Category: highschool

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NatureGlo’s eScience- 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.

Oh my ever loving self-paced, relaxed, unit study, unschooling heart. I am terrible… I mean… terrible with follow through. Year long curriculum and I just don’t have a good track record when it comes to finishing what we start. When I find something that is more unschooly and delight-directed… self-paced and relaxed… it is just the best! Enter NatureGlo’s eScience MathArt & Science Course Bundle!

We received one year of access toNatureGlo’s eScience MathArt & Science Course Bundle. This was a special bundle designed just for the Crew and comes to us from NatureGlo’s eScience. We had the opportunity to sample a variety of the courses provided. This 25-course bundle contains courses from NatureGlo’s MathArt and natural sciences classes.

The 25 courses were

  • Botany (redwood trees)
  • Bubbleology
  • Geology
  • Herps Explorers (three separate units)
  • Herps Zoology (two separate units)
  • Introduction to MathArt
  • Invertebrates
  • Marine Biology (six separate units)
  • Mammals
  • MathArt (six separate units)
  • Marine Reptiles
  • Marine Zoology (two separate units)
  • Math Connections with the Real World
  • Life and Mathematical Art (two separate units)

I mean… where to even start??? My kids are ages 8, 11, 13, and 15. Every few weeks, I like to just take a break from the norm and throw in a unit study or independent study. These courses from NatureGlo’s eScience are PERFECT!

I loved M.C. Escher as a high schooler. I was fascinated by his work. I am excited to share this with my kids! You can see from the image above what a course looks like when you click on it. Title, lessons, etc. The units are short. The M.C. Escher one has 2 lessons. Others like the Herps Explorers (Frogs, Geckos, Chameleon’s, and more) are longer with 6 weeks of material.

I had a bit of difficulty navigating the website at first, but once I got the hang of it I was good to go. Students go to their course, scroll down and click on their lesson. They then follow instructions, watch videos, etc. The lessons offer many extension activities to go deeper… to rabbit trail off and follow your interests. The courses are very video heavy. Students who have a difficult time sitting in front of a screen or learning from video may struggle. However, you can always choose ot break up a lesson over the course of a few days.

Students can choose to jump around and pick topics that interest them in no particular order… OR they can follow this well laid out road map that takes them through all of the courses offered in the MathArt and Science Bundle. For my kids, I plan to let them pick a unit study and go for it!

Here are the choices so far:

8 year old: Bubble-ology

11 year old: Mammals: Wildcat, Gray Wolf, and Right Whale

13 year old: Marine Biology: Tide Pool Communities

15 year old: The Life and Mathematical Art of M.C. Escher

Whether you are looking to break up some heavy curriculum or build a year of unit studies or allow students to follow their interests…you’ll want to consider NatureGlo’s eScience. The courses are great. The creator obviously cares about what she is teaching and provides solid content for her students. If you have been considering an unschoolish/ delight directed kind of life… this would be a great place to start (in my opinion)!

Be sure to follow NatureGlo’s eScience:

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/natureglo1
Twitter: https://twitter.com/@natureglo
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/natureglosescience/
Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/nesschool/
YouTube: youtube.com/user/1hasc

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Simply Coding- 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.

When I was in high school, I had a TI83 graphing calculator. I learned how to make games and program formulas. If I had paid as much attention to the actual classes I was in that I did learning to manipulate that calculator… well… let’s just say my relationship with math might be much better. I didn’t realize at the time that I was doing something called “coding.” It was just not the language of the day. If you are around homeschool circles long enough, the term “coding” will come up. Our library offers coding classes, websites are dedicated to teaching kids how to code, books, courses, etc. Coding is big deal for the world in which our kids are living. Coding is essentially learning the language of programming. I was very excited when were given a chance to review the Coding for Kids Annual Membership from Simply Coding.

When first given the opportunity to review the membership, I had my younger kids in mind. My oldest used to have a great interest in all things computer and computer programming, coding, web design, etc. He has gradually moved away from these things. However, we were out with friends the other day and I heard him say that he wanted to get back into coding. I didn’t want to add to his school work because as soon as I call something “school,” it is tainted and not worth his time. Instead, I said, “Hey Bud… I heard you mention you want to get back into coding? We were given this program that I have to review… I mean… I could set you up as a user on it… no big deal… just if you want to.”

