Adventures in the Physical World: Level 2 – A MasterBooks Review

I remember how curious my daughters were when they were in the early elementary years. Why is the sky blue? Why can’t I see the wind? Why…why…why… One of my favorite aspects of homeschooling is being able to dig deep and find the answers to some of their questions, to inspire them to want to ask why! They are still curious and ask lots of questions, but often do their own research instead of seeking me out. So how do you foster these inquisitive little minds early on and engage them so they stay curious? Masterbooks has a new title, Adventures in the Physical World: Level 2, that provides short lesson (20 minutes), just 3 days a week that will engage and delight your young learner!

I think the cover is just gorgeous! The inside is just as beautiful, filled with bright colors, but not so much as to cause distraction. Rather the vibrant illustrations and photographs are strategically placed to induce curiosity and delight. I very much appreciate the straight-forward schedule as well as the weekly list of supplies needed. They should be easy to find around the house, but having it all collected in one place is fantastic! Anything to make a homeschool mom’s life easier is a win in my book!

A wide range of science topics is covered including chemistry, physics, geology, astronomy, meteorology, and more! I like how each area allows young learners to dip their toes into the world of curiosities around them. This is quite appropriate for younger elementary students who are ready to start engaging with the world in a scientific manner.

As with all titles from MasterBooks you can be assured that this is grounded in the truth of God’s Word. One of the early units on Kinetic energy encourages children to point out examples of kinetic energy in the retelling of Noah building the ark. What a cool way to look at scientific principals built into creation from the start!

While my own kids have grown past this level of science, I highly recommend this title to those with kids in kindergarten, 1st, or 2nd grade. This definitely requires a bit more writing than earlier titles, so make sure your student it ready for that aspect!

DisclaimerI received a digital copy of Adventures in the Physical World: Level 2 from New Leaf Publishing in exchange for an honest review. The opinions here are my own. I was not required to write a positive review. 

Time4Learning: Review

Online resources for homeschooling is becoming a huge trend in the home education world. You can find anything you need from supplements for fill in the gaps to full course curricula. The difficulty comes in trying to weed out the useful from the time wasters. I typically aim to keep our learning environment as focused on literature and hands-on activities as possible. Computers and screens are usually reserved for supplementation, so I’m pretty picky about what my girls use. 
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Time4Learning is a company who has made its presence well-known both within the homeschool world. Simply search for online homeschool resources and Time4Learning pops up very quickly! All of the core areas are covered including language arts, math, social studies, and science for $19.95 each month for k-8th grades. Discounts are given for each additional student signed up. Courses for high school students are also available. The learning environment definitely has more of the feel of a game and Beth, a six-year-old 1st grader, definitely saw using this as playtime. This is a great benefit when you have reluctant learners. Sparking interest is vital with any program whether a traditional approach or computer-based.

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Beth was the primary user for reviewing the program and used the 1st grade level, but her sisters were right there along with her and thoroughly engrossed! She tried out all of the subject areas and was able to quickly complete all of the language arts and math material. Her official grade-level is 1st, but her ability level is second grade or higher. One of the nice things about Time4Learning is if you find the material is too easy (or too difficult!) you can request a grade-level change. This takes about 24 hours, but I’m glad it requires confirmation so parents have plenty of time to consider.

One area which we were concerned about was how science information would be presented. Our family’s world-view is that all of Scripture is true, including a literal 6-day account of Creation. I appreciate that although Time4Learning is not a Christian-based curriculum, they have taken time to address these concerns and even have a specific board within their forum to address this. Click here to see what they have to say.

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Another wonderful aspect is the availability of lesson plans. We are blessed to live in a state where the regulations are easy to follow. Some states are a bit more challenging and require lesson plans. Time4Learning is a huge help for this. It is set up to be a full course curriculum. This can be reassuring for parents who are feeling unsure of themselves as they embark on their journey of homeschool can rest easy knowing their children will be able to meet what is considered grade-level requirements. My personal feeling is it is a little less rigorous than I like our curriculum to be, but my girls tend to be a bit advanced so I’m always searching for more challenges.

Whether you are searching for a full-online computer-based curriculum, fun educational or a supplement for any particular subject, you should check out Time4Learning! This is definitely a high-quality option for any of these scenarios. My daughter asks frequently, “Can I play my mousey game now?” Getting her to agree to play is never a chore and the bonus is she is all the knowledge she is gaining. 

Click below to see what others on the Review Crew had to say!


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Bible Study for All Ages: Review

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Learning Together…This is something I’m learning more about and seeking to do with my girls. I still want them to have their own age-appropriate studies for history, science, math, and language arts, but in other areas I am starting to appreciate more and more the benefits of corporate learning. Corporate learning in a classroom environment is completely different than in our home environment…thank goodness! I was a full-time classroom teacher for a couple of years and there were so many things which made me dislike corporate learning. What is beautiful in our homeschool is we are already learning corporately. I now have the opportunity to do it intentionally rather than haphazardly. 
Bible is one area where corporate learning just seems natural, especially with my youngest turning four in just a couple of months. Bible Study Guide for All Ages is a wonderfully simple and easy way to start doing this if you are looking for something more in depth than just family devotions. We have been starting our homeschool day with this a few times a week. It took some time for me to adjust to using both the Beginner and Intermediate levels at the same time, but I quickly worked out the logistics of the process and found this to be a very enjoyable part of our day!
Considering the range of uses and ability to reuse of many of the products (with the exception of the student pages) the prices are very reasonable.

