Review of Unlock Math’s Unlock Geometry Course

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Teaching high school math can be intimidating for homeschool moms like me so I was thrilled to have my son try UnLock Geometry from UnLock Math.  I am a former High School Math teacher, so I know about all the problems that come with teaching students math.  Over the years, our family has used a variety of math programs. So I was really excited to see the product review being offered.

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One of the details that impressed me most about this company is the level of customer service they provide.  Almost immediately after receiving the email informing us of our enrollment, I received a personal phone call from the owner of the company.  He impressed me with his concern about our family and our use of the course.  Since we have used online math programs in the past, I felt comfortable with my son using this program.

Each unit includes lessons, several quizzes, a unit review and a unit test.  So far there has been a quiz after every two lessons.  I feel this does a marvelous job of ensuring my son is retaining what he is learning while not providing an overwhelming amount of material.

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Each lesson contains a warm-up (which reviews material already covered), an instructional video, practice problems, problems to help the student stay sharp, reference notes, and challenge problems.  With the exception of the challenge problems, all other problems may be attempted as many times as needed for mastery.  Because this is an adaptive program, the student only gets as much practice as they need.  Another thing  I really liked about this course was the way the challenge problems only add to my son’s score if he gets it right.  If the answer to the challenge problem is wrong, it simply does not count at all.  The days my son got the challenge problems right, he was absolutely thrilled to tell me so.

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As a parent, I set up a parent account first.  Here is what the parent screen looks like after logging in to the site. On this screen, I can find tabs for managing students, courses, billing contact, credit card, payments, and passwords.  It is easy to navigate around the screens.

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I love how I am even able to navigate to my son’s dashboard while signed into my parent account.  This becomes very useful if my son needed to redo a section after I looked at his grade for a particular assignment.  One item that took a while to get used to for our family was how the grade book shows the average based on the total number of points possible for the course instead of for only what has been completed.

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My son has really enjoyed this program so far.  Because I aim for my son to master concepts, we have not gotten as far as I would have liked.  But, I know we will finish out the course.  He really seems to be learning a lot and does not complain about doing the assignments.   I also plan on having my 14-year-old daughter do the Algebra program potentially in the fall.

I love that the computer does all the grading work for me.  All I have to do is look online to see his progress and scores.

Here are some more screenshots I took.

Currently, Unlock Math offers, Unlock Pre-Algebra, Unlock Algebra, and Unlock Algebra 2 in addition to Unlock Geometry.  If you would like to read more reviews about Unlock Geometry or any of their other courses, click here or on the graphic below.

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Review for Apologia Educational Ministries’ Internship for High School Credit

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A well-planned internship can be a great way for a high school student to explore a possible career path and Apologia Educational Ministries has created Internship for High School Credit to walk students and parents through the process of a high school internship and determining high school credit for the internship.  I love the idea of my children gaining practical experience in areas related to the field they think they want to go into in the future.

When I saw the opportunity to review this product, I was excited for our family.  Over the years, we have enjoyed using many of Apologia’s products.  So I felt confident this product would be amazing and it did not disappoint me.  With a son who is about to turn twenty-one and three children still in high school, this seemed to be an excellent product to review.  Because of plans we already had for this summer and other commitments, I decided to review this product with the goal of having at least one of our children doing an internship either next spring or summer.

This review is being done from my perspective as a parent.  The workbook is broken into five sections. The introduction discusses the difference between an apprenticeship and an internship.  Also, it recognizes the need for students to have practical hands-on experience in addition to book work.  Instructions for using the workbook are included here as well.  I found the workbook to be straight-forward and easy to read.
The first section is about getting started.  This section includes determining the type of internship.  So in my oldest son’s case, he wants to be a Youth Pastor – so even though he is college-aged, this book would be a great program for him to work through and obtain an internship.  There are also suggestions for students who do not know what they want to do in the future.  My third son fits this category.  We have discussed the idea of him doing an internship and he is receptive to the idea. So once he is done helping with Vacation Bible School and then attending our church’s Youth Service Camp, I plan on going through some assessments online to find where his strengths and interest lie.  This way we can start to make actual preparations in the fall for an internship in either the spring or summer in a field that actually interests him.

