Tuesday, April 24, 2012



PhotobucketScience is a favorite subject at our house.  We love to do science experiments, even though most of them fail.  :-(

We had the opportunity to review the Amazing Science! Volume 1 DVD which is loaded with experiments.  As soon as we started watching it, the kids wanted to try the experiments.  They are all simple enough that they work!  The instruction provided by Jason Gibson is very clear.  After explaining how to carry out the experiment, he then explains the science behind it.  I have loved the experiments so much that I have told many of my friends about them.  We especially liked the color changing milk, and the kids really want to try the dry ice bubbles; but I haven't gotten to the store to buy the dry ice.  Mr. Gibson said that dry ice can be bought at the grocery store, which was a surprise to me.  The fact that he lets us know where we can get certain materials that aren't a normal part of our shopping list is also a nice feature.

One of the other experiments is the egg in a bottle experiment which is a pretty well-known experiment where lit matches are placed inside a bottle and the egg then falls into the bottle.  Other ones are "Build a Lemon Battery," ""Candle Suction Power," "Lift an Ice Cube with String," "Matchstick Speedboat," and "Balloon in a Candle Flame."  There are a total of 23 experiments in this 2-video set.

I especially like the fact that Jason Gibson does not speak down to the people who watch his videos, nor does he speak above what people can understand.  He has "advanced degrees in Engineering and Physics, worked as a Rocket Scientist for NASA, and has passion for teaching Science and Math."  With that type of education and, what I would consider, genius brain, you might think his teaching would be beyond the common person's comprehension, but he does a WONDERFUL job.  Listening to the way he explains things, you are able to sense his excitement for science.  It is contagious, which is part of the reason why my kids wanted to do the experiments so quickly after watching them.  I know, too, that they will remember the science behind why the experiment works.  Thank you, Mr. Gibson!!

The list price for this 2-disc DVD set is $24.95, but it is for sale at ScienceAndMath.com for $19.95.  It can also be downloaded instantly for just $17.99.  ScienceAndMath.com also has several math tutor DVDs available such as Basic Math, Algebra 1 and 2, Advanced Algebra, Geometry, and Calculus.  They are multiple DVD sets with hours of explanation in each math subject.  They also have chemistry and physics tutoring DVDs available.  All DVDs are available as a bundle you can receive for 30% off the list price.  So, instead of $466.00, the cost is only $325.00.

Because of the quality of the Amazing Science! videos, I am seriously considering purchasing one or more of the math DVDs for my kids to help them through basic math and algebra.  I expect the explanation of those concepts to be presented as well as the science concepts for each of the science experiments.

ScienceAndMath.com can be reached by going to their Contact Page and entering your information and your question.  They can also be reached by calling their toll-free number:  1-877-MATH-DVD.  Their address is ScienceAndMath.com, PO Box 1165, Seabrook, TX, 77586.  If you choose to contact them by email, their address is jason.gibson@ScienceAndMath.com.

DISCLAIMER:  I received this product free of charge in order to provide an unbiased review.

Monday, April 23, 2012

God's Great Covenant

God's Great Covenant

PhotobucketI have found a Bible curriculum that I love!!  There aren't too many great ones out there, but this one teaches exactly like I like to teach.  It is more than a devotional.  It gets in depth into the passages.  It teaches the history surrounding the passage so the student can understand better what is being read.  There are maps so that the student can picture in their mind where things are taking place.  Things are laid out in such a way so as not to be difficult to follow.

This book that I had a chance to review was about the Gospels - Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John.  There is a student book and a teacher book.  The words are in a large font.  I think that makes it more enjoyable to read because it doesn't look like too much on any given page. There are memory pages and review worksheets.

As an example of a memory page, for chapter 10 entitled, "Rejection at Nazareth, Miracles at Capernaum," the theme of the chapter is listed.  In this case, it is "God's Servant helps faith to grow in physically and spiritually unclean people."  The Scripture that will be referred to is listed.  There is a memory passage: Isaiah 61:1.  The key facts of the chapter are presented in a chart form.  This one talks about the men who met Jesus, when they met Jesus, and what happened when they met Jesus.  The Old Testament prophecy that was fulfilled is also cited at the bottom of the page.  On the next few pages, the Scriptures are explained in a simple way so the student will understand it.  At the end of the chapter are review questions and fun activities to help them remember what they learned in the chapter.

