Friday, June 26, 2015

Circle C Adventures Schoolhouse Review Crew Review 2015 #hsreviews #hsmommas

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Tales of the Circle C Ranch Bookk Review
My son Alyx and I are hooked on Susan K. Marlow's books from the Circle C Adventures. I even had the pleasure of meeting Mrs. Marlow at the homeschool convention I went to in Cincinnati this past Spring along with her sweet husband. I loved getting to know her and enjoyed hearing about the rest of her books that we have not had the pleasure of reading yet. One of them she talked about was Andrea Carter's Tales from the Circle C Ranch. She told me a secret.... It was going to be a upcoming review for the crew. She assured me I would not want to miss out. So I was on the lookout for it to come up on the schedule and I was sure to beg for an opportunity to review it so Alyx and I could get a chance to read it. We were also given Andrea Carter's Tales from the Circle C Ranch Learning Lapbook. This is perfect for 3-6 graders and some a little younger with help and some a little older too.
This is a bridging book of sorts to link from the younger kids series to the older line of books for middle school and beyond, like I said I love reading all about Andi and her adventures just as much as the kids. 
So this book began as answers to reader's questions that were formulated from the other books. 
As I began reading this book, I got to meet Andi's Father, I was taken on an adventure with Andi and her friend Jenny in Washington Territory. I also learned all about the 4th of July race. Also since the time period puts young ladies and mature ones too in dresses, I found out why and when Andi was finally allowed to wear coveralls. That's a fun story.
I also found out if she was able to get the bad news boyfriend or "beau" out of her sister Melinda's life. It was an adventurous ride just like all of the other books we have read. It is hard to put down once you begin reading and it is such a refreshing enjoyable read. Girls and boys alike in grades 3-6 especially will love this book. You can start with this one of begin with the series Circle C Beginnings, then move onto Circle C Adventures, then next in line is where this book fits in and then finally as your kids mature or gain reading experience or you, yourself want to continue your adventure you will move onto Circle C Milestones. More for Middle Schoolers although Alyx and I both enjoy all the books. 
You can really start anywhere in the books. One thing I guarantee you from personal experience, you will want to go back to the beginning to read all of the books from the start. They really are quite addicting, in a very good way. I thought this particular book was a great gateway that connects the middle series books to the newer books in the Milestone series. Answering a lot of questions that do not really get answered in any of the other books. Kids are curious( well I am too) and it was fun to learn more about Andi and her family and friends.
Like I mentioned above we also received the lapbook that is the companion to the book Andrea Carter's Tales from Circle C Ranch. Constructing and completing lapbooks is a ton of fun, my boys still like to do lapbooks for different topics and we have moved up to notebooking, which is more writing than the lapbooks entail. Using the accompanying lapbook as you read or after your read a book, especially one like Tales from the Circle C Ranch, it truly enriches the experience of the book. Bringing it more to life and letting the students dive into different areas of the book, in this particular lapbook some of the topics covered are...
1800's General Store
History of Fireworks
State Fairs
History of Photography
The Apothecary Shop
These are just a few of the many topics covered in the lapbook, now we did not complete the lapbook but we did take several of the topics covered in the lapbook including the ones I mentioned above and we researched them together and discussed them in depth. We learned so much and it truly gave us a deeper appreciation for the time period of the books. Do you know how fireworks began? I sure didn't but we do now! 
Tales of the Circle C Ranch Bookk Review
We highly recommend this book as well as all of the others from Circle C Beginnings through Circle C Milestones and all of the ones in between. They are great for girls as well as boys and are a must for any horse lover in your life. These would make a great addition to your homeschool library and maybe a gift for the first day of the new school year. It is never too early to think about Christmas either, we are half way there. What better stocking stuffer than a great book or two or three.
Check out the social media links below and also click the banner to read all of the other crew reviews for the book.

