Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Roman Town educational app- TOS Crew Review


Dig It! Games ReviewDig-It! Games has a new game out called Roman Town (iOS app) that we are thrilled to have been able to review.  We were able to review Mayan Mysteries for them a few years ago and enjoyed it thoroughly, so we had high hopes for this game as well.  They did not disappoint!  Dig-It Games is a mission based company that prides themselves on producing game-based learning.

Roman Town is about - you guessed it, a Roman town.  Well, that and a little more. In this newest release, your child can take an adventure with twins Fiona and Charlie, two kids who get bored while visiting their uncle and decide to do a little exploring on their on their own.  By visiting with tourists, gathering clues, and solving puzzles, they hope to hunt down Ladrone, a master thief. Though targeted for ages 9- 11, our 8 year old was able to play this game successfully and it still provided a challenge here and there for our 13 year old.  By using math skills, logic, memory and more, your child will learn history as well as have fun playing!

How it Works-

Your child can choose to be Fiona or Charlie at first, though eventually they will have to be both.  The character then moves through the streets of a Roman Town, visiting various tourists and locations.  When they click on a tourist one of  two things will happen.  They will either be presented with information or they will be asked to play a game.

Information includes things like how and where Romans lived, what they ate, and the games they played.  We learned about the buried town of Pompeii, Mount Vesuvius, and the Temple of Jupiter. We also learned what aquaducts are for and how they were made, about Roman gods like Jupiter and Venus, and what an artifact is.  There are neat facts, for example, a Strigil was a metal or wood tool used to scrape off sweat and oil after a Roman bath to get clean. Or did you know that the Romans had minimal furniture but used murals to decorate?  Think of it as a mini history lesson.

Dig It! Games Review

Some of the tourists you click on will challenge you to play a game. Games include identifying artifacts, identifying roman numerals (the most challenging for us!), memory games, ball mazes,  underground pipe mazes, and putting together scrambled puzzles.

Once you complete three to five activities for each twin in five different areas, (The Temple of Juniper, The House of Vettii, the Baths, the Street, and the Basilica), you are then allowed to complete the clues to solve the puzzle.  The final clues are solved by moving around puzzle pieces with words on them until they fit correctly to show you a written letter.

Our experience and thoughts-
Colby, age 8, was quite excited about this review as he is currently studying Rome in History, so he did not wait for us to get started.  As soon as I downloaded the app, he was off with the iPad to his room.  Because we limit his iPad use to only educational games these days, it is always a thrill for him to get to try something new out.  I knew we had a winner when he was gone for over his 30 minute time allocation without a peep.  When I asked him about his experience he used words like, "awesome" and "cool," and asked if he could try it again the next day.  That pattern continued for several days until he told me the game was stuck and he could not go any further.

Dig It! Games Review

What I found, in reality, was that the game was not stuck, but that HE was stuck! ;)  He was able to complete most of the games on his own but I discovered was he was struggling with the Roman Numerals game, shown above.  Once we helped him with that, he was able to get further along in the game.  He also seemed to miss that he had to play the part of both of the twins and finish the required number of games, but again, once we cleared that up he did fine.  His favorite game by far was the matching.  This kid has a heck of a memory and loves to beat me at memory games any chance he gets.

Once he finished the game, I was able to reset it and try the game with my oldest son, age 13.  I have to admit, it was a challenge for us as well! (that reset function is a gem!) Let's just say that my son is better at roman numerals that I am!  I am also amazed at how kids these days can figure out games so quickly.  While it took me a while to get the hang of a few games and navigating the various screens, they picked up on it all quickly. I like that the games in this app are logic based and take some thought and problem solving skills to solve.  This is not mindless game with pushing buttons and moving characters around with no purpose.

One of the things I have learned through 17 years of homeschooling is that all kids learn differently. When we tailor our teaching to our kids particular learning styles we are not only doing them a favor, but ourselves as well.  Learning can be fun and we should be careful not to underestimate the learning that can take place in educational games.  Dig-It! Games' Roman Town is one of those games I would recommend you add to your repertoire!

