Tuesday, November 29, 2016

A Charlie Brown Christmas

This past weekend my daughters and I had the opportunity to go see A Charlie Brown Christmas at Dallas Children's Theater. Holidays would not be complete without Charlie Brown. Going to watch a play production was the perfect way to ring in the Christmas season! Our family absolutely loves attending the many amazing productions at Dallas Children's Theater.

A Charlie Brown Christmas first aired on television in 1965. Charles Schulz, the creator of the Peanuts characters have become timeless household classics. A Charlie Brown Christmas aims to present a message of anti-commercialism and the true meaning of Christmas.

Here are 10 Things You Probably Didn't Know About "A Charlie Brown Christmas" that are quite fascinating.

The song "Christmas Time Is Here."

Linus telling what Christmas is all about.

Monday, November 28, 2016

Little Lads & Ladies of Virtue ~ A Review

Little Lads & Ladies of Virtue: Preschool & Early Elementary Character Curriculum
Kathie Morrissey
The Character Corner

Little Lads & Ladies of Virtue: Preschool & Early Elementary Character Curriculum is a downloadable e-book. There are 24 weeks of lessons, each week covering a different character trait. This e-book retails for $10.00. You also have the option to purchase the e-book with copywork as a bundle for $14.00.

Each week your child will learn a new character trait, such as contentment. There are five lessons for each trait, and each lesson takes approximately 5–10 minutes to cover. Here is how the curriculum works. On day 1, your child will be introduced to the character trait, its meaning, and a corresponding memory verse. A short prayer to recite with your child is included to end the lesson. On day 2, you will review the first day’s lesson and then teach your child the “I Wills,” followed by a prayer to close out the lesson. For example, with the character trait ‘contentment’, one of the “I Wills” is “I will be grateful.” On day 3, you will again review the prior day’s material and then teach a short lesson on how to apply the character trait. Lessons may include visuals, questions, or role-playing. Again, the day’s lesson ends with a prayer. On day 4, you will again begin the lesson by reviewing. Your child will then put into action what she has learned, using role-play, an activity, or by playing a game. The day’s lesson will again end with a simple prayer. Day 5 is a review and recite day. After reviewing all material for the week, your child will recite the character trait, its definition, the memory verse, and the “I Wills.” Reward badges are given after recitation. Optional copywork, coloring pages, and a reward chart are also available to supplement the core curriculum. The curriculum is geared for the first formative years but can be used at any age. The curriculum is extremely adaptable for both classroom or for a single child.

I absolutely loved this curriculum. I used it with my 8-year-old daughter. Since she is a bit older, we added a few extra supplemental items to each weekly lesson. The author, Kathie Morrissey, encourages the user to add in his or her own creative ideas or to adapt the lessons if desired. We all know that not every child learns the same way. Adding or adapting the curriculum is great advice. My daughter really liked the simplicity of the program and the fact that it did not take too much time to complete each day’s lesson. I really liked that the curriculum is biblically based.
The one aspect of the curriculum that I was a bit disappointed with was the coloring pages. The pictures were somewhat dull. I would have liked the coloring pages to be more original and appealing with sharper definition.

Here are a few examples of the curriculum. 

Overall, the content is excellent, and I would highly recommend this curriculum to others.

Friday, November 25, 2016

2016 Blue Ribbon Awards

The 2016 SchoolhouseReviewCrew.com year has come to an end. This past year I have had the opportunity to review so many amazing curriculums and products. Each year those on the CREW vote for their favorites in a handful of categories. So without further ado........

This years winners for this category are:

Favorite Reading Curriculum – Logic of English
Favorite Writing Curriculum –  Here to Help Learning
Favorite Vocabulary Program –  The Critical Thinking Co.
Favorite Spelling Program –  Talking Fingers: Read, Write and Type

I reviewed the following for this category:

I really enjoyed using Logic of English Essentials ~ Multi Level Reading, Spelling, Grammar, and Vocabulary. Having one curriculum that covers all of these elements is amazing. Logic of English does an amazing job at pairing and complementing each of these elements together to make for one cohesive curriculum. The fact that Essentials has three levels is great too. Learning a curriculum is definitely a learning curve and to be able to have three full years that build upon each other is definitely a plus.

