Jul 242012
 

Do you know a child who has trouble following directions? Or one who can’t remember things he hears?

I do!

William, my 10 year old, has many learning difficulties. One of them seems to be related to auditory processing. (I do not have an official diagnosis of auditory processing disorder, but he is definitely weak in this area.) When I heard about HearBuilder Auditory Memory Software from Super Duper Publications, I was very interested in trying out the program with him.

The program is a game that helps children gradually increase their auditory memory and listening skills. The game involves the player as a secret agent who has to perform various activities in order to stop the villain.

The program is divided into 5 areas. They are:

  • Numbers
  • Words
  • Details
  • Closure
  • WH Info

After starting the game and clicking his name, the student sees the following screen.

HearBuilder

From this, he can choose to go to any of the activities or check his progress in Agent Status. After all the levels of a game are completed, a badge will appear on this screen as well.

 

In the number game, the player is required to listen to a list of numbers, then type them in as the combination. It begins with a sequence of 3 and gets progressively more difficult.

HearBuilder

 

 

The words game is similar to the numbers game. A sequence of words is read, and the player must click on the corresponding pictures in the same order.

HearBuilder

 

The other games are more challenging and require higher level thinking skills. The details game asks players to select one of the people based on certain facts about them. For example, in the following picture the student might be asked to select the boy that is not wearing a backpack. (This picture is from the first level. They do get more difficult! The instructions are all auditory, of course.)

HearBuilder

Another interesting game is closure. In it, the player has to fill in the missing word. It might say “Peanut butter and j..” or “Ring around the r…” The student is given choices and must select the right one.

HearBuilder

The last game is the most difficult of all. In WH Info, there is a short factual “case” that is given. The player then has to answer a question about the case. The questions are all WH questions: who, what, when, where, or why.

HearBuilder

We had a very good experience with this game. The software ran smoothly with no bugs. The games are engaging. After 6 correct responses in the main games, the player gets to play a reward game that is more fun and less educational.

My son who has difficulty with auditory memory doesn’t love the game, but he definitely likes it better than any of his schoolwork! Lizzie, my 5-1/2 year old, really likes the game and has asked to play it many times. Although this game was designed with the special needs student in mind, it is one that can be beneficial to any student. Neither of my children are anywhere close to completing the entire program. The games become progressively more challenging and higher levels even add in background noise.

You can purchase HearBuilder Auditory Memory Software from Super Duper Publications. The home edition is $69.95.

Disclosure: I received a copy of HearBuilder Home Edition in order to write this review. I was not compensated for this review. All opinions expressed are my own.

Jul 222012
 

There are many different ways to approach the study of  history. The chronological approach has been very popular in recent years. Others recommend a unit study method focusing on one particular culture or area. One of the things that I’ve found especially interesting to think about when studying modern history is what has happened to one specific area over time. For example, there was an strip of land on the border of France and Germany that was very important to Hitler. Why? What is the history of that one spot of land?

I have wished for an historical map that would show this types of detail. Recently, I received TimeMaps from Knowledge Quest to review, and it does much of what I had hoped for.

There are 7 different historical maps in the collection. They are:

    • Ancient China
    • European Exploration and Discovery
    • The Atlantic Slave Trade
    • The Black Death
    • The Fall of the Roman Empire
    • The Rise of Islam
    • The Rise of the Roman Empire

TimeMaps are not paper maps, but are dynamic and interactive computer animations that display changes in boundaries, travels of explorers, extents of empires, and much more. Each map begins at a specific date. The user clicks to advance the map to the next date and watches as one map morphs into the next one.

This example shows the first map in The Rise of the Roman Empire. Under the date are 2 symbols: i and Q.

TimeMaps

This shows the same map, after clicking the i for more information. Each of the icons that appear on the map are clickable and bring up boxes with additional  information such as the one titled, “The Mediterranean World in 500 BC.”

TimeMaps

This is the same map again, this time with the questions that appear with a click of the Q icon.

TimeMaps

This map shows the same area, but 400 years later. (I skipped several maps.)TimeMaps

Finally, here is the same map as above with the areas of additional information visible. I like the option of removing those so that the map can be studied without the additional busyness.

TimeMaps

 

Each of the map sets also comes with a Teachers Guide that includes suggested activities, the questions that are in the program, a summary of each of the maps that can be read to the student or used to familiarize yourself to the topic. There is also a blank timeline template with appropriate date markings, and both a blank and completed map for printing.

