Thursday, July 30, 2015

Virtual Refrigerator - Made By Me

This post may contain affiliate links - using affiliate links from Homeschool Coffee Break helps fuel this blog and our homeschool - thank you! 
Virtual Refrigerator - Art Link-up
Welcome to another edition of the Virtual Refrigerator! This weekly blog hop is co-hosted by A Glimpse of Our LifeHomeschool Coffee Break, and Every Bed of Roses. We all cordially invite you to add your link sharing the art that's on your Virtual Refrigerator and then hop over to the other blogs and admire what's on their Fridges! 
  Every Bed of Roses

August's Art Challenge: Modern Art
Just a little a preview of what's ahead for the next couple of months on the Virtual Refrigerator... your hosts will be sharing artist studies and projects. During the month of August, I will feature some modern artists and our projects inspired by their work. Kennady and I have been poring over ideas for art projects - look for our Modern Art feature starting next week. We'll be featuring artists like Piet Mondrian and Gustav Klimt, and a few others!

For today... I've been participating in the July Blogging Challenge, and today our prompt is Made By Me, so I suppose I should show something artistic that I have done. I wouldn't say that I'm not creative, but my creative talents are not really in the area of the visual arts.  In fact, when I was in school, art class wasn't nearly always my favorite because I rarely felt like my attempts turned out right. When it comes to drawing, painting, and pottery, my skills are extremely limited. I can sew and knit and do some creative things that way; and although I rarely take the time any more, I can do some crafty things. And honestly, I like to think that some of my baking has a bit of artistic appeal. So I dug through some archives of photos and found a few things Made By Me to share on the Fridge today.

Made By Me on the Virtual Refrigerator, an art link-up hosted by Homeschool Coffee Break @ kympossibleblog.blogspot.com #art #bloggingthroughJuly #summerchallenge
I made this decorative birdhouse many years ago.
Kennady has used it as a subject for drawing too!

Made By Me on the Virtual Refrigerator, an art link-up hosted by Homeschool Coffee Break @ kympossibleblog.blogspot.com #art #bloggingthroughJuly #summerchallenge
I did this cross-stitched (on plastic canvas) nativity set when my
oldest kid was just a baby.
Made By Me on the Virtual Refrigerator, an art link-up hosted by Homeschool Coffee Break @ kympossibleblog.blogspot.com #art #bloggingthroughJuly #summerchallenge
This is a framed cross-stitch sampler I made for my Mom.


Made By Me on the Virtual Refrigerator, an art link-up hosted by Homeschool Coffee Break @ kympossibleblog.blogspot.com #art #bloggingthroughJuly #summerchallenge
I don't sew much any more, but I did make this
Colonial era costume for Kennady a few years
ago. I made a Southern Belle costume for her too.

Made By Me on the Virtual Refrigerator, an art link-up hosted by Homeschool Coffee Break @ kympossibleblog.blogspot.com #art #bloggingthroughJuly #summerchallenge
This patchwork wall-hanging was put together while I was on a
mission trip in Honduras. The kids in the VBS drew the squares,
and another lady and I sewed them all together. (The lady in the center)
It was a simple project but meant a lot. 
Made By Me on the Virtual Refrigerator, an art link-up hosted by Homeschool Coffee Break @ kympossibleblog.blogspot.com #art #bloggingthroughJuly #summerchallenge
A few years ago I made this "Birthday Book" using stamps and
scrapbooking supplies. There's a page for each month of the year,
a line for each day to keep track of birthdays and anniversaries etc,
and the bottom is a pocket to keep cards in. The idea is to help
keep track of special occasions and never miss sending a card.
I am still almost always late sending birthday cards though! 
Visit This Day Has Great Potential and A Glimpse of Our Life to see what other bloggers have made!

What's on your Virtual Fridge this week? Leave a comment, share a link, and let us know!


You can grab the button above and add it to your post. Add your link here to share your child's art or your arts and crafts how-to posts. Please visit the other blogs and admire what's on their Virtual Refrigerators!






