Category: Product Review

Product Review

Home School In The Woods US Elections Lap Pak- 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.

With the elections just around the corner in November, now is a good time to teach our children about our government and how the process of voting and elections work. The U.S. Elections Lap Pak from Home School In The Woods is a fantastic resource. The product is geared for grades 3rd- 8th which is perfect for us as we have a rising 3rd, 5th, and 8th grader! I might just make the 10th grader join us. I have not done a great job teaching my kids this area of history and am thankful for Home School In The Woods for their wonderful, hands-on, history studies.

The U.S. Elections Lap Pak is a digital download that includes the following:

  • 21 Lap Pak Activities
  • Reading Text (Also Provided as an Audio Book)
  • Step by Step Instructions
  • List of additional reading resources

The products from Home School In The Woods are completed as lapbooks. If you don’t know what a lapbook is, let me tell you! Lapbooking is a great hands-on way for students to research and learn all about a specific topic! It’s basically just a file folder filled with fun little “mini-books” that contain interesting information about your overall lapbook topic. They’re hands-on and make any subject a little more fun! We have used lapbooks for a variety of projects throughout our homeschooling years. Please note that if you have a child who does not like crafts or gets frustrated with a lot of cutting and gluing, lapbooks may not be the best choice for them. I, personally, LOVE lapbooks… but a certain teenager in my house CANNOT STAND them! So… know your audience!

A view of the front of the U.S. Elections Lap Pak from the Home School In The Woods website.
A view of the assembled U.S. Elections Lap Pak from the Home School In The Woods website.

I am super excited to complete this Lap Pak with my girls (and maybe my son). Admittedly, I do not know enough about our election process. I rely heavily on the knowledge of others when the time comes around! We are living in such a unique time in history and I really want my children to learn and know all the things! They have all gone with my when I have voted. They always ask who I am voting for, but mostly they just like getting the “I Voted” sticker… I mean… who doesn’t??

When we are working on the U.S. Elections Lap Pak, we do the reading and lesson together then the girls complete the activities on their own. We set the completed activities aside until everything is finished and we are ready to put it all together. Be sure to read more about the U.S. Elections Lap Pak from Home School In The Woods.


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Members of the Homeschool Review Crew had the opportunity to review several different products from Home School In The Woods. Be sure to read their reviews! Click on the banner below:

But Wait!!! There’s more!!!

Homeschool in the Woods is running a giveaway until the end of August 2020. 

Giveaway: A free copy of our Greek Life! File Folder Game when you use the code TOSGameNight at checkout. No purchase necessary.

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Journey Homeschool Academy Experience Astronomy- 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.

**Please note: This Post Contains Affiliate Links**

Y’all. I think I have hit my limit on thinking about all the things. We go through seasons in our homeschool. I go through seasons as a homeschool mom and I think I am cycyling to a season where I just need someone else to do the work for me. I love being creative… I really, really do. I love piecing together and creating curriculum and classes and projects. Finding out what my kids want to learn about and making it happen is the heartbeat of my homeschool mama heart. But… I am tired. I feel the weight of the world on my shoulders every morning before I even get out of bed. I need some help this year to make sure my children are getting the very best of me. You can imagine how thrilled I was when we were given Experience Astronomy: Elementary from Journey Homeschool Academy.

Science and History are the two areas where I fall behind the most. I usually rely on our homeschool association’s enrichment classes to fill in some gaps for me, but those have been canceled for the fall because of the Rona. My girls (ages 8 and 10) were super excited when I told them about Experience Astronomy: Elementary. I am so grateful for the age in which we live and the ability to access amazing online classes such as the ones offered from Journey Homeschool Academy.

Experience Astronomy: Elementary is an online, video based course. The website is easy to navigate and help is abundant. Each lesson has a main video (about 15- 20 minutes long), a memory video to help reinforce concepts, and extra material like the instructions for hands on activities, verses to trace, and a quiz.

Lesson One includes the instructions to make a shoe box planetarium. I love that this is not just an online, video class. It includes super fun activities as well as a reading list of books (most available through the library).

Each lesson includes a quiz in the extra materials tabs. As you can see, the class is presented from a Christian Worldview. I LOVE this. All truth is God’s truth. God cares about Science. I love when we can show our kids how science has a part to play in God’s kingdom.

I am super excited to use Experience Astronomy: Elementary with my 3rd and 5th grade girls. They are always asking for science. I start strong and never seem to make it past the first week or so. I tried last year… I really did. We tried a Nature Study and then a Human Body Science. I just tapered off and the girls quit asking. I have high hopes for this year. This Astronomy Course from Journey Homeschool Academy has done an amazing job of offering an engaging and complete 30 week course. This is just what I need this year!

