Thursday, January 2, 2014

My Review of Our Year of Reviews 2013

With the announcement of The Old Schoolhouse's Blue Ribbon Awards in November, my 4th or so year of reviews with The Old Schoolhouse Magazine's Review Crew came to a close.

blueribbonlinky

If you click the picture above, you'll see what my Crew Mates and I voted were the best products we reviewed this year.  Some of mine made the cut, while others that worked for our family didn’t quite make the top of the list.  I thought I'd share what our faves were, and how they worked out for us past the review period.

Math:

We still love, love, love Math U See.  Ben is in the middle of finishing Algebra 1, and I have to say that MUS has made this relatively painless (see our review here). Although we’ve progressed through it a lot slower than I planned (I had wanted Ben to finish this by around Thanksgiving), I’m not going to gripe.  As usual, we had too much going on this past summer to make progress through the program.  I truly believe Ben is getting a great foundation in algebra, with no tears, little pain, and he is enjoying math. 

Luke and Levi are also using MUS still.  Luke is learning long division in Delta; this is my first time through Delta – and I am pleased with the foundations he is building as he learns some of the “why’s” of long division.  Levi is almost finished with Beta, and we will turn our attention to learning multiplication facts.  No disrespect to MUS about this, but Luke and I had a lot of fun using a product from a few years ago, called Math Made Easy (review here from a few years ago) that I will use with Levi.  In six weeks, he’ll know all his multiplication facts and we’ll breeze through MUS Gamma.  Unfortunately, I cannot find Math Made Easy’s website anymore, so I’m not sure the product is still being sold. 

Although we reviewed Math Rider way back in February 2012, this product is still used to help the boys review math facts (especially over the summer). The usually have a love-hate relationship with it –- hating it at first (it’s math facts!) but as they get back into it, they end up running around the house to tell me about their accomplishments and showing me the jewels and awards they’ve earned. 

language arts:

Logic of English is our new spelling and grammar program for Levi and he is still using Fundanoodle’s cursive workbook to refresh and review cursive.  We should be finished with that workbook soon and we’ll move back to Classical Conversations' Prescripts for longer copywork sentences.  I’ve been reading Leigh Bortin’s The Core:Teaching Your Child the Foundations of Classical Education and have been inspired to incorporate more consistent use of copywork into Luke and Levi’s daily program.

I also think that Teaching the Classics is vital for our family;  however we haven’t been using it.  Ben’s literature course has been full as is and I haven’t fit in TtC principles in.  I’d like to incorporate it at an elementary level for Luke and Levi, and am considering purchasing some tools from The Center for Lit to help me be more intentional. The have a number of resources I’m considering, but I think that a Ready Readers would be perfect to help keep me on track.

Reading Kingdom is another tool that Luke and Levi are using to supplement their academics.  I like that this is something independent that they can do. I contacted customer service and had Luke re-take the placement test, because I had seen some jumps in his reading ability this fall (He started reading the Harry Potter series);  indeed Luke was able to to move up an entire lesson.

high school:

In addition to Ben’s high school Algebra course, we both fell in love with Homeschool Programming’s C# programming courses.  Ben has finished the first semester long course and is working on gaming right now. 

A product that I just loved, but really stretched Ben’s comfort level was Homeschool Spanish Academy (review here).  I loved that it forced Ben to communicate with someone in Spanish, improving language processing, pronunciation and verbal expression.  These are the exact reasons Ben didn’t like it.  He would prefer to learn a language from a book. He is really wanting to start Spanish at the high school level (we reviewed a middle school level pacing), and I think I’m going to strike a deal with him that he can indeed take Spanish, but we will invest in HSA as the coursework.  And I’ll buy him a workbook if he wants.  *grin*

Best high school deal of the century is God’s World News (review here).  When you purchase individual subscriptions directly through the publisher, you will get access to their World Magazine content.  This has been a huge tool and blessing for Ben’s current event’s coursework this year.  We’ve been able to download each issue of World Magazine to our iPad.

other faves and their fate

  1. Song School Spanish was put to the side while we investigated a Latin course.  This made Levi sad, as he really, really loved it.  I hope to surprise him this winter by bringing it back out and working on it 3-4 days a week with he and Luke.
  2. We’ll be bringing back our Homeschool in the Woods Composers Activity Pack this semester when we begin our unit on musical composers!
  3. Luke and Levi are still using Bible Study Guide for All Ages.  I was happy to learn that I could purchase the next unit of activity pages through Currclick, which will be very economical!
  4. Apologia’s Human Anatomy course is also a favorite, but was set aside to complete other science reviews.  Levi asks me about it often, and I really want to squeeze it in.

Being on the Review Crew has been an amazing experience that I am grateful for all the time.  The community of reviewers is so supportive and welcoming and the products have given us a wonderful ability to try tools that stretch us and help us to know ourselves better.  My prayer, however, is that our reviews are helping those in the homeschool community – especially my readers – to locate products that will bless their families and home education efforts.

image

Looking forward to the 2014 Crew Year!

1 comment:

Jennifer Heather said...

I'm pleased to acknowledge how throughout 2013 review crew has been worked hard to sort out best products qualities through reviews. It's a tough job to maintain quality all the time and I wish all the best to crew team for 2014. Thanks.