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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TOS Review: Creating a Masterpiece

 

Creating a MasterpieceArt education is one of those areas I struggle with. I am one of those non-artistic people. I tried to do one of those “paint nights” with my girlfriends and my painting was terrible!! However, I believe arts education is important, and necessary when a child is in high school. So, I was happy to get to review the monthly plan from Creating a Masterpiece with my 10th grade son.

Creating a MasterpieceCreating a Masterpiece offers online art education for students of all ages. There are programs to suit younger and older kids, and you can choose different projects and mediums to explore. Projects range from Beginner level (which are usually one lesson) to Level 5, which may be three lessons or more for one project. Students can experiment with watercolor, acrylic, sculpting, charcoal and pencil drawings, pastels and more.

Creating a MasterpieceEach lesson features step by step video instruction, and the teacher is very clear, with a pleasant demeanor. This is especially important for my son, who easily loses interest when an online teacher speaks in a monotone voice and goes on and on. You can tell the instructor enjoys art and is enthusiastic about the projects.

My son wanted to get into the pencil and charcoal drawings, so that is where we started. We did need to pick up some supplies like a drawing pad, different types of pencils, and some other things, but I was able to find them at a local art supply store for a minimal cost. I really like the fact that you can search for projects by medium and that the necessary supplies are listed for each project. This makes it easy for me to see what you need, and, if you are on a budget, you can choose projects that do not need expensive supplies.

stork

The first project my son chose consisted of four lessons, which we did over four days. Each session was further broken down into sections of 10 minutes of less, which is great for kids with short attention spans. It also makes it easy to pick right back up where you left off if you are having a busy day and only have time for a short lesson. My son felt the lesson was easy to follow and enjoyed working on his art projects. I would like him to move more into the pastels and watercolor in the future, but for now, pencil drawing is his thing, and that’s okay.

If you have a child who loves art, you can allow them to choose the medium they are most interested in. If your child isn’t really into art, but you want to get them started, you can begin with the simpler projects (like the pencil and charcoal drawings) and then encourage them to try out other forms as they get more comfortable.

Creating a Masterpiece also includes a section on Art History, which we found pretty interesting and would be a great place to kick off a further study of art in general. For a high school student you could easily add books and trips to the museum and essays about art history along with the projects if you wanted to beef it up.

Overall, we enjoyed Creating a Masterpiece a lot. I think I might even get myself some pastels and see if I can’t pick up a few skills! To learn more about this program, connect with Creating a Masterpiece on social media here:

Creating a Masterpiece on Facebook

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

Creating Beautiful Art at Home {Creating A Masterpiece Reviews}Crew Disclaimer

TOS Review: ArtAchieve

Art Lessons for Children ArtAchieve ReviewMy youngest has always struggled with his fine motor skills. As an elementary school student he received OT, which helped, but even now I still see him working really hard to do certain things when it comes to writing. He is very artistic, although not really a “color inside the lines type” and drawing and other art projects get him more excited about using some of those skills. I feel like completing art projects helps build his hand-eye coordination, and I was excited to get to check out the Entire Level 1 program from ArtAchieve for this review.

Art Lessons for Children ArtAchieve Review

ArtAchieve offers a variety of online lessons for kids in drawing and painting. Level 1 includes 9 multicultural projects that range from coloring in designs with markers to painting with acrylics and oil pastels. What I found really unique about this program is the large amount of information included, not just about art techniques, but also about the history of the cultures studied in artistic form and the insects and animals in the projects.

For example, in the “Plate from Nepal” project, kids learn about where Nepal is located, important places in the area, and cultural information about the people there. In addition, the intro to the lesson includes links that you can use to expand on this information with stories from the region, suggestions for books to read, recipes for foods you can cook and more. I think this is a great way to introduce different cultures to your kids, and you could certainly tie the program into a geography study if you are doing one.

The projects themselves are laid out step by step in a powerpoint, and video. Printable warm-ups help your child get started on drawing the lines and curves needed in the project, then move onto choosing colors and coloring or painting. My son found them very easy to follow. He enjoyed using the powerpoints because he could go slide by slide and complete each step (he likes to follow things like this in order). Some of the projects were a little more difficult than others, and you can do them in any order you choose.

His favorites were the Plate from Nepal and the Chinese Dragon. He really enjoyed mixing the vibrant colors to make each design his own. ArtAchieve emphasizes the fact that art is individual and there is no right or wrong way to complete a project. Students are encouraged to follow the steps but also put their own spin on things by experimenting with different positions for things and creating their own unique backgrounds.

