Posted in 2019 Home School Review Crew Posts, Homeschool Review Crew Posts, Homeschool Video Curriculum, Math

Review of Thinkwell Press’ High School Math

Thinkwell Press Review

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When it comes to teaching High School Math, I prefer to use video-based instruction such as Algebra 1 from Thinkwell.  Our high school-aged daughter prefers to do any other subject more than math, so I am always on the hunt for math programs that will help her understand mathematics. I am so glad we had the opportunity to review this program.  Because we already had another math program she was using, we utilized this program as a supplement to what she was already doing.  So I wanted her to aim to use this program three times a week.  This online program can be accessed anywhere at any time.

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Thinkwell Press offers online homeschool programs for grades six through Calculus.  In addition to the mather courses, they also offer a selection of science and economics honors courses.  The courses are video-based and are taught by award-winning professors.  The Algebra I course is taught by Professor Edward Burger.  As a parent, I appreciate how clearly he speaks and how everything he does is explained and illustrated.  Placement tests are available so you can make sure your child begins at the right level for them.

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I love the convenience of our daughter being able to watch the videos and do the exercises.  Then if she should encounter any difficulties, she can come to her father or me.  The videos are clear, concise, and do an excellent job of explaining what the students will be doing.  As a former math teacher, and someone who loves math, I appreciate the fact the problems being demonstrated correspond to what our daughter has to do on her own.

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The course is broken down into sections that cover:

  • Foundations for Algebra
  • Equations, Proportions, and Percents
  • Inequalities
  • Functions
  • Linear Functions
  • Systems of Equations and Equalities
  • Exponents and Polynomials
  • Factoring Polynomials
  • Quadratic Functions and Equations
  • Data Analysis and Probability

I love how our family had the ability to jump around in the course to the sections our daughter needed to work on.  I also appreciated the fact that the online exercises for the sections we worked on could be printed and worked out on paper prior to completing the answers on the computer.  Another handy feature is the fact that real-time feedback is given.  So when our daughter put in her answer for a problem, she immediately knew if she got it right or wrong.  But in addition to just saying if the answer is right or wrong, the solution is also displayed which helps ensure your child can see what they needed to do if they got the problem wrong.  In addition to worksheets and exercises, there are also review exercises and their answer keys provided.

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Another feature I really appreciate is the fact that the transcripts of each lesson are provided.  So families can print them out for the student to refer back to if they have encountered any difficulties.

You can find Thinkwell Press on social media on Facebook and YouTube.

So if your family is looking for an online math program, check out the High School Math, programs including Algebra 1 from Thinkwell.  Other members of the Home School Review Crew are reviewing Algebra I along with other grade levels and courses from Thinkwell Press, so check out their reviews by clicking here or on the graphic below.

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Posted in 2019 Home School Review Crew Posts, Homeschool Review Crew Posts, Homeschooling, Online Homeschool Programs, Uncategorized

Review of Calvert Homeschool Online

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I have always been curious about Calvert Homeschool since I have heard their name in homeschool circles for years.  When they offered their Calvert Homeschool Online program with access to all the courses, I knew I wanted to check it out!  Calvert Homeschool Online provides a completely online experience that only requires a solid Internet connection.

For this review, we received a Family Subscription to Calvert Homeschool Online for up to three students.  Since we had already started our school year, I planned on us using this curriculum more as a supplement to what we were already using versus it being our primary curriculum.

As a firm believer in the idea that you are never too old to learn, I created a student account for myself as well as our son and daughter who are in high school.  One feature I really love about the set up of Calvert is that we had access to all of the online courses for all of the grades.  So for myself, I was able to choose the high school courses that most interested me.  So I elected to do Geometry,  English II, U.S. History – Reconstruction to Present, Pre-Calculus (so I can brush up on my skills before our son gets there, and Integrated Physics and Chemistry.

