homeschooling

[Homeschool Review Crew] Julie Polanco Review

I don’t know about you, but there are some days when I look at my kids and think, “homeschooling was a terrible, terrible mistake.” I am just one giant ball of doubt and anxiety it’s hard to see why we are doing this at all. Thankfully, I had the chance to review a book called God Schooling: How God Intended Children to Learn by Julie Polanco. Here is my review, if you would like to see.

God Schooling, in a nutshell, is a book that reminds parents what education is. Not just from the academic perspective. Not just from the self-care, self-development perspective. But rather, from the perspective that matters the most: the heavenly one.

The author, Julie Polanco, comes from the point of experience. She is a homeschooling mom of four children. Her work has appeared in many homeschooling resources like The Old Schoolhouse Magazine and http://www.schoolhouseteachers.com. The biggest proof of her expertise is that her oldest child already transitioned from homeschooling in 2016.

She’s done it, you guys.

As for the book, it is a meaty read with 215 pages. It is divided into two sections: myths and practice. In the first part, it tackles subjects like the need for a curriculum and how to get children to obey. Specifically, she delves into unschooling from the point of view of the Bible.

In addition, it is basically filled with encouragement and Biblical references to help parents with their homeschooling journey. At the end of it, the book hopes to give parents a different view and confidence in their approach to educating their kids.

The book retails for $16.99 for paperback and $9.99 for the eBook version.

On My Impressions

To be honest, I have a lot of prejudice when it comes to unschooling. It immediately conjures up images of children running in the wild, ignoring their reading and writing. I know that’s not the case, in my brain. But, I have a lot of bias, mainly because I do not know a lot about it.

But Julie manages to present the idea in such a way that is conversational and more importantly, experiential. When she talks about how the world is not necessarily in line with the way God wants to do things, you find yourself nodding in agreement. It’s also hard to disagree when she devotes a lot of time talking about investing in the eternal, like character.

Personally, I don’t have it in me to follow the natural way of learning. I’m too easily frazzled without a detailed, point-by-point guide in my hand. But, there are a lot of things said in the book that really spoke out to me. Even if you do not completely agree with the methods offered, opening your mind to them can still make an impact.

This is definitely a good read for parents who are new to homeschooling (so they can see what others have done) and parents who are homeschooling (a great source of encouragement).

Want to learn more about Julie Polanco? Find her on Facebook.
Other homeschooling families have also read the book. Click the link below to see what they have to say.

God Schooling: How God Intended Children to Learn {Julie Polanco Reviews}

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[Homeschool Review Crew] Paddington Bear Children’s Literature Study from Branch Out World

One of the first books I read growing up was Paddington Bear. Being in the Philippines where books are expensive and therefore, not readily available, I was keenly aware that it was a luxury. Even at a young age, it felt like something precious. Getting to share that experience with my children by reviewing Paddington Bear Picture Book Explorers unit from Branch Out World is thus, very meaningful to me.

 Picture Book Explorers - Paddington

This is a unit-based study that can be done over the course of several days:

  • Day 1 – Exploring the setting
  • Day 2 – Exploring the words
  • Day 3 – Exploring the pictures
  • Day 4 – Exploring Science
  • Day 5 – Exploring maths, crafts, and more

Each day is jam-packed with activities like mapping, timelines, and crafts.

On day 1, we read the book together, which of course, meant a million questions. I think this is the beauty of literature-based lessons — you open up conversations and have the opportunity to be led by children’s curiosity.

It just so happened that I just purchased an interactive map puzzle, so we were able to find the locations in it.

Day 2 focused on the words. For some reason, we ended up discussing how important it is to learn the context of literature. It was something that our Pastor often talks about even when interpreting the bible.

We researched more about the author and what could have possibly led him into writing the way he did. Honestly, I’m not sure how much of it stuck considering that my kids are 6 and 3, but I think they get a general idea.

Day 3, 4, and 5 we stretched out over a couple of days because we had music and art classes. Plus some commitments with our homeschool provider, so we definitely took out time.

Our science experiment did not work out the way it was intended. Mainly, because it got mixed in with other ingredients like cornstarch.

