TOS Review: Heirloom Audio Productions (In the Reign of Terror)

Heirloom Audio ProductionsIn summer, we do a lot of road trips, and I love having audiobooks to listen to in the car as we drive. It’s a great way to keep our whole family entertained! For this review, we got to check out In the Reign of Terror, the latest offering from Heirloom Audio Productions. We have reviewed several of Heirloom’s audiodramas before, and we are never disappointed. Based on novels by GA Henty, the stories are always full of adventure and excitement that keeps my boys on the edge of their seats, and this new one was no different!

In the Reign of TerrorSet against the backdrop of the French Revolution, the story is the perfect mix of history and drama. It tells the story of a young man named Harry, who is caught up in the events of the revolution, trying to save an aristocratic Christian family from execution. The cast, as always, is stellar, with Brian Blessed leading as Henty himself. Rounding out the ensemble are actors like John Rhys-Davies from movies like The Lord of the Rings, and Cathy Sara from Downtown Abbey.

The cast does an amazing job of bringing the characters to life, infusing them with passion and vibrance. You really connect with each one, and find yourself anxiously waiting to see what happens to each person. A 2 CD set, In the Reign of Terror offers over two hours of entertainment, broken into sections that easily allow you to pick up wherever you left off. This feature is especially convenient if you listen to it on a day when you have to run a lot of errands.

Heirloom audio always seems to product top-notch products, complete with background music and sound effects that draw you even deeper into the story. You find yourself automatically rooting for Harry and waiting on pins and needles as each new chapter develops.

In addition to the audiobook, you also get access to a downloadable study guide. This guide features questions for each chapter in the story. The questions range from recall questions that make sure students listened and remember what happened, to vocabulary and questions that require listeners to dig deeper and make connections between events and draw conclusions, make inferences and other higher-order thinking skills. We usually discuss these questions orally after each section, leading to a lot of family discussion. The guide wraps up with three Bible stories that connect with the Biblical themes related in the story. If you would like to use this audiodrama as part of a unit study, Heirloom also offers a reading list with books about the French Revolution in the study guide, which would be especially useful for older students.

Users also have the option of joining the Live the Adventure Club, an online community that Heirloom just started. If you sign up, you not only gain access to the downloadable extras, but you can also participate in discussion boards about the books, access quizzes on the audiobooks, and have your kids play games and find lots of other things to do to further explore the adventure!

We thoroughly enjoyed In the Reign of terror and are looking forward to Heirloom’s next adventure! To learn more, connect with them on social media here:

Heirloom Audio on Facebook

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Heirloom Audio on Google+

To see what other members of the crew had to say about this product, click here:

 

In the Reign of Terror {Heirloom Audio Productions Reviews}Crew Disclaimer

TOS Review: Fascinating Education (Fascinating Biology)

Fascinating EducationAll kids learn differently, and one of the great things about homeschooling is how you can customize your child’s education to meet their needs. So, one of my kids is a fantastic book-learner. You can just hand him a textbook, tell him where to start, and send him on his way. My other one, however, really struggles with textbooks. Too many words on a page, too big, too intimidating etc. So, I have learned to find alternate methods of teaching for him, including online learning. For this review, we got to check out Fascinating Biology from Fascinating Education.

Fascinating  PhysicsThe course consists of 18 lessons that include topics like energy, nutrients, reproduction, adaptations, plants, and more. Each lesson offers a narrated power-point style video with a navigation bar on the side. I really appreciated this part because it was easy to break the lessons up if you wanted (for kids like mine with a short attention span) and pick up right where you left off. If you have a child who is not an audio/visual learner, Fascinating Education also gives you a word-by-word script of the lessonn with the pictures included so your child could read the lesson instead. These are also handy for reviewing before taking the tests.

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The tests are basically quizzes that review the information in the lesson with multiple choice questions. Students receive their grade immediately and if they did not do well, they are given the chance to review the test and retake it. I really really like the review part, because that is what I would have my son do anyway if he had trouble with a test in any subject. I think giving your kids a chance to review where they went wrong helps them learn the correct information and then they can retake the test afterwards. You can also print PDFs of the tests if you prefer to use paper and pencil.