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I assigned our sixteen-year-old daughter to Integrated Physics and Chemistry, English I, World Geography, and Algebra I.  However, I wound up deciding last week to have her move from Algebra I back to Mathematics 8 just to provide some reinforcement. My one desire would be for a high school math course for students who do not need the typical college-bound, in-depth math pathway.  For our son who was 18 at the time we started, I assigned English IV, Government, and Physics. He is someone who plans to go to college in the future, so the math tract is perfect.

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I love having the flexibility to change due dates or curriculum choices if needed.  Another feature I loved was the ability to decide for each student what features I wanted them to have access to such as answer keys and unlimited chances.  I believe in teaching to mastery so these ideas work for our family’s philosophy.

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Each lesson contains videos, text, the ability to do flashcards or spelling bees if you select those choices, and more.  Our family felt the videos were well-done and easy to follow.  My family felt the work was challenging enough to be interesting without being so difficult that my children became frustrated.

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In addition to the student log-ins, there is a parent log-in that allows homeschool parents to set up the school year, assign courses, as well as create reports.  Some of the reports that can be created include daily work reports, report cards, and grade reports. With just a few clicks any of these reports can be created for any student you want to select. Parents also have the ability to reschedule a single course for a student or all the courses for a student.  Because let’s be real, as homeschooling families life happens and sometimes we do not get through everything we want to do.

You can find Calvert Homeschool Media at the following links:

Facebook: www.facebook.com/CalvertHomeschool
Instagram: www.instagram.com/calverthomeschool
Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/CalvertHomeschool/

So if you are looking for the freedom and flexibility of an online homeschool curriculum, I suggest you check out Calvert Homeschool Online program with access to all the courses for yourself.

Other members of the Home School Review Crew are sharing their thoughts about Calvert Homeschool Online this week, so click here or on the graphic below to read more reviews by the Crew.

 

Posted in Family Games, Homeschool Review Crew Posts, Uncategorized

Review of Brain Blox’s Fun Family Chess

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It can be difficult to learn to play chess but Brain Blox makes it easy for even young children or adults with no experience to play with Fun Family Chess.  As a child, I never learned how to play chess.  But I am surrounded by an entire family of chess players.  My husband has played since he was a child, and my children learned how to play when they were younger.  So when I saw the opportunity to review this game come up, I was thrilled about the opportunity.

According to their website, “Brain Blox offers toys, games, and journals to empower families toward a more conscious vibrant lifestyle.”  Fun Family Chess is designed for single players or teams of family members to play together.  Whether you or your child(ren) learn best by watching videos or reading directions, this company has something to offer you.

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For this review, our game came packaged in a box.  When we opened the box, we found the chessboard folded in half with fasteners to keep it closed.  When we unfolded the board, we found the chess pieces in two separate velvet-like bags, cards to explain how the various pieces move, along with a die that can be used to direct what piece you may move.  The chessboard is painted white and is very striking. We also received a two-month membership to Chesskid.com, which provides a family-safe place for children to learn how to play chess.  I also appreciated how the pieces are displayed on each side of the board to show where the different pieces need to be placed.

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I am someone who learns best by doing, and I prefer learning against someone who is going to be patient with me.  So I elected to play against our daughter, with my husband providing coaching in the background.  As an adult learning to play the game for the first time, I found the die kept things moving along (especially with my husband helping me).  I found the game intense, and the cards really helped me know how the pieces could move.

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I think that understanding how the different pieces can move is one of the most challenging parts for me.  However, the video on the website illustrating how the pieces can move was very helpful.  There are a number of videos on the site including how to set up the chessboard for Fun Family Chess, how to play Fun Family Chess, how to move the pieces, and how to play standard chess once you learn how to play Fun Family Chess.

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My ultimate goal is to have my three sons and husband play a championship game using the die to add a bit of excitement.

