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

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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.

biology 1

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.

biology 3

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.

biology 2

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: 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

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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:

Christian HomeSchool Hub {Download Club}

Let’s face it, homeschooling can be costly, and in years when you don’t have much of a budget, you have to scramble to put together curriculum for your kids. Some moms find this really easy, but I am not one of them. That’s why I was really excited to check out the CHSH Download Club from A subscription gives you access to tons of curriculum from Kindergarten to High School in just about any subject!

Christian HomeSchool Hub {Download Club}

The way the download club works is that you find curriculum or other things you want to use and just download them to your computer. You can search for items by topic, grade, and even look for seasonal activities by month. In addition, CHSH-Teach also offers organizational tools like a printable planner, gradekeeper, and calendars.

My son is in 10th grade, and at first I wasn’t sure what the website would have to offer high schoolers, but I was in for a very pleasant surprise. For starters, they have complete curriculums for science, English, math, and social studies. The Biology curriculum gave us an entire Biology textbook with 10 units and suggested labs. It had an accompanying teacher’s guide that even included quizzes for each unit! It basically had everything you need to teach Biology except for the lab equipment. The textbook read like most any other textbook I have seen, and includes questions and review activities too. Now, I feel I should note that CHSH stands for Christian HomeSchool Hub. However, some of the materials you will find are secular. For the Biology text, they give parents a heads up about the pages that discuss evolution, so you can plan to address that ahead of time, which I appreciate.

In addition to Biology, the site offers Integrated Science, Physical science, Marine science and Natural science. So you definitely have a lot of options and could use CHSH-Teach for high schooler across multiple grades.

For English, you have several options. First, there are a multitude of classic books you can download to have your child read. Organized by author, you can choose your favorites and then just get some literature guides to go with them. I picked a few of my favorites to start with (The Emerald City of Oz, Little Men, Jo’s Boys) and then started planning for my son. They offer everything from Lewis Carroll, to Dickens, to Jack London and so much more. I think you could probably get your child through high school lit just using these books.

For writing, you can use the English and Composition courses, which are offered for all four years of high school. It offers lessons on all types of writing, from technical writing to persuasive, to speeches. The books also include grammar lessons interspersed with the writing lessons. The teacher’s guide includes suggestions for ways to flesh out the lessons and rubrics for grading writing. It also has an assessment for each unit and answer keys to the questions in the student book.


Other fun activities you can find on CHSH-Teach include lapbook style activities built around seasonal themes like pumpkins for fall and a 9-11 activity for older students. You can use some of these activities for special holiday unit studies and flesh them out with books from the library. CHSH-Teach is constantly updating their site with new downloads, so it’s like a surprise when you log on and find out what’s new. I think this is a fantastic resource for homeschool families, because the wealth of information it offers is amazing. You could really use the site to school multiple students across pretty much all subjects, and since a yearly subscription costs less than $30, it is a great value. You can even get a lifetime subscription for less than $100.

To learn more about CHSH-Teach, connect with them on social media here: on Facebook on Twitter on Pinterest

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Christian HomeSchool Hub {Download Club}

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TOS Review: Memoria Press Astronomy

Logic, Greek Myths and Astronomy Memoria Press ReviewI’ve always loved looking at the stars, and my youngest son does too. When he was about 10 he saved up money to purchase his own (beginner) telescope, and he loves field trips to the planetarium. He even has an app on his phone that helps him identify the stars in the sky. So, I figured he would really enjoy the Book of Astronomy Set from Memoria Press, and I thought it would make for a fun science study for us.

While this program is aimed at grades 3-5, my son is actually in middle school, and I feel it suited him just fine. The information is pretty in-depth, and the memorization component definitely requires some skill. Plus, you can flesh it out even more if you can get your hands on a copy of D’Aulaires Greek Myths and you could certainly add in a research component for older students if you wanted to.

The book opens with a copy of the poem The Pleiades by Amy Lowell, which students work on memorizing throughout the program. It also offers some basic guidelines for how to teach the program, but doesn’t go so far as to give you a daily schedule. For me, this is nice, because I kind of like to set things up on my own, and I tend to tweak schedules anyway. The schedules suggests daily recitation and review that asks for an overhead projector. Of course, I don’t use an overhead projector, so we skipped that part, but it really wasn’t a big deal since it was just my son and I working through this together.

Throughout the course of Astronomy, students will memorize the 15 brightest stars, the planets, and the 12 Zodiac constellations, which is a lot of information. The student book is divided into four units and also includes an appendix with definitions, facts about the planets, a pronunciation guide and more. The Teacher’s Guide includes all the pages in the student guide, but with the answers.

