Monday, November 1, 2021

Frankenstein Study Guide -- My REVIEW

Progeny Press

Disclosure: I received this complimentary product through the Homeschool Review Crew    

Literature can be such an enjoyable subject for the homeschooler! Learning to read and enjoy different works is an adventure and an exploration that often takes the student (and maybe the homeschooling parent!) out of their comfort zones. Progeny Press has created study guides for different works of literature-the one I received to review is the Frankenstein Study Guide and it is a great help for the student wishing to understand the book more fully. 

This Frankenstein study that I got to review is a .pdf study guide--easy to use, and fillable and save-able! It opens easily in the Adobe reader and is very self-explanatory as far as use goes.

There is a nice clickable table of contents so that you do not need to scroll through the entire guide to get to the section that you are working on. This is something that shows the creators are interested in making this very easy to use.

The study guide, itself, is mostly for the student to use. There is a section at the beginning to introduce the instructors to the material, which is nice. The study guide is intended to be used for 8-10 weeks, or for 1/4 high school literature credit (it's nice that they let you know this!)

The book, itself, is not included with the study guide. It is recommended that students read through the book quickly in the first week, and there are several activities which they can do to prep them for reading and understanding the book.

The study guide, then, takes the student through the sections of the book, a few chapters per week. Some of the exercises are learning the vocabulary (through a variety of methods--keeps it interesting for the student!), answering questions about the actual story, as well as answering thought/analysis questions. This is agreat combination of allowing the student to understand the actual language, comprehend the story, and process the action or narrative through thinking more deeply about it.

Most of the activities and questions have a fillable section where the student can type their responses right into the document and save them on their computer. Of course, if you are a person who would prefer to print them out, that is always an option--and the student can then write their answers on the pages. There are a couple of things that need to be printed out to complete (I like the idea of this diagram-less crossword puzzle!) but most of it can be done on the computer. 

In the introductory materials, the student is given a list of things they will need for this study guide, including a dictionary (which they will use a lot in the vocabulary sections!) and a Bible. 
In the "Digging Deeper" section, students are asked to really process the idea of a theme, find examples of it in the Bible, and find examples of it in current events--then wrap those ideas together. 

The Frankenstein Study Guide by Progeny Press gives students a great opportunity to not only read this classic piece of literature, but also to understand it--its context, its themes, its language, its relevancy, and more. The authors of this study guide have crafted an easy-to-use product that students will find manageable. I definitely recommend this product!

Progeny Press has created many study guides, and some members of the Review Crew had reviewed some of these as well--check out their reviews by clicking on the link below:

Progeny Press Literature Study Guides

Wednesday, October 13, 2021

Bible Breakdowns -- my REVIEW

Disclosure: I received this complimentary product through the Homeschool Review Crew   

An overview of something is often a very good resource. It is a good idea to look at the "big picture" and not just the smaller details and interactions. Bible Breakdowns by Teach Sunday School  is a great resource of this type!

Teach Sunday School

The Bible Breakdowns product is a one-page (a few have two pages) overview of one book of the Bible. There are breakdowns for each book of the Old Testament and each book of the New Testament. 

The breakdown page begins with the book title and its placement within the Bible (such as Luke|03 NT. This is followed by a quick narrative summary of background information in one to three short paragraphs. This tells a little bit about the setting of the book and background information which will help the reader understand some of the themes of the book.

There is a little "bullet point" type listing of the numbers of chapters, the type of literature, the date the book was written, the time period covered in the book, and the author. 

The next section, the "breakdowns" is like an outline of the book, section by section. This is basically a listing of the themes or stories and their references. Some of these are highlighted as "classic" Bible stories.

At the end of each of the breakdowns, there is a list of most popular verses from this book of the Bible. I'm not really sure how this part (most popular) is determined, but it is there.

These Bible breakdowns are a great resource. I was thinking of different ways that they can be used--first of all, for my own personal Bible reading time--the corresponding Bible Breakdown is a nice thing to look over--historical context is always helpful! Another use is as a reference--you can scan through the sections and hopefully find what you are looking for. It would be a help to preparing Sunday School lessons--with the sections already segmented for you. It could be a help to a student studying the Old and New Testament. 

Resources such as this may be used differently by different people! One thing to note is that these files are digital. There is also a statement in the front of them that, "You are able to print as many times as you would like for personal, family, or single church/school use." This is a really nice thing--you can use it with your whole class if so desired. These Bible Study Printables can be used by people of all ages (readers).