While my son’s pictures did not come out exactly like the ones in the presentation, he had a lot of fun and was proud of the final outcome. With 9 lessons, you can cover one-quarter of the year using Level I and then move on to Levels II and III if you want. For level I, the supplies needed are pretty minimal and easy to obtain. The entire level costs less than $30 and you can purchase individual lessons if want as well. We enjoyed this program a lot and still have a few projects to complete, and I think we might look into another level after. I think it’s a great addition to any homeschool, and you could also use it for summer fun.

To learn more, connect with ArtAchieve here:
ArtAchieve on Facebook

ArtAchieve on Pinterest

ArtAchieve on Google+

ArtAchieve on Instagram

To see what other members of the crew had to say about this program and the other levels available, click here:
Art Lessons for Children ArtAchieve Review

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TOS Review: Zeezok Publising LLC (Music Appreciation)

 

I love to enhance our regular curriculum with something fun and creative. From art to music, my kids have a natural artistic bent, so I thought the Music Appreciation Book 1: For the Elementary Grades from Zeezok Publishing LLC would be a good fit for us, even though my 8th grade son is a little bit older than the target age.

 

First, let me say, this set is huge! It is definitely enough for a year’s worth of music instruction, and what an elective course this is! It comes with multiple CDs that feature tons of classical music by famous composers, as well as seven different chapter books that tell the story of those composer’s lives. The included workbook has multiple activities based on the reading and other fun activities that help your child learn about music, and there is even a lapbook component. Artists featured in the set include: Handel, Hayden, Beethoven, Mozart, Bach, Schubert, and Paganini.

The first composer we decided to study was Handel, as we love listening to “The Messiah” at Christmastime.  My son and I did this study together, since I enjoy classical music and I wanted to see what it had to offer, but with an older elementary or middle school student, I think it is certainly something you could give them to do on their own, with you just being there to supervise and answer questions as needed.

We found the chapter books to be interesting and well written. The Handel chapter book was a bit longer than the next book we read, so we broke the reading into two or three days. The books include illustrations and we both liked the fact that they told the story of the composers while they were growing up. Hearing about the composers as children helped my son relate to them more, rather than picturing them as old men sitting behind a piano or playing another instrument.

The books direct you to listen to certain short tracks on the accompanying CDs to introduce you to the composer’s music. Sheet music is included in the book, so if your child plays an instrument, they can play along. I appreciated the fact that you got to hear a variety of the artist’s work in this study, rather than the typical music you hear that is so well-known. We found some very lively pieces we enjoyed and it encouraged my son to look up more music by the composers he enjoyed most.

All of the work for the study is included in one large workbook, which to me is much better than having to keep track of multiple smaller books! The studies are basically broken into 4-week time periods, but there is no daily schedule, so you can decide how to set it up. Basically, we read the first two days of the week, then my son completed the the other activities on the last three days of the week. Each week includes comprehension questions related to the reading, then some historical and background information, often tied to the lapbook activity. There are also activities related to music, instruments, history, and more.

I have to say I was very impressed by how in-depth the activities in the workbook went. For an elementary study, it delves into so many areas. Kids learn not only about music, but the historical tie-ins and the biographical information is really, really rich.

I especially liked the activities that asked kids to think about how music made them feel, and tied in sounds and instruments to specific feelings. I LOVE music, of all kinds. I would rather listen to music than watch TV any day of the week, and the reason I am so passionate about music is because I know that at any given time, I can find some sort of music to suit my mood. I want my kids to have that same connection, and I think this study helps them focus on that. At the end of each study there is a quiz that gives kids a chance to show off what they have learned, and an answer key for al questions is included.

We are currently in the midst of our study on Hadyn, and thoroughly enjoying it! I expect we will continue with this study in the fall after our summer break, as I want to make sure we study all of the composers. I would highly recommend this study for anyone who wants their kids to learn more about classical music. To learn more about this product, connect with Zeezok on social media here:

Zeezok on Facebook

Zeezok on Pinterest

To see what other members of the crew had to say about this product, click here:
Music Appreciation for the Elementary Grades {Zeezok Publishing LLC Review}

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TOS Review: The Pencil Grip, Inc.

Painting is fun, and my kids enjoy it. However, it is also messy, which makes it kind of stressful for me. For this review, we got to check out the Kwik Stix 12 pk from The Pencil Grip, Inc. a unique set of paints that reduce the mess without reducing the fun!

