TOS Review: Fitting Words (Roman Roads Media)

Roman Roads MediaSo we are in my son’s senior year of high school and he has already begun some of his online classes to pursue his children’s ministry degree. As he begins his college education I realize the need for him to really be able to speak, debate, and write thoughtfully to present his thoughts and beliefs. This is one of the reasons I think it is very important to include Rhetoric as one of his subjects this year. I was so so excited to find out I was going to get to review Fitting Words Classical Rhetoric (Complete Program) from Roman Roads Media. When I first started checking this out I thought “wow, this looks really good” and when I got into it, I can tell you, I wasn’t disappointed.

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For starters, when they say this is a “complete program”, they aren’t kidding. It really comes with every single thing you need in one package. From the textbook, to the student workbook, to the exams, complete answer key and even (yes!) video lessons, it’s all here. Of course, you can pick and choose how much you want to use because as the parent, you are always in charge, but everything is right here, and it’s all put together so well that it is really easy to use.

Parents should begin by reading the introduction which explains each component and gives a very convenient schedule for either a one year or two year course. I am one of those moms who always appreciates a schedule. Yes, I will probably tweak this to suit our particular needs, but for me a schedule is a great starting point because it gives me some idea of how to break down the material. Since we are in my son’s senior year we decided to follow the one-year schedule, but if we had gotten this earlier I probably would have done this course over two years to give us more time to dive into some of the further suggested readings and other things.

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The video lessons that accompany the course are broken into two parts for each lesson, one that goes over the main lesson and one that takes students through the exercises for those lessons. Now, my son is not a great video learner. However, he did like watching the application videos a lot. Mainly because he liked how Mr. Nance (the author) explained the exercises and he said the videos helped him to better understand the figures of speech introduced in each lesson. He also watched the videos that reviewed the lessons before he took his exams. So, I allowed him to choose which videos to watch and he utilized them in the way that suited him best. I liked the way they were set up, because they were not incredibly long and the menu made it easy for him to find the videos that matched the lessons he was on.

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Okay, so getting into the program, can I just say that I really kind of got into this myself and did a lot of pre-reading ahead of my son? The lessons in this book are meaty, and actually really interesting. If you think rhetoric is a dry topic, it’s not. At least not the way it’s presented in Fitting Words. The textbook consists of 30 lessons divided into seven units that cover topics ranging from types of arguments, to emotions, to delivery and so much more. Along the way your children will read Bible passages, excerpts from Phaedrus, and all kinds of speeches and other examples that will help them bring to life the things they are learning.

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In the workbook, they will learn to apply what they are learning through activities that ask them to read Bible passages and identify the emotions of the speakers in those passages, look at historical documents and explain the methods the authors used in writing those documents, identify figures of speech in well-known writings, and have opportunities to give speeches of their own for specific purposes such as soliciting specific emotions from their audience, give a speech appropriate for a ceremony, and more.

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Each chapter approaches it’s topic directly and explains it in detail with plenty of examples. The chapters themselves are pretty short (a big plus for my son!) with sidebars that highlight key concepts and ideas. At the end of the chapter there are questions you can use for discussion that encourage students to think more deeply about what they just read, suggestions for further reading, and a short memorization exercise. In addition, students will complete the related assignments in the workbook for their lessons. The thing is, even though the information itself is meaty, my son did NOT feel like he was overloaded with work to the point that he dreaded this subject and that is really the key to success for me at this point. Because if I have to fight with him to get him to do it, chances are, it probably isn’t going to get done. That is another reason I really like this course. He’s learning a lot, but he doesn’t feel like he’s being slammed with work! You can always dig further with the additional suggested readings, and if we were using this as a two-year program I probably would, but since we only have a year, we are going easy on that, only reading those particular ones my son is really interested in.

In the appendix you will find a full glossary, the full text of historical speeches featured in the text and a listing of Biblical speeches featured as well. This was very handy for my son to use as a reference for assignments.

The amount of depth in Fitting Words was just really impressive to me. I feel like my son is going to grow as a thinker, a writer, and a speaker through using this program, and the skills he learns are going to benefit him in his college courses. I definitely think this is a great program for any high school student. To learn more, connect with Roman Roads Media here:

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

 

Classical Rhetoric and Picta Dicta {Roman Roads Media Reviews}Crew Disclaimer 

TOS Review: Code For Teens

Code for TeensTechnology is increasingly becoming a more and more integral part of our world and it is very important for our kids to learn how to use it. Fortunately, many kids today seem more adept at handling modern technology than their parents. However, there are many technical aspects to computers that elude even them, such as programming. I took my first programming class when I was in college and it was very basic, I wouldn’t even know how to begin to explain the concept to my high schooler. So, I was excited to take a look at Code for Teens: The Awesome Beginner’s Guide to Programming from Code for Teens for this review.