Another thing that I liked about this unit study is that I was able to integrate it with our existing lessons. In this case, I used the experiment also as a way to teach the scientific method.

The thing is, we don’t have a lot of luxury when it comes to time, so any integration is an A-plus in my book.

Overall, there’s an earnest sweetness in this product and I highly recommend it, especially for the younger kids. It’s also one of the more fun curriculums I’ve reviewed; mainly, because it has an air of nostalgia.

Other products may offer more in terms of cramming in information, but this has the right balance of form and function. It hits the sweet spot of being just right.

Learn more about Branch Out World through the following social media pages:

Facebook: www.facebook.com/BranchOutWorld @BranchOutWorld
Pinterest: www.pinterest.com/belzibow @belzibow
Instagram: www.instagram.com/belzibow @belzibow
Twitter: www.twitter.com/belzibow @belzibow

If you want to hear more about this product, please visit the link below.

Paddington Bear {Branch Out World Reviews}

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[Homeschool Review Crew] WriteBonnieRose Review

One of my goals for homeschooling is to make science come alive for my kids. I love science but I feel like I missed out just because of the way our generation was taught. When I had the opportunity to write a review for WriteBonnieRose, I jumped at the chance. We ended up with Learning About Science Collection, Level 1

Learning about Science Collection Level 1

This book contains seven different units and a list of website links for further study. The units are Familiar Plants and How they GrowFruits and Vegetables Around the WorldAnimal Habitats of the WorldOur Senses and Systems and How They WorkLearning About Life CyclesEarth Layers, Earthquakes, and Volcanoes, and Exploring Senses of Matter.

The collection is easily downloadable in PDF format, so it is a quick and easy buy. Each unit is presented in story form and is jam-packed with information. As an aside, it is great practice for reading and reading comprehension too.

The book is beautifully illustrated, which is always a plus point when it comes to younger kids.

In the life cycles unit, the different kinds of animals were tackled. I appreciated the comprehensiveness of it all. Most life cycle lessons are limited to butterflies and frogs because of the concept of metamorphosis. But this book talked about the different animals. There was information on mammals, birds, reptiles, and more.

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Why is she dressed as sheep? She wanted to wear it when we read about animal habitats. You know what they say, “follow the child!”

On our end, we used this material as a supplement to our science classes since I couldn’t interrupt the flow of our current subject matter. I hesitate to say this, but we used it for fun. Yes, that’s right. I said to my kids, “put down the iPads because I want to show you something.”

And you know what? No complaints. I think that’s the highest recommendation any parent can give you on an academic product. The kids didn’t mind setting aside Netflix for it. It also helped that the kids played dress up while reading — it may or may not have included me.

Personally, I like the integration of the lessons. There was science, language arts, and also some copywork for penmanship. It’s a great value.

The Learning Learning About Science Collection is reasonably priced. It can even be purchased individually from $1.49-$3.49 depending on the unit. Bonnie is offering a sweet deal. Until August 15, you can use the coupon code REVIEWCREW50 to buy all three sets for $6 or $6.50 each.

You can learn more about WriteBonnieRose through the following social media channels:

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/WriteBonnieRose/  @WriteBonnieRose
Twitter: https://twitter.com/WriteBonnieRose  @WriteBonnieRose
Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/writebonnierose/  @WriteBonnieRose

Do you want to read what other homeschoolers are saying about this product? Click on the picture below.

Learning About Science collections {WriteBonnieRose Reviews}

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[Homeschool Review Crew] New Study Guides for Literature From a Christian Perspective

For the past couple of weeks, we’ve been discussing the seasons of life in church. Between that message and this review, I feel like the universe is throwing me a lifeline.

I am thankful for the extra help that Progeny Press gave us with the Josefina’s Story Quilt e-Guide because maaaan, grace has been in short supply recently — and this book helped me get through our reading classes without much stress and worries.

Josefina Story Quilt

What is it about?
The story is in easy-to-digest length and it is perfect for practicing reading. The guide comes with a workbook so children and answer questions and work on some material as they go along.

Most reading guides I’ve used cover the reading comprehension aspect. Questions like “describe the characters” or “what happened in the story?” For this guide, it is different. There’s a surprising amount of technical English skills that was covered. For instance, the book explained what a metaphor is — perfect for us, since I’ve been introducing figures of speech to H.