The first thing you study is an explanation of some basic astronomy, touching on what the constellations are, how the Earth moves, how stars got their names, and a discussion about star magnitudes. Then you get an intro to the 15 brightest stars before moving on to study individual constellations. Kids start practicing their memorization right away, recording the names of the stars in a chart that will repeat throughout the book.

I really like the way the lessons are set up. First of all, they are relatively short, so it’s easy to complete a couple at a time in about 20 minutes. There is not too much reading in the workbook, so it was pretty easy for my reluctant reader son to complete on his own. I also thought it was really cool how they have students trace the stars and label the brightest stars in each constellation. Even for me, I could see how this would be helpful in actually identifying the same constellations in the sky (something I can honestly admit, I have a hard time doing with my naked eye). As students complete the lesson, they learn both the Roman and English names for the constellation and they continually fill in their star chart.

After a few lessons, students review what they have learned and the end of each unit also has a larger review. These were good practice and allowed my son to cement what he had learned before moving on. We are getting into unit two right now, and I look forward to continuing this over the summer. It’s easy to do, but a lot of fun, and spending summer nights checking out the stars is a great way to hang out! To learn more about this program, connect with Memoria Press on social media here:
Memoria Press on Facebook

Memoria Press on Twitter

Memoria Press on Instagram

Memoria Press on LinkedIn

Memoria Press on Pinterest

Memoria Press on Google+

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

Logic, Greek Myths and Astronomy Memoria Press Review

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TOS Review: Fascinating Education

While my boys and I enjoyed doing science together at the elementary and even middle school levels, I am finding high-school level science less enjoyable. I am more of a “unit study” type girl, and chemistry and physics in particular, were not the type of science I particularly enjoy. So, when offered the chance to review the Fascinating Physics course from Fascinating Education, I was excited. Any online course that might take some of the pressure off of me is a welcome addition to my homeschool!

The course consists of 15 lessons on topics like movement, vectors, waves, motion, and electrical currents and charges. Lessons follow the same basic pattern with each lesson starting with a video, accompanied by a script and a test. Now I should note that the physics program is not exactly creation-based. It does begin it’s introduction with the Big Bang theory. This was not a problem for us, but I wanted to mention it so my readers would be aware. The videos include graphics and narration, and many of the images are quite breathtaking. Dr. Margulies also uses a lot of graphs and other concrete organizers to explain difficult concepts, which I (and my son) found very effective.

He also weaves stories into the lessons to make complicated information more accessible. For example, in the lesson on movement, to help explain the concepts of velocity he engages the students in solving a mystery, and determining the speed of a suspect’s car. This was much more interesting to my son than a typical math calculation. Combined with the graphics in the presentation, he felt he had a pretty solid understanding of how to solve velocity problems by the end of the lesson.

Now, another thing to note is that the lessons are intended for high school students, and therefore, they are a bit long. The presentations ran around 45 minutes apiece (so far). For my son, this was a little too long to sit still, so we broke the presentations into two sessions. This really isn’t too difficult because they have a convenient menu on the side with a heading for each section of the presentation, so you can basically just make a note of where you left off (we set a timer for 20 minutes on the first day) and then just pick up from there the next day.

For students who learn better by reading, or students (or parents!) who want notes to refer back to later, there is also a complete script of the lesson with the slides included as well. I found these useful as a review. So basically, my son would spend two days (or sometimes more depending on our week) watching a presentation. Then I would ask him to recap the lesson to me orally, while I kind of looked over the script. From there, I usually had him write some kind of written summary of the lesson, before moving onto the test.

Tests consisted of a series of multiple choice questions related to the lesson. At the end of the quiz the student’s score is calculated, with a passing score considered to be 80 percent or higher. The program does not keep a running record of scores, but it is pretty easy to write them down yourself. After finishing the test, students can review their answers, and retry the test if they want. There is also a video explanation for each test question, which was particularly helpful for the computation problems.

In general, if my son performed poorly on a particular test, I would have him review it, and then take it again the next week to see if he could improve his score. At this point, we still have quite a few lessons left, as we are moving through the course at our own rate. Depending on how advanced your child is at science and/or math, you might move through at a faster pace. For us, this will probably take at least a semester, if not more, to finish.

Fascinating Education courses cost $79.00 for one year of access.

To see what other members of the crew had to say about this product, and the other courses we got to check out from Fascinating Education, click here:
Fascinating Education Review

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TOS Review: Purposeful Design

Purposeful Design Review

Good creation resources are a benefit to any homeschool. I am always on the lookout resources that will attract my kids attention and explain things in a way they understand. For this review, we got to check out the book Purposeful Design: Understanding the Creation from author Jay Schabacker at Purposeful Design.