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There are some differences between Fun Family Chess and Standard Chess:

  1. In Standard Chess, you do not use a cube to tell you how to move your pieces.
  2. In Fun Family Chess, you win by capturing your opponent’s king.  In Standard Chess, you win by putting your opponent’s king in checkmate or possibly ending the game in a stalemate (meaning no one wins).
  3. In standard chess, when you move a pawn to the opposite side of the board, you can promote your pawn to any piece you choose except to a king).
  4. If a pawn moves beside your pawn, you can do a move called “En Passant”, meaning in passing you can capture that pawn.
  5. Finally, in standard Chess, there is castling where your rook and king can switch places if all of a given set of circumstances exists.

So if you are looking for a fun way to teach someone or want to learn chess yourself, check out Brain Blox‘s Fun Family Chess for yourself.

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You can find Brain Blox on Social Media at the following links:

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/mybrainblox
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/brainblox
YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCpUttakNtthj_haX8LwRlwA

Other members of the Home School Review Crew are posting their thoughts about this product today.  Click here or on the graphic below to read other reviews from members of the Home School Review Crew.

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Posted in Homeschool Review Crew Posts, Homeschooling, Money Management

Review of The Complete Starter Kit from The Kingdom Code

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With The Complete Starter Kit from The Kingdom Code, I can teach my daughters money management skills with a Biblical context.  Because I know our daughter has been dreaming of creating her own graphic novels, I recognize she needs to understand about money management and more in order to be prepared to become an entrepreneur.

According to their website, The Complete Starter Kit includes the TextbookStudent Packet, and Teacher’s Guide. These three components are everything needed to teach one student The Kingdom Code curriculum, and the Teacher’s Guide makes teaching easy and fun!”  We also received the JR Budget Kit and The Kingdom Code Coloring Book to review as well.

The Kingdom Code is an elective designed as a 34-week course, (a full year) and ideally should be taught twice weekly for 45 minutes. It is Biblically based and has Bible verses in every lesson.  Parental guidance is definitely required especially for the first eight lessons, which take about a semester while the student is building their business from the ground up.  The students have to choose a mentor, create their business plan, and start their marketing strategies and work towards gaining money.  Lessons 9 – 27 focus on maintaining a ledger, create an income statement, make calls as well as write thank-you notes to customers, and more.

During the course, students examine everything from what The Kingdom code is to Building Treasure, to developing a business plan, to keeping records, to savings, to discovering their gifts, as well as taking charge of their life.  Periodically, they also look back at what they have done and accomplished.  At the stage our daughter is at currently, we wanted her to use this material more to get ideas rather than earning money currently.  She had been working on developing her “world” for her story but realized she needed to start all over in order to be satisfied since she recognizes that having the background world is important.

One of the key steps is finding a mentor, but so far we have been unsuccessful at that because of what she wants to do.  However, as a blogger, I can help with writing.  She has found people online to help with her artwork.  Plus, her father can assist with the business side of things.  So even though she is off to a slow start with her own business, she still is learning a lot from this course.

Because of the type of business our daughter wants to develop, certain things did not apply to her.  We knew from the beginning, she was more likely to find her customers through the Internet rather than phone calls and other traditional means.  Our goal in reviewing this course centered more on understanding money and business management rather than actually rushing to make money.  As parents, my husband and I both recognize the importance of our daughter learning how to create business plans, manage money, and determine how to market her products.

Here is a sample of the type of artwork she might include in her novels.

The Student Textbook is a 244-page spiral-bound book which includes economics, budgeting, historical entrepreneurship, consumer math, Biblical codes, life skills, and practical thinking in order to capture the student’s imaginations.  The lessons include many medieval ideas such as bravery, kindness, honor, integrity, and more.  Our daughter really enjoyed the content and how the lessons were presented.

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The Student Activity pages are contained in the Student Packet and include consumable worksheets for the students to complete.  Our daughter found these pages interesting and worth completing.

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Here are some sample activity pages our daughter has completed.

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The Teacher’s Guide breaks the 27 lessons down into 68 daily plans.  The lesson plans provide step-by-step instructions for the assignments along with providing suggestions and reminders.  The answers to the Activity pages and the worksheets are included as well at the end of each lesson.