While the initial app is free, you must pay to access all areas of the game.

Dig-It! Games Review
Crew Disclaimer

Monday, August 31, 2015

2015-2016 School Year - Plan of Attack

Continuing with the school theme for another Monday, today I want to share with you the curriculum we have chosen to use this year.  Because I have been doing this homeschooling thing for over 17 years now and because I review homeschooling products on the side, we have come in contact with a lot of great, and a few no so great materials.  We have even come to realize that some things we have used have been great for one child, but not the best fit for another.  After all, I have four very different children with different strengths and weaknesses, not to mention different learning styles.

What does that mean for us?

It means that planning for every new school year takes some work on my part.  I pull out the specific grades' storage bins, remind myself of what I have and then decide what will or will not work for that particular child.  I make a list of the things I need to change and then get busy ordering if the need arises. Luckily for me, I often review new products that I set aside once our review period is over to use in a new school year cycle.

This year is a year of several changes for us but I am excited to officially get started in another week!  I will have to let you know what the boys think! ;)

3rd grade-

READING- Sonlight Literature
  Colby likes to read, so this "just" read a book and answer questions orally method works for us.

GRAMMAR- BJU English 3 and Evan-Moor Daily Language Review, Grade 3
     The reason we chose BJU this year was that I like how the chapters alternate between writing and grammar.  For my active child, it helps cut down on the monotony he is prone to experience.  We are using the daily review as part of his independent time.  Though it only takes him a few minutes to do, I am hoping it will help give him some confidence to begin doing some school independently.

SPELLING- All About Spelling, Level 4
  Admittedly, Colby is a good speller, but this program just calls his name!  It is active and hands on enough to keep him engaged.

MATH- Teaching Textbooks, Math 3
  In the past we have used Saxon until about 5th grade, but I do not think this child could stand another year of it- he just wasn't challenged enough!  I did get the hard copy of the text, but I am betting he will use and love the CD on the computer the most.

HISTORY- Veritas Press Self Paced History- New Testament Greece and Rome
  This we actually started at the beginning of the summer, taking a few weeks off here and there.  I NEVER thought when we reviewed this program last year that this would become one of our all time favorite curriculums.  We walked away from a history curriculum we had happily used for years because Colby just cannot get enough of it.  He has learned so much from Veritas and continues to be as excited about it today, a year later, as he was when we first tried it.  If you are not familiar with Veritas Self Paced History, I encourage you to read our review!

SCIENCE- Nancy Larson Science 2 and 3
  Yes, you read that correctly.  We are planning to use two levels this year.  Colby really enjoyed level one last year but tends to ask to do several lessons in one sitting, so I know we can cover two levels this year.  While this does not come from a Creationist point of view, I am comfortable with the information Nancy provides because we do it together.  I LOVE that it is an all-in-one boxed kit.  It makes planning ahead NOT necessary and the lessons fun!

BIBLE- Grapevine Studies
  This will be our first year using Grapevine, but so far I like what I see!  Another program we highly recommend is Bible Study Guide for All Ages, especially if you are schooling multiple ages at one time.

GEOGRAPHY-Evan-Moor Daily Geography Practice 3
  I know, I know, a third grader doesn't necessarily need geography, but this simple little workbook is again a chance for Colby to gain confidence in doing school independently. Plus, who doesn't like playing with maps?

SPANISH- Flip Flop Spanish
  Yes, we have done this before, but because of the timing of our review we never finished the complete program.  It is fun and active and a great fit for my hands-on kid, so we are excited about doing it again.  We have a ton of Spanish resources we will use to supplement if needed.

8th Grade-

READING- Lightning Literature-
  We reviewed this and loved it, so we put it aside to continue this year.