If you'd like to read the information and reviews by others, please click on the link below!

Boob-by-Book Bible Study Printable Breakdowns

Thursday, September 9, 2021

WORLD Watch -- my REVIEW

 Disclosure: I received this complimentary product through the Homeschool Review Crew  

Where do you get your news? Do you listen to the radio or watch it on television? My family seems to get bits and pieces here and there, but this latest product is really helping us to stay current with the news. WORLD Watch is a short (around ten minutes) newscast online that we have been enjoying this past month. This is a paid subscription product, so families who wish to view their news through these videos will choose the length of time that they subscribe. 

Our family has been long-time fans of WORLD news group and we know that this company has delivered high quality Biblically sound news stories to our family through magazines for years now. It was no surprise that the news videos by them are of the same high quality, broad spectrum, and enjoyed by all.

I know that this is produced for teens or youth, but frankly, my husband is probably the largest fan of these newscasts in our family. He has not really been one to follow the news, but he has been making time (it's just ten minutes!) to watch these WORLD Watch news videos either on his lunchtime at work or else as soon as he gets home from work. He enjoys learning about what's going on in the world--and from a viewpoint that he does not have to question or beware of. 

My seventeen year old daughter and I have each been watching these newscasts as well (or sometimes just watching a news story). They are very professionally made and are engaging and interesting. The company is a Christian company and the stories are not something that you would want to cover over your child's eyes or plug their ears--they are appropriate yet share what is going on in the world. Now, just because they are Christian does not mean that this is religious news or focuses on Christianity--they just uphold standards of truth and appropriateness that may be appreciated by all.

There is a new newscast every week day and if you happen to miss one, you can go back and watch it--they do not just "disappear." There is a brief overview in the text below the video, and the stories are available even after their broadcast date. 

Most of the stories are those that dominate our society today--news of the world, news of our country, news of politics and more. There are focused stories as well to give you a taste of different parts of our world. 

If you visit their website, they currently have a deal going on where you can try this product for thirty days, which seems like a very generous thing to do--you should be able to decide if it is for you  and your family within thirty days!

So yes, we are big fans of this service. It is a paid service, so check out the costs along with checking out your free trial. Please click on the link below, as well, to read other homeschooling families' thoughts on WORLD Watch.

World News That Builds Biblical Discernment

Wednesday, September 1, 2021

ACT Mom -- my REVIEW

Disclosure: I received this complimentary product through the Homeschool Review Crew  

Is your student thinking about college? If so, you have probably entered the world of college admissions standardized tests--the ACT and the SAT (well, now there's the CLT also!). I'm not sure about you, but when I was in high school, we just took one or the other, whichever one our college required, and we took it once. Well, nowadays, it is much more common for students to take both and even to take the tests multiple times, seeking to reach their desired scores. 

I know that my nieces and nephews who are in traditional schools have had classes in school to help with test prep--and there are many other classes that you can take, tutors and such, to help your child prepare for these tests. You  might ask why would a student try to raise their score on the tests? Well, personally speaking, my two children who are now in college have taken the tests multiple times in attempts to raise their scores to qualify for certain scholarships. Not being in a traditional school, my two older students did not take any test preparation courses. Now it's my youngest daughter's turn to be looking at colleges, and she did get a score that she has used to be accepted into her choice college--but she, again, wants to raise her score to qualify for a certain scholarship. She and I were both thrilled to have the opportunity to use and review a product called ACT Mom Online Class by ACT Mom.

The ACT Mom

So let me just jump right in here and say YESSSSSSSS! We love this product!!!

Okay, now to get back to the review :) 

The ACT Mom Online Class is a thorough test prep course for high school students. It has an online component (videos and resources) and a notebook of test questions in page protectors and a cool little set of a dry erase marker, a cloth for erasing, and sticky notes. 

In the videos, the instructor (yup, a mom!) speaks to students in a very encouraging way and walks them through what the problems are, what they mean, and how to come up with the correct answer for them!

She uses the same resources that the student has in front of them and the student can go right through an entire test, trying the questions and then listening to the explanations. The explanations are very clear, easy to understand, easy to follow. When it is a concept that your student is a bit foggy on, the explanations make it much more clear. 