This book is suitable for all ages and features seven chapters, each one devoted to a particular day of creation. With over 90 pages, it is chock full of information, plenty to start a unit study if you wanted. What struck me first about the book is the beautiful photographs that accompany the text. From landscapes, to people, to animals, Schabacker brings you the world in vivid color. The book provides easy to understand explanations for scientific topics like the water cycle and the seasons, which make this a perfect resource for moms with littles. However, it also provides a great jumping off point for further study for older children, making it great for use with multiple ages.

Purposeful Design Review

Bible verses are spread out throughout the book and provide an excellent source of memory work. I appreciated how Purposeful Design makes it clear how exact our world is and how radically different it would be if just one thing were out of place. For example, one section talked about how Earth is perfectly tilted on its axis, and discusses the consequences if that tilt were off by even a little bit. To me, that just reaffirms that our world was deliberately created.

In addition to the book, parents can download a free curriculum to go with it at the Purposeful Design website. The PDF file contains questions for each chapter, additional verses to memorize and think about, as well as discussion questions you can use to further make the connection between creation and God. For younger kids, you could do a lot of this orally, but for older children, you could easily print it out and use it as a review for each chapter. I felt like the curriculum was a great addition to the book, especially if you wanted to use it as a starting point for a unit study. When combined with other books about the stars, planets, plants, etc. and maybe a couple of episodes of The Magic School Bus or documentaries, you could definitely create something to last for at least a semester.

Of course, this is also an excellent choice to simply add to your bookshelf. Use it as a read aloud, or put it in your book basket for your kids to explore on their own. It is full of factual information which makes it a great reference. You could also use it to supplement other curriculum you are using if you are studying topics like astronomy, earth science, or life science.

In 2013 Purposeful Design won the Illumination Book Awards bronze medal, and in 2014 it was awarded a bronze medal in the Coffee Table category by the Catholic Press Association. I think it definitely deserves those awards, and is well worth the price of $18.95.

To learn more about Purposeful Design connect with the author here:

Purposeful Design Blog

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TOS Review: Apologia Exploring Creation with Chemistry and Physics

I have reviewed (and loved) many products from Apologia Educational Ministries in the past, so I jumped at the chance to review their Exploring Creation With Chemistry and Physics curriculum! Honestly, I had been eyeballing this particular book for quite some time, but due to budget constraints, I could not purchase anything. Receiving this book for my review was a huge blessing!!

Typically the Exploring Creation books from Apologia are aimed at grades K-6, but I am using this book for my 7th grade son’s science this year and I feel it is totally appropriate for him. First, I will say the book, like all offerings from Apologia, is beautiful. The full color text has amazing pictures, and Jeannie Fulbright writes in her usual conversational tone. Each chapter is chock full of information and experiments! I will admit, we do NOT do every experiment listed in the “try this” section of the text, but we do most of them, and they are great. The experiments usually consist of items you probably already have at home (plastic cups, corn starch, salt etc.) or things you can easily purchase at the dollar store. I love the fact that each chapter has several experiments to choose from, all of which reinforce the content. There are 14 chapters on topics ranging from matter, to thermal energy, to motion.

Water density

I have tried many science programs over the years, and I have to say that Apologia’s are the most practical we have done so far. In a lot of programs I have found the the experiments are so involved, or require so many specific items, that we just skip them. With this program, we can EASILY do the majority of the experiments, and they are fun!! Easy is important to me as a busy mom. If something looks too complicated, or is too expensive, I’m probably going to skip it, but that is not the case with Exploring Chemistry and Physics.

How many pennies can it hold?

Do-it-yourself lava lamps!

I also like how very thorough this curriculum is. If you complete the whole curriculum, your kids will have a lot of knowledge when you are done. In the past we have studied Exploring Creation with Astronomy, Zoology 2, and Anatomy and Physiology, and I am impressed with just how much my kids still remember. I feel like these courses are a great way to introduce these complicated topics to your kids, and give them a reference for when they study them more in-depth in high school!

As part of the curriculum, we also got to use the Chemistry and Physics Notebooking Journal. These journals are a nice addition to the curriculum. In the front there are lesson plans that break each chapter into assignments two days per week. Each notebook has different activities including space to take notes, review questions, crosswords, copywork, and mini-books. These activities really help reinforce what your child is learning in the text.

In addition, all of the Apologia books come with a code that gives you access to exclusive content related to that book on their website. This content includes links to websites related to the topic, videos and all kinds of other things.

Studying surface tension.

My son and I are thoroughly enjoying Exploring Creation with Chemistry and Physics. I think this is going to be one of our best years for science yet. The lessons are meaty, but easy to complete, and he is learning so much from the experiments and activities. The Chemistry and Physics text costs $39.00, while the Notebooking Journal costs $24.00. There is even a Junior Notebooking Journal for younger kids that you can use if you are teaching multiple ages at once. I highly recommend Apologia’s science curriculum as an economical choice for a great science curriculum!