“Um yeah… sure.”

I went through the process of setting up my account and adding students. This was super easy to navigate and complete. He got his own log in and password. There is a student dashboard in addition to the parent/ instructor dashboard.

When he logs on, this is what he sees:

The three in light blue are the courses he had access to through our membership. He also has access to those other tabs: Simply Media, Simply Tech Essentials, and Simply Tech4Kids. He is excited about the Simply Tech Essentials because it has a big focus on photography and design.

Here are just a few of the classes that they offer:

  • JavaScript Game Design
  • Into into Websites
  • Minecraft Mods in Java
  • Digital Photography
  • Adobe Illustrator
  • Microsoft Excel
  • Blogging 4Kids
  • Create Your Own Youtube Channel

For his first class, he chose JavaScript:

I asked my son (age 15) what his first thoughts were. He has taken classes before on JavaScript and web design. He said Simply Coding is more intuitive and faster paced than courses he has done in the past. He felt like he got to the “fun stuff” faster and therefore, it kept his interest.

Simply Coding is designed for ages 11-18. It is “a self-paced interactive online curriculum that teach youth how to code their own computer games, websites, and apps through the correct structure and environment.” As an adult, I am actually excited to give some of the classes a try. I am fairly well versed in Adobe, but I noticed there was a class on using Adobe In Design. I think I will give that one a try!

Simply Coding could definitely work into your weekly homeschool rhythm. I decided to just give it to my son to work through on his own and not assign it as “school work.” By doing this, there is not a minimum requirement each day… he can work on it whenever and for however long he chooses. I heard him talking with his dad about it the other night… he was excited about the things he is learning. And little does he know, I am watching him and if he finishes the class, it will most definitely appear as a Computer Science credit on his transcript!

Be sure to follow Simply Coding:

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/simplycoding/
YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/c/SimplycodingOrg/featured

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Getting Started Homeschooling Part 8- High School

When my oldest was just started out and we were beginning our homeschool journey, I remember worrying and scurrying to get all the things. He needed an easel. He needed colored pencils and crayons and notebooks and workbooks and curriculum. We needed a designated school area. We needed a schedule. I needed to check boxes.

As time went on, I realized that a beautiful part of homeschooling is not having to recreate school at home. I was a classroom teacher before having kids and I thought that homeschooling meant having to set up a classroom in our home. If that’s your jam… go for it. BUT… if the idea of having to have all the things to be a successful homeschooler is stressing you out… in the words of Elsa… Let it Go!

For years I was able to adapt and adopt our delight directed approach. I gave up many preconceived notions and began to include the kids in the learning goals and material choices. It was a beautiful thing. But then… Then my oldest went into ninth grade and that familiar panic crept back in. All of the sudden I felt like I needed all the things. Like my son needed all the things or I was going to completely fail him and leave him unprepared for the world. I started entertaining the thought of buying curriculum, enrolling him in classes, putting him in school. Somehow highschool just felt scary. Like the game just got more real.

As I was in a flurry of planning and explaining to my son all the things he would have to do, he said, “Wait… I thought we were unschooling delight directed kind of people…how does that work with high school?”

He was right… why would I need to change our philosophy and vision now? How could I continue with interest led learning? How do we continue create life long learners?

Please remember that I am living in North Carolina. My homeschool experience and knowledge of the law is through the North Carolina lens. Please do your due diligence and research the homeschool laws in your own state. Some states are more regulated and some are less.

In North Carolina, there are no requirements to graduate high school. You, the parent, are the chief administrator of your school and therefore create and set the learning goals. However… if you have a college bound child… it would behoove you to look into the requirements for admission and work backwards from there. Not every student will go to college. I have told my kids that I don’t know if they are college bound, but I am not going to be the reason they don’t have the option. I will build our homeschool in such a way that they have the option to go to college when they graduate.