 This years winners for this category are:

Favorite Grammar Program –  The Critical Thinking Co.
Favorite Penmanship Program –  Homeschool Copywork
Favorite Literature Curriculum –  Institute for Excellence in Writing: Poetry
Favorite Literature Resource –  Heirloom Audio

I reviewed the following for this category:

Homeschool Copywork was a great supplement to our curriculum. Often times handwriting gets neglected with all of the academics that children in the elementary years have to learn. This was a fun and enjoyable way to not only get extra handwriting and cursive practice in by also learning some great literary, scripture, history, poetry, and other written texts. My daughters enjoyed coloring the pictures that were included on the copywork sheets. 

 The winners for this category are: 

Favorite History Curriculum –  Home School in the Woods
Favorite History Supplement –  Carole P. Roman
Favorite Science Curriculum –  Apologia: Astronomy
Favorite Science Supplement –  NotebookingPages.com
Favorite Math Curriculum –  CTC Math
Favorite Math Supplement –  Trigger Memory System

I reviewed the following for this category:

I absolutely fell in love with Carole P. Roman's If You Were Me and Lived In series. These charming books take your children back in time were they will get aquatinted with periods of time such as Renaissance Italy, Elizabethan England, Colonial America, and Ancient Egypt to name just a few. My daughter absolutely loved learning history with Carole P. Roman. 

 The winners for this category are:

Favorite Foreign Language Curriculum –  Middlebury Interactive Languages
Favorite Fine Arts Product/Curriculum –  ArtAchieve
Favorite Elective Curriculum –  Stop Motion Explosion
Favorite Christian Education Curriculum –  Veritas Press
Favorite Christian Education Product –  Chara Games

I have reviewed the following for this category:

My children had so much fun learning to draw with ArtAchieve. Not only did they learn how to draw but they also learned interesting facts about what they were drawing. Simple step-by-step instructions guide your child as they draw a Dragonfly from Ecuador, a Sheep from Wales, a Haitian Gecko, and many more.

The winners for this category are:

Favorite Preschool Product –  The Pencil Grip
Favorite Elementary Product –  Veritas Press
Favorite Middle School Product –  Apologia: Writers in Residence
Favorite High School Product –  101 Series
Favorite College or College-Prep Product –  Everyday Education

I have reviewed the following from this category:

I discovered a gem when reviewing the 101 Series ~ Physics. This science curriculum makes learning Physics possible for any student. Wes Olsen will guide your student through the science of physics, while all along the way, untangling and decoding the most complex of Physics terms and ideas into easy to understand terms. After completing the course your student will have a thorough understanding of the world of Physics. 

The Pencil Grip has a must have product for a mess free painting experience. Kwik Stix are AMAZING!! Instead of the typical paint palette and brush your child will paint with handheld sticks much like what a glue stick looks like. The colors are vibrant. The paint dries  within seconds. Once you have discovered Kwik Stix you will never go back to ordinary paint again. I LOVE this product!!

 The winners for this category are:

Favorite Parent Product –  MyFreezEasy
Best Resource I Didn’t Know I Needed –  ForBrain
Best Online Resource –  Veritas Press
Best E-Product –  Grapevine Studies
Favorite Book, Novel, Audio Book, or Audio Drama –  Heirloom Audio
Just for Fun! –  FlipStir

I reviewed the following from this category: 

Heirloom Audio brings history to life with amazing audio dramas. Go back in time and hear stories of  daring adventures of figures in history such as Beric The Briton. Based on stories from G.A. Henty's books your family will truly be living an adventure. 

