Tuesday, November 21, 2017

2017 Reviews in Review

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2017 Reviews in Review  on Homeschool Coffee Break @ kympossibleblog.blogspot.com

Whenever a Homeschool Review Crew year comes to a close, Crew members are asked to vote for their favorite review products in a bunch of different categories. Believe me, it's often very hard to choose just one! But I have cast my votes, and as we await the official results, I'd like to share with you a summary of the products we've reviewed here on Homeschool Coffee Break, and highlight those that really stood out for us.

We reviewed a couple of art curriculum products, and these usually are favorites with my resident artist. That, in turn, makes them favorites with me, because I get to enjoy the artwork she creates.


Creating A Masterpiece - A Homeschool Coffee Break Review @ kympossibleblog.blogspot.com - Our review of the #onlineartprogram from Creating A Masterpiece  #hsreviews  #artinstruction  #art  #homeschool

Creating a Masterpiece is an online art instruction program taught by master artist Sharon Hofer. It's rather like attending a fine art school, where students learn technique and are guided in creating excellent artwork that they could be proud to show off. The video instruction course has easy to follow step-by-step instructions showing students how to create high-quality art pieces using many different media, and can be used by students of all ages. Art techniques in many media are covered, and students build mastery so they can create their own projects using the techniques learned.
Some of the artwork created following these videos included:
Creating A Masterpiece - A Homeschool Coffee Break Review @ kympossibleblog.blogspot.com - Our review of the #onlineartprogram from Creating A Masterpiece  #hsreviews  #artinstruction  #art  #homeschool
okayish fish by KAT, February 2017

Creating A Masterpiece - A Homeschool Coffee Break Review @ kympossibleblog.blogspot.com - Our review of the #onlineartprogram from Creating A Masterpiece  #hsreviews  #artinstruction  #art  #homeschool
Caribbean Lighthouse by KAT, February 2017

Creating A Masterpiece - A Homeschool Coffee Break Review @ kympossibleblog.blogspot.com - Our review of the #onlineartprogram from Creating A Masterpiece  #hsreviews  #artinstruction  #art  #homeschool
Peacock Feathers by KAT, March 2017

I was so impressed with the beautiful artwork Kennady created using this program, and she truly enjoyed expanding her skills with it. I warmly recommend Creating a Masterpiece for homeschoolers in search of a quality fine arts program.


Draw the World with ArtAchieve (A Homeschool Coffee Break Review) @ kympossibleblog.blogspot.com - our full review of ArtAchieve art lessons for kids for the Homeschool Review Crew

ArtAchieve takes a slightly different approach, but was also a great favorite. This a series of online art lessons inspired by art from around the world. Each lesson includes links and information for making those cross-curricular connections between art, music, science, social studies, and language arts. The focus is on creating the art, however, and on learning and developing the skill of drawing. There's plenty of opportunity in each lesson for students to practice observing carefully and thinking creatively. This is a wonderful resource with so many ways it can be adapted for use in a homeschool. The art lessons alone would be a great addition to a homeschool program, but with the Cross-Cultural Connections and the way the lessons draw on inspiring and unique art objects from all over the world gives lots of ideas and options for incorporating an art lesson into other things you're studying or for using an art project to springboard into Social Studies, Science, Literature, and more. 

Take a look at some of the art projects from this course:

Draw the World with ArtAchieve (A Homeschool Coffee Break Review) @ kympossibleblog.blogspot.com - our full review of ArtAchieve art lessons for kids for the Homeschool Review Crew
Kandinsky Color Mixing by KAT, water color, March 2017

Draw the World with ArtAchieve (A Homeschool Coffee Break Review) @ kympossibleblog.blogspot.com - our full review of ArtAchieve art lessons for kids for the Homeschool Review Crew
Chinese Horse by KAT, April 2017

Firebird on the Virtual Refrigerator art link-up hosted by Homeschool Coffee Break @ kympossibleblog.blogspot.com
Ukrainian Firebird by KAT, June 2017

I'd especially recommend ArtAchieve for homeschoolers who love the Unit Study approach. Since there are so many options for purchasing the lessons separately or in various bundles, I feel confident that there's something there to appeal to everyone, and at a price point that should appeal to even the most budget-conscious families.

Our final review of the year was one we chose for its potential application of artistic skills to a technology course.

