Wednesday, May 27, 2020

Workman Publishing (A Homeschool Crew Review)

Disclaimer: I received a FREE copy of this product through the HOMESCHOOL REVIEW CREW in exchange for my honest review. I was not required to write a positive review nor was I compensated in any other way.

I'm old enough that when I was in school, typing class was a mandatory thing.  We walked into a room filled with typewriters and learned the fine art of fingering the keys.  A few years later, computers started becoming the thing of the future, and the typing room was replaced with rows of computers as we learned programming with MS-Dos and Basic.  Since those days, computers have become a part of every day lives and have changed or replaced many of the tasks we perform in our lives. Calendars and datebooks have become digitalized, letters have become email, writing papers are now often written in document editors: computers are a very important part of our world and every day we see technical advances in the areas of computer sciences.

For today's student, understanding the fundamentals of computer science now will provide the foundation to keep up with these advancements in the years ahead.   Everything You Need to Ace Computer Science and Coding in One Big Fat Notebook, published by Workman Publishing and written by computer science education expert Grant Smith is the perfect resource to help solidify that foundation.

Part of Workman Publishing's Big Fat Notebook series, Everything You Need to Ace Computer Science and Coding in One Big Fat Notebook has everything the middle school student need to know in order to have a basic foundation in computer science.  Students learn about key fundamentals like understanding computer systems to reading and writing with programs such as Scratch, Python, and HTML.  This foundation will help in  preparing them for today's tech-driven world.

The Big Fat Notebook is filled with key concepts, mnemonic devices, definitions, diagrams, and doodles that present concepts such as binary coding, computational thinking, Boolean expressions and Cybersecurity in a way that really "sinks in" for the reader.

Broken down into 8 units, this notebook hits all major points of computer science and walks the reader through the basics, making it a great recourse to either refresh the readers memory on material they have already learned previously, reinforce the material the student is currently learning in the classroom environment, or it can be used to teach the reader who hasn't taken a computer science course the basics of the class.

Units covered are:
  • Computing Systems
  • Data and Analysis
  • Software Engineering
  • Algorithms and Programming
  • Universal Programming Principles
  • Programming with Scratch
  • Programming in Python
  • Web Development
Over the course of 566 pages, material is presented to the student through simplified, concise explanations.  Check Your Knowledge following each unit reinforces that the student has understood the material before moving on to the next unit.

How We Used It

For this review, we decided to start from the beginning and work our way through the book.  Each section is broken up into various lessons which breaks the information into bite size chunks that the kids can easily understand.  Each day, following our math lesson, we would go over a lesson together.  Lessons would take less than 10 minutes on average and would cover 2-5 pages of the book each day.

At our pace, we have covered the first 10 chapters of the book.  Through those chapters, the kids have learned important things such as what is considered computer science,  the difference between hardware and software, the difference between input and output, using the engineering design process to improve computer systems, and how user centered designs gather feedback from users to improve the programs and systems being used.

I'm finding the book to be a great overall summary of basic computer science.  Maybe you remember picking up the Cliff Notes back in school - this book is basically a Cliff Notes for this topic.  It has just enough information for a cram session to get a brief understanding of the basics.

For more information about Workman publishing and their various "fat notebooks", including Everything You Need to Ace Computer Science and Coding in One Big Fat Notebook , be sure to check out their website.  You can also find them on the following social media platforms:

#hsreviews #BigFatNotebooks #BigFatNotebook #EverythingYouNeedToAceComputerScienceAndCoding

Members of the Crew have been using  Everything You Need to Ace Computer Science and Coding in One Big Fat Notebook with their families over the last few weeks.  Be sure to click the banner below to read their reviews.

Everything You Need to Ace Computer Science and Coding in One Big Fat Notebook {Workman Publishing Reviews}

Sunday, May 24, 2020

Memorial Day Rememberance

Memorial Day is always a time of barbecues, drinking beer and hanging out with family and friends.  But more than anything, it's a time to remember those in uniform who never took off the uniform and instead gave the ultimate sacrifice for our country.

In honor of Memorial Day, I would like to honor a few of my family members who gave their lives fighting for our rights, our country and our freedoms.

First, I'll introduce you to my great uncle, Paul Allen Berryman. Paul was my grandfather's brother. Paul was the oldest of four boys (Paul, Bryan, Bill and James).

