Tuesday, July 31, 2018

WriteBonnieRose (A Homeschool Crew Review)

As a collective, the kids and I really enjoy unit studies that focus on one particular topic.  I think the kids learn the material a bit better when what they are working on focuses on a specific topic rather than several topics together.  That's why I've really enjoyed using the Learning About Science Collection, Level 3 (Print)collection from WriteBonnieRose with the kids.

WriteBonnieRose is the website of Bonnie Rose and is chalked full of various resources for homeschool families.  You may already be familiar with Bonnie Rose as she is the Executive Editor at SchoolhouseTeachers.com and  authors many of the classes found there.  Her author's blog, WriteBonnieRose,  offers a wide variety of educational subjects for students Preschool to High School for nominal prices and even has a wide variety of freebies and resources on her page with even more freebies available for her subscribers. 

WriteBonnieRose Website

Learning about Science Collection, Level 3 (Print) is a collection of seven study ebooks that cover a wide variety of topics for elementary students.  This particular set of study units is available in both Print vs Cursive, depending on preference.  
  • Discovering Rocks, Minerals & Crystals:  Students learn about different types of rocks such
    as igneous, sedimentary and metamorphic and which minerals fit into each of these categories.  Students also learn what crystals are.  This study introduces students to 23 different rocks and crystals.This study is 18 pages in length.
  • Energy and Its Many Forms:  Students are introduced to the five types of energy and their sources.  This study also discusses topics such as sound waves, fossil fuels, hydroelectric plants.  This study is 26 pages in length. 
  • Exploring the Earth's Landforms:  Learn about beaches, buttes, canyons, gulfs, deserts and more for a closer look at 32 different land forms found on our planet.  This study is 18 pages in length. 
  • Forecasting and Understanding the Weather:  Students learn about the different equipment that forecasters use to predict the weather.  Students also learn about what is weather as well as extreme weather such as tornado or hurricanes.  This unit covers 14 types of weather and is 18 pages in length.
  • Kinds of Animals and How They Live:  This study covers 9 different types of animals such as vertebrates, invertebrates, reptiles,and arthropods as well as introduces 32 specific animals that fall into each type.   This study is 18 pages in length. 
  • Life in the Ocean's Hidden Zones:  In this study, students learn about how the ocean is divided into five distinct zones and about 37 different plants and animals who make their homes in these zones.  This study is 21 pages in length.
  • What's Going on Inside Plants?:  Students learn about the process of photosynthesis and transpiration and how the various parts of the plant work together to move water and light through the plant to create food.  This unit is 16 pages in length. 
In addition to the 7 topics, a four page "Discussion Helps"  document was also included which provided links for additional Creation Science resources to use in conjunction with the study units. These resources are listed first as general links and then resource links for each of the 7 study units.

All together, the 7 units provide 135pages of fun learning. 
For this review, the kids and I focused on the longest of the seven units - Energy and Its Many Forms. My review will focus mostly on that particular subject however I have looked at the materials for all seven topics and they all follow the same format.

How We Used It:

With seven topics to choose from, it was really hard to pick which study to start with.  We ended up flipping a coin to choose between the Oceans Zones study and the Energy study.  Heads won out and we dove into the study on Energy and Its Many Forms.

This unit is 26 pages in length and covers the five types of energy seen in everyday life - light, heat, sound, electrical and chemical.   After a brief introduction as to what energy is, the study goes into more depth on each type of energy, giving examples of each form.

The unit does a great job of introducing students to various vocabulary words using eye catching words and pictures that are large enough to color.   Or, as you can tell in the photo below, has plenty of room for kids to doodle.  In our conversation about Transparent/Translucent/Opaque, Ashleigh thought about the Glass Frog where the skin of the belly is transparent and allows for the internal viscera to be completely visible through the skin.

This study covers a wide variety of vocabulary.  On the section in regards to light energy, the kids learned about properties of light and how it can be reflected and refracted.  This gave us a great platform for doing a quick experiment to display what they were learning about.

They also learned about Concave and Convex lenses in the light energy section.  A few days after we talked about these two ways of bending light, the kids went to the library.  In the hands on learning display of the kids section, they found both concave and convex mirrors and had to bring them to show me.  I was really surprised that remembered which one was which, but they did.  They were also able to determine from Bonnie Rose's description of how the image is altered for our viewing (concave allows big objects to be seen smaller - convex makes small objects look bigger) what type of lens/mirror was found in our telescope and microscope. 

At the end of each study is a simple activity review that can be completed after completing the study that will let the student demonstrate that they understand what was learned.  The kids both did very well on these reviews.

We elected to receive the print version of these studies, however, the same study is available in a cursive version.  The text between these two version are identical. Where they differ is only that instead of having the student print the vocabulary words out on the space provided, they are expected to write in cursive.  In both versions, lines are provided with broken letters/guide that the student can trace.

