Category: Product Review

delight directed dayselementary schoolhighschoolmiddle schoolProduct Review

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)!

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highschoolmiddle schoolProduct Review

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!

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CurriculumProduct Review

My Teaching Library- 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.

We were recently given the opportunity to join the Download Club from My Teaching Library. Over the last few weeks, we have been able to add some fun resources to our homeschool life. My Teaching Library is geared for homeschool families and offers a wide variety of downloadable resources. Printables are available from preschool all the way through high school. I am particularly excited about the SAT prep for my high schooler.

You can use My Teaching Library to purchase indivdual resources or subcribe for either an annual or a lifetime member to access all the resources. Joining the Download Club is the most cost efficient. We were given a one year access. For comparison sake, the annual membership is $45/ year. The lifetime membership is $225. The SAT prep that I downloaded for my son would be $9.99 to buy individually and the Fall Scrapbooking referenced below would be $3.75. You can see that purchasing the individual resources would add up rather quickly! The membership to the Download Club is definitely the way to go!

The website is somewhat easy to navigate. I did find some aspects to be a little cumbersome like hovering over the menus or trying to search for a specific key word or topic. You can serach by grade or subject. It has plenty of academic as well as elective subjects. We recently went apple picking. I had my daughter pick a page from the Fun Fall Scrapbooking and Notebooking download to complete.

I threw down an apple at my mom and she did not catch it and it got bruised.

She enjoyed picking a picture to add to the page and writing about how I did not catch the apple she so carefully picked.

My Teaching Library is a resource that can be folded into any homeschool style. You could use it if you need a little extra math or reading help. You could use it to download lapbooking resources for unit studies. If your child has an interest, you will likely find some type of resource on My Teaching Library to help you incorporate it into your school. You can even find videos, textbook, and interactive learning. To be honest, I think you could use My Teaching Library to build your whole homeschool year.

Once you find a resource you want to use, you can click to download. This does not immediately download to your computer, but rather sends the resource to your “downloads” on your account. You can then navigate to your downloads and proceed to download to your computer or device. You also get an email with your purchase receipt (free for Download Club Members) and a link to download.

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elementary schoolpreschoolProduct Review

Reading Eggs- 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.

A couple of years ago, I came to the realization that I cannot, in fact, do it all. Crazy, right?!?! With four children spanning elementary through high school years, there were just too many gaps happening. I sought out a way to reinforce reading for my younger girls… something they could do on their own a couple of times a week. We settled on Reading Eggs from Blake eLearning Inc. It has been a great program! I was going back and forth on whether or not I wanted to continue this year. When the opportunity to review a one year subscription to Reading Eggs came our way, I gladly accepted.

Reading Eggs in an online program that is accessible through your browser or app. We use our iPad to access the app. I had hoped I could download it to our Kindles, but it was not available through the Amazon app store. Reading Eggs provides multiple programs suitable for ages 2-12.

Fast Phonics: Designed for children ages 5-10 who are learning to read. Heavy on phonics and decoding, Fast Phonics offers plenty of rewards as children climb through the program.

Reading Eggs Jr: Designed for ages 2-4, Reading Eggs Jr. provides pre-readers will exposure to language and words as they prepare to build their reading skills.

Mathseeds: This is a program I was pleasantly surprised to find. We had just signed up with the expectation of reading help. Mathseeds is designed for ages 3-9. This is my 8 year old’s favorite part of Reading Eggs.

Reading Eggs: Designed to build your 3-7 year old into a confident reader. You start with a placement test which is great! I was surprised. I really thought my girls were farther along and would have likely started them ahead of where they needed to be which would have ended in guaranteed frustration.

Reading Eggspress: Desiged for ages 7-13 to take them further in their reading journey. The games and lessons are more big kid-ish.

As a parent, I can access the Family Dashboard. It is visually appealing and easy to navigate. With multiple children using the program, I appreicate the ease in which I can switch between the children and the programs to track their progress. I get emails as well when one of my children has completed a certain check point.

