Wednesday, September 30, 2015

USAopoly Wonky and Tapple Games Schoolhouse Review Crew Review 2015 #hsmommas #hsreviews

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 USAopoly Review

   Family time is important to us, discussions and prayer and game nights are of the top on our list. We are always on the hunt for new games that we can use for family game night and in our school day to break up the monotony. I always jump at the chance to review new games so you can imagine my delight when we were offered not just one but 2 new games to review. USAopoly sent us Wonky: The Crazy Cubes Card Game and Tapple: Fast Word Fun for Everyone.

  These games are both for ages 8 and up, so perfect for my family of teens and us adults too. They both sell for $19.99 each.

  I am going to start with Tapple, this does require 2 AA batteries, not included just so you are prepared when you order it. Nothing worse than the kids wanting to play and not being able to play because the batteries are out of stock in the house. Thankfully we seem to always have this size as we use them for many of our electronics. We love competitive games and word games so this was our first to try out. 2-8 players so the boys can play against each other or we can play as a family and even add some friends. We decided it was way more fun with more people as it gets challenging as the letters get used since one a letter is pressed it cannot be used again until the next round. You really need to be quick thinking and if you have a brain blip you will probably have the buzzer go off. You start by turning the a card over and you will be given a topic. We will use fast food as an example. You start by a person yelling out an answer and pushing down the coordinating letter button. There is not a full alphabet so you have to pay attention. So for this round I am going to say Pop(which for most of you is Soda). So I would push the letter P. The next guess is Taylor and he guesses H for hamburger. You keep going until someone says a wrong answer or runs out of time. to reset the timer for each player after you say the answer you push the red stopper in the middle. If you lose a turn you stay out until the last player is standing. This game got pretty crazy and some of the categories are definitely easier than others. Alyx is taking a board games class at our co-op this semester and he cannot wait to bring this with him tomorrow to play with his friends. They are all 7-12 graders so this will be perfect. If you love fast paced, keep you on your toes word games then this is a game you will love. We give it 2 thumbs up from everyone in the family.
 USAopoly Review
The second game we received was Wonky, this is a problem solving game again for 2 or more players that involves a steady hand and good problem solving skills. The blocks make it very interesting since they have 3 flat sides as well as 3 curved sides. the cards tell you which blocks to place next and different things you need to do with the blocks. All of this while being very steady and careful not to knock the tower over. We did have some issues with the dogs bumping into the table or the kids bring down their fist in a "fit" of frustration because their move did not go as well as hoped and this sent the blocks all tumbling down. This definitely is a great game to test patience. Something teenage boys seem to lack a bit of. My husband struggled with this game, he has some issues that prevent him from having great problem solving skills so after his first round he quickly decided this was not for him. The boys have enjoyed it and this is one they seem to play more often just the 2 or 3 of them and we tend to use Tapple for more of our family game time. Alyx will be taking this one tomorrow as well to co-op and we will see how it goes amongst the crowd of teens. This one got two thumbs up x 2, 1 thumbs up x 2 and 2 thumbs down by Dad. This was definitely more of a hit with my 15 and 17 year old and kind of a mixed feeling from my 19 year old and I. Dad was definitely out.  So all in all we like it and it gets played but it was not as big of a hit for us as Tapple was. 
USAopoly Review
Either of these games would make a great addition to any household for school time, play time or family game time. I can see where they would be difficult for younger kids but if you had an adult pair up maybe have teams it would work for a family that has more of a mixed age range. Having my boys close together even when they were younger this was never an issue for us. If you want to see how younger kids can be included to play along with either of these games be sure to click the banner below and read the rest of the reviews.  I am sure someone can shed more light on this. Christmas is coming and I don't know about you but we always have new games under the tree. These would be great holiday additions.
 USAopoly Review
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Thursday, September 24, 2015

YWAM Publishing RONALD REAGAN Schoolhouse Review Crew Review 2015 #hsmommas #hsreviews

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YWAM Publishing Review
The first President I can remember in my life is Ronald Reagan, he truly was a Christian Hero in our society and politics and the leader of our nation. I want my kids to know what that means and so I was super excited to have the opportunity to review one of YWAM Publishing's books and study guides.  So of course I chose HEROES OF HISTORYRonald Reagan: Destiny at His Side,and the companion HEROES OF HISTORY CD - Unit Study Curriculum Guide Ronald Reagan. this was not an easy choice as there were many other titles to choose from including a new face to the race of Presidency, Dr. Ben Carson.

