Friday, July 20, 2012

Keyboarding for the Christian School--TOS Review


Keyboarding for the Christian School is a complete typing curriculum that will help you teach your children how to type. We found this e-book to be an amazing tool! I was able let my 12 year-old go through this book and she was able to follow the steps on her own. I read through the e-book first and was very thankful for the very basics it discussed before beginning with the typing lessons. See below for an excerpt from the book showing you what I mean by "the very basics."

"In order to reach all of the keys easily and to type efficiently, there are certain techniques to use.
1. Sit up straight and lean in at the waist.
2. Keep feet flat on the floor (with one slightly in front of the other for balance).
3. Body is one hand-span (or length) from the keyboard.
4. The J key on the keyboard is opposite of your bellybutton.
5. Hands are on the homerow (to be introduced in the first lesson)
6. Curve fingers.
7. Elbows are naturally at your side.
8. Wrists are level (not touching the table or the keyboard).
9. Eyes are looking at the copy.
10.Keyboard is parallel to the table.
11.The text or copy is placed on the right-hand side.
12.Use quick, snappy strokes in a rhythmic pace"

The letters and numbers were just the beginning lessons, there was SO much more to learn in the book. I really liked that there was scripture used throughout the book and in the examples. Other things taught in this curriculum was how to write MLA and APA reports, cite works, make a bibliography, create personal and business letters, marks used in proofreading, timed exercises and more! While my 12 year old isn't quite to the MLA and APA report writing, she can use this as a reference for letters and timed exercises now. I thought the information presented was exceptional and this e-book will be a valuable resource for our homeschool for years to come!

We used the book in the e-format as we went along for the review. BUT, I will be printing it off and putting it in a binder for future reference and for our other students to use. Keyboarding for the Christian School, costs $15.95 and was created to be used by students in the 6th through the 12th grades. You can view sample lessons HERE.

To see what my fellow Crew Mates had to say about Keyboarding for the Christian School, visit the Homeschool Crew Blog to read more.

**Disclosure: My review and opinion written in this post is entirely my own. This product was provided to me for free in exchange for my review as a member of the 2011-2012 The Old Schoolhouse Magazine Homeschool Crew.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Apologia, Who Is My Neighbor--TOS Review

For this review we were able to preview Who Is My Neighbor in the What We Believe Series by Apologia. This series was made to help teach our children about the essential beliefs of the Christian faith.  This book focuses on helping children learn what it means to be “salt and light” in the world. The lessons encourage children to build a servant attitude based on these biblical truths:

*God created me to be a blessing to the world
*God chooses to work through me
*I can make a difference at home, in my community, and at church
*The church is God’s family
*The church is one body with many gifts
*I am an important member of Jesus’ body

 I was excited to get started on this review and teach our Christian worldview "on purpose." I found this series to be thorough and carefully laid out. Because the book series is aimed at children ages 6-14, I was able to use it with all our kiddos at the same time. We decided to follow the proposed lesson plan of three weeks per lesson, two days per week. I felt doing it this way helped the kids to "digest" what we were reading and talking about. On the first day we read two sections, read a short story (and discussed it) as well as talked about the questions in the "Think About It" section. Even though the older children are solid readers, I ended up reading these sections to all of the children.

The beginning readings talked about China, their customs and way of life. It was written in story form so the children were able to follow the events easily. Discussing the questions at the end were a way of capturing the essence and meaning of the story. 

On the second day (week 1) we continued on with studying words associated with what we were reading. One of my favorite sections of the chapter was the "Hide It In Your Heart" where the kids and I learned scripture. This is the day we brought in the notebook to reinforce what we learned.

 The notebooking journal  reinforces the information with questions, word searches, and other activities (to help kids further explore the topics in the book).  The three older kids (ages 13, 12 and 9) were able to work in the notebook and go over the things we talked about in the book. The two younger kiddos (ages 6 and 4) went to the coloring book (see below).

The coloring book had simple pictures that were associated with the lesson/stories we went through in the book. The little girls were able to work on coloring the pictures as we talked about things that happened in the stories and what it all meant. All of this was just in the first week! We continued on with the lesson plan each week and by doing it at that pace, I really felt the kids were able to grasp the information in it's entirety.

We look forward to continuing with this book and completing the lessons during our school year. We really did like it so much I'm thinking about looking into more from the What We Believe Series to continue through the entire school year.

To see what my fellow Crew Mates had to say about Apologia, Who Is My Neighbor series visit the Homeschool Crew Blog to read more.

**Disclosure: My review and opinion written in this post is entirely my own. This product was provided to me for free in exchange for my review as a member of the 2011-2012 The Old Schoolhouse Magazine Homeschool Crew.

Friday, July 13, 2012

Hewitt Homeschooling, Lightening Lit--TOS Review

I'd heard of Hewitt Homeschooling before but have never used any of their curriculum. I was very excited to have been chosen for this review so I could check it out and see what all the "buzz" was about!

Since we're now in the middle school age range, we are finally able to use the Hewitt Homeschool curriculum (there are programs with elementary grades coming soon). We were able to review the 7th grade curriculum and it came with a student guide, a student workbook, and a teacher guide.