The videos are short bits, easy to watch quickly and easy to watch several at a time, depending upon the speed with which you wish to move through the course. My daughter is going to re-take the ACT this fall and is planning to go through all of them (even the ones she has already viewed) again over the course of several weeks. There are sections paralleling each of the sections in the actual ACT--math, science (lots of graphs!), English, and reading. 
You might be thinking, well, isn't the test supposed to gauge their knowledge from a whole life of schooling? Yes, I suppose, but truthfully I don't think that is how it works nowadays. The ability to answer the test questions is what is being tested. This course is perfectly suited for that.

Here's what my daughter had to say about the course (she just turned 17) I liked this course a lot! Taking the ACT can be really daunting, with different sections, weird questions, and the stress. This course breaks it down, shows you the patterns of the test, and what to look out for. She provides practice tests and a binder, marker, etc. She is a down to earth instructor, who knows the ACT is hard, but shows how we can succeed at it. I really like this course and will keep using it before I take the ACT again!

I really love that this program is made by a mom, that she is totally professional (as is her site and products) and she is a real person--not a corporation--and not somebody that starts out by saying something like, "I'm so smart that I aced the ACT and I'll tell you how I did it." Instead, she shares that her own children took the test multiple times and she has developed this program to help teens to succeed. She does offer in-person sessions, but the online one is perfect for us as we are far away from where she is and my student can use it on her own timeline.

It's a great product. I highly recommend this ACT Mom Online Course . It is non-intimidating, very matter of fact, and the explanations are so helpful. I especially liked her handling of graphs and interpreting of them (that can be tough if you're not used to reading graphs!)

Please click on the link below to read about other families' thoughts about this product--and again--definitely check it out! We are so excited to see how this helps improve my daughter's score (she just has to raise it 2 points, I think)!

Test Prep with The ACT Mom

Thursday, August 19, 2021

It's NOT Greek to Me! -- my REVIEW

Disclosure: I received this complimentary product through the Homeschool Review Crew 

When I initially read the name of the product that we were able to review, It's NOT Greek to Me!, I did not think that I was interested in it at all. I am not really a Latin & Greek type homeschooler--I admire those folks who are, but it's just not us. So I thought...Greek...uhhhhhh...but when I found out what this course is about, I was so happy that we had the opportunity to use it! It's NOT Greek to Me! by Alene H. Harris and produced by Ready To Teach is not actually a Greek curriculum like you might use if you were interested in learning to translate the New Testament, but it is actually a course about using Greek morphemes to understand and use words better (morphemes are what I have usually called root words and prefixes/suffixes). More than a third of our words in English have Greek roots--and by learning these morphemes, one's understanding of the English language increases more and more! 

Ready to Teach

I will also remind you that a lot of scientific terminology is based in the Greek language as well, so learning the Greek morphemes helps with science learning as well! (Okay, I bet you're figuring out already that I like this curriculum!)

The curriculum itself is a student workbook and a teacher's manual--and a USB drive with powerpoints on it. We also received a hole punch and a ring for flashcards. The books are softcover.

The teacher's manual begins with an explanation of the course and a suggested plan for using the lessons over a five-day week. The expectations are clearly laid out and there's even a chart to make it easier to follow day to day.

I mentioned above that there are powerpoint lessons on the usb. These lessons introduce students to the morphemes for each lesson and walk the student through different steps of learning them. One thing that I really thought was helpful is that the student is prompted to think of words that he/she already knows that include those morphemes. This can help them in understanding the meaning and in retaining the definitions of the word parts. I would also like to point out here that the powerpoints are not just static plain slides for the student to read, but they are crafted in such a way that as the student goes through them they almost feel as if they are viewing a video presentation. The slides have animations and build upon each other and definitely keep the students' interest! 

Words are introduced to students and the parts are explained. The student can use the workbook right alongside the slides and fill in the definitions as they are shown.

In further assignments, students "work" words which means taking apart their sections and figuring out the definition of the words from the morphemes and then checking to see if they got it by comparing them to a dictionary definition. Students also use the morphemes to make up their own words--and make the corresponding definitions :) 

The course seems to make use of many different ways of learning. There are slides on the computer, there is note-taking, there is association with words that are already known, there is writing (I am such a big proponent of using the physical-ness of writing to learn things!), there is constructing flashcards and reviewing them, and more. 

There is a serial story, as well, that utilizes new words in context for the student to read and understand. 