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 ©2006-2015 Homeschool Coffee Break. All rights reserved. All text, photographs, artwork, and other content may not be reproduced or transmitted in any form without the written consent of the author. http://kympossibleblog.blogspot.com/


Wednesday, July 29, 2015

An Extraordinary Adventure With Lee In Virginia

An Extraordinary Adventure With Lee In Virginia - our review of "With Lee In Virginia" from Heirloom Audio Productions - Homeschool Coffee Break @ kympossibleblog.blogspot.com

We had such a great experience with an "active listening audio adventure" from Heirloom Audio Productions earlier this year that we jumped at the chance to review another exciting adventure from the same company. This time, our extraordinary adventure was With Lee In Virginia.

An Extraordinary Adventure With Lee In Virginia - our review of "With Lee In Virginia" from Heirloom Audio Productions - Homeschool Coffee Break @ kympossibleblog.blogspot.com

Heirloom Audio Productions brings history to life with audio dramas that are keep the listener engaged though fast-moving and exciting plots, excellent acting, and realistic sound effects. They've chosen the novels written during the late 1800s by master story-teller G.A. Henty as the basis for the audio dramas. With Lee In Virginia is adapted from G.A. Henty's novel of the same name, in which fifteen-year-old Vincent Wingfield joins the Army of Northern Virginia and fights alongside some of the most famous Confederate generals during the Civil War.
An Extraordinary Adventure With Lee In Virginia - our review of "With Lee In Virginia" from Heirloom Audio Productions - Homeschool Coffee Break @ kympossibleblog.blogspot.com

We received the 2-CD set of the audio book, a 52-page downloadable Study Guide and Discussion Starter, printable copies of the cast poster and a Robert E. Lee quote suitable for framing, and the With Lee In Virginia official soundtrack (MP3). Heirloom Audio Productions also provided us with a downloadable eBook of the original G.A. Henty story "With Lee In Virginia"; and we could download the MP3 of the audio drama as well. There is also a "Live The Adventure" e-newsletter with articles, activity ideas related to the audio dramas, and news from Heirloom Audio.

The CDs come in a beautiful full color case, with the center panel showing this quote from a letter by General Robert E. Lee to his son:
Do your duty in all things. You cannot do more, you should never wish to do less.
An Extraordinary Adventure With Lee In Virginia - our review of "With Lee In Virginia" from Heirloom Audio Productions - Homeschool Coffee Break @ kympossibleblog.blogspot.com

This is one of the two main ideas throughout the story - the desire of the characters (fictional and historical) to fulfill their duties honorably, being faithful in meeting their obligations to serve and defend their country or state, to offer protection and provision for those under their care, and being trustworthy in their service to those in authority.  This theme comes into play when Vincent objects to a slave being abused by a neighbor, and throughout his service in the cavalry of the Army of Northern Virginia. Robert E. Lee wrestles with the decision of whether his first duty is to the country that he loves and has served with distinction, or to the neighbors in his home state of Virginia. General Thomas "Stonewall" Jackson talks about and demonstrates the ideal of fulfilling his duty, and earns the highest respect from those who serve under him. And Vincent's slave and friend, Dan, takes the duty to serve Vincent very seriously, and chooses to serve even when he didn't have to.

The other powerful theme is loving both neighbors and enemies. Again, Vincent demonstrates his desire to live out what he reads in the Bible by trying to deal justly and kindly with everyone, by offering forgiveness and kindness to the enemies he encounters, and by taking action when he is convicted by what he reads in his father's Bible condemning slavery.

In addition, the storytelling of G.A.Henty, and the masterful adaptation by the folks at Heirloom Audio combine to give a view of the Generals of the Confederate Army in a much more balanced way than they are often portrayed. Lee and Jackson were both devout Christians whose first loyalty was to God. Both men were known for their unwavering trust in God, and were highly respected by the men that served under them and by their opponents. Even when faced with defeat, General Lee had earned such respect as an honorable man that General Ulysses S. Grant of the Northern Army set aside tradition and military protocol and allowed Lee to keep his sword and horse when the south surrendered at Appamattox. General Jackson, although he was indeed a slave-owner, was also very sympathetic to the plight of enslaved blacks, and at his own risk had taught his slaves to read and had started Sunday Schools so the children of slaves could be taught the Bible. 
An Extraordinary Adventure With Lee In Virginia - our review of "With Lee In Virginia" from Heirloom Audio Productions - Homeschool Coffee Break @ kympossibleblog.blogspot.com

Kennady listened to With Lee in Virginia on her iPod (I don't even know how many times!) and I listened to it on CD while driving. The acting, the sound effects, and the soundtrack really give the impression that a full production movie is playing although I couldn't see the screen! The sound effects are very realistic and the production is excellent.