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Wednesday, June 24, 2015

SmartKidz Media Schoolhouse Review Crew Review 2015 #hsmommas #hsreviews

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SmartKidz Media Review
Are you interested in finding safe video content that can be streamed anywhere,anytime? SmartKidz Media offers just that and so much more, We were given a one year subscription to their SmartKidz Media Library for Homeschoolers you can get a membership too for just $99.00 per year. 
Here is a sample of what you get in your subscription. 
There are many categories to choose from and many more coming soon as well as more interactive games. There is something for all ages and this is totally fine to let children 13 and up have free reign over the choices but with younger kids you would probably want to use with your direct supervision. 
The colored tabs at the top of the page are the headings that when you hover over them they show you the all there is for that area. Take World of Discovery which is the purple tab to the left. This unlocks Science, History, Animals, Documentaries and Culture, as well as Nature and so much more.
There is also a tab for Quick Find Study Guides, this tab is the Green one. Here there are helpful study guides for Science, Math, Language Arts and Social Studies and coming soon, Accounting and Foreign Language. I am pretty excited for the Accounting one as I think that would go great with our Economics class in the Fall.

After you click which study guide you want to use then there are topics within the theme. You click one by one and it gives key points for the topic.

For example English Grammar. the first tab gives a brief overview of what Grammar is and then talks about how things are color emphasized in the following study sections with red and blue words. The next topic is about nouns. Your student is given the definition of what a noun is and then there are several sentences for examples for them to grasp or refresh the concept.

My boys particularly were excited about the vast array of History Videos. They started with the Cold War. There are 6 videos on this topic alone. 

The boys felt the videos were well done and they found them quite interesting and engaging. We were just beginning our Summer "school" schedule, this means lighter workloads and more videos and fun things, so this fit perfectly with that. I basically gave the boys free use of the site and let them explore and use it as much as they wanted. I found them watching many of the videos a few days per week. They were excited to see all of the coming soon categories and hope that they are all in place for Fall when we get back in the full swing of our normal school schedule. 

I feel this will be a valuable asset for finding videos with content that ties into what we are studying at any given time. I also feel the boys will utilize the study guides for many if not all of their subjects. I think Taylor will get the most use out of it as he needs refreshing for many of his subjects on a regular basis. 
I do feel that there is way more for younger kids, since mine are in high school these did not help us any but I could see many of our friends with younger kids getting a ton of enjoyment and use out if this. 
There are games and ebooks and songs and videos for all ages. I liked watching the ones about all of the animals. I love watching real animals in their natural habitat. 
In the games section there are some jigsaw puzzles that are interactive and are pretty fun, but a tad too easy for my boys or adults. Like I said though, there is plenty to keep them busy but definitely a wider range for younger elementary and middle school aged kids. 

I like how it can be streamed to any device. we use our ipad a lot so this is extremely beneficial. Using their online cloud you can add content and then access it on the go later. This will be great for car trips and camping. 

All in all we have enjoyed using the service that SmartKidz media offered us as homeschoolers and will continue to use it and look forward to all of the new content that they will be bringing us soon. By signing up for the newsletter I will always be alerted as soon as new content is added as well as being kept in the know of what else is new and coming soon. 
You can sign up for a 2 week free trial on their website and see for yourself how much is really there for all the different age groups and also to see what will be coming in the near future.
Visit SmartKids Media's social media links below as well as click on the banner to read all of the crew reviews. 

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Thursday, June 18, 2015

CTC Math Schoolhouse Review Crew Review 2015 #hsreviews #hsmommas #hsmath

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CTCMath Review

    Math in the Summer months is more of a review, and during the school year I almost always looking for ways to refresh skills the boys, mostly Taylor (who needs extra Math help) have learned to keep them fresh in their minds. So I was curious to try out and review CTC MATH. A virtual  online Math Tutor of sorts. Covering all areas of Math from Kindergarten to Trigonometry. That is a very comprehensive span.  We were given the 12 Month Family Plan that is geared to homeschoolers.

   This program arrived just in time for us to begin our Summer schedule. Lighter workloads, more online refresher type programs and games and hands on learning. So first things first, how do you get started? You head over to CTC and either start your free trial or sign right up for a membership. You create a parent log in. Here is where you will add 1-10 children and create user names and passwords for each child. Make it something easy for them to remember. We always use something like part of their name and the last 2 digits of their birth year for the username and then our family school password. This makes it less confusing for the kids when we have multiple logins for online programs for school. Helps to keep us organized.

    You set the parameters as far as what a passing score would be and then you are set to have your kids login. Here they have an option, logging in on the computer which has a flash player installed or picking the other option which does not require a flash player and you are then able to log onto a tablet or ipad. This makes it great for logging in on the go.

  Once the children are ready to login they pick the level they want to start with, I started Taylor with Algebra I and Alyx with Geometry.  We used this 3x a week for the last several weeks and so far they are not frustrated or bored, this is something we often run into problems with in the first couple weeks. So I think it is safe to say this is a keeper.