We had a blast working through the Energy unit study and are looking forward to using the other 6 studies in the very near future.   I'm already looking as to how I can work the Discovering Rocks, Minerals and Crystals study into our class in the next week or so before we head back to the Museum of Natural History where they have a large collection of rocks and minerals the kids can look at. 

If this product looks like something that would really spark your own student's interest in physical science or if maybe one of the other Learning about Science collections, I've got a great offer for you. If you use the code REVIEWCREW50 between now and August 15th, you can get 50% on the bundled Learning About Science collections ( Levels 1, 2, and 3).

Learning about Science Collection Level 1
With the discount you can get each of the bundled sets for a price of only $6/set.  That's less than a dollar per each unit study!!   Which is a GREAT deal!!!

#hsreviews #hsscience #LifeScience #PhysicalScience #EarthScience

For more information about WriteBonnieRose and the large selection of educational materials she has written, be sure to visit the website.  You can also find more information on the following social media platforms:

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/WriteBonnieRose/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/WriteBonnieRose 
Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/writebonnierose/

Learning About Science collections {WriteBonnieRose Reviews}

Thursday, July 26, 2018

Smart Kidz Radio ( A Homeschool Crew Review)

Kids learn in so many different ways. While some may do just well with reading a textbook, others, like my own kiddos, do better with having a less traditional method of learning.  Garrett especially learns better with learning when it comes wrapped up in a fun package such as games, songs or cute graphics.

For the last few weeks, the kids have been having fun listening to Smart Kidz Radio from Smart Kidz Media.

About Smart Kidz Media

With a wide selection of various digital media resources, Smart Kidz Media has spent more than 30 years developing unique educational products for kids.   With a vast library containing more than 2,000 products, Smart Kidz Media offers hundreds of children’s books, educational videos, flash animated eBooks, interactive games and learning programs, sing-a-long songs, parenting resources and digital media products. 

By appealing to the students desire for entertainment, the Smart Kidz library helps to teach, reinforce and support a wide variety of subjects as phonics, math, language arts, health, history  and science.  Using songs, games and videos, Smart Kidz Media products cater towards both visual and auditory learners.

About Smart Kidz Radio

Dubbing itself as a "edutainment radio station for kids", Smart Kidz Radio is a browser based streaming music service that provides fun, educational music designed to teach children valuable life lessons, promote positive character traits and develop strong moral values through song.   Accessed with an internet browser, children can listen to the (relatively) ad-free music free of charge once parents set up a free account at the website.

These songs cover a large variety of topics, such as eating healthy, brushing your teeth, controlling feels, and being a member of the community to just name a few.  

The programming seems like it follows a set pattern, so songs in regards to feelings tend to play together, hygiene songs are played together, ect.  Lyrics are kid friendly without questionable content or language. 

Here's a sample of lyrics from a song about feelings:

"Why do i feel like laughing
and whistling a song?

Why do i feel like nothing could go wrong?
Yesterday had its problems,
tomorrow may have some more,
but this is my day for feeling okay,
for dancing all over the floor.

The music is catchy and are reminiscent of various genres of music, such as country, pop, children's classics, jazz and even Broadway style.  Some songs feature adult entertainers while other songs might feature groups of children performing, giving a wide variety of vocal talent.

Programming is also relatively ad free, with exception for the occasion advertisement for other Smart Kidz Media products, such as the Smart Kidz Bookstore.  These advertisements are not pushy and only last for a few moments - less than 10 seconds for every 5 minutes of programming.   The content is strictly streaming music - there are no announcers speaking to the listener in regards to any topics.

Without a doubt, my kids enjoyed the songs with "Big Jim" the most.  Big Jim has a gravelly voice that Garrett found to be very entertaining and he cracked up every time Jim would come on the station.  The song "All Fed Up" was hands down the favorite (although Jim is featured in a number of songs).

In addition to the streaming radio station, the free account to Smart Kidz Media allows for access to an On-Demand podcast channel that contains many classic fairy tales.  These fairy tales are roughly 18-22 minutes in length and are very well done, reminiscent of the radio programs of old when voice actors would preform theater for listening audiences. 

The kids and I listened to a number of these fairy tale podcasts  and enjoyed them so much.  They are sanitized for a younger audience - for example, in the podcast of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, the evil queen stepmother tells the Huntsman to take a young Snow White deep into the forest and let her get lost so that she cannot return rather than demanding her death and her heart in a box as proof in the original story.   Each story also has some added elements that will definitely elicit giggles from younger listeners - the three pigs in the story of the Three Little Pigs have been given names in the Smart Kidz Radio version that had Ashleigh laughing while Garrett enjoyed the beginning of Treasure Island the most.  Even Alyssa, my 19 year old, enjoyed the various Podcast stories and said she liked the radio theater style format and said it reminded her of the old cartoons that had narrators.

