Wednesday, May 9, 2018

Indi Azul ~ WW

Our daughter has been saving to get her own puppy, and decided that last Friday was the day when she found this sweet Blue Heeler mix. Meet Miss Indi Azul. 

Wednesday, May 2, 2018

CodeWizardsHQ ~ A Homeschool Crew Review

Gavin recently had the opportunity to take a fun coding class from CodeWizardsHQ! They have a fantastic curriculum all geared towards homeschool students.

Gav honestly didn't know exactly what coding was when I told him about the class. Being a "gamer," he knew it had something to do with the making of video games but not much past that. He has for sure never taken any kind of class that involved coding. After explaining a little bit about it to him, he was really excited to learn more.

So I want to talk first about what CodeWizardsHQ offers. It is geared for students from the range of 5th-10th grade. One thing that drew me in quickly is that the classes are all on-line. We are so busy as homeschooling parents that sometimes driving to one more event can be a deal breaker. You don't have to worry about that here. These are 12 week courses, which are done weekly with LIVE classes and a real time instructor right from the comfort of your home. The classes are all interactive and hands on. This makes learning so much easier and a lot more fun. Another benefit to CodeWizardsHQ is that the classes are small with only 6 to 8 students per class. This will make much better use of your hour since the instructor won't have to divide his attention to a large group of kids. They also offer 24/7 access to the coding platform, so that way your child can continue to work on their projects and assignments even after the class is over.

Here's a great video explaining coding a little more.

Our Experience ~

We were offered a one time class for this review, basically to let the student's dip their toe in the water of coding. It was an introductory class, which was perfect for Gav since he was new to coding. We were given instructions through email and told where to be for our class. Logging into the dashboard was very simple and easy to understand. You really need to make sure that you are on an actual computer for the classes because you will be switching screens, and that is just not very feasible on a tablet or phone. When it was time for class to start, our instructor introduced himself and then went around the "room" so to speak, and had everyone in the class introduce themselves too. He also asked them what they would like to learn to code. Gav was super excited about the class, but as soon as it started he got nervous, and didn't want to speak very much. The instructor, Samuel Hoffman, was so kind and patient with all of the new and nervous students.

When class started, he explained to them where to go in their dashboard so they could start their first lesson/project. He talked to them about working in the "editor" and how they could start designing right from there. I knew this would be right up Gav's alley when I saw that it was going to be a super hero/heroine comic strip.

Like I said, this lesson was very basic for the beginner, but it ended up letting them create something fun! They were shown how to create the individual boxes for the comic strip, and then how to change the character, text, and background by just changing a few of the words in the code. They got to practice this by themselves after the initial lesson was done, but Mr. Hoffman was right there to answer any questions.

Here's what Gav's coding looked like during the lesson.

And this is what he finished with.

Gav worked very slow because he gets so nervous under pressure, so we weren't able to do show and tell. Other than working slow, he really enjoyed this class and what he was creating.

CodeWizardsHQ is not just for homeschool students, but they do have a special offer just for homeschoolers. The more students that they can have in a class the cheaper it is per student. They also offer a more flexible schedule for homeschoolers so that they can choose their own class time.

I would definitely recommend this as a great resource if your child is seriously into coding. This is a FULL course to get your student fully prepared for college, and to have a successful career. As much as Gav liked the class, I'm not sure if this would be something long term for him. In my opinion, it is very pricey even with the homeschool special offers. For us to spend that kind of money, he would have to be looking at coding and programming as a career possibility, and not just for fun.

Again, the class was fantastic. The instructor did a great job of explaining things, and helping each child out individually if needed. I can only imagine what could be accomplished in a month with this course! I would highly recommend CodeWizardsHQ for anyone but especially for children that want to take coding to the next level.

Be sure to follow along on social media!

(This is a group for parents whose kids are interested in coding)

If you would like to read other reviews, just click the banner below!

Live Class Computer Programming for your Students {CodeWizardsHQ Reviews}

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Tuesday, May 1, 2018

Heroes of History- Orville Wright from YWAM Publishing ~ A Homeschool Crew Review

I always love a good biography and these books never disappoint! This time around we have been reading from the Heroes in History series and chose Heroes of History- Orville Wright from YWAM Publishing. 

I am always so impressed with the books that I have read from the Heroes in History series. This series is all about influential people and they bring them and their stories to life for the readers. The book is in a story form and gives you all of the history and information about the person you're reading about, but really makes you feel like you're right there with them in the past.

What did we receive?

YWAM is always so generous and sends us the physical book that is around 200 pages with such a fun and inviting cover. They also send their very useful and well put together downloadable study guide that turns these books into a full unit study.

The digital study guide is so beneficial not only to homeschooling families, but can even be used in small groups or a classroom setting. The study guide has everything you need to expand the book into a full on unit study. It is very easy to follow and you can use as much or as little as you want. It has questions, ideas for activities, fact sheets, mapping exercises, and even a timeline.

How do we use this in our school?

So, we normally like to read our biographies first thing in the morning, to get our day started. These books are perfect for reading about a chapter a day if you're using them as a read aloud like we do. We take turns reading, and then I will normally go the study guide and go over the review questions with the kids. This time around we only used the study guide for that purpose, but we also worked on the fact sheet.

The reason we chose to read about Orville Wright is because the kids got very interested in him and his story from another review we had done in the past. I knew this book would depict his life in an accurate account, but would also be fun and interesting to read.

As children we have all heard of "The Wright Brothers" and knew that they were the inventors of the airplane. I'm sure we knew that they went through many trials and tribulations too but until reading this book, I have never had a good picture of just who Orville Wright was. The kids really enjoyed learning about Mr. Wright's family, his childhood years, and how close he was to his brother Wilbur. They also loved that he was an inventor of sorts from the very beginning. Orville and Wilbur had a love for flying from a very early age and they were determined to fly. We loved learning the ins and outs of how they built The Flyer, and what they had to go through to achieve success.