And of course, the story itself is captivating, and brings many events surrounding the War
Between the States to life! I must say that this also makes it heart-wrenching, especially as I live very near to Gettysburg, Harpers Ferry, and Antietam, and listening to the portrayals of some of the battles of the war moved me to tears more than once. I think it was sensitively yet realistically done, but I would caution parents of very young or sensitive children that the sounds of battle, of wounded and dying men, and harsh treatment of slaves may be too much.  On one occasion, I played the second CD while driving with my two sons (ages 20 and 16) in the car with me, and although they hadn't chosen to hear the story, they both listened with rapt attention.

And a few words about the Study Guide... first, it is beautiful!! I didn't print it because it's in full color, well, sepia I guess would be more accurate, so it would have taken a lot of ink and my little home printer wouldn't have done it justice. It provides brief biographies of G.A. Henty, Robert E. Lee, and Thomas Jackson; a map of the states at the time of the war showing the route that Vincent travels through the course of the story; and has comprehension questions for each chapter of the story. There are two types of questions - Listening Well questions that ask what you heard and remembered from the chapter; and Thinking Well questions that ask you to to think more deeply about what happened in the story or perhaps research a bit further or draw conclusions. There are also Definitions for each chapter that help students learn words which may be unfamiliar.  The Guide also offers two Bible studies, and some background information on what the Bible has to say about slavery; as well as some historical information on Sectionalism. Historic photos and illustrations appear on most of the pages, so this Guide is perfect for doing a Civil War Unit Study.
An Extraordinary Adventure With Lee In Virginia - our review of "With Lee In Virginia" from Heirloom Audio Productions - Homeschool Coffee Break @ kympossibleblog.blogspot.com
Yes, Kennady needed to print the cast poster!

What we liked best:
  • outstanding production, with a cast that makes every character believable
  • an exciting and compelling story
  • high quality, informative Study Guide
  • the strong faith and high moral character of Robert E. Lee - and of the fictional character Vincent - are highlighted in an inspiring way.
What I need to mention:
  • this is a story of the Civil War, and the battles and hospitals and prisons were often anything but civil. The intensity of battle scenes and other events in which violence or pain is portrayed may be too realistic for young or particularly sensitive children.
  • remember that this is not simply a narration of the G.A. Henty book of the same name, but is a dramatic adaptation.
Our bottom line: Heirloom Audio Productions has scored another winner in With Lee In Virginia! Once again, we were transported to another time and were inspired and challenged by the courage and faith of historic figures; and were greatly entertained by incredible storytelling. I don't know what Extraordinary Adventure Heirloom Audio might be working on next, but we hope there are many more adventures to come! Be sure to also check out our full review of In Freedom's Cause for the Schoolhouse Review Crew: An Extraordinary Adventure in Scottish History.

An Extraordinary Adventure With Lee In Virginia - our review of "With Lee In Virginia" from Heirloom Audio Productions - Homeschool Coffee Break @ kympossibleblog.blogspot.com

Would your family like to be part of this extraordinary adventure? Here's what you need to know:

Pricing: See the Heirloom Audio website for purchasing options and full pricing information.

You can follow With Lee in Virginia on Facebook;  and follow Heirloom Audio Productions on Facebook, on Twitter, and on Google+.

Visit the Schoolhouse Review Crew blog for more information and to read other reviews. 
With Lee in Virginia Audio Drama Review

Crew Disclaimer

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 ©2006-2015 Homeschool Coffee Break. All rights reserved. All text, photographs, artwork, and other content may not be reproduced or transmitted in any form without the written consent of the author. http://kympossibleblog.blogspot.com/

I have done my best to provide accurate pricing and links at the time this post originally appeared. Please be aware that these may change.