Smart Kidz Radio

The On-Demand Podcast seems as if it is maybe a sample of the soon-to-be-released  On-Demand
Membership.  This membership will include original songs and stories  on a large variety of subjects. Some songs help to encourage potty training and other early skills, building good behavior skills, learning to love and respect the world and people around them, and basic personal, social and coping skills.  Other On-Demand programming would include bedtime stories, Bible stories, favorite sing-along songs, holiday favorites, and even not-so-scary stories.  A monthly membership of $3.99/month will give access to more than 1,000 original songs and stories.  This part of the Smart Kidz Radio programming was not yet available for the members of the Review Crew to access, however, if this programming will be anything along the same quality as the podcast stories, it's my opinion that it would be well beyond the $3.99/mth membership price.  (Remember, the streaming radio station and the selection of podcast stories are complete free of charge.)

 Also in the future is the ability to listen to the Smart Kidz Radio on mobile devices.  Apps are in the development for both Android and Apple Store that will allow for listeners to stream programming to their phones for on-the-go listening.

Overall, we have enjoyed listening to Smart Kidz Radio. While I originally thought my kids might be too young to enjoy the programming, I have been very pleasantly surprised to find that not only did the 10 and 11 year old enjoy it, but the 19 year old, the 32 year old and the 42 year old did as well ;)

 #hsreviews #edutainment #KidsRadio #SongsforKids

Find Smart Kidz Media on the following social media sites:
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/smartkidzmediainc/  
Twitter: https://twitter.com/smartkidzmedia
Smart Kidz Radio Homeschool Reviews

Monday, July 23, 2018

Picket Project (Post 7)

Hard to believe it's been over two months since Picket came into our lives.  Since that day, she's made herself right at home in both our home and our hearts and is, without a doubt, the most spoiled jackrabbit on base.  Even my husband says that he lets Picket get away with anything.. lol 

Dad get's Picket Kisses (and showing why she's a black tailed jackrabbit)
Even though she's as large as a small cat (and still growing),  she still is a baby and is still drinking milk.  She's got about one more month of milk before she should start being weaned.  We're still giving her roughly half a cup of milk three times a day in addition to lots of hay and fresh veggies.  Just this week, we have noticed that she's eating much more hay than she has in the past, which is a good sign that she will start the process of weaning herself off the milk soon.

The funny thing about Picket is that she does a good job of only eating foods that are good for her.  The kids have offered her bites of bread and crackers and carb laden foods and for the most part, she turns her nose up at it.  With once exception.  Yes, that would be Picket trying to steal a gummy treat from my husband (and him allowing it!!).

Instead of gummy worms, however, I did buy a big bag of unsalted rice cakes for a treat for her. She REALLY likes these (although mind you, not as much as the gummy treats but these are good for her) and I will give her a small piece of one each night to nibble on.

I know shaming your pet on the internet is a thing these days.  So I will share this picture for everyone to have a good laugh.  I was making a video of Picket listening to music the other night and caught a yawn.

In a previous post, I talked about Picket's ears. This post, I thought I might bring you up close and personal to Picket's hind feet.  I mean, how often do you get the opportunity to get up close and personal to the back end of a jackrabbit, right?

Picket observing the Venus/Moon Conjunction
Despite the name, Jackrabbits are not rabbits, but are hares. They have huge back feet that are fully furred to protect the skin from the blistering hot sands of the desert. Lots of fur provides lots of insulation.   Picket was nice enough to allow me to take photos of her feet for you to see.  Below you are looking at the bottom of her foot and the thick fur that covers it. 

While her front paws are very small, her back paws are massive. Her back legs have enough power to help propel her to speeds of up to 30 miles per hour as well as jumping distances of over 20feet.  They can also jump straight up about 12 feet high with these feet. 

But most surprising is the size of her toes.  There is no skin webbing between the toes but instead each individual toe is separated until the foot. 

And on the tip of each of those toes is a very sharp toenail.  I have not trimmed her back toenails, however, I did trim her front paws because they are very sharp, almost needlelike.  By simply trimming off the very tips of them, it helps protect our skin, especially when she scratches on our leg wanting to be picked up.

And here's a photo showing how her back feet look compared to her front feet.  Also, she doesn't hop like a bunny rabbit does but instead her walk resembles more like a horses trot. 

While jackrabbits do have the ability of running at high speeds, they don't have much stamina.  All that running and jumping, even in the house, means lots of resting for Picket.  She doesn't have to worry about a coyote or bobcat finding her while she's resting, however, jackrabbits have the ability of sleeping with their eyes open to keep watch for predators while they are sleeping.  Picket likes nothing more than to find a nice soft place to lay down, usually on my chest.