But from the title, the most important aspect of the book is the Christian perspective. It had verses that it tied up with the story so that biblical principles are taught in conjunction with the story. A lot has been said about the value of prayer. It’s heartfelt.

The guide that we used is just one of the many titles available from Progeny Press. Other titles include guide for classics like Frog and Toad Together, which I am thinking of purchasing because this book is next on our to-read list.

On Our Impressions

The lessons are well-planned and easily executed. I think there are a lot of other activities that can be done to enrich the lesson more, like maybe a visit to the museum or making the quilt yourself. In our case, mom has been going through some personal issues lately so our lessons had to be trimmed down to the essentials. But, this guide still worked for us.

Which brings me to one point that I like most about this guide: it’s flexibility. Progeny Press recommends reading the book and then working on the activities over the course of 8-10 weeks. For us, we zoomed through the book and then worked on the activities over a shorter period of time.

I think this is a great helper for homeschooling families who need assistance with making a comprehensive language art content. For me, personally, it saved me a lot of time having to come up with activities and guide questions for our reading practice. Without going through the details, it’s such a relief in this season.

You can find out more about Progeny Press on FacebookTwitterPinterest, and You-Tube.

To read up on what other homeschooling families are saying about this product, please click on the picture below.

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[Homeschool Review Crew Review] The Master and His Apprentices: Art History from a Christian Perspective

I received a copy of the Master and His Apprentices; Art History from a Christian Perspective from The Master and His Apprentices to review. This review will be little different because my kids are too young  to use this so I was the one who actually used this. Here are my impressions if you would like to read.

On the Books

I got a package of the textbook and a teacher’s guide in digital format. There are also print versions, if that’s something that you would prefer. Personally, I’m happy with the digital version because the books are not light reading — literally. The textbook is 380 pages long so it will be too heavy to haul around.

It’s length is not due to the wordiness of the writer, but because of the information packed into it. The subject matter spans across cultures and time periods. With lots of areas to cover, it’s no wonder its big book.

The Table of Contents can give you a glimpse on how comprehensive this book is.

The books are more suited for older learners because of the details presented. From an old fogey like me to high school students. Students who go through the book can earn a full year of high school credit. But younger kids can also benefit from it. In our case, my kids liked looking at the pictures. The book includes hundred and hundreds of pictures of art works.

The material breaks down the topics into periods: The Beginning, Ancient Cultures, Classical Antiquity, Middle Ages, Renaissance, and Baroque and Beyond. At the end of the book, there are essays and timelines that can help put perspective on what the book has covered.

The teacher’s guide has open-ended questions for discussion, worksheets, and even exams to come up with a more structured form of learning. I noticed the focus on these learning tools is towards analyzing the content. It doesn’t require memorization, but rather being able to describe a period in relation to another.

On My Impression

I think that the book covers a lot of topics, which  makes it worthwhile to look. Of course, this shouldn’t be surprising considering that art has existed since the beginning of history. As jam-packed as this book is, it doesn’t even cover art history in entirety. Possible Book 2 maybe?

masterandapprentice
The book makes sure that even creation, such as animal diversity or properties of light, points to God as being a master artist.

The book really lives up to its title. One of the things I liked most about it is that in the introduction, the author took time to explain the purpose of the book. The idea of God as the original artist — he is the Creator, after all — and all the other artists in history are his apprentices, just jumped out to me. Honestly, I will be thinking about this my whole life. It’s such an beautiful perspective and I will be repeating this to others, of course, crediting it to this book, to anyone who would listen.

I like that the content of the book doesn’t just talk about art history, but actually tackles history as a whole. I think it’s important to provide context to the art to be able to understand it better. Even innovators like Leonardo da Vinci operate within their societies. Getting a glimpse of the culture and events at that time is helpful to making sense of the art produced.

But, one very important thing I think people should know about these books is that it is clear that the author believes in a young Earth, placing creation at around 4004 B.C. In fact, the book is very vocal about Christian beliefs.

