Thursday, November 12, 2015

U.S. HISTORY DETECTIVE BOOK ONE Schoolhouse Review Crew Review 2015 #hsmommas #hsreviews

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  We are knee deep in U.S. History this year with the boys so of course why not add another component to our studies. The Critical Thinking Co. has an interesting workbook series out called U.S. HISTORY DETECTIVE and we received the opportunity to review U.S. HISTORY DETECTIVE BOOK ONE Colonial Era to Reconstruction Era.

  Selling for $39.95 you can choose the paperback version, which is what we received or the e-book version. I was very impressed with the book when we got it on delivery day. At about an inch in thickness it is a substantial chunk of book. Geared for kids in grades 8 and up, this was a perfect fit for my boys in 11th and 12th even though they are at the higher end of the age range.

  The Critical Thinking Co. allows duplicating copies among your family so it is a nice perk of only having to have one for both my boys and just being able to make copies so they can both participate without having to share or work together on the same worksheet. I did have them read the pages together and then work on their own worksheets. This was an easy assignment for them to work together on, usually taking them 30 minutes or less to complete the reading and the following worksheets for the days lesson. We worked on this M,W, and F during the week so they completed 3 lessons a week. There are 9 sections with each section having 7-10 lessons pers section, so working on this 3 days a week they are moving through the sections every 3 weeks or so.

  Each lesson has some reading and maps to explore as well as timelines. My boys also enjoyed the little fun fact boxes that pop in some of the pages that give a little fact that maybe you might not know. After reading the pages there are a few worksheets to do, this is what I made copies of. The questions are different types, some are multiple choice, some require a short answer while some may need a sentence or two. The last part is a paragraph to write explaining their evidence as to what is true, this is where being the  'detective" comes in handy.

  There are some bonus activities sprinkled here and there as well, the boys favorite was the one with some fun with the dollar bill. We learned some fun about a dollar bill, but I will let you explore it on your own I do not want to ruin the surprise for you.

 The end of each section is a short review covering various things learned in the lessons in the section. This was short and sweet and to the point, covering filling in a map, completing a concept map, venn diagrams, and other simple ways to review the material.

  The boys are enjoying going through this book in conjunction with the other materials they are using in their U.S. History studies. Adding new components that fill out your year long curriculum helps to keep it fresh and fun. Sometimes no matter how fun your core curriculum is it tends to get stale especially at the half way point. Adding something like U.S. HISTORY DETECTIVE BOOK ONE to the mix helps liven it up and keep things interesting and inviting.

 There is answer key in the back of the book, I do not know about you but I do not like to leave temptation for my boys, even though they know cheating gets you know where and is a sin, I do not want to tempt them. I want them to work for their grades and be confident that they came to the answer on their own. So I take the answer keys out of the books using an exacto knife and I have a 3 ring binder with all of the answer keys for the boys books, I just divide them with tabs to keep them organized, this way it is never an issue especially when they are having a bad day and just do not feel like they can do it.

All in all my boys are enjoying this new addition to our U.S History class and I will be ordering Book Two so when we are done we can continue on with our detective work to discover the other hidden secrets of our nation.

Click below to follow The Critical Thinking Co. on all of their social media channels, this helps you stay up to date on any sales as well as new products coming out.

 Be sure to click the banner below to read all of the crew reviews, we had a few choices to pick from so there are reviews for products differing from mine.

The Critical Thinking Company Review

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Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Eat Your Science Homework Schoolhouse Review Crew Review 2015 #hsreviews #hsmommas

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   Eat Your Science Homework? I was immediately intrigued. We could eat the boys' Science homework. This could be very fun. So of course I jumped at the chance, the hard part?, picking which book there is one for History, and one for Math and a couple others as well. I decided on Eat Your Science Homework Recipes for Inquiring Minds.  since we had been reviewing a lot of History lately and I wanted to give the boys a change. The boys love to cook and Taylor has been a lot more adventurous about eating new things so I thought this would be a perfect way to get him interested in some new foods.

Ann McCallum Books puts out these fun books that incorporate food and fun into learning. They are your choice of a paperback book for $7.95 or a hard covered book selling for $16.95 and are full of fun and whimsical drawings and step by step instruction with visual cues to help the younger folks. Explaining all the way how this recipe has to do with Science. Ann McCallum and Leeza Hernandez make these books fun and inviting for students to use the kitchen and foods to cook up some science, Leeza's illustrations are absolutely adorable.