Picket doing what Picket does best.
Unfortunately, we did discover that Picket does NOT like the vacuum cleaner - at all.  We had to do a quick vacuum on the rug under the kitchen table, which is near where her hutch sits.  Immediately upon hearing the vacuum turned on, she ran headfirst into the hutch, re-opening the wound on her nose. Luckily, we keep styptic powder on hand and quickly stopped the bleeding, but once again her nose is cut.

I was just commenting to Charles last night her nose was looking really good  It is the same wound, just reopened, so I'm positive it will heal fine (just look really ugly again for a while). Lesson learned, Picks will be in my bedroom with the door closed and someone snuggling her next time we must vacuum. 

Wednesday, July 18, 2018

Progeny Press (A Homeschool Crew Review)

When I was in school, one of my favorite courses was my English classes. Even in college, I enjoyed my college literature classes because it was in those classes that I was given the opportunity to read and enjoy classic literature.  However, last year, my oldest daughter graduated from high school.  In the course of her schooling, I was very disappointed to find that she didn't really read much as far as classic literature.  No Victor Hugo, Leo Tolstoy, Jack London, Ernest Hemingway, Nathaniel Hawthorne, Bronte sisters, Mark Twain, or even William Shakespeare, which were required reading when I was in school.

One of the things I enjoy most with homeschooling is that I can have control over what books my younger kids have to read through their school years.  I want them to learn to read, appreciate and even love classical literature.  Progeny Press allow me as a parent to go well beyond just reading the story with them. Using their study guides to dive deeper into the story using questions and activities, students are able to develop critical thinking skills, interpretation skills and go beyond just the surface of the story.  For the last few weeks, the kids have been using The Green Book - eGuide from Progeny Press to better understand The Green Book by Jill Patton Walsh.

About Progeny Press

Progeny Press is a publishing company who offers E-guides for literature with a Christian perspective. Offering guides for reading levels from early elementary through high school, each of the Progeny Press guides are designed to help students to better understand the story they are reading as well as to recognize the themes presented by the author. The units contain study questions as well as recommended map work, research ideas, vocabulary lessons, and even Biblical verses that tie into the story.

However, what makes Progeny Press different from other literature study guides is that Progeny Press uses Biblical teachings, backed with scripture, to tie the story into practical lessons. While many books contain content or beliefs that do not align with Christian beliefs, Progeny Press guides direct students to instead study what God says about such things so they will be better prepared and strong in their faith when they face such behavior, language, and philosophy in life. 

How We Used It

We reviewed the 57 page  downloadable E-guide version of The Green Book study guide by Rebecca Gilleland as well as a 6 page Answer Key that accompanies the study guide. The chapter book must be purchased separately from the study unit but it is offered for sale on the Progeny Press website. This particular study unit is recommended for Upper Elementary and is recommended to be used for grades 3rd-5th.  I used it with Ash and Garrett as we read through the book together.

The E-Guide is broken down with questions and activities to use with each chapter of the book.  The activities include vocabulary exercises, word searches, crossword puzzles, venn diagrams, and even a mystery message activities that the kids really liked. At the end of each chapter of the E-Guide is various suggestions on projects and activities to do after completion of the book that tie in arts and crafts, cooking and oral reports.  Utilizing these activities helps to tie other subjects such as Science and physical activities into the study.  (The kids especially enjoyed learning about Fire Opals).

I hate saying it, but the kids and I didn't care for the book itself.  Luckily, I'm not reviewing the book.  The study guide, on the other hand, is very nice and we enjoyed all the various activities.  I especially liked the vocabulary activities where the kids had to take a guess at a words meaning based on the context it was used in the story.  I enjoyed listening to the guesses that the kids made and seeing how correct they were.  For example:  the kids were introduced to the word "treacle" from the text "But what he showed us[...]looked a funny hue, as though someone had brushed it over with a layer of treacle."  This was a word the kids had never heard before.   Ashleigh guessed it meant a blanket  while Garrett thought it had something to do with a tree.  Now, they both know that treacle is the British term for molasses.  The study guide has plenty of vocabulary building exercises like that. 

I've used other Progeny Press Study Guides in the past and I have always found them to be well written and thoroughly cover the books main topics.  Each guide really does well to expand beyond just reading the book but also understanding the underlying elements.  But mostly, I am glad that when it comes time for my kids to read Huckleberry Finn, Beowulf, Julius Caesar or Jane Eyre, these guides will be waiting to help them develop a true understanding of Classic Literature.

For more information about Progeny Press and their large selection of literature study guides, visit their website. You can also find them on the following social media platforms:

New Study Guides for Literature From a Christian Perspective {Progeny Press Reviews}


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