Paul was a Sgt in the United States Marine Corps and fought in Iwo Jima. Many people are familiar with the famous picture of the Marines raising the flag on Mt. Suribachi. Well, while my Great Uncle was not in that famous picture, he was there and those men were from his unit.

Paul had enlisted in the U.S. Marines in February, 1941, and received training in the states in anti-aircraft warfare. Paul was assigned to duty in the South Pacific, including Guadalcanal, where he saw combat action for 12 months.
Returning to the states, he was made instructor of anti-aircraft and machine guns at Camp Elliott, San Diego, Cal. In October, 1944.

Paul was a member of the 28th Marine Regiment - 5th Division. The 5th Marine Division would fight on Iwo Jima from 19 February until 18 March where they would sustain 1,098 killed in action and 2,974 wounded in action. This was the highest casualty rate among the Marine divisions involved in the invasion.

The Marines of the 28th Regiment worked to drive the enemy from the higher ground of the island of Iwo Jima. Their goal was to capture the area that appropriately became known as the "Meat Grinder." This section of the island included: the highest point on the northern portion of the island, Hill 382; an elevation known as "Turkey Knob," which had been reinforced with concrete and was home to a large enemy communications center; and the "Amphitheater," a southeastern extension of Hill 382..

Paul turned 21 on January 31st. Just over a month later, on March 5th, Paul lost his life. He was listed as KIA (Killed in Action) and was awarded a Purple Heart among other citations.  He died the day after watching the famous raising of the flag.

Per Paul's commander, Paul was killed instantly by a hand-grenade thrown into his gunnery bunker.

He was initially interred in the Marine Cemetery on Iwo Jima until after the war when my great grandfather arranged for Paul's remains to be repatriated to Texas, with a formal funeral in April 1949.

Paul and his brother, Bryan, are both buried side by side in a small cemetery located in Jasper, Texas. He was the first of the four boys to have fallen defending our country - his brother Bryan would fall 6 years later in Korea, leaving 1 son (my grandfather - Bill ) fighting on foreign soil. (The fourth boy, James, was too young to join).

The second brother was Bryan Dugles Berryman. He fought and died in the Korean war. He was the third of the four brothers and died unmarried and without any children. He was 20 years old.  My father was named after his Uncle Bryan, and there are some rumors that Bryan Dugles may have been my father's actual father and that my grandfather married my grandmother when he died.

Bryan Dugles Berryman
Corporal, U.S. Marine Corps

Place of Birth: Call, Texas
Date of Birth: January 22, 1931
Date of Death: September 11, 1951
Status: Killed in Action

Wars or Conflicts:
Korean War

Awards given:
Purple Heart
Presidential Unit Citation (Navy / Marine Corps)
National Defense Service Medal
Korean Service Medal
Republic of Korea Presidential Unit Citation
United Nations Service Medal
Republic of Korea War Service Medal
Combat Action Ribbon (Navy)

Corporal Berryman was a member of Company H, 3rd Battalion, 7th Marines, 1st Marine Division. He was Killed in Action during the two day battle for Hill 680, "Bloody Ridge" in North Korea on September 11, 1951. ** Corporal Berryman was awarded the Purple Heart, the Combat Action Ribbon, the Presidential Unit Citation, the Korean Service Medal, the United Nations Service Medal, the National Defense Service Medal, the Korean Presidential Unit Citation and the Republic of Korea War Service Medal.

Out of three sons who fought in foreign wars, only my grandfather, Bill, came back.  James never saw military service and lived a long life, but never had any children.  My grandfather only had one child, my father, who only had one child, myself.

The final life I wish to honor this Memorial Day is a cousin from my mother's side.  I bring to you William Luke St John.   William was the son of my material Grandfather's sister, my great aunt Mary.  

William was born July 28th, 1948 in a small little Connecticut town of of Oakdale. He was one of two boys born to my Aunt Mary and Uncle Leo and served with the United States Marines during the Vietnam war. He was a member of "A" Company, 1ST BN, 3RD Marines, of the 3rd Marine Division. He started his tour in Vietnam on Nov 16, 1968, shortly after his 20th birthday. Unfortunately, he only saw 2 months of service and lost his life on January 22nd, 1969 in Quang Nam. He was unmarried and had no children.