As we read the book the boys learned that Ronald Reagan was not only our 40th President, he was also an Athlete, an Actor and a Sports Announcer. We also learned that he was also a lifeguard of sorts, and that he came from a poverty stricken family but that with his family's faith in God they persevered and this is what he contributes much of his success to. Faith and Family. I loved that the boys could see what a deep Christian man's impact on our country was like, even though they were not witness to it. We prayed after reading the book that God would put another Christian with some of the same beliefs in the seat in the White House next year. Now I am not saying this to start a political war on my blog, this is however how our family feels. I am not one to get into political debates with others outside of our home. I do believe debates can be healthy if done so correctly. We often hold them right here in our living room. 

I think this opportunity came at a perfect time and I am going to be ordering the Dr. Ben Carson one so that we can contrast the two men. One from History and one from our current era. Having companies like YWAM that can give us and our students HISTORY from a CHRISTIAN perspective is so important in today's society and our homeschooling journey.  There are many other choices to choose one, if you are not much into politics you can choose one of the many other titles. This particular title is appropriate for ages 10 and up. You can purchase the physical copy for $7.50 on YWAM and you can also purchase different ebook versions as well. This makes it easy to choose which is best for you and your family. 
YWAM Publishing Review
The unit study as with any book, takes the book and dives so much deeper, this unit study is no exception to that rule. Giving you more information into the Biography of Ronald Reagan, Interviews with the Authors, Janet and Geoff Benge. Projects to add another element of learning. Giving you essay topics, and field trip ideas as well as printable worksheets and my favorite Service projects. There is a vast array of activities to take the book further and really get to know the person you are reading about. Study guide sells for $7.49 for the CD version and there are efiles available for purchase as well.

The interviews are in video as well as the reader reviews. I thought it was cool how the interviews were done with readers and patrons in a homeschool convention setting.  I know I have often passed the YWAM booth at both my little local convention as well as the big one I attend each year in Cinci. Maybe I will be one of the next interviews, who am I kidding I am way too shy for that. 

CD includes:
The complete
Ronald Reagan unit study curriculum
Detailed instructions for classroom, homeschool, and group use
Biographical sketch
Author interviews
reader reviews, bonus section, and more
You can download the study guide to your desktop this includes Maps, my boys particularly liked the added Maps they like to "see" where stories and people come from and take place. They are definitely visual learners. We enjoyed this historical adventure and the glimpse into President Reagan and his life before he became our 40th President and we look forward to diving head first into another YWAM adventure soon. 
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YWAM Publishing Review

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Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Fascinating Education: Chemistry Schoolhouse Review Crew Review 2015 #hsmommas #hsreviews

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Fascinating Education Review

    Science is a big part of our school day around here, the boys have two favorite subjects and Science is one of those. History is the other. The Schoolhouse Review Crew was offered a choice of one of the three Science courses from Fascinating Education. We chose Fascinating Chemistry to help fill in some of the gap for the boys. We are carefully monitoring what they are completing now that they are in High School. The courses offered are for high school, although some middle school students as young as 6th grade could do the Biology and Chemistry courses.

   Fascinating Education suggests starting with Fascinating Chemistry and then moving onto Biology and then finishing with Physics this sequence worked well for us as we are in the middle of Chemistry this year with Taylor.  Taylor has a basic understanding or better of Chemistry and we have gotten through more than half way into his Chemistry book. I wanted this to serve as more of a helper and refrsher and maybe fill in a gap or two that our main book is not covering. Being completely online, programs like Fascinating Chemistry work great for Taylor's busy schedule this year, allowing him to work independently as his schedule allows. This helps me not to have to spend so much time juggling schedules to sit down with him, now that he is older he works much better on his own and can do this when he feels he has the extra time. This in turn opens up more time to focus on other subjects that require our combined attention, which nowadays is less and less.

