Wednesday, June 13, 2018

Wednesday, June 6, 2018

Wednesday, May 30, 2018

Monday, May 21, 2018

T is for Tree Review

Reformed Free Publishing Association recently published this adorable children's picture book by Connie L. Meyer. T is for Tree: A Bible ABC is beautifully illustrated. Each page includes a little rhyme and then a Bible verse to read. Each page leads the reader through the alphabet with each letter introducing a new topic.

What a fun way to learn about God's word! I can think of all kinds of possibilities for those who teach little ones. I think my favorite way to use this book would be to study one letter per week and make a fun lesson out of learning the letter while also memorizing the Bible verse (or a shorter portion of a longer verse). There are so many fun ways for young children to engage in God's word!

The illustrations in this sweet hardcover title are beautifully done. Each page is full color with high interest images surrounded by colorful borders that hold the child's interest while giving plenty of opportunities for discussions. Here are some sample page images so you can understand what I mean about the colorful, high interest borders.
I love how each page includes a meaningful Bible verse. There really is so much opportunity for discussion here. I can see multiple ways for tying these verses to other lessons in the Bible. Use the illustrations as discussion points for you and your child. The possibilities are simply endless.

I think my favorite page is the letter "J" which stands for jewels. The little rhyme compares knowledgeable lips to rubies and precious jewels. The verse that goes along with this page is Proverbs 20:15, which states, " There is gold, and a multitude of rubies: but the lips of knowledge are a precious jewel." The really interesting thing about this particular page is that the border also features an additional verse: Proverbs 8:10-11 which tells about wisdom being better than rubies. I appreciate the sophisticated language used throughout the book and love the emphasis on scripture and Biblical principles.

Curious what other reviewers had to say about this product? Head on over to the Homeschool Review Crew blog to read all the reviews.

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Wednesday, May 16, 2018

PandaParents Review

PandaParents has created a fun and engaging monthly subscription program for young children called MESSYLEARNING FOR PRESCHOOLERS AND KINDERGARTNERS. This is an interactive monthly learning program for you and your young child to enjoy together. For this review, we received the first three months of programming.

Each monthly subscription include three basic features: stories to read aloud, story videos to watch, and workbook activities to complete. Let's discuss each component in depth so you know what to expect with your subscription.

First, the stories to read. These are sweet, cute, engaging stories that also teach some beginning reading skills such as letter sounds. The graphics are bright and colorful, drawing the young child in. We received PDF versions of the story books. These are each several pages long, so don't expect to read one entire book in one sitting. These are completely flexible so you can choose how long you want to spend on reading. For my niece, I read the story to her until she became bored with it, which was about 15 or so pages. I loaded the PDF on my computer screen and she happily sat on my lap while I read to her. The pictures were bright and captured her attention. The first story has some Christmas themes to it. For the letter "j" that was introduced in the first portion of the story, the letter "j" is a candy cane striped letter. The characters visit the North Pole and Santa is mentioned. While these storybooks are beautiful to view on the computer screen, it would also be very wonderful to receive them in printed format so that you and your young child would be able to curl up on the sofa to read them.