   The student picks the level and then the section and then the teacher starts talking and showing step by step what the steps are for what they will be working on. Highlighting the areas on the screen. For Taylor this was extremely helpful. He is a visual learner through and through and this helped make certain things click that he has been struggling with wrapping his head around. If he needed something repeated that was not a problem at all.

 After the lesson was complete and a few sample problems were demonstrated it was time for the worksheet.  They clicked the worksheet button and it popped up on the screen. For my boys levels it was best to print out the worksheet using the handy printer icon at the top of the screen, after it was printed out they could click the answer input button and the answer box popped up on the screen. Since they printed the worksheet out they can then leave the answer input box up on the screen to easily enter their answers. This made it much easier to accomplish then going back and forth between screens.

     The boys and I loved how it gave immediate feedback so they knew what they got wrong. I also receive a weekly status report in PDF form that shows all of the data, for each day what their efficiency rating, for example 90-100, and 80-90 and so on down the line. Also tells if they completed the assignments on time, complete late or incomplete as in not finished.
How many lessons were completed total. This is very helpful to me as it makes inputting grades into our grades tracker for our transcripts so easy for me. One of the things I seem to be lacking time for these days is grading the boys papers so this took that burden off of me. A+ in my book.

   The other fun section for the competitor in  my kids was the skills test. Timed refreshing skills problems starting easy and building in intensity. They love to play and try to beat their score from the last time. They look at both percentage of correct problems as well as how many problems they completed in the amount of time given. This helps with hand eye coordination too. I even catch myself playing. Think of it as a brain games of sorts. I try to have little healthy competitions with my boys as much as possible, Helps build their self esteem and confidence and keeps me sharp and on my toes.

   If CTC Math sounds like something you would like to use in your homeschool then sign up today. If you are still not sure check out the free trial and easily convert it to a full program after it ends. If you would like to hear what other crew members have to say about CTC Math click on the banner below.

CTCmath Review

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Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Dynamic Literacy's WordBuild Schoolhouse Review Crew Review 2015 #hsreviews #hsmommas #

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JazzEdge  Review

 I am all about adding an element of fun to our schoolwork. This is especially helpful for my youngest son Taylor who is not so enthusiastic about school time.  This is more so with certain subjects like Language Arts and Writing.  I had never heard about Dynamic Literacy before but was intrigued by the items we were allowed to choose for our review. I decided on WordBuild: Elements, Level 1 Set (Includes WordBuild the Game).
JazzEdge  Review

   The recommended age for Elements is 5-10 which was perfect as Taylor just finished up 10th grade but is just on grade level with this type of work, so a little help through the Summer and the beginning of next year is just what he needs. This is recommended for remedial work for 7-12th  as well as for the 5-10th for regular work. I was particularly interested in this set as it not only comes with the Elements Teacher's Book, and the Student Activity Book but it came with an online game as well. Something we could all do together. Kind of like a healthy little competition to get Taylor motivated, he could also play against the computer in a timed race. He loves a challenge and he loves to win! So why not use this as a motivator. You just need to know your child's love language.
This curriculum focuses on the Greek and Latin word root, this is something that fascinates both my boys. So I knew we were on the right path before I even put it down in front of Taylor,
JazzEdge  Review

  I will start by explaining the Teacher's Edition, this is 336 pages of not just an answer key, you get the standard answer key and quizzes and test but then you get so much more, for instance a 25 page mini dictionary that correlates with all of the roots that the students are learning and refreshing about. The fun facts and alerts about each root is very fun. I loved sharing these with the kids. There is a weekly check up, kind of like a spelling test for root words. Then there is a very thorough test for midterm and a final. I thought this was fantastic, It takes the stress off of me having to create my own mid term and final for this subject. I am all about making my life easier.

  There are multiple units that review every prefix and suffix used. This truly does cover it all!! You will also get access to online content to give you bonus content. I love Bonus content. It is like getting the prize in the bottom of the cereal box. You never know what you are getting until you find it. I will leave this as a surprise for you, I want you to have fun discovering it just like I did. There is also some guidance on how to complete each exercise in the lessons. My boys are at the point in their schooling where I really try to let them navigate their studies on their own as much as possible, to prepare for college which for us is coming in 1 and 2 years. So I do not probably use and focus on the teacher book as much as most, but I did appreciate all of the content that was in the Teacher Guide, I used it more than most teacher's books. So for me that is huge. It was way more useful than most.