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TOS Review: Time4Learning

Online learning has so many advantages. Lessons are prepared for you, grading is done for you, and all your child has to do is log-in. For this review, I was very excited to get a chance to try out the Time4Learning website with my 7th grade son. We got a six month subscription for the seventh grade and have been using this for his main math, science, and vocabulary curriculum for this school year.

For my son the program is really easy to use. Once I registered him, he simply logged on each morning and got to work. When he logs in, he clicks on the lessons tab and this pulls up all the subjects available. In science, he studied electricity and magnetism. The lessons usually consisted of a short reading passage with a series of multiple choice questions at the end. I thought the information was a good basis for a science program, but for a 7th grader I felt the need to beef it up with some books from the library and some additional experiments. Currently, science on Time4Learning only goes up to 6th grade, so 7th and 8th grade students will be working on the 6th grade lessons in this subject.

I really liked the vocabulary section of the Language Arts program. It had sections on synonyms, antonyms, prefixes, suffixes, idioms, and Latin and Greek roots. Vocabulary building is something we have been working on, and this is one of the best programs I have found so far. My son enjoyed the animated lessons, which I thought were very focused and well done. I watched the lessons as he did them and I thought the instruction was spot on for a 7th grader. Typically he would do the lesson one day and take the quiz the next day. I also liked that the quizzes were automatically graded and I could look at his score on my on log-in (but more about that later).

The math on Time4Learning was also GREAT! We stared with the first section, number systems, and studied exponents. We were moving along fine until we got to fractions with exponents. At that point I realized we needed to review fractions. Time4Learning makes this easy because you have access to the grade above and below your child’s level. We switched to 6th grade math and completed the section on fractions before going back to his regular grade level. I think this is one of the BEST features of the website. It makes it so easy to customize your child’s learning in each subject. If your child is ahead in math, move them up a grade. If they are struggling in Language Arts, move them down one level. This flexibility makes the teaching so easy! Math was similar to vocabulary in that my son would complete a lesson one day and take the quiz the next.

When he finished up his work my son enjoyed playing on the Playground section of the website which features all kinds of games and links to fun websites for learning and playing.

Another thing I love about Time4Learning is the parent resources. Parents have access to detailed lesson plans for each subject the child studies. You can use these lesson plans to plan additional activities if you want, or search the lesson plans for a specific topic you want your child to study. Parents can also access and print a list of spelling words, a reading list, and a list of items needed for science lessons.

In the Student Records section, parents can schedule their child’s activities, adjust the grade level and timer settings, and view a record of their child’s work. I found this very helpful. After we got comfortable with how the program was run, my son would often hop on the computer if he got up early while I was making breakfast, and get started. When he did this I simply logged in on my parent account and looked at what he did that morning. Quiz grades were also provided. I noticed a couple of lessons in vocabulary where my son did not do so well, so I had him go back and do them again.

On the whole, we are loving Time4Learning. This easy to use program is a great way to simplify your homeschool if you are having a busy season. It is also an excellent addition if you just want to do a few subjects on the computer. I will say that this program is best suited to kids who enjoy learning on the computer. I have tried computer-based programs with my older son and they were all a complete failure. He enjoys computers, but he just does not like doing school on them. Fortunately, my younger son absolutely loves “computer school” so this program worked great for him.

Time4Learning has a program for grades PreK-8th as well as a high school program. The subscription for grades PreK-8th costs $19.95 per month. I think this is reasonable for what is offered. You could use this as your main curriculum or as a supplement. The Time4Learning website has demos available if you want to check it out.

To see what other crew members had to say about Time4Learning, click here:

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TOS Review: Science for High School

High school science…ugh…along with math it is the bane of my existence. Science and math are two of the reasons that caused me to question whether or not I COULD homeschool high school. However, my husband and I are committed to schooling our children at home until they graduate, so I am always on the lookout for materials to use for these subjects. Needless to say, I was very excited when I found out I would have a chance to review materials from Science for High School.

This curriculum was created by Bridget Ardoin, a fellow homeschooling mom with a degree in microbiology. After teaching high school, tutoring, and working with other parents, she decided to write her own curriculum just for homeschoolers! We got to check out the High School Biology at Home curriculum. I tried it with my oldest son, who is a rising sophomore.

This curriculum is very unique in that it is designed to be used with any textbook, research book, or even the internet. This makes it very flexible. When you order the curriculum, you receive both a parent and student manual. The parent manual includes instructions for how to use the curriculum, as well as a list of needed materials, answers to questions and quizzes, and instructions for labs. The parent manual is spiral bound, and well laid out.