A Favorite Childhood Book

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Today on the July Blogging Challenge, we're invited to share a favorite childhood book. I simply revisited a book I posted about a couple years ago - a book that I loved when I was a young girl, and that Kennady enjoyed also. So if you think you might have seen this post before, you may have seen it back in June of 2013, meaning you have a pretty amazing memory.

A Favorite Childhood Book on Homeschool Coffee Break @ kympossibleblog.blogspot.com

The Cuckoo Clock by Mrs Molesworth - I found this book when I was a young girl, maybe 9 or 10 years old. It was in a bookshelf at my Grandma's house, and I'm not sure where she got it.  It's possible that my Aunt Linda (who loves second-hand bookstores and old books) picked it up at a sale. I remember reading it through every time I visited Grandma until I eventually took it home with me.  Of course I didn't read it any more once I was a 'mature' teenager! Several years ago I found it among my things stored at Mom's and brought it home with me, wondering if maybe Kennady would like it.  We spent a number of enjoyable evenings together with this delightful vintage book, taking turns reading aloud to each other.

The story is about a little girl who must go live with two elderly spinster aunts. She is lonely and bored (apparently the complaint of boredom from children is not new!), but the cuckoo in the clock becomes her friend and teacher, and takes her to visit inside some of the intriguing objects in the aunts' house. The cuckoo also guides her in courteous behavior and diligent attention to her studies.

The illustrations are charming too.
A Favorite Childhood Book on Homeschool Coffee Break @ kympossibleblog.blogspot.com


A Favorite Childhood Book on Homeschool Coffee Break @ kympossibleblog.blogspot.com

Mrs Molesworth's books are rather difficult to find in libraries or bookstores, but they are out there. I did find an edition of The Cuckoo Clock available on Amazon, and a number of her books are available for free at Project GutenbergThe Cuckoo Clock is apparently one of her lesser-known works, yet it is the only one of her books that I have read, or had even heard of prior to writing this!


Visit This Day Has Great Potential and A Glimpse of Our Life to read about other favorite books from childhood.

July Blogging Challenge



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 ©2006-2015 Homeschool Coffee Break. All rights reserved. All text, photographs, artwork, and other content may not be reproduced or transmitted in any form without the written consent of the author. http://kympossibleblog.blogspot.com/

Homeschooling High School - Customized Education and Electives

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Customized Education and Electives (part of the Homeschooling High School Blog Hop) on Homeschool Coffee Break @ kympossibleblog.blogspot.com

When I was homeschooling my little ones, it was natural to notice that they were especially interested in birds, or trains, or LEGO (always LEGO!), and veer off my original lesson plan to spend more time with something that sparked their interest, or to use the interest as part of the lesson plan. My boys built pyramids, castles, forts, and other historic buildings out of LEGO. If birds were more interesting than insects the year we studied zoology, we spent the majority of our time studying birds. We watched Multiplication Rock because music helped us learn times tables better than worksheets did. And we did lots of hands-on learning activities - some planned right out of the books, and some completely impromptu and from a child's imagination.

Okay, that's all well and good for the early grades, but now they are in high school! How can we go off on rabbit trails, or spend that much time on the fun things when we have to make it all 'count' for high school credit? Is it even possible to continue to follow a student's passions in the high school years?

I think it is, and even with kids who don't consider algebra, grammar, or chemical equations to be their passions! (Although... if one of my kids did have a passion for one of those academics, that would sure make it easier!)

For our family, we've had to go to more structured studies and lesson plans during the high school years, but we've also learned where our interests lie, and can plan accordingly. And we try to keep things flexible enough to allow room for some rabbit trails when we come across one we just can't resist.

Electives usually include coursework in Fine Arts, Technology, and Foreign Languages. Sometimes credits in these areas are required for graduation. Our requirements include one credit each in Fine Arts and in Technology. Each of my four students has a different set of interests, so we take a slightly different approach with each of them:

  • Kennady loves music, and also enjoys art, so she will be able to focus on those areas. She will be continuing guitar lessons, and for now I am taking over her piano instruction. Her participation in the Children's Chorus is a full credit in a well-rounded music education and performance course; and it also opens the possibility of an internship in the future if she is interested. For this coming year, we are not planning a stand-alone art course, but we probably will do that at least once during her high school years. This year, she will continue to do art projects inspired by her other studies. She'll be loading up on Fine Arts credits, but we'll have to keep an eye out for an appropriate Technology course to suit her interests.
  • Landon is not as enthusiastic about Fine Arts at all, so getting that required credit is more of a challenge for him. He's not had much interest in learning to play an instrument other than drums, so when the opportunity came along for him to use the DrumsWithWillie course, he jumped at it and that is his Fine Arts credit. He is a very concrete thinker, so it made sense for him to do the Practical Drafting course, which will be used to fulfill the Technology requirement.
  • Spencer (Class of 2013) wasn't at all interested in music, but he did like to draw, so his high school coursework included full credit courses in Art, and Technology credit for Practical Drafting and Practical Graphic Design.
  • Harrison (Class of 2010) wasn't interested in music or in art, and we were just figuring out what would work for Technology since he was our first high schooler. He wound up doing a half credit course in Art and a half credit course in Speech for his Fine Arts credit. Speech was a good choice for him because he wanted to be a radio personality, and we justified using that course as Fine Arts, because most of the speaking "projects" he did were creative or dramatic in some way. For Technology, he did Practical Graphic Design, and Photography. Photography is coursework that can have an arts or a technology aspect. Although not required for graduation, Harrison did study some Spanish during high school as well.
Customized Education and Electives (part of the Homeschooling High School Blog Hop) on Homeschool Coffee Break @ kympossibleblog.blogspot.com

Customized Education and Electives (part of the Homeschooling High School Blog Hop) on Homeschool Coffee Break @ kympossibleblog.blogspot.com    Customized Education and Electives (part of the Homeschooling High School Blog Hop) on Homeschool Coffee Break @ kympossibleblog.blogspot.com

Are there ways to tailor the academics to a student's interests? Certainly! For example, students who enjoy Science will probably want more challenging material than those that aren't as interested; and may do more Science courses than the minimum number of credits, especially if they are headed into a career where it will be needed. Our students are required to have at least two Science credits and one of the must be Biology. Spencer and Landon both did Classical Astronomy as a second Science credit and enjoyed that much more than the required Biology. Landon will be doing another Science course that is an elective credit this year.  

Customized Education and Electives (part of the Homeschooling High School Blog Hop) on Homeschool Coffee Break @ kympossibleblog.blogspot.com   Customized Education and Electives (part of the Homeschooling High School Blog Hop) on Homeschool Coffee Break @ kympossibleblog.blogspot.com

Literature study is a required component in the English credits our students need to graduate. My boys do not like to read, so it probably would have been counter-productive to insist that they do a full credit course in Classical Literature or something like that. Instead, they each did (and Landon is doing) their literature study as part of their History coursework. We use the high school level curriculum Exploring World History and Exploring America from Notgrass. Used exactly as laid out, each of those courses includes a full credit in history, a full credit in English, and a full credit in Bible. For the boys, we had them read only about half the novels and assigned only that portion of the essays that fit with their English Composition courses; and instead of a full credit in English, they received a half credit for Literature. Kennady, on the other hand, loves to read, so she will be doing much different coursework for English than her brothers. She will be doing a full credit course in literature this year, and because it's something she enjoys, I allowed her to choose the theme of the course - it will be Brit Lit, with a special focus on Jane Austen's novels. We are using different curriculum for all of her English because she wants to read and be able to work on her creative writing skills. When she does the Notgrass history courses, it's likely that she will read all the novels and get those full credits too!

Credits can be awarded for other interests and activities that students enjoy as well. Landon's involvement in Civil Air Patrol is a big time commitment with squadron meetings, studying and testing, flying, community service, and physical training. He earns elective credit for CAP each year, which is an added reward for the time and effort put into learning about aerospace and military history and technology, as well as developing the leadership and self-discipline skills that will serve him well no matter what career he pursues.