What did we think?

We always love these books. They are a great addition to any library no matter how you decide to use it. I love how informative they are, and honestly just fun to read. If  you are looking to add good biographies to your homeschool, I would definitely recommend the Heroes of History series from YWAM Publishing! They also have another great series to check out called Christian Heroes: Then & Now that follow the lives of some very important missionaries! You won't be disappointed in either!

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If you would like to read some other great reviews, just click the banner below!

Christian Heroes, Heroes of History & Study Guides {YWAM Publishing  Reviews}

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Tuesday, April 24, 2018

Family Math Package from A+ Interactive Math (by A+ TutorSoft Inc.) ~ A Homeschool Crew Review

If you follow my reviews then you know that I love reviewing math curriculum. I like to see the differences in curriculum, and try different ones because you never know which one will be a hit and stick with your child. For the last few weeks we have been reviewing the Family Math Package from A+ Interactive Math (by A+ TutorSoft Inc.).

The Family Math Package is a full comprehensive on-line math curriculum. Some of the things that this curriculum offers are:

  • Video Lessons ~ These are great for the visual learner who need someone to actually work the problems out. 
  • Interactive Review ~ Review is always important especially when it comes to math.
  • Worksheets + Solutions ~ I have seen some curricula not offer worksheets. I think these are needed especially if you are trying to really help your student understand the work and retain the information on the lesson.
  • Reports ~ This is great so that you can see everything your child is doing, and their grades easily. This is especially nice if your child is a little more independent and you need to see their grades quickly. 
One of the things that I really like about this program is that with the Family Math Package, you get all of the grade levels that they offer which are grades 1-6, Pre-Algebra, and Algebra 1. This is a one stop curriculum for all of your students and they can all be on different grade levels. Also a benefit to this is that if your student finishes, you can just move them right to the next grade. I love that it's flexible because if you have a year subscription, and your child finishes in 9 months, then the rest of that time is not wasted. 

When you receive your Family Math Package, the set up is pretty simple. They do offer a parent log in and also a student log in which makes it very simple to see the reports for your children. Just be careful and make sure to log out of the parent account and into the student account before starting the lessons. Don't ask me how I know this lol. 

How did we use this in our school?

I let Gav start out in the beginning of grade 6 because I wanted him to use it as a bit of a review. I also wanted to see what was offered in that grade level to compare it to what he's been working on. When they first launch the grade they are going to be using they will come to a screen such as this.

As you can see on the side are the lists of lessons which are then broken down into sub categories. So for example the first topic is going to be Fractions, Decimals, and Percentages. That is then broken down into sub-topics which are:

  • Converting Fractions, Decimals and Percentages 
  • Operations with Fractions and Decimal Numbers 
  • Operations with Mixed Numbers 
  • and Percents, Fractions, and Decimals in Everyday Life. 
Each sub-topic is then broken down even further for the actual lessons that fall within that subject. 

First off, I would have Gavin watch the video that went along with the lesson he was working on. They aren't very long videos, and that is something Gav and I both liked. Don't let the fact that they are short fool you though. They are well done and the topic is explained in depth and in a way that is easily understood. There are examples shown, and the teacher explains each step in detail. 

When he was done watching the video, he would move on to the Interactive Q&A. This is where he would work on a few problems that went along with the lesson of the day.

With the Family Math Package, you are also given online AND printable worksheets so that each lesson can be expanded on. Sometimes we need to have the extra practice, and we may do a couple of worksheets on that topic. Other times, we will just move on to the next topic depending on how much review is needed. They make it very easy to get to your worksheets, and it's labeled so that you know exactly which one coincides with that lesson. Down below is a screenshot of the online worksheets. The printables are just as easy to find, and easy to print.

After you have gone over each section there are online tests for you to give your student. I love how everything is right there and easy to find at the top of the dashboard. Also, at any time you can go and check your students progress to see what they've done and what their grades are.

Honestly this is a great program and Gav has really enjoyed using it. The only thing I have to say that we would change if we could is how you have to mark the lesson as complete when you are finished with it. It's a little complicated because if you don't go back and manually click that you have completed the lesson, then it doesn't record it. I also wish that after you completed a lesson, there was something to the side of it saying that it was complete. If you come back the next day, and can't remember exactly which one you did the day before, you have to actually go into the lesson to see if it's complete. It would be nice if at a glance, you could go straight to that day's lesson. I don't know how many times we clicked on the wrong lesson, and if you haven't completed it, it stays in a queue until you do. I would say that part of the program is not very user friendly. Also, while working on the Interactive Q&A, you have to make sure you click the frog's stomach to "submit" your answer before going to next. You are able to go back and do that if you forget that step, but it just seems like an extra step to me rather than being one and done.

With all of that said, it's still a great program and everything you need is very easy to find. I would still definitely recommend it to anyone looking for a thorough math curriculum. If you are wanting an online program with everything at your fingertips, then I suggest taking a look at the Family Math Package from A+ Interactive Math (by A+ TutorSoft Inc.).

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Family & Adaptive Math Online {A+ Interactive Math Reviews}

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Saturday, April 21, 2018

Happy 13th Birthday Gavin Creed!!

Today my caboose turns 13. It seems like just yesterday my sweet little bouncing boy was born at 4:44 pm weighing in at 8lbs and 4 ounces. He is the sweetest 13 year old that you could ever imagine, and he is a blessing to us daily. As sad as I am that he's growing up too fast, I am also excited to see the young man he is becoming. Let's just make sure that the next 5 years or so don't happen in the blink of an eye. I'm not ready for all of my babies to grow up.