On 22 Jan 1969 the 1st Bn, 3rd Marines were conducting search and destroy operations in the mountains 13 kilometers south-southwest of Ha Tin. At 1430 a CH-46 helicopter was forced down by mechanical problems and one platoon of Alpha 1/3 was detached to provide security for the helo.

William in country with some Vietnamese children

The Marines received fire from a nearby hamlet. After forcing the enemy out of the hamlet they proceeded to capture a nearby bit of high ground. After the CH-46 was lifted out, the security platoon was joined on the hilltop by a second Alpha 1/3 platoon, and the two platoons established a night position. The day's engagements cost the lives of three Marines:

Pfc William D. Farrell, Le Claire, IA
Pfc William L. St John, Oakdale, CT
Pfc Mark A. Taylor, Allen Park, MI

William was awarded The Bronze Star, The Purple Heart, The National Defense Service Medal, Vietnam Service Medal, and Republic of Vietnam Campaign Medal. He was buried in Saint Patrick Cemetery in Uncasville, Connecticut. 

If you ever visit Washington DC and are able to view the Vietnam war Memorial, you can find his name on the West side of the wall, on Panel 34, Row 61.

Wednesday, May 20, 2020

Second Form Latin (A Homeschool Crew Review)

Disclaimer: I received a FREE copy of this product through the HOMESCHOOL REVIEW CREW in exchange for my honest review. I was not required to write a positive review nor was I compensated in any other way.

Early on in the kids education, I decided I wanted to start them on a foreign language early on.  I know that in my own schooling, foreign language wasn't introduced til high school and as such, my knowledge of Spanish can only be described as "muy mal" and I wanted the kids to begin their studies much earlier.  After trial and error, Ashleigh discovered she really enjoyed learning Latin and for the last few years, Latin has been her language of choice.  Thru the years, we have found that Memoria Press offered the most comprehensive coursework for learning Latin starting with early grades.  Using their materials, Ashleigh has made her way thru Prima Latina, Latina Christiana, and First Form Latin. 

We were extremely grateful when we were given the opportunity to review the Second Form Latin Complete Set, the next step in Ashleigh's Latin Studies.

Being upfront and honest here.  Ashleigh surpassed my knowledge of Latin when she finished with Latina Christiana.  Because of this, I am extremely thankful that the Memoria Press Complete Latin sets contain everything needed for her to independently study, because at this point in the game, I'm not a whole lot of help for her. 

The Second Form Latin Complete Set contains everything needed to teach the course.  The set contains 8 components:

Student Text -  This 120 page,  9x7.6inch softbound book that contains lessons for all 31 lessons as well as a student reference.  The smaller size allows for easily bringing lessons on the road without being bulky.

Student Workbook - Spiral bound soft cover book where students will find between 4-6 pages to complete for each lesson.  The book contains 211 pages. 

Quizzes and Tests Book - This book contains weekly quizzes and unit tests to gauge students progress and understanding of the material.

Teacher Key (Workbook Quizzes, & Tests) -  This 119 page, spiral bound book that contains the solutions for each page in the student workbook as well as the quizzes and unit tests.  Answers are colored to making a quick task in checking your student's work.

Pronunciation CD - containing 2 audio CDs, this reference allows students (and teachers) to listen to the vocabulary, declensions, conjugations and Latin sayings pronounced properly.  (This is NOT an audio of the actual lessons).

Flashcards -  These 238 double sided flash cards contain the Latin material on one side with the English translation on the other.   The lesson number is included on each card  - this is something I personally appreciate as I pull each set of cards when we start the corresponding lesson and add them to the pile that Ashleigh uses to review with.

Teachers Manual - Containing scripted lessons,  teachers notes, insets for each page of the student text and workbook (with the answers in color for easy reference), schedules, and informative background information, this manual provides all the parent needs to successfully teach the Second Form Latin curriculum.

Instructional DVDs - Taught by Glen Moore, this three disc set contains 8.5 hours  of instruction.  Each video lesson spends roughly twenty minutes going over unit review (which Moore refers to as "Latin Parties") and presenting new material using diagrams and illustrations.

