Thursday, July 29, 2021

Fermentools (A Homeschool Crew Review0

Disclosure: I received this complimentary product through the Homeschool Review Crew


Some of you may remember last year that we reviewed a really great kitchen product that gives you all the tools you need to start fermenting foods in your own home.   It quickly became a favorite in my home, allowing me to make my own kimchi, sauerkraut and other fermented foods and saving me tons of money instead of buying prepared options at the supermarket.  Many of those premade options have unnecessary chemicals and preservatives, where as making my own at home, I knew exactly what was in the jar.  Well, we have once again been given the opportunity to review the starter kit from Fermentools and once again, we were so pleased with this product.

The Fermentool Single Fermentation Kit included everything needed to get you started with your first jar of fermented food. 

 This included 1 304 stainless steel lid that is corrosion resistant and extremely sterdy, a glass fermentation weight made to fit inside a standard widemouth Mason style jar, 1 plastic air lock that is easy to disassemble for cleaning, a pair of rubber stoppers (1 with a hole for the airlock, one solid), a rubber caning gasket to place between the lid and the mason jar to guarantee a good seal, a bag of Himalayan powdered salt, and an instruction pamphlet with instructions and a recipe for making sauerkraut to get you started.

We have used the Fermentools kit quite a bit in the past, so I was super happy to get a second set to have on hand.  With our current move, I still have things in boxes, so I haven't unearthed my other set just yet.  However, the idea of having two sets is something I like, because with our old set, we were constantly making homemade Kimchi and over time, the rubber stopper has been stained orange due to the red pepper paste that is used.  Now I can continue to make Kimchi with the stained stopper and then make other stuff such as Dilly Beans (fermented dill green beans), garlic and cilantro jalapenos, and other non staining stuff in the 2nd.
Making Kimchi some time back before our move.

 For our first ferment for this review, I decided to try making some lacto-fermented Ginger Ale.  For this batch, I did not need to use the included glass weight nor did I use any of the included pink Himalayan salt. Instead, because this was a lacto-fermentation, I used some champagne yeast to begin the fermentation process.
Sadly, we never got the carbonation we wanted out of this batch.  I do believe this is because I purchased non-organic ginger.  I've read that doing fermentation with non-organic ginger is always a hit or miss due to the radiation that is done to the ginger. While we did get a slight carbonation, it wasn't anything like previous batches in the past.  Again, this was not due to the Fermentools system but was most likely due to the ginger itself or that I possibly added the yeast when the temperature of my sugar syrup was too high for the more fragile yeast and maybe killed the yeast.  I will definitely be trying this again in the near future with organic ginger (and allowing my sugar syrup to completely cool to room temp).
For my second fermentation, I was going to make a bath of cilantro and garlic jalapenos which have been a real hit in my house previously.  These are absolutely PERFECT for topping hot dogs, burgers and cheese steaks and we go tend to go thru the jar pretty quickly when I make these. 

Previous batch of Jalapenos using the Fermentools system
Unfortunately, when I went to the store, there seemed to be a shortage of jalapenos and two peppers weren't going to cut it.   so instead, I decided to just grab a head of green cabbage and make a batch of standard sauerkraut.  I completely obliterated the cabbage in my food processor, added some of the Himalayan salt, and allowed it to sit on the counter, away from the windows, for roughly 2 and a half weeks. 
For this fermentation, we had to use the glass counterweight to keep all the cabbage weighed down and below the liquid level.  The weight worked perfectly, eliminating the possibility of mold growth in the fermentation.
In honor of the Olympic games, we have been eating "International Foods" for the last week, so our homemade sauerkraut turned out to be an absolutely perfect accompaniment to our  German themed meal of brats with peppers and German potato salad. The sauerkraut had the perfect salty/sour taste was enjoyed by everyone.  I'll definitely make another batch when this batch is gone, but I think I'll add Caraway seeds next time around.

I really enjoy this product and if your looking for a easy and cost effective way to begin fermenting your own foods, the Fermentools Start Kit is the perfect way to get started.