I heard a friend describe homeschooling highschool like this… the core subjects… like math and language arts and history and science are the scaffolding on which the school experience is built. You have to have those core subjects to build the foundation. When you have those in place, you can design your education to fit your interests and needs.

Most colleges look for students to complete 4 English courses, 3 Math courses, 3 Science (with two of those being lab sciences), 3 Social Studies, 1 Health, 1 PE, and 6 Electives. Now… HOW you complete those can be flexible and creative. Some areas of study have little wiggle room… like math. Sorry… but Algebra seems to be a non-negotiable. I told my son that if he could find a solid college within a 300 mile radius of our home with an arts program that did not require Algebra for admissions…we could totally look into dropping Algebra from our school… but until then… he just needed to do it! Not everything is pleasant or fun. Sometimes we just have to endure and work through hard things. That is life and learning endurance and resiliency is super important.

Tips for Homeschooling High School

  1. Involve Your Student. Sit down with your student and look at the scaffolding for the year. Involve them in the choices for their scaffolding and for their electives. What do they want to pursue? When you include them in the planning, it goes well for both of you!
  2. Steer Towards Independence. Let your student have control where they can. Let them be mindful of their workspace, of their schedule and managing their time. Allow room for growth and for error. Your child is not you. They may have a different way of looking at things, organizing things, accomplishing tasks. Give them the freedom to learn themselves and be successful in their way.
  3. Encourage Interests and Passions. You may notice this has been a common theme throughout my Getting Started Homeschooling Series. One of my major goals for my kids when they leave my homeschool is to be able to identify what they want to learn and have the ability to go after it. I want them to know how to learn. While under my roof, they should have the ability to experiment, fail, and succeed. If they want to be an entreprenuer- we will learn about good business practice. If they want a career in food, we will seek out opportunities to learn more. Maybe give them a specific night of each week that is theirs to create the menu, plan, and prepare dinner for the family.
  4. Be creative in your records. A trap I think we fall into as parents and educators is that we have to complete a book or course in one school year. We think that the disciplines should be separate… like chemistry and home economics are two different things. Or math and life skills do not over lap. But they do. My son took a food Chemistry class last year. He learned about cooking and his labs consisted of food related experiments (that often ended up in a delicious dinner for the rest of us!). Maybe your child doesn’t take specific computer skills course, but rather you incorporate using Google tools like Docs, Sheets, Slides, etc. into their regular rhythm of school. At the end of four years, you can look back and see the hours of training put into learning word processing, spreadsheets, etc. and you record a Computer Skills class on their transcript.
  5. Encourage Volunteer Work and Service. Teach your student to be a good human. How can they use their time and talents to give back to the community. Not only does this prepare them to be compassionate adults… it also looks good on a college application! Look for local opportunities to serve… help in a food pantry, do yard work for seniors, read books to children (or animals apparently at the local animal shelter), write letters to seniors who are trapped in retirement communities with no visitors due to COVID, organize a silent auction with proceeds going to a local charity, collect coats and blankets for the homeless, deliver meals on wheels… opportunities to serve are out there. Encourage your teen to find them and engage.

Your involvement in your teen’s high school homeschool experience can vary from teacher to tutor to guidance counselor to bus driver to cheerleader. You are preparing a young adult to launch into this world. They aren’t ready yet… they will still need you! Hold loosely to your highschooler as they grow more towards independence each day. You may be surprised with what they can do!

Last tip… know your strengths and weaknesses. You do not have to teach all the things. Goodness… high school sciences and math… whew… outside my wheelhouse! I am so thankful for online resources and classes. My oldest will be taking Spanish online through Luma Learn. He is going to do book studies through Progeny Press for his Language Arts. We are currently working on creating a small co op where he can learn with other high schoolers. Classes will include world history as seen through the arts and public speaking. Lean on your community. Realize that you don’t have to reinvent the wheel. Tons and tons and tons of resources are out there for you! Easy Peasy, Khan Academy, and School Yourself are just a few of the great FREE options out there!