Here are some examples of some brainstorming pages I did for my oldest and youngest sons as well as our 14-year-old daughter.

The first section provides information on interviewing, writing resumes, determining high school credit and even how to prepare for the first day.  All of these are important skills to know.  I know growing up I was glad to have my parents’ assistance with such tasks.  There are even suggestions for the first day.

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The second section includes information for parents.  The first part addresses contact the parents should have with potential supervisors.  It also stresses the importance of knowing and following the child labor laws for your state.  I found it helpful that parents need to make sure they know what hours students may work and how many hours are acceptable.  I also found it helpful this section points out safety concerns and that parents need to know the working conditions are acceptable.  Transcript documentation, course titles, grades and the number of credits to be earned are also discussed.   Here are some sample pages.

The third section looks at the first semester and includes worksheets for semester goals, weekly worksheets, performance worksheets, and skills gained worksheets.  Questions and activities are also provided for each week with a place for the supervisor to sign.  These worksheet pages also include helpful tips, quotes, and other helpful information.  End-of-Semester Work performance worksheets are also provided.  Here are some samples of these pages.

 

If the student is going to do another semester for the internship, additional worksheets are provided for that as well in Part IV.  A final writing assignment, thank you note suggestions and examples, along with a discussion about obtaining a letter of recommendation and how to update a resume are included.

The detailed records that are going to be accumulated through the course of the internship will provide valuable documentation for student records, portfolios or other required documentation for colleges or other organizations.  I feel confident my children will benefit from these pages in the future.  I look forward to actually setting up an internship for our third son in the coming months and seeing where the journey will take him.  Even if he decides whatever field he interns in is not for him, I know he will take away valuable insights from the experience.

If you would like to read more reviews about Internship for High School Credit or another one of Apologia Educational Ministries‘ products, How to Homeschool with Stunning Confidence, Contagious Joy, and Amazing Focus (DVD & Coursebook), click here or on the graphic below.

 

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Review of Memoria Press’ Course – The Book of Trees

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We reviewed The Book of Trees but Memoria Press also offers Latin Curriculum from Early Elementary to High School!  We have enjoyed using various products from Memoria Press through the years for Latin and my daughter was excited to have the opportunity to review The Book of Trees. The set we received to review included the Teacher Guide, the textbook, and the student workbook.  We did not receive The Tree Book and the Peterson Guide, so my daughter was able to use the Internet for research instead.  While I see the benefits of these other two books, I feel that supplementing with Internet research worked well for our daughter.

I enjoy taking a classical approach to our children’s’ education, so Memoria Press fits the bill nicely.  My daughter does not have plans to go into any science field in the future, but she loves learning about science.  However, it needs to be presented in a way that captures her interest.  As soon as I showed her the description on the website she was excited about the choices for science courses.  I enjoy seeing her engaged in her textbooks.

This set is designed for grades 6 – 8.  I was thrilled to see how captivated our daughter was with this set from the moment we received it.  I opened up the box and she immediately began reading the textbook and then started completing the pages in the workbook.  The textbook gave her interesting facts to share with our family.  The workbook provided opportunities to show what she had learned.

She easily answered the questions in the workbook.  Once she finished labeling the parts of the plant she even took the time to color the plants.  When her father arrived home, she had to share what she had learned that day with him.  I love watching her excitement when learning something new. She shared with hi what she found interesting from the lesson.

This set teaches everything from taxonomy to plant respiration to plant morphology, photosynthesis, flowers, and fruits.  Each day, my daughter typically did the reading in the textbook and then the pages in the workbook.  For most students, I think reading the textbook one day, doing the workbook another day and possibly doing extra activities or research on a third day of the week would work well.  After each lesson, she was ready and eager to share what she had learned with her family.  I never had to listen to her complain about the work or indicate that she did not want to do it.

