Sunday, July 29, 2012

Math is Essential, So Check Out Math Essentials!


Created by a math instructor, Math Essentials is a program designed to get students ready for algebra.  It is an easy to follow program that requires only 20 minutes per day.

My son who is entering seventh grade had the opportunity to use the No-Nonsense Algebra book.  Last year, as the algebra I was teaching him through another program got more difficult, he struggled with the concepts.

Since we have been using this book, as seen below, he has not complained at all.  The course work each day often takes less than 20 minutes, so he is willing, by his choice, to do more than one lesson in a day.  Imagine how elated I am to see him working through a program he enjoys!!

Check out the program highlights page to find out more about the Math Essentials program for 4th/5th grade and middle/high school.

No-Nonsense Algebra covers topics such as solving equations, solving and graphing inequalities, polynomials, radical expressions and geometry, algebra word problems, and more, in 92 lessons and chapter reviews.  Obviously, in just a few short weeks, we were not able to get all the way through the book, but each lesson is short and to the point.  There is an introduction to each new topic, helpful hints provided, examples worked, and then exercises available to the student.  There are also a few review questions at the bottom of each lesson (except the first where there is nothing to review).  There is a final exam in the book, and the answers to all of the problems are provided in the back of the book as well.

The book is only $27.95 and includes free on-line video lessons.  Nate was working well through the book and didn't need the video lessons yet, but I watched a few of them so that I'd be able to comment on them here.  They are done very well.  The speaker is clear and makes hard-to-grasp concepts easy to understand.  Some of the videos are lengthy, but that is because he makes sure that enough examples are worked through so that the student is sure to understand.  He also encourages the student to work along with him so he/she gets the practice of working out the problem.

I intend to use this program in its entirety with Nate.  The necessary information to learn is included in the book and through the on-line videos, and there aren't more problems to do per lesson than Nate can focus on at any one time.

I encourage you to check out the sample pages for each book so you can get an idea of what they look like inside.

Math Essentials is offering the following promotion to any order through their website:

Any order that includes Mastering Essential Math Skills Book 1, OR, Mastering Essential Math Skills Book 2, OR, No-Nonsense Algebra, will include a free copy of Geometry (A $14.95 value) plus a free Homework Kit (A $4.99 value).

If you would like more information, you can contact Math Essentials at
PO Box 1723
Los Gatos, CA  95031

or by phone at 1-866-MATH (6284)

If you'd like to read what others are saying about Math Essentials, check out

DISCLAIMER: I received this product free of charge so that I might provide an honest review of it.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

So Many Maps, So Little Time!!

I love maps!  I think my kids cringe when I pull maps out.  "Oh, no!  Here comes another map," they say.  I think they are wonderful because one can have a reference for where events take place.  Things you read make more sense if you can picture the places where those things happen.  It doesn't hurt for geography quizzes either.  ;-)


I received the MapTrek by Terri Johnson series of maps  from Knowledge Quest.  Knowledge Quest is a company started by the Johnsons, a homeschooling family, in 2001.  We will be using the maps they've created for years to come.  There is just so much to do.  Each set comes with a lesson plan, so as they are learning about different topics in history there will most likely be a map to go along with it.  Four of the MapTrek versions are Ancient World, Medieval World, New World, and Modern World.  You can download them or have a CD sent to you for $14.95 (S&H applies for CD).  These four books can also be purchased as a package on CD-ROM for only $39.95.


There is also a MapTrek U.S. Edition for $19.95 available (CD or ebook).  The U.S. Edition and the four-book series above can be purchased as an entire ebook set for $47.99.  They also have an actual book and CD of all 5 sets (Ancient, Medieval, New, Modern, and U.S.) for $55.00.  There are so many options.

The lesson plans are broken down into small and realistic sections.  Each section is one map.  Each section is broken down into 2 or 3 more sections based on age of the student.  A child in grades 1-4 will do less than a  child in 5th-12th grades.  Sometimes the maps are divided for grades 1-4, 5-8, and 9-12.