The winners for this category are:
Kids’ Choice (Ages 0-12) –  KidsEmail.org
Teens’ Choice –  101 Series
All Around Crew Favorite –  CrossTimber
I reviewed the following from this category:

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Multiplication & Division Songs ~ A Review

Multiplication & Division Songs
Kathy Troxel
Audio Memory

Multiplication & Division Songs is a math facts DVD to help students learn their multiplication and division facts. Using simple sing-along tunes student will learn their 2-12 multiplication facts as well as all division facts from 2÷2=1 to 144÷12=12. The DVD is 103 minutes in length, which includes bonus material and demos. The cost of the DVD is $20.00.

This DVD is for the student learning their multiplication and division facts. Most students begin basic multiplication around 3rd grade. With that said students in grade levels below or above could utilize this learning tool. Learning math facts is often times challenging and frustrating for students. This DVD 
theoretically employs the theory that, “You never forget what you sing!” The songs offer repetition as well as built in self-testing. The DVD would be appropriate for a classroom setting as well as home instruction.

I had my 3rd grade daughter watch this DVD to help her learn her multiplication and division facts. The method used was not a good fit for my daughter. The DVD did not keep her engaged. She actually found it to be visually and auditorily overwhelming. She tried to listen to it several times and it just was not working. I did not really like the approach either. With that said, what does not work for one student may be the prefect fit for another student. Over my many years of teaching, I have found this to be true, even amongst my own children.

Sunday, November 20, 2016

Justin Morgan and the Big Horse Race ~ A Review

By Ellen F. Feld
Willow Bend Publishing

Justin Morgan and the Big Horse Race is an exciting, action filled book about Justin and his home on a farm in the hills of Vermont. When not working, Justin spends his time in the fields of tall grass running and playing. One day, he meets two new racehorses, Sweepstakes and Silvertail.  Justin is fast, but is he as fast as his two new friends? See who will win the race! This book is available in hardback for $16.95.

Justin Morgan and the Big Horse Race, is 32 pages in length and written at a 2nd grade reading level.

This book is truly a gem. The story was endearing, and the colorful drawings are spectacular. My 10-year-old daughter absolutely loves horses and was very excited to read this book. She fell in love with Justin and his friends. 

Here is what she had to say,

Justin Morgan is a horse with a lot of spirit. One day Justin Morgan was in the pasture when he saw two new horses. The two new horses walked up to Justin and said, ‘We have heard you are the fastest horse in Vermont. We are race horses and wish to have a race with you.’ Justin agreed. The next day they raced. Justin races the two horses separately. I won’t tell you who wins. You will have to read the book for yourself.”

Saturday, November 19, 2016

Pidgy's Surprise ~ A Review

By Jeanne Mellin
Willow Bend Publishing

Pidgy’s Surprise tells the story of Cindy and her Shetland pony, Pidgy. Always dreaming of owning a beautiful horse, Cindy looses sight of the true gift she already has. After Pigdy goes missing everything changes. This book is available in paperback for $9.95.

Pidgy’s Surprise is 122 pages in length, and includes 86 black and white drawings. This book is written at about a 3rd grade level and a target audience of  7-8 years old.

My 10 year old loves animals, horses included! She read this book in an afternoon and loved it. My daughter said,

Cindy daydreams about horses all of the time. Cindy has a pony named Pidgy. While she likes Pidgy she dreams of have a big, beautiful horse. One day Cindy learns that they are letting ponies into the horse show. She quickly saddles up Pidgy to enter her into the show. Pidgy wins a blue ribbon. Cindy and Pidgy are best friends. Then, one day, Pidgy goes missing. I will save the best for you to read.” 

My daughter is begging me to buy the other books by Willow Bend Publishing. I would highly recommend this book. My daughter fell in love with Pidgy and I am sure your child will too.

Friday, November 18, 2016

Astonishing Detail......

The Art of Science

God's handiwork is evident even in a tiny grain of sand. Dr. Gary Greenberg website sandgrains.com features pictures of sand using a high resolution microscope to detail actual grains of sand. The pictures are truly a feast for the eyes!! The website contains amazing pictures, links to videos, and so much more. Here is a sampling of some of the amazing pictures that are found on the site. 