  I liked how you really did not have to go in any particular order, we could pick or choose which Science Recipes we wanted to work on. So when it arrived the first thing we did was flip through the book, check out what supplies we needed for which recipes we wanted to dive right into and made our shopping list. Then we sat down and plotted out our strategy. We put all of the names of the ones we wanted to tackle written on pieces of paper and put them in a mixing bowl. How fitting right? Then we pulled them out one by one and this was to be our order that we worked on them. This helped to make it fair since the boys do not always agree.

 So first on the agenda we went over the scientific method and safety in the lab.Then we moved onto our recipe experiments. There was Atomic Popcorn Balls, Density Dressing and Veggie Sticks, Invisible Ink Snack Pockets, Loop, Whorl, and Arch Cookies, Sedimentary Pizza Lasagna, Black Hole Swallow Ups. I guarantee after doing these experiments and eating the delicious results they are sure to remember the scientific facts that go along with them. Having fun while learning not only creates fun memories for your children for years to come but they are more apt to remember what they learn while having all of this fun.

  My boys have proven to be very hands on learners so this is a wonderful addition to our classroom and Science curriculum. We have been having fun together and learning all at the same time and then we get to eat the yummy results and talk about what we learned in the process. We did the lesson and then cooked our experiment and then while we enjoyed the fruits of our scientific labor we went over the additional activities that were in my downloadable teacher's guide. We did activities such as finger printing, this included comparing our own to the rest of the family to see if there was any genetic traits among our fingerprints. My boys have been studying our genealogy so they were very interested in this, and we had done blood typing not too long ago. This kind of stuff intrigues them a lot so we enjoyed this activity thoroughly. There are vocab reviews as well, we did not focus a lot on this as they were geared for younger kids in my opinion. Eat Your Science Homework is great for elementary and middle schoolers for sure. My boys being in high school enjoyed the book and experiments but were a little too old for some of the extra activities. Despite this we did enjoy all of the experiments and I am looking forward to using this book to teach a class at my co-op in the spring maybe for 4-6 graders.  These would make a great Christmas gift for the hands on learner in your life. Be sure to click on the banner below and check out all of the crew reviews. We all had a choice of several books so maybe Science is not your thing, there is Math and U.S. History as well. Have fun eating your homework.

Ann McCallum Books Review

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Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Standard Deviants Accelerate Schoolhouse Review Crew Review 2015 #hsmommas #hsreviews

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Standard Deviants Accelerate Review

 I am always game for trying something new and with the boys getting older we are looking to supplement certain subjects so that we are sure they are getting enough to claim a complete credit on their high school transcripts. So I was interested in the opportunity to have a chance to review the Standard Deviants Accelerate Homeschool Courses from Standard Deviants Accelerate.
They have offer a variety of courses for grades 3(age 8) and up, with the majority being for middle school and high school levels.  You can pay for monthly access to a single subject or multiple subjects for up to 5 students or you can choose to have a lifetime subscription to all subjects for up to 10 students, if you have younger students this would be a fantastic choice.
Here are the class choices so you know what is offered.
Arithmetic - Grades 3+
Fundamental Math - Grades 4+
Earth Science - Grades 6+
Nutrition - Grades 6+
Algebra - Grades 7+
Biology - Grades 7+
Chemistry - Grades 9+
English Comp. - Grades 9+
U.S. History - Grades 9+
AP Biology - Grades 11+
AP Chemistry - Grades 11+
AP U.S. Government and  Politics - Grades 11+
AP U.S. History - Grades 11+
AP Eng. Composition - Grades 11+
Standard Deviants Accelerate Review

Now the set up for the programs are all the same and each student will each need their own email address to make this work. This was not a problem for us as my boys already had their own email, but if your kids don't, getting a kid friendly email is easy, AOL is a great option with parental controls.
First you set up your teacher account and choose the course or courses and pick who you are going to assign them to. This prompts a code to be generated and sent to the student's email, this is how they go about setting up their account and gaining access to their classes.
Standard Deviants Accelerate Review