The student manual needs to be placed in a binder. The course is divided into two semesters, and each week presents a list of questions on a topic related to biology. All pertinent topics are covered from basic cells, to the body systems, to plants and genetics. The idea is that each week, your child will use his own resources to research and answer the questions. If you have biology textbooks available, you can use that for the research, or you can check out books from the library or use the internet. Basically, I would assign the questions on a Monday, and we would discuss the answers together on Friday. My son would look at the number of questions he had to complete and determine the number of questions he would do each day.

I liked the fact that this curriculum really put my son in charge of his own learning. The fact that HE had to determine how much to do each day made him responsible for his own work. This is similar to what I think he will experience in college and in the work force. The first few weeks, he made the mistake of not “getting started” until Wednesday, which led to problems because he found he had a lot to do in a short time!! After that, we discussed how it is going to be important that he learn how to set daily goals for his subjects, because when he moves on to life beyond our home, no one is going to be around to tell him how to spend his time each day, and if he does not learn how to be responsible with his time now, he is going to be in trouble later.

My son enjoyed this type of learning because it was easy to see what he had to accomplish, and he could just “get it done”. I will admit that at first, his answers were very basic. However, when he found he wasn’t doing as well as he liked on the weekly quizzes (which are also included) he began to put more time into his work. I feel like he did not only learn a lot about biology from this curriculum, but also learned a lot about research.

The lab portion of the curriculum involves dissection and examining prepared slides. This is probably the hardest part of any homeschool high school curriculum. Finding the materials and getting them all together can be a chore. Science for High School does offer a dissecting kit and slides that you can order which will give you everything you need to complete the program, and I am seriously considering getting it (if I can find a way to put the money together). Lab kits are expensive, I know that, but unless you have another option (like a co-op or something) they are necessary. For parents that are science fans, putting together your own labs may be easy, but for those like me, who are not, a pre-made kit is very helpful!!

Personally, I loved using the Science for High School materials with my son. I think this is an incredible program that will definitely prepare your kids for science at the college level and, more importantly, for research they will use for every subject! The High School Biology program costs $79.99 for the manuals that I received. I think this is an excellent price. If you have looked at high school science programs you have seen they can be pricey. This basic package will give you all you need to help your child research the topics and do the labs. If you want to and can afford it, you can add the lab materials as well. I recommend this if you are looking for a biology program for your high school student. You can check out sample pages on the website.

To see what other members of the crew thought of this and the other programs we got to check out from Science for High School, click here:


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TOS Review: Supercharged Science

Supercharged Science is a company started by Aurora Lipper, a former engineering instructor. Her love of, and passion for, science led her to create a program designed to get kids excited about science. Her e-science program is a complete online science program for grades K-8.

When you sign up for the e-Science program, you get access to the study units. These units include lesson plans, videos, reading materials, questions , and experiments. The units are on a wide variety of topics, from chemistry, to magnetism, to electricity and electronics. There are 19 units in all, and you will get gradual access to the units with each month of your membership. There are currently about 19 units total. Some of the units take longer than others, and you are free to set your own schedule for each unit.

So, how did this work at our house? Well, we actually began with an extra project they had on the website, building a simple hovercraft. My 6th grade son has wanted to build a hovercraft ever since he found Jimmy Neutron on Netflix, so he was very excited to do this! The project was explained in detail, with an easy to follow video of how it worked. Building the hovercraft only took a few minutes, but it was fun, and my son was really excited. There are also directions for building an advanced hovercraft which he is currently working on with his dad. Here is the video of our simple hovercraft:

There are additional projects you can make for fun, like a robotic arm that looks really cool! Those projects do a really good job of getting your kids excited about science! Since we were doing a review, we were given access to all of the units in the e-Science program so we could check them out. After talking to my son, we decided to work on the unit for sound , because that is what he wanted to study. I began with reading the lesson plan, which gave me information about the goals and objectives of the unit. The lesson plans also included a list of materials for the experiments for the unit, as well as the key vocabulary, additional reading, exercises and answer key.

We began by watching the video about sound waves. I really like Aurora’s delivery style in the videos. It really feels like she is right there just talking to you and your child. My son was interested in what she had to say, and I didn’t have any problem getting him to watch the whole video. From there, my son wanted to skip to some of the experiments, so we did.

We played “telephone”:

And we made sound using bottles with different levels of water in them:

And we played this really neat game where you put a blindfold on and tried to determine which area of the room the sound was coming from. This one was interesting, because it wasn’t as easy to pick out the sound as you thought it would be!

My older son wanted to take part in some of the experiments, and his favorite was the one we did using the speaker in his car. This experiment allowed us to “see” the sound vibrations as they moved through the water in the bowl:

Once we had done some of the experiments, we went ahead and did the reading for this unit. It wasn’t difficult, about seven pages, and we broke it into sections. Finally, we did the exercises. These were simply questions about the topics we had studied. You can either answer these orally, or in writing if you are keeping a science notebook.