Here are some pictures of the inside of the textbook.

I like the variety of activities in the workbook.  These activities included reading and questions, diagramming and labeling, actual hands-on activities, identifying trees, researching trees, and even opportunities for sketching.  For a child like ours that loves to draw this course is a great fit.

Here are some pictures of the inside of the workbook.

 

Finally, here is a picture of a page in the Teacher Guide.

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Memoria Press provides a wonderful glimpse into botany with this course.  Even though my daughter has not completed the course yet, I know we will finish it.  I see us possibly doing Nature’s Beautiful Order, another course by Memoria Press later in the summer.  The fact the curriculum is a company that provides classical Christian homeschool curriculum is a wonderful blessing for our family.

If you wish to read more reviews about this course or other products from Memoria Press, click here or on the graphic below.

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Review of YWAM’s Christian Heroes Then and Now : Betty Greene – Wings to Serve

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I love adding  Christian biographies to our studies so I was excited to review Christian Heroes- Betty Greene, one of the books from YWAM Publishing.  YWAM Publishing quickly became one of my favorite sources for quality books when we began homeschooling eleven years ago.  Over the years, we have collected quite a few of the books, so it was wonderful to find one that was new to our family.  Since we have a fourteen-year-old daughter, and her father spent some time in the Air Force, I felt Betty Greene would be a perfect match for our family.

I absolutely love books and every one that I have picked up from YWAM Publishing have blessed our family.  Betty Greene proved to be another success.  For this review, I decided to simply read the book myself and then have my daughter read the book by herself.  Although she has not finished the book at the time of this review, she definitely plans on reading it all.

Betty Greene tells the story of a young woman who discovered a passion for flying along with a passion for Jesus Christ.  She lived in Lake Washington, and with her parents’ support became a World War II WASP pilot.  Through her service during World War II, she met some men who eventually founded the Mission Aviation Fellowship.  The goal of this ministry was to provide aircraft support to those serving in the mission fields.  I loved reading about Betty Greene’s encounters with other individuals whose stories can be found in the Christian Heros series.


I loved reading about Betty Greene’s adventures while flying and how her faith never wavered or faltered.  She appeared to have an amazing ability to remain calm under some unbelievable circumstances, including a crash and flying in horrible conditions like an extraordinary sand squall known as a harmattan.  She exemplified the life of Jesus Christ in everything she did and said.  Her heart belonged to Jesus Christ and to her mission of flying.  Throughout her life, she demonstrated the heart of a Christian.

 


When I talked with my daughter about the book, she was probably about a third of the way through it. She thought the book was fun and interesting so far.  She liked the fact that Betty Greene and her twin brother had different interests from the other. She found it interesting that Betty Greene decided to take up flying.


One of the best parts of the YWAM Publishing titles is that many of them come with the option to also purchase a study guide to use along with the book.  The study guides can be found at this link.  These study guides offer additional resources to go along with the book.  The study guides offer key Bible verses, chapter questions, student explorations, community links, related themes to explore along with appendices that include books and resources to use, answers to chapter questions, and social studies reproducibles.  These guides include ideas involving history, geography, essays, creative writing, reading comprehension, drama, and art.  Using these guides along with the list of books and resources, a homeschooling parent could easily create an incredible unit study involving this book.

 

 

We decided to focus on the key Bible verses and work towards memorizing them during the review period.  Some of the key verses for this book include Mark 9:23b and Proverbs 18:15.  I also had our daughter orally answer some of the discussion questions. from the chapters as she completed them in the book.  Upon completion of the book, I plan on having her create a project involving a visual display, creative or essay assignment along with mapwork, and other relevant content.

I find the Christian Heros: Then & Now series to be a worthwhile investment.  These are books that the whole family can enjoy reading.  Another feature I love is that many of the titles are available as audiobooks, which is perfect for families taking long distant trips.  I know our family will be listening to Betty Greene and other titles from YWAM Publishing the next time we travel.

If you want to read more reviews about Betty Greene or other titles from YWAM Publishing, click here or on the image below.