Kwik Stix come in a variety of vibrant colors, and they are the perfect size to fit in your hand. The non-toxic Tempera paint glides easily across the paper and dries very fast, with an almost watercolor-like finish. The coolest thing about them is that you don’t need to use any water or paintbrushes, you just unscrew the cap, twist, and get started!

They feel dry to the touch, and aren’t messy if you get them on your hands or clothes, which is a huge plus in my opinion. My boys liked them because they said using them felt almost like “drawing with paint”. Instead of worrying about the water making the colors run together, they could just hold them and draw what they wanted on the paper.

I could see these being great for entertaining kids on the go, like for road trips or busy days when you have lots of appointments, because you won’t have to worry about them messing up the car or the waiting room that you’re sitting in. Also, they’re convenient size and safe design makes them ideal for toddlers! The paints work well on regular paper, canvas, and posterboard, so they are great for school projects too.

So far, they seem to hold up well to multiple uses, and I think one pack could last for quite a bit of time. I think they are a great way to introduce your child to their inner Picasso, and would be great for use in an art study as well! In addition to the traditional colors in the twelve pack, Kwik Stix also come in bright neon colors and metallic colors, as well as larger packs which would be great if you have a big family or want to use them in a group setting.

Kwik Stix The Pencil Grip, Inc. Review

In addition to the paints, The Pencil Grip, Inc. also offers pencil grips with ergonomic designs that can help make it easier for your child to hold their pencil. I went through a lot of different pencil grips with my youngest when he was in early elementary school and just beginning to write, and I wish I had had something like these to use with him. We got a sample of the Pinch Grip and even when I held it, it felt very comfortable and natural in my hand. The company offers a progressive 3-step grip system that I could see would help a child struggling with coordination to move into holding a pencil on their own.

I think the Kwik Stix are awesome, and a great resource for any family, and at under $12 they are a steal! To learn more, connect with The Pencil Grip on social media here:
The Pencil Grip Website

The Pencil Grip on Facebook

The Pencil Grip on Pinterest

The Pencil Grip on Twitter

See what other members of the crew thought of this product by clicking here:
Kwik Stix The Pencil Grip, Inc. Review

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TOS Review: The Critical Thinking Co.

Ever since they were little my boys always loved solving “brain teasers”. You know, the kinds of puzzles where they got clues and had to figure out the end? At the time, these were just things we did for fun, but as they got older I began to see the value in these types of activities for teaching real skills in a fun way. So, I was excited to review The Basics of Critical Thinking from The Critical Thinking Co. with my youngest boy. We have used products from Critical Thinking before, but those were aimed more at mathematical reasoning, so I was happy to get to check out some of their more general reasoning and logic products.

This workbook is aimed at grades 4-9, so it was perfect for my 14 year-old boy. The book starts with an introduction to critical thinking that is pretty simple. I liked this because it was something my son could read for himself. It then moves into a pretty fun pre-test where students are challenged to find a thief. My son loved this! From there, the book is divided into sections that focus on different skills like inferences, evaluating evidence, facts and opinions, discovering probable truths and so-on.

What I like about how this book is set up is that it is so user-friendly. Each section begins with a concise and easy to understand explanation of the concept, some information about why it is important, and then an example of how to use the concept. From there, the students go into a series of practice problems where they apply the concept, and those practice problems are really fun.

I also really like how this book makes it easy to understand concepts that can be applied to other subjects. For example, inferring and inferences are often taught in reading, but many students find these topics difficult to grasp because they are so intangible. However, working with them in the context of the critical thinking exercises makes it so much easier to understand. Also, the ideas of facts, opinions, and probable truths can easily be applied to the studies of government and politics. Using something like The Basics of Critical Thinking alongside these other subjects can help your kids transfer what they are learning to those subjects too.

As students work toward the end of the workbook, they get introduced to more formal logic study like common fallacies and analogies. However, the process of learning these topics is handled in the same way. They also learn to evaluate arguments, something that will come in handy as the election process moves into full swing. We actually practiced applying many of these concepts as we watched the debates on television, because I love trying to find real-world applications for the things we do in school, and debates and politics are natural areas where critical thinking skills apply!

I think that, in general, this was one of our favorite critical thinking studies. It is a great overall introduction to the ideas applied in the subject, and is something I would recommend parents use before moving into a more focused study with older students. It is available for $22.99, along with many other products. To learn more, connect with Critical Thinking on social media here:

The Critical Thinking Co. on Facebook

The Critical Thinking Co. on Google+

The Critical Thinking Co. on Twitter

The Critical Thinking Co. on Pinterest

To see what other members of the crew thought of this and the other products we got to check out, click here:
The Critical Thinking Company Review

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