Unboxing Video from when we first received 2nd Form Latin

In the course of 26 lessons and completion of this curriculum, students will have mastered six indicative action and three indicative passive tenses of all four verb conjucations, five noun declensions, three declensions of adjectives, personal pronouns, prepositions and an addition 180 vocabulary words to be added to the 185 vocabulary words the student learned in First Form Latin, bringing their total to 365 vocabulary words.

How We Used It

For this review period, we followed the sample lesson plan found in the Teaching Guide.  This recommends using the program 4 day a week, which worked well for us, however, we did decide to switch to 5 days a week to allow for her to have an extra review day each week.

For our typical week, we would start on Monday with Ashleigh watching the video lessons located on the DVD with Mr Moore. Video lessons are on average less than 20 minutes in length.  Over the course of the video lesson, she recites previously learned material such as first and second declension of nouns and adjectives, vocabulary words and phrases before being introduced to new material for the week, such as the weeks Latin sayings, new vocabulary and grammar rules. 

All the material being taught on the video is also explained in the student text.  Ashleigh simply puts her textbook in front of her and follows along with Mr Moore as he goes over the lesson.

Following the lesson, Ashleigh beings working in her workbook.  Each lesson has four worksheets sections that she works on over the course of the four days, so one worksheet each day.   These worksheets review previously learned material both in First Form Latin as well as the 2nd Form course.  These worksheets include word study, grammar, vocabulary, declensions, forms, diagramming sentences and more. Ashleigh typically works on one page each day in addition to listening to the audio cd and reviewing flash cards.  So on days 2-4, she begins with doing her recitation, followed by a section of her workbook.   The teachers guide makes it easy for me to guide her through the recitations and review by giving me a list of what to ask her to recite while the notes in the teachers guide that correspond with her text book makes it much easier for me to have an idea of the concepts she's working on so that I can help her when necessary.

If one is using the four day schedule suggested in the teachers guide, then on the fourth day, the student does form/oral drills and pretests.  The form/oral drills are found at the end of the lessons in the student text (9 are found in the appendix of the text).  The lesson quizzes can be found in the Quizzes and Tests booklet.  If the student does well on the lesson quizzes, they can then move on to the next lesson.  If they do not do well on the quiz, they are asked to review the material and retake the quiz to pass before moving on.

Five Unit tests are also found in the Quizzes and Test booklet.  These cover the collective material learned in each unit.  For example, Unit 1 covers Nouns and Adjectives, Unit 2 is Personal and Possessive Pronouns and Prepositions.  Ashleigh has not yet taken a Unit Test as of yet since she's currently on Lesson 6.  Next week will be a review week of all the material for the first 6 lessons and she will take the unit test that Friday.

Overall, we are very happy with this course.  It is a bit more challenging than First Form was and Mr Moore moves at a faster pace than in the first course, but that is to be expected.  Second Form marks the halfway point for her foreign language lessons, and while we are only a portion of the ways into the course, I can see how much she's grown just in these few weeks.

#hsreviews #memoriapress #classicaleducation #classicalcurriculum #homeschool #classicalschool #classicalhomeschool #learnlatin #learnlatinathome

Memoria Press offers a wide variety of classical education curriculum in addition to their Latin language program.  Be sure to visit their website to find more information.  You can also find Memoria Press on the following social media sites:

Members of the Crew have had the opportunity to review their choice of 6 different levels of Latin study with their students.   Be sure to click the banner below and read their reviews today.

Prima to Fourth Form Latin Complete Sets {Memoria Press Reviews}

Sunday, May 17, 2020

Weekend Meal Planning

Here we are halfway thru the month of May and we have been in social distancing since March.   I don't know about you, but I am getting tired of it.  The weather is heating up here, the kids want to go play before it's too unbearably hot yet the parks on base are shut down.  I guess summer is cancelled for us all together - no camping, no pool, no parks.   As the temps climb and we start hitting the triple digits, it will be staying inside until October regardless.. LOL

I have started venturing off base to go do grocery shopping every other week. It's just too expensive to shop the commissary for all our meal planning.  I can get triple the groceries for the same price when I venture off base. 