Thinking Like an Architect from Innovators Tribe (A Homeschool Coffee Break Review)

Thinking Like an Architect from Innovators Tribe (A Homeschool Coffee Break Review) on Homeschool Coffee Break @ kympossibleblog.blogspot.com

Innovators Tribe offers self-paced, interactive, online courses in applied math, science, innovation, design, and construction. There are currently two courses available, Thinking Like an Engineer and Thinking Like an Architect, with a third, Thinking Like a Carpenter, coming soon. The courses can be used as components of a larger science or STEM course, or on their own as an elective worth a quarter credit for high school. Designed for students in Grades 6 through 12, the courses combine multi-media presentations, activity guides, and hands-on projects. Each course takes about 30 hours of work, including the projects. We chose to review Thinking Like an Architectmainly because the study of architecture involves technology but also has plenty of artistic appeal to (hopefully) keep Kennady engaged. This course guides students in solving problems related to buildings and structures. Students learn how to use an architect scale, read blueprints, and even use 3D design software (which is included with the purchase of the course)! Lessons cover the history of architecture; an overview of Form vs. Function and how both are essential; using the math, science, and tools of architects; and understanding blueprints. Students will do many hands-on activities like drawing, designing floor plans, using the 3D Design Software, and creating models. 

Our plan at this point is that Kennady will finish this course along with some extra work in technical drawing and wind up with at least a half credit towards her Tech requirement. This is a good high school elective choice for students interested in this field of work, obviously, but also for students needing an elective for STEM/Tech or those who are looking for a fun look at how math, science, and even art can intersect in a practical and creative way.

Speaking of math, we reviewed an algebra curriculum that is a favorite. Or as much of a favorite as anything math-related could be. Kennady doesn't care much for math, and it doesn't come easy for her, but thankfully this particular review provided her with a curriculum that makes it more understandable and less frustrating, so that's my basis for saying it's a favorite. Basically, it works for us, and it's a definite keeper!

No-Nonsense Algebra from Math Essentials (A Homeschool Coffee Break Review)

No-Nonsense Algebra from Math Essentials (A Homeschool Coffee Break Review) on Homeschool Coffee Break @ kympossibleblog.blogspot.com

No-Nonsense Algebra is a complete algebra program that combines short, self-contained lessons in a book with concise and helpful video tutorials for each lesson available online. The book gives examples of problems with step-by-step solutions, and provides practice problems and review in each lesson. Chapter tests and a final exam are also included to help evaluate a student's success. It can be used as a full curriculum, as a supplement, or as a refresher course to prepare for tests. We are using No-Nonsense Algebra as our main curriculum this year. We like that the concise video instructions explain the math concepts clearly and are . . . well, no-nonsense! There are enough problems in the book for students to practice and master each concept, but without getting bogged down with something overly repetitive. Get it, prove you got it, and move on.

We really like this straight-forward, concise approach to learning Algebra and while we've been using it, Kennady has gained confidence that she does understand algebra and that it's not too hard for her. Still a challenge, but one she can handle!

No list of our favorite reviews would be complete without some audio drama from Heirloom Audio Productions! 

An Extraordinary Adventure During the French Revolution (Review) on Homeschool Coffee Break @ kympossibleblog.blogspot.com  Captain Bayley's Heir - A New Audio Adventure on Homeschool Coffee Break @ kympossibleblog.blogspot.com - A Review for the Homeschool Review Crew

Heirloom Audio Productions has been in the business of engaging the imagination of listeners with great stories about real historical events since 2013. Their exciting audio dramas bring the stories of G.A. Henty to life, with excellent voice acting, realistic sound effects, and moving musical soundtracks. Henty was a master story-teller during the late 1800s, weaving tales of "virtue and valor, daring and determination, character and courage" around historical events and people, seen through the eyes of a fictional young person that he placed on the spot.
We reviewed two audio dramas this year. The first, In the Reign of Terroris about a sixteen year old boy from England, Harry, who goes to live with a French family shortly after the storming of the Bastille. At first, they stay at their country chateau but later go to Paris, where they are all in great danger as the Legislative Assembly orders the arrest of all members of noble families. Eventually Harry and the two younger girls of the family escape to the coast looking for passage to England. Even there the danger follows and the girls are arrested and sentenced to death, so Harry and some new friends must pull off another daring rescue attempt before finally making their way to England and safety.