Code for Teens 

This full-color book focuses on JavaScript and covers topics like coding with numbers, functions, arrays, loops, and even making a game. It is written entirely to the student and is very easy to follow without being juvenile or kiddish (my son’s words, he’s a senior this year so this is very important to him). There are some basic requirements for the program: you must have a laptop or computer and you must download Google Chrome. That’s about it. One very cool thing about this book is that kids start coding right from the beginning. Really, they start performing very simple stuff from the very start, which I think takes away a lot of the intimidation associated with the whole process.

As your child moves through each chapter they will complete chapter quizzes, reviews and projects that they will save on the computer in their “workbook”. Answers to these quizzes and reviews are in the back of the book (which is awesome if you are not tech-literate like me). This workbook also gives them a sense of accomplishment as they see all that they have done as they work through the program. The projects are actually fun, and not boring, which my son kind of thought they would be (because, as he told me, most end of chapter projects are). Some of them are similar to logic puzzles, or may involve writing a bio of themselves or some other sort of activity, but he enjoyed them all and there are helpful hints in the back of the book if your child gets stuck (again, thank you Jeremy Moritz for that because I would not have been able to help on my own for sure!).

Code for Teens also includes a glossary and all the words in the glossary are in bold print in the text, which is nice for context. The color illustrations were a nice touch and added some humor to the book (which was also light and funny and not super serious which is what I remember about programming class, a fact I didn’t particularly enjoy). So, if you think computer programming has to be dry and boring and really difficult, I have to tell you, Code for Teens will prove you wrong. It’s fun, but still thorough, and a great introduction for a high school student looking to learn the basics of programming. I hope the author has plans to write similar books for other types of programming too. We really enjoyed this, and I would definitely recommend you check it out! To learn more, connect with Code for Teens on social media here:

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To see what other members of the crew thought of this product, click here:

 Code For Teens: The Awesome Beginner's Guide to Programming {Code for Teens Reviews}

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TOS Review: The Master and His Apprentices

I enjoy a stroll through a museum as much as anybody else, and I appreciate a beautiful work of art, but I have to admit, I don’t really KNOW much about art. In high school, I chose drama to fulfill my arts requirement, so when my own child expressed his interest in art (and classical artists), I really wasn’t sure what to do. Fortunately, there are curriculums out there to help homeschool moms like me and for this review we got to check out The Master and His Apprentices: Art History from a Christian Perspective a homeschool art history curriculum from The Master and His Apprentices.

The Master and His Apprentices 

This curriculum covers art all the way from Mesopotamia to today and includes chapters on Egyptian art, Early Greek Art, the Etruscan Period, Gothic art, the Renaissance, the Baroque period and more. Full color pictures invite you and your children to examine beautiful images you would likely never see otherwise, all accompanied by a wealth of information, enough to give your child a full high school credit if you choose.

Each chapter begins with an introduction that gives important background information on each period, which is important because it helps students understand the context in which the art takes place. As they are introduced to the art and the artists timelines help them keep track of everything going on. Students will learn about a variety of mediums from paintings to sculptures, and for my son, learning about the different styles of art helped to keep him from getting bored.

The teachers guide includes a sample syllabus and recommendation for grading papers and tests. I found this helpful, if only as a starting point. It is very easy to adjust this to meet your own personal needs, but as this is a very meaty program, it is nice to have a guide to give you an idea of how to structure this as a one year program if you want to do that. Basically it is set up for the student to do most of the reading on their own and be prepared to discuss what they read with you, which is appropriate for an upper level high school student. You could certainly read the material with your child if you wish, but for my junior in high school, he mostly did this as written.

There are questions for each chapter and four written papers assigned throughout the year. We did most of the questions orally, and these would definitely lend themselves well to group discussions if you wanted to use this program in a co-op setting or something like that. You could also assign the questions as written work if that suits your child better. I liked how a lot of the questions brought in Biblical principals and challenged students to think about what they learned about the art from a Biblical perspective. A lot of the time I think people don’t feel they can apply the Bible to artistic works but this program shows how this is simply not the case.

Exams are also included in the teacher’s guide and it comes with an answer key and tips to help you through lessons which I found very helpful. Overall, I thought this was a great art history program that was definitely a good choice to fulfill an art credit for high school! To learn more, connect with The Master and His Apprentices on social media here:

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To see what other members of the crew thought of this program click here:

The Master and His Apprentices: Art History from a Christian Perspective {The Master and His Apprentices Reviews}

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TOS Review: Silverdale Press LLC

Silverdale PressI have always been an eclectic homeschooler, using a variety of styles to suit our needs. One of the things I like to include in our learning is unit studies, especially for specific topics, like holidays. For this review, we got to check out the White House Holidays Unit Studies from Silverdale Press LLC. They offer a variety of studies on a number of holidays but for our review we focused on two of my favorites, Christmas and Thanksgiving!

Persuasive Writing and Classical RhetoricThe studies are set up for grades K-12 with different activities for grades K-6 and grades 7-12, so you could easily do these with multiple grade levels if you have a large family.  They are also completely self-contained, so you do not need any additional books to complete the activities. However, you can certainly add books from the library on the topics you are studying if you wish. Some of the activities do require art supplies, but a list of required materials is given at the beginning of each lesson so it is pretty easy to go through these ahead of time and gather everything you need before you get started.