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As far as how we used Fascinating Biology, it was pretty easy. I would look at the lesson for the week and decide how much my son would do each day. One thing to know about this program is that some lessons can be long (45 minutes). If you have a child who can focus on a presentation for that long, then you’re fine. If not, you can break it into sections using the menu like I did. My son usually did at least three sections per day, depending on the rest of our schedule. It will probably take us a little longer to complete it that way, but I don’t mind. I’m more concerned about making sure he really understands the information.

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After each lesson, we would talk about what he learned, and I could use the script at this point to follow along and make sure he knew what he was talking about. The tab on the side also includes a glossary of terms that you could use to have your child keep a biology vocabulary notebook if you wanted. Once he finished an entire lesson, we would review the key terms and then he would take the test. If he did well, we would move on, if not, I always had him review the test and also the script to go over those concepts that he missed. If you want, you can also print the tests, which will give you the score, and list of questions which tell you which ones your child got right and which ones they got wrong.

One thing to note, the program at this point does not save test scores, nor do they keep running grades, so you will have to keep track of that yourself. Also, while some of the tests include questions from multiple lessons, there are no formal mid-term or final exams. Since Fascinating Education has made some changes to their programs, there have been a few technichal issues with sound and things like that, but I didn’t really feel that was a big issue. Their team is very responsive and works hard to resolve problems quickly, and I find it is not uncommon to run into hiccups when using computer-based programs in general.

I feel like Fascinating Biology is a great overview of a biology course. After trying and trying to get my son through a traditional textbook course, I was really happy to find something that worked well for him. I think he is getting a fantastic grasp of biology concepts, and will have a great foundation to move on from.

To see what other members of the crew had to say about this product, and the others we got to check out, click here:

Biology, Chemistry & Physics {Fascinating Education Reviews}

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TOS Review: Hewitt Homeschooling (American Lit)

Hewitt Homeschooling

I love literature! Reading has always been one of my favorite things, and I love sharing books with my kids. I am always on the lookout for good literature programs for my son, especially now that he is older. For this review, we got to check out the American: Early-Mid 19th Century literature program from Hewitt Homeschooling. This program is aimed at highschool freshman and sophomores. I used it with my 10th grade son.

 Lightning Literature and Composition Pack
American: Early to Mid 19th Century

Early-Mid American Lit is the first part of Hewitt’s American Literature program, with a second book, Mid-Late 19th Century, that follows. You can choose to either use one set each semester, or spread out one book over an entire year. For my son, the slower option is better as reading is not his favorite subject and requires a lot more effort from him. The course consists of a student book and a teacher’s guide.

The teacher’s guide includes suggested schedules for a one-semester and full-year course, which makes it easy for you to set up the course. I will tell you that the one-semester schedule is very heavy on the weekly reading, which is why we opted to go with the full-year course. It ended up being too much for son to do in a week along with his other subjects. The guide also includes rubrics to use for grading, checklists for writing assignments, and answers to the questions in the student book.

The course itself consists of four units, with two lessons per unit. Students read a mix of classic novels (which you can easily find online or at the library) as well as poems and short stories that are included in the student book. Some of the authors covered in the Early-Mid American Lit book are Edgar Allan Poe, Herman Melville, Nathaniel Hawthorne, and Longfellow.

I had my son start with the introduction, which gives background on literature in general, writing tips, and information about how to use the guide. Since the course is pretty student oriented, I wanted to really go over this part since I knew he would mostly be using it on his own. The first unit begins with the autobiography of Benjamin Franklin. This section does use a very specific edition of the book which I was able to find online. We broke the reading into weekly assignments, based on how the guide set up the questions, and my son would read each day, then complete the questions in his notebook. In general, we got to about 3 sets of questions per week.

I felt the questions themselves were a good mix of direct recall and questions that caused students to think and synthesize things in the text, and were appropriate for high schoolers. After completing all of the reading there was a lesson about autobiographical writing. We read through and discussed this section together, then I had my son choose one of the writing assignments at the end of the unit. I liked the variety of options students had for their writing assignments, with choices that range from simple to more complex and serious to humorous. I feel like my son is much more motivated when he gets to choose an assignment, and it leads to less conflict between us.