 #hsreviews #fermenting #easyfermenting

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Members of the Crew have been using the Fermentools Starter Kit in their homes to make a large variety of healthy foods.  Be sure to click the banner below to read their reviews today.
Fermenting Food Made Easy with Fermentools

Tuesday, July 27, 2021

Young Scientist Biology (A Homeschool Crew Review)

 Disclosure: I received this complimentary product through the Homeschool Review Crew

If there's one subject that my kids are always excited about learning about, it would be Science.  The kids have been begging me to start Biology with them and while we have the course work ready, I didn't think they were ready for a high school level course.  So when we were given the opportunity to review Young Scientist Biology, one of the Self-paced 4th-7th grade one-semester classes offered by Greg Landry's Homeschool Science, I thought it would be a great opportunity to introduce the kids to the material without overwhelming them with a high school course. For this review, we were given 12 months access to the course to use with our family. 

 Young Scientist Biology is a faith worldview,  self-paced online class that enables students to work at their own pace while still receiving active teaching. Students can see and hear the instructor, Greg Landry, while he teaches teaching as well as view what he is writing on the virtual whiteboard, pointing to graphics, etc. The class also includes the class study guide in PDF format that the student can print out and follow along.This study guide also contains the assignments for the course work to be filled out during/after the lesson. 

 Course tuition allows for one family (may be used by any students in your family) for one self-paced (recorded) online full semester course
for the entire homeschool year . For this course, 13 recorded classes average 20-30 minutes each and can be used at you's students pace during the school year and are taught by Greg Landry, a 20-year veteran homeschool dad and former college professor.


The Biology course covers topics such as the scientific method, measurement, the cell, mitosis, organelles, membranes, photosynthesis, cellular respiration, DNA, genetics, plants, animals, taxonomy, God's creation. 

In addition to a course introduction, the 13 classes include:

-- Class #1 - Note-Taking, Studying, & Test-Taking
-- Class #2 - Metric System, Temperature, Precision, & Accuracy
-- Class #3 - Scientific Method & Lab Reports
-- Class #4 - The Cell & Organelles
-- Class #5 - Diffusion & Osmosis
-- Class #6 - Photosynthesis & Cellular Respiration
-- Class #7 - Mitosis, Budding, & Binary Fission
-- Class #8 - Creation & Evolution
-- Class #9 - Classification of Living Organisms
-- Class #10 - Kingdom Plantae
-- Class #11 - Kingdom Animalia
-- Class #12 - Microbiology
-- Class #13 - Human Biology

For our review, I had Ashleigh sit down and work thru a few of the courses.. This gave me a good idea as to how the material was presented, how in depth the material was, and how the classes worked. 

For the current review, we are just watching the videos. However, after what we've seen so far, I really do like the idea of using this curriculum with both kids for their science course this upcoming school year.

The four part PDF student guide contains all the worksheets that the student needs for the program. These worksheets include diagram labeling, fill in the blank questions, and copies of all the tables that were presented in the video lesson.  Students use the student guide while following along with the lesson and to complete the worksheets following the lesson to make sure they have a good understanding of the material.


While we haven't done them yet simply because I need to gather the materials (I'm still in unpacking mode and a ton of my science equipment is still in boxes in the garage), I really like how the PDF study guide also includes step by step labs for the student to complete (and then write lab reports).  


So far, Ashleigh has found the material interesting and easy to understand.  She's not to thrilled with the idea of writing lab reports, which I am holding off til they officially start school, but she's enjoying the videos and the instruction.


I'm really looking forward to adding this curriculum full time to our homeschool for both Garrett and Ashleigh.  I think its a perfect tie in to the High School biology course I want to use for 9th grade.  While the course is designed for 4th thru 7th, I think it will be a perfect fit for my 8th graders and will develop a nice foundation to prepare them for the high school course.

Members of the Crew were given their choice of 1 course offered by Greg Landry's Homeschool Science.  These choices included Virtual, interactive homeschool laboratory, Self-paced 4th-7th grade one-semester classes, and Self-paced 7th-12th grade half-semester classes.  Be sure to click the banner below to read their reviews today.

Online College Prep Science Classes with Greg Landry

Sunday, July 18, 2021

A Look Behind The Dungeon Screen

I'm still trying to get a handle on this Dungeon Master thing..   But at least I can fake it pretty well.