The feel of the whole course is that it is fun, not intimidating, but do-able. I know that might sound like I am stretching it, but honestly it is! To illustrate that, my youngest child who is going into her senior year (which is already very full) asked if we can continue this course throughout the schoolyear so that she can complete it (of course I said yes!)

My daughter wanted to share her thoughts about the course as well: I really liked the "it's not Greek to me!" Course. When I'm reading, if a word I don't know is used, I often won't take the time to figure it out. I'll skip over that word, maybe missing the main point of the sentence. With this course, it teaches skills on how to recognize different parts of words, what they mean, and how to understand a word with a jumble of prefixes, suffixes, etc. 
I think this is an important skill to have---- being able to quickly and correctly identify the meaning of a strange word.

I think that when we use the rest of the course throughout the schoolyear, we might not use the 5 days a week format, just because we are going to squeeze it in where we can--but she will certainly do the remaining lessons! The five-day-a-week format is a twelve week plan, but you are free to use it as you wish. 

I forgot to mention the instructor's manual. I really appreciate that it contains not only answers to the tests, but also answers to working the words and more. The instructor's manual makes it a much less parent-heavy course. 

I really like this course and I definitely recommend it. At least in our family, the focus on "root words" was more in the younger elementary years and kind of fell off as the kids got older--but this is really a time that they need this! The course is easy to use (and easy for a student to use independently) and the outcomes are very important and helpful for their future knowledge. 

If you would like to hear what other families have to say about  It's NOT Greek to Me! please click on the graphic link below!

Learn Greek Vocabulary with Ready to Teach

Thursday, August 12, 2021

Comprehensive Record Solution -- my REVIEW

 Disclosure: I received this complimentary product through the Homeschool Review Crew

I have been homeschooling my children for almost ten years. As my students got older, I admit that I did freak out a little bit about things like transcripts and other requirements--there are so many things to be thinking about and so many variations on the topic! Even now, having graduated two homeschool kiddos (who are now in college), I still hear from people that they are so nervous about grades, records, and such. Lee Binz, of The HomeScholar, LLC, is ready and waiting to help homeschooling parents out with these questions and many more that you may not have even contemplated yet! 

I was given the opportunity to review a product called Comprehensive Record Solution which contains the answers to many of these questions.

The HomeScholar


The author, Lee Binz, basically teaches classes to parents about how to successfully document your child's education and how to present that to the audience who needs it (college admissions offices, scholarship boards, etc.)

The courses contain video/audio lessons by Lee and accompanying worksheets/booklets that the parent may print and fill out or follow along with as they listen. 

There are lots of great talks and resources in the Comprehensive Record Solution,  which cover so many of homeschooling parent's concerns and worries. In the "bonus" section there are guides for what you should aim for in each grade, beginning in middle school and going up through senior year. She includes important things like when to take standardized tests and when to fill out the FAFSA!

The actual course for parents has four main sections, after an introduction of the author and explanation of the course (nice to have the overview in a quick video!) The different sections of the course teach parents what are the important things to take into account, they provide templates, examples, and success stories, they allow parents to try things out on their own (writing course descriptions and more), and they even allow a bit of personal evaluation!

I'm kind of on the other end of this right now (makes me sound O-L-D, huh?!) and I have already made my own transcript pattern that I've followed for all 3 kiddos. I wish I HAD seen this course years ago--I think it would have saved me a lot of frustration and hardship. I'm sure you can imagine me sitting with my daughter, trying to remember which years exactly it was that she began participating in robotics, or which year she took the winter weekend course about cybersecurity. Or maybe you're envisioning my son and I working for weeks on a list of all of the volunteer things that he had participated in over the past four years--and when exactly they were and how many hours per month they were! Lots of scrap paper and looking back at old calendars, for sure! (In case you're wondering, those were for scholarshi applications, not transcripts!)

In the Comprehensive Record Solution, Lee Binz shares with parents which things they ought to keep track of and how the best ways are to keep track of them. She does not teach a one-size-fits-all plan but acknowledges the variety and variations that exist among students and homeschools and helps parents maximize what they have in their own situation. 

The course is pretty lengthy, and you will want to complete it all! Besides just the four main modules, there are many bonus features, which are another huge amount of material, referencing the big transcript question as well as other writings and presentations that she has done. 

The cost is not bad, especially when you consider that you will have lifetime access and you can use these concepts with all of your children.