  Next I will tell you about the Student Activity Book. This is much smaller than the Teacher's book at only 156 pages, Which I was glad as I do not like to overwhelm Taylor with a HUGE workbook. If his book had been as thick as the teacher book, he would cried uncle immediately. So in this student book your child is going to learn all about the Greek and Latin root words as well as prefixes and suffixes. There are 4 activities for each root word. I had Taylor do one activity each day as well as we played the online game daily in conjunction with the activity. I did not want to spend more than 30 minutes on this each day as that is Taylor's limit for each subject he is not thoroughly excited about. Now if he wants to do more by all means I let him keep going. I would be simply crazy for stopping him, but by setting short times for these subjects it helps to keep him from feeling overwhelmed. This works for us but you can do it however works best for you. If Alyx had been using this he would have done all 4 activities in one sitting and been done for the week. You just need to know your kids and how they work. It took me a long time to figure this out, lol life would have been so much easier that first year or two if I had let my boys lead the learning like I do now. Can you say Peace and Harmony, Holy Smokes!! I am all about stressfree homeschooling whenever I can get it.

There was even root word bingo game boards. I could not convince Taylor to play but I feel like with some younger folks they would find it fun, heck I love bingo of any kind, I was already to play but nobody would play with me :(

Lastly I want to talk about WordBuild the Game, this is not a game you can play on your ipad or tablet. You need a real computer or in our case a windows laptop. This will also work for the Apple computer folks with Macs. I personally love word games and puzzles, my boys too. You take the root word in this game and add prefixes and suffixes and try to make as many words as you can before your time is up. The whole family got into this. We all took our turns and tried to beat each other's scores. This got extremely competitive and really helped build the boys vocabulary up. WIN! WIN!!
I swear even at their age of almost 16 and and 17 next month they still do not get that learning can be fun and fun can be learning. It is like I am still being sly. They played and they learned without really thinking about it. I LOVE when this happens. It is like I am Super Homeschool Mom without breaking a sweat.

  So in conclusion I give Dynamic Literacy and their WordBuild Elements a perfect 10! For $99.99 you are getting a full curriculum for grammar that focuses on the Greek and Latin word roots and all of the suffixes and prefixes and so much more. As well as the computer game that is just a whole bunch of fun for the entire family. I am definitely going to continue on using this until Taylor finishes the book. This is a keeper for our family for sure.

Be sure to visit the social media links below as well as click on the banner to read all 95 crew reviews, there were 3 products for us to choose from so there is something for everyone.

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Friday, June 12, 2015

Institute for Excellence in Writing Schoolhouse Review Crew Review 2015 #hsmommas #hsreviews

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IEW Review

 Making sure my children have a strong foundation for writing is very high on  my priority list. I love writing and I want my boys to love writing too. I however hate teaching writing and mechanics of language arts.
   We only have 2 years of homeschooling left, I am still in disbelief. One thing I am trying to do is settle on our core curriculum for these last two years. Set it and forget it so to speak. When I was offered the opportunity to review Institute for Excellence in Writing and their new Deluxe Combo Teacher/Student Writing Package Level C [FIX-3 & 4]  PLUS A Word Write Now and Portable Walls. This includes two full years of Intermediate Grammar instruction. (An answer to my homeschooling prayers)

  Level C is for 9-12 graders, there are 3 levels within C to choose from, the differences are in the Fix- It! Grammar books, I chose the middle one that comes with books 3 and 4. Now because this is a complete package it may seem pricy at $299 but when you break down all that you get with it you will understand immediately. When I say this is a big, heavy box that shows up at your door, It is no underestimate. You get quality and content.

  One of the things that caught my attention right away was the student DVD instruction videos. This takes the pressure of me teaching this course off me. Life is kind of hectic these days and this is a huge help in making my boys more independent than they already are in their learning. This way for us when life gets in the way the learning doesn't stop. For those of you with littles this would be extremely helpful when your bigger kids are needing to do school but you need to divert your attention to those little ones.

