TOS Review: CHSH-Teach.com

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 CHSH-Teach.com. 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:
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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:
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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:
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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:

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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.

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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.

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