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So, the Thanksgiving unit study is fairly short, consisting of only five lessons, each of which could pretty much be completed in one sitting. If you wanted to extend it out to one lesson per week so you could make it last the whole month of November you could do the reading portion one day, the activities another, and then add in some additional library reading on the other days. For me, I would probably just devote one of our schooling days to the unit study.
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Lessons focus on the history of the holiday and American traditions, including those involving Presidents like Franklin Roosevelt and Eisenhower. Students will read portions of Plymouth Plantation, make presentations about things they are thankful for, illustrate poems, and analyze primary source documents. I appreciate how this study gets into the history of how celebrating the harvest was so important in America and also taught me some things that I didn’t know such as why the date for Thanksgiving was moved (I truly had no idea about the controversy surrounding the date in the first place). It also includes some recipes, two from Mamie Eisenhower! I feel like this was a very interesting study and that my son and I both learned a lot from it.

The Christmas Unit Study features four lessons, which makes it perfect to roll into right after you finish the one from Thanksgiving! However, it does offer quite a few more activities, so you will probably need to spread them out over the week. As I said, you can certainly add more by checking out books from the library to read to or with your kids if you want, but everything you need is contained right here in the study itself. Each lesson in this study is unique, as it focuses on a First Lady (Jacqueline Kennedy, Betty Ford, Barbara Bush, and Michelle Obama) and their take on the White House Christmas for that year. I really found this one interesting.

In this study you and your children will learn how the tradition of decorating the White House around a theme began and create some of your own special designs. You will also get opportunities to bake, do art projects, and reach out and help others. The study starts with Jacqueline Kennedy’s Nutcracker Suite Christmas. There are links for you to listen to music from the ballet as well as an audio recording of the book. You could also buy tickets to go see the ballet in person if they are available near you.

You will also do a detailed study about the White House Nativity scene and get a chance to create your own as well as read President Kennedy’s speech from when he lit the first National Christmas Tree. Learning about the simple Christmas that Betty Ford had in the White House was very special, and the activities for that lesson lend themselves to a lot of family fun (making popcorn garlands, gingerbread houses and cookies, and cranberry trees). Plus, your house will be fully ready for the holiday season!

Some of the service activities involved in the Christmas unit study include adopting a family in need and visiting a Salvation Army store. You will also do a fair amount of internet research for this study as well. Before they complete the study students will get a chance to practice persuasive writing skills (writing a letter to the White House), track Santa, debate real vs. fake Christmas trees, and a whole lot more. This study really does have a real depth to it and is a lot of fun.

Some other observations about the White House Holidays unit study: it is set up to easily divide the activities between grade levels. You read the same lesson to your kids, but the amount of questions they answer or the activities they do will vary by age, I think this is great because it makes it really easy to do with all your kids at once. While I did not get into the other unit studies, I did take a peak at them, and they all look to be set up similarly, and they look just as fun! I am pretty sure we will hit all of them over the next year.

If you want to add some unit study fun to your homeschool, you can learn more about Silverdale Press on social media here:

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

Persuasive Writing & Classical Rhetoric: Practicing the Habits of Great Writers & White House Holidays Unit Studies {Silverdale Press LLC Reviews}Crew Disclaimer

TOS Review: Something’s Fishy at Lake Iwannfisha

The Critical Thinking Co.™I love a good mystery! And what better way to teach critical thinking skills than with a mystery story? For this review, we got to check out the Whodunnit Forensic Mystery, Something’s Fishy at Lake Iwannfisha from The Critical Thinking Co.™. It is a complete self-contained activity aimed at students in grades 5-12 and we found it very entertaining.

The Critical Thinking Co.™
The mystery begins with a full set of teacher instructions that give you background on the case, witness and suspect profiles, timelines, and specific instructions on how to guide your students through the activities. This is very helpful because there are a lot of pieces to coordinate and students are meant to find out certain pieces of information at very specific times, so you need to make sure you stay on top of that. The directions are however, very easy to follow, so once you read them, you should have no trouble getting started.

Something's Fishy at Lake Iwannafisha 

Activities are designed to be completed individually or in a group, so you could easily do this in a co-op setting if you want, and I think it would be really fun actually. However, for this review, my son just did it by himself. The teacher’s guide tells you exactly which handouts you need to make copies of as well, which is also helpful. Since everything is contained in the workbook itself, the only other things you really need to complete the whole mystery is a folder to organize the handouts and a pencil.

Now, as for the case itself, it involves a few murders, and my son was immediately intrigued. When I first showed him this, he thought it was going to be some “little kid, who robbed the candy store” kind of thing, but as soon as we got into the actual crime, he got interested. The way the police reports, witness and suspect interviews and evidence reports are set up, you really feel like you are immersed in investigating an actual crime. They give you enough information that you have what you need to pull the pieces together, but it is by no means an easy thing to just figure out. Students really need to use deductive reasoning to work out who committed these crimes and how.

