Friday, May 22, 2020

Beethoven for Kids



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.

Beethoven for Kids – His Life and Music with 21 Activities is a wonderful introduction to Beethoven’s prodigious music and his tremendous influence on the world of classical music for children. The paperback book is 129 pages in length. Each chapter is full of pictures, historical side notes, fun activities, games, musical challenges, recipes, historical figures, and more. There are 10 chapters included in the book.

The book is intended to be read chapter by chapter. Each chapter is between 7 and 13 pages in length. The book is intended for ages 9+ and grades 4+. This book would be appropriate for both homeschool as well as the classroom. To give you an idea of what your child will learn let’s explore a chapter. Chapter 1, entitled, Vibrating Sounds, explores the early years of Beethoven’s life. Beethoven from an early age was said to be very gifted musically. In school Beethoven struggled with pretty much every subject and his teachers often complained. They describe how children used “hornbooks, which were pieces of wood with a handle on which a lesson was attached then covered with a thin piece of horn to keep the page clean. Ludwig’s hornbook was always messy, and the paper containing his lesson was often torn and blurry.” There are instructions given to Make a Hornbook and Quill Pen. Also, in the chapter, there are instructions for a game called, Blind and Bell. Side notes on, The Industrial Revolution, The Patronage System, and a Music Notes: What is Improvisation? is included within the chapter. The first chapter takes readers from Beethoven’s birth through about age 6. Important musical terms appear in bold print. There is a glossary in the back of the book with musical terms and their definitions. 

I thought that this book was very illuminating into the life of one of the worlds most talented composers, Ludwig Van Beethoven. Helen Bauer does a great job at capturing Beethoven’s life. She sensitively including many difficult situations within his family. She didn’t shy away from Beethoven’s negative character traits. Beethoven studied under Haydn and Haydn said that Beethoven an independent attitude, hot temper, was often impatient and unreasonable. With that said, it was Beethoven’s determination that eventually made him who he would become in the world of great composers and musicians. He was definitely a musical genius of his time. He didn’t care what critics had to say. His music was highly sought after and heard by many. The book does a wonderful job at keeping a child’s attention. My 11-year-old enjoyed learning about Beethoven and his life. She enjoyed the activities throughout the book. One of her favorite activities was to, Make a Model Eardrum. We all know that at the age of 31, Beethoven, began to experience hearing lose. He was experiencing tinnitus, which is ringing in the ears. Another fun activity that she really liked was to Make Austrian Apple Pancakes. Beethoven enjoyed Vienna and the food, one being apple pancakes. 

I would highly recommend this book as an introductory book about Beethoven for children. The book gives a balanced view of his life while adding in fun activities and historical side notes. 

-Product review by Jennifer Ladewig, The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine, LLC, March 2020

Wednesday, May 20, 2020

Memoria Press ~ A 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.

Over the past weeks my daughter has been learning Latin with Latina Christiana Complete Set from Memoria Press. Latina Christiana is intended for students in 3rd through 6th grade. With that said, it is a complete Latin grammar course for beginner students of all ages. The course was written specifically written for the teacher with no Latin background. Memoria Press has a whole Latin curriculum beginning with Prima Latina for Early Elementary grade levels and First Form through Fourth Form Latin Levels. This curriculum uses the Christian or ecclesiastical pronunciation system which is closer to modern English. The other system is Classical.

The curriculum has a total of 25 lessons. The Teacher Manual is a mirror copy of the student workbook but with overlaid answers. It also had lesson plans and teaching instructions. And of course the Teacher Manual has the quiz and test answers. The Pronunciation CD provides the student with pronunciations for each lesson. It also has the prayers and songs. The Instructional DVD's consist of 3 disks. Lessons are on average about 15 minutes.


Here is my daughter eager but apprehensive to start this new adventure. 