SchoolhouseTeachers.com has put together a great option that takes the guess work out for you. They are offering virtual “Boxed” curriculum through your membership. This is really great because veteran homeschoolers have curated courses to create a wonderful and full homeschool year. And guess what!!! There is a great sale going on right now with Schoolhouse Teachers. Buy one year, get the second FREE! Two years for just $179 (and you get a free tote bag… just saying!).


Other topics I’ll be covering in this “Getting Started Homeschooling Series” are:

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Progeny Press Study Guide Reviews

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.

The world we live in is so muddled. I cannot imagine being a teen or tween right now. Maybe every parent feels that way about the younger generation. It is a constant struggle to find solid, engaging literature for my kids. My thirteen year old daughter loves graphic novels and manga style art. She is constantly coming up against politcal agendas and themes that are counter to the Christian faith. Teaching her to discern is a daily lesson. I am always reading reviews, talking to friends, and trying to figure out what is healthy and what isn’t. It is exhausting! I love when I find a company that takes the guess work out of the equation. A company with a Christian worldview that helps kids see literature through a Biblical lens. Progeny Press is one such company. We were given the opportunity to review In the Year of the Boar and Jackie Robinson Study Guide for Grades 4-6 and Animal Farm Study Guide for Grades 9-12.

About In the Year of the Boar and Jackie Robinson:

In the year 1947, Shirley Temple Wong and her mother receive a letter from her father. He asks them to come and join him in New York City where he has been working and preparing a home for them. New York is a long way from Chungking, China, but Shirley is excited that her family will be together again at last. Shirley has difficulty adjusting to life in a new country, with its new customs and languages. But then summer comes, bringing the miracle of baseball. Suddenly Shirley is playing stickball and following superstar Jackie Robinson as he leads the Brooklyn Dodgers to victory after victory. Jackie Robinson proves that in America, the grandson of a slave can make a difference and be a hero! And for Shirley as well, the land of America becomes the land of opportunity.

In times of chaos and upheaval, finding a book with relateable characters and stories of overcoming difficulties is great. Not every kid goes through heartbreak, disease, or suffering… but many kids will move at some point in their childhood. This is a relateable concept for sure.

I have always enjoyed using unit studies with my children. In The Year of the Boar and Jackie Robinson Study Guide from Progeny Press is an excellent unit study on the book. Before you even begin to read, there are activities to do that include Geography (learning about China on the map) and Social Studies (learning about world religions such as Confucianism, Buddhism, and Taoism).

The study guide goes chapter by chapter. Each section includes vocabulary, reading comprehension questions, and questions to dig deeper. This is all presented through the lens of Scripture.

We were given the eGuide to review. I am coming around on using eBooks and eGuides. This was easy to download and follow. I can print what I need and print multiple copies when needed. I keep all of my eLearning materials on a thumb drive. The files are divided into folders and easy to find.

The activities in In The Year of the Boar and Jackie Robinson Study Guide are fun and engaging. To be 100 % honest, with summer time, we have slowed down considerably on all things school and really haven’t given this study guide the attention it deserves. I am, however, really looking forward to doing the “A Year in Your Life” activity as suggested in the “After You Read Activities.”

About Animal Farm:

“A farm is taken over by its overworked, mistreated animals. With flaming idealism and stirring slogans, they set out to create a paradise of progress, justice, and equality. The stage is set for one of the most telling satiric fables ever penned – a razor-edged fairy tale for grown-ups that records the evolution from revolution against tyranny to a totalitarianism just as terrible!”

Can we just talk about for a minute how perfect Animal Farm is for the time we are living in?!?! I have seen more quotes from Orwell’s Animal Farm floating around social media in the last six months that ever before. I am a sucker for a good dystopian novel. Most days, it feels like we are living in a dystopian novel!

My son also enjoys this genre and he is the one I had in mind when given the Animal Farm study guide to review. He is fifteen and heading into tenth grade. He needs to learn to think critically and examine the literature he is reading. We talk all the time about caring about what he is feeding his brain. This kid has been reading on a college level since he was about seven years old. Finding appropriate literature that is engaging to him has been a challenge, to say the least. I really appreciate how Progeny Press explores secular literature through a Christian perspective.