I like how the Critical Thinking Co.™ put this together to make it interesting and exciting, and encourage students to use critical thinking skills in a way that really requires them to apply them. Not just in the sense that they are reading and answering questions or drawing conclusions, but that they are pulling together pieces and parts of information from all different sources and synthesizing them and then drawing conclusions and using those conclusions to answer other questions. That’s the kind of critical thinking I want my son to be able to do as a high schooler, and honestly, this is just a really fun way to do it!

We took several weeks to work through the mystery at Lake Iwannafisha, but you can definitely set your own pace. I can tell you we would absolutely recommend this if you want a fun activity to do for summer or just to add something extra and different to your homeschool. I am seriously going to check out the other programs that Critical Thinking has to offer that are like this one because we enjoyed it so much.

To learn more about this program, connect with Critical Thinking on social media here:

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

Critical Thinking, Understanding Math & Vocabulary {The Critical Thinking Co.™ Reviews}

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TOS Review: Memoria Press (Latin)

Memoria PressSo since most colleges ask for two credits in languages I thought it was important that my boys study a language in high school. My oldest chose Spanish, which I figured was pretty easy. However, my youngest wanted to do something different, and he chose Latin. I have to say, this terrified me, but I found a great program that I loved (First Form Latin) and it turned out to be great for both of us. For this review, I got to check out the next year of that program, Second Form Latin from Memoria Press.

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Okay, the first thing you should know is that the Second Form Latin Complete Set comes with a lot of components. Do not let this intimidate you. They all work together really well and are very easy to use. Keep in mind, this program is meant to be used AFTER First Form Latin, so the idea is that your student will have some experience with the language prior to beginning the program. Also remember that you are still your child’s teacher, and of course, you can always choose to leave some parts out if you wish.

What does Second Form Latin come with? A student textbook and workbook, a teacher’s manual and complete answer key, tests and quizzes for each lesson, flashcards, a pronunciation CD and a set of instructional DVDs. The DVDs are taught by Glen Moore, and he does a very good job of presenting the material. However, this particular child has never done well with DVD learning (believe me, we have tried many times) so I only use these sparingly.

This program consists of 26 lessons, plus additional reviews every five lessons or so. The lessons themselves are only a couple pages in the student workbook but they are very meaty. The teacher’s guide is the best place to start as it takes you through the general format for each lesson and then breaks down each lesson with individual notes. It might take some time to get used to the lesson format, especially parts like the oral drills and games if you are only teaching one student. However, what I figured out is that this is a great chance for YOU to learn Latin as well if you want. Seriously, after working through First Form with my son I discovered I learned a ton, and I am picking up more with Second Form now.

Teaching the lessons took me about 30-40 minutes at first, but once I got used to it, we averaged around 25 minutes per lesson. Each lesson takes about five days to complete, with your child working in the workbook each day. I appreciate how the workbook is set up in five distinct sections for each lesson because it makes it really easy for me to give my son a stopping and starting point each day. He generally completes the workbook on his own now, only coming to me when he has specific questions, but in the beginning, we did the workbook pages together.

The pronunciation guide was another huge bonus for me because reading Latin does not come naturally (at least at first). We listened to this together on the first day of each lesson and then referred back to it if we needed to. My son did not enjoy doing the flash cards, but really, how many 17 year olds enjoy doing drills? The fact is, they were very helpful in getting him to really remember information, especially from earlier lessons as we moved on. Also, you can use them to play games. After you complete each lesson, there is a quiz which we found helpful because it helped us figure out if there was something we needed to go back and review.

So, how do we feel about Second Form Latin? Honestly, we love it. I am amazed at how thorough it is and how easy it is to teach! I have watched my son grow in confidence over this past year as he studies, and as I mentioned, I feel like I am learning Latin too. He thinks it’s cool to be able to read and and understand more and more, especially since many people don’t understand Latin at all. Also, he is recognizing the connection between Latin and other languages and seeing where a lot of our words come from! I would definitely recommend this if you want a rigorous but easy to teach program for your high school student.

To learn more, connect with Memoria Press on social media here:

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

Spelling, Music Appreciation & Latin {Memoria Press Reviews}Crew Disclaimer

TOS Review: Bytes of Learning

UltraKey Bytes of LearningAs my kids get older, I realize the need for them to become more and more proficient with technology. While my son, a high school junior, is quite comfortable with computers one area that needs work is his typing skills. At this point his style is still more “hunt-and-peck” than anything else. So, I was excited to give the UltraKey Online Family Subscription from Bytes of Learning a try.

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This program is completely web-based, which is nice because we can access it from anywhere. It offers pretty personalized lessons, allowing you to set your own goals or choosing to allow the program to set goals for you. It also offers reports for parents on skill checks, games and more. You can easily track your child’s progress, seeing which skill checks they have passed complete with errors. This allows me to know if I need my son to go back and redo something.