 

The second lesson in Unit 1 moves onto Washington Irving. It included a fun short story written by Irving that my son read in the text with a series of short comprehension questions after. I felt like this was a good way to break things up so they don’t feel monotonous. Students get to read full novels, but also get breaks and are able to read shorter works as well.

All in all, the Early-Mid American Lit course is a solid program. It offers a a wide variety of classic literature to your children in an easy-to-use design. You can literally just read the introduction to the course and get started! Also, this program comes as either a student book and teacher’s guide or a full set that includes all the necessary novels, which allows you to choose what fits your budget.

To learn more, connect with Hewitt on social media here:

Hewitt Homeschooling on Facebook

Hewitt Homeschooling on Twitter

Hewitt Homeschooling on Pinterest

To see what other members of the crew had to say about this program and the others we got to check out, click here:

Hewitt Homeschooling {Reviews}

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TOS Review: Novare Science & Math

Novare Science & MathSo, how do you feel about high school science? I’ll be honest, when I was in school I loved my English and writing classes, but math and science, not so much. So, teaching upper level science is one of those things that kind of gives me some anxiety. I’ve tried many different courses with my boys, and to be honest, they all stress me out a little. For this review, I got to check out General Chemistry from Novare Science & Math, and I think I may have found something that will work for us!

Novare General ChemistryFirst of all, this is a very complete Chemistry program aimed at students in 11th grade. This is because they need to either have completed, or be working through, Algebra 2 in order to do the math in the program. My son (a junior) is working on Algebra 2 right now, and he didn’t have any problems with the math (at least so far).  General Chemistry, wirtten by John D. Mays, is a faith-based science program, which I appreciate. Mays himself is a Christian and a scientist and does not believe the two need to be mutually exclusive, which I agree with.

The textbook itself is really well done and is definitely a book that will last a long time, in case you have upcoming students you want to use it with. It consists of 12 chapters with topics like isotopes, molecular structure, metallic bonding, dissolution and more. The philosophy behind Novare’s programs really focuses on student mastery of the concepts they learn. This means students will dig in-depth on their topics, and also repeat previously learned topics on reviews to make sure they really engage with the information and retain it for the future.

Each chapter in the color textbook begins with objectives which the students are supposed to read and use as goals for each chapter. The idea is that by the time they finish the chapter they will have mastered each objective. Chapters are broken into sections, which does make it easier to set up a schedule for the week. The text itself is well-written and easy to follow. Since the sections are small, my son didn’t feel to anxious about digging into it (large textbooks with tons of reading intimidate him). All of the math computations are fully explained, with examples, so students get a chance to really practice what they are learning.

At the end of each chapter students complete their chapter exercises, and these are again divided by section, which makes it easy for your child to go back to a specific place in the chapter to review concepts as needed. In addition to the textbook, the General Chemistry Resource CD includes chapter tests and quizzes, solutions for problems, and mid-term and final exams. Each chapter has at least two quizzes to give students a chance to test themselves on their own knowledge before moving onto the chapter test.

To complete the course, you can also get the Chemistry Experiments book which is definitely on my list of things to purchase as we move forward. This particular edition is designed for homeschoolers and includes experiments that are easier to perform at home rather than in a lab setting. Doing experiments is a big part of high school math, and if you’re like me, you definitely need a guide to make those happen!

So, what did we think of this chemistry program from Novare Science & Math? We really liked it. I appreciated how easy it was to use and my son didn’t feel it was boring or too difficult to understand. Basically, I would look at each chapter and divide the workload up over 1-2 weeks. For weeks that included a lot more math we might work at a slower pace becuase I wanted to make sure my son really understood what he was doing. Other weeks, we might go a little faster. I liked having the multiple quizzes because I would have my son take them and then go back and correct his mistakes before using them as a study guide for the test.

At this age, I feel testing is important, as it is something kids will need to be more and more familiar with as they get older. Also, having the tests and exams ready to go made it much easier for me to assign grades and keep up with my son’s progress. As far as the math goes, that is another area I am not really fluent in, however, the computations in this program are really well-explained and with the solutions it was even possible for me to follow!