In Latina Christiana the goal for students by the end of the year are:
  • Pronounce, spell, and translate 200 Latin words
  • Learn 25 Latin sayings, two prayers, and three songs
  • Define noun, verb, and adjective
  • tense, number, gender, 1st, 2nd, and 3rd person
  • Conjugate verbs 1st and 2nd conjugation verbs in present, imperfect, and future
  • Decline 1st and 2nd declension nouns and adjectives
  • Singular and plural forms of 1st and 2nd declension nouns (nominative case)
  • Complete Latin sentences, subject/verb agreement in number/person
  • Make adjectives and nouns agree in number/gender
  • Recite and spell five cases of Latin nouns
  • Derivatives
  • History and Geography (Optional)
As I stated earlier, Memoria Press has a whole Latin Curriculum. While Latina Christiana fits into their standard 3rd - 6th grade model, this course can be used for all ages. Third graders can complete the course in one year but may need two years to compete it. The older elementary age child should be able to complete the course in an academic year. A high school student may be able to complete this course in a semester.


So what exactly are the components of the curriculum?
  1. Greetings, oral conversations, oral recitation, oral review
  2. New Lesson: saying, vocabulary, derivatives, grammar, history (optional)
  3. Exercises
  4. Written drill with CD (3x a week is recommenced)
  5. Review, games
  6. Quiz
The curriculum is very flexible depending on your schooling situation. We opted to complete one lesson a week. Each lesson has the above components. After 5 lessons there is a cumulative test over the lessons. There is a quiz after each lesson. Each lesson begins with a saying. The saying for Lesson 5 is, Mea culpa which means My fault, I am guilty. Students practice sayings from previous lessons. Each lesson has new vocabulary words. Some of the vocabulary words from Lesson 5 are pugno - I fight and luna-ae - moon. Again, students needs to practice vocabulary words from previous lessons. Vocabulary flashcards are included in the complete set. I had my daughter go through the vocabulary cards twice a day. The grammar section introduces the student to Latin declensions or conjugations, etc. These need to be memorized. Students then have an exercise section where they put into practice what they have learned. They translate phrases and saying that they have been learning. They answer fill in the blank questions pertaining to grammar questions. There is a section on translation from Latin to English and English to Latin. Sometimes there will be a declension fill in the blank. Last, there is a Derivatives section where the student must complete sentences with derivative they have learned. The quizzes at the end of the lessons are a wonderful way to ensure that students have mastered the lesson. 


Here my daughter is working hard at practicing her Latin vocabulary. 


It is FINALLY TEST TIME. My daughter did wonderful on her first test. 
She made a 94%!



Here is some snapshots from one of the video sessions. 





At first my daughter was very unsure that she would be able to learn Latin. She proved to herself that she was very capable of learning Latin and doing it very well. It took time and hard work but it is fun to watch her master Latin. 

I would highly recommend Memoria Press and Latina Christiana to homeschoolers and educators. Definitely check out what my Fellow Crew Members had to say about this curriculum. Some of the other crew members reviewed the other Latin levels so definitely check the reviews out. 

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Thursday, May 14, 2020

Math Essentials ~ A 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.

Over the past weeks my 11th grader has been working her way through No-Nonsense Algebra from Math Essentials. This is a softcover textbook. The author and teacher of the book, Richard W. Fisher sees No-Nonsense Algebra as not simply your everyday algebra textbook. Rather, he has turned the text into a system of teaching algebra. The 5 key parts are:
  1. Introduction and Explanation of each new topic
  2. Helpful Hints, important tips and shortcuts
  3. Examples with step-by-step solutions
  4. Written Exercises
  5. Review Section to ensure that the student remembers what they have learned

There are a total of 10 chapter in the text and they include:
  1. Necessary Tools for Algebra
  2. Solving Equations
  3. Graphing and Analyzing Linear Equations 
  4. Solving and Graphing Inequalities
  5. Systems of Linear Equations and Inequalities
  6. Polynomials
  7. Rational Expressions 
  8. Radical Expressions and Geometry
  9. Quadratic Equations 
  10. Algebra Word Problems
At the end of the book students will find a very helpful section that includes the following:
  • Glossary
  • Important Formulas
  • Important Symbols
  • Multiplication Table
  • Commonly Used Prime Numbers
  • Squares and Square Roots
  • Fraction/Decimal Equivalents
At the end of the book students will also find the solutions to all of the problems found in the lessons. There are also quizzes and a final reviews that are included after each chapter.