Currently we are working on the unit on light, and we are enjoying that as well. I will say that my oldest son makes sure he is around for almost all of the experiments that we do for Supercharged Science, and I know that they do have high school material, so, judging by his interest in what we are doing, I think that program would be worth looking at too.

At our house, we do science three days a week, for about an hour each day. Depending on which unit you choose, and how many experiments you decide to do, it could take you two-three weeks to finish a unit. If you are working with younger kids, or you want to go more in depth with the topic, you could easily stretch the units for a month. There are detailed directions for use of the program, including how to use it alongside another science program, on the website. There are also very easy directions for how to set up a scientific journal to keep track of your experiments. I will admit, this is something I usually skip, because I find it intimidating, but after watching the video with my son, we grabbed a notebook, followed the directions and got started!!

An additional benefit of e-Science is that you have access to Aurora directly, to ask her questions about what you are doing. If something didn’t work, or you are confused, or your child has asked a question you don’t have an answer to, you can simply ask! This is great for a non-science minded mom like me!! The website also has a shopping list set up for each unit, so you can look ahead and decide what materials you need (I had most of the materials for our experiments in our cabinet, and what I did not, I bought at the dollar store. The exception is some of the more technical stuff we needed for the advanced hovercraft). We are having a lot of fun with the e-Science program, and my son is already thinking about what unit he wants to do next!

A subscription to e-Science for grades K-8 is $37.00 per month. When you think about the fact that you are getting a complete science program for that lesson, it doesn’t seem like too much of an expense. If you are a person who loves science and has no problem coming up with awesome experiments and lessons on your own, than you might not be interested in this. But, if you’re a mom like me, who struggles with even the idea of science, let alone making it interesting and doing experiments, this is well worth a look! You can find out more about e-Science and view some videos that will tell you more about the program, by visiting the website here:

To see what other members of the Crew had to say about this program, and the high school program that some Crew members got to check out click here:

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Apologia: Exploring Creation With Zoology 2

Woohoo! It is time for my first review of this crew year and I am very excited to tell you about our experience with one of the books from the Apologia science curriculum! We have used many of their products in our homeschool over the years, and this time we got to check out their Zoology 2: Swimming Creatures of the Fifth Day text and workbook.

First impressions? As usual, the book itself is a visual masterpiece. The pictures are gorgeous, the text is well organized and easy to read, and the book itself is very well put together (i.e.: it will last for many, many years!). One thing I love about Apologia is how detailed their books are. Zoology 2 contained a wealth of information on all of the creatures that live in the water! Since we live near both the river and the beach, we find we spend a lot of time in the water, and we are fortunate to have seen dolphins, manatees, sharks and all kinds of fish up close! My 6th grade son was particularly excited to spend some time studying these creatures in depth! Zoology 2 is intended for grades K-6, and they have additional resources to use with students in the early ranges (K-2) and older (3rd-6th). As always, I think it’s nice to have a curriculum you can use with multiple ages!

Now, Zoology 2 is the second Zoology book in the Young Explorers series, and it is recommended that you study Zoology 1 first. However, we have kind of bounced around with our science (having used both the Apologia Astronomy and Human Body and Anatomy in the past), so we just started here, but we did not find it to be a problem. However, after having so much fun with this book, I am seriously considering using Zoology 1 next year.

There are 13 lessons total in this book, with topics ranging from whales to crustaceans. At the beginning, there is an introduction that takes you through each part of the lesson and explains what it is, and there is a link and password for you to access additional content specific to this course on the Apologia website! (They do this with all their science books, and it is awesome!!). The lessons are well laid out, with natural breaks for narration as well as experiments. The majority of the experiments are easy to do, using materials you probably already have, but I am amazed at how well they explain the concepts in the lesson.

For example, one of the first experiments was about the pressure the ocean’s waters exert as it gets deeper. From this experiment, using only a 2-liter bottle and a ballon, I was able to “show” my son what happens to a persons lungs as they dive deep into the ocean, and explain why divers use oxygen tanks!! And it was fun (see pictures below, and yes, my boy is still wearing his pajamas 🙂 )

A closer look:

Of course, you could easily just read and narrate the text and do the experiments (especially if you have younger children), but if you are looking for more, you could also add in one of the Notebook Journals to go with the course. Jeannie Fulbright and Apologia have created AMAZING journals that have tons of activities and questions and mini-books for you to use as you complete Zoology 2. The notebook also has a weekly schedule in the front!! This makes science so easy 🙂 I just check off each box as we go! The schedule allots for two science lessons per week, that (depending on your kids) can take from 20-40 minutes (that’s my own personal estimate from working with my 6th grade boy, when I used Apologia in the past with both of my kids, it took a little longer). With this text, we used the regular Zoology 2 Notebooking Journal, which is for older kids who don’t mind writing a little!

