With-in the Old and New Testament sets, each page covers one book of the Bible. The page includes important information such as:
When it was written
Time period covered
Type of book
Number of chapters
There is also a short one-paragraph overview of what that book covers.
Below that information is a guideline or blueprint of what is in the book, which breaks it down into more significant information sections. For example, 1 Corinthians is divided into three sections: Quarrelling and Resolutions, Advice on Eliminating the Sins of the Church, and Explaining the Spiritual Gifts. The author then goes on to give an explanation and overview under each of those headings.
How Can You Use Bible Blueprints?
These could be great to use in your homeschool to help students get a better understanding of the sequence and flow of the Bible. Sometimes students have difficulty understanding how it all fits together, and these pages can help them see it more in the big picture.
The Blueprints are also an excellent resource for your Bible study. You can use them before you dig into a particular book of the Bible to help you get a bit of context (what type of book, who wrote it, and when it was written) as well as an overview of what will be covered in the book.
I could also see them being a lot of fun used in a trivia or Jeopardy-style game with your students. They could help them memorize the authors, the location in the Bible, timeframes, etc., and then answer trivia questions about that information.
We thought this was a great resource. I appreciated how it included the background information at the top to help you better understand the context of the book.
The layout was simple and easy to read while still being visually appealing. The use of different colors helped to make it easier to read.
I think Bible Blueprints would make a great Bible resource for any family, and anyone old enough to read could use them.
I encourage you to click on the graphic below to check out what other Crew Families thought about this resource.
The Healthy Habit Trackers are a set of twelve different trackers designed to help children keep track of various things, including exercise, nutrition, and even chores.
They are creative and visually appealing to help make them motivating for your children.
How Can You Use Healthy Habit Trackers?
These are designed to use a different one of twelve different trackers to be used one per month. However, you can decide what your family needs most, and you might stick with one for several months or use more than one per month.
Some families choose not to do yoga, so you might not even print that tracker. These give families a great deal of flexibility in how they use them.
For example, a family might decide to use the healthy body one every month because it motivates children to brush their teeth, get plenty of sleep, etc. Other families might find that the routines and habits are in place after a month, and they want to move on to a different tracker.
If your children like the trackers, they might want to do several at once, while other students might find that a bit overwhelming.
I felt like starting with one was a good fit for our family because I was using them with my younger sons, and I knew I would be responsible for helping them keep track. We started with nutrition because we had already been working on helping my eight-year-old better stay hydrated and eat well.
What Did We Think About the Healthy Habit Trackers?
I think the Healthy Habit Trackers are an excellent tool for helping children become more consistent with their healthy habits. I love that they are all visually different so that the design works well for the particular habits and keeps things visually interesting for the child.
I also appreciated the bonus blank tracking forms that allow us to track other habits or activities. For example, I am planning to use one of them in the fall to help my son track his music practice and motivate him to be more consistent.
If your children struggle to be consistent with their exercise, nutrition, tooth brushing, etc., these might be a simple and inexpensive way to motivate them. Though our family will not use all of them, they are a great set, and it is easy to pick and choose the ones that will work best for your family.
I encourage you to click on the graphic below to see how other Review Crew families used these in their homes.
My daughter has a rather complicated relationship with writing. She loves the idea and is even working on writing a book. However, she dislikes writing assignments and has complained about writing programs. When the opportunity came to review the Cover Story Cloud Set by Clear Water Press, It seemed like it would be a great fit.
I showed it to my daughter because I knew I would need her buy-in for it to be successful. She loved the idea of writing on her chosen topics and having her magazine at the end of the course.
What is Cover Story?
This set includes Cloud Access to the Video lessons and physical copies of:
The Teacher’s Guide
The Student Book
The course is twenty-four weeks of video lessons plus an additional twelve weeks of optional grammar videos. There are three lessons each week plus five journal entries per week. In addition, there are six unit tests throughout the course.
The videos are about ten to twenty minutes long, and we found them both informative and engaging.