I like TimeMaps very much. The information included on each of the maps is fascinating. I had my 10 year old test the program for ease of use and after 2 minutes of instruction, he was able to maneuver through the screens independently. Much of the information and questions were above his head, at least for him to complete independently. I especially love how the European Exploration map starts small, and grows with each sea voyage, showing the new area as it was discovered.

I can see so many different ways for this to be used in a homeschool. It would make a great supplement for any history curriculum. The maps are available as a collection of all 7 or individually, so someone could choose to purchase just those that will be studied in the upcoming school year. Those who use a unit study approach to history could use these maps as the basis for the study. Or the maps could be used in a relaxed homeschool to pique a student’s curiosity in a particular topic.

TimeMaps are available for both Windows and Mac operating systems. Each individual TimeMap is available for $9.95. The complete collection of 7 is sold for $44.95. Visit Knowledge Quest to learn more about the maps and to purchase.

Disclosure: I received the TimeMap Collection free in order to write this review. I was not compensated for this review. All opinions expressed are my own.

Jul 152012
 

As a member of the Schoolhouse Review Crew, I get to test a lot of products. I love trying out a wide variety of resources in my homeschool, many of which I am unfamiliar with before receiving to review. Professor B Math is one of those.

Professor B is an on-line math curriculum. I’ve reviewed a lot of on-line math curriculum in the last few years. I can honestly say that Professor B is completely different from any of the others I’ve seen. When I think of on-line math curricula, several things immediately come to mind.

  1. Math fact drill
  2. Games with graphics and sound
  3. Independent learning

Professor B is not designed for any of these.

It is not a math fact drill program, but any student who completes this curriculum will know his math facts.

It is not a game. The graphics are very simple and there is no sound. This is by design because…

Professor B is not for students to use independently.

Professor B Math is for the parent/teacher and student to go over together. Professor B does the teaching, but the parent/teacher makes sure that the student is understanding.

The program claims that students can progress through up to three years worth of math in one year.

There are 3 levels that include the following topics.

LEVEL I
Pre-k though 2nd graders and remediation of older learners. Introduction to Addition/Subtraction Facts – Counting to One Hundred – Lower Addition and Subtraction – Higher Addition and Subtraction – Place Value Fractional Parts & Order – Time – Money

LEVEL II
3rd grade through 5th grade and remediation of older learners. Multiplication/Division Facts and Problem Solving – Introduction to Fractions – Fractional Equivalence – Addition and Subtraction Fractions

LEVEL III
6th through 8th grades and remediation of older learners.Multiplication/Division of Fractions – Decimals – Percents

After looking at the placement test for Level I, I decided to start both my 10 year old son and 5 year old daughter in Level I.

Level I begins with understanding the numbers 1 -10. This includes recognizing the numerals, but it goes much deeper. It includes exercises in quickly identifying how many things are on the screen. That’s pretty easy for 1, 2, or 3, but as the numbers get higher, it’s not so simple to quickly be able to tell if  there are 7 or 8 balls. I remember seeing this idea in an older math text and thought that it was something lacking in the math curriculum we were using, so I was excited that Professor B included it.

In addition to quickly identifying numbers of objects, it presented numbers as combinations of fingers. For example, if you’re holding up 1 finger on your left hand and 2 fingers on your right hand, that’s called a one – two – three. Swap the sides and it’s a two – one – three. This is a very gentle way of introducing addition facts. I did have a little problem with all the finger counting though.

Do you see it? I’m not sure how they didn’t catch this as a problem, but it bothered me, partly because I’ve been trying to teach both of these children to stop using their middle fingers to point. This may or may not be a problem at all to you.

My 5 year old daughter participates enthusiastically in the lessons. She did start to get a little bored with all the number understanding sections, but I was afraid to skip them since they seem so foundational.We have not made it as far as I would have liked in the program at this point due to summer-time travel, but so far, I’ve been impressed. I’ll continue with it for her.

My 10 year old son did not participate enthusiastically at all. (We were not doing the lessons at the same time as his sister. I knew better than that!) He needs math remediation. He has not mastered all the material in Level 1, but I struggled with where to start him. I thought the beginning was important, so I tried to work through that with him. He was very upset and felt like the program was babyish. So I skipped ahead to try to find something that wasn’t so easy. (Though he truthfully had not mastered the understanding numbers part. He had a hard time getting the quick number recognition problems correct. His sister was much better at them.) Unfortunately, by the time I tried another section with him, he had already developed a strong dislike for the program. So I completely backed off Professor B with him. I hope to try it again if I can figure out where to start him. I may jump into the telling time section because he’s never mastered that skill.