Here is an example of one of the lessons.



There really isn't space to do the work in the book so my daughter used a notebook to do her work in. I think that is what is intended for the student to do, but don't quote me on that. 

All lessons have a companion video lesson that is taught by Richard W. Fisher. These video lessons are extremely helpful. Mr. Fisher does a wonderful job at breaking down each new concept being taught step-by-step. Plenty of examples are worked through before students are sent off to do the written practice. I also love that there is a review built into each lesson so that students are able to continually reinforce what they have already learned. Math builds upon itself and it is so important to ensure that past concepts are not lost. 




Math is definitely not one of my daughters strong subjects and she GROANED when I presented her with this book. As she began the lessons she kept on saying, "This is definitely not No-Nonsense." She was definitely challenged but she has been doing well with the lessons overall. I think that the workbook has been quite positive. It has been the best resource for getting her Algebra that I have found so far. Due to chronic medical conditions she has struggled to keep up with math. So for her it has been a DOUBLE WHAMMY! A twofold setback, a dislike and struggle with the subject and health issues. 

I would recommend No-Nonsense Algebra to parents looking for an Algebra book for their students that are struggling with the subject and need help over the summer. This is a great tool for homeschoolers. This would also be a great text for adults wanting to refresh on their Algebra skills. Definitely read what my Fellow Homeschool Review Crew Members had to say about No-Nonsense Algebra and some of the other math books that were reviewed by Richard W. Fisher. 

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Tuesday, May 12, 2020

New York Historical Society Museum and Library ~ Virtual Tour

We have never been to New York and so it was a real treat to
get to have an hour long history lesson on some of the greatest 
historical landmarks and events that have taken place in 
New York. My 11-year-old learned so much during this time. She was
most fascinated by P.T. Barnum, the Mermaid, the World's Fair, 
Coney Island, and the theater. 


This coin is a very interesting read. 






The fascinating history behind the "mermaid" was presented. 


This gentleman is viewing one of the first movie's through this box. 


There are lights in this woman's dress that light up the torch that she is holding. 






Thank you New York Historical Society for the wonderful
virtual tour!

Monday, May 11, 2020

Beyond the Stick Figure ~ A 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.

Over the past weeks, my daughter and I have been enjoying the many art projects through Beyond the Stick Figure Art School . We had the opportunity to review Beyond the Stick Figure Complete Drawing Course PLUS 3 Bonus Courses. The Drawing Courses are broken down into three parts. A final project at the end of the drawing sections combines drawing down to create the final work of art. The next section is Pen & Ink. Students will not only draw with pen, but they will then use paint to finish one of their projects. The third section is Watercolor. My daughter and I had so much fun working with watercolor paints. We were unable to do some of the watercolor projects due to the use of a LATEX product in two of the projects. We did not get to the last two sections, Acrylics and 3D design. Beyond the Sticks works in a cumulative model, so that you are not able to move onto further parts of the program until you complete sections laid out in the course. 

On the website there is a tab entitled, Materials, where you can find all of the necessary art supplies needed for the courses. Beyond the Sticks is designed for students ages 5-95. This course can be enjoyed by the entire family. Both my daughter and I greatly enjoyed the time we spent together creating art and the time we will continue to spend together as we continue to work through the rest of the curriculum . Lessons are very short. On average they are around 2-5 minutes in length. Often times my daughter and I completed multiple lessons in one sitting.

Drawings Part 1, 2, and 3

With Covid-19, and shelter in place keeping us inside, my daughter and I decided that 
we would work through this together. I have to say that I enjoyed Beyond the Sticks as 
much as she did. As we began with Drawing 1 we had so much fun. 





It was fun using our creative minds to come up with our own artistic works of art. 









Due to Covid-19 we did not have the Prismacolor® Markers. We had a HUGE 
bucket of markers that worked just as well and provided more colors,
which we liked. 



My 11-year-old daughter, hard at work on one of her projects. 


















Sally had students section a normal piece of paper into fourths. She 
then had them use a ruler and section off the smaller piece of 
paper into 16 smaller sections. 