In the journal, they are given a specific task for each day. For example, in the beginning, they are to write five curious questions each day. The video lessons explain what that means. Another section works on details and another on sentences about people, etc.
The course aims to help students in grades 6-9 create the content for their own magazine, including short stories, articles, poems, letters, blog posts, and reviews. The lessons primarily focus on the magazine’s content, not the pictures and layout, and those items are addressed briefly at the end of the course.
The Teacher’s Guide is a great resource. It contains lesson plans so the parent can easily follow each week’s lesson, scoring rubrics, examples, answer keys, and pages to track scoring.
What Did My Daughter Think?
“I like the writing program. The teacher is easy to understand and funny. The workbook is easy to understand and follow. I like how his lessons are easily accessible and are not scattered around. For example, if you are doing week 1, you go and click on week one, and right under it, you get all three lessons for week one, making it easy to find what you need. The lessons are around 10-15 minutes each.”
What Did I Think?
I have enjoyed having a writing program that my daughter seemed to enjoy completing. I appreciated that Cover Story was designed to make it very easy on the parent. My only significant contribution to the program is grading completed work and ensuring my daughter stays on track.
I was particularly grateful that one of the early lessons worked on passive verbs/voice. Passive voice is something that I have always struggled with, and many programs do not address it.
While this program is billed as a middle grades curriculum, I feel it is rigorous enough for my daughter’s freshman year in high school. I hope it will give her the skills and strategies needed to take her writing to the next level.
I am hopeful that I will even be able to publish some of her writing on the blog soon!
Cover Story is a great writing program for middle and early high school students. This might be a great fit if you have a child that needs assignments to have more of a purpose. It is also helpful for parents that want the instruction to be more independent because of the videos.
My daughter plans to continue to work on this program through the summer slowly and then pick back up with a more regular pace in the fall to complete the course. I encourage you to check out the Cover Story Cloud Set website and click on the graphic below to read more reviews!
At the end of every year, I like to take a few minutes to evaluate our school year, my children’s academic progress, and test results. Then I try to make sure I have a plan to work on any areas of weakness. This year, I realized I needed to spend more time with my eighth-grade daughter on grammar. I had the opportunity to review The Language Mechanic from The Critical Thinking Co.™.
What is The Language Mechanic?
The Language Mechanic is a paperback grammar book with eleven different units. The theme of the book is “Tuning Up English with Logic.” The book is designed for fourth- seventh-grade students, but I felt it would be a good fit for my daughter. She knows how to write papers but often struggles with the grammar conventions, such as commas and other punctuation.
Each unit is divided into smaller lessons (ranging from two to ten lessons per unit) and a unit review. Each lesson has a short teaching component, including examples, logic, and rule. That is followed up with practice questions that can be done together, “your turn” questions for independent practice, and challenge questions.
Also included in the book are a glossary of important terms, an answer key, and a few pages of instruction for the parent/teacher.
What is Included?
Run-Ons and Fragments
Punctuation: ‘ ” ?!
Friendly Letter: Greeting and Closing
Spelling and Vocabulary
How We Used The Language Mechanic
For younger students, the parent or teacher would spend a few minutes teaching each lesson, and then the student would independently work on the “your turn” questions. However, since my daughter is older and just needed extra help with grammar, she worked through the program independently.
She was able to read the lesson and then go through the practice problems before checking her answers. Each lesson took her about ten to fifteen minutes, and we worked through a few lessons each week. I chose not to make her work through the units where she had already shown proficiency. She will finish the other units throughout the summer to be more prepared for her high school writing courses.
What My Daughter Thought
“Even though everyone dislikes the word grammar, this curriculum is good. I understood it, and it was not too hard for me to work through. There were many problems for me to work through to help me fully understand and grasp what we were talking about, and it was easy to follow and figure out what it wanted me to do.” Elizabeth, Age 14
What I Thought
I loved the book’s layout because it was simple to understand and use. I appreciated that I could skip around and choose the areas of concern. Using it with an older child, I appreciated that she could do it independently, but even with a younger child, it would be easy for the parent. It is very open and go and would not require prep work.