Thursday, July 8, 2021

CTCMath (A Homeschool Crew Review)

Disclosure: I received this complimentary product through the Homeschool Review Crew

Members of the Crew were given a 12 month subscription for the online math curriculum CTCMath which includes up to 5 family members.  This allowed for both Ashleigh and Garrett to take advantage of this program.

CTCMath is an online, browser based mathematics curriculum designed for all grade levels, beginning with Kindergarten and progressing thru to higher level high school math, including Trigonometry and calculus.

Students enrolled are granted full access to the entire CTCMath curriculum. All grade levels and lessons are made part of their subscription.  This allows students who are might struggle with a math skill at a lower level to review and achieve proficiency on that skill while still working at their grade level.  This is also extremely useful when the student is working thru concepts from both Algebra 1 and Algebra 2 during the same year or if  a child is ready to move up to the next grade level mid year, or if the child needs remediation for skills in lower grades when necessary.

The instructor is clear and concise and presents the information in a fairly simplified way.   Students watch a short video lesson that teach the skill. These videos are between 5-10 minutes in length.


Following the lesson, the student is then presented with several questions covering what they have learned in the lesson.  Testing feedback is immediate as the program informs the student if their answer is correct or not as soon as the answer is submitted.  If the answer is incorrect, the correct answer is given.

Once all the questions are completed, the overall score for that lesson is given and a printable copy of the questions along with the child's answers is provided, which can be kept for record keeping.


Parents can select a mandatory passing grade final grade for each portion of the program, or use the programs default passing grade.  If the student does not answer enough questions correctly to achieve the passing grade, the program will not allow the student to progress to the next skill. Instead, the student is to rewatch the lesson and attempt the questions again until the passing grade is achieved.  This ensures proficiency of the skills and avoids the student simply skipping material they don’t thoroughly understand.



For this review, we decided to use CTCMath strictly as a supplement with our primary math curriculum. As the kids covered a skill in their math book, we would turn around and find the same skill on the CTCMath program and have them watch the lessons and do the questions for that section.  Since we had access to all the grade levels, this made finding what we were working on easy.  The search function on CTC math made this super simple to do, as I would just type in the concept and search and select the lesson we needed.  We did notice that the grade level for the material didn’t necessarily match the grade level to the other curriculum – that’s why having ALL grade levels on CTC available with the subscription became highly useful for us.


I really like that the lessons are explained in a way that, for the most part.  To see how the two curriculums compared, we would alternate using CTC first, followed by the other math curriculum and then do the other first followed by CTC the next day.  I did notice that while the kids preferred the shorter lessons that CTC math offered, especially with the shorter amount of questions that followed the lesson as opposed to the longer lesson with the other curriculum followed by a mix of both review material and topic questions, there were a few times that the kids didn’t necessarily understand the concept the first time around with CTC.  This can easily be remedied by rewatching the lesson in CTC.  This could also be attributed to the fact the kids are in “summer mode” and didn’t pay close attention the first time.


One function that we really liked is the Times Tables Shoot Em’ Up.  This lil gem is in plain site on the page but not really attention grabbing and we overlooked it for quite some time.  Once we clicked it and found out what it is, we quickly realized it was something that will be used quite often in the future.  Basically, it’s kind of like Space Invaders, where students have to shoot the space crafts that have the correct answer to the given problem. Let me tell you, it is so much more engaging than regular math drills, especially when you have kids who are gamers.  This was right up their alley. 


Overall, the program has been a great addition to our homeschool routine.  Having a secondary lesson for math skills to help supplement and reinforce what the kids are learning as well as provide additional practice for mastery has really helped them with their math assignments. I also like the fact that if I so desired, I could drop my other math curriculum and switch completely to CTCMath as a solid mathematics curriculum. 