Customized Education and Electives (part of the Homeschooling High School Blog Hop) on Homeschool Coffee Break @ kympossibleblog.blogspot.com

There are many different aspects to preparing for life after high school, and I don't think any educational system is better suited to addressing all of those needs than homeschooling. We can tailor the academics and the earned credits to the students' abilities, interests, and plans for college and career. Homeschooled students can get a head start on their college studies by taking advantage of dual enrollment in community colleges or taking CLEP exams. They can start getting involved in their chosen career field by apprenticing or learning on the job in many cases, and those who are sure of what they want to study or the career they want to pursue can zero in on the high school courses that will best focus and prepare them for what they want to do. And the flexible schedules most homeschool families are able to provide allow high school age students to get part-time jobs that get them closer to their goals and help them earn their own way. While he was in high school, Harrison was able to work two days a week at the greenhouse, and now Landon is doing the same. They are available for that job because their schoolwork doesn't necessarily need to be done during traditional school days. Bonus - it reinforces a good work ethic and gives them valuable real world experiences.

  • I will offer a word of caution about part-time jobs for high schoolers though. Be careful to weigh the pros and cons of them taking a job during school hours. It seems like a no-brainer that it's an overall advantage, but their schoolwork is important too. Students with a heavy course load, or who struggle with getting assignments done on time for any reason might have difficulty keeping up with studies and with a job. Landon agreed in principle that he would have to do some schoolwork on evenings and weekends while he was working two weekdays, but it was a lot harder than he realized to actually sit down with a textbook on a Monday evening (especially when there was a football game on TV!) or get up and finish an essay on Saturday morning when he'd rather sleep till noon. For the coming school year, we are going to be quite explicit about the expectations that schoolwork is more important than the spending money from a part-time job; and that if schoolwork suffers, he has to quit the job.

I personally require my kids to do a full credit Consumer Math course during high school. This is preparation for the real world - that they not only know Pythagorean theorem, but that they know how to balance a checkbook, how loans and credit cards work, how to understand their pay stubs, and how to plan a household budget. Because my kids are at home and can get their schoolwork done more efficiently than most of their public school counterparts, they also get to take responsibility for their own laundry and many household chores. They don't always see that as a privilege, but when they move out on their own, they will already know how to do a lot of the things that go into home management. I've seen for myself that a lot of twenty-somethings really don't know much about how to do those basics, because their high school years were spent in a school building, doing homework, and shuttling back and forth to school and activities - they either didn't have enough time at home to be able to learn those skills themselves, or their parents did it for them so they "could focus on their studies".

As you can see, there are almost as many different approaches to electives as there are homeschoolers, and a lot to be said about it! Check out some of my other posts here on the Homeschool Coffee Break that talk about preparing my students for life after high school through electives and a tailor-made education.


Customized Education and Electives (part of the Homeschooling High School Blog Hop) on Homeschool Coffee Break @ kympossibleblog.blogspot.com

Read More on Electives in the High School Years




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Tuesday, July 28, 2015

UnLock Pre-Algebra (A Schoolhouse Crew Review)

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UnLock Pre-Algebra (Schoolhouse Crew Review) on Homeschool Coffee Break @kympossibleblog.blogspot.com #math

When math doesn't come easily for a kid, we are on the prowl for a math program that will really give them the keys to understanding it. With a name like UnLock Math, I believed that maybe their online course UnLock Pre-Algebra would be able to do it for us, so I was excited to be able to review it for the Schoolhouse Review Crew. At first, Kennady wasn't quite so excited (because she doesn't like math!), but she changed her tune as went along... But I'm getting ahead of myself...
Unlock Math Review

UnLock Math makes Pre-Algebra and Algebra more fun and less stressful for students - and for parents. It breaks math concepts down into "bite-sized" pieces, taught in videos and using interactive testing. It's automatically graded too, which can be a huge help to homeschool parents! UnLock Pre-Algebra is the full course for seventh or eighth graders that we were able to work on for this review. The teaching is done in entertaining videos by Alesia Blackwood, an experienced high school math teacher, and each lesson includes interactive and adaptive practice, review, and testing. Reference notes are also provided in each lesson. A pacing guide, complete solutions, grading by the program, and records and reports make it simple for parents too.

How did we use it?  Kennady has just finished eighth grade, but math is her biggest challenge, so she is still working through Pre-Algebra material. I have been content to let her learn at her own pace as long as she actually understands it, but now that we're hitting high school grades, making sure she masters the concepts is especially important. So the idea of short and entertaining teaching videos, and adaptive practice was very appealing to her and to me.