I also really appreciated the logic portion of this book. Most grammar programs teach the rules but not the “why” or logic behind them, and I believe that it helps it make sense and stay with them better.
The Language Mechanicis a great way to help children work through standard grammar rules and improve their writing. I think that, in general, the fourth through seventh-grade recommendation is correct, but it could go up or down a little bit depending on the student’s readiness and understanding.
Be sure to click on the graphic below to read more reviews of this product and other great products from The Critical Thinking Co.™.
I love teaching elementary math to my children. However, once we hit Algebra 1, I find an online program to take over. My daughter is doing Geometry this year, and we had the opportunity to check out the Geometry At My Pace course from High School Math Live.
This course is broken down into two semesters (A and B), and we started with semester A. Once you set up your account, the student can log in to their account and see a syllabus for the semester. The syllabus lays out the course in three lessons each week.
There are video lessons (40 minutes to an hour-long), homework assignments, and quizzes and tests. Students can check their homework using the answer key in the back of the book and answers provided with the syllabus.
Quizzes and tests must be requested from the teacher. The teacher e-mails them to the parent to be given to the student and proctored by the parent. You then scan the quiz or test and send it electronically to the teacher for grading.
Each student has a teaching notebook located in one drive. This notebook has teaching notes for each lesson, links to virtual resources, and the student’s grade book. The teacher inputs the quiz and test grades into this notebook.
There is also some one-on-one tutoring available with the At My Pace courses, but my daughter has not needed the additional help yet.
Since this is an “At My Pace” course students are not required to work through the course on a particular schedule. So even though it is laid out in a week-by-week format they can work through it at their own pace.
“I was able to learn and understand her teaching, but it felt a bit chaotic, especially at first. There are things and links you need scattered around in different places, and the tests are complicated because you have to print them, fill them out, and then send them to the teacher, and if you are not used to doing that, it can be challenging. The lessons are long, ranging from about 40-50 minutes each. “
The instruction in this program is solid and appropriate for high school students. The teacher we interacted with via e-mail was polite, prompt, and helpful.
I felt overwhelmed when we first looked at the program because it felt like a lot to figure out and find. That became much easier as we moved forward in the program.
It is a program where someone else teaches, and the parent is simply the proctor. Depending on your family’s needs, this could be a pro or a con.
I feel like this course will give my daughter a solid understanding of high school-level geometry, and we plan to continue with the class in the fall to provide her with high school math credit.
I think that the instruction for this course is solid, and it is a well-done and in-depth high school math course. It is a bit challenging to figure out initially but much easier to use once you have gotten through the first few weeks and understand the layout.
The lengthy videos and teacher-graded paper quizzes and tests make it more like a traditional math course than some other online courses we have used. This could be good or bad, depending on your student.
Other Review Crew families reviewed different courses from High School Math Live, so click on the graphic below to check out their reviews and see how the program worked for their families.
One of our educational goals for our children is to have a good understanding of our government and grow up to be informed, productive citizens. As a part of that goal, we have been looking for an excellent high school-level government class. We have recently reviewed the Principles and Precepts of Government from Paradigm Accelerated Curriculum (PAC).
What Is Principles and Precepts of Government?
The Principles and Precepts of Government curriculum included three text booklets and three coordinating activity booklets. There was also a teacher’s resource kit with tests and quizzes. You can choose from print or digital versions, and we were able to look over both for this review. The program is worth ½ of a social studies credit.
The text booklets are approximately 60-75 pages in length. Each one contains three sections which are further divided into five topics. The content begins with the evolution of government, going back to historic empires before Christ. Then it moves on to the Roman government before introducing the colonies and the beginning of the US government. The second booklet is an in-depth look at the constitution, the bill of rights, and the branches of government. The final booklet covers state and local government, the election of the president, rights and responsibilities, and parliamentary procedure.