I love the idea of making my kids look for things and figuring out where places go on the map, but I do have to say that they were not able to do a lot of it by themselves.  There were sections of the Ancient World lesson plan that told them to find all the cities marked on the map.  The dots were very close together, and the ancient maps I found online were confusing.  It didn't seem that there was one particular place to go for the answers, although all of the answers are provided with your purchase.  Sometimes we just had to go to the answers because I couldn't find the right map online.  It would have been helpful if they always listed what cities they had marked on the map and told the student to figure out which dot represented which city.  Bodies of water are fairly easy.

I did notice that there was repetition involved.  My kids had to label bodies of water in the beginning of the Ancient World maps.  I believe the next 5 or 6 lessons after that had them label them as well.  With that much repetition, my kids were learning their bodies of water.

Knowledge Quest also provides curriculum integration guides so if you are using curricula such as Story of the World, Streams of Civilization, TruthQuest History, My Father's World, etc., you will know how to integrate the MapTrek series into your current studies.

I appreciate this program because I want my kids to be geographically knowledgeable.  I want them to know where things are when people mention them or they hear about something going on in a far away country.  This program will take more of an active role from me than I thought it would, but I do not mind.  I do get frustrated when I can't find the right maps, however.

Knowledge Quest has a great deal more to offer than just maps.  They have a wide variety of geography resources.  Click the products tab or just hover over it, and you will see all of the products.

Check out the items listed under "Classes" and "Apps" (for your iPad or iPhone).  Very cool!

Knowledge Quest can be reached at
PO Box 789
Boring, OR  97009

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DISCLAIMER: I received this product free of charge so that I may provide an honest review of it.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Who Is My Neighbor?

Do you ever wonder who your neighbor is?  Who is the person we are supposed to show mercy and love to in our lives?  In Luke 10, we read the story of the good Samaritan.  While geographically he wasn't a neighbor and culturally he wasn't a neighbor of the man who had been robbed and beaten, he had mercy on the man.  In essence, all people are our neighbors.  We are to have mercy on all mankind, as Jesus would.  The product I was able to review with my kids is called Photobucket

This is the third book in the "What We Believe" series provided by Apologia Educational Ministries.  It is intended to help children understand what it means to be salt and light and will encourage kids to develop a Christlike servant attitude.  In this way, they will begin to see that all people are their neighbors.

Along with the textbook, I received the notebooking journal and the coloring book.  This book is intended for children ages 6-14.  The textbook is $39.00.  The journal is $24.00, and the coloring book is only $8.00.  

I feel I am slightly biased because everything I have ever used from Apologia for my homeschooling has been of the highest quality.  I have never come across a product from Apologia that I haven't liked.  This is just another one I thoroughly enjoyed.  There is so much contained in one book that it makes teaching so simple.  There are many different stories and activities included in it that my kids do not get bored with it.

Each lesson is intended to take two weeks, but obviously you will go as slowly or as quickly as your students need.  There are eight lessons on topics such as "Does Anyone Really Need Me?", "How Can I Make a Difference?", "What Can I Do For My Country?", and "Why Can't We All Just Get Along?"

In the front of the book is a sample lesson plan for how you can break up the lessons into 3 weeks/2 days a week.  The front of the notebooking journal has  lesson plans broken up for the entire book and journal so that you know which pages of the journal go with which pages of the textbook.  Each student should have his/her own journal, which I find a drawback.  I myself am sure not to spend $24 for each child to have his/her own, but the journals do have a lot of activities, questions, and lists of movies, books, or songs that can be used to find out more information with activities to go along with those.  They are also beautifully illustrated.  They are meant to be keepsakes, books to track the child's journey.

I enjoy the historical stories and the "Encounters with Jesus" sections the most.  They help to make the lesson more real.  My kids seem to remember stories longer than anything else.

My second favorite part of the book (simply because of who I am) is the recipes scattered throughout the book.  What a fun idea!!!


The pictures in the coloring book have titles related to things read in the textbook.  They are drawn well and allow for a lot of different colors to be used.  Paige has enjoyed using this.  I may have to color a picture myself.

I highly recommend any of the Bible studies by Apologia Educational Ministries.  They are located under the Apologia Press tab.  If you are looking for a way to encourage servanthood in your kids, Who is My Neighbor? is a great choice.  I look forward to working through more of this book with my kids so that they will, hopefully, eventually develop that attitude.

