Review of Math Essentials’ No-Nonsense Algebra

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Homeschool math at the high school level can be intimidating so I’d like to introduce you to No-Nonsense Algebra from Math Essentials.  Finding a math program that our 14-year-old daughter likes and understands can be challenging.  But with the included videos for the lessons taught by Richard W. Fisher, our daughter has found this program to be understandable.

Our daughter is our 4th and last child and she is definitely more gifted in the area of art than math.  So we have tried a variety of math programs through the years. Like most parents, we have found some work and some do not.  So when I saw the chance for our family to review No-Nonsense Algebra, I was glad to get it for our daughter.

This is a soft cover book that is meant to be used as a textbook, and the students need to do their work in a notebook.  Since it is not consumable, it would work well for families with more than one child.  As I have already stated, our daughter is not a math whiz kid.  She loves art a lot more.  So in her own words, she stated, “Some of the instructions and problems are worded in ‘mathease’, which is a language our daughter feels she does not speak.  However, the videos provided our daughter with clear and concise instructions that made the lessons understandable for her.

I feel like the videos are well-executed, easy to hear and easy to understand.  The instructions really helped our daughter.  This course covers everything from integers to the quadratic equation along with everything in between.

I felt like the lessons were reasonable in the material being covered, the examples that were given and the number of practice problems.  Each lesson contains an introduction which includes helpful hints, example problems worked out showing each step for solving the problem, exercises, and several review questions.

Since I have taught high school math and realize how it builds upon itself, I love the review problems.  It helps to ensure the students remember past materials.  I also loved the fact the book starts off with problems involving integers.  This is a necessary skill for solving most algebraic problems.  If a student can not solve problems with integers properly, he or she will probably have extreme difficulty later in Algebra.  Also, from my experience in teaching Algebra, the majority of mistakes in Algebra are caused by mathematical computations.  So ensuring students have a firm grasp on working with integers will help with their success.  The pictures below show two days of my daughter’s work and answers.  As I have stated, she is very artistic so her pages have to include some drawings.

I feel this book is perfect for a variety of situations.  It is perfect as a stand-alone textbook for Algebra.  It is also perfect for a student who just wants to brush up on certain skills.  It also would be perfect for a student just wanting to review Algebra for any reason. I also like the fact Math Essentials offers a variety of other products ranging from materials for 4th/5th grade all the way through this Algebra course.

I was very pleased with this book and the videos are provided with it.  This course is definitely worth taking a look at in my opinion.  If you would like to read more reviews about No-Nonsense Algebra from Math Essentials, click here or on the graphic below.

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Review of Greek ‘n’ Stuff’s I Can Study Acts Alone With God Bible Study (52 week study) KJV

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As the parents of a teenage daughter, we are always on the lookout for new Bible study materials for our daughter.  So when the opportunity came for us to review  I Can Study Acts Alone With God Bible Study (52 week study) from Greek ‘n’Stuff, I was excited for us to try this Bible study workbook.

Greek ‘n’ Stuff offers courses in Greek, Latin, Bible studies, free activities and other resources on their website.  They also provide free sample pages for their materials.  The Bible Study materials are offered in either the King James Version or the New International Version.  The Bible studies range from 13 weeks to 52 weeks.  We decided that the study on Acts was the best choice for our daughter.  This study is recommended for those in late elementary or up.

This consumable workbook contains 52 weeks of lessons.  It comes in a spiral-bound format that makes it easy to write in for the student.  Each week is broken down into daily lessons with several questions for the student to answer.  Every week also has a memory verse, which my daughter really liked.

The lessons were broken down into manageable chunks that my daughter enjoyed completing. She takes seriously the idea of memorizing the weekly memory verses.  I decided to do the lessons with her as a way of spending time with her.  This idea seemed to work very well for our family.

On the first page of each lesson, the Scriptures being covered are listed.  Then it is further broken down by day of the week.  The first step for each day is a reminder to pray asking for God’s help in studying His Word.  Then there is a reminder about reading or reviewing that week’s memory verses.  As the weeks progress, I think it is a good idea to pick a time to review the memory verses that have already been learned.  Then each day has questions for the student to answer.  These questions have been easily found in my daughter’s Bible – either from the actual verses or from the introduction to the book of Acts or in the commentary her Bible contains.  I believe a good study Bible is extremely helpful for this study.