A subscription to Professor B E-learning is available for $20/month. It can also be purchased for $100 for 3 years of access to a single level. The yearly price is not on the website yet, but it should be soon.

Disclosure: I received a 1 year subscription to Professor B in order to write this review. I was not compensated for this review. All opinions expressed are my own.

Jun 192012
 

There are some days when I’m really discouraged about our homeschool. I feel like we’ve not accomplished any of the goals we set for our family. On other days I know that I’ve allowed doubt to creep in. I’ve allowed myself to listen to Satan’s lies.

But on those days when I feel like I’ve done nothing, there is one thing that I can remind myself.

We are a family that loves exploring God’s creation.

Yes, we may not always enjoy doing it the same way. And no, my children have not made beautifully illustrated nature journals. But we all like being outside. We all like learning about animals and plants, and we all believe in God who created them all. That’s something to celebrate.

How have we accomplished this?

We have taken all of our children on many hikes starting even before they could walk. Our child carrier backpack has gotten a lot of use!

We have our own collection of books and magazines about nature topics. These books are always accessible to the children. They look interesting. (I know that you can’t judge a book by it’s cover, but an enticing cover does wonders in drawing someone to open a book. I like it when my children learn things without me having to ask them to read.)

We encourage wild life in our yard by having several bird feeders and plants to attract birds and butterflies. (And I’m really bad at weeding. I can tell myself that having a “wild” yard is good for the wildlife, right?)

I’ve found something else to add to our collection of enticing nature materials.

It’s called Creation Illustration.

Creation Illustrated is a gorgeous quarterly magazine. The beautiful glossy cover of each issue has a photograph that begs people to pick it up.

Inside are informative articles on a variety of nature topics. I received 4 issues to review. Contained in those issues are articles on Aspen, Saguaro National Park, hummingbirds, Yellowstone National Park, fragrance (in flowers and fruit), stars, insects, and more. Scripture is woven into each of the articles.

Another interesting feature of each issue is Genesis Cuisine. There are 3 recipes in each issue. They are all natural/healthy/vegetarian recipes and  pertain to a particular theme. The themes in the 4 issues that I received are Cupcake Craze, Smooth Smoothies, Grapefruit Greats, and Hazelnuts. I have unfortunately not tried any of the recipes yet. They do often contain an ingredient or two that is somewhat unusual, or at least not a typical item that I purchase. For example, coconut milk is found in several of the recipes that sound appealing to me.

Each issue also contains an Instructional Guide. The guide is “designed to help students of all ages integrate and embrace the practical spiritual lessons available through the study of God’s handiwork”. The guides include recommended devotional readings from each issue. There are also questions about the articles to encourage deeper study. Some of the issues also include a word search and creation activities .

Do you have a budding photographer in the family? Creation Illustrated publishes photos submitted by young photographers ages 5 to 15. The top 3 entrees each quarter are awarded cash prizes. Along with each photo, the student submits a poem, Bible verse, or statement about what the photo says about God the Creator.

A yearly subscription to Creation Illustrated is available for $19.95, but there is a $5 discount if you pay with credit card. You can also request a free issue.

Disclosure: I received 4 free issues of Creation Illustrated in order to write this review. I was not compensated for this review. All opinions expressed are my own.

 

Jun 112012
 

I always loved school.

I love the look, feel, and even the smell of a brand new textbook.

I was transported back to my own public school days when I received the 3rd grade enVisionMath textbook from Pearson Learning. You know the stamp in the front of a textbook that has a place to write who is issued the book each year? I don’t think it has changed since I was in school.

When I actually opened the book, I quickly realized that this was not the 3rd grade textbook that I had in, um, 1979. For one thing, it is WAY more colorful. The illustrations in the book are bright and engaging. I think that the content has changed significantly since then as well. This text places great emphasis on problem solving. There are also fun facts throughout the book that integrate other subjects with math.

For example:

Bamboo is one of the fastest growing plants on Earth. It can grow about 36 inches a day. Can it grow more than 200 inches in a week?

and

What is the record length of the “World’s Longest Apple Peel?”

The text is very well organized with a predictable format for each topic. Every lesson includes Guided Practice, Independent Practice, and Problem Solving. There are Going Digital exercises to be completed on eTools. Also included is a comprehensive Electronic Teacher’s guide and a QuizShow math practice computer game.

The Electronic Teacher’s Edition is loaded! It has teaching helps, printable pages of all the exercises in the book, plus extra practice pages, tests, the answers to the exercises, ideas and printable pages for centers, and more.

I think this would make a great text for many children. It might be an especially good choice for a student

    • who is transitioning to homeschool from the public school (and was doing well in math there.)

or

    • who needs to stay on the standard scope and sequence because he is likely going to be attending public school in the future.
It was unfortunately, a very poor choice for my 10 year old son who is struggling in academics.
  • The bright color was very distracting for him. I found him unable to understand concepts that he had previously learned (like place value).
  • He needs a work text. Transferring problems from a textbook to a separate page is next to impossible for him. (This difficulty can be reduced by printing the exercises from the teacher’s guide. However, this program is already expensive, and having to print every single exercise is both time-consuming and more expensive.)
  • While my son liked the Quiz game math practice, I did not.
    • First, the multiple choice made it possible for him to just guess. There was no explanation of incorrect answers.
    • And even more disturbing was the fact that the game insulted the student for missed answers! I have several other children who can sarcastically belittle my son for not knowing things. I do not need his math curriculum telling him things like, “The key to this game is selecting the CORRECT answer.” and “If the goal were negative points, you’d be headed in the right direction. “
  • One additional problem for me is that the software, though supposed to work on Macs, only works on very old Macs. That is not a major concern since we have both a Mac and PC’s  in our home, but it would definitely be a problem in a home with only a Mac computer because the Teacher’s Guide would not work.
The enVisionMath homeschool bundle is available from Pearson Homeschool for $99.99.

 

Disclosure: I received the enVisionMath homeschool bundle from Pearson Learning to review for free as a member of the Schoolhouse Review Crew. I was not compensated for this review. The opinions expressed are my own.

 

May 312012
 

As homeschoolers we have the ability to take time out and go down rabbit trails with our children as they discover things that interest them. I want my children to find something they’re passionate about and hopefully be able to convert that into a career. And even if they aren’t able to use their passion in their career, they can still have hobbies and other interests that are exciting to them. I love to meet people who are passionate about any subject, because I’m always inspired to learn new things myself when I’m around them.

Annie Crawley is one of those people. She is passionate about oceans and marine life, and she wants to share that passion with children. She especially wants children to love the sea because she believes that people will try to save what they love. There are many problems that the ocean is facing in the years ahead. When today’s children are adults maybe they will be able to find solutions. Annie specializes in underwater cinematography and uses that to make spectacular underwater views accessible to everyone in their own homes.

I received a copy of the What Makes a Fish a Fish? DVD and corresponding Educator Guides from Dive Into Your Imagination to review.

What Makes a Fish a Fish? contains 8 different segments.

  1. What Makes a Fish a Fish
  2. Sea Anemones and Their Friends
  3. Hide and Seek on the Reef
  4. Frogfish are Funny Looking Fish
  5. Bath Time for Fishes
  6. Don’t Be Afraid of Sharks
  7. Dinner Time for Fish
  8. Fishes, Fishes, More and More Fishes

My thoughts:

The DVD is a high quality, professional video. The images are amazing!This sample will give you a good idea of types of things that you can see in the videos.

[youtube]http://youtu.be/mRYfidXk-S4[/youtube]

The narration is gentle but not babyish. The facts are interesting, but not overly complex for younger children. Both my 5 year old daughter and 17 month old son enjoy watching the DVD. My 10 year old son likes it as well, but he does think he’s a little too old for it. I was happy that there were not references to millions of years in these secular videos. (At least none that I noticed.) It did say that sharks have been around since before the dinosaurs, but I don’t have an argument with that since swimming creatures were created on the 5th day and land animals on the 6th.

I confess I was not prepared for what I would find in the educator guides. I knew they were designed for classrooms, so I didn’t expect to find much useful for my family. I was pleasantly surprised. For one thing, these are huge files. There are 298 pages in the PK-K guide! They are well organized with lessons designed for each of the 8 sections of the video. These include activities, printable pages, and extension ideas for additional research. Yes, there is some “teacher-speak” that I’m not used to. The formal lesson plans are different, but for the most part they are adaptable to a homeschool setting. Some activities like doing skits and making bulletin boards require more adaptation than others. But the printable pages from the educator guides could easily be used for notebooking or lapbooking assignments.

I would recommend these DVDs to others, especially families with young children. You can purchase the DVD’s on the AnnieCrawley.com site for $19.95 each. She is offering free shipping on any order placed through the end of June. Also, if you add a comment in the notes that you are a homeschool parent, she will give you a download of the pdf for FREE! This is a tremendous value because they will be $69 when they become available on the site. The printed educator guide are $299! That is not something that a homeschooler can likely take advantage of, so if you’d like the guides, I highly recommend ordering soon.

Be sure to visit HomeschoolCrew.com to read more reviews of Dive into Your Imagination.

Disclosure: I received a DVD and corresponding  educators guides for free in order to write this review. I was not compensated for this review. All opinions expressed are my own.

Photobucket

May 202012
 

Learning math facts brings up images of studying boring flash cards. And I don’t just mean boring for the kids! I really do think drilling math facts is important, but it has not been something that I’ve made enough time to work on with my kids. It takes time and my time is spread really thin homeschooling 5 children and working part-time.

What’s the answer, then?

Have someone else guide the drill. Or in this case, something.

There are many options for computer-based math fact drill. I’ve recently been given the opportunity to review one that I was unfamiliar with: CapJaxMathFax.

CapJaxMathFax

CapJaxMathFax is a simple computer program designed to drill students on all 4 mathematical operations. It allows students to master their math facts in a systematic progression. There is immediate feedback for the student and reporting capability for the teacher. It allows children to study math facts independent of the teacher, freeing up the teacher for other tasks.

The program is very simple to use. There are no distracting graphics and sounds. The problems are presented in a large font. Both horizontal and vertical problem orientation is used. The mouse is not used during the drill time, only the number keys (or keypad) and enter key. The student is challenged to not only get the fact correct, but to earn a SUPER rating on every math fact. The default setting for SUPER rating is answering in under 3 seconds. The student can practice or play for rating. Students build their rating over time and their progress is remembered in subsequent sessions. A bar graph is built on the screen allowing the student to visually see their progress.

I had my 10 year old son test serve as my main tester of this program. He has some learning difficulties and is behind in math, so he does need to work on his facts. He specifically needs to work on memorizing his multiplication facts, so that is where we started. I changed the Super Seconds from 3 to 6 for him. That is still tough for him. It just takes time for his brain to process what the problem is, then think of the answer, and then type in the answer. His progress on multiplication has been slow. Thinking that maybe the 6 seconds was an unrealistic target for him, I tested him with addition facts. I discovered that he can do the addition that fast because he knows it well. That definitely gives me hope for the multiplication!

He doesn’t love the program, but he doesn’t hate it either. (I know that doesn’t sound complimentary, but it actually is. He hates most everything that has to do with school. We’re really struggling.) I think that the program does exactly what it claims to do – helps students to master math facts. It is an ideal program for students who are easily distracted by games and sounds.

CapJaxMathFax is available to purchase through their website. A 12 month license is available for $29.95.

 

Disclosure: I received a 6-month license in order to review this program. I was not compensated for this review. All opinions expressed are my own.

May 172012
 

Science experiments.

We really don’t get along.

It all started in the 9th grade when I caught the towel on fire in the lab. I seem to have struggled with science labs ever since. And I’ve taken a lot of lab classes. I don’t know what it is about me, maybe I’m just bad luck in the lab. But failed science labs seem to follow me around.

What’s a homeschool mom to do though? I don’t want to skip science! As my kids have gotten older, I have them do more of the experiments. And I’ve learned how to identify the sources of experimental error over the years.

But sometimes it is nice for my kids to see how the experiment is supposed to work.

And now I have found a great resource for doing just that.

Go Science!

Go Science videos include science demonstrations by Ben Roy. He performs these demonstrations with a live audience of students in elementary and middle school. Not only does he perform the demonstrations, but he also explains why they work. And he always points the child back to how science demonstrates God’s power and creativity.

There are 6 titles in the series.

  1. Motion and the Laws of Gravity
  2. Simple Machines, Sound, Weather
  3. Magnetism, Electricity, Engineering, and Design
  4. Chemistry, States of Matter, Life Sciences
  5. Air, Flight
  6. Water, Space, Solar System

I received 2 DVD’s from Library and Educational Services to review.

Volume 3 includes fun demonstrations such as an electromagnet, making a compass, and a Tesla coil. In Volume 5 there are the Egg in the Bottle experiment, Can Crush, Cartesian Diver and many more. Each of these videos is between 45 minutes and 1 hour long.

We own a lot of science videos, but none are like these. Most of the videos we watch are documentaries. Some do include demonstrations, but these are the first I’ve watched that contain just demonstrations.

Ben Roy is very excited about sharing science with children and it shows in these presentations. My 10 year old son really enjoys these videos and will watch demonstration after demonstration. That’s not really the way the videos were designed to be used though, because the segments are a bit repetitive when watched one after another. My 5-1/2 year old daughter insisted that she was NOT going to like these videos, but I noticed that she didn’t leave the room when they were on. Later she admitted that she actually did like them after all. Even my toddler was entertained.

On the other hand, my 14 year old son and 12 year old daughter were not very fond of the videos. The suggested age range is 6 to 14, so they are at the upper end of the target audience. And my older 2 children are very no-nonsense type of kids. They have never liked programs in which they felt they were being talked to like… well, like children. That’s just how they are. I didn’t mind Ben Roy’s enthusiasm myself. I do think that since these are videos of live demonstrations, some of his volume and excitement would be better suited to being in the audience than it is for the video. It’s kind of like the difference between actors on stage and film. Stage actors speak loudly with exaggerated movements, while film actors act like you’re right there, because the camera is.

This sample is a good representation of the rest of the videos.

I think the demonstrations are excellent and the science is well-explained, but some students may be bothered by Ben Roy’s style.

I received these videos from Library and Educational Services. They are a wholesale distribution company that sells books and media to resellers,  libraries, and schools. Homeschoolers are included in the schools category! I have purchased from them in the past, and their prices and selection are fantastic. The Go Science videos are only $8.97 each, or you can order all 6 for $47.95.

Be sure to visit HomeschoolCrew.com to read more reviews of Go Science.

Disclosure: I received these videos free for the purposes of this review. I was not compensated for this review. All opinions expressed are my own.

May 152012
 

I am extremely particular when it comes to choosing a Bible curriculum. In fact, I’m so particular, that we’ve never actually used any Bible curriculum for very long.

There are several things that are absolute musts for me:

I will not use an over-simplified fill-in-the-blank type Bible program. These might be useful for teaching Bible facts, but I’ve found them to be unnecessary busywork in our home. And the very last subject I want my children to associate with boring busywork is the Bible!

It must be doctrinally sound. Obviously there are differences of opinion among Christians about what sound doctrine is. But that’s one of the benefits of homeschooling. We have the freedom to train our children in the Reformed doctrine that we hold to. Other families are free to train their children in their own doctrinal beliefs.

Finally, I want a Bible curriculum that is serious. By serious, I don’t mean it has to somber and boring, but I do not like Bible studies for children that are silly to the point of irreverence. I also don’t want to have much pop culture in our Bible study. My children aren’t very familiar with it anyway so it doesn’t serve the purpose of helping relate the Bible to things that my teens understand.

You can see why our Bible study method has been pretty straightforward. We read, or more often lately, listen to, a passage from the Bible. I often, though not always, ask a question or two, and point out something I noticed from the passage. We are also memorizing (very slowly) the Westminster Shorter Catechism.

When the opportunity to review the Judah Bible Curriculum came up, I knew it was something I wanted to review, even though I am so particular. One of the reasons I wanted to try it is that it uses the Principle Approach. I enjoy learning about the various homeschooling methods and have written articles about Classical, Charlotte Mason, Unit Study, and other methods. But I didn’t know anything about the Principle Approach and wanted to explore it.

Then I read this description on the Judah Bible Curriculum website:

What is the Judah Bible Curriculum?

A Principle Approach curriculum for Bible class.
Develop a comprehensive knowledge of the Bible.
Build strong, Godly character in your children.
Study the Bible together.
Study the hand of God in the lives of individuals and nations.
For homeschool, Christian school, Sunday school.
Teach your children living Biblical principles to guide their lives.
Apply God’s word personally in every area of life.
The Bible is the textbook.

Wow, that even sounds like it might meet even my criteria for a Bible curriculum!

What does the Judah Bible Curriculum include?