There are multiple categories to look through. 

Books too...

The heavens are telling of the glory of God; And their expanse is declaring the work of His hands.
~ Psalm 19:1 ~

Thursday, November 17, 2016

Physics 101 ~ A Review

Physics 101 DVD Course is part of The 101 Series. The main objective of The 101 Series is to provide students with easy to use and understand science curriculum. Currently there are three programs of study: Biology 101, Chemistry 101, Physics 101, and soon to be added General Science 101. In Physics 101 your student will explore the Mechanics of God's Physical World and the principles and laws that drive the natural world. This course is intended for ages 15 and above. 

“Where were you when I laid the foundations of the earth? Tell Me, if you have understanding. Who determined its measurements? Surely you know! Or who stretched the line upon it? To what were its foundations fastened? Or who laid its cornerstone, when the morning stars sang together, and all the sons of God shouted for joy?” 

—Job 38:4-7

Physics 101:
Disk A
1. Introduction to Physics (30 min)
2. Light and Colour (40 min)
3. Mirrors and Lenses (35 min)
4. Invisibility and Speed of Light (35 min)
Disk B
5. Introduction to Sound (43 min)
6. Acoustics: the sound of Music (35 min)
7. What is fire? (30 min)
8. The Three Laws of Thermodynamics (35 min)
9. Refrigeration: Hot and Cold (40 min)
Disk C
10. What is Electricity? (30 min)
11. Outlets and Circuits (40 min)
12. Batteries and the Electromagnetic Spectrum (40 min)
13. The Life of Sir Isaac Newton (30 min)
14. The Universal law of Gravity (30 min)
15. The 1st law of Motion (35 min)
16. The 2nd and 3rd Laws of Motion (25 min)
Disk D
17. The Life of Albert Einstein (35 min)
18. Relativity (30 min)
19. Quantum Mechanics (30 min)
20. The Future of Physics

Upper level science is a bit intimidating to teach. Once my children hit middle school I find it easier to send them to co-op for science. While this works for most students not all students are up for the riggers of upper level science. My 11th grader has completed all upper level science except for Physics. She begged me not to make her take it. When I was given the opportunity to review Physics 101 I jumped at the opportunity. My daughter was cautiously optimistic that she would be able to compete this curriculum. After beginning this course she has surprisingly gained the confidence to say "yes" to Physics. She actually is enjoying working through the lessons. And most importantly, she is understanding it! I myself never took Physics in high school or college as I was too intimidated. I have thoroughly enjoyed what I have watched so far and have decided to complete the course in its entirely myself.

Wes Olsen does an amazing job at making Physics "not intimidating." He explains difficult concepts and terms in a way that students can grasp and understand. By using graphics, concepts are further visually clarified. The graphics are amazing. The lessons are intriguing, keep your attention, and can truly be understood by students!

On the fourth DVD a 98 page PDF Companion Guide to Physics 101 can be accessed for printing. Below is an example of the material that is found in the guide. The guidebook enables the student to easily review all of the material covered in the lessons. Each segment in the guidebook includes a multiple choice quiz and discussion questions.

The fourth disk also contains a printable PDF entitled, Physics 101 Course Accreditation Program. By implementing the components found in this guide students will be able to earn 1.0 credit of science towards high school graduation. I have included a couple of pages from the guide below.

I would highly recommend this DVD course to others. I will most definitely be utilizing The 101 Series in the future. Westfield Studios has done an amazing job with this DVD based curriculum. The program is extremely user friendly. From the lessons to the guides you can be assured that your student will be set for success! I would be hard pressed to find anything negative to say about this program. Wes Olsen is passionate about science and it shows throughout. Wes will guide your student through the science of physics, while all along the way, untangling and decoding the most complex of Physics terms and ideas into easy to understand terms. After completing the course your student will have a thorough understanding of the world of Physics. 

To read more reviews click here.

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