All of the pages contain blocks containing either the week’s memory verses, additional questions that are answered for the student, or a box containing a section entitled “Think and Pray About It”.

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I also loved the fact that there were only assignments for Monday through Saturday, leaving Sunday to be the Sabbath.  We decided to use Sunday as a day to review the memory verses for the week.  I believe a family could easily rearrange the days if it was necessary – such as rearranging the days to suit when the family wanted to observe the Sabbath.

My daughter really enjoyed doing this study.  She found it relatively easy to answer the questions.  I know I enjoyed doing the study with her.  So if your family is looking for an open and go Bible study workbook, the I Can Study Acts Alone With God Bible Study (52 week study) from Greek ‘n’ Stuff.

If you would like to read more reviews of the Acts study, the company’s other Bible studies or their Greek courses, click here or on the graphic below.

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Review of Heirloom Audio Productions “In the Reign of Terror”

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Ever since we began homeschooling about 12 years ago, we have tried to find educational and interesting ways to pass the time traveling to places.  One way we have discovered to pass time and keep bickering down is to listen to audio dramas.  So I was thrilled for us to have the opportunity to do a review for Heirloom Audio Productions.  We’ve been listening to the newest radio drama from Heirloom Audio Productions called In the Reign of Terror!  This audio drama captured our imaginations and interest.

For this review, we received the actual audio CDs.  This audio drama is based on a book by G. A. Henty.  It includes action, adventure and more.  The actors and actresses who portray the characters in the drama pulled us into the story.   The soundtrack is riveting as well and fits the mood and plot of the story.  This drama is perfect for homeschooling families who wish to enrich their study of history.  I would caution that parents with young children may want to preview the drama prior to their young children listening to it.  With our family’s youngest member being 14-years-old, this drama was perfect for our family.

The story opens with a young man talking to an older gentleman in Arlington National Cemetry.  The two discuss the American Revolution versus the French Revolution.  The older gentleman makes it clear that the Americans fighting in the American Revolution relied on God and focused on Him.  While the individuals who began the French Revolution did not.

A young man named Harry is sent from England to France as a 16-year-old boy to work for a French aristocratic family.  The story initially finds Harry and his French family he is living with living normal lives.  But things take a turn for the worst when the commoners in France decided to rebel against the aristocracy.  Harry and the Marquis De St Caux find themselves in extreme danger.  Even the Marquis’ children are in extreme peril.

The Marquis enables his daughters and Harry to escape, which results in the Marquis and his mother becoming prisoners of the French commoners. Harry determines to keep his promise to keep the daughters of the Marquis safe and uses the money given to him to achieve that goal.  Ultimately, the Marquis and his mother are put to death and Harry has to make plans to get the girls to safety.  The story then focuses on their harrowing experiences while trying to reach England.

We thoroughly enjoyed this drama and I felt the producers, directors and actors/actresses did an excellent job of bringing the story to life.  We truly felt like we were part of the story.

To go along with the audio dramas, Heirloom Audio Productions has introduced a club called the Live the Adventure Club that includes a wealth of resources.

 


This club includes many valuable resources including a study guide for the drama.  The study guide is available as a download on the Live the Adventure Club site from Heirloom Audio Productions. The study guide offers background information on what is included in the study guide, a background on G. A. Henty, information about Heirloom Audio Productions, a list of the members of the cast and crew, background information on important people during the time of the story – such as Maximillian Robespierre and Marie Antoinette, and other resources to facilitate the study and discussion of the story.

The questions are broken down by disc and tracks on the CD.  The questions include questions for listening well, thinking further and defining words along with opportunities to expand learning and Bible Study as well as additional resources.  Here are some screenshots of pages from the Study Guide.

 

 

 

 

With the Live the Adventure Club, you have the option to purchase the club with a set price being charged every three months.  You receive access to the Club website page that includes a treasury of resources.  These resources include access to the study guide, the Listen and Learn Library, exclusive educational treasures, discounts on all products, a supportive online community as well as exclusive resources and perks that are available only to members.  If you act right now, you can get your first 90 days of membership for only $1, along with the audio drama,  Captain Bayley’s Heir audio CDs as well as instant online access to the digital version so you can begin listening immediately.  After the initial period, you will be charged a set rate and then that same rate every 90 days.