Apologia Educational Ministries can be reached at
1106 Meridian Plaza, Suite 220
Anderson, IN  46016

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

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

A Great Literature Program - Hewitt Homeschooling


Now that I have a child entering high school, I am looking for curricula that will stretch his knowledge.  He has had to read certain books for literature classes that he has had, and he really enjoys adventure books; but he has not had to read too many classics that are of a different genre that what he enjoys.

Hewitt Homeschooling Resources has provided a number of different products for us reviewers.  The item I requested and received is called, "Lightning Lit & Comp: British Literature: Early-Mid 19th Century."  The selections in this curriculum include poems by William Blake, Lord Byron, and Percy Bysshe Shelly, to name a few.  Books that are to be read include Pride and Prejudice, Ivanhoe, Frankenstein, and Jane Eyre.  These are definitely classics but not the type of books that Jake enjoys reading.  The whole way through Pride and Prejudice he kept saying, "Every line in this book has something to do with love."  I had to laugh.

PhotobucketThis book is set up at the beginning to help the student understand why we should read literature and how to read literature, how to read poetry, and the steps to take to improve their own writing.  The lessons begin with a biography of the author and a background on the selection(s) to be read.  Students are encouraged to pay attention to a few different things while they read the poems/book.  The poems and the essays are included in the curriculum.  The books to be read can be found at your local library, purchased on line and shipped, purchased through Nook or Kindle, or bought as part of the package through Hewitt Homeschooling.
The comprehension questions for each selection are broken up into sections.  There are a lot of questions, especially for the books, so only a few chapters are to be read at a time with maybe 10-15 questions to go with the reading.  After the comprehension questions, there is a literary lesson that explains things such as person, place, characterization, etc.  The final part of each lesson has writing exercises.  In order to get through enough of this product to review, I only had Jake do one of the writing activities for each unit.  I let him choose.  He enjoyed the writing assignments more than the reading assignments.  I feel that the exercises are appropriate for high school students.  They cause the student to think and really stretch in their comprehension of things and provide an opportunity to master writing skills.

Hewitt Homeschooling is a very interesting company.  They have a school, curricula for sale, and achievement testing.  They provide basic information about homeschooling and how to get started.  Satisfaction is guaranteed on curricula.  They state you can return any item in new condition within 90 days for a full refund.  They have curricula for arts and music, Bible and character, history and geography, language arts, manipulatives, mathematics, parental resources, science and health, thinking skills, and typing.  There are hundreds of items for sale through Hewitt.

The Lightning Lit & Comp programs are intended for 7th and 8th grade (full-year courses) and high school (half-year courses).  The high-school programs offered are American Lit Early to Mid 19th Century; American Lit Mid to Late 19th Century; British Lit Early to Mid Early to Mid 19th Century; British Mid to Late 19th Century; British Late 19th Century; British Medieval; American Christian; Shakespeare Comedies and Sonnets; Shakespeare Tragedies and Sonnets; World Africa and Asia; and World Latin America, Asia, and Africa. 

You have the option of purchasing the pack for each program.  The Early to Mid 19th Century British package includes the student guide, the teacher guide, and the four books that are to be read.  The total for the package is $48.39.  The student book alone is $29.95, and the teacher edition alone is $2.95 and includes the answers to the comprehension questions.  It also includes a teaching schedule, teaching and grading aids, and a copy of the writing exercises and discussion questions.

I highly recommend Hewitt Homeschooling for your literature curriculum.  Even though Jacob doesn't want to read some of the books or poems included, I know it is helping him with his comprehension of the subject and helping him to understand different literary elements.  I will most likely be purchasing another program within Hewitt for him for the second semester.  As an FYI, some of the books are of public domain and can be downloaded for free through Nook or Kindle.

Hewitt Homeschool can be reached at Hewitt Homeschooling Resources; PO Box 9; Washougal, WA, 98671.  Their phone number is 800-348-1750 or 360-835-8708.  Hours are Monday through Thursday, 8-4 PST.  Their email is

If you are interested in seeing what others have to say about Hewitt, please go to  

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