The teacher's edition (TE) is of equally great value.  Everything that is listed in the student book is in the TE but in small print.  In the margins are copious notes about the text.  It provides more in depth information to help answer questions that might arise when reading the student book.  The answers to the activities in the student book are also provided in the TE.  An example page from the student book and TE are provided below.

The New Testament 1 book is geared towards students in fourth grade, has 36 chapters divided into 4 themed units, and sells for $26.95 on the Classical Academic Press website.  The teacher's edition has 346 pages and sells for $29.95.

Classical Academic Press also sells Old Testament curriculum, and they also bundle OT and NT and sell as full units with student book, teacher's edition, and audio book download at 15% off the price if all were to be bought separately.

If you are looking for a worthwhile Bible curriculum, I would encourage you to try Classical Academic Press.

Student book
Teacher's Edition

The address for Classical Academic Press is
3920 Market St.
Camp Hill, PA 17011

The toll free phone number is:

DISCLAIMER:  I received this product free of charge so that I could use it and provide an unbiased review.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Here's A Bright Idea!

I find it very easy to teach things like botany and anatomy, but I don’t particularly like chemistry.  I only passed my organic chemistry class in college because the curve was 80-100 was an A, 60-80 was a B, and 40-60 was a C.  I got a C.  L


Lower level chemistry is easy enough for me, but I don’t like it as well as the other sciences based on my background.

Bright Ideas Press publishes Christian-oriented curriculum “that will fit into your hectic life, curriculum that is both affordable and easy to use with children of different ages at the same time.”  www.brightideaspress.com

There are many different subjects available through Bright Ideas press such as geography, history, science, and literature.  This is the company that publishes The Mystery of History.  They also have a collection of over 350 different maps available to go along with the various curricula they offer.


The Christian Kids Explore Chemistry book is geared towards kids in 4th through 8th grade.  It is $39.95.  It has a resource CD that includes lesson plans, material lists, a bonus literature study guide, and all the reproducibles that are in the book.  Scripture is used throughout the book.  There are 30 lessons grouped in five units.  Each unit includes vocabulary and material lists.  Each unit also has hands-on lessons to help the student better understand what has been learned during the reading.

The Bright Ideas Press website makes sample pages available for this book so you can get an idea of what it is like inside.  The sample pages include the table of contents, sample pages, materials list by unit, and the answer key to the Review It questions for each lesson.

The units included in the Chemistry book are “The Basics of Chemistry,” “Atoms and Molecules,” “The Nature of Chemistry,” “States of Matter,” and “Organic Chemistry.”  There is a glossary and coloring pages in the back of the book. 

There are unit wrap ups that could be used as tests or to just simply ensure your child has an adequate understanding of what has been presented in each unit.

Most of the materials needed for the experiments can be found at home.  There are some experiments that require items most folks probably don’t have sitting around like different size Styrofoam balls, but they aren't expensive nor are they hard to find.

My daughter really wanted to work through this chemistry book because she was excited about doing the experiments.  The first few hands-on activities in the book are about understanding basic chemistry facts like the tools and taking measurements, etc., so they didn't excite her; but the experiments definitely got better and were more interesting to her.

These books are very interesting, well thought out, and illustrated well.  I would encourage anybody interested in this book to also search the rest of the Bright Ideas Press website for additional science curricula, history, and also an all-inclusive curriculum covering Bible, language arts, science, literature, music, art, geography, history, etc., called Illuminations.

Bright Ideas Press can be reached at 877.492.8081.  If you click the Contact button, you can find many different ways to reach Bright Ideas Press besides their phone number.  Their address is Bright Ideas Press, PO Box 333, Cheswold, DE 19936.  They can be reached by email at contact@BrightIdeasPress.com.    

They can also be found on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/BrightIdeasPress.

Be sure to check out their monthly specials!!

DISCLAIMER:  I received this product free of charge in order to use it and provide an honest review.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Teaching Anatomy "From Head to Toe"


I realized part way through the year that one of my children's grasp of anatomy was deficient.  Even though I had taught him anatomy before, four years ago, he could really use a refresher.  One of the products I was given the opportunity to review was AIMS "From Head to Toe" anatomy curriculum.