I am somewhat concerned that the paper formatting of the text booklets may not hold up to long-term use.
Each topic is only 3-4 pages in length, making it a manageable amount to cover in a day. At the beginning of each topic, a vocabulary list covers essential vocabulary from within the text. Those vocabulary words are also written in bold format within the text. There are black and white illustrations and maps sprinkled throughout the text. Most sections also include a life principle, an important quote about government from famous historical figures. For example, one of the sections is from Francis Bacon. “If we do not maintain justice, justice will not maintain us.”
The activity books are broken down into the same chapter, sections, and topics as the textbooks, which makes pairing them seamless. Each topic has a page or two of questions that are mostly fill-in-the-blank and multiple choice. Sometimes, there are places to write down quotes or important content, such as the preamble to the Declaration of Independence. I think it is important to note that while these are called activity books, they are more in the style of what most people would consider workbooks. There are no hands-on activities, just the questions.
How Did We Use Principles and Precepts of Government?
I have a rising ninth-grader and a rising high school junior who both need an American Government course, so we are going through this course with both. They are doing the work independently, but then we discuss it as a family. (You need a second set of activity books for a second student as they are consumable.) Since it is broken down into small topics, we can do two to three topics a week and cover the course material in one semester.
What Did I Think?
I liked that the curriculum was straightforward and easy to use. They had the students understand the background of our government and get a good knowledge of our constitution. Grading was simple because it included worksheets and tests. I would like to see a little more time on primary source materials and more hands-on learning, but I appreciate the quality content and ease of use. I also really appreciated this quote on the Paradigm website, “Principles and Precepts of Government is designed to equip students with an understanding of the evolution of various forms of governance, and thereby gain an appreciation of the workings and myriad benefits afforded in their American Republic, the sacrifices to bring it to fruition, and the requirements of involvement to preserve it.”
I just felt like that quote aligned with our family’s desire to teach our children about our government.
Both of my high school students will complete this course and some additional government materials to make a full government credit in the fall. You can also pair this course with an economics course from Paradigm to make a full credit.
What Did the Teenagers Think?
“I like how it is easy to find where you need to be in the text and activity books because Chapter #, Section #, and topic # are given at the top of the page. At the beginning of each section, it gives a vocabulary part, and throughout the section, it highlights all the words in the vocabulary part. I like how the quizzes are formatted with multiple-choice, fill-in-the-blank, or true or false questions. The curriculum covers from about 500 BC to more modern times, which I like because it gives you a good background on how government started and how it works now.” Elizabeth, Age 14
“The government course is a great course on the history roots and workings of the US government and I like the way that the quizzes are set up as multiple choice or fill in the blank.” Matthew, Age 15
Overall, this is an excellent self-paced American Government course for high schoolers. Most high schoolers could complete it independently, or you can add in family discussions. If your student is a more hands-on or auditory learner, you may want to add some additional activities or lectures. I encourage you to check out this course and the other offerings at Paradigm Accelerated Curriculum. You can also click on the graphic below to see what other Review Crew Members thought about various classes.
Our most recent review gave my four-year-old a chance to get in on the action. We received the LeapStart® Learning Success Bundle™ from LeapFrog. This kit included the LeapStart Learning Success learning system and two books.
What is the LeapStart® Learning Success Bundle™?
The books had activities for various ages, from preschool through first grade.
The system operates on two AA batteries and is lightweight and portable. It works great for using at home or when traveling.
In addition to the books that came with the bundle, various additional books are available to purchase separately. You can find a book based on age (from two to eight) or skill and subject. You can choose from math, reading, science, creativity, and more.
The price is reasonable, with the set being less than $50 and additional books being under $10.
When you purchase additional books, you have to connect the device to your computer with the USB cord (provided with the set.) This allows you to download the audio for that particular book onto your learning system.