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Our family appreciated how each lesson followed the same format and included Biblical passages.  Our daughter appreciated the details included in each lesson.  My husband and I also appreciated being involved in the lessons with our daughter.  Because my husband ran a business with his father prior to going full-time in the Army Reserves, he was able to offer a lot of insights to our daughter.  Since I have a degree in marketing, I will be able to provide additional insights to our daughter when we reach that stage.

Here are some pages from the coloring book.

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Here is what the receipt book looks like.

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As students complete lessons, they place stickers on the map to mark their progress.  Our daughter was not necessarily interested in doing this particular activity.

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We also received the JR KCK Budget kit as well.  This kit is designed for children who are too young to complete The Kingdom Code.  It is a great way to introduce younger children to the idea of money management.  Because we have some friends with children who could benefit from this, I plan on sharing it with them.  It includes stickers, coloring pages and more.  Here is a photograph of some of the pages.

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You can find The Kingdom Code on social media at the following links.

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/TheKingdomCode/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/thekingdomcode
Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/thekingdomcode/
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/thekingdomcode/

In addition to money management and entrepreneur skills, the lessons also include character building activities.  Our family looks forward to completing the remainder of the lessons in this program.  So check out The Complete Starter Kit from The Kingdom Code, in order to teach money management skills with a Biblical context

Other members of the Home School Review Crew are also reviewing The Complete Starter Kit from The Kingdom Code this week.  Click here or on the graphic below to read additional reviews from other members of the Home School Review Crew.

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Posted in Composition and Writing, Homeschool Review Crew Posts, Homeschooling, Language Arts

Review of Hewitt Homeschooling Resources’ Lightning Literature & Composition – British Christian Authors 19th-20th Century

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I loved using Lightning Lit from Hewitt Homeschooling Resources with our second son before, so I was excited to have the opportunity to review British Christian Gr 11-12  with our 16-year-old daughter.  This program provides a great opportunity for our daughter to develop both her composition skills and her literary skills at the same time.  For this review, we received the student guide and the teacher guide.  However, the program also requires the purchase of four additional unabridged copies of The Four Loves by C.S. Lewis, Why Does God Allow War? by D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones, Orthodoxy by G.K. Chesterton, and Gaudy Night by Dorothy L. Sayers.  Even though our daughter is in the 10th grade, she felt confident about her ability to complete the coursework.

Hewitt Homeschooling, since 1983, has functioned as proponents of homeschooling.  According to their website, “. Our emphasis includes combining excellent academics with character development, instilling the work ethic, and developing a spirit of community service in the next generation. With a current client base of over 30,000, Hewitt’s operation is currently divided into three sectors: services, testing, and products. Operating out of our facility in Washougal, Washington, we serve parents with students from kindergarten age through high-school.”

Lightning Literature at the high school level is meant to be covered over 18 weeks, however, we used a year-long pace since we were nearing the start of our summertime school schedule when this review started.  Both a semester-long and a year-long schedule are provided so families can use the one that best suits their needs.

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Students read, answer comprehension questions, complete literary lessons, writing exercises, along with reading articles which are sprinkled throughout the course that touch on late 19th through early 20th century British Christian Literature.  The four units, covering one of the four books, includes an introduction for the students to read, information about the selection, and information for while the student is reading.  Our daughter found these sections to be extremely useful.

Students are supposed to develop a vocabulary notebook and reading journal during the course.  For our purposes, instead of requiring our daughter to write everything out, we allowed her to complete the questions, vocabulary and reading journal on the computer using a word processing program.  I also permitted her to answer some of the questions orally to me rather than typing out her answers.

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The Student guide contains all the material the student needs to complete the course including an Introduction which discusses suggestions for reading and writing including brainstorming, outlining, revisions and citing research.  Suggestions for how to use the student guide are included along with Appendices that provide suggestions for Discussion Questions and Project Suggestions, additional reading suggestions, and schedules.  Plus there are suggestions for activities to enhance the student’s experience including developing a Vocabulary Notebook, a Reading Journal, Biographies and more.