 You can use their online placement test to decide which set you should start with. So what comes in this huge box, I just know you are curious...
IEW Review

I will go through each product and give you a little paragraph for each so you can get a glimpse into my big box of curriculum.
Teaching Writing: Structure & Style DVD set
This is for you Momma! Do you have a fear of not being able to teach writing effectively? I know I do. No matter how confident in yourself and how you write, it is not always easy to take what you know and communicate it to your children so that they can learn correctly. This is helpful for all ages of writing, starting with the basic paragraph and then showing you how to build upon that. We can all use a little refresher course and this is just what the homeschool teacher in me needed. A kick start to refresh myself so that I could better convey instruction to my boys when they need extra help.
IEW Review

Seminar Workbook
This is the workbook that works in conjunction to the Structure and Style DVD set, not only is this your workbook but it also serves as your reference guide for all the years of your homeschooling and teaching writing. I sure wish I had this when I started homeschooling 6 years ago. It sure would have made my life so much easier. There are charts and word lists and lesson plans to keep you on task and moving along at a good pace through the school year.

Student Writing Intensive DVDs Level C, including the Structure & Style Overview and Student Notebook with handouts and lesson plans,
Remember when I mentioned you would not have to do all the teaching, here is why. Andrew Pudewa and the help of these 4 DVDs will teach your high schooler for you. Over the course of 15-30 weeks depending on the pace you set. Andrew will teach the fundamentals of writing and how to effectively use this course. My boys love learning with Andrew and not having to listen to me drone on and on. They also liked that because it is DVD based they can work on it anytime during the day or evening. Whatever fits in best with their schedule. This is most important to Alyx as he has a job that hours started picking up on when Spring came and so he is often doing his work on his own and not with Taylor. Taylor is a typical late rising teen so this works well. He can work on this after his breakfast/lunch while Alyx is at work and go at his own pace. He moves slower in his school work than Alyx does. It always amazes me how different they work and learn even though they have been taught together for most subjects since we began homeschooling. The binder has student handouts, teacher's notes, assignments, source texts and checklists. Are you beginning to see why this is THE complete curriculum package? Wait, I am not done yet!!I had Taylor use the notebook as he needs more instruction in this area than Alyx. Alyx watched the DVDs but spent more time on the Grammar Book that I am about to talk about next.
Fix-It! Grammar, Books 3 and 4 with downloadable student e-books
We received Fix-It! Grammar books 3 and 4, they were downloadable student e-books. This way we could just print them out as we went along. We had reviewed book 3 before with Alyx, so this time Taylor is working on book 3 and Alyx is working on book 4.
After I printed out the books we set up the boys "notebooks" which were really 3 ring binders. We used divider tabs to section out the book into the 4 sections. If you are using the printed book you would only need 2 sections as the first two are in the spiral bound Student Book. My boys are not big fans of grammar and writing and we have struggled with finding something that is not too overwhelming and would not cause a bunch of griping and whining. Guess What? I think we finally found it! Fix It! Grammar from IEW is the answer to my Grammar prayers. These lessons take no more than 15 minutes a day for 4 days a week. This schedule works great for us as we have co-op on Thursdays and do not do school on that day as we are gone for most of it. Then add in all of the boys  out of the house classes and quick lessons that get straight to the point are just what we need these next 2 years. I also received the hard copy of the accompanying Teacher's books for both 3 and 4.  The Teacher book is a Godsend when helping the boys out when they get stuck and makes it easy to check their work and grade them.

    Just one sentence a day! Yes you read that right, one sentence a day to work on and you get to uncover a story as you go along making the kids want to keep working just to find out what happens in the story. Yes my boys are actually enjoying their Grammar lessons and I find them often working ahead of schedule. What on Earth has happened to them? They have been transformed into compliant students who are actually not complaining instead they are doing more than they are asked. Why had I not found this sooner, it sure would have saved me a lot of grief and less tears in our homeschool classroom.  In book 3 the boys are learning and reviewing indents, capitalization, homophones and usage, apostrophes, comparative and superlative adjectives, and
verbs. All just one sentence at a time. For boys that hate to write this has been so refreshing. There is no feeling of despair or feeling overwhelmed. One sentence and then they are done. Reading, editing and rewriting. One step at a time, as they rewrite the sentences in their notebook they are in fact writing the story. So when they are done they will have rewritten the complete story. If I asked them to write a story they would have had a fit but doing it one sentence at a time they are not even thinking about it. So the results are calm students who are not complaining about all of this writing. They are simply adding to it each day.