How to Use the LeapStart Learning Success Bundle
Once you download the audio and your learning system has batteries, you are ready to get started. Simply open the device and place the book that you wish to try. Then press the power button to get started. The child can use the attached stylus to press on different parts of the page.
There are options for activities, more advanced activities, and more information on each page. When the child presses the stylus down on different pictures, the book will tell them about the images or ask them to find certain things.
For example, one of the pages of the included book has lots of animals. My son could press on any animal, and it would give him the name and sound. He could also push the activity button, and it would ask him to find specific animals.
How Did We Use the System?
We do not do any formal schooling with my four-year-old, but he loves to learn and often asks to ‘do school’ while I am working on schoolwork with my older children.
This program was perfect for him to use during our school time. Once I took a few minutes to show him how it worked, he could use it independently. It introduced and reviewed key concepts such as letters, shapes, numbers, animals, etc.
It met another important criterion for me; it allowed him to learn through play! He was able to play and explore the different pages of the book without having to go in order or meet any objectives.
My son enjoyed this set, and he would often reach for it and play it on his own time. I could also give it to him to keep him occupied during school time with the older children.
We received the student book and teacher’s manual for Dynamic Christian Living. This curriculum covers basic Christian doctrine, salvation, the study of the Bible, and the power of prayer. The student book was a 271-page paperback workbook and the teacher’s manual was enclosed in a three-ring binder. The manual was organized with tabs into teaching material, testing material, and the answer key.
Each week there is a guided lesson for the parent or teacher to do with the student. The teacher would teach the lesson and the student would complete a guided notes page in the student manual. Then there is work in the student book for the student to complete independently. It took my daughter about an hour to ninety minutes each week to complete the lesson.
There are 35 lessons in the book, which works out to one lesson per week for most students. The manual also includes tests and quizzes that we could use for student evaluation. There is an optional scripture memorization plan as well, but we chose not to use that memorization plan since my daughter already does other scripture memorization.
What is Included in the Content?
Unit 1: Birth (Salvation)
Unit 2: Growth (The Bible)
Unit 3: Breath (Prayer)
Unit 4: Communication (Witnessing, Sin, Questions)
Unit 5: Behavior (Living a Godly Life)
What Did My Daughter Think About Daily Christian Living?
“I have enjoyed working on this bible study. So far, it has talked about salvation, faith, grace, and a few other words relating to those topics. It has me read a section from the Bible, answer questions, and it explains some of what I read and helps to tie it into the word we are discussing. While I have learned from this study, it would make an excellent curriculum for someone who didn’t know how to be saved.” Elizabeth, 14
What Did I think?
Overall, we like this program. I love that it is set up to allow me to stay involved but also has students work through some of it independently.
I appreciate that it is more than surface-level devotionals or character education.
I did feel like they underemphasized baptism when they discussed the process of salvation and receiving the Holy Spirit. Otherwise, I was pleased with the theology and thought it was Biblically accurate. Since the parent is involved in the lesson, it allows me to continue to monitor the theology to make sure it aligns and facilitates any necessary conversations about Biblical interpretation.
We plan to have her continue to use this program and believe that it will help her in her Biblical foundation. While some of the first chapters were mostly review for her because of her spiritual maturity, I believe that the three units she has left will help her continue to grow.
I have had the opportunity to review Famous Men of Greece from Memoria Press over the last few weeks. I was given the textbook, student guide, teacher guide, and flashcards. I was happy to check it out because it tied in nicely to the era in history that I have been covering with my elementary and middle school students.
What is Famous Men of Greece?
Famous Men of Greece is a history program designed primarily for middle school-aged students. The program includes a student textbook broken down into sections focusing on different men from Greece. For example, it covers Socrates, Philip of Macedonia, Alexander the Great, and Aristotle.
It also covers the Gods of Greece and the Fall of Greece.
There are many pictures throughout the book, which help keep it exciting and engaging for students.
The book is 126 pages long, including the table of contents and a pronunciation guide at the end of the book.