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For each unit, there is an Introduction, Comprehension Questions, a Literary lesson – which for the first unit on C.S. Lewis is Writing a Five-paragraph essay.  Our daughter is working on narrowing her topic for her first essay on a hobby.  She is trying to decide between art and music.  We will see what she decides.  She plans on doing the brainstorming and outline for this first essay at the beginning of next week.

All of the Units follow the same basic pattern.  I look forward to reading and learning with our daughter throughout the remainder of the course.  She found the Student Guide easy to follow and easy to utilize.  For the Comprehension Questions, she found most of them straight forward, however a few required deeper thought and attention in order to answer.

 

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The Teacher Guide includes information about the Student Guide, the answers to the Comprehension Questions, Suggested Schedules for either a Semester Schedule or a Yearly Schedule, Writing Exercises, Discussion Questions, as well as project suggestions.  As one of our daughter’s projects, we decided she would memorize 1 Corinthians 13.  Our goal is to have her do a Bible Study with her father on fasting, but his schedule has not permitted that yet.

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You can find Hewitt Homeschooling Resources on Social Media at the following links:

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/hewitthomeschooling
Twitter: https://twitter.com/hewittonline
Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/hewittonline/
YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/user/HewittOnline
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/hewittonline/

If you would like to read our earlier review of Shakespeare Tragedies, click here.

Other members of the Home School Review Crew are reviewing various products from Hewitt Homeschooling Resources this week, click here or on the graphic below to read additional reviews of this product along with other products for various grade levels.

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Posted in Electives, Homeschool Review Crew Posts, Homeschooling, Online Homeschool Programs

Review of EdAlive’s Maths Invaders Online and Typing Tournament Online

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We received two one-year subscriptions for a typing tutor program called Typing Tournament Online and a fun math practice program called Maths Invaders Online from EdAlive.  With our children who are still being homeschooled being 16-years-old and 18-years-old, I was more interested in the typing program than the Math Invaders Online.  In these days and times, I believe that every person needs to have above average typing skills.  So I felt our children definitely could benefit from this program.  In addition, I felt my husband and I both could benefit from improving our typing skills as well as using this online program.

Because EdAlive is an Australian-based company, some of the language used will be British English rather than American English. However, our family did not find this to be a problem when utilizing this program.  We found logging in and beginning to use this problem to be quick and easy.  Their website states, “We believe that every child is special and that education gives them the best opportunity to live life to the fullest. That’s why our software and web sites make the highest quality resources available for all children to help them reach their learning potential”.

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With the Maths Invaders Online program, students work on essential numerical skills that are vital to every child’s success.  The program is designed for students ages 5 to 15.  It allows students/players to tackle a large number of problems in minutes.  It helps to develop automatic recall of important numerical math facts.  It is designed to be intrinsically motivating.  Players are able to select from a group of levels to find problems that fit their level.  It is designed to make learning fun.

Students select from the Galactic campaign, Space Rescue and practice.  By using the keyboard, players attempt to answer math questions correctly to achieve their objectives.  We found the graphics to be of high quality and fun to look at while playing.  Printable worksheets are also available as well.  From the menu, parents and players can see the leaderboards, the App library, tools and reports, help screen and more.  Students can compete against other players or the computer making it more interesting.

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Typing Tournament Online is designed for those ages 6 to adult.  I loved the fact that even adults can benefit from this program.  It allows players to begin at their current skill level and gradually introduces the whole keyboard.  Players move through the program at their own pace through 128 lessons, games, and drills.  The medieval tournament theme is highly engaging.  Our family appreciated being able to actually select a goal to reach by the end of the course and how it actively promotes using correct fingers on the right keys.  I know it easier to type faster when using proper finger placement.

Our family found this typing program to be worth using as well as being fun to practice.  The bright colors, the tournament concept and more makes this program fun to use.

Here are some pictures of the instructions for proper posture and more.