It shouldn’t come as a surprise since it says so in the title. But I feel like since there are many differences even within Christians, this is not a book that you just assign to your kids. It is important for the parent to actually read through the book themselves and take time to figure out where you stand.

For example, I personally don’t believe in a young Earth, so it is something that I would skip or explain further when teaching my kids. I mention this because if you’re going to read The Master and His Apprentices, you will most certainly encounter doctrine and concrete teachings. Some might be in line with your beliefs, some might be contradictory. That’s why I think parents should read the book first, or read it alongside their kids, to be able to explain things further.

Having said that, the book and the teachers guide are well-organized and well-written. I will definitely be referring to this book when my kids are ready. Content-wise, it tackles the major points of art in history so this will make a good textbook for students. I also appreciate the Christian perspective and again, her main thesis of God being the master artist, is just (for lack of a better word) masterful.

To learn more about The Master and His Apprentices: Art History from a Christian Perspective, find them on social media:

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/The-Master-and-His-Apprentices-245504999349223/
Pinterest: www.pinterest.com/themasterandhisapprentices/boards/

Other homeschooling families have also read the book. Find out what they have to say by clicking the link below.

 

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[Homeschool Review Crew Review] Critical Thinking Co.

H just turned six a few months ago and we think she’s pretty advanced when it comes to her language skills. I know, I know every parent says that but hear me out. First, her first word was at six months, which really isn’t impressive until you learn that she used multi-syllable words like “ruckus” and “adventure” before she turned one.

Since then, her vocabulary has grown exponentially and she regularly — and correctly — uses words like “ornery” and “moratorium”. This is why when we had the chance to review Vocabulary Riddles I by The Critical Thinking Co., we immediately thought that it was a great opportunity for H to challenge herself.

On Vocabulary Riddles I

Vocabulary Riddles I is a book that aims to improve a student’s vocabulary through the use of context clues in a sentence. It is meant to be used by Grades 4-8, although in our case, our daughter who is a first grader was able to use it. I did, I should note, offer a lot of guidance.

According to the book, the words come from different sources like The New Yorker and the New York Times. These words are also helpful to build up their PSAT and ACT vocabulary.

The book starts out with a riddle, which is usually alliterative, and the child is supposed to answer questions about it later. These questions are prompts in order to analyze the words and find out the meaning of the whole sentence.

For example, the student is supposed to identify which one is the antonym for a particular word. Then a synonym. The next question is to indicate what part of speech a certain word is. Finally, the last question is to identify which sentence explains the original riddle. The synonym-antonym-part of speech combination is a recurring theme in the book.

Vocabulary Riddles I also devotes the last few pages to the correct answers so it is easier to check.

On How We Used It

crticalthinkingco
Our screencap of the cover: I found it a little funny that the cover had these kids happily jumping around words like “uncouthness” and “incorrigible”

We used the electronic version of the book, but I understand that there is also a physical copy. It’s a pretty short book with only 30 pages, but each riddle is already packed with so many words to learn so there’s a lot of value in it.

The download was easy and the use of the website is pretty straightforward. This was a noteworthy point because I noticed that there are a lot of websites that make you meander through their pages to get you to buy more stuff. After choosing the product, you download your copy and key in the serial number you receive.

Since my daughter is outside the recommended age, we took things pretty slowly. We also used it a bit differently from how older kids would. I read the sentences to her and asked her read them back to me. (Using this as reading practice was an unexpected bonus.) Then I asked her the questions with a lot of follow-ups to help guide her towards the answers.

With words like “bunkum” and “contumacious”, she got a lot of questions wrong. Obviously. But, she also did get some right. There are also some easier words like “audacious” and “bewildered’, which are, I think, age-appropriate challenges for her. For those parts that went over her head, I used it as a good time to introduce the dictionary and how to use it.

On Our Impressions

I remember being stressed out over learning vocabulary words whenever I had to take those government-mandated tests and for the college entrance exams. I could saved myself a lot of grief if I were exposed to bigger words when I was younger. This is why I love the idea of having a series like this (There is a Vocabulary Riddles II) because it doesn’t belittle the abilities of kids.