This notebooking journal contained space to take notes while we were reading, review questions, copywork, space to record results from experiments, vocabulary crosswords, and fabulous mini books!!  We use all of the Notebooking Journals to go along with our Apologia texts, and we have never been dissatisfied with any of them!! If you have younger kids, you might want to check out the Junior Notebooking Journals. We have used these in the past when my son was younger, and he was doing science with his brother. They contain a lot of the cool stuff found in the regular journals, but with less writing. Like, you still have space to take notes, but the lines are bigger, maybe instead of a crossword there is a word search, and you still get to do the mini-books together!! These additional products lend themselves easily to using this course with children of multiple ages!

Basically, we loved everything about Exploring Creation with Zoology 2!! If you love science, you can get the notebooks, check out additional books, do all of the experiments, and have a great time! Or, if science isn’t exactly your favorite subject (like me!), Apologia makes teaching it engaging, easy and so much more fun!! The Zoology 2 text costs $39.00, and the Journals are $24.00 each. I think they are very reasonably priced for what you get. Even now, my sons will pull out the Astronomy book from our first year homeschooling and look through it. To find out more about this book and the other books available from Apologia (including samples) make sure to check out their website, here:

To see what other members of the Crew had to say about this, and the other Apologia books we got to review, click here:


**Disclaimer: I received a free copy of this product through the Schoolhouse Review Crew in exchange for my honest review. I was not required to write a positive or negative review of the product, nor was I compensated in any other way. All opinions expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with FTC regulations.

Bright Ideas Press: Christian Kids Explore Earth & Space

I love Bright Ideas Press! They have some great products for homeschoolers. When I found out I was going to have a chance to review one of their Christian Kids Explore science books I was really excited! I have looked at this series several times, but never got around to trying it out. For this review, we got to check out Earth & Space science!

Christian Kids Explore is a multi-grade curriculum designed to be used two days per week. This is perfect for our homeschool! It is a creation-based science curriculum, which is another reason we love it! The curriculum is written in an easy to understand, conversational tone, which makes it very child-friendly. Each lesson starts with reading, and I usually like to do this with my boys, but I like the fact that on those busy days, they can read it themselves!

In the sidebar of the lessons are simple activities you can do to help explain the concepts in the lesson (i.e. using a chair to help explain the difference between rotation and revolution). I appreciated these activities a lot, as science is not my strong point, and I need help making these concepts concrete for my boys!! The lessons also include vocabulary, and “hands-on” time where you will do an activity or experiment related to the lesson. We enjoyed the activities immensely, and they were pretty easy to complete.

The appendix to this book is incredible, with everything from pages to use with the lessons, to book suggestions for each unit, and awesome coloring pages (even my 8th grader enjoyed them!). I truly appreciate how much hand-holding there is for the parent in this book. There is even a section on how to set-up your science notebook. (And I have to say, this is the first time we actually completed these! I’ve always wanted to do them, but somehow, having it all spelled out for me made it so much easier. 🙂 ) Each unit ends with a “wrap-up” where kids will organize their papers from the unit, and take a short quiz. This was a great way to review the concepts in the unit.

We really enjoyed Christian Kids Explore Earth & Space. My kids found it interesting and engaging, and I thought it was very thorough. The best part for me is how open-and-go it was. I didn’t have to spend a ton of time prepping for science. Aside from looking ahead to see what we needed for experiments, I could just open the book and go on to the next lesson! Christian Kids Explore Earth & Space costs $34.95, which I think is a great price for this curriculum. You can also purchase a download of the printables for $7.95. We had so much fun with this, that I am seriously considering using the chemistry book next year. You can find out more about this series here:

To see what other members of the TOS Crew had to say about Christian Kids Explore Science, click here:

*Disclaimer: I received a free copy of this curriculum for the purpose of writing this review. All opinions expressed are my own.

AIMS Science : Earth Rocks!

AIMS education foundation is an organization devoted to creating hands-on math and science activities to make learning more enjoyable (and likely more effective) for children. I am always looking for ways to engage my boys in science! I have never been a real science enthusiast, so I appreciate curriculum that helps me along in this area. For this review, I received a copy of Earth Rocks, and earth-science activity book for grades 4-5.

In this book, students will explore rocks and minerals, soil, water, changes in the earth, as well as pollution. In each section, students make a “rubber band book” which contains info about the topic. At first, we had a little difficulty assembling these, but my son figured it out! Each lesson is laid out clearly for the teacher, and the guiding standards are printed in the lesson. (Keep in mind these books are for use by schools as well). Both the teacher lessons and the activities are in the same book, but you are permitted to make copies, and the book comes with a CD that contains PDF files of the printable pages, so I just printed out the ones my son needed for each lesson.