Saturday:  chili dogs with chips

Sunday: Mongolian Beef Noodles with bell peppers and snap peas

Monday:  Spicy Black Pepper Chicken with white rice

Tuesday:  Fusilli with Sun-dried Tomato Pesto and mushrooms / zucchini / white beans

Wednesday:  Stuffed Chicken Breast with Sun-dried Tomato Pesto and roasted green beans

Thursday:  bacon cheeseburger tater tot casserole with salad

Friday:  Club Muroc Meal of the Week

Saturday:  Alice springs chicken with potato wedges, mac and cheese and salad

Thursday, May 14, 2020

Mastering Essential Math Skills (A Homeschool Crew Review)

Disclaimer: I received a FREE copy of this product through the HOMESCHOOL REVIEW CREW in exchange for my honest review. I was not required to write a positive review nor was I compensated in any other way.

If your looking for a resource to help review as well as learn those skills essential for a strong foundation of math, look no further than Mastering Essential Math Skills Book 2 Middle Grades/High School from Math Essentials.  From addition of whole numbers to fractions and integers, this 3rd Edition of Mastering Essential Math Skills written by Richard W. Fisher will help your student proficient in these foundational skills in as little as 20 minutes a day.

This 158 page softcover book provides 114 pages of activities, an 8 page Final review and a convienent online Math Resource Center that offers a library of video lessons taught by the author to ensure your student becomes proficient in math.  This is Book 2 which targets Middle and High School grade students (book 1 is available for grades 4-5th).

Using Mastering Essential Math Skills:

The book is designed to be used daily but breaking lessons up over the course of several days.  Using a step by step approach

Step 1:  Students begin working on the lesson, showing all their work as they go along.

Step 2:  Timed exercises.  Students work for a given amount of time (roughly 2-3 minutes) on review material and speed drills.  Students work until the time is complete.  Parent and teacher go over the exercises together, making corrections to the problems the student got incorrect.

Speed Drills, Review Problems and Helpful hints

Step 3:  Students work thru the review problems together

Step 4: New material is introduced.  Concepts, vocabulary and skills are demonstrated on the white board.

Step 5: .Parent/teacher goes over the "Helpful Hints" section with the students, which has examples that can be helpful to the student.

Exercises along with sample problems to help build proficiency

Step 6:  Parent/teacher and the student go over the two sample problems together. Students can demonstrate to the teacher how to work the problems and the teacher can provide help to be sure the student understands the math concept being worked on.

Step 7:  Students complete the exercises and word problems for the day. 

Step 8: Parent/Teacher collects the material and then grades the students work.  Students can be given the opportunity to correct the problems they were wrong on and material can be reviewed if necessary.

Over the course of the book, students will work through numerous concepts in eight major sections:

  • Whole Numbers
  • Fractions
  • Decimals
  • Percents
  • Geometry
  • Integers
  • Charts and Graphs
  • Word Problems
A table of contents breaks the sections down into the various skills practiced.  This makes it easy to locate a particular skill if you wish to skip around or if you use the book as a supplement with another math curriculum.

Table of Contents to Quickly Locate a particular math skill

A final section offers a final review section as well as the answer key and resource section that contains a glossary of terms, important symbols and more.

Glossary of Terms

How We Used It:

We decided to use Mastering Essential Math Skills with Garrett as a supplement to our current math curriculum.  As Garrett enjoys math, this worked well for him as he enjoyed the extra practice each day.   I would have him complete a page over the course of two days.  The speed drill and review exercises he would complete on Tuesday and on Thursday he would complete the page.

We found that for Garrett, it was easiest to have him write the problems down on loose leaf paper, work the problem out and then put transfer the answer to the workbook.  We switched this method after he complained about not having enough room to show his work.

The workbook is a great resource for extra practice for any student who needs the help or to help introduce new skills to a student who can pick up new material quickly.

For more information about Math Essentials and their line of Math books, visit their website.  You can also find them on Facebook at Facebook:

Be sure to click the banner below to read reviews from other Homeschool Review Crew members who reviewed one of three math book choices with their family.

No-Nonsense Algebra, Math Refresher for Adults &  Mastering Essential Math Skills Book 2 Middle Grades/High School {Math Essentials Reviews}

Wednesday, May 13, 2020

Wordless Wednesday

Recently I bought a new camera.  My older one has some mileage on it and would make a good beginner DSLR for Ashleigh.  I've been enjoying getting to know this new camera while on my walks in the evening, using the desert sunsets for my muse. 