#hsreviews #ctcmath #review #homeschoolmath #blueribbonwinner #onlinemath

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Members of the Crew have been reviewing CTCMath with various grade leveled members of their families.  Click the banner below to read their reviews today. 
Online Homeschool Math with CTCMath

Wednesday, July 7, 2021

Colonial Life (A Homeschool Crew Review)

Disclosure: I received this complimentary product through the Homeschool Review Crew


This year for our history curriculum, the kids will be learning US History from early colonization to 1850.  Because of this, we were super thrilled to have the opportunity to review the Time Travelers: Colonial Life history study, part of the Time Travelers U.S. History Studies  for Grades 3-8th offered by Home School in the Woods. This unit is the perfect supplement to our upcoming history curriculum. Offering a vast array of  interactive, hands-on unit studies, lap books, Time Traveler series and more, Home School in the Woods offers a unique style curriculum that brings history to life.


HSITW1If you are unfamiliar with history studies from Home School in the Woods, they are period focused studies that have multiple components to help students learn.  Through the course of the study,  students are presented a wide variety of activities: notebooking, lapbooking, crafts, copywork, creative writing, cooking, maps, timelines and more.   This particular unit study over the Colonial period of US History contains various activities for the kids to complete as they learn about how America's Colonies Began,  The Colonial Home, Clothing, Food, Family Life, School, Faith in the Colonies, Villages & Cities, Health & Medicine, Artisans, Crime & Punishment, Plantations & Slavery, Pleasures & Pastimes, and Holidays!

The Time Travelers Colonial Life study is a digital file that is completely contained on your computer.  Once purchased, a user downloads a ZIP file containing all the files for the study which is then extracted to their computer. This installs all the files necessary and means once installed the unit study can be accessed and printed without the need for internet access.   Once installed, the unit study is loaded up as an easy to use webpage which gives quick access to all the files needed for each lesson.  Colonial Life contains 25 lessons that can be done over the course of 5-10 weeks.   Every 5th Lesson is considered a "Craft Day" which allows for the student to focus on completing projects for the previous 4 lessons as well as to concentrate and review vocabulary  and important facts/dates learned before moving on.


Each lesson contains Text Pages and Project pages. Each lesson begins with a briefly written lesson written in an interesting, story style format. This format is reminiscent of "living storybooks" or a Charlotte Mason style format.


The second component of the unit is the  lesson projects. These follow the text pages and contain activity choices to reinforce the topic just discussed.   These Project Pages tell what activities will be completed for the lesson including which pages will need to be printed out.  They also contain step by step instructions for completing each project.  A Photo Gallery is also included also gives a visual aid of the final outcome of the projects and placement of components for the lapbook to help assist with the projects.


We have been using this unit study not so much as a curriculum this time around, but just as a fun way to continue to learn while we are adjusting to our move and enjoying the summer. As the kids have always enjoyed studies from Home School in the Woods, this has been a great option for having them do something educational without it seeming “too educational”.. To them, it’s more fun than work.

Without a doubt, the favorite lesson so far has been about Colonial food.  Every Home School in the Woods unit we have done has always included a food unit, where the kids make a recipe book filled with recipes from the area or time period they are studying.  The Colonial Times unit is no different. 


With recipes in hand, Ashleigh decided she wanted to cook the Chicken Pie and Johnny Cake found in the recipe book.  We printed out a second copy of the recipe so she wouldn’t have to use the recipe book she worked so hard on coloring for her lapbook and she got to work while Mom supervised.






From start to finish, she was able to follow the directions very easily and was able to produce a meal that everyone really enjoyed and deemed as a repeater. 

I really look forward to restarting this product next month when we begin our school year in earnest as I think this will fit in perfectly with our upcoming curriculum.

I've yet to find a product from Home School in the Woods that we haven't loved and this study about the Colonial Life is no different.  And Home School in the Woods has recently added some new Biblical history timelines to their Individual Timeline Sets that include Timeline Set: Creation to Christ  (Beginning - 100 AD)  and Timeline Set: Resurrection to Revolution (0 -1799 AD).  Some of the members of the Crew have been reviewing these Timeline Sets with their families these last few weeks, so be sure to read their reviews.  You can also find more detailed information about this product by reading Home School in the Woods blog .

#americanhistorycurriculum #lapbooks #lapbooking #timetravelers

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Members of the Crew have been reviewing a wide selection of curriculum offerings from Home School in the Woods.  Click the banner below to read their reviews today. 
Hands On History with Homeschool in the Woods


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