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Lessons are a mixture of videos and slides, and the narrator speaks in a pleasant, even tone. As students type, a picture of the keyboard is on the screen with a model of where their hands are supposed to be. This was helpful for my son as he became comfortable with the proper positioning. Lessons begin with an introduction and some initial activities with specific keys, then move on to typing words and sentences. Students are given plenty of opportunities to practice before moving on to the Skills assessment. In addition to lessons on keyboarding, there are also very helpful videos on proper posture, finger placement, and even stretches you can use between lessons.

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Since Bytes of Learning is a self-paced program it is very easy for kids to complete on their own. They simply log in and start. My son spent about 15-20 minutes a day working on lessons, which was the perfect amount of time, keeping him from getting bored or losing interest. It was also really easy to fit into our already hectic days.

UltraKey Online also offers games which allow students to practice their skills while having fun. I appreciate the fact that the games also allow students to practice other important skills like spelling and even state capitals. My son enjoyed the games and you can get reports on those too and students earn printable merit awards as they complete levels. He liked challenging himself to improve his score each time he played. The rhyming game was his favorite.

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The UltraKey family subscription allows you to add three, five, or eight students at a time for a cost of $29.95-$49.95. I think this program is appropriate for all ages, even younger students. As a parent, I appreciate how easy Bytes of Learning is to manage, the interface is very well set up and it’s really easy to review your child’s progress. I would definitely recommend this program if you are looking for an easy typing program to get your kids comfortable with keyboarding.

UltraKey Online Family Edition 

To learn more about the UltraKey Online Family Subscription, connect with Bytes of Learning on Facebook:

Bytes of Learning

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UltraKey {Bytes of Learning Reviews}Crew Disclaimer 

TOS Review: Innovators Tribe

Innovators TribeDo you have a middle school or high school student interested in subjects like engineering or architecture? Are you wondering how to incorporate courses in those subjects into your homeschool? Well, for this review we got to check out the online course, Thinking Like an Engineer from Innovators Tribe, designed to give students in grades 6-12 a taste of what it’s like to be an engineer. They also offer a similar course in architecture!

Thinking Like an Engineer 

Thinking Like an Engineer offers interactive lessons that your child can follow at their own pace. Hands-on projects are also a part of the course and the 3D CAD design software is included in the program so your technical needs are met. The course consists of six units that are divided into multiple lessons on topics like roller coaster design, types of bridges, introduction to 3D design, nano-engineering, and more.

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The program begins with an introduction to engineering, lessons on the types of engineers there are, and some activities to get kids going. Lessons vary in length, with some being around 20 minutes long and others (specifically the activities) taking as long as two hours. For those lessons, we broke them up into shorter chunks, to suit my 11th grade son’s attention span. One thing I really like about Thinking Like an Engineer is that the activities do not require a lot of special materials, which can be difficult to locate for a busy homeschool mom. In general students use paper, card stock, tape, scissors and an engineering level (which can be found online) to complete the challenges.

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My son enjoyed the narrator, Mr. K, who was lively and fun to watch. The lessons are a fair mix of videos and slides, which kept him from getting bored. (there are even a few bloopers at the end of some lessons which made him laugh) As your child moves through the course, their progress is tracked, making it easy for you to see how they are doing. If they skip a lesson, it shows up on the dashboard as a bouncing icon, so they can easily go back and finish it.

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There are about 14 design challenges in the course and let me tell you, they were not easy. In fact, it was interesting to watch as my son figured he would easily be able to complete a few of them and then found out he was wrong. I am glad that this course really did force him to think carefully through the challenges and problem solve along the way. These are skills he can apply to other areas of life whether he becomes an engineer or not.

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We both felt this course was very interesting, and I would often sit on the couch with him to watch some of the videos (we did skip ahead to check out the part about the scariest bridges, which was pretty cool!). My son appreciated that he could work at his own pace, because with juggling other high school courses being on a tight timeline would only stress him out. We would get together on Mondays and look over his work for the week and then set some goals for what he would complete in Thinking Like an Engineer for that week. It may take him some time to finish the course, but he is enjoying it and he is learning and that’s all that matters. Since it offers a total of 30 hours of work, I am going to give him a 0.25 credit for the course as well.

If you have a budding engineer in your family (or architect or capenter) I would definitely recommend checking Innovaters Tribe out! To see what other crew members thought about the courses we got to try, click here:

Thinking Like an Architect or Engineer {Innovators Tribe Reviews}Crew Disclaimer

TOS Review: Captain Bayley’s Heir (Heirloom Audio Productions)

Heirloom Audio Productions Have you ever wanted to travel to the Wild Wild West? Did you ever wonder what it was like to travel to unsettled areas and deal with the adventures you would find there? If you have, you definitely want to check out this review of Captain Bayley’s Heir from Heirloom Audio Productions, because it will take you right there!