 

Within the club, there are read-along scripts, chapter quizzes, along with the questions and defining words for each chapter.  I believe this would be extremely useful for creating an entire learning experience based around the audio drama.

Our family really enjoyed this audio drama and believe your family will also.  If you would like to read more reviews about In the Reign of Terror from Heirloom Audio Productions, click here or on the graphic below.

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Review of the Mapelle Films’ Movie – Trust Fund

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Today I want to introduce you to the faith-based movie Trust Fund from Mapelle Films.  Our family is always on the lookout for wonderful family films, so I was really excited for our family to review this family drama. I also received a copy of Love Was Near, a book written to be read after watching the movie.  This is a perfect movie for a family movie night.

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The story tells the tale of Reese Donahue, a young aspiring writer, and the struggles and adventures she has.  Jessica Rothe plays the role of Reese and does an incredible job.  Reese is the youngest daughter of parents who own a publishing company.  Reese has her father, Grayson and her older sister Audrey.  Reese is surrounded by people who love her and only want the best for her. However, she becomes involved with a man named Milo, who is not good for her.   She is unable to recognize this fact, unfortunately.

Reese is one of those people who is struggling to find her place in the world.  Her father has his publishing company, and her sister has a job at the publishing firm along with a fiance she apparently loves.  When the movie opens, Reese has just returned from a trip to Italy for a writing conference her father encouraged her to attend.  Unfortunately, while in Italy, Reese becomes involved with a man named Milo she thinks is the love of her life. She spent more time with him and very little time attending the conference that her father meant to help her with the book she was supposed to be completing.

The movie chronicles Reese’s involvement with Milo, her family, a former male friend from her childhood,her publisher from another publishing house, her girlfriend she shares an apartment with along with her father’s secretary and other characters.  It demonstrates the strength of a father’s love and how facing life’s difficulties with people who love you and forgive unconditionally brings resolution.  The movie is a spin on the story of the Prodigal Son told in the Bible.

Issac Alongi produced and was the cinematographer for the film, and was homeschooled himself back in the 1980’s.   He has over 20 years experience in the film industry.  I always love seeing or reading things created by former or current homeschoolers.  The sets and scenery in the movie were incredible.  Here is an excellent article you can read about Issac Alongi.

Sandra L Martin is the writer, director, and producer for the film.  She also wrote the book Love Was Near to be read after watching the movie.  It is meant for those over twelve years old.  The book offers a more in-depth view of what Reese was feeling and thinking.  It seems to be a way help Reese move forward in her life.  I felt the script of the movie was well-executed.

I chose to read the book for the purposes of this review.  The book is written in journal form.   I found the book to be captivating.  It was easy to read.  The book contains portions of text, pictures, quotes, and portions that were done as though they were handwritten in a journal.  Each chapter concludes with questions to be answered.  I loved the fonts used and the attention to detail in the book.

Here are some pictures I took of pages in the book.

 

 

In addition to the film and the book, a study guide is available from the site to be downloaded for use in small groups. You can view the study guide here.  The study guide includes information about the characters in the movie, Bible verses, questions to think about, and sections called “Deep Thoughts”.  These deep thoughts include information about Christianity, comparisons of Reese and the younger brother in the story of the Prodigal Son and more.  There are also photos from the movie.  I found the study guide to be a worthwhile addition to the film and book.

Here are some screenshots I took of some pages from the study guide.

 

If you would like to read more reviews about Mapelle Films‘ movie Trust Fund or the book Love Was Near, click here or on the graphic below.

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A Review of Fascinating Chemistry from Fascinating Education

 

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High school science can be so intimidating for us home schooling families so I was happy for our family to review Fascinating Chemistry from Fascinating Education.  For this review, our sixteen year old son was the one doing the actual coursework.  This is an online course that offers some printable components as well.

I love how easy the website is to navigate.  When the student enters the website for Fascinating Education and login to the members’ area,  the student then selects their correct course by clicking on the correct logo.  Here is a screenshot of that screen.

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So our son would select Fascinating Chemistry from the list by clicking on it.  In this case, it is important to pay attention to the fact there are two Chemistry courses – the one we are reviewing along with one that indicates it is a pre-course for Biology.