The price for the Chemistry materials varies depending on what you get, but with the textbook and resource CD coming in at less than $120 I think it’s a great deal! To learn more, connect with Novare on social media here:

Novare Science & Math on Facebook

Novare Science & Math on Pinterest

Novare Science & Math on Instagram

To see what other members of the crew had to say about this program and the others we go to check out, click here:

Biblical Based Science {Novare Science & Math Reviews}Crew Disclaimer

TOS Review: UnLock Math

UnLock MathAs we move through high school, the math gets harder and harder, at least for me. So I love using some type of computer-based program to teach those courses to take some of the pressure off. For this review, we got to try an online program from UnLock Math. My son is a rising junior and we checked out their UnLock Algebra2.

UnLock MathOne of the things that I really like about this program is how complete it is. It features video leasson, testing, and automated grading, which just makes my life so much easier! The lessons are taught by real teachers and you get plenty of practice as well as access to complete solutions for the problem sets, which was helpful to me if I needed to go over something with my son.

UnLock MathAlgebra2 has 15 units with topics ranging from polynomials, to quadratic functions, to statistics and matrices. It also includes mid-term and final exams. The program is very simple to use, especially for any kid familiar with computers. As a parent, you set up your account and add your student and they get their own log in info. When you log in you can check their progress and you can also view the program from the student’s dashboard, in case you want to see what they’re doing.

UnLock MathUnits consist of multiple lessons which also include reviews of previous lessons. I like this method of teaching because even though students move on from a topic, they still practice the concept, which helps them retain it. Quizzes and tests are built in to each unit as well. Lessons begin with a short warm-up before students watch the video lesson. The videos are (thankfully) short, so this works well for kids with short attention spans. I also want to mention that the teachers in the videos are lively and engaged, something that is really important to my son. We have done online/computer-based classes before where the teacher drones on in a monotone voice and he quickly loses interest.

After watching the video, students complete a set of practice problems. There are about 10 problems per set and there are a few different sets, so they get plenty of practice options. Each lesson also includes a set of reference notes, which is a short summary of the lesson, complete with important vocabulary. These were very helpful and I printed them out to use them as study guides for my son for the exams.

The dashboard page also features handy graphics that allow students to track their own progress, which was a great motivator for my son. He could immediately see exactly how far he had come and how much he had left to do. It was also really easy for me to look at his login page and make sure he had done his work for the day!

On the whole, we really liked this program. I think it is a great option for parents who don’t want to teach upper level math themselves. UnLock Math offers monthly and yearly pricing options, and you do get to choose your own start date, which is also nice.

If you would like to learn more, connect with UnLock Math on social media here:

UnLock Math on Facebook

UnLock Math on Twitter

UnLock Math on Pinterest

To hear what other members of the crew had to say about this program, and the other ones we got to check out, including their newest offering, UnLock Geometry click here:

Pre-Algebra, Algebra and Geometry {UnLock Math Reviews}

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TOS Review: Apologia Educational Ministries – Internship for High School Credit

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So, high school is all about preparing for the future, right? And what better way to prepare your child for their future than to have them do an internship in high school? Sounds like a great idea, doesn’t it? But, how do you set up said internship? And track it? And assign credits for it? Don’t worry, Apologia Educational Ministries is here to help! For this review, we got to check out their Internship for High School Credit workbook, and it helps answer all of those questions!

internship-for-high-school-credit-jpg_zpszpczjo6g

The book starts with a basic introduction to internships and ideas for how to find an internship, how to figure out what to intern in, and how many hours are needed to earn credit (75 for one-half credit). This equates to about 5 hours per week, which is pretty manageable for a  summer or fall internship. I liked the fact that they spell all of this out for you in the beginning because that is the kind of stuff I have trouble figuring out.

Internship for High School Credit also offers sections on writing a resume and introductory letter, with samples, which was very helpful for my son. He learns best when he has concrete examples, and things have changed so much since I wrote my resumes, I like having examples too.

There are two sections in the workbook, one for each semester, in case you wanted to do a full year internship (which is about 150 hours). There is also a wrap-up section at the end with activities for your student to complete once their internship is done. So, you can decide on your own how long you want the internship to be.

At the beginning of the sememster, students set goals for their course, whch they are supposed to set with their supervisor. From there, they have weekly assignments that include a table where they track the dates and hours they worked, and then a series of questions to answer. The questions range from ones that get the students focused on their workplace (like observing the atmosphere and how people interact with each other there) to ones that get them thinking about their future career path (like researching colleges and degrees that will benefit them, thinking about what kinds of technology they will use on the job). At the end, students and their supervisors rate their performance, and there are several writing assignments including essays and writing a thank you note.