Captain Bayley's HeirFirst, let me say, we have reviewed for Heirloom before and are always pleased with what they have to offer. In fact, I have a few expectations now whenever I get to listen to their audiodramas: 1. a stellar cast: Yes, they have amazing talent for all of their stories. From Brian Blessed, who features on the majority of their recordings, to others like Jade Williams and Ian Porter, you are getting a top-notch performance from everyone! These people really seem to LIVE their characters, which helps you get totally lost in the story. 2. Amazing soundtrack/sound effects: whoever does the sound recordings for Heirloom should be commended! Their sound effects/music/etc are always on point and perfectly suited to whatever is happening in the story. Like, if you close your eyes, you really feel like you are there!

So, without giving too much away, this particular story, based on a classic GA Henty novel, features the story of Frank, an English lad falsely accused of theft when it comes to his inheritance. He flees to America to escape the charges and encounters the Captain on his journey. In addition, he travels across the country in the heart of the Gold Rush, ecountering raids, stagecoach robberies, buffalo and more along the way. Of course, he alos encounters the Lord and learns a lot along the way.

So, why do we love Captain Bayley (and the other audiodramas from Heirloom) so much?
Mainly because it is pure, wholesome family entertainment. You can listen to this with kids of all ages (the first one of these I reviewd, I think my youngest was 11, now he’s 16) and never have to worry about what is going to be said. We enjoy saving the CDs for road trips when we can all listen together, but you can also put them in a CD player at the house. The chapters are conviently divided, so it is easy to pick up right where you left off each day!

Also, these audiodramas are just plain exciting! I have two boys who are now older teenagers and they have spent many years listening to these, and they always find them entertaining. As a homeschool mom, I appreciate the historical content, because I can see how you could easily use this story as part of a larger unit study/history study if you wanted too.

In additon to the CDs, you also gain access to bonus content which includes a study guide. I always enjoy these study guides, because even though we primarily use the audiodramas from Heirloom for entertainment, I still like to know my kids are getting something else from listening, you know? The study guide includes discussion questions from each chapter which range from basic recall to questions that require a lot of synthesizing information and drawing conclusions. We use these strictly for discussion, but you could absolutely have older students write their answers to them if you wanted.

Helpful vocabulary and background information is also included as well as Bible studies related to the story. On the whole, the study guides help take Captain Bayley from an exciting audiodrama to a real teaching tool. If you want to access the extra materials you need to sign up for the Live the Adventure Club which is a new feature Heirloom offers that allows you to connect with other people listening to the same story you are, gain access to extras and more. I know, sometimes you don’t want to sign up for one more thing, and to be honest, I get that, but it’s worth it.

In short, we totally enjoyed this product! To learn more, connect with Heirloom Audio on social media here:

Heirloom Audio on Facebook

Heirloom Audio on Twitter

Heirloom Audio on Instagram

To see what other members of the crew thought of this product, click here:

 

Captain Bayley's Heir {Heirloom Audio Productions Reviews}Crew Disclaimer 

TOS Review: Apologia Marine Biology

Apologia Educational MinistriesOne of the things I find complicated about teaching high school is getting in all the elective credits. Sometimes it can be difficult to find interesting courses to fill those needs for your child. However, I do have a kid who loves the ocean, so the Marine Biology 2nd Edition Advantage set with the Audio CD from Apologia Educational Ministries seemed like a good fit for us!

Marine Biology 2nd Edition Advantage SetThe Advantage set itself comes with the student textbook, notebook, and tests and answer keys. We loved the full-color textbook which has a great layout on each page. The pictures/charts/diagrams etc help break up the text, which is great for my son who has trouble focusing when there is nothing but words on the page. This program features 16 modules on topics like: Life in the Sea, Marine Invertebrates, Marine Ecology, Coral Reefs, and much more.

Each chapter includes a few experiments that can pretty much be completed with things you have at home. I like this feature since purchasing a lot of very specific items for labs is often expensive. Directions are clear and easy to follow, meaning you can easily do the labs even if you do not have a lot of science experience. There are questions sprinkled throughout the chapter that help students articulate what they are learning, and each chapter features a review at the end that your child can complete before they take the test.

Apologia Marine Biology is a creation-based program, which I like, and interspersed in the chapter are sections called “Creation Connection” which links what is being learned in the chapter to evidence for creation. If you did not want to focus on this, you could skip this part, but I felt it led to very good discussions between my son and I and helped him sharpen his viewpoint on creation in general.

The appendices offer a glossary, additional study guides, and a list of required lab materials. Basically, my son and I would work our way through the chapter, with him doing the reading and answering the questions, and when we got to the end of the chapter, he would complete his review and take the test. If he did not do well on the test I would have him go back and complete the additional study guide for that chapter.

One thing that helped him complete the reading on his own is the Marine Biology 2nd Edition Audio CD. Read by Marissa Leinart, the CD offers a complete word-by-word reading of each chapter. This is great for reluctant readers like my son who are often intimidated by the sheer amount of reading in a textbook. Ms. Leinart reads at a comfortable, steady pace with appropriate volume and inflection so kids don’t get bored. The CD also offers and introduction and student notes section as well. It is important to note that this is an MP3 CD so you will need a compatible device to use it.

