Curriculum Reviews, Homeschooling

Fischertechnik E-Tronic Review: Easy STEM Elective for Middle/High School

STEM education has been firmly in the spotlight for a long time now, with no signs of wavering. Learning materials promising to infuse science, technology, engineering and math into your homeschool are everywhere. But without actually opening the box and trying the products, it can be hard to know if pre-packaged STEM projects are truly worthwhile, or if they’re just really expensive toys masquerading as educational. Let’s take a look at one popular STEM toy and see if it’s worth the hype.

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Book Reviews, Curriculum Reviews, Homeschooling

Sonlight Pre-Kindergarten Review: NEW Pre-K at Home with Montessori Updates

Sonlight Pre-Kindergarten Review: NEW Pre-K at Home with Montessori Updates

Pre-K at home with good books and hands-on lessons

Homeschoolers are opinionated when it comes to early childhood education. All you have to do is mention preschool or pre-kindergarten in a room full of homeschool moms, and you’ll instantly find yourself the recipient of a ton of free advice — whether or not you want it.

One of the most common bits of advice is to let kids play.

But have you ever stopped to ask, what is play?

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Book Reviews, Curriculum Reviews, Homeschooling

Sonlight’s US History Curriculum: Review & NEW HBL D Updates

[Disclosure: Sonlight provided me with a History / Bible / Literature D: Intro to American History, Year 1 of 2 package, and compensated me financially for this post. I have used many Sonlight products in our homeschool prior to reviewing this product.  All opinions — and photographs! ;) — are my own, and I was not required to write a positive review.]

If there’s one thing I’ve excelled at in our homeschool, it’s procrastinating over choosing a US History curriculum.

As a third-culture missionary kid born abroad, teaching US history has never come naturally to me. When I was young, American history seemed worlds away, and even as an adult, I often still feel like an outsider.

I have zero patience for dry legalist curriculum which holds the Founding Fathers on faultless pedestals, doesn’t consider both sides of a story, and ignores the sorrowful brokenness of our nation’s foundations. (Second-generation homeschoolers, you know what I’m talking about!)

But I knew my own kids couldn’t just skip learning the complicated history of our nation. Eventually, we had to dive in. Having spent my early childhood years in a socialist republic without the freedom of speech, religion, or assembly, I’ve learned that no matter how complex US history is to navigate, we must never take such invaluable freedoms for granted. So I needed to find a complete American history curriculum, especially after my own previous unsuccessful attempts to piece together a literature-based US history course always fizzled out.

Continue reading “Sonlight’s US History Curriculum: Review & NEW HBL D Updates”
Curriculum Reviews, Homeschooling

Easily Teach Kids to Code with STEM Toys for Homeschool

STEM Toys for Your Homeschool: Teach Kids to Code with Code Rocket

If you’re science-or math-averse, don’t let your own limitations keep your kids from delving into STEM projects. Code Rocket lets you teach kids to code, even if you have no idea how. The video lessons — and the interactive circuit board — walk kids through fun C++ programming projects. Because the code kids are compiling operates the physical rocket-shaped circuit board, they’ll get immediately satisfying results, like blinking LEDs and beeping sounds!

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Curriculum Reviews, Homeschooling

Dr. Livingston’s Anatomy Jigsaw Puzzle Review – the Human Abdomen

Tell me you’re a homeschooler without telling me you’re a homeschooler. I’ll go first: we just completed an intestine puzzle. There are some activities which just scream “homeschooler”, you know what I mean? Assembling the internal organs of the human abdomen in jigsaw form is definitely one of those moments.

[Disclosure of Material Connections: I received a complimentary Dr. Livingston’s Anatomy Jigsaw Puzzle – the Human Abdomen from Timberdoodle in exchange for writing and publishing this post. All opinions — and photographs! ;) — are my own, and I was not required to write a positive review.]

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Book Reviews, Curriculum Reviews, Homeschooling

Non Fiction Matters: “100 Things to Know About the Human Body” Book Review

Non-Fiction Matters: 101 Things to Know About the Human Body Usborne Timberdoodle Book Review

“Do you want to hear a song?” my now-ten-year-old  asked a random stranger the summer before kindergarten. “I know a song. ‘Immune system, with your lymph system / will your enemies attack / With the white blood cells, the leukocyte cells / that will destroy and turn them back.'”

Oblivious to the expression on the startled shopper’s face, she continued much-too-loudly, “…a germ is like a cucaracha! That would love to live inside ya!” The stranger vanished into the clearance racks at Target, and my singing scientist, perched inside the red shopping cart, kept belting out a symphony of lymphatic facts.

[Disclosure of Material Connections: I received a complimentary copy of 100 Things to Know About the Human Body from Timberdoodle in exchange for writing and publishing this review. All opinions — and photographs! ;) — are my own, and I was not required to write a positive review.] Continue reading “Non Fiction Matters: “100 Things to Know About the Human Body” Book Review”

Book Reviews, Curriculum Reviews, Homeschooling

Teaching Vocabulary Through Art: 101 Doodle Definitions

What’s the best vocabulary curriculum?

What’s the best vocabulary curriculum — one with Greek and Latin, right? Although I’m a big proponent of teaching word roots, I’d argue that for elementary-aged kids, the most effective vocabulary curriculum might actually be the one that’s the most fun. (Fun is often profoundly effective.)

Words are thrilling. They’re flexible yet bold, evocative yet concise, and powerful yet ephemeral. They can be translated and transcribed, sung and spoken, spun into cantatas, carved and chanted, whispered and written. Twenty-six letters can be woven into sonnets and mysteries, songs and orders, death and life.

In spite of the absolute magic of words, we somehow often manage to turn vocabulary study into a chore, transforming words into tasks. When vocabulary study becomes drudgery, when words are wrenched from their context and vocabulary becomes copywork — and nothing more — even the most voracious of bookworms begin to resent vocabulary. This is a travesty! A vocabulary study in which kids don’t retain the material isn’t much of vocabulary study at all.

But what if vocabulary study was creative?

What if we let kids draw?

What if we even allowed doodling?

[Disclosure of Material Connections: I received a complimentary copy of 101 Doodle Definitions from Timberdoodle in exchange for writing and publishing this review. All opinions — and photographs! ;) — are my own, and I was not required to write a positive review.]

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Curriculum Reviews, Homeschooling

Review of Veritas Press Self-Paced History Courses

Veritas Press Self-Paced History Review

Now through JUNE 28, 2022, get $100 off any self-paced course (omnibus, Bible, or history) when you use code INDEPENDENT.

If some part of homeschooling isn’t working for you, change it!

Depending on when you started school, Thanksgiving break marks about twelve or fifteen weeks into the academic year. By now, you’ve been at this long enough to grasp a sense of what curriculum is working well for you — and what isn’t. Enough time has passed for you to take a healthy assessment of your real homeschool situation, as opposed to your ideal homeschool situation. If things aren’t running as smoothly as you had hoped, don’t despair! It’s early enough in the school year to make changes.

Homeschooling, like parenting, is a strange beast. It requires humility and flexibility — but it also requires confidence and assertiveness. Like Kenny Rogers sang, “You’ve got to know when to hold ’em / Know when to fold ’em / Know when to walk away…” (Probably not a song that shows up in many homeschool morning times, I’m guessing.)

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