Thursday, June 22, 2017

Unlock Math Review

I've talked before about our problems with math. Jake, my oldest, has always had a love/hate relationship with it. When he was younger, he loved it. He was good at it. It came naturally to him. As he got older though and the concepts grew in difficulty, he started to struggle. If he understood the assignment, he loved it; if he didn't quite grasp it immediately, he hated it. It was frustrating and a source of contention in our days. Not at all how I want our homeschooling experience to be. Sigh. I was pleased when our most recent math curriculum finally started to make a difference. The grumbling turned to a minimum, and he actually claimed to like it--or at least tolerate it--most days. When the opportunity to review yet another one became available, I was was uninterested. That is until I previewed a sample lesson. Right then I knew that UnLock Math was different. After talking to Jake to get his opinion, I signed him up for UnLock Pre-Algebra.

UnLock Math was created by a husband and wife team who were both homeschooled. Alesia, a seasoned math teacher, has a unique teaching style of breaking math into bite-sized chunks, making it easier to understand, interesting, engaging, and fun. She and her husband Matthew designed this online curriculum to take away the stress and frustration from parents.The program takes care of everything from the teaching to testing to grading. 

Here's what you can expect from the curriculum:
  • Teaching Videos
  • Advanced Assessment
  • Immediate Feedback and Fully Explained Solutions
  • One Visible Question at a Time
  • Unlimited Practice
  • Unlimited Review
  • Gradebook & Progress Reports 

We were on vacation when we received access to UnLock Math, so I simply filled out my information and that was it. I didn't required Jake to start the first lesson until we got home. A week later when he sat down to begin, we ran into a problem. He was not assigned to a course, and therefore had no access to any lessons. I checked all over the parent dashboard and could not figure out where the issue was. I sent Matthew an email to ask what I was doing wrong. Within minutes, my phone rang. He took the time (even while he was out enjoying the zoo with his family) to personally walk me through the setup. As it turns out, the problem was not with the program at all, but because I caused a rare glitch during my checkout process. He was extremely helpful and friendly. So, the customer service was great, but how was the actual program?

The lessons look very similar to the geometry image above. The student begins by clicking the Warm Up button where he answers 5-10 easy review questions. Next is the teaching video, followed by the practice problems. After that, he answers a few questions from previous lessons, so he "stays sharp" on the material. The final question, Challenge Yourself, gives the student a chance to answer one single advanced problem. The final tab includes reference notes, which lists the instructions from the lesson in a printable PDF.

Jake has been using this program for the past month or so and is earning a 99% average for UnLock Pre-Algebra. Not only does he complete his lesson every day with no complaints whatsoever, but he's grasping the information and thriving. He responds to the video lessons, not only because they're short, bite-sized chunks, but also because Alesia is a phenomenal teacher. She brings energy to her teaching and lets her love of the subject shine through.

The only aspect of the program that he would rather see different is that it won't keep him logged in. He keeps the tab open on the school computer, but it still kicks him out after a period of inactivity, requiring him to sign in each day. A big deal? No. But still a bit of an annoyance.  If he had the option to remain logged in, the program would be pretty much perfect for him.

I am incredibly happy with our experience thus far with UnLock Math. It's a quality program with exceptional teaching and great customer service. It's easy for both the student and parent to use and to review progress. Any curriculum that gets my son to complete his assignment on his own and with a good attitude on top of helping him to retain the information is a winner in my eyes.

You can connect with UnLock Math on the following social media sites:

You can read more reviews of this level and the others offered by UnLock Math on the Homeschool Review Crew blog.
Crew Disclaimer
Pin It

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Rush Revere

We were in love with this review before we even received it! It seems hard to believe, but it's true. We had our first experience with the Adventures of Rush Revere Book Series a couple years ago when a friend of mine let us borrow the audio version of the books. The kids immediately fell in love--with the characters, the story line, the historical facts, the humor, everything. I mean, time-traveling with a talking horse--what's not to love! It's no secret around here that we enjoy reading and spend hours a day doing so, so to be excited about another book series may not seem like a big deal. Sometimes though, a book or set of book stands out above the others. We've decided that the Adventures of Rush Revere #1 New York Times Bestselling Book Series by Rush and Kathryn Adams Limbaugh falls into that category.