The set also includes a student guide which is a workbook that accompanies the text.
Each lesson includes vocabulary, facts to know, and comprehension questions. There are also additional activities that often involve mapping or timelines.
The teacher’s manual includes an answer key for the student guide and tests and a final exam.
Finally, the set includes a nice pack of flashcards. These flashcards can be a great way to review the material, and you can use them as traditional flashcards or create a game to help make studying more fun.
How Would We Use Famous Men of Greece?
Famous Men of Greece is a very classical style product. Since our family leans towards a more Charlotte Mason style approach, we would adapt our learning. The textbook is written in an exciting story-style fashion that works well for classical and charlotte mason style families.
In our family, we do not use a lot of workbooks for history, especially before high school. However, using the comprehension questions as discussion starters could be a great resource. We would read the section in the textbook together and then discuss the vocabulary and comprehension questions.
Who Would Benefit From Famous Men of Greece?
I think that the Famous Men of Greece would be great for middle grades students who like using a classical or traditional approach. It is also a good resource for adapting to families that enjoy a Charlotte Mason style approach.
The program could also be a part of a high school curriculum, particularly for a student that did not have a strong history background.
The Review Crew is reviewing Famous Men of Greece and several other products from Memoria Press. Click on the graphic below to see how other families used these products in their homeschools.
This review is a little different than many of the reviews that I share on the blog. Instead of reviewing a curriculum or book series, we are examining a particular translation and the formatting and information included in the NIrV Adventure Bible for Early Readers from Zondervan.
I want to be upfront that I have been reading and studying the Bible since my childhood, I am very familiar with the Bible, but I also do not claim to be a Bible scholar. This review is my opinion as a Christian and a mother. It is also important to note that we hold the Bible in high esteem in our home and consider it the holy and inerrant word of God.
Layout and Formatting of the NIrV Adventure Bible for Early Readers
The paperback version of the NIrV Adventure Bible for Early Readers that I received to review is a full-color book that includes a bright and lively cover that both of my young sons found interesting.
The bulk of the print was black, but headings, chapter numbers, and other information were in different colors. I thought this was very helpful for teaching a new reader how to navigate the Bible. Colorful sections are included throughout the Bible with additional information, illustrations, and thoughts.
The beginning of each book of the Bible has a page that gives information about who wrote the book, when it was written, important events, etc. In addition, there are full-color pages sprinkled throughout with important information, such as a list of the Old Testament prophets, a list of the disciples, and a timeline of the life of Christ with scripture references.
Thoughts on the NIrV translation
When I looked over this translation and compared it with the translations that we traditionally use, I felt like it was a reasonably accurate translation of the Bible. There were times when I felt that other translations were more precise because of the more complicated language. However, I did not think that this translation for inaccurate or false.
The wording was similar to the New International Version (NIV), but many sentences were shorter, and simpler language was used. It was very appropriate for a beginning reader but not as precise as I would want for a study Bible.
How We Used the NIrV Adventure Bible for Young Readers
I decided to review this edition of the Bible because I have a seven-year-old who is just learning to read, and I thought it might be a good fit for him. He is not to the point in his reading that he could read the Bible independently.
The NIrV is on the third-grade reading level, and my son has an early second-grade reading level.
He enjoyed spending some time looking over the Bible, looking at the pictures, and decoding what he could. We also used this Bible when we looked up verses in conjunction with his Bible curriculum.
Since he is a very early reader, he still needed help with some of the words, but he could be much more successful at reading this translation than some of the other translations.
Opinions of the NIrV Adventure Bible
Overall, I think that this is an excellent translation for younger readers, and I am excited to use it with my young sons over the next several years. I believe it is the perfect bridge between children’s Bibles, which are often more of a collection of Bible stories and a more traditional translation.
In our home, I will have my beginning readers use it to allow them to start reading scripture for themselves and following along with our family studies. However, it will not replace the translations we prefer for teen and adult Bible study.