From the Hewitt Homeschooling website: "Hewitt's Lightning Lit guides use full-length novels, autobiographies, plays, essays, short stories, and poems to teach deep reading and composition skills. Unlike some literature programs that take a scatter-shot approach (where none of the literature seems connected) or that try to include too much into one book, Lightning Literature guides focus on a few classics in depth, in a systematic manner."


The junior high levels (7th and 8th grade) are year long courses. The Student Guide includes biographies of the authors, vocabulary, comprehension questions, lessons on the readings, additional lessons on composition, and writing exercises. The Student Workbook is consumable. The Teacher Guide includes a teaching schedule, answers to comprehension questions, answers to the workbook pages, extra teaching help for the lessons, help in choosing appropriate writing exercises, and discussion questions.

We used this with my daughter who is just going into the 7th grade. The student guide (and workbook) was straight forward and easy for her to use. For example, chapter 4 was my one of her favorite lessons (Alice's Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carrol). She began by reading the Introduction in the student guide. The next section, While You Read, points out things to look for while reading the story. There is a Vocabulary List listed by chapter so my daughter was able to refer back to that list to check for words she didn't understand. An example of that was in chapter five the word "languid" was used. She was able to refer to the vocabulary list and see the word languid means dull. Next in the student guide is Comprehension Questions. These are also listed by chapter. I had my daughter answer them as she finished each chapter and we also discussed her answers and why how she came up with them.

To further comprehension, the section The Meeting Of Two Things talks about bringing together two ideas that aren't normally together. For example, in Lewis Caroll's time, many men used pocket watches. But, in the story it was a rabbit that ran around with a pocket watch to be sure he was on time. Lewis Carroll invented a funny new character by having a rabbit carry a pocket watch and rush around in a hurry like a man would. This section brings two unlikely ideas together and shows that creativity can show us something new and also have a point. The What-If section brings together a simple creative technique using questions that start with "What if?" Assisting my daughter to use this section helped to build her creativity muscles by helping her to look at the world around her and combine some things to make new things while tweaking others until they became something new.

At the end of this lesson were some Writing Exercises. The instructions gave my daughter a section of the story to read and then asked her to "imagine" a certain scenario and write about it. The Teacher's Guide gives the answers when specific questions were asked in the student workbook as well as giving direction for some of the creative writing exercises. We found all of the material very user friendly and thorough. We were so pleased that we will be using this as our literature curriculum in the fall for the entire year. Thank you Hewitt Homeschooling!

To see what my fellow Crew Mates had to say about Hewitt Homeschooling, visit the Homeschool Crew Blog to read more.

**Disclosure: My review and opinion written in this post is entirely my own. This product was provided to me for free in exchange for my review as a member of the 2011-2012 The Old Schoolhouse Magazine Homeschool Crew.

Sunday, July 01, 2012

Homeschool Spanish Academy--TOS Review


I was so excited to get started on this review! I personally love the Spanish language and want to pass that love down to my children. When I was chosen to review the Middle School age group, I knew my first born was a perfect fit to help me out.

Homeschool Spanish Academy (HSA) provides immersive, interactive 1-on-1 interaction with native Spanish language tutors via Skype video. All that is needed is a high-speed internet connection, web cam, and a Skype compatible computer headset with microphone.

My daughter is very familiar with Skype so she was ready to roll when it came time for her first lesson. Before hand I had a brief Skype meeting with tech support to determine my internet speed and how that would affect the quality of our Skype meeting. Tech support was very easy to work with and we were ready to go in minutes!

HSA's website was very user friendly in assisting me to make our scheduled appointments. I could choose from any day during the week and virtually any time. It took me a moment to realize there was a time zone difference but I quickly adjusted our needs accordingly.

My daughter's first lesson went smoothly and the teacher was very sweet and made my daughter very comfortable and eased her nervousness. We learned the HSA teachers are in Guatemala! Before every scheduled lesson, the teacher would email me the worksheets they would be going over that day. I simply printed them out for my daughter so she could look them over and have them on hand during the lesson. There was also homework assigned after each lesson that went over the things they learned that day.

It was so great to hear my daughter learning (and speaking!) Spanish after just a few lessons. She really enjoyed the enthusiasm of the teachers and the set-up of using Skype as the classroom. After her lessons, the other children asked questions about Guatemala so we had a little Geography lesson as well. The joys of homeschooling! :)

Homeschool Spanish Academy offers several  levels of instruction, from early learning (age 5 and up) to adult. The Early Learning sessions are 25 minutes long, while the Middle School, High School, and Adult sessions are 50 minutes. Prices range from $59.99 (7 week Early Learner course) to $314.99 for a full semester of 30 lessons in 15 weeks. You can visit HSA's website to receive a free trial and see if their program would be a good fit for your homeschool.

We were so pleased with this company (and my daughter has enjoyed her lessons so much) that we plan to continue these lessons throughout the school year as her foreign language instruction. 

To see what my fellow Crew Mates had to say about Homeschool Spanish Academy, visit the Homeschool Crew Blog to read more.

**Disclosure: My review and opinion written in this post is entirely my own. This product was provided to me for free in exchange for my review as a member of the 2011-2012 The Old Schoolhouse Magazine Homeschool Crew.