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The next screen that displays lists all of the lessons.  For Fascinating Chemistry, each lesson offers slideshows for the lesson, the script for the lesson, and a computerized version of the test for each lesson.  I appreciated the way this screen is laid out.  It is easy to see each lesson along with the components for each lesson.  So if we wanted to complete the lesson using a three-day schedule, the first two days could be spent watching the videos and completing any exercises for that lesson.  Then the last day could be used for taking the lesson quiz.  I appreciated how the scripts for every lesson are provided.  This allows for easy notetaking and also for review.

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In a separate section under the members tab, there is an option for Chemistry labs.   The instructions were well-written and appear to be easy to follow.  I liked how at the top of the page for the labs a clear safety warning was provided that indicates adult supervision is necessary for these labs.  The labs seemed to require items that were easily obtainable.  I would have liked for a complete lab supply list to be provided so that all the needed supplies could be purchased at one time.  Because I prefer my husband to do any science labs with our children, we decided to hold off and do the labs during his vacation later in the summer.  So look for us to post more about that sometime in late August to early September.

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As my son watched the slideshows, he was disappointed that he did not have an option to view the lessons in full-screen mode.  Like my son, for videos like this, I would prefer to have the option of watching the videos in full-screen since it makes it easier to see.

There are several things I would have liked to have with this course.  The first would have been the ability to watch the slides in full-screen.  I also would have appreciated some kind of grade book or the ability to have scores emailed to me for the tests.  This would allow for easier recordkeeping.  Without some kind of record, it could be difficult to provide proof of his scores.

But otherwise, I have to say we were very pleased with the course overall.  I felt the material was explained and the videos were well done.  The course outlines, lab instructions and PDF versions of the tests and answer keys were all easy to read and to follow the instructions for overall.  For a student that is not going into a science field, this course is perfect.  However, if a student is planning on going on to a science-type field, it may be better to look at some other options.

Fascinating Education also offers courses for Biology, a Chemistry Pre-Course for Biology, Fascinating Physics, Fascinating Anatomy & Physiology, and Fascinating Logic of Medicine.  If you would like to read more reviews of either Fascinating Chemistry or some of the other courses offered by Fascinating Education, click here or on the graphic below.

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Review of Hewitt Homeschooling’s Lighting Lit & Comp – Shakespeare Tragedies & Sonnets

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With Shakespeare Tragedies from Hewitt Homeschooling high school students develop stronger composition skills while learning literary concepts to increase understanding how to read deeply.  For quite a few years, our second son – age 18 – has enjoyed reading Shakespeare for fun.  So when I saw the opportunity this review for Hewitt Homeschooling come up, I knew we had to take this opportunity.  For the purposes of this review, we receive the Teacher’s Guide and the Student manual that is consumable.  Four additional books are required in the unabridged form.  Those books are Julius Caesar, Hamlet, Macbeth and King Lear.   This course is intended for students in grades 11 and 12.

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Hewitt Homeschooling offers this as a complete pack, which includes the Teacher’s Guide, the Student Guide, and the four books.  Or if you already own or can acquire the four books by William Shakespeare, you can just order the two guides.  The Student Guide is consumable.  So if you are going to have more than one student do the course, then each student will need their own student guide.

The Teacher’s Guide includes an Introduction, grading tips, and other relevant information about the course.  Checklists for various types of papers are included as well.  Grading templates are provided as well to help guide the teacher in what should be expected from their students.  I was impressed with the sample page of grading that was provided.  Here are some pictures of the inside of the Teacher’s Guide.

The student will be completing assignments including vocabulary, comprehension questions, and written papers.  Fortunately, the Teacher’s Guide provides a place to quickly and easily record all these scores in one place to make recordkeeping and scoring easy to complete. The guide also provides a weekly schedule for a semester or a year depending on your preference.  Each week the students are required to read and do certain activities. The schedules in the Teacher’s Guide clearly lay out the requirements for each week.

If you or your student prefer a daily schedule, the bullet points for each week will allow your family to adjust the expectations. For week 1, our son read the Introduction and the section on Williams Shakespeare in the guide.  So this could be done on one day.  Then the second day, he read the introduction to Unit 1, Lesson 1 for Julius Caesar.  Finally, the third day he had to read in Julius Caesar and answer the comprehension questions.  So this would easily break down into three days of work.

Here are some sample pages of the Student Guide.