In the thrilling tale of Captain Bayley's Heir, the main character is Frank Norris, who lives with his uncle Harold Bayley, and is a student at Westminster School. He makes a daring rescue of a dog that belongs to a young crippled boy, and then befriends the boy and his family. Frank later gets into some trouble at school and is falsely accused of stealing some money, and when he is unable to convince the headmaster of his innocence, he runs away to America rather than be publicly expelled and humiliated. After working his way across the ocean and the country, Frank teams up with some new friends on the wagon trail, and goes to California to stake his claim in the gold rush. Eventually, Frank befriends another young Englishman and his father, James Adams, who later takes a message to Captain Bayley letting him know where to find Frank so they can be reunited.

We have learned to look forward to each new installment of The Extraordinary Adventures of G.A. Henty from Heirloom Audio Productions, and with both of these dramas, we were entertained and educated with thrilling stories of suspense and courage. I warmly recommend these and the rest of the series as excellent additions to the library of any family looking for wholesome entertainment that brings history to life.

We've reviewed all but one in the series so far, so if you're interested in more extraordinary adventures, be sure to also check out our full review of In Freedom's CauseAn Extraordinary Adventure in Scottish Historyour full review of With Lee In VirginiaAn Extraordinary Adventure With Lee In Virginiaour full review of The Dragon and the RavenAn Extraordinary Adventure With Alfred the Greatour full review of Beric the BritonBeric the Briton - Another Extraordinary Adventure from Heirloom Audio Productions; and our full review of The Cat of BubastesAn Extraordinary Adventure in Ancient Egypt.

I'll close this summary with two of MY favorites!  I was the one who watched - and loved - this DVD series, although it is recommended for all ages.

A Drive Thru The Gospels (A Homeschool Coffee Break Review) on Homeschool Coffee Break @ kympossibleblog.blogspot.com - Review of Drive Thru HistoryⓇ - "The Gospels" for the Homeschool Review Crew

If you're not already familiar with Drive Thru HistoryⓇit is a fast-paced video series in which host Dave Stotts invites viewers along on driving trips through the places where major historical events took place, and provides facts and insights to teach history. You're hearing history in story form, while seeing the places and artifacts connected to it. And Dave's narration is not dull and dry either - it's clear that he's enjoying the trip and the historical discoveries, and he inserts humorous observations and some asides about the vehicles he's driving to make the road trip lots of fun. There are four Drive Thru HistoryⓇ series - Ancient HistoryAmerican HistoryHoly Land, and the set we reviewed - "The Gospels", which is the newest in the series, and takes you along as Dave Stotts explores locations mentioned in the New Testament books of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. He travels to more than 50 sites in Israel that give a new perspective to the stories of Jesus told by the gospel writers. It's pretty exciting to see the actual places where these events took place, and to see the archaeological evidence that backs up the story.
And finally, when books that are actually targeted to pre-teens appeal to grown-ups, they deserve to be mentioned. I greatly enjoyed the Adventures of Rush Revere books that we reviewed this year!

Rushing Into History (A Homeschool Coffee Break Review) on Homeschool Coffee Break @ kympossibleblog.blogspot.com

Along with his wife Kathryn Adams Limbaugh, Rush has written five book series bringing his passion for American history to young readers. In the Adventures of Rush Revere Book SeriesRush Revere starts out as a substitute history teacher, but quickly wins over his young students with his unique approach to teaching American history.  Together with his talking, time-traveling horse named Liberty, he brings American history to life for their students as he takes them back in time to meet the pilgrims, the brave American patriots of the Revolution, the early American presidents, Francis Scott Key, and many more extraordinary Americans. When Liberty says the magic words "Rush, rush, rushing to history!" and Rush Revere declares the date and place, the adventures in history begin!I can't recommend these books highly enough! The Adventures of Rush Revere truly are an exciting and entertaining way to learn American history for kids - and adults too! 
Here are all the reviews we did for the Homeschool Review Crew this year. For lots more reviews of these and many other products, visit the Homeschool Review Crew blog.

Creating A Masterpiece

And here they are! The 2017 Blue Ribbon Award Winners as chosen by the entire Homeschool Review Crew! See them all at the Crew blog: 2017 Homeschool Review Crew Blue Ribbon Awards.

Homeschool Review Crew Favorite Products for 2017

Review Crew

This post is part of a #breakthrulinkup  at Breakthrough Homeschooling - Join us! It's also linked at Homeschool Blog & Tell at The Homeschool Post.

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Annette said...

Do you think no nonsense would work for grade 8?

Kym said...

My son used it when he was in grade 8, so yes.

Joanne said...

We have the no- nonsense Algebra already and we plan to use it for 9th grade (since we're just getting around to pre- Algebra now). Those art programs look great too!

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