We enjoyed the activities in the section on rocks, particularly growing crystals. I also liked the fact that there were questions in the book you could use for discussion with your child. Some of the activities called for rocks from the rock kit, which would be an additional purchase. Is is not expensive, only $12.95, but as my son already has a large rock collection, we just used those instead.

The activities in Earth Rocks lend themselves easily to group work, which is nice if you want to have several of your children work on this together. For older students, you would definitely need to supplement with some more advanced books. My son likes non-fiction reading, so we actually just checked out books from the library on each topic we studied. Lessons also include extension activities (i.e. mapping rivers when studying erosion) and some have web links as well.

Overall, I thought this was a fun way to study earth science. The length of the lessons will vary from day to day, depending on what you are doing, but we didn’t find them to be terribly long. Usually, if I looked at a lesson and thought it would take a really long time, we split it into two days. While I didn’t feel this was a very in-depth study of the Earth, it makes a nice introduction, and you can certainly go deeper if you want by adding books from the library.

Earth rocks costs $29.95, and includes 50 activities. Depending on how many days you do science, you could easily stretch this to last a year, especially if you break some of the lessons down into smaller parts. I think the cost is reasonable for what you get, and it definitely fits my budget! You can find out more about Earth Rocks and other AIMS programs here:

To find out what other TOS Crew members had to say about AIMS, click here:

*Disclaimer: I received a free copy of this material for the purpose of writing this review. All opinions expressed are my own.

Aims Educational Foundation–Earth Book

For my first review of the year, I got to use the Earth Book from AIMS Educational Foundation. AIMS supports hands-on math and science instruction as “the most effective way to develop conceptual understanding.” As a mom of two boys with short attention spans and eyes that glaze over after extending periods of “sit still and listen!” I can say I agree! 🙂

AIMS offers math and science activity books, based on specific topics (critters) and areas of science (physical science). They also offer manipulatives for math that can be used by grade level or topic as well. They have both physical books you can hold in your hands, and downloadable ebooks if you’d rather print pages off of your computer. For my review, I used the Earth Book, an activity book for science, with my oldest son (8th grade).

The book opens with a brief introduction and a list of standards that are addressed in the Earth Book (AIMS products are standards-based, you can even look up materials based on state standards if you wish). The lessons open with a page for the teacher explaining and describing the lesson, with tips on how to present it to the students. (Yes, I said students!). These books were created for classroom teachers, but are easily adapted to homeschooling. Many of us have a few students in our homeschool as it is, and I will say that I had my younger son (5th grade) sit in on some of the activities, and he did fine. I think it would be fairly easy to use this book across grade levels if I wanted to.

There is a materials list at the back of the book, which I found very helpful. There’s nothing more frustrating for this mom than having to go through multiple pages to sort out what materials I will need in the coming weeks. Many of the materials were common household items (straws, envelopes, vinegar, index cards etc.). However, some materials would require more effort to obtain (rock and mineral kits, builders sand, pea gravel etc.). Since the materials needed for each lesson are listed on the teacher page, you could easily look ahead and decide which ones you needed to get, or, if it was too difficult, just move ahead to another lesson.

Some of the activities we did related to hard water vs. soft water, the salinity of ocean water, the layers of the ocean and ocean currents. Other topics include things like earthquakes, weather, fossils, and rocks. I do want to make one important note here: AIMS lessons include information about the geologic timeline. The lesson for that particular topic does state that the earth is millions of years old. AIMS does not promote itself as a Christian company, just a company that wants to create fun science and math products for kids. Their views on this topic may conflict with yours. For me, as a Christian homeschooling parent, I would simply omit those lessons, or use them as a springboard for further research into the legitimacy of carbon-dating, conflicting evidence on the age of the earth etc. etc.

My boys enjoyed the activities that we did with this program.  I have chosen several more that we are going to complete over the rest of the year. (Currently we are working on the weather activities since it is hurricuane season here in Florida!). The thing I like most about this product is that it is so easily adaptable. We like to follow bunny-trails, and much of our science is interest based (as you can see from other posts I have written about our studies!). With the Earth Book, I felt like I could choose a topic, get some library books, and then just spend however long we wanted to reading about and doing activities on that topic.  That really is the best way for my boys to learn! The Earth Book costs $49.95 and comes with a CD with all the printables for the lessons on it, making it really easy for you to print copies for your kids.  You can learn more about AIMS here:

**Disclaimer: I was given this product free of charge in exchange for this review. The opinions expressed are entirely my own.