PhotobucketThis curriculum is specifically geared to students in grades 5-9.  I am using it with my 6th grader, as well as my 8th grader and 4th graders.  The information contained within the curriculum is superb.  It is not a simplified curriculum that I feel you see more often than not unless you are working through a high school anatomy course.  There are definitely concepts that are beyond the young elementary level.  It is not too difficult, however, that my 4th grader cannot understand it.  The method of learning the information is a bit different than I am used to.  Small books are created for each lesson.  I print out the pages for the lesson which are then folded in half and in half again.  These pages are then put together to form a small book which are held together by rubber bands.

The books are easy for the student to use and different from the worksheets that are the norm.  There are some worksheets included in the curriculum, but they are used to supplement the books that are made.

The book also contains a number of experiments to understand the functioning of various systems of the human body.  For example, to understand how the lungs work, there is an experiment which uses a 2-L bottle, two straws, and two balloons.  Also throughout the book, the students make a model of the human body.  There are data-collecting experiments, too.

It is evident that the creators of "From Head to Toe" spent a lot of time developing a curriculum that would be very interesting to the student.  It is full of very creative experiments, well-illustrated books, and hands-on projects that continue the learning beyond the book.

The curriculum is guided by Project 2061 Benchmarks and NRC Standards. At the beginning of each new topic, there are key questions, learning goals, a material list, background information, and management guidelines for preparing for the lesson.  The procedure is also explained.  At the end of the lesson, whether the model is continued or an experiment is completed, there are questions provided to connect learning.

AIMS Educational Foundation can be found at http://www.aimsedu.org/.  "From Head to Toe" is located under the Books and Activities link and then under Activity Books.  AIMS offers this activity book as a downloadable ebook in PDF format for $24.95.  The hard copy (in paperback) is also $24.95 and contains a CD with all of the printables for each lesson so you don't need to try to position the book on your copier.

I encourage anyone interested in enhancing their child's learning to peruse the AIMS website.  There are so many wonderful products that integrate math and science.  There are books about electricity, space, building with LEGOs, anatomy, earth, and a variety of math topics.

AIMS can be reached at PO Box 8120, Fresno, CA, 93747.  Their toll-free number is 1-888-733-2467.  If you have a particular question, you can fill out an online form at https://store.aimsedu.org/aims_store/contact-us.html.

DISCLAIMER:  I received this product free of charge in order to use it and provide a honest review.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

The Pennsylvania Homeschooling Adventure, Part II


When I first began the homeschooling adventure, I was afraid to do it on my own.  I envisioned the task of writing objectives as a daunting one.  I stuck with the virtual charter school for two years because I didn't think I was capable of getting all the beginning-of-the-year paperwork done.  When a friend showed me all that was required for the affidavit and writing objectives, I wondered why I ever thought I wouldn't be able to do it.  There is really nothing to it.

The PA Homeschool Law states that the affidavit must contain "an outline of proposed education objectives by subject area."  It also states, "The required outline of proposed education objectives shall not be utilized by the superintendent in determining if the home education program is out of compliance..."  There you have it.  It is very clear, right?  Sounds to me like writing objectives ought to be very simple.  It is up to you what you want to teach.

Technically, you must have at least one objective for each required subject.  In the elementary years, your required subjects are "English, to include spelling, reading, and writing;
arithmetic; history of Pennsylvania and United States; civics; health
and physiology; physical education; music; art; geography; science;
and safety education, including regular and continuous instruction in
the danger and prevention of fires."

At the secondary (high school) level, your required subjects are "English, to include language, literature, speech and composition; science; geography; social studies, to include civics, world history, history of the United States and Pennsylvania; mathematics, to include general mathematics, algebra and geometry;
art; music; physical education; health; and safety education, including regular and continuous instruction in the dangers and prevention of fires. High school credit requirements: 4 credits of English, 3 credits of
math, 3 credits of science, 3 credits of social studies, and 2 credits of
arts and humanities."

As you can see, there are a few more things required at the high school level.  This next year will be my first time writing objectives for the secondary level.  Let's start with elementary, since I have done that for the past 9 years.  I've had to write brand new objectives for my oldest child each year, but one of the great things about homeschooling younger siblings is that you can reuse the objectives from your first child.  It may require a little tweaking on your part, however, depending on the interests or abilities of the child for whom you are using them.