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The Typing Coach Online Typing Course from The Typing Coach Review

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We all need more typing practice at our house, especially considering I have three high school students, a college-aged student plus a husband whose job demands a lot of typing on his computer daily.  So I definitely wanted our family to try The Typing Coach Online Typing Course created by The Typing Coach.  This is an online course which includes a one-year subscription.

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Do you have family members who use the “hunt and peck” method or the two-finger method for typing.  If so, this course will be perfect for that individual.  This course is designed to help the user become not only efficient at typing, but also to master the skill of typing well. The student works at their own pace, using audio, visual and written instructions.  I loved that the program stressed typing without looking at the keyboard.  Instead, the students learn to master where the keys are which helps increase speed and accuracy.  The student completes lessons as well as assessments to practice and demonstrate how well they are mastering the lessons.

Another thing I love about this course is that the assessments are basically self-scoring.  All the parent/teacher only needs to monitor what the student has done and what score they received for the assignment.  The one assessment that requires the parent/teacher’s input is determining if the student has good posture or not.  This was a fairly easy thing to determine.

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Students learn everything from sitting properly, meaning using good posture, to learning the home row of keys, to the bottom rows of keys,  and the top row of keys.  The course is self-paced and helps the students to learn how to type accurately without teaching a dependence of looking at the screen.

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As in any family, we have certain children that I know will take on particular reviews more so than other family members.  So for this review, I decided to have our 16-year-old son complete the program.  The idea is to complete a lesson a week; however, we did not achieve that objective.  He basically did the course one day a week during the review period.  I would have to say he was fairly ambivalent about the program.

He understands the need for a typing course and felt fairly pleased with how the manner in which the course was taught.  He experienced some frustration when he made more than one mistake that he would be locked out for two days.  But once I explained that the course emphasizes accuracy and practice, he was fine with that issue.

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I love how The Typing Coach Online Course offers options for those with younger children.  Even though, we do not have younger children, I know from my children’s own past experiences, the younger children are when they learn to type, the better they will do.  I also love how the parent/teacher can receive emails showing the student’s progress in the course.  All in all, I can honestly say this course is worth the money and I plan on the rest of our family taking the course eventually.  After all,  no matter what a person does in life today typing will be part of their lives – both at work, at home and to interact socially.   So students will benefit from this course.

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If you would like to read more reviews of The Typing Coach Online Course, click here or on the graphic below.

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Review of Thin Stix 6 Pack of Classic Colors

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I am always looking for new products to do mess free art with, so I was thrilled to receive Thin Stix 6pk of Classic Colors from The Pencil Grip, Inc.   Our 14-year-old daughter was excited to receive this product and to try it out.

Thin Stix solid tempera paint sticks allow painting without the mess. No special items such as cups, smocks, or brushes are needed.  The quick-drying formula allows them to dry in around 90 seconds while providing a paint-like finish.  They come in a variety of vibrant colors.  They work great on poster paper, cardboard, wood and even canvas.

I love the lack of mess with this product.  Being a homeschooling family, Thin Stix products would travel nicely and could even be used in the vehicle while traveling without having to worry about what kind of a mess will be left behind.  We frequently travel to see family and attend various events.  This is a product that wold be perfect for traveling.  You simply uncap, twist and paint.  Then when finished, you just put the cap back on and put the Thin Stix away.  There is no extensive clean-up required.

Thin Stix will be a powerful asset to families with children of all ages.  Regardless of the ability of the children in a household, the possibilities for use are endless.
The Thin Stix 6pk of Classic Colors comes with the colors: black, brown, blue, yellow, green, and red.  The company also offers other sets in a larger variety of colors including neon and metallic packs.  I feel this product would be perfect for families with children of all ages.  This to me is a tremendous advantage to this product.  Traditional tempera paints would provide the potential for incredible messes with younger children.  But with Thin Stix, you can avoid those issues.  So this allows for no more messy art while also being toxic free.