My children prefer to use the app over the desk top. Using a mouse is not a skill they are strong in because most of our devices are touch screen. The app (and the browser) are easy to navigate. Once we went over the program, I was able to trust them to be able to get where they needed to and do the lessons on their own.

We have reviewed several learning apps and online programs. I have to say this one is my favorite. The graphics are great… not too bright or too busy. The website is easy to navigate and they have online chat help available. You can also access printable resources for extra learning. I think Reading Eggs and Mathseeds is a fantastic supplement to any language arts or math program. We usually get on a couple of times a week to help reinforce phonics, reading, and math.

Please note, Reading Eggs is a secular reading program. You may come across concepts about evolution in your reading. We have not come across anything I would find inappropriate or overtly against Christianity. For the most part, it is religion neutral.

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elementary schoolProduct Review

Homeschool Easy 3rd Grade – 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.

I have realized that my youngest doesn’t always get my full attention when it comes to school. I have let her be happy to just tag along and absorb what the older siblings are doing. I also know that play is important and let her learn much from her play and engaging of the world around her. HOWEVER… I really let the ball drop with her and my second youngest last year. They are both so smart and have so much potential. It really isn’t fair of me to let them fend for themselves as far as homeschooling goes. SO! I was pleased to receive the opportunity to review the Third Grade Entire School Year Curriculum from Homeschool Easy.

Homeschool Easy is an all in one curriculum that has 1st to 5th grades to choose from. The 1st through 5th grade is a full curriculum which includes all the essential subjects to teach. When you purchase a complete curriculum it includes: reading, spelling, grammar, math, history, science, and writing. You can also buy individual subjects. The cost for the full curriculum is $100.00. Individual subjects are extremely reasonable starting at $20.00 and under.

Homeschool Easy provides 32 weeks of instruction. Everything is in worksheet format and available for download. Once I received my access to the curriculum, I followed the link to several well- labeled folders with all the downloadable content. For me, it was a bit tedious to download everything.

Homeschool Easy is not common core aligned, but rather based on the way the American education system looked before common core was the standard.

From the Intro – “The 3rd Grade Curriculum contains:

Reading– phonics based concepts, including weekly reading words, flash cards, fill-in-the blank worksheets, reading comprehension sheets, chapter book comprehension questions, weekly vocabulary, spelling crossword puzzles, and spelling word searches.

Math– math focuses on traditional math and number sense, including daily worksheets, manipulatives, and flash cards.

Grammar– fundamental grammar, including daily worksheets and flash cards.

History– focuses on American history and patriotism, including daily worksheets corresponding with online videos and various art projects.

Science– monthly age appropriate science subjects, including daily worksheets aligned with online videos and various art projects and experiments.

Writing– focuses on fun, creative writing, including two weekly writing assignments. Also, writing is continually reinforced through grammar, history, and science worksheets.”

The instructions are very clear and easy to follow. The preparation has been done for you which is awesome! You will need to obtain the books for reading. They will likely be available from your local library or available for free online. Many of the subjects like have video resources linked as well. The videos have been curated from YouTube. This is not a hands off curriculum for the parent, but there definitely is room for independent work on the part of the student.

To be honest… Homeschool Easy is well thought out and great for people who are new to homeschooling and/ or need a full curriculum laid out for them. I would totally recommend it to those who are overwhelmed at the idea of having to teach their child or want the guess work taken out of the process. However… it is really not our cup of tea. With our delight-directed approach to learning, we don’t have much room for worksheet learning. We are a little more hippie and nature loving. In my opinion, Homeschool Easy does not allow for rabbit trails or camping out on a certain topic… which is the style that we tend to follow.

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The members of the Homeschool Review Crew reviewed different grade levels from Homeschool Easy. Be sure to check out what they have to say! Click the banner below: