Thursday, January 12, 2017

A Review of Schoolhouse Teachers - Online Homeschool Subscription Service

As a part of the Homeschool Review Crew our family was given an opportunity to check out and review a Yearly Membership to Schoolhouse Teachers (which is a division of The Old Schoolhouse Magazine.)  I was excited to see all the new things they've added recently now that we were starting back into the 'spring' semester of our school year.

So what is Schoolhouse Teachers? It is an online homeschool resource site which is subscription based and has a Biblical worldview.  The rather small monthly fee gives you access to over 300 classes for almost every subject and grade level. Not to mention the other resources like planning and record-keeping, special needs, literacy center, and even a monthly menu that gives you a years worth of recipes for breakfast, lunch, dinner, and even snacks and desserts!  There is so much it will probably take you more then a year to truly delve in and get beyond just scratching the surface.

The content available on the site come in a variety of mixed formats like downloadable pdf's and streaming videos. Under the planning tab you can even see a Scope and Sequence that also has a video tutorial to help you figure out exactly what to teach and when. There is SO MUCH on the site that you might be very overwhelmed, but there are ways to easily navigate the site to help with the initial shock of everything that is available at your fingertips. The courses that are covered start with the basics like math, science, language arts, Bible, foreign language and continue to the extras like art, drama, and electives like intro to graphic design, photography, SAT prep, film-making, and homesteading. It is CHOCK full of every interest and area imaginable.

Whether you have a preschooler needing to start learning letters and numbers and shapes or a high schooler who wants to learn architecture or geology, Schoolhouse Teachers has you covered. I love that it has so much that each and every child could have their very own unique education tailored specifically for their needs and interests.

My eldest daughter has been very interested in France ... specifically Paris ... for quite some time. Recently she asked if she could begin to learn French. I have only taken Spanish so I wasn't ready to jump into learning a language to help her with her dream ... but Schoolhouse Teachers came to the rescue. I went on to the site and clicked on Foreign Languages under the subjects tab. Low and behold there was French! 3 full years with downloadable lessons broken into units.  There are pronunciation workouts, written exercises, and even French culture lessons and all I have to do is download it to the computer and then print out the worksheets and let my 8th grader go to town.  Here are some of her thoughts on her French studies:
French it is fun and interactive. I chose to learn French on my own because one day I would like to go to France and be able to experience it fully. I really like the way the language sounds. First you will learn the letters and their sounds. You will click on the speaker icon and it says the sound or word for you and then you repeat it out loud. I use headphones while I'm studying so that I can hear it better while things are going on around the house.
There are notes about the word you are learning that tell you what the French people use it for and compare it to how English speakers use it. Sometimes they even compare Canadian French to France French and then show you the area that word is more prevalent.  Every lesson has a "PE" lesson where they give you other words related to the ones you are learning and they also give you exercise or activities to do with that word so that you learn how to use the word properly and not randomly saying French words.  For each lesson there's a test that you print out ... my mom prints out several lessons at a time ... and you take the test. There's an answer sheet for each test as well. They encourage you to take the test again if you get multiple questions wrong. 
I've also used the Daily Writing prompts. They give you a short paragraph and then ask you some questions for you to start your own story. These writing prompts have helped me in being able to write my own short stories. I've been thinking I may want to be an author when I get older and these daily writing prompts have helped me expand my own writing ability.
My other daughter loves the Everyday Copywork section. Both her and my son have used that to work on their penmanship. Over the Christmas holiday she was working on a bunch of the copywork pages which were the Christmas Carols that had been added to the site. I printed several of them out and she was ecstatic that they were Christmas songs. She broke them up into one paragraph chunks, usually, and then would sing the song once the whole carol had been completed.  My son used some of the same carols. He was able to use the print version instead of the cursive version which helps him to become more neat in his handwriting. The copywork library now has over 175 selections ranging from literature and poems to Bible to American History and more. There are even some in Spanish and in French (which might really intrigue my eldest to use the French she is learning in a practical way.)

The site is very well laid out and makes navigation simple. There are tabs at the top of the opening page. They are separated by subject as well as grade level. There are even quick links which lists all the courses and their materials which can help you make a decision if that course will work for your family. Once you pick a course it has an intro page that tells you a little about the course, its length, age range, format, a teacher bio, and description of the course.

I will say that sometimes I think I was already logged in and then a child goes to get to their course to find out I've been logged out. It is hard to know if you are currently logged in or not which can be confusing since many of the pages look exactly the same whether you are or are not logged in.  This would be one area I think needs to be updated. There is a checkbox you can click to keep you logged in for 2 weeks, but sometimes it doesn't seem to work properly.

We've used many of the subjects and sections on Schoolhouse Teachers. It is a true enhancement to our school life. If one of my kids get a hankering for something we can usually check it out here first. This is what I've done for my son and his recent interest in geology. What I typically do is find the subject in the section and print out his lesson. Some lessons can be downloaded individually or as a whole course and then printed. Others may be able to be read from the computer and then answered in a notebook. It is really easy to work in the the lesson or subject of your child's interest into your own daily schedule and structure. I love that we can change up the school year and add extra interests in that are for each individual child.  I also just recently saw that they have photography lessons ... something I will need since I was blessed by a brand new camera for Christmas!

Right now through the 15th of January you will be able to LOCK-IN a special promotional rate. After the 15th Schoolhouse Teachers will be increasing their rate.

Use the code CHRISTMASYEAR to pay just $9.95/month or $90/year. After January 15th the rate will go up to $19.95/month for the same monthly service. That's a savings of 50%!

High-quality, Self-paced, Online Homeschool Resources {}
***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.  All opinions I have expressed are my own or those of my family.  I am disclosing this in accordance with the FTC Regulations.***

Friday, January 6, 2017

A Christmas Gift -- A Review of The Beginner's Bible

So how are you all? I've been good. Busy, but good. And today is my first day back to doing reviews! I've missed it A LOT and so glad that I was accepted to be apart of this years Homeschool Review Crew.

For my first review I was blessed to be able to receive The Beginner's Bible by Zonderkidz.
The Beginner's Bible {Zonderkidz}
I was so happy that we were chosen because this is exactly what I've been looking for my son.  He is now reading on his own fairly well and he's been wanting a Bible of his own.  So you can see how this would be the PERFECT gift.

I wrapped it up and could not wait until Christmas Day when he would open it as part of his presents this year.  I was ecstatic when he opened it and exclaimed, "My own Bible!" He even situated on our chair and snuggled down and started reading it within seconds.  That was so heart-warming to my soul.  He proceeded to read the Bible almost every chance he could ... when he wasn't playing with other gifts that he received.  The great thing though is that he kept coming back to the Bible. After a few days he proudly told me that he had gotten to page 94. To say that he was excited is a bit of an understatement.

The other night he told us he wanted to start reading back from the beginning to go through the 6 days of Creation -- one each night.
The Beginner's Bible {Zonderkidz}

Then when he completes that he said he wants to skip around and read the Bible stories randomly and see what God has to show him.  I love that this children's Bible will help build his love for the Scripture by allowing him to read the Bible on his own which will in turn build a strong love for the Father God.

I asked him a few questions the other day to get his perspective on his new Bible now that he's had a few weeks to read and explore the many stories it holds inside. So here's his interview (age 7 3/4):

So now that you've had some time to check out your Bible I would like to ask you a few questions.
          What was your first thought when you opened up your gift?
                    My first thought was COOL, I have a BIBLE!! are some of your favorite parts?
          What are some things you noticed about this Bible that are different then other books?
                    The pages are really thick and I like that so it should help me not to rip them. I also think the pictures on the pages are so bright and colorful.  They did a really good job with that.
          What is one of your favorite things about this Bible?
                    My favorite thing is as I was starting to read if I got more pumped about being able to read it all by myself.
          What are your favorite Bible stories that you've read so far?
                    Well, the Creation story for starters. Especially since we just studied about them while we were doing the 12 Days of Christmas Bible study with the family. Day 6 is six geese a laying which stands for the 6 days of Creation.
 The next one is the Christmas story when baby Jesus comes and is born.
The Beginner's Bible {Zonderkidz}

I hope you can see how very excited and overjoyed my son is to finally have his very own Bible. I know that this will definitely be a well used tool and will help him grow closer to God which is one of my prayers every day for all of my children.

I was finally able to fully peruse through the Bible after a few days and wanted to point out some other great features that are present. For starters, the opening page has a place where you can personalize the Bible. I think that is precious and will be something special in the years to come. Another neat feature is the Dictionary that is included at the back of the Bible.  It has a definition for words that early readers may not know yet.

I also think that the stories that were chosen to be shared within the covers of this Bible are timeless, true children's stories. From Creation through the flood, Jacob and Esau, David & Goliath, the boy king Josiah, the birth of Jesus, even through the journeys of Paul you can see the attention to detail while always using easier words for the beginner Bible reader.

You can visit The Beginner's Bible website for more fun and resources to make your child's endeavor into their study of Scripture even more fulfilling. There are sticker sheets, coloring pages, trivia cards, snack ideas, and more! There is even a FREE app!  You will also notice that this new edition has done a remarkable job in updating the pictures throughout the Bible.  The artwork is now so much more realistic with a 3D rendition which helps each story come to life that more easily. I think it was a great way to celebrate their 25th Anniversary edition.
The Beginner's Bible {Zonderkidz}

I know that we will be using this Bible for years to come and it will fit smoothly in during our homeschool day whether for Bible time or when we are reviewing our church Sunday school lesson and memory verse from the past week.  If you are in the market for purchasing a new Bible for a young child in your life I would HIGHLY recommend The Beginner's Bible by Zonderkidz! I think that my son may even be able to pass this on to his own children one day ... that would be such a blessing!

The Beginner's Bible {Zonderkidz}
***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.  All opinions I have expressed are my own or those of my family.  I am disclosing this in accordance with the FTC Regulations.***

Saturday, February 27, 2016

It's Been a LONG Time ...