We got Kennady set up with her student account, and immediately loved that the dashboard is bold and easy to navigate - and keeps track of where she left off! I printed the Pacing Guide to give us an idea of how quickly she should be aiming to move through the lessons. With several trips away from home during the past month, her availability to work on UnLock Pre-Algebra was interrupted, but the dashboard made it easy to tell where she left off, and she could also back up and refresh her memory if needed. 
Unlock Math Review
Each unit follows the same pattern, and the dashboard offers a flow chart which is helpful for visual learners. It starts with a Warm-Up to do some review of basics and get the math juices flowing! Then the video lesson taught by Alesia Blackwood - she is enthusiastic about math and her often creative presentation of the concepts make them memorable. Any time you can have a teacher that has a genuine interest for their subject, that makes it much more enjoyable for the students, in my opinion. The following Practice Problems are all done on the website, and are graded automatically, as are the Stay Sharp and Challenge Yourself sections that follow. 


Unlock Math Review

One thing I noticed - and liked - about the problems that the student needs to solve, is that they are not simple multiple choice A-B-C-D.  Some are multiple choice, but are "choose all the correct answers". Others are True/False, some are "choose the correct answer", etc. By changing the question format, students are more likely to try to find the answer rather than guess. At least that's how my student looks at it! We also really like that there is only one question on the screen at a time, so it's less overwhelming and distracting. Kennady could focus on only the one question, and her eyes weren't straying to other things on the page. She does have to answer each question before being able to go on to the next, but there's no time limit. Whew! Her score is shown as she works through the questions, so she has that immediate feedback, which is very important to her as well.

I do wish we'd had the time to get even further in the course before writing this review, but Kennady and I have both been so impressed that I know she will continue on in the course as our official school year gets under way. The units do not necessarily need to be done in the order presented, so since we are using this alongside our regular curriculum, Kennady can get extra instruction and practice in the topics that are harder for her, skipping some topics that she does have a good grasp on.

And even though some of it is already review, I'm so glad we decided that Kennady would start off working the units in order, because she had some lightbulb moments in the first unit that was largely a review of things she already knew. Or perhaps she sort of knew but didn't fully understand. For example, after completing the lesson on place values (a pretty basic concept, right?), Kennady said this to me:
This actually makes SENSE to me now, after she taught it. I was always confused about the places past the thousands and didn't quite understand, but now I get it.
I didn't even watch that video lesson, so I don't know how Alesia presented it so that it finally clicked with my kid, but honestly, I don't care. She understands something that had been difficult for her before, so it's all good as far as I'm concerned!  I saw this quote on the UnLock Math homepage and yes, this is exactly what happened:
They'll be exclaiming "AHA, Now I get it!" as their confidence and skill level improves.
What we liked best:

  • short video lessons that (believe it or not) even worked properly when our internet was in data restriction! Alesia's presentation of material is creative and entertaining, and therefore effective and memorable.
  • uncluttered presentation of practice problems and quiz questions - one question per page, and the screen was not busy and distracting.
  • automatic, as-you-go grading! That I didn't have to do!!
  • easy to navigate, and we have the ability to spend more or less time on topics as needed; and can even skip topics or do them in a different order if we need to.
What I need to mention:
  • the notice pops up on the screen, but students should know that they only have one chance to answer the question - once they hit "submit" that question is graded.
  • I was greatly relieved that the video lesson usually worked well with our internet, but it's best to have reliable and consistent high speed internet. 
Our bottom line: I admit I was apprehensive about giving Kennady one more math thing, but UnLock Pre-Algebra has proven to be so helpful and flexible that we will continue to use it. I highly recommend it, especially for students who are not crazy about math and would benefit from a teacher that has a passion for helping students unlock the mysteries of math!

Unlock Math Review
Would you like to UnLock some math in your homeschool? Here's what you need to know:
Visit the website: http://www.UnLockMath.com/
Find out more about UnLock Pre-Algebra. UnLock Algebra1 is also available now, with UnLock Algebra2 coming soon.

Pricing: We received a full year of UnLock Pre-Algebra for this review, which is currently $299 per student. You can see all the pricing options at the website. Sibling discounts and referral discounts are also available.