WRITING- Institute of Excellence in Writing (IEW) Student Writing Intensive
  There is just no better writing program out there than IEW!  I do like to save it for upper middle school and lower high school grades.

SPELLING- IEW's Phoentic Zoo, Level B
  We are getting ready to begin and review this product.  It is my prayer that because it has a large auditory based style it will be the answer to our poor spelling problems.  Stay tuned.

  Great, simple program.  Salem did the online version last year but chose to use the workbook this year.

GRAMMAR- Easy Grammar Plus, East Grammar Ultimate Series 8th grade and IEW's Fix It
  Yes, I know this may seem like overkill (please do not tell my son) but since this may be his last formal year of basic grammar, I want to make sure he has got it down to a science!  I was going to stop using Fix It for a while, but since we have seen some good progress with the program I decided it was just too good not to finish.

MATH- UnLock Math Pre Algebra
  We have used Teaching Textbooks at this level with much success, but after doing this review recently, Salem chose to stick with it.  Alecia is a great teacher and Salem really likes her teaching style.  When a child asks you to do a specific math, just go with it!

HISTORY- Sonlight
  After many years of using Sonlight for History, two years ago we changed to Notgrass after reviewing their America the Beautiful program.  We are returning to Sonlight just for the year because I love the books used in their American History- Core 100 program.  We are going to use this year as a "bonus" in History, and return to Notgrass for Salem's high school years. Yes, sometimes there are so many good programs out there that it is hard to decide which to use.  Unless you are me, and you choose to use them all! ;)

HEALTH- Total Health
  All kids needs some basic health lessons in my opinion.  Boys especially! ;)

BIBLE- Apologia's Who is My Neighbor?
We used this series as a review item twice now, and are going back to finish this book!  We love it!

GEOGRAPHY- Memoria Press Geography II
  We reviewed this geography several years ago and I just happened upon the new level again this year.  Salem liked that it was fairly simple and straight to the point, but also used maps and taught some neat facts about the different countries.  It is a nice solid program that doesn't take up too much time, but teaches good material.

SCIENCE- Apologia's Physical Science
  Why try to fix what is not broken, right?  Plus, we are blessed that a friend does labs with several kiddos twice a month.  She is my hero!

SPANISH- Classical Academic Press- Spanish for Children, Primer A
  There are a lot of good programs out there for Spanish, but we really like that this one has video teaching, listening CDs, and very strong grammar-based lessons.  You can begin it at a younger age, but we decided to use it for 8th and 9th grade then move on to three more years at a higher level.

Wow, are you tired?  I am!  But I am also very excited too.  Mark your calendars- September 7th starts our week one of Sabbath Week Schooling for 2015-1016!

Join us on September 7th as some friends join us to show you what different homeschoolers' days REALLY look like!  You just might be surprised!

Linking up with friends-


My Joy-Filled Life

Friday, August 28, 2015

Writing with Sharon Watson- Crew Review

We've had the pleasure of reviewing a Writing with Sharon Watson product called Writing Fiction in High School before and we truly loved it.   So when the opportunity arose to review a second product from her, Illuminating Literature: When Worlds Collide, I may just have jumped up and down yelling pick me, pick me!  My 17 daughter, who is a junior but technically done with high school, even eagerly agreed to go through it for me.

Writing with Sharon Watson Review

When Worlds Collide is a literature program written for Christian High Schools and Homeschools.  It focuses on 8 books-

Pudd'nhead Wilson
The War of the Worlds
The Friendly Persuasion
Peter Pan
Warriors Don't Cry
A Tale of Two Cities
Fahrenheit 451
The Screwtape Letters.

We were provided with the Illuminating Literature: When Worlds Collide Teacher's GuideWhen Worlds Collide Student Book, free download of The Student Novel NotebookWhen Worlds Collide Quiz and Answer Manuel and the books Pudd'nhead Wilson and The War of the Worlds, neither of which my daughter had read!