Journey Homeschool Academy also offer Biology for Elementary and Upper Level. I am seriously considering getting the Upper Level Biology for my 8th grader this year.

Be sure to follow Journey Homeschool Academy:

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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
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The Homeschool Review Crew reviewed several products from Progeny Press. Be sure to read what others are saying. Click the banner below:

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MaxScholar Orton Gillingham Software- 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.

If I can teach my children to read, I will have given them the keys to the world. If they leave my homeschool as competent and confident readers, I will count it a success. When a child learns to read, a door to learning is opened. They can take ownership and learn all the things. Each one of my kids has been so different when it comes to learning to read. There has not been a set formula that has worked. My oldest was reading chapter books by the time he was four. He was reading dinosaur encyclopedias at age five. I never taught him to read. He learned completely on his own. My second took some time to get there. We did phonics and leveled readers. One day, when she was eight, she picked up a chapter book called “Life with Lily” and consumed it. She retained all the information and was able to articulate the story line and characters to me. My third was diagnosed with a brain tumor when she was six- right at the age when most kids are in the thick of learning to read. Reading became associated with pain for her and it wasn’t until she was nine that she began to come around and realize it isn’t so bad. Then we have number four. She is bright and articulate and curious. To talk to her for any amount of time is to realize how smart she is. However, when we did our yearly testing this year at the beginning of June, our friend and tester shared that she had some concerns about dyslexia. Not an official diagnosis, but some concerns. It doesn’t surprise me that one of my kids would struggle with dyslexia. I struggled my entire school career and wasn’t given a name or strategy for my struggles until my senior year of college. I was beyond thrilled when the opportunity to review MaxScholar Orton-Gillingham Software came our way. I went ahead and requested accounts for both of my younger girls.

The Orton-Gillingham Approach is a direct, explicit, multisensory, structured, sequential, diagnostic, and prescriptive way to teach literacy when reading, writing, and spelling does not come easily to individuals, such as those with dyslexia.

MaxScholar Orton-Gillingham Software is an online reading subscription program. It is like having an online reading tutor. We received a six month subscription through MaxScholar. Everything is accessible online. There are no additional materials to keep up with. You could use this program with any student, regardless of reading ability. However, it has been specifically designed for students who have learning disabilities… specifically dyslexia.

My eight year old working on her phonics placement test. Please excuse the excessive amounts of post-it notes. I have a problem.

Both of my girls did a placement test as the first thing to determine the level at which they should start. It is tedious. My youngest was totally cool with it. She is a box checker and detailed oriented person. She sat patiently and didn’t question the process. My older daughter, however, was less than impressed. She kept looking at me and asking how much more she had to do. She would get to the end of a section and think she was done only to have another part of the assessment pop up. She could have stopped and come back to it, but I encouraged her to keep going. This is my very tactile/ kinesthetic learner- my girl who is constantly moving and does not do well when she has to sit at the table and work. In fact, most days, she doesn’t use a chair- she stands, dances, and wiggles her way through school.

Each girl has her own log-in to her customized account. Once the placement tests were finished, they were able to log on and pick an activity. As you can see in the image above, the activities include MaxPhonics, MaxReading, MaxWord, MaxPlaces, MaxBios, MaxMusic, and Max Vocab. Phonics, Reading and Words are the three main programs. You can actually block the extra activities if you want your child to focus more on the main topics. I may end up having to do this with my older daughter as she immediately went to the MaxMusic section and didn’t want to give the others a try.

The program is very easy to navigate. You can see the teacher chick at the top guiding where to go. She talks to my girls whenever they log on- welcoming them back, etc. You can use MaxScholar Orton-Gillingham Software on your desktop through a web browser or through an app on your device. We chose to use the web browser to access the program.

The girls have their own log in and I have mine. The parent portal is fantastic and easy to navigate. You can adjust their grade level, turn on and off the placement tests, grant access to games, and more. You can keep track of what your child is doing and how they are doing.

Coming soon are training videos for MaxScholar. These are super informative and easy to follow, making the MaxScholar experience that much better. As part of the Review Crew, I was able to have access to these videos and it really helped as the girls and I navigated and utilized the program.

I am impressed with MaxScholar Orton-Gillingham Software. I am excited to see how it helps my girls learn to decode and gain confidence in their reading abilities. I am sad to think that I missed something early on with their learning to read, but so thankful for tools to help them now.

Be sure to follow MaxScholar on Social Media:

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