Marine Biology 2nd Ed Audio CDAnother really good part of the Advantage set is the student notebook. Seriously, I cannot stress enough how, whenever you get any Apologia program you should ALWAYS purchase the student notebook. It is so worth it! First of all, the notebook includes a daily schedule with reading/labs/questions all spelled out for you, which is in itself a huge bonus! The notebook also includes all the questions in the chapter, so your child has one place to record all their answers and you aren’t chasing papers around. Lab forms and chapter reviews are also included, so you really don’t need to purchase additional notebooks/binders etc. There is plenty of room for students to write and take notes too.

Marine Biology 2nd Edition Advantage SetThe test book and answer key are also a great component of the program. By high school, kids need to get used to taking tests and I don’t want to have to make them up on my own, it’s just additional work I don’t need. A complete answer key makes it easy for me to grade everything at a glance, so I know if we need further discussion or study on a topic or if we can just move on.

Altogether, we thought Marine Biology was great, and for less than $100 for the main set, it also has a great price! To learn more, connect with Apologia on social media here:

Apologia on Facebook

Apologia on Instagram

Apologia on Twitter

Apologia on Pinterest

To see what other members of the crew thought of this program, click here:

 

Marine Biology 2nd Edition Advantage Set {Apologia Educational Ministries Review}Crew Disclaimer

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!

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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

TOS Review: The Typing Coach

The Typing Coach

In this day and age, technology is only becoming more and more important. It is very likely that whatever job our children get, computer skills are going to be a must. I want my son to be comfortable with typing on a computer, particularly because he has some issues that make handwriting difficult for him. So, I was excited to try The Typing Coach Online Typing Course from The Typing Coach with him.

The Typing Coach

The course is self-paced, which is nice because you are able to have your child work in the way that best suits them. At first, my son was pretty slow and getting through each lesson took quite a bit of time. However, as he practiced and got more comfortable, he was able to complete lessons at a much quicker pace. Lessons include audio and video learning as well as printable student packets that show the student what to type. These reminded me of the typing book I used in high school when learning to type on a typewriter. You know, the flip books you set up and typed from? I kind of liked this part of the program!

When you first log into the course there is a nice section with instructions for how to use each section as well as a video tour which is great for visual learners like my son. I highly recommend reading these and watching the video with your child. There are only seven lessons in the course, but the idea is to keep practicing each lesson until your child masters that section, so depending on how they are doing, the amount of time you spend on the course will vary. Like I said, in the beginning, lessons could take my son more than a week to get comfortable with, but he started going faster after the first few lessons.

Once you read all of the course information, students start with a practice test of sorts so they can get an idea of where they are at and compare their progress at the end of the course. From there they go into lessons on topics like having good posture, home row keys, number row, top row, etc. For each lesson students will need their student packet (which was over 16 pages, plus the tracking sheet and learning checks). I would say that this might be the only drawback for the program if you do not have an efficient printer.

For each lesson, students are literally “coached” along verbally by the program’s author. My son thought he had a pleasant voice and it was helpful to have him directing the lesson as he worked. Students follow the instruction he gives as they practice typing on their computer. We simply opened Microsoft Word and then my son typed as he listened to the lesson play.

Each lesson offers a very good amount of practice in my opinion. Students stroke the same letters repetitively until it almost becomes second nature. The author reminds students to maintain good posture as they work. During breaks in the lesson, light music plays in the background. I will say that for this part of the program, students really do need to be auditory learners, as they have to follow the verbal instructions, typing each letter they are told to type, and there is no video to go along with this part.

At the end of each lesson, students are given instructions for further practice before they move onto their learning check in the practice and testing center. Here, they will take typing test to see how well they have mastered that section. The goal is to complete the test with zero errors before moving on. I will be honest, my son struggled with this at first, especially since he had to go back repeat the lesson if he got any errors. However, I feel his accuracy is going to be so much better because of that, I think it’s a good feature.

Lessons can range anywhere from 20-30 minutes long, so if you have a fidgety child, you may need to break them up into parts. Overall, I feel like this is a solid typing program for anyone who wants to learn how to type. To learn more about this program, connect with The Typing Coach on social media here:

The Typing Coach on Twitter

To see what other members of the crew thought of this program, click here:

The Typing Coach Online Typing Course {The Typing Coach Reviews}

Crew Disclaimer

TOS Review: CompuScholar, Inc

CompuScholar, Inc.My 10th grade son is a techie, and he particularly loves gaming. At some point, he might like to design and create games of his own, so learning about computers is important to him. I want him to have the ability to write programs, but I am so far from being able to do that, it’s not even funny! For this review, I was excited to have him check out the Java Programming course from CompuScholar, Inc.