It seems it's been about 4 years since I've blogged.  A LOT has happened then, but it definitely is time for me to get back to documenting and writing.  I've missed it.  I've missed y'all.

So now my kiddos are 12, 10, and about to be 7! What?! When did that happen? Time flies. But we are still on the homeschooling journey.  We are involved with a local homeschool group that we LOVE and we do all types of events and field trips together.  It truly has been amazing all we've done with them in the last year and a half or so.

  • horseback riding
  • grocery store tour
  • USPS tour
  • science lab classes
  • pool party
  • bird watching
  • STEM fests
  • Medi Vac helicopter tour
  • News Station Tour
  • Book Club
  • Oral Presentations
And that's just a drop in the bucket.  My children have loved all of it.  But we've also, in my hiatus from blogging, moved to a new home (same state, just different location), my husband had a SERIOUS health scare (but THANK GOD it all is better now), and have become even more involved in our church, community, and Homeschool Community.

So I figure it's time to get back to writing.  I plan on doing some 'private' reviews since I no longer am a part of the TOS Crew, but I hope you check out all my reviews then and now.

Have a HAPPY weekend!

Friday, November 16, 2012

Sing A Song - A New TOS Review!! (Last one for 2012)

I love to sing.  It was what I was going to do in college as my minor until a myriad of other things happened, but singing has been a part of me and my life for a very long time.  When I was pregnant with my two girls I was a part of the worship team at church and it seems they've been singing since then.

The Product:
With the Crew we've had the opportunity to use and explore many products.  Most are parts of your main curriculum.  But every once in a while we've gotten some real gems.  The Vocal Coach is just one gem.  They have a collection of products to use to teach singing at home.  Both Chris and Carole Beatty have been teaching people to sing for over 40 years offering vocal seminars and private vocal coaching.  The Crew had the pleasure of reviewing two of their products - Teaching Kids To Sing and Vocal Coach Singer. Since my children are all younger I was able to get Teaching Kids To Sing and it has been very impactful in our home.
Teaching Kids To Sing is a 2 DVD/1 CD set to teach children (ages 5 - 13) about the basics in singing.  What are the basics? Posture, breathing, tone, rhythm, diction, dynamics, vocal health, and warm ups are all included in these DVD lessons.  The DVD's teach children using a cast of other kids of varying ages along with Mr. and Mrs. Beatty who are leading the lessons, singing along, and playing the piano.
The CD has 26 tracks, 13 with vocals and 13 with just the accompaniment music. They include the songs from the DVD as well as many warm-up exercises that the children can practice again and again. You also receive a small piece of paper in the case that has the lyrics of the songs as well as the warm-ups.  This bundle set is valued at $44.99.

Our Experience:
My girls have really enjoyed their 'music lessons' since we've received this product.  The songs are based on Christian ideas and concepts which my children thought was pretty awesome - so did I. Each of the DVD's are about 45 minutes in length and split the teaching lessons between the two DVD's.  The first one includes lessons on posture, breathing and tone as well as warm-ups.  The second DVD teaches rhythm, diction, and dynamics, as well as some information on keeping your vocal chords healthy, and warm ups. There aren't specific lessons on how to use this program in the bundle, but you will find ideas on how to  incorporate the lessons in your week on their homeschool page.
As soon as I told them the DVD's had arrived they wanted to stop EVERYTHING and go watch and listen.  I was able to hold them off until they had finished their 'regular' work for the day.  Once we started the DVD's they didn't want to stop so we pretty much listened to the whole DVD.  The rest of that week we focused a lot on what we had learned, particularly posture and keeping ourselves held up by a string, like they had learned.

My eldest daughter has been working on her posture a lot - she has a tendency to slump and lean.  When she heard Mr. Chris tell us we had to sit up straight so we could be able to breathe properly, it was like a light bulb went off.  She really loves to sing and you can find her singing or humming most of the day. ;)

Audrie also participated in the lessons and she enjoyed all the warm-ups.  I think that's because they sound so funny when you just say 'me ah me ah', etc.  The first few times she had trouble keeping a straight face and from laughing. She has enjoyed these lessons just as much and I've seen some improvement in her singing since watching the lessons.

We have been through both the DVD's and we continue to revisit the lessons throughout our weeks.  I know that I have noticed a lot of changes in their singing habits and it is all because of the lessons the Beatty's have put together in this DVD/CD bundle. They regularly ask for it to be music lesson time so I know that they are enjoying the lessons.  We've even made up some of our own 'warm-ups' to help get our voices warm and ready for the day. ;)

My Thoughts:
If you have a child or children who has an interest in singing this product would definitely be one I would recommend.  If your child is older you may also be interested in finding out more about Vocal Coach Singer.  You can learn more about this product as well as read the rest of the Crew reviews by clicking the banner below.


*** I am a member of The Old Schoolhouse 2011-2012 Crew and receive free products and services in exchange for a thorough and honest review. Though I am compensated with free products, I am not compensated in the form of money for any of my reviews. My reviews will always reflect my honest opinions, findings, beliefs and experiences with the products and services that I receive.***
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