As with In The Year of the Boar and Jackie Robinson, the Animal Farm Study Guide begins with background information specifically about types of economic systems (Capitalism, Communism, and Socialism) as well as types of government (Monarchy, Democracy, Totalitarian, and Republic). Pre-reading activities are suggested as well. Students are instructed to read the book in its entirety before beginning the chapter by chapter study guide. While this may seem redundant to a high school student, I like the idea of reading it first and then breaking it down.

The study guide is designed to be completely independently (yay!). The PDF worksheets are designed to either be printed or filled in on the computer. If you have a more verbal processing or less independant worker, you could definitely go through the study guide together and use it as a great springboard for discussion. If your student completes a section per day, the study guide is designed to be completed in eight weeks. The work is manageable and includes things like Vocabulary, Analogous Events and Characters, General Questions, Analysis Questions, And Digging Deeper. If your child is anything like mine, they will skip all things “optional.” But I would encourage you to have them slow down and take a look at the great “optional” activities provided throughout the Animal Farm Study Guide.

I am seriously considering investing in a few more (maybe 4 total) study guides from Progeny Press and building my son’s tenth grade English credit from them. We could do a whole year of Dystopian Novels- Animal Farm, Hunger Games, Farenheit 451, and Lord of the Flies. I think the guides are well thought out and challenging.

Be sure to follow Progeny Press on Social Media:

Facebook: facebook.com/progenypress
Twitter: twitter.com/progenypress
Pinterest: pinterest.com/progenypress
YouTube: youtube.com/progenypress

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Exploring the U.S. Life-Saving Service- 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.

Unit studies are a perfect fit for a delight directed style of homeschooling. They give you the freedom to explore unique topics and tie in a variery of academic disciplines. We were recently given the opportunity to review Exploring the U.S. Life Saving Service 1878-1915: 17 Student Workshops with 120 Activities from Rebecca Locklear. The unit study is all about the U.S. Life Saving Service which was the forerunner to the U.S. Coast Guard. Comprised of eight member rescue teams, this service would row out to ships in distress during violent storms to rescue those on board. If you have a child who is an outdoor enthusiast, loves to learn about survival skills, enjoys hiking or boating, or just loves to learn about unique pieces of history, this downloadable unit study from Rebecca Locklear is a great fit!

The study is divided into 4 units with 17 workshops:

  • Unit 1: Life at the Station House
  • Unit 2: Working Together
  • Unit 3: The Culture of Character
  • Unit 4: Relevance Today

Each worksop begins with listing the objective and the materials needed to complete the activities. It also shares grade appropriate goals (as seen below):

The book begins with a thorough look at the history of the U.S. Life Saving Service. The old pictures are fascinating. This would be an excellent unit to include in a Post-Civil War to World War 1 Unit. The book is rich with maritime history and information.

As I mentioned at the beginning of the post, Unit Studies are fantastic for connecting the various disciplines. Just look at the variety of activities included in the Exploring the U.S. Life Saving Service book. Not only are many activities included, but many types of learning styles and interests are addressed. This book will appeal to your logical thinkers, your artists, your actors, your wiggly learners, your book learners, and everything in between. It would be really great to use at a homeschool co-op as it provides for a lot of collaborative learning. In fact, I think it may be best used in a co-op setting with multiple children. The hands-on activities include designing a logo for the U.S. Life-Saving Service, make gingerbread in a jar, performing a skit (the script is included in this curriculum), playing a game, designing and creating an anchor, making smelling salts, role playing, completing a cold water experiment, and more.

Pictured above is a matching activity included in Unit One: Life at the Station House. The activity is a game to be played after learning about how the people of the day identified and hunted for food. My kids and I read through Unit One together.

This 117 page text includes history, science, writing, cooking, art and more-all in one book geared towards grades 4-12. The author has a personal connection to the U.S. Life Saving Service in that her great-grandfather, “Skipper” Eldredge, devoted 15 years of his life to this service.

Be sure to follow Rebecca Locklear on Social Media:

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/RebeccaLocklearWriter/

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