My son has been planning to do an internship with the children’s pastor at our church, as he has been interested in becoming a children’s minister himself for quite some time. When he began his internship a few weeks ago, the three of us met to go over what he would be doing and to set goals and a schedule. Since then, my son has been completing the weekly activities with me discussing them with him each week. I also sign off on his hours for the week. Our pastor also signs off on his hours and usually offers some feedback too.

So far, I am very happy with the Internship for High School Credit program. I feel like it has given my son’s internship real direction that it might not otherwise have had. I also feel like the questions have given my son a lot to think about, and it has led to some great discussions about his future both with me and with our pastor as well. If you are interested in having your child complete an internship and don’t know how to get started, I would highly recommend checking this out.

To learn more, connect with Apologia on social media here:

Apologia on Facebook

Apologia on Twitter

Apologia on YouTube

To see what other members of the crew had to say about this program and the How to Homeschool course they got to check out, click here:

Homeschool with Confidence & Internship for High School {Apologia Educational Ministries Reviews}

Crew Disclaimer

TOS Review: Memoria Press (First Form Latin)

Memoria PressI believe languages are important and to be honest, I’ve always been interested in Latin. I find it fascinating how much of our current vocabulary is derived from a variety of Latin roots. Really, knowing Latin can improve your vocabulary over all which is something that can benefit any high school student, but especially those interested in career paths involving science or medicine. So, I was excited to get to check out the First Form Latin Complete Set from Memoria Press for this review.

First Form Latin Complete SetFirst of all, when they say complete set, they mean complete set! I was absolutely amazed by everything that came in the box! There was a teacher manual, teacher key, student text, student workbook, test book, flash cards, pronunciation CD, and instructional DVD! Yes, I know that’s a lot, and I will admit, I was a little overwhelmed at first, just looking at it. However, Memoria Press also does a great job of coordinating all the pieces and parts to make it easy for you to use everything.

The teacher manual for this program is your best friend. It very explicitly lays out the order of each lesson for you. It also explains how you will use each part of the program. Now, keep in mind that First Form Latin was originally designed to be used in a classroom setting, so some of the activities (like games, choral recitations etc.) assume that you have more than one student. However, you can easily adapt it, either by taking on the role of a student yourself (which is what I did because I wanted to learn Latin anyway), having siblings take on those parts, or perhaps using it in a co-op setting.

Memoria Press offers a variety of Latin programs for all ages and I did First Form with my 10th grade son. Not because it is aimed at high school students, but because this is simply where you start with any older student. The good thing about this program is that prior experience with Latin is not required for the student or the teacher! I will tell you that there is a learning curve when you first start using the program, but that is because it is just so meaty! Since the lessons follow a predictable pattern, you kind of get into a groove after you’ve done it for a bit.

There is a suggested weekly schedule, which I followed, and lessons take about 30-45 minutes total, but you could break that up into smaller segments if you needed too. Students take quizzes each week, which I think is a nice feature, and you do quite a bit of review work through the flashcards and games, so they don’t forget what they have learned. You can also use this with the Famous Men of Rome curriculum to add in some history studies too.

My son enjoyed learning Latin with his mom, and while he doesn’t always like all the drills that come with it, he does see how useful they are. The student text and workbook are very straightforward and were easy for him to use. At the beginning we did the workbook together, but after we started moving through the lessons, we would complete some activities together and then he would finish the lesson on his own with me correcting it afterwards. It is really important that you take the time to go over the workbook activities with your child because that feedback helps them to learn.

Overall, we have really enjoyed First Form Latin, and I am seriously considering moving on to Second Form Latin when we are done. If you are looking for a very thorough, yet still easy to use Latin program for your child, we would definitely recommend this one. To learn more, connect with Memoria Press on social media here:

Memoria Press on Facebook

Memoria Press on Twitter

Memoria Press on Pinterest

Memoria Press on YouTube

To see what other members of the crew thought of this program and the others that we got to check out, click here:

Latin, Nature and Trees {Memoria Press Reviews}Crew Disclaimer