the subjects. 

One of the things that I love the most about SmartKidz Media Library for Homeschoolers is that the library is safe. I know that many other media sources are nice but are not safe for children to be searching around on. That has bothered me in the past and has limited what my children can do while using the computers. With SmartKidz Media I don't have to worry about that and that has been nice.

Final Thought

SmartKidz Media Library for Homeschoolers is truly an investment in my daughters academic success and we are so grateful that we had the chance to review it. I foresee us using it a lot more in the future. We definitely recommend it! 

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