Rush Limbaugh created the Rush Revere Time-Travel Adventures with Exceptional American books to make learning history fun. His wife, Kathryn (who would later join in on the writing process), encouraged him to "tell the amazing stories of our country's founding in an easy-to-understand way." So many details from our history are being left out of or changed in textbooks. This series was written to excite kids and help them to understand the importance of learning history.

You first meet Rush and his talking horse, Liberty, in Rush Revere and the Brave Pilgrims. The story starts with the twosome on board the Mayflower in 1620, seasick and in a storm. In the present day, Rush Revere is a substitute history teacher at a middle school. He always wears colonial clothing (much to the amusement of the students) and goes everywhere with his time-traveling, able-to-disappear, talking horse. Liberty gained his super abilities when he was struck by lightning sometime during the Revolutionary War. The phenomenon sent electrical properties through his body that changed him physically and mentally and thrust him to the future. He gained the ability to open a time portal to anywhere in American history. He met Rush and their adventures began.

Two of Rush's students, Tommy and Freedom, learned of this incredible opportunity and joined in on the travels to learn from the Pilgrims. They boarded the Mayflower, watched William Bradford propose the Mayflower Compact, experienced sorrow in Plymouth Colony, ate a meal with Somoset, were taught the best way to plant corn by Squanto, learned to sword fight with Myles Standish, and partook of the first Thanksgiving in Plymouth Plantation.

The adventure starts in 1765 in book two, Rush Revere and the First Patriots. Rush and Liberty are in Boston, Massachusetts during the riots in response to the Stamp Act. They escaped the mob and time-traveled through the swirling gold and purple hole back to present day, where Rush was substitute teaching once again. This time, new characters are introduced to the time-traveling crew. Cam is eager to learn history, while Elizabeth is intent on changing it. The group had many adventures: bringing Benjamin Franklin to present day times (and having a conversation about Star Wars), joined a meeting with British Parliament, drank tea with Patrick Henry, toured Windsor Castle, had an audience with King George III, listened to a speech by Samuel Adams, visited the site of the Boston Massacre, and was introduced to George Washington. 

The story is continued in Rush Revere and the American Revolution. The friends start in Boston in 1775 and helped Robert Newman place lanterns in the window of the Old North Church Steeple. They had a run-in with British soldiers before time-traveling home. In present day, Rush takes advantage time-traveling to teach his summer school class about the American Revolution and to help Cam through a different period of his life. The crew visited Dr. Joseph Warren's home office as he organized the Massachusetts alarm system (including the midnight ride of Paul Revere); were nearly caught by a British spy; helped Paul Revere aboard the warship Somerset; raced from village to village to warn the Patriots to prepare to fight;  met more influential men including John Hancock, William Dawes, Dr. Samuel Prescott, Samuel Adams, and Henry Knox; found themselves in the middle of the Battle of Lexington; talked strategy with George Washington; got caught in the Battle of Breed's Hill; and witnessed the signing of the Declaration of Independence. 

Washington City 1814 is where Rush Revere and the Star-Spangled Banner begins. Rush and Liberty arrive at the White House to help First Lady Dolly Madison pack valuables including a portrait of General George Washington as she flees to prevent capture by the British. They travel back to the present to learn that Tommy's grandfather is very ill. Rush and Liberty decide to take the kids and Freedom's grandfather on a field trip to Washington, D.C. to distract Tommy from his grief. They played a game that lead them all across the National City and learned history along the way. They time-traveled and ate dinner with James Madison where they discussed the Constitution, listened to a confrontational debate in Independence Hall, sat in the Assembly Hall as the delegates discussed the Articles of Confederation, listened as Francis Scott Key wrote his poem that would become the national anthem, and witnessed the American flag raised signaling that the British ship were retreating.

The middle school where Rush substitute teaches was choosing a student body president in Rush Revere and the Presidency. Cam was convinced he could win the vote on popularity and great ideas. Rush used Liberty's time-traveling ability to teach Cam what it meant to run a good campaign, gain ideas for his election, and what it meant to be a good president. They played with George Washington's grandchildren Wash and Nelly at the Cherry Street Mansion, had detailed conversations with Washington himself, met Martha Washington and Abigail Adams, enjoyed spending time with President and Mrs. Adams, discussed elections with President Jefferson, and learned and grew along the way.