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My son loves reading Shakespeare for enjoyment.  While he thought this course was well done, he would prefer to just read the book without the extra work.  But, my husband desires to learn how to analyze literature.  So this week, he has picked up the Student Guide and started reading it.  I have a feeling he will be the one to actually complete the course.  We also have two other children who may find this course in their schedule in the future.

In addition to this course, Hewitt Homeschooling offers curriculum choices for elementary students right on up to high school students.  They offer courses including Literature, Math-It, Winston-Grammar, State Chronicles and more.   One selection I would like our 14-year-old daughter and 16-year-old son to complete is their Speech Course.

Another service Hewitt Homeschooling offers is a paper evaluation service.  For a set price, your student will get up to 24 papers evaluated.  This personalized evaluation would be a welcome addition for any parents who do not wish to grade their students’ own papers.  This service is available for junior high and high school students.  All in all I have to say I was impressed with this curriculum and the idea of the paper evaluation service- even if my son was not as entralled by it as me.

If you would like to read more reviews for Shakespeare Tragedies or other choices offered by Hewitt Homeschooling, click here or on the image below.

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Review of Homeschool Buyers Co-op’s Homeschool Planet

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Over the years I have used a variety of homeschool planners.  However, one that reaches the top of my list is Homeschool Planet. With Homeschool Planet from Homeschool Buyers Co-op, I can do so much more than just creating assignments!  I love being a member of Homeschool Buyers Co-op for many reasons.  But this planner has to be at the top of my list.

Of course, to sign up for this marvelous planner, you first have to be a member of the Homeschool Buyers Co-op.  But it is free to join, and the opportunities available to members including discounted curriculum choices are fabulous.  Although you have to pay to use this planner, I love the peace of mind that comes from having everything online.  I do not have to worry about losing a paper planner or having something that spills on it and ruin it that way.

Right now, if you sign up for a new Homeschool Planet free trial, you will receive a free lesson plan of your choice from the Homeschool Planet Lesson Plan Marketplace.  This is an incredible value.  These already-done-for-you lesson plans provide opportunities to adapt to your schedule and your desires.  You simply purchase the lesson plan, wait the allotted time, log into your subscription to Homeschool Planet, select lesson plans and then add the lesson plan to your schedule.  You can customize it however you need it done.  The system will even tell you if there are not enough days to complete the course.  You can even choose what students will be assigned the course.  Then once the 30 day trial period is over, you can subscribe using either a monthly subscription or a yearly subscription. However, you need to subscribe by the end of June to get the free lesson plan.

For our family, I selected the Words that Matter Lesson plan because it is a complete vocabulary program that I plan to incorporate our state’s requirement of spelling into with little effort.  The fact that this is a complete lesson plan, meaning no additional books or other resources are required makes things easier.  I was able to just select it, wait the allotted time and then add it to our lesson plans and assign it to our three children still in high school.  I can not wait for our children to use this plan in the fall.

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I love things that make my life simpler, and this planner does it.  It allows me to record all the events going on in our lives and even assign them to different people.  Here is a shot of part of today.

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I really appreciate the ability to color-code the things that are going on in our lives.  I can assign things to one family member for anything from chores to lessons to appointments and more.  With the different colors, I can easily glance at the calendar and know who is doing what.  I decided to have my calendar set to where I can see everyone’s schedule on mine.  This way I know what everyone is doing.  I am pleased that I am able to create separate logins for each member of the family.  Depending on the age of your children, you may want to allow this or not. My youngest child is going to turn 15 this year, so I plan on allowing our children to have their own access and be able to make changes to their own calendars.  Obviously, for my husband, I would do the same.  They have the ability to mark assignments as complete, which to me is a wonderful thing.

Here are some screen shots of my various family members.

Another thing I love about digital planners like this one is the ability to easily change dates for assignments without having the headaches of a paper planner.  I can easily select a subject from the planner and move assignments around if needed.  Here are some screen shots.

I definitely recommend this planner if you are looking for an easy way to keep track of everything in one place.  You can select widgets to help manage your family’s life such as shopping lists and to-do lists.  You can select widgets with a quote of the day or shopping lists, books you are reading and more.  So take a look at this wonderful program.  Do not forget by signing up now you can select a free lesson plan, but remember this offer is for a limited time. So visit Homeschool Buyers Co-op to find out more about Homeschool Planet.

If you would like to read more reviews, click here or on the graphic below.

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