$5.95 per set of 26 lessons
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Studying the Bible more in depth than family devotions is something the girls have been doing individually, but not together. This was a really fun way to start doing this all together. It took about 20 minutes to complete a lesson if we did it all at once, but it could easily be broken into sections. Each of the pages is divided into smaller boxes with Scripture references and activities which are age appropriate. 

I love that the core was actually reading Scripture instead of just a Bible story. I think Bible story books are wonderful and incredibly helpful for beginning to teach children about the truth of God’s Word. However, they frequently fall short of getting into the deeper understanding and theology learned when studying God’s Word directly.

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One fun aspect with the Beginner Student Pages is the inclusion of the age-appropriate Beginner Timeline. This timeline starts with a picture of the Bible and explanation of the two parts of Scripture. Foundational teachings such as these are often neglected at the youngest ages, but why? Children at a very young age can understand and comprehend things on a much higher level than we often give them credit for. 
Grace really liked learning what her sisters did and having her own page to work on rather than just looking at her sisters’ papers. I loved the inclusion of other skills such as color recognition and counting. These pages are very well-written in way even the youngest children can understand, but also challenges them to think critically. She also was very good about waiting patiently while her sisters finished their more challenging pages.

 photo bible-book-summary-cards_zps28dfa8ff.jpgInstead of a timeline the older children have Bible Book Summary Cards. Wow! I can’t say enough about how much I love these. Each card summarizes a book of the Bible so fully, do in depth, even adults will find themselves learning from them. I feel like the word summary really doesn’t do them justice. Something more along the lines of In Depth Understanding of Theological Highlights and Biblical Truths would be more accurate…but I suppose it would be a bit much!

I chose to go up a grade for the Student pages for my older girls even though Beth is technically only in 1st grade. Her reading level is well beyond her grade-level as is her biblical knowledge and understanding. The latter is because we have been teaching the about the Bible from the time they were just infants. Some would say it is because my husband is a pastor, but no matter what his vocation we would still have trained our children in God’s Word from an early age. Beth was saved a year ago and has continued to grow in her faith. I love how these pages disciple and train more than most material for this age.

Rose is the one of my girls who shows a great love for the Word of God. She would do Bible studies all day long if I would let her! She has such a sweet spirit and sensitivity to Scripture. She is always up for trying new things. She is right in the target grade range of 3rd-4th grade as she has just entered her 3rd grade year. She said her favorite part was, “Everything!” You can’t beat that endorsement!

 photo childrens-songs-cd_zps6d5f5503.jpgThe last item we reviewed was the Children’s Song CD Set which is intended for use with all of the levels. I am a huge advocate for teaching through song as much of my knowledge, biblical and otherwise, comes from tunes I learned as a child. These are simply written songs, some familiar and some new, which will aid with memory of many biblical lists such as Jacob’s sons and the apostles. Also included are some of the classic Sunday school songs I grew up with like Climb Up Sunshine Mountain. These are songs I have taught my girls, but it is getting harder and harder to find them recorded.
For the future I plan to do one page a week and just do one-two boxes on that page a day. Our days are already full and I don’t want to rush through this great teaching tool. Going at a slower pace will allow for more discussion and for the truth of God’s Word to penetrate more deeply into their hearts.
Click below to see reviews of these and other levels from my Crewmates!


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Math Rider: Review

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When I was in school math wasn’t my best subject. I always just felt like I just wasn’t very good at it even though I didn’t know exactly why. Looking back on it, I wonder if perhaps it was a lack of math fact mastery. I recently found out our state is attempting to pass a law that requires students to master addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division math facts. Now, I have no idea why this isn’t already required, but if this was the case when I was in grade school it would make sense that math would be more difficult if I never mastered the facts initially.

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Math Rider is far and away the best program I have seen for math fact retention. It is fun, it is quick, and it works! I honestly feel the $47 is well worth the price. I have been recommending this to everyone who tells me their children are struggling with math facts. This single program covers multiple levels which can be adjusted to individual users as well as all four math operations (addition, subtraction, multiplication, division).  Math Rider is intended for ages 6-12 (2nd-6th grade) but it is a good program for any age who has good basic understanding of addition concepts.

The game is set up so students can practice their facts in practice runs. When practicing the facts they may speed up or slow down as they need to according to their ability. I love that the game automatically adjusts to their speed. It also is not one bit discouraging when they miss a fact. Students have a certain amount of time to find the correct answer before the entire fact is simply read aloud. The same fact is then quickly introduced again so they can have an opportunity to answer correctly thus quickly building mastery. Students can also complete quests. These quests give them a goal to get medicine, find things