The glory of homeschooling- reading anywhere!

In the When Worlds Collide Student Book, each Unit begins with a section called Before You Read the Book.  This section talks about the author as well as any historical context your student may need to know.  Following this section are several lessons to prepare your student for literary concepts they will encounter in each specific book.  After those initial lessons are completed, it is time to read.  Sharon gives a loose weekly lesson plan to help you schedule your chapter reading.  Once the reading is complete, your student then moves on to additional lessons.  These lessons include quizzes, review questions about the literary concepts as well as review questions about the book, and then ends with activities to choose from to complete the book study.  Examples of literary concepts discussed are alliteration, irony, satire, plot stages, hyperbole and more. Activities for each book vary, but include things like short story writing, book and movie comparisons and research and essay writing. Your student is encouraged to choose one.  Each book and its corresponding lessons are completed in four weeks.

The Novel Notebook, a free downloadable PDF file is a fun addition, though not required.  It is used during the reading portion of the study to help your child focus on the story in more detail.  In the notebook, or a composition book if you choose, they will record things like their favorite passages, quotes, examples of the literary devices they have learned, things they liked and parts they disliked.  Think of it as a personal journal of sorts where your child is free to think outside the box critique and even dream.

The Teachers Book has the answers and everything else you may want or need to know.  I have never seen a teacher's guide that is so thorough.  It guides you to lead an individual through the course as well as a group, whether in a class setting or as a reading group.  It has background information, fun facts to share, teaching hints and discussion starters,  and even quotes and links to share with your students.  Grading grids are provided to help you in grading as well as fun treat ideas to provide a little fun in between the work.

The When Worlds Collide Quiz and Answer Manuel provides two quizzes and an opinion survey for each book.  The first quiz is a "Yes, I read it" quiz with multiple choice questions pertaining to the book.  The second quiz is a "Literary Terms" quiz, that tests the students comprehension of the literary terms that have been learned in the study of each particular book.  It too, is multiple choice.  The Opinion Survey for each book is an ungraded quiz that allows your child to express their opinions, but also in a multiple choice format.  Your child can take the quizzes online if you prefer and they will automatically be graded for you.  If you choose that option, an email will be sent to them with their grade and a full report of the questions they got right and wrong.

Doesn't every teen do homework in Disney Minnie ears?

How we used this program-
Because of the age of my daughter, she did do all of this program independently, with me just spot checking her work occasionally.  The program is written with the student in mind and is easy to follow, which is one of the reasons we like Writing With Sharon Watson products so much.  It is my opinion that once your children hit the high school level, they should be self motivated enough to work independently, as well as use products that teach them how to follow directions and learn on their own.  By all means, we should know what are kids are working on, but by the time they are teens, teaching independence is a skill that will behoove them.

Riley therefore followed the suggested schedule in the student book, filled out the Novel Notebook while she read and did all of the quizzes on her own.  She completed the first book, Pudd'nhead Wilson, and all the related quizzes and activities in four weeks.  She is now ready to begin War of the Worlds.

What we thought- In Riley's own words-
I like that Mrs. Watson picked a wide range of authors and genres and they are not all the typical novels that everyone reads.  I also like that she writes conversationally without dumbing things down!

As for me, well, YES, I love this program!  Like others that Sharon has written it is fun and engaging while being a good, solid, unapologetically Christian worldview program.  I love that it it asks deep, thought provoking questions, and yet encourages a little fun like themed based snack ideas if you are hosting a group of students.  I love that it encourages reading good literature and helps students think outside the box while analyzing that literature.  I also love that the activities offered at the end of each book are interesting and varied to fit many students' needs and learning style.  It it not just a one fits all approach.  Illuminating Literature: When Worlds Collide is well written, well organized, and a joy to use!
Writing with Sharon Watson Review

Now THAT is a good Literature curriculum, don't you think?  Plus now through August 31st, you can use the code HM3US4QH  to get 20% off this program!