   There are also Grammar cards that go with the rules you are learning each week, we added these to the binder by using a vinyl zipper pouch that I had found during school supply shopping for a quarter. I did not know what I was going to use them for when I found them but they sure came in handy for this class. This helps to keep everything organized and together. When printing these out I actually printed them on heavy weight cardstock I had handy for scrapbooking. This makes them more sturdy and less apt to rip when the boys are using them.
I will definitely keep ordering these for our Grammar studies when we complete books 3 and 4. I will be ordering book 5 for Alyx for next semester. The way he plows through these he could easily complete both book 5 and 6 in his Senior year that is coming up.

A Word Write Now
Are you tired of your kids using the same redundant words over and over in their writing??
I know I was. This handy book is a quick access Thesaurus of sorts to help them find engaging words to add spice to their writing. I have seen my kids using more descriptive language in both speech and writing since getting this book. Their vocabulary has expanded exponentially.
This is a keeper for sure. My college son wants one to take away to school with him next year. He says he often struggles with making his writing more interesting and not so same old same old.
IEW Review

Portable Walls
Since our homeschool is in the basement and we only have one wall and it is by no means empty, the posters I had in our old house in the classroom are no longer usable in our classroom now. Maybe you do school at the Kitchen table? This would leave you in the same predicament as we are. No wall space. Portable walls are miniature versions of those posters all of us teacher's love or long to have. They can sit right on the table and offer tips for writing for your kids. A trifold brochure style makes it easy to set up a "wall" of writing helps. My boys liked it because if they wanted to study in their rooms or somewhere other than the classroom they could just fold it up and carry it with them. My college son liked this too!!
IEW Review

   All in all my boys are truly enjoying Grammar for the first time ever. Writing is coming easier to them and we are no longer arguing about getting their language arts work done and it has helped immensely by making things calmer and I know they are learning more as they are not focusing on "all of the work" like they did with other curriculums.  I have truly found the final Writing and Grammar curriculum for the last of our homeschool days. My search is OVER!! Yours can be too!

Buy the complete package for $299 and save money as if all of these items were to be purchased separately it would cost so much more!! Save yourself time, frustration(for your kids and yourself) and money. Order today so you are all set for next school year.

Be sure to click on the IEW Social Media links below to find out the latest and greatest from them.

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Thursday, June 11, 2015

Exploring Creation Field Trip Journal from Apologia Educational Ministries! Schoolhouse Review Crew Review 2015 #hsmommas #hsreviews #homeschoolfieldtrips

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Exploring Creation Field Trip Journal Review

 There are a few things we love in our homeschool, and Field Trips is one of them. One of the other things we love is anything from Apologia Educational Ministries. So imagine my delight when I was offered something to review that combines two of my favorite things into one!! We were given the Exploring Creation Field Trip Journal from Apologia. Yippee Skippee! This is something that is great for the whole family, I can see kids as young as Kindergarten with help. Ideally Elementary and Middle School, but even my High Schoolers and my College Freshman enjoyed filling in the pages.
Exploring Creation Field Trip Journal Review

   Our first field trip was to the new Aquarium that opened about 45 minutes away at our big indoor outlet mall. My kids had never had the opportunity to go to an aquarium locally so this was a BIG deal. We went with our homeschool co-op so we had a ton of families. I think this was our favorite field trip in the 6 years we have been homeschooling,

   What makes this even more fun is we had a "scrapbook" of sorts to capture and preserve the memories with the Field Trip Journal. There is not only a space for pictures to share the memories of your field trip but there is plenty of space to journal and document the experiences, There are places to share your child or family's "special spot", to share and sketch or write about the way they see the world and all that God has created. This is not simply a blank journal, there are spaces to share and it is ideal for multiple children or a family to share it. Let the creativity flow. Have the kids sketch what they saw on a simple nature hike, or use it to share all that happened on your most special field trips.

One of the great tips in the book is taking a virtual field trip, now this can be somewhere you want to go but do not have the ability to travel to. We however used it along with the prompts to take a virtual field trip of the aquarium before we went by going online to their website. This allowed us to make a map and plan a strategy for working our way through the aquarium so we could get the most out of our trip.

  We made notes of what the must sees were so we were sure not to miss them. This for us was crucial since we were going with a large group and it was a new attraction so the crowds were huge even without our group. We wanted to make sure we saw the touch pool so we could have some hands on experiences with starfish and sea urchins and shrimp and so much more. We also did not want to miss the HUGE sting ray exhibit or the jelly fish room that was all under black lights so that the jelly fish glow. So we plotted our strategies on our journal and then we followed the other preparation tips that were given to us for the night before our journey.