    The photo below shows how the site is set up each lesson has buttons underneath. There is a button for lessons, the script and the test. Most tests are only on one lesson but occasionally there may be a test that covers more than one lesson. Each lesson is accompanied by a script and a quiz. The quiz and answer key can be printed in pdf format under a separate login for the parent/teacher. My kids prefer to take the quizzes online, this way they received instant feedback when they were finished and if they did not obtain a passing score of 80% or better they could retake the quiz. The quizzes are all multiple choice so it is fairly straight forward.They could also review their quiz and in this process they were shown the right answers. Usually Taylor passed on the first try. Even if  he passed he could still choose to review his  answers or retake for a better score. The website does not retain your scores but you can print out the page at the end that shows the score.
Fascinating Education Review

 The labs that are associated with the course are very easy to complete and use mostly household objects and supplies you already have on hand. Isn't the lab the most fun anyway?? My boys would do just labs if they could get away with it. This could easily be used as a full course of Chemistry on it's own with the included labs, but since Taylor loves Science so much I think he is going to continue using in conjunction with his primary text book.  This of course is all dependent on what you count as a credit.  This is of course would all depend on what your states requirements are and where your child plans on going after homeschool high school graduation.
The topics that are covered in the Chemistry course are as follows....

Lesson 1: Intramolecular Bonding
 The Periodic Table of Elements
 Bohr Model of the Atom
 Electrons, Protons, Neutrons, Nucleus
 The Strong Force
 Intramolecular Bond
Lesson 2: The Ionic Bond
 Law of Entropy
 How Ionic bonds form molecules
 Reaching a lower energy level
 Polarity
 Ionic bonds
 Pauling’s Electronegativity Chart
 Atomic Numbers
Lesson 3: The Covalent Bond
 Covalent Bonds
 Gases
 van der Waals forces
Lesson 4: The Polar Covalent Bond
 Giving away electrons
 Polar covalent bonds
 Intramolecular bonds hold atoms
 Intermolecular bonds hold molecules
 Polarity of a molecule
 Dipoles
Lesson 5: The Metallic Bond, Part 1
 The Metallic Bond
 Metals in the Periodic Table
 Transition metals
 Electron shells
 Block groups of the Periodic Table
 Electron configuration

Taylor uses this 3-4 days a week spending about a half hour each session and he enjoyed the added labs as opposed to just watching videos and doing worksheets and a test. He likes doing the labs and projects more than book work and enjoys some of his lessons being on the  computer. Especially when it is an actual lesson from a teacher other than Mom.  I feel even without the lab component that this serves a purpose of review and fill in that Taylor and maybe your students may otherwise be  lacking. This is a great program for both Auditory and Visual learners and I am impressed with the quality of the videos. They are fun and engaging and interactive as Dr. Margulies teaches the lessons. Chemistry as well as Biology and Physics from Fascinating Education all run $79 for a full year's access.
Overall I think this is a valuable program to use with your homeschool, whether it be like us as an add on to your curriculum you already have in place or to use as a stand alone program. Either options are a good choice it truly just depends on what you are looking to get out of it.
 Be sure to check out the website for all the details and a sample lesson.
Fascinating Education Review

Dr. Margulies is uniquely qualified to create science curricula for middle and high school students. Being a neurologist, he understands how the brain works; including how we learn, how we focus our attention, how we retrieve information, and how emotion and motivation affect learning. 