Age Recommendation: Grade 7 and up.

You can follow UnLock Math on Facebook, on Twitter, on Pinterest, on Google+, and on Instagram.

Visit the Schoolhouse Review Crew blog for more information and to read other reviews. 
Unlock Math Review

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Monday, July 27, 2015

Summer Highlights (July Blogging Challenge)

This post may contain affiliate links - using affiliate links from Homeschool Coffee Break helps fuel this blog and our homeschool - thank you! 
Summer Highlights on Homeschool Coffee Break @ kympossibleblog.blogspot.com #bloggingthroughJuly #summerchallenge
I'm still making an effort to keep up with the July Blogging Challenge hosted by Lynn at This Day Has Great Potential and Jennifer at A Glimpse of Our Life, and today's prompt is The Best. What is the best thing that has happened this year or the most fun we've had all summer? Despite not having had a family vacation yet this year, our summer has been eventful. The kids have had opportunity to do some wonderful things, mostly without mom and dad!

Kennady went on a choir trip to New York, where she had some great experiences like seeing a Broadway show and going to the top of the Empire State Building. Oh, and she sang with her choir at Carnegie Hall! That's a pretty big deal! (See my complete post about her trip on Middle School Monday, and also my post about the day trip hubby and I took to NYC to see the concert.)
Summer Highlights on Homeschool Coffee Break @ kympossibleblog.blogspot.com #bloggingthroughJuly #summerchallenge
Photo credit: Kennady

Summer Highlights on Homeschool Coffee Break @ kympossibleblog.blogspot.com #bloggingthroughJuly #summerchallenge
Selfie credit: Kennady

Summer Highlights on Homeschool Coffee Break @ kympossibleblog.blogspot.com #bloggingthroughJuly #summerchallenge

Landon finally was able to attend a 10-day Civil Air Patrol encampment, and he claims he had a very good time, despite the unfortunate weather that prevented his squadron from doing some of the outdoor activities he had most looked forward to - the military obstacle course, the rappelling tower, and the gun simulator. 
Summer Highlights on Homeschool Coffee Break @ kympossibleblog.blogspot.com #bloggingthroughJuly #summerchallenge



Summer Highlights on Homeschool Coffee Break @ kympossibleblog.blogspot.com #bloggingthroughJuly #summerchallenge

Summer Highlights on Homeschool Coffee Break @ kympossibleblog.blogspot.com #bloggingthroughJuly #summerchallenge

Summer Highlights on Homeschool Coffee Break @ kympossibleblog.blogspot.com #bloggingthroughJuly #summerchallenge

Both kids went to Creationfest with the group from church this year - it was Kennady's first time - and loved it, rain and all! They were both invited to spend a few days at the shore with friends, and Landon went back for a few more days as well. He's also planning to go to camp in a couple weeks.

Earlier in the summer, Landon took the classroom portion of his required Drivers Ed, and since we were able to do that class with a group of homeschool kids, it had the added advantage of being a fun social experience.
Summer Highlights on Homeschool Coffee Break @ kympossibleblog.blogspot.com #bloggingthroughJuly #summerchallenge

(And by the way, now he gets to do his practice driving in a brand new car. Getting my new RAV4 was one of the highlights of MY summer, although it's a tad annoying that my sons seem to be driving it more than I am!)
Summer Highlights on Homeschool Coffee Break @ kympossibleblog.blogspot.com #bloggingthroughJuly #summerchallenge

One of the days Landon was at Drivers Ed, Kennady and I went with another group of homeschool friends on a field trip to the Baltimore Museum of Art, which was a great way to cap off the official school year for her. (Find out more about this great museum and our trip in my post: Baltimore Museum of Art)
Summer Highlights on Homeschool Coffee Break @ kympossibleblog.blogspot.com #bloggingthroughJuly #summerchallenge

What are some of the highlights of your summer so far? Leave a comment and let me know! And visit This Day Has Great Potential and A Glimpse of Our Life to see the best experiences other participating bloggers have had.




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 ©2006-2015 Homeschool Coffee Break. All rights reserved. All text, photographs, artwork, and other content may not be reproduced or transmitted in any form without the written consent of the author. http://kympossibleblog.blogspot.com/