You can find EdAlive on social media at:

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/EdAlive/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/edalive
Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com.au/edalive/
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/edalive.education/

 

So if you are looking for great interactive programs for reinforcing math facts and/or typing skills, check out EdAlive’s Maths Invaders Online and Typing Tournament Online for yourself.  Other members of the Home School Review Crew are reviewing these two online programs this week so click here or on the graphic below to read additional reviews.

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Posted in Homeschool Review Crew Posts, Homeschooling

Review of Stopmotion Explosion and their Stop Motion Animation Kit

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With the Stop Motion Animation Kit from Stopmotion Explosion, my son was able to create his own Lego animation.  For as long as I can remember our youngest two have enjoyed creating things and making up their own stories.  So when our family had the opportunity to review this product, I was thrilled.  The Stop Motion Animation Kit can be used to make your own Lego Movies and more.  From stuffed animals, clay creations, Legos and more, this product offers the opportunity to make your own movies using animation.  Our 18-year-old son was excited to get to try this product.

Stopmotion Explosion offers the opportunity to animate and create almost anything you can imagine.  The Stop Motion Animation kit comes complete with Stop Motion Camera, Quick Start Guide, CD, and a seventeen chapter guide to assist you in your creations.  The Quick Start Guide includes instructions for installing the programs on Windows and MACS or even doing a mobile installation if you do not have a CD drive. how to focus the camera and additional information including a Q&A section.

Our son had to use the download since he does not have a CD drive for his computer.  He was really pleased to see that in addition to the CD, all of the software was available on the website.  It made it easy for him to get started.  He found the download quickly and easily.

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I have to say I feel the Quick Start guide provides everything you need to start creating quickly.  The 17-chapter book provides assistance with everything from how movies work, to creating stories, to building sets, cameras, lighting, composition, animating and more.  Our son only used this book when he had a question about what he was doing.  I feel it would be a fantastic book for someone who truly wants to dive deep into animation as opposed to someone who just wants to have fun.

When friends of our family heard about what we were doing, they offered to come and provide assistance to our son.  Their imaginations took flight and over the course of two very intense days, they captured a lot of pictures.  Here are some pictures of them working on the first day.

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Here are pictures of them working on the second day:

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From backdrops, lighting, figures and everything in between, the four had a great time working together.  However, we learned a very valuable lesson too late in the game for us:  make sure you back up every single photograph your family takes.  Otherwise, when you are ready to create your masterpiece film, you might find your file with all of the pictures has been corrupted and completely unable to be recovered.    This unfortunate event meant our son had to start completely from scratch.  However, I have to say I am still proud of the video he created.  You can click on the graphic below to watch the animation.

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Our son felt the book was very informative as a source for providing information.  I did not require him to read it in its entirety. From what he did see, it seemed to be well-written and the writers obviously knew what they were writing about.  However, he felt the actual program itself is very basic, and he would like to see a program that offers more options and choices.  He also felt it would be great for this to not rely so heavily on outside software, such as him using a third party program to actually create the movie itself.  He tried using the actual software to make his movie, but upon viewing it, the movie was not exactly what he had created initially.

Your creators set up scenes using their desired objects (in our case LEGOS),  and then take a series of pictures with them in various positions.  Next, the pictures are either turned into a movie using the included program, or you can upload them to a movie maker program of your choice.  From there, you can add sound effects and more.  One complaint my son had was the desire to be able to have more than one sound effect at a time.

Overall, I have to say we were pleased with this product.  However, I think my son would have enjoyed it more if he had been doing it simply for fun rather than having a deadline to meet for his creation.  I think having multiple people working on the animation could make the picture and staging part go faster.  So if you are looking for a product to do animation, you should definitely check out Stop Motion Animation Kit from Stopmotion Explosion for yourself.

You can find Stopmotion Explosion on Social media on Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube.

Other members of the Home School Review Crew have also been using the Stop Motion Animation Kit from Stopmotion Explosion, so click here or on the graphic below to read more reviews.

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