The entire Adventures of Rush Revere Book Series is a joy to read. The books are filled with historical facts, but seen from a present point-of-view. The banter between Rush and Liberty keeps the story-line comical. Liberty is often making jokes or references to food. There are many other funny parts, too, that include Liberty kicking his Dutch shoes through the school window, Operation Mashed Potatoes, Liberty screaming like a girl in front of a shocked British soldier, Liberty's gum getting stuck in a British Redcoat's hair, and more.

The books are hardcover and the pages have a parchment look to them. There are a variety of pictures throughout, including paintings, photographs, charts, and cartoon characters. Since the characters are middle schoolers, the books definitely appeal to that age group, but they're enjoyed by both the younger and older crowds, as well. The website itself is filled with so many ways to further your study. There are many links for American history research, quizzes, activities, games, and even a section devoted to homeschoolers. There is also a place to apply for scholarships, purchase tea or a plush Liberty, and more.  

Here's what my kids said about the books:

"I like how they travel back through time and that Liberty is a talking horse and is so funny. 
I like that it's about actual history, too."

"It's a fun way to learn abut history-the best way, pretty much. I think Liberty is so funny!" 

"I think Liberty is funny and I like that they time-travel."

Revere's goal for his pupils is Limbaugh's goal for his readers: that we have an imagination and that we "discover history together, discover the stories of the exceptional people who made us who we are today." These books are perfect for accomplishing just that.

You can connect with Rush Revere on the following social media sites:

If you'd like to read more reviews of this bestselling book series, please visit the Homeschool Review Crew blog. 

Crew Disclaimer
Pin It

Sunday, June 18, 2017

Father's Day 2017

Father's Day is one of my favorite times of the year. It is always my desire to show Leighton how cherished and important he is to us. And while that's my goal throughout the whole year, there's something special about taking the time to devote all our energy to showing him our love on this special day. I want to make sure our 5 little ones love, honor, and respect him, and that example starts with me. Too often, dads gets a bad rap. They are demeaned by the entertainment industry. They are criticized on social media. They are undermined at home. I refused to bad-mouth my husband, whether it's publicly to others or privately to my children. Oh, it's not that he's perfect (I could tell you the things he does that grate on my nerves . . . but then I'd have to tell you what I do myself that annoys me, as well; we all make poor choices at times), but I believe that it's important as a wife and mother to build him up. 

Leighton is an amazing man. He experienced some difficult things growing up, but he didn't let those circumstances define him. He's patient and understanding. He's loving, faithful, and giving. He works so hard to provide all of our needs and many of our wants. He's incredibly talented and I always say there isn't anything he can't do. He leads our family well and loves the Lord. I could not ask for a better man. He is the perfect husband and father for us. He loves me and our children, and he's my favorite person in the world. 

This is our sixth year filling our these questionnaires. I sit down with the kids one-on-one to ask questions about their daddy. Some of their answers make me laugh, while others melt my heart. It is obvious that they know they are loved and love him in return. Here is my husband through the eyes our of children.

By Jake, 11 yr:
My dad is 34 years old.
My dad weighs 170 lbs.
My dad is 6’3”.
My dad's favorite color is green.
My dad's favorite food is ribs.
My dad is really strong. He could lift a (Lego) house.
My dad always says dinner is delicious.
My dad is the best at building things.
My dad's job is managing a yard for a demolition company.
My dad laughs when I make up a good joke.
My dad and I like to having Nerf wars.
My dad really loves when we obey.
I love my dad because he does stuff with us.
It makes my dad happy when we obey. 
By Alyssa, 9 yr:
My dad is 34 years old.
My dad weighs 105 lbs.
My dad is 5'3".
My dad's favorite color is green.
My dad's favorite food is anything Mom makes.
My dad is really strong. He could lift me.
My dad always says I love you.
My dad is the best at fixing things.
My dad's job is working at Blue Star.
My dad laughs when I tell a joke.
My dad and I like to play with Legos.
My dad really loves our family.
I love my dad because he loves me.
It makes my dad happy when we clean up.
By Zac, 7 yr:
My dad is 34 years old.
My dad weighs 10 tons.
My dad is 6 feet tall.
My dad's favorite color is green.
My dad's favorite food is meat.
My dad is really strong. He could lift 5 lbs.
My dad always says I love you.
My dad is the best at lifting stuff.
My dad's job is fixing machines.
My dad laughs when I tell him a joke.
My dad and I like to have Nerf wars.
My dad really loves Mom!
I love my dad because he’s my dad.
It makes my dad happy when one of us does something nice for him. 
By Tyler, 5 yr:
My dad is 34 old.
My dad weighs 100 lbs.
My dad is 15 feet tall. 
My dad's favorite color is green.
My dad's favorite food is biscuits and gravy.
My dad is really strong. He could lift the couch.
My dad always says clean up your room.
My dad is the best at building.
My dad's job is working.
My dad and I like to play games.
My dad really loves Mommy.
I love my dad because I love him.
It makes my dad happy when when the whole house is clean.


