Friday, November 14, 2014

Blue Ribbon Awards Are Coming Soon!

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Another Schoolhouse Crew year has come to a close, which means a break from the reviews for the Crew members and leadership. It's a little bittersweet for me and other Crew members, because what are we going to do with ourselves for a couple of weeks without our Crew forum to chat on? And what are we going to do for a couple of months without any awesome homeschool products to review? However, one thing we're going to do is look forward to seeing the results of our voting for the Blue Ribbon Awards for 2014 - and we hope our readers will be excited too!

Each year the Review Crew gets to vote on the products that we reviewed over the year that we liked best. There are lots of categories and stiff competition, and sometimes it's VERY hard to choose only ONE product to vote for! 

Here are some of the highlights of the products our family reviewed here on our Homeschool Coffee Break. Our testers this year were me, the Mom/Teacher; Landon, the high school son; and Kennady, the middle school daughter.

Language Arts
Our Language Arts reviews included Analytical Grammar, Hewitt Homeschool's Lightning Lit & Comp, a literature study from Moving Beyond the Page, and an essay writing course from Fortuigence. All were outstanding! Analytical Grammar got our vote for high school because it was such a straight-forward, no-nonsense, and effective way to tackle the subject. We reviewed a high school level Lightning Lit book this year, but it was the middle school level of Lightning Lit that was our favorite for that age group. We had reviewed and used Lightning Lit for Grade 7 and Kennady loved it, so we've been using Lightning Lit Grade 8 this year.  Kennady continues to cast her vote in favor of Lightning Lit any chance she gets!


The Science resources we reviewed included a Science unit from Moving Beyond the PageSupercharged Science, and a DVD package from Curiosity Quest. We have been fans of Supercharged Science (you can use this link to visit and try it out!) since the first time we reviewed their online science program, and we found the Curiosity Quest DVDs very entertaining and informative. But our vote went to the Weather and Climate unit from Moving Beyond the Page, because we are still using and reusing lessons in the book during Kennady's meteorology study in Science.

Supercharged Science review  

Fine Arts
ARTistic Pursuits and Homeschool Piano were the two fine arts programs we reviewed this year, and choosing between the two of them is all but impossible. ARTistic Pursuits is another curriculum that we have been using and loving for a few years now, and it was a huge treat to get one of the first looks at this new Sculpture Technique series. HomeSchool Piano was new to us, but a great addition to our music studies!

Christian Education 
Our reviews that fit into this category included "Captivated the Movie" from MediaTalk 101, iWitness books from Apologia, and Mysteries of the Dead Sea Scrolls from New Liberty Videos. All three of these are still in use by our family and in our church! I am currently leading a small group at church that is discussing Captivated, and my husband is leading a small group study that had some questions come up about the Dead Sea Scrolls - the iWitness books (which are also being used by my kids, and have been loaned out to friends as well) and the Mysteries of the Dead Sea Scrolls were valuable in helping to answer the questions.
Captivated The Movie review

   New Liberty Videos review

Resources for Moms
Some of the resources we get to review are meant to encourage moms or help us out in a broader sense than just providing for our kids' education. In addition to the three Christian Education resources I mentioned above (which were all at least as much for moms/parents as they were for students), I got to review two other very helpful resources - Motivated Moms and a book from Apologia titled Flourish. Both were immensely helpful to me!
review by Homeschool Coffee Break    

In addition to casting votes for favorite products in different subject areas, we also got to vote for our favorites by age/grade. As you might imagine, that was even harder to narrow down! Our family's finalists for Middle School products were:ARTistic PursuitsMoving Beyond the PageHomeschool Piano, and My Student Logbook. Our finalists for High School Products were: ARTistic Pursuits, Micro Business For Teens, My Student Logbook, and Analytical Grammar.

My Student Logbook review

Micro Business for Teens Review

 The Kid's Choice and Teen's Choice categories are the ones where the students get to vote their opinion on their favorites - Landon's Teen Choice vote went to My Student Logbook which was also a finalist for Kennady, but her Teen Choice vote went to Hewitt Homeschool's Lightning Lit & Comp. I think it is high praise for a simply designed, easy-to-use student record system that my high school son considers it his favorite product reviewed. And I've already mentioned Kennady's love for Lightning Lit & Comp - I think it's in the running for her all-time favorite curriculum!

Best Resource I didn't know I needed? For me it was a toss-up between Motivated Moms and My Student Logbook. I continue to be impressed with how helpful the Motivated Moms checklists are in keeping my on track in our home, and My Student Logbook has been a fantastic addition to help all of us keep our assignments and records straight. That was one of those products that I initially looked at and thought it would be far better suited to younger kids, but we loved the one we received to review so much that I immediately bought another so that both kids had one.

I think our family's clear winner in the Just For Fun category was the final review of the year, Snake Oil from Out of the Box Games!

But the final category I voted in - Overall Crew Favorite - was a super tough decision! Everything we reviewed was high quality and wonderful, and even though not everything winds up as a great fit for our family or situation, I have to say that we did enjoy every review and greatly appreciated the generosity of all the vendors in allowing us to use the products that represented their labors and passions and commitment to serving the homeschooling community. So once I voted on my Overall Crew Favorite, I didn't even write down for my own records what I chose! I decided not to remember, so I have extra reason to look forward to the revealing of all the winners on Monday!

Visit the Schoolhouse Review Crew blog starting Monday morning at 8am to see the winners!
2014 Blue Ribbon Awards
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