  • K-12 Bible Curriculum Manual
  • Elementary Notebook Ideas Booklet
  • Eight lecture teacher-training seminar

So I started where I always start when I get new curriculum – with the manual. But I have to confess, I was confused. Even being the visual learner that I am, I needed the teacher-training seminar to figure this program out. I completely understand why this curriculum comes with the audio training sessions. They are a vital part of the program, not just a nice bonus.

So after listening to the first training videos, the fog began to lift. The basic premise behind the program is that the Bible is divided into 5 chronological themes for study. These themes are:

  1. Creation
  2. The Plan of Redemption Begins
  3. Kingdom of Israel
  4. Kingdom of God
  5. Early Church

Every year, these same 5 themes are covered. In each of those themes the student will study Bible Keys. Those keys include key individuals, key events, key institutions, and key documents. Older students will perform research on each of these Bible keys while younger students will be more directly taught by the teacher. You can read a much better explanation of the process here on their website.

What I like –

The Bible is the textbook for this curriculum.

There is a strong emphasis on character development.

It encourages independent Bible study habits that will last a lifetime.

 

What I have problems with –

Note: I didn’t title this What I don’t like. Truthfully, these are issues for implementation in my own family and are therefore very subjective.

There is a lot of teacher preparation. But shouldn’t there be a lot of teacher preparation for a Bible curriculum? I don’t want to put this down as a negative, because it really isn’t. But yet it is for me. Just figuring out how this program works was a challenge. I fear that implementing this long term just would not happen.

But the real problem is that something just doesn’t seem right to me about the underlying assumptions of the program. At first I really didn’t get it at all. The emphasis on the Philosophy of Government is very confusing to me. However, as I listened to the teacher training, I did gain some understanding of what they meant by self-government, and I can sort of understand it now. But something doesn’t seem quite right with the choice of themes and how they relate to government. It seems that they focus more on that than on Christ and his redemptive work.

I’m still undecided about this curriculum. I want to like it, because I want the things that it promises to develop in my children. I want those things in myself! I’m going to listen to the training again and see if I gain more understanding. One thing I want to emphasize is that Judah Bible Curriculum is really more of a Bible method than a Bible curriculum. What it looks like in one home will look very different from another.

The Judah Bible Curriculum is available for purchase from their website. It includes the manual, audio training, and note booking ideas. It is available in both a hard copy version ($74.00 including shipping) and a downloadable version ($44.00).

Disclosure: I received a downloadable version to review as a member of the Homeschool Crew. All opinions expressed are my own.

Be sure to visit HomeschoolCrew.com to read more reviews of the Judah Bible Curriculum.

Apr 262012
 

I don’t think I’ve made it a secret that I’m a math geek. I love algebra, especially word problems. And even though I call(ed) myself a classical educator, I’ve differed in my philosophy of math education. I’ve always stressed conceptual understanding over computational skills. (In hindsight maybe I should have stressed computational skills and memorization a bit more. But I’ve got more kids, so hopefully I’ll figure it out eventually.)

My older daughter is finishing up the 6th grade and has almost completed the Singapore Primary Mathematics series. She’s done very well with it and is anxious to begin algebra next year. I’ve been waffling a little over whether she is ready for algebra or if she needs a pre-algebra course. Needless to say, I was very happy to receive Balance Math Teaches Algebra! by The Critical Thinking Company to review.

Balance Math Teaches Algebra! is part of the Balance Math series. I have not seen any of the other books in the series, but I have used several different products from The Critical Thinking Company, and I’ve been impressed with them all. Balance Math Teaches Algebra! is no exception. Like the other products from Critical Thinking,

  • The lessons are short and focus on understanding.
  • The pages are reproducible for your family or classroom.

Balance Math is a fantastic way to introduce basic algebraic concepts. I love the way it demonstrates visually how to manipulate equations. But it also explains how to move from the visual balance concept to the using variables and adding and subtracting from both sides of an equation.

Here is a sample page so you can see what I mean.

I am really impressed with this resource. My daughter enjoys it and thinks it’s almost like a puzzle.

Is it a complete algebra curriculum?
Absolutely not.

But it is a wonderful introduction so that the student can begin algebra with confidence, not fear. I feel this is just the bridge that my daughter needed before beginning an algebra curriculum.

Balance Math Teaches Algebra! is available from The Critical Thinking Company for $14.99.

 

Disclosure: I received a copy of Balance Math Teaches Algebra! in order to complete this review. I was not compensated for this review. All opinions expressed are my own.