Happy Father's Day, Leighton! You are so loved and appreciated. We are blessed to call you ours.  

Pin It

Friday, June 16, 2017

Things That Make Me Smile 6/9/17

Jake (11 1/2), Alyssa (9), Zac (7 1/2), Tyler (5), Nicholas (2)

Happy Friday! This week, we planted potatoes on my brother's farm, spent time purging things in our basement, and watched Jake perform a magic show in our living room. For school, we experimented with magnets, looked at Jake's blood under a microscope, and spent much time reading. Did you make time to Smile?

1. Alyssa: "I love you as much as a long piece of string that could fill our house."

2. Jake, coming in from playing outside: "When I closed my window the other day, I thought I forgot to lock it."
Me: "So you just tried climbing in your window?"
Jake: "Yes, ma'am, but when I climbed up, I realized it was locked."
{30 seconds later}
Jake, running through the kitchen: "Uh, I'll be right back!"
Me: "You're not climbing in through your window."
Jake: "Please?"
Me: "No."
Jake: "Just once? Pleeeeeease?"
Me: "No."
Jake: "I never get to do anything dangerous."


4. Backstory: When Leighton and I were dating, we had a specific container that I gave him filled with chocolate chip cookies. When he ate them all, he would give it back, and I would return it with more homemade cookies . . .
Zac: "Mom, you know how you got Dad to marry you?"
Me: "How's that?"
Zac: "With your cookies. That's how I want someone to marry me."

5. Me: ". . . I don't really know how to describe it."
Alyssa: "I bet Papa does. He knows how to describe everything."

6. Alyssa, about Nicholas: "He's getting too big. Now I understand why you always say we're growing up too fast."

7. Nicholas making biscuits.

8. Tyler: "Where's Zac?"
Me: "At Gramma's."
Tyler: "I didn't know that."
Me: "Yeah, he went home with Gramma last night, remember?"
Tyler: "Is he coming home today?"
Me: "After church tonight."
Tyler: "Nooooooo."

9. Nicholas, talking to the stick of butter during dinner: "I love you, butter! I love you, butter! Muah!" 

What made you Smile this week?
Pin It

Monday, June 12, 2017

Things That Make Me Smile 6/2/17

Jake (11 1/2), Alyssa (9), Zac (7 1/2), Tyler (5), Nicholas (2)

These two weeks we spent on vacation were amazing. The kids (and us, ha!) had been looking forward to going to LEGOLAND Florida for so long. (Here's how we surprised them!) We were able to go two days and could easily have gone a third, because there's just so much to do. We also experienced the Orlando Science Center, did a lot of swimming (pools, splash pad, water slides), went to the beach, toured Hope Children's Home (where Leighton grew up), did some geocaching, visited with family, and so much more. We stopped in Gatlingburg, Tennessee for a couple days on the way home and did some hiking in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Such a busy, fun, memory-filled week. The Smile list is endless this week, but here are a few of my favorite quotes.  

1. Nicholas calling his bathing suit his baby soup.

2. As we were leaving the pool, it started to rain. We began running back to our room, but Alyssa got tripped up.
Alyssa, shouting: "Don't wait for me! Save yourselves!"
Jake: "Never leave a man behind! Let's go!"


4. Alyssa: "It feels like I've known myself my entire life."

5. Tyler, looking at a giant hypnosis wheel: "Whoa! That's a huge lollipop!"

6. Tyler, frightened: "Ah, a mosquito!"
Alyssa: Tyler, mosquitoes are harmless. All they can do is suck your blood. "

7. Tyler: "It's called an accididnt, so you didn't do it."

8. Alyssa, as we were packing up to leave the resort: "Do you think if I put a sticky note with a Bible verse on it, they'd read it? I'm going to do John 3:16."

9. Zac, after we got home: "Our van looks so regular without the topper." (car top carrier)

10. The kids thanking us 5.2 million times, give or take, for taking them to Florida.

What made you Smile this week?

Pin It

Thursday, June 8, 2017

K5 Learning Review

We have been taking advantage of our six month subscription to the online program from K5 Learning to in addition to our typical math and reading for school. These two subjects are vital for education, and even life in general, as so many things involve them. It's important for kids to have a strong foundation in these areas to help in the remainder of their schooling.

K5 Learning is a supplemental program for students in kindergarten through 5th grade that focuses on three areas of study: reading, math, and spelling. Sometimes kids need a little something more than just their regular studies to fully grasp the concepts they've been taught. The extra practice offered in the lessons can give them confidence while mastering the subjects through this award-winning, researched-based program.

K5 Reading is designed to teach kids to read well. It covers five key areas: phonemic awareness, phonics, sight words, vocabulary, and reading comprehension. Students can take a free online reading assessment to ensure that the lessons are based according to skill level, instead of grade level. The interactive lessons, point and click interfaces, and spoken instructions make it easy for even young kids to use the program without a parent's help. All of the lessons begin with a tutorial covering new material, followed by practice sessions, and end with a quiz. An animated character guides the lessons and offers immediate feedback. The program contains over 1,500 tutorials and activities that are 5-10 minutes, in order to be flexible.

K5 Math aims to help students gain confidence in their math skills and master basic math concepts. It covers five key areas: numbers and operations, measurement, geometry, algebra, and data analysis. The lessons are similar to the Reading portion, as placement is done through an assessment test, the format is the same, and the interactive lessons are similar. This program offers over 1,200 lessons and activities that are also 5-10 minutes each.

K5 Spelling helps students improve their language skills with both spelling and vocabulary words. The program automatically generates words from the 150,000-word data base. The system remembers which words the student needs help with. If he gets it correct the first time, he never sees it again in the list; if he misspells it, he will get that word multiple times until he can consistently spell it correctly. The program uses various means to help with the words: audibly pronunciations, pictures, definitions, and examples.  

My three middle kiddos (ages 9, 7, 5) have been the ones using K5 Learning. Since it is simply a supplemental program and not a full curriculum, I've allowed them to determine how many lessons they complete each day. The 9-year-old, who does not really prefer this learning style, does 1 lesson each day, while her 7-year-old brother does 2 lessons. My 5-year-old loves using the computer for learning games and often sits and does many lessons. They can click the red stop button when the lesson is completed or the green go button to move to another.

When they each login, they can choose which section they want to practice. There is also a new feature on the page that gives options for accompanying worksheets for the student that correspond to the lessons that are being reviewed. You simply click on the link and print the page. My kids' favorite part of the dashboard is the daily riddle. They always try to guess it before clicking on the answer button. It's a fun way to get the kids thinking before starting the lessons.

As a parent, I can login into my dashboard to see how the kids are doing and what they are working on. I can create assignments, add specific spelling words, set up assessments, change levels, and view reports for each individual child.

K5 Learning can help your child with math and reading enrichment. Though the program can be used mostly without any interaction from the parent, you still can oversee it and alter it to better suit you and your children individually.