Writing with Sharon Watson Review

Crew Disclaimer

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Numbers and Atoms- Homeschooling High School

Welcome back to another month of our Homeschool High School Blog Hop!  I hope by now you have found some inspiration in the months previous as well as lots of ideas.  This month's theme is
Math and Science, so hang on to your hats!

I wish I could tell you these are easy subjects for us, but that would not be true.  As a matter of fact, it seems they are difficult ones for many people.  The good news is there are plenty of good resources and curriculum out there to use.  Before I share with you the ones we use and recommend, let me start with some basic information for you.

The first place you want to start is with planning what your child will take throughout their high school career.  This is a time that planning ahead will help you greatly!  Even if you are not sure what specific curriculum you will use, go on and know what you will have your child take.

Homeschooling High School Blog Hop 2015Most states require at least three maths and three sciences to graduate.  In addition, that is also what many colleges require for admittance as well.  If your child already knows where they would like to go to school, do some research and make sure you are on the right path.  I would also recommend that you think about what your child's strengths are.  If they are interested in a science or math field, things like nursing or engineering, then it would be a good idea to go on and plan for 4 years of each subject!

So here is what we use-

Math- Teaching Textbooks
We plan on Algebra 1, Geometry, and Algebra 2.  We have used Saxon in the past, but found our kids do better with the Teaching Textbooks for several reasons, including the video instruction.  If you have an auditory learner I would highly recommend this program.
We also add Math You See's Consumer Math in our schedule.  I love that it comes with a devotional and teaches some basic practical skills like check writing and car insurance. Simple to use but good information in it!

Science- Apologia
We always have the kids cover Physical Science, Biology (with lab) and Chemistry (with lab).  Again, if your child is science minded, you will also probably want to add in Physics.  Let me know and I will pray for you! ;)  I do allow our children to choose one other science of their choice.  So far one had chosen Human Anatomy and the other Marine Biology, both from Apologia. It will be interesting to see what my boys choose when the time comes.

Well, that pretty much covers science and math for us.  Pretty simple and I am sure there are many other amazing options out there, but this is what has worked for us.  Be sure to hop on over to the other blogs listed to see what others use!

Home School High School Hosts Share this Month:

See ya back next month as we discuss Language Arts!


Monday, August 24, 2015

A Summer Capsule Wardrobe

If you aren't familiar with Capsule Wardrobing, Ashton's previous post and another one I wrote about a two season wardrobe plus this post about it are good places to start.  While we know summer is almost over in some parts of the world, we still have a few months left here for mostly warmer weather so we wanted to share with you Ashton's summer capsule before we jump to her fall one in October, as well as my Fall/Winter one.  

So here is Ashton-

Hey! So...I know I've talked about capsule wardrobes before but I haven't alked about how I transition from one season's wardrobe to another. So here you go! I first took out all of the things I knew I wouldn't be keeping out for the next season and put them away.  I then got out all of the clothes for the season I was transitioning to along with what was left from the previous season and put it on the floor. 

Then I look at every piece and put what I really loved, what fit, and what was flattering back in the closet, and put away, donated, or gave away the rest. That left me with a closet of clothes that I love to wear.

This is what I had at the start of the summer:
13 Shirts
4 Button-downs
3 Light Jackets
3 Cardigans
5 Dresses
6 Skirts
2 Pairs of Jeans
1 Pair of Capris
For a total of 37 items. 

I do have a confession, I have added and gotten rid of a few pieces since then, but my count is about the same. For me, it isn't about an exact number and I don't include shoes or accessories in my count. My goal is to only be wearing what I love, what fits, and what is flattering on me.

Just for fun, here are some outfits mom and I styled, each set showing one piece used two different ways!
I hope this quick look into how I transition between seasons helps you and maybe the links will even inspire you to start your own capsule wardrobes! Please let us know if you do, we would love to hear about it! -Ashton 

Linking up with friends!-