 For my boys I picked Nutrition for both of them to help supplement our Health credit and they also used the Chemistry. We are currently using Chemistry for Science this year so I thought this would be a great way to beef it up and give them an opportunity to learn some on their own, since our current program is something we work on together. The only thing is with our crazy schedule this year, we are only getting to do that 2-3 days a week so this was a great option to help add to that time with a program that was self paced. This way they could do on their own according to their schedules. Nutrition was a wonderful option for self paced learning as well. They each used both of these subjects 3-4 days per week depending on their own individual schedule.
All of the classes are set up in similar fashion, First you click the tab and watch the videos,which are presented in a fun way as to keep it from getting boring and monotonous. Next you move onto the Vocabulary words, I took these and used them as our spelling words so that they could get more practice. Third there was the Diagram tab this is where the worksheet like pages are. Then of course you have a quiz tab, this helps you as the teacher gauge how the student is doing, if they are retaining the information they are learning and where they might need to go back and repeat. This is extremely helpful and it was nice that I did not need to grade it, all I needed to do was log into my teacher account and check out the grades and progress. The final tab is the Written Answer tab, this is where there are reading comprehension questions and your student should have a workbook handy to write down their answers.
Standard Deviants Accelerate Review

The nutrition class is geared for grades 6 and up and touches on the topics of ...
Intro: Cells and Macronutrients, What Your Body Does with Food, The Food Spectrum, Micronutrients: Vitamins, Minerals, and Water, Preventing Nutritional Disorders, Eating In Context ,Where Does Your Food Come From?, The Savvy Eater.
I was happy to have this opportunity for the boys to get started learning about these topics while I was awaiting a curriculum to come that I had ordered. Now we are ready to dive right in and we won't have to spend as much time on it as we might have had to do without this supplement from SDA to help pave the path for us.

The Chemistry unit is geared for 9th grade and up and covers topics such as ...
Atomic Theory and Structure, Bonds & Molecular Structure, States of Matter, Solutions, Acids and Bases, Chemical Reactions & Equilibrium, Stoichiometry, Thermodynamics. We have been studying Chemistry for a couple months now, so the course from SDA helped cement things that we have already touched on as well as lay down the ground work for those topics we have yet to reach in our main text book.
I liked the fact the boys could work on this at their own pace, Taylor during the day when Alyx might be at work or Alyx when Taylor is at some of his other classes. They could work independently and at their own convenience. SDA has helped bridge gaps and has eased my mind a bit because of our overloaded schedules.
The boys thought the site was easy to navigate and enjoyed the variety of tasks so that it made it enjoyable to do the assignments. They were not long and drawn out either which is always a plus in all of our books. 30 minutes tops each day they work on it is enough to accomplish more than a couple lessons. Being able to do work on the ipad was a bonus as the boys like to lay around in the mornings or later in the evening and do school work. They have grown accustomed to being able to relax and do their work and still be productive. This was a bonus for sure.
Standard Deviants Accelerate Review

I have enjoyed knowing that the boys can continue to learn even when our schedules do not allow for us to have a lot of time to sit down and do book work. I was starting to stress about that especially with Alyx being a Senior this year and with Taylor right behind him in 11th, time is running out to fit it all in. I want them to be able to have all of the outside class opportunities we have found without jeopardizing our core studies. SDA helps fill in the gaps and gives me a peace of mind that they are getting some core learning in even in our busy lifestyle this year.

I think this is a wonderful supplemental program fit mostly for middle school and high school levels. There is a class for everyone and I am sure you would get your money's worth with just one class but you can have access to them all with a multi class monthly subscription or the lifetime option. The cool thing is you don't have to take my word for it or that of any of the reviewers from the crew although I do hope I have helped. You can test drive it yourself.
Right now you can get a 7 day free trial. This way you can get a test run to see if it is a right fit for your family. I know appreciate a try before you buy option. This is surely enough time to get into a class or two and see how this could benefit your students and your homeschool as a whole. If you have gaps to fill in or if there is a class you just are not getting to as much as you would like. Maybe they need some reviewing? Just remember these are not meant to take the place of your primary books, the SDA classes are to be a supplement to your program not a replacement.
SMALL DISCLAIMER:(This is a secular program so be forewarned that there is a talk of Evolution in the Biology course but it is minor and should not deter you from the program, I just want you to be aware.)

Be sure to check out all of the social media links for Standard Deviants Accelerate by clicking below.

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/SDAccelerate
Twitter: https://twitter.com/SDAccelerate
Pinterest: http://www.pinterest.com/SDAccelerate/
Google+: google.com/+Sdaccelerate

 As always be sure to click on the banner below and visit all the reviews from the crew and learn about the courses they chose for their children as they reviewed Standard Deviants Accelerate.
Standard Deviants Accelerate Review
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