For a quite a few of the lessons you can print out a lesson copy for 
practice. One with dots and then one with lines. My daughter and I
never did this. 




The lessons are quite short. You are able to pause them if needed. 




After awhile doing 16 sections just got to be too much, so we 
started sectioning off the paper off into 6 sections. I will have to say
that at this point, my daughter and I felt like the drawings 
got kind of monotonous. We did not see a point to all of the 
"crazy" drawing or what Sally was trying to accomplish with all 
of these, in our opinion, ''nonsense drawings''. 








Then, after awhile, it turned to sectioning the paper into sections of 4's. 😂





After the first 58 lessons you will have created a picture using 16 of 
the shape drawings from above. I do not want to say what the final 
project is and ruin it. That is why I have purposefully 
shaded out the name of the final project below. 
It is really neat to see how 16 of the above shapes 
come together to create a picture. 



Of course, I now see why Sally had us drawing all of the crazy pieces
of art. Eventually they would all come together to make something fun. 
My daughter and I do think that it was a bit excessive to have the
students draw and then color 16 of the drawings in each lesson. 
It was just too much!! We felt like we were never going to complete 
the drawing section. 

 Pen and Ink!

My daughter and I were so very ready to be done with drawing
and get onto something else!! 




We had so much fun listening about what we were going to do. 
We printed out a tree template from the lesson.
We then took a piece of tracing paper and used masking tape to 
affix it to the template. 



Secondly, we used a fine tip Sharpie to trace the pattern. 



Here is the final pattern traced. 



Next, we turned the tracing paper over and used a pencil and traced the
pattern with pencil. 



After this, we turned the pattern back over and affixed the pattern to a piece of watercolor 
paper. We then used the end of a paint brush and gently rubbed over the pattern.
This transferred the pencil pattern onto the watercolor paper. 



Here is the transfer. 



Here is a screenshot of Sally showing us how to make 
cross hatching on the trees. 



Here is our attempts at making the cross hatching. 


Next, we were to add leaves, grass, and water to finish the picture. 



Last, came the painting.  Gulp. 



My daughter was ready for the CHALLENGE.



Sally walked us through how to use the colors to get the perfect 
colors and balance.





Here is my daughter's completed picture. 



Here is my completed picture. 


My daughter and I were shocked at how well our tree landscapes turned out.
We truly felt like true artists. We were so proud of our final works. We 
went around the house showing everyone!

Watercolor Part 1







Here is my daughter's completed watercolor scene. 


Here is my completed watercolor scene. 


Oh my goodness!!! This project was so fun! My daughter and
I thought that there was no way that we would be able to 
do this. Well, as you can see, we did it! We were so proud of our final
projects! We felt like true artists. It made us want to do more. 

Watercolor Part 2

Warning ~ One of the products used in this 
lesson uses a LATEX based product! 
Both my daughter and I have a severe 
LATEX allergy so we had to skip through this
project. Always check new and 
unfamiliar products and their
base ingredients. 




We were so sad when we realized that we would be unable to 
do the next to projects. I am just grateful that we realized before
we purchased the product online that it contained LATEX. 

Watercolor Part 3

Warning ~ Again, this project uses
Masking Fluid which contains LATEX!

The website keeps track of your progress. So far we have completed 
69% of the curriculum. We only have Acrylic and 3D to go! 


We had wanted to get into the Acrylic lessons before this review was
due but again Covid-19 got in the way. We looked online and the soonest
the canvases could have gotten to use were the end of this week. 
We are excited to begin Acrylic!

Even though my daughter and I did not get to the Acrylic lessons,
here is an example from the website. 

Here is an example of the 3D design from the website. 

My daughter and I cannot wait to get into the Acrylic and 3D design
sections. 

Be sure to check out what my fellow Homeschool Review Crew Members had to say about 
Beyond the Stick Figure. This art program is definitely one that I would recommend to friends and educators. This would be a great summer art curriculum for your student. Check out the website too for some short videos about the curriculum. 

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The Mayflower at Cape Cod ~ A 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 t...