My daughter enjoyed using these, but she had found two major issues.  She felt like the tips were too large to allow for detailed work.  She also wanted to use them in a mixed media environment, but when she drew her picture in pencil, again she found the tips were too bold for the detailed work she wished to do.

One of her first pictures was of flowers she created.  Here is a picture of her working on the picture and then another of the completed picture.

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Working on her picture
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Working on her picture

img_2312Here she is holding the finished work.  She sets very high standards for her artwork, and she felt like the wide tips did not let her complete the picture as well as she would have liked it to be.  I think if they offered sets with thin tips as well as the wide tips, it would allow for greater creativity.

Here is her working on another picture.

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And here she is holding her finished picture.

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All in all, I would say our daughter enjoyed using the Thin Stix 6pk of Classic Colors from The Pencil Grip, Inc.  You can find these on The Pencil Grip, Inc website as well as on Amazon.  If you visit The Pencil Grip, Inc website, be sure to check all the other amazing products they offer including pencils grips, Kwik Stix, school and office supplies and more may be found.

You can find The Pencil Grip, Inc. on social media at:

 

 

If you would like to read more reviews on Thin Stix 6pk of Classic Colors from The Pencil Grip, Inc., click here or on the graphic below.

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Review for Focus on the Family’s “Captain Absolutely”

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My children have enjoyed reading comic books for a while now, so I was thrilled to have the opportunity to Captain Absolutely from Focus on the Family.  For this particular review, I decided to have our 16-year-old son read the book.  He was excited to begin reading it.  This comic book has action and deals with the issue of ethics.

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Here is his summary of the book.  In Metropolitanville, ownership of a Bible is illegal.  Josiah King was working at the library when his friend, Darren Gray (who also works at the library). dropped a sunflower seed, his favorite snack, into the main computer.  This computer ran on nuclear power from the city’s main reactor.  Josiah gets flung into a room full of Bibles, which he reads while radioactive fumes fill the room.  Josiah is transformed into a superhero, Captain Absolutely, with the help of Hana, a teenage girl who owns a fire suit, he must battle evil villans and defend God’s truth.

My son felt the story was good, but the pacing seemed off in places.  He would have liked to have been told more background on some of the characters.  However, the background information that was provided he felt was done very well.  He also liked most of the characters.  The puns/jokes in the story were well-executed in his opinion.  He was impressed that the story was not too cliched.

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His favorite character was Hana because she comes in around one-third of the way through the book.  She serves as Captain Absolutely‘s sidekick.  He felt like she was one of the most realistic characters in the book.  He also felt that Hana’s mom was a very likeable character.  When Hana’s mom went against Captain Absolutely, it was for understandable reasons, so you still liked her.

While he liked Captain Absolutely, my son felt he was almost “too good”.  But from listening to my older sons talk and watching some movies made from other comic books, I think that just goes with being a super hero.  After all, super heros as in comic books do not exist in our real world.  My son also declared there were times when Captain Absolutely felt real.

He felt that most of the villans felt fake with a few exceptions.  Again, I feel like this goes along with the comic book genre and the villans portrayed in them.  Since comic books are imaginary to begin with, a lot of leeway is found in these characters.  The two villans he liked the most were Fear Chemist and to a certain extent Dr. Relative.  He also liked Nurse Grudge, even though she was not a real nurse.  She seemed to really try to help people in trouble until real help could arrive.

One of the features I really liked about Captain Absolutely was found at the back of the book.  A list of many of the characters is provided with information about them.  This allows the reader to find out things about characters if they want to read a short blurb about them.

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When I asked my son who he would recommend this book to, he listed several groups.  He felt this book would be good for either girls or guys.  He felt it suited pre-teens and teenagers.  He also felt it might be a good fit for someone who was strugglign with their faith.  He also felt it would be good for anyone who likes comic books.

All in all, I feel this is a book worth reading.  As fans of Focus on the Family, I am glad to see them introduce a comic book for those that like and connect with that format.

If you would like to read more reviews of Captain Absolutely by Focus on the Family, click here or on the image below.

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