I completely agree with the approach as well. When the words are presented in riddle or sentence form, they understand the meanings more organically and within context — as opposed to just memorizing them on flash cards. It makes more sense to learn words if you know how you will use them.

I can also see how the method of asking for the synonyms, antonyms, part of speech, and having them reword the sentence can be applicable to other situations. Once the student develops the habit, it’ll be easy to break down other sentences that can be encountered in the future.

If you are interested in the product, The Critical Thinking Co. has a special offer: free Shipping + 15% off any size order. Use coupon code TOSCREW18. This code expires 12/31/2018.

You can also sign up for free Critical Thinking Puzzles. You can choose PreK – Grade 8 puzzles delivered weekly to your inbox. Sign up here.

Find out more about Vocabulary Riddles I and Critical Thinking Co., you can visit their social media pages.

Other homeschooling families have also tried out the different products of The Critical Thinking Co. You can read their reviews by clicking the image below.

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[Homeschool Review Crew Review] Home School Navigator

Want to know a secret? Once upon a time, I was a high school teacher. I rarely tell people about it because first, I was terrible at it and second, it was the worst year of my life. I only mention it now because I got the chance to use Home School Navigator Reading and Language Arts Program. Why did I make the connection? Was it a horrible product? Read on to find out.

On Home School Navigator

From the start, let me say that Home School Navigator Reading and Language Arts Program is the complete opposite of horrible. I’ve had the chance to review a lot of materials recently, both as part of the Homeschool Review Crew and from the suggested books given by our provider. Hands down, this product by Home School Navigator is turning out to be my favorite so far.

This product is a complete curriculum, which includes lesson plans, videos, printable materials, and book lists. There are six different color-coded levels, depending on where your child is when it comes to language arts. You can view the framework here.

Homeschol Navigator provides an overview of the lessons in increments of a month. It gives information like the genre and literature and the reading and writing goals to be achieved. Then, it breaks it down to something more specific and practical. There are lessons plans by week, where you can see what you are supposed to do each day. All of this happens by simply downloading a PDF file and printing it out.

Everything is contained in the file, from the teacher’s guide to the worksheets.

How We Used It

We started off with the lowest level, which is red. As we progressed, it was clear to me that we should have used the next level, orange, which is more at par with her skills. But, we stuck to it, since practice and mastery is always a good thing and I didn’t want to disturb her flow.

Each day, we are given a to-do list. You can choose to upload the work into the site, which can be later compiled and printed out into a portfolio once you are done with the curriculum. I ended up not doing that and instead, kept all the finished output in a folder.

The common thread among the levels is the presence of read-alouds. The curriculum suggests that the books are read several times to ensure comprehension. In our experience, the story is the anchor for the rest of the lesson. Whether it be watching a video or doing some desk work, the story acts as the introduction of the lesson and as a way to interest the student.

On Our Impressions

Home School Navigator

I mentioned early on that this is one of the best products I’ve reviewed so far. The reason for this is how complete, thorough, and organized it is. It reminded me of my teaching days when we spent several months just making lesson plans in preparation for the school year. It honestly felt like you had someone do that for you, with this product.

As teacher-parents, it is easy to rave about how these lessons are presented. It’s pretty much established that it is convenient and easy to use. However, that’s just a part of the formula. The real bulk is whether or not it actually works on the children.

In our case, my daughter loved the stories. What kid doesn’t like being read to? She also thought that the activities were unique enough to  pique her interest. It’s not all copywork or line tracing or even answering open-ended questions. The activities were presented differently each time, which she enjoyed.

My only quibble is that it was not easy finding the books on the recommended list. It’s apparent that Home School Navigator wanted to stick to the more popular ones, but as someone from the Philippines where libraries are practically non-existent and bookstore options are lacking, it was a bit of a struggle to follow the list completely. Having said that, I think it’s more of an indictment on the sorry state of my country’s access to books, rather than it being the fault of Home School Navigator.

Overall, I am quite thankful to have encountered Home School Navigator Reading and Language Arts Program. I highly recommend it. To find out more about it, follow them on the following social media pages.

Interested in what other homeschooling families have to say about this product? Click on the image below to read more reviews.

Home School Navigator Reading and Language Arts Curriculum {Home School Navigator Reviews}

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