Dr. Margulies is the author of The Fascinating Body - How it Works, Everyday Doctoring, and Learning Law - The Mastery of Legal Logic

Be sure to head over to the crew blog by clicking the banner below so you can read all of the reviews from the crew for Fascinating Education.
Fascinating Education Review

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Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Stinky Kid Math Schoolhouse Review Crew Review 2015 #hsmommas #hsreviews

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Stinky Kid Math Review

     Math is a hard subject for Taylor, we try to do Math all year round at least a couple days a week so that he keeps it fresh in his mind. He has found that online Math is his preferred method of doing and learning Math. I was hopeful with the opportunity to review a course from the folks at  Stinky Kid Math called just that,  Stinky Kid Math and that this would be something "fun" and enticing for Taylor to use for the last half of our Summer schooling and hopefully continue to use it throughout the beginning of the school year as well. Being on the crew has afforded me opportunities to try out programs I may not have otherwise heard of and find just that perfect fit for my boys. While we like most everything we try some work more than others. Taylor has always struggled with Math so this is a tough one to find that Perfect Fit. We were given a 6 month subscription to give it a go!!

    So what is Stinky Kid Math?? This is an online Math program that although it can be a full Math curriculum, it is not certified as one if that matters in the state you live in. We are using it as a supplement now that school is in full swing, but in the Summer it was our stand alone Math course. I like that it is multifunctional like that. This is a resource that offers help and instruction in Pre- Algebra, Algebra and Geometry. It is a story based learning and teaches 4 questions that will help any student solve any algebraic equation. It is taught with the approach that even the less math minded students such as my Taylor that they can in fact master algebra.

  The website includes over 300 short, video lessons. printable PDF lessons and worksheets along with the answer keys and then games to practice the most common skills to help enforce the learning of the concepts taught. Games, this is a word Taylor thrives on... If it is fun I am more apt to get Taylor to be engaged and in the process he will be learning without struggling and some of it may sink in his noggin without him even realizing it. WIN!

  Now for $9.99 a month this can be an affordable helping tool for Math.  There are 3 ways to use the website. One: Search for the topic your student or even yourself needs to work on. This website is not only great for Taylor but it has proved helpful for me to freshen up on the skills I lack from being out of school for so many years. Be honest the average person does not use these skills on a daily basis. If you do not use skills you lose those skills. So why not brush up yourself and then you will be able to better help your student with their work and when they get stuck. I think this is a wonderful asset!!

The second way is to go through the program from the beginning to the end in order within the topics, such as Algebra. Then when you finish you go to the next topic. This is how we used it I had Taylor start with Pre Algebra and move on from their just to keep his mind refreshed through the Summer. Now that school has started he is just continuing on from where he was and will continue working until he hopefully gets through most of the lessons and videos of Algebra as well.  We typically spend about a half an hour 3 days a week on this. Now depending on how much your child struggles you can spend more or less time. It is up to you. We try to keep Math time to small chunks of time to keep Taylor's frustration level in check. This was the best way for Taylor as he would watch the video and then do the corresponding worksheets and then check his answers along with me so we could discuss how he did and what he needed to work on. If he had wrong answers, which happens often for him, we would go over them together.

The final way to go through Stinky Kid Math is to just start with the very first video and move through them one by one until you get to the end.

  No matter which way you choose to use Stinky Kid Math, be confident that the video lessons are high quality and fun and engaging. My son did not find them dull and boring, I think this has a lot to do with the fact that they are story based. It was like watching a show not listening to a boring teacher drone on and on. I have not had to beg Taylor to do Math work for the entire time we have been using Stinky Kid Math. Most often programs will start off good with him and then fizzle out, this has not been the case with this course at all. I am excited to see concepts finally sticking with him and the 4 Questions he has learned to put to use have proven helpful in his journey to mastering Algebra. We are not completely there yet but I do have Faith it is coming soon.

  The only negative is there is not "an APP for that". In the tech age we love using apps for on the go schooling and it would be a plus to have one for Stinky Kid Math!! HINT! HINT! but other than that I found nothing to not like about how this course is run and how it helps kids and adults learn!!

  If you or your students struggle or just need something a little extra to help them gain mastery of Pre- Algebra, Algebra and Geometry why not give Stinky Kid Math a try.
  Read all of the crew reviews by clicking the banner below and see what others had to say about Stinky Kid Math. One thing is for sure it did not STINK for us!!

Stinky Kid Math Review

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