I have been taught over the years to make the objectives relatively vague.  Remember, the superintendent cannot use the objectives to determine whether or not you are in compliance.  You do not have to teach what they are teaching in the public school at your child's age.  Sometimes I will use the PA education standards as a guide.  I imagine them looking through my objectives and seeing a state standard and saying, "Oh, look, she's trying to follow our guidelines."  I do various things in my obligatory paperwork to go above and beyond what is required so that the state's need for control will be appeased.  Many people give only what is required and nothing more.  My philosophy is if I do a little bit more than is required they will leave me alone and have nothing to complain about.  It has worked so far.  Anyway, the state standards can be found here http://www.portal.state.pa.us/portal/server.pt/community/state_academic_standards/19721.  Each required subject pulls up a PDF.  It lists the grade and many, many standards.  Pick and choose, if you use any of these.  You certainly don't have to use all or any of them.  It is sometimes a good starting point if you have never written objectives before.  It does, though, give me a good idea what is being taught in the areas of mathematics and language arts.  These are two subjects that I try to stay either at or above the level of what is being taught in the schools.

There are many ways to determine objectives for each subject for your school year.  Don't be intimidated by objectives.  Ask friends who have homeschooled if you can look at their objectives.  Why reinvent the wheel?  If someone you know has homeschooled a child in the past in a grade your child is now in, it would be okay to reuse those objectives (obviously putting your child's name at the top and tweaking for what you will be teaching, specifically).  If your friend taught about the middle ages for history, but you are planning to teach on  Columbus, obviously you'd want to adjust.

There is a website that lists many ideas for objectives, http://home.comcast.net/~askpauline/hs/homeschoolaffidavit.html#objectives.  This site has a ton of great information about homeschooling.  I encourage you to check it out.

Another thing you can do to figure out what objectives you will write is to look at the table of contents of the curriculum you will be using.  Take some of those topics and make them your objectives.  Let's say, for instance, that your math book will teach fractions and multiplication.  An objective could read, "Student will gain further understanding of math concepts including multiplication and using fractions."  Take that a bit further.  Where would they use multiplication and fractions?  Cooking?  Great, use that as an objective!  "Student will apply mathematical concepts through everyday situations such as cooking and reading recipes."

In subjects such as science and history, you may have purchased a great program and used the table of contents as your guide for writing objectives.  What happens if you get halfway through the year and decide you don't like the program and you want to change your subject matter?  One way to write your objectives so that they are vague is to say, "Science: May include one or more of the following.." and then list some objectives.  This allows for getting to or not getting to each of the objectives listed.

As I close, I will give you some of my objectives in each subject (these are for sixth grade) so that you can see some other examples of things you could use.  If you want more, please send me a message so I can help you.

English (to include reading, writing, spelling):
-to demonstrate fluency and comprehension in reading
-to be able to research a topic using various sources
-to be able to present research orally

(There are many more you could choose.  These are just a few examples.)

-to demonstrate an understanding of mathematical concepts such as multiplication, division, time, money, geometry, fractions, etc.
-to be able to use mathematical concepts in everyday situations

-to gain a greater understanding of various fields of science such as geology, biology, botany, etc.
-to gain knowledge through use of hands-on experiments

-to be able to read a map
-to gain an appreciation of different cultures through the study of other countries (history, people, geography, culture, etc.)

-to be able to recognize prominent people in history and their contributions
-to develop a greater sense of patriotism
-to be able to describe places and regions
-to participate in activities that will facilitate learning of U.S. and world history
-to use various resources to increase learning about world history, culture, etc.

Civics/PA History:
-to be able to explain the purpose of government
-to understand rights and responsibilities of citizenship
-to continue to develop an understanding of the history of PA through books, videos, field trips, etc.

-to learn about famous composers through history and to recognize their music
-to demonstrate knowledge of musical theory

-to learn about various artists throughout history and understand their technique, subject material, etc.
- to use various mediums and techniques in art projects

Physical Education:
-to demonstrate good sportsmanship
-to learn the rules of various sports and be able to put them into practice
-to participate in a sports program of choice and regular bike riding, hiking, etc.

Health/Safety Education:
-to demonstrate good hygiene and safety
-to understand fire safety
-to understand how the body functions and how to take care of self...

You can include foreign language, enrichment activities, etc., but these above are the required subjects.  My objects will be slightly different for each grade.  They will also differ depending on what I choose to teach each child.  This decision can be based on their likes.  My middle child loves astronomy, so I may choose to teach him all about the stars and planets one year instead of botany.  My objectives would reflect this choice.

I hope this helps.  Again, if you have any questions, please send me a message.