You can connect with K5 Learning on the following social media sites: 

If you'd like to read more reviews of this online resource, please visit the Homeschool Review Crew blog.
Crew Disclaimer
Pin It

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Latina Christiana

We have enjoyed being able to review for Memoria Press each time in the past, so when the opportunity became available again, I was excited. Memoria Press is known for its easy-to-use classical Christian materials. They believe in the "cultivation of wisdom and virtue through meditation on the Good, the True, and the Beautiful" by training in the liberal arts and studying great books and great thinkers of the Western Tradition. Their products are characterized by 3 things: simplicity, quality, and affordability. They are designed to be used by anyone from an inexperienced homeschool parent to a seasoned classroom teacher. We've used their curricula for various subjects, like phonics, literature, and history; but this is our first experience using one of their Latin products, Latina Christiana Complete Set

I know that some people may think that it is pointless to study Latin as it is no longer a native language and is no longer evolving, but there are still many benefits of learning it: helpful in  learning the Romance languages and also the English language, because it teaches the morphemes (smallest part of a word, i.e. prefixes, roots, suffixes); helpful in teaching proper grammar; and helpful in developing the mind through attention to detail, precision, and work.

My 11-year-old has always been interested in foreign languages. He had tried a Latin curriculum a year ago, but it focused on teaching morphemes and vocabulary, and not the language as a whole. On top of that, we really were lost when it came to pronunciation, even trying to follow the guide. My son quickly lost interest. Honestly, when I saw that we could choose another Latin program, I nearly dismissed it. Then I took the time to really look at all that it had to offer and realized that it was completely different.

The Latina Christiana set, written by Cheryl Lowe, was designed as a beginning Latin course for students of all ages. Its step-by-step approach and clear instructions make it a perfect option for a teacher with no background in Latin. The set contains everything you need for a year's worth of study: Student Book, Teacher Manual, Pronunciation CD, Flashcards, and Instructional DVDs.

The Student Book is the individual workbook for the student. It contains the Latin sayings, vocabulary, grammar forms, and exercises for each of the 25 lessons along with additional pages for 5 review lessons. The exercises include grammar, derivatives, phrases and sayings, translations, and more. The book also contains the pronunciation rules, The Lord's Prayer and a table blessing both shown word-for-word in English and Latin, songs, conversational Latin phrases, grammar forms, and a vocabulary index. There is even a history section that has a map and comprehensive questions that correspond to the Famous Men of Rome set, also offered by Memoria Press.

The detailed weekly lesson plans are found in the Teacher Manual. This book is important to the teacher as it not only includes a complete copy of the Student Book with overlaid answers, but also lists comprehensive teaching instructions for each lessons. Tests, quizzes, answer keys, games, recitations, grammar rules, and historical information are also included.

The Pronunciation CD has 32 tracks of various things in Latin. There is a pronunciation guide, The Lord's Prayer, a table blessing, recitation, drills for each of the lessons, and multiple songs. There are accompanying drill sheets in the Teacher Manual that the student uses to review vocabulary, sayings, and grammar forms.

The Flashcards are used to master vocabulary. There are cards for vocabulary and derivatives, Latin sayings, conjugations, and declensions. The front side of each card shows the Latin version, while the back gives the English equivalent. There is also a tiny number in the top corner of each card that signifies which lesson it is first taught.

The three Instructional DVDs have 5 1/2 hours of teaching. The instructor, Jessica Watson, is a seasoned teacher with over 17 years of experience. She conducts the lessons in a comfortable, easy-to-follow manner. She teaches grammar, explains derivatives, recites prayers, and gives many examples of vocabulary and declensions. There are multiple on-screen notes, illustrations, and diagrams.

Watching the lesson sample video (middle of the page), is what intrigued me about this curriculum. Being able to hear the proper pronunciations and being taught by a real Latin teacher is exactly what we needed. My son has been doing 1-2 lessons a week and has been learning a good amount of Latin in just over a month of instruction. I love the DVD lessons and that everything is written out so clearly in the Teacher Manual. In the past, I had been intimidated in using a Latin curriculum because I have no experience with the language whatsoever. The Latina Christiana Complete Set has removed those hesitations and has given us the confidence to study the language. My son can do the majority of the lessons on his own because the step-by-step approach is designed so well. I'm excited to see how much he'll learn and what benefits he'll gain from using this program.

Latina Christiana is a wonderful Latin curriculum for both a beginning learner and a teacher with no background in it. I highly recommend it.

You can connect with Memoria Press on the following social media sites:

If you'd like to read more reviews of this product or of some of the other resources offered by Memoria Press, please visit the Homeschool Review Crew blog.

Crew Disclaimer
Pin It