 These included things like packing a bag for the trip that included a first aid kit, do you take a first aid kit on all field trips? I know as my kids have gotten older this is something I do not always do, but with the help of our Journal this is going to change. We made a note of the rules about no food or drink allowed so we did not add that to our bag for this particular trip, but it will be helpful in the future for other trips like the zoo or a nature hike. We needed to remember our tickets since we purchased them ahead of time as well as make notes about the meeting place to find our group.

 We did not need to pack directions since although we had not been to the aquarium before but we had been to the indoor outlet mall many times. We simply needed to make note of which entrance we needed to park at and go into.

   We prepared our minds for the trip for several days before hand too, studying in depth more about the sea creatures we were going to be seeing as well as going over parts of the bible such as creation that pertained to our trip.

  We even researched about the other locations of museums and aquariums that are around the country by the same company. We have made notes about some of them in case we ever get to go on another vacation road trip.

  We made sure to pack colored pencils, pens, our journal as well as a camera and we double checked our lists. We also made a plan in case we were to get separated in the large crowd. Being that my boys are older this is not as much as issue than it is with littles, but this is definitely important nonetheless.

   Some of the other fun aspects of the journal. The first few pages are a great place to document places in the country or world where you may have already visited. We are in the process of using these to document highlights of a 21 day road trip across 16 states we took a couple years ago.

  For the Aquarium field trip we used the Specific Trip pages, there was a place for the Date, a place to share our emergency contact plan. the Map of what we wanted to see, and a place to document additional key attractions within the Aquarium. Then when we stopped for lunch after the field trip I had the kids take turns writing in the sections that were for Story of my day, and Something I never want to forget.

  My favorite sections was the Special Spot pages, there is one for each of the seasons, Fall, Winter, Spring and Summer. This is a special spot amongst the wildlife, a place that is not maintained. We have the perfect spot in mind up at our campground back in the marsh. Alyx is particularly interested in this as he took Field Biology this year at a local college and has really come to appreciate and be perceptive of nature. It needs to be at least 20x20, we will need to photograph our spot and make a map of everything we see. We will then be able to look for local wildlife and tracks and we will then be able to document changes over the change of seasons. This is so exciting to us. We will document temperature and precipitation on our visits as well. Take a photograph for each season and draw out an aerial sketch and make notes of changes.

   The next section is the AS I SEE IT, thoughts and drawings pages. This will be mostly Taylor's spots as he is our resident artist. Here  Taylor will play around with reflections and shadows and patterns and textures as well as colors. He is going to use this at our Favorite Spot. He can also draw or take photos of predators and prey. Drawing in 2, 3 and 4D. The prompts for the Artist in your family are sure to spark new avenues for their artistic abilities.

   The last Gem I would like to share about the  Exploring Creation Field Trip Journal is the 2 page spread of wonderful ideas for field trips from your own backyard to anywhere in the world. There is also a wonderful online resource that goes with the journal that helps you find valuable tools to help use the book to the fullest.  I would have never thought about taking a field trip to a Water Treatment facility or the Sewer System. How about a field trip digging a deep hole, most likely in your backyard to see what lies beneath the Earth. The possibilities are truly endless and with the help of Apologia and some research and the Exploring Creation Field Trip Journal, your homeschool is about to get a whole lot more interesting.

 I cannot wait to finish filling out our journal and it will be sure to make it into our homeschool days keepsake box. I am also going to display it at Alyx's Graduation party as well as on his table at our co-op's recognition night next Spring. I think this is a valuable learning tool as well as a treasured keepsake. You can get yours from Apologia Educational Ministries for just $22. I am sure you will want to get more than one while you are ordering. Once you get rolling the book will be sure to fill up quickly. I cannot wait until next school year to plan some more exciting trips. We will be sure to do some this Summer as well. I want to get our co-op excited about this journal and hopefully maybe develop a class where each child will get their own journal and we will do some type of field trip whether virtual or out on the grounds of our co-op as well as some group field trips to tie it all in. The possibilities are truly endless. All of this talking about field trips makes me want to plan another one right now. What are you waiting for? Order yours today and start making your field trip list right away, so when your journal arrives in the mail you can get to work right away!

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