Tuesday, May 12, 2020

Beyond the Stick Figure (A Homeschool Review Crew Review)

Disclaimer: I received a FREE copy of this product through the HOMESCHOOL REVIEW CREW in exchange for my honest review. I was not required to write a positive review nor was I compensated in any other way.

When it comes to art, I have two kids who couldn't be further from each other on the spectrum. My youngest loves art and spends most of her free time drawing her sketches on paper or making  animations on her tablet.  On the other hand, my son never enjoyed doing anything artistic.  The only picture I have that he's ever done was of a creeper from Minecraft and that was with tons of coaching on my part just to get that.  This is why usually, when you see an art instruction review on this blog, it's almost always featuring Ashleigh and her work.

When members of the crew were given the opportunity to review the Beyond the Stick Figure Complete Drawing Course PLUS 3 Bonus Courses from Beyond the Stick Figure Art School, I saw an opportunity to get Garrett doing his own artwork.

The video based course is taught by Sally Stansfield, a native of England who followed her dream and attended Loughborough College of Art and Design in England where she obtained her degree in art.  A wife and homeschool mom to eight children, she felt that art could be taught incrementally in a step by step manner like any other school subject. She saw first hand how traditional teaching methods for this subject can be detrimental. Now, she wants to share her passion with children young and old to ignite their own love of creating art.

Using the Curriculum

The very first video was entitled "Just for Mom" and I found this video perfect for setting the tone for the class.  Basically, it's a video telling moms to allow the child to do their own work the way they want to do it and not the way you the parent or anyone else wants to do.  Instead of correction, allow the child to explore their own creative nature.  I thought this was an excellent message to start the course with.

The course is broken up into various sections, with each section having a number of video lessons.  For example, the Drawing course is divided into three sections, each containing anywhere from 5 to 33 video lessons for that section.  We were given access to the Complete Drawing course as well as the Pen & Ink, Watercolor, Acrylic, and 3D design lessons as the bonus courses.  Also included was a second course entitled Paint Your Own Family Portraits.

Since I wanted to use this curriculum with Garrett, we started from the very beginning of the course.  I want to reiterate that I was doing this curriculum with a kid who hates drawing.  While the course is called Beyond The Stick Figure, my kids hates even drawing stick figures and will do them as the peak of his effort when asked to do any sort of illustration. Even when the drawing subject is something that Garrett enjoys, such as Minecraft, he does only the most minimal of work.  So we opted to start with Drawing Part 1.

For the portion of the course we were able to use during the review period, we needed a pack of Prismacolor markers, white printer paper and a Strathmore brand sketch pad.   As the course progresses thru the different mediums, the student will need other materials, such as watercolor and acrylic paint and terracotta air dry clay.  The drawing course does have printable workbooks for the course that can be printed out as well. 

The course starts extremely basic.  Students learn to draw straight lines, curved lines, dots and circles. Then they learn how to put these different style of lines together to begin actually creating artwork.   They also learn concepts such as color theory along the way.  Each part is broken down into daily lessons that feature a video of the instructor presenting instructions for the student, which they can follow along with on their own.  Once the assignment for the day is complete, the student can mark it as complete.  When they long in the next day, the next lesson will be waiting where they can easily pick right back up at.

I wasn't entirely sure how Garrett would do with this program.  Turns out, he has enjoyed it.  I don't overload him with it, so he does his lessons three days a week on M-W-F and I only require him to complete one lesson each day so it keeps things very manageable for him.  He watches a lesson, then he grabs his markers and his sketchbook and he gets to work.

To say that I'm impressed with this art curriculum would be an understatement and I'll be interested to see how Garrett's skills in his art studies improves as he progresses through the upcoming lessons.  But the fact that he's drawing flowers and abstract art after years of crying over being forced to even just draw a stick figure for assignments is a positive improvement in my book.  It will also be interesting to see how he takes to doing watercolors later down the road.

For more information about the Beyond the Stick Figure Art School, visit their website.  You can also find them on the following social media sites:

Members of the review crew have been usingBeyond the Stick Figure Art School with family members of all ages, including themselves.  Be sure to click the banner below and read their reviews.

Beyond the Stick Figure Complete Drawing Course {Beyond the Stick Figure Art School}


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