I really like listening to Lee Binz speak. She is very down-to-earth and makes you feel like, yes! you can do this! She is not all theory, but there are templates and samples to follow. She makes you feel like she's a buddy sharing her amazing secrets with you. 

Take it from me, on the other end of the high school thing--I wish I had used this program with my own kids instead of stumbling through, being surprised and anxious about different things. 

You should definitely not be afraid of homeschooling your child through high school--and with these tools at your fingertips you will not even dread what sometimes seems like a huge hurdle of record-keeping. So many people seem to worry about this aspect of homeschooling, and the Comprehensive Record Solution will give you the confidence to just do it and not worry about it! I certainl recommend the Comprehensive Record Solution!

Other members of our review crew reviewed this product and others, including the Total Transcript Solution, High School Solution, and College Launch Solution. Be sure to click on the link below to read their thoughts about these programs!

Homeschool High School to College with The HomeScholar

Wednesday, August 4, 2021

Dyslexia Gold -- my REVIEW

Disclosure: I received this complimentary product through the Homeschool Review Crew

 A recent product that I was given access to in order to share my thoughts in a review is called Dyslexia Gold . No one in my family has been diagnosed with dyslexia, but I was interested to see more about the product and what it contained, and what claims it makes for helping children with dyslexia.

Dyslexia Gold
When you look at the website for the Dyslexia Gold product, before you even log in, there is a lot of information for those wishing to find out more about dyslexia. 
Reading through this information, I was very interested to read some things about some of the issues associated with dyslexia. When my son was little, he had a tracking problem, which was attributed to low muscle tone in his eyes. Going along with that, the eye doctor could also not pull his vision in to 20/20 until he was about sixteen. I'll talk more about this below :) I was also interested to read about the issues with binocular vision. For ever, I have not really had binocular vision--one eye is crazy dominant and the other just kind of hangs behind :) This is not usually a problem to me, other than trying to look in a binocular microscope or shooting, or things that use both eyes at once. I guess until I was pretty old I never realized that not everyone sees like I do. I think because of this, I do not like going to 3D movies, because I still look mostly out of one eye and the 3D glasses are made for using both eyes. I'll also refer to this below! So--although we do not have dyslexia (I think!) -- and don't have many of the other issues associated with it, these few segments hit home.

When the user logs in to the program, they can choose between four areas for their child to work in. There is a spelling program which claims to improve spelling greatly; there is a vision tracking program, full of fun games; there is a math (times tables) practice; and there is a fluency (reading) program. There are different activities in each section and they build upon each other as the student progresses and improves. The parent can view the student's progress and activity easily.

There are particular things that you can select, on the parent side. This is a program from England (I think!) and you will notice an accent in the spoken words; the parent can select American, British, or Scottish for the accent of the words. I had American chosen, and will note that there is still a bit of an accent, but it is not really too much of a problem, though for some of the spelling words you might have to make sure your student understands them (see my picture of what afternoon sounded like to me--if I were trying to sound out the word, it was different)

Anyhow, my kids are older now, college and upper high school, so the spelling, times tables, and reading were not really applicable to them (and they did not want to try them). The Vision Training section, on the other hand, was pretty fun :) with games like whack-a-mole and target shooting using 3D glasses. It was very interesting to me to see my child without vision issues use the target shooting game versus me, who had a difficult time using it. I think I could probably benefit from using this part of the program myself!

When my son was 6 years old (he is now 19), he was found to have tracking problems, right around the same time that he got glasses. To accomodate this and to help him strengthen his eye muscles (which were viewed as the cause of his tracking issues), we had these little monster finger puppets and we did eye exercises with them for five minutes a day. This continued on for a year and his tracking seemed to have improved, thankfully. (Another exercise he did was word searches, that was viewed as a helpful exercise for him as well.) I can see how the games and activities in this program within Dyslexia Gold . serve those same purposes and can be done independently. Looking back, I'm not sure that I would have wanted a computer doing this, instead of the time we spent each day together doing the exercises, but I'm sure it would have been a good supplement. 

So this review brought up some very interesting topics to our family :) And some reminiscences. If you have a child with dyslexia or tracking issues, you might want to look into this program. There are many options and it is a year-long subscription. At least check out the information on the home page--it is very helpful and informative!

If you'd like to hear more about Dyslexia Gold and other homeschooling families' thoughts about it, please click on the link below:

Dyslexia Gold