Next, we watched a portion of the month's video. These videos are very engaging. And they are new and original material. Again, these are not expected to be watched continuously. Follow your young child's lead to watch and learn as they are interested. At a young age, we want learning to be fun and exploratory. For my niece, we watched a short portion of the video story each day. The videos are hosted on Vimeo and are password protected. I didn't download the videos, instead choosing to keep the password close by so we could watch the videos as we chose to. For the letter "j" some interesting vocabulary words are introduced. I really appreciate the sophisticated approach that is taken with this. Sure they introduce simple words too, but the use of bigger words is wonderful for vocabulary development. The story and video tie in nicely together.
Finally, we opened the PDF workbook. Oh my! These illustrations are very well done and the activities are completely thought out. Many pages in the workbook are full color and include sticker pages. I can see the vision that the company has with these and they will surely be the star of the entire program! I can imagine receiving these already printed each month with the stickers printed on sticker paper and ready to use. What child wouldn't love to have stickers to help them complete their work? We happily explored several activities in this workbook. Since we received the PDF version of the workbook, I needed to print all of the pages. I sure do wish the PDF version included a printer friendly workbook. So many of the pages are full color and the sticker pages require you to either cut and paste or purchase sticker paper. I can definitely see the benefit to receiving these already printed for you! We simply chose some pages and activities that didn't require so much color ink.
Aside from the many lessons that we enjoyed in the first month's subscription activities, I was curious what the other months would be like. I was happy to preview the next lessons as well. Each month builds on previous months. It doesn't appear that you can work out of order as new letters are introduced with each month. There are definitely plenty of activities to choose from with just enough variety. In looking at the cost for this program, it appears to be quite reasonable. Each month you would receive a new storybook, workbook, and story video that all complement each other. The PDF versions are nice because you receive them right away in your email inbox, but the heavily illustrated workbook pages would be super nice to have already printed. It is unclear to me how long the subscription would last or how many monthly subscriptions are going to be created. 

Curious what other reviewers had to say about this product? Head on over to the Homeschool Review Crew blog to read all the reviews.

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Wednesday, May 2, 2018

CodeWizardsHQ Review

My son just attended probably the coolest online class he has ever taken. A huge thanks to CodeWizardsHQ for inviting us to be a part of this review. Interested in coding classes? This company specializes in classes for EVERYONE, not just homeschoolers. There are a variety of times available for all students, so be sure to check out their general page for all of the options. Check out the homeschool page for options on classes offered during the daytime for coops or small groups of students.

Now we have tried coding classes in the past. The class we tried was a pre-recorded class that my son could take at his own pace. Sure, he was excited about the class and for a couple of weeks worked very diligently on the content, but soon lost interest. It was especially discouraging when he made a mistake in the coding and had to start the lesson over from the beginning in order to catch his own mistake, or worse, he had to start from the very beginning. Needless to say, he became quite discouraged and never actually finished the class.
This class is completely different. This was an actual live class, taught online. It was especially nice because we didn't have to travel to a learning center. My son simply logged on at the appropriate class time and participated in the class. We received a couple emails prior to the class with important information and reminders that class was coming up. I appreciated that, especially since this class was something that was out of our normal homeschool routine. Since this was a live class, we definitely didn't want to forget to attend!
The instructor interacted with the students, and the students could interact with each other. The content was engaging and the coding was easy to understand and fun. My son coded a simple comic that he was able to customize how he wanted it to look in the end. It was all quite engaging. I'll be honest, when I first told my son that I had signed him up for this class, he rolled his eyes at me and said he didn't want to do it. I encouraged told him that he was going to try it anyway. I personally think he was thinking it was going to be hard, and I'm sure he was remembering that other class that had been quite challenging.

We didn't need to have any special equipment in order to participate in the class. We plugged in our headset that also had a microphone attached to it and he was on his way. The instructor spent a few minutes at the beginning of class getting to know each student. They were able to speak directly to the instructor and other students. I noticed that one student was typing in the chat section of the classroom, so I am going to make the assumption that if you don't have a microphone that you can still attend the class. You would just need to type your answers instead of speaking them. We used a headset, but I think we could have simply used the computer audio instead.

One thing that I want to note about this class is that my son was working with actual code, not coding blocks. He was able to completely customize his comic the way he wanted it. Check out his finished comic!
The online classroom is very simple and user friendly. I was a little bit nervous that we would get hung up on some tech things, but it was really nice and easy to enter the classroom and get started. I knew my son was hesitant to take the class. Once the class got started, he really enjoyed it. I sat in the background, listening and glancing at what was going on. I could tell that he was really into the coding and enjoyed making his comic. After class was over, he kept asking if he could take more of those kind of coding class. I guess you could say that he enjoyed it!

Curious what other reviewers had to say about this product? Head on over to the Homeschool Review Crew blog to read all the reviews.

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