CompuScholar, Inc. Java ProgrammingThis course is designed for high school students, especially those interested in taking the AP Computer Science exam. The course page offers study resources to help prepare students for the exam, and the lessons go in depth into topics like getting started with Java, working with strings, user input, debugging, and much much more.

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Worried that you have no idea what any of that means? Don’t be, I don’t either. Fortunately, this online course does all the teaching for you. Of course, if you are already fluent in computer programming language, you could certainly help your child through the program, but experience on the parent’s part, is not necessary! (thank goodness)

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We found the Java Programming course to be very user-friendly. It is divided into roughly 27 chapters, with individual lessons for each chapter. Lessons include instruction (video or text), assignments, and quizzes. When your child logs on, they simply click on the chapter they are working on and get started.

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I appreciated the fact that the video lessons were pretty short, which is good for boys with short attention spans. However, even though the lessons may not be long, they are full of information. That’s why it is also nice to have a text version of the lesson available as well. If my son had trouble remembering something, or didn’t quite get something, he could watch the video again and/or go read the lesson text as well.

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The quizzes were great for me as a homeschool teacher. In high school, I do think it is important to record grades and things like that. Having everything graded for me made it very easy for me to keep track of how he was doing, and also makes it easier for me to track credits for high school. Students have two attempts at every quiz, so if my son did not do well, I had him review the lesson and take it again. Each chapter also features an exam at the end that reviews all the lessons.

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The part my son enjoyed the most was probably the activities. Some of them were complicated, but that’s what I would expect from a course at this level. He did have me read over the directions with him on a couple of assignments, but once he understood the directions, he was able to complete the assignments on his own. I felt like the assignments offered him a great opportunity to practice what he was learning. After finishing this course, I feel like he would be able to move into further computer programming courses at our local community college with a solid foundation to build on.

My son enjoyed the Java Programming course from CompuScholar Inc., and as a mom, I feel like it was a very strong course for a high school student. We are going to review the AP resources and consider signing him up for the test. CompuScholar offers multiple pricing options for this course, from monthly to yearly payments and self-study and teacher-led courses.

To learn more about CompuScholar Inc., connect with them on social media here:

CompuScholar Inc. on Facebook

CompuScholar Inc. on Twitter

To learn more about this, and the other courses our reviewers got to check out, like their Web Design and Digital Savvy courses, click here:

 

Digital Savvy, Web Design & Java Programming {CompuScholar,Inc Reviews}Crew Disclaimer

TOS Review: Memoria Press

Memoria Press

I’ve always loved studying languages, and my son has an interest in language, history, and the Bible. For this review, we got to check out the First Form Greek Complete Set from Memoria Press, which seems like a great combination of all of those! This set is aimed at students in 7-12 grades and comes with so much stuff! You get a teacher’s manual, student text, student workbook, flash cards, and quizzes and tests book, answer key, pronunciation CD, and instructional DVD. There is so much to dive into, I had to take a couple of days to work it out in my head before we could start using it.

First Form Greek Complete Set
Grades 7-12

First of all, I want to say this program is extremely thorough. Beginning with the teacher’s manual, it takes you through each part of a lesson with examples and tips for how to help your students along. I appreciated this because I don’t have a ton of experience in Greek, and it was nice to have everything broken down for me. Lessons are consistent in how they are broken up, so once you get into a rhythm, things flow pretty smoothly. The lessons in First Form Greek are scheduled to take place over five days, but I think you could easily adjust this once you get comfortable with the program.

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The student text is broken into 26 lessons, or five units, covering the declensions and different parts of speech. I found the instruction to be pretty clear, but if something was too confusing, we simply watched the lecture that accompanied the lesson on the DVD. That’s what I mean by saying this a very thorough set, it has multiple layers that you can combine to make the program fit your student.

After completing the lessons, my son would work his way through the student workbook. Sometimes he needed help with some assignments, which was fine. If he needed to review something I let him go back to the book or DVD to figure it out, because I always feel like finding the correct answer for something you are unsure of helps you to learn.  I admit, we did slow down the pace a bit, to about 3-4 days per week depending on the subject. I don’t want to rush my son through this because I want him to really soak it up.

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The quizzes and test book is another nice addition to the program, especially at the high school level. At this point, I do like to have test and quiz grades for my son, since I want to count courses for credit, and it’s nice to not have to make them up on my own. I think First Form Greek is a solid program for a high school student or an advanced middle schooler, or even an adult (like me) who has wanted to further her understanding of an ancient language that played such a big part in the world. As my son has been working through this program, and I have been grading his work, I find myself learning alongside him! This has opened up new avenues for me as I begin to see the patterns in the language, especially when it comes to Bible study, as I often like to look up words or phrases, and many places include Greek translations!

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If you would like to learn more about this program, connect with Memoria Press on social media here:

Memoria Press on Facebook

Memoria Press on Instagram

Memoria Press on Twitter

Memoria Press on Pinterest

To find out more about First Form Greek and the other products the Crew Review team got to check out, click here:

 First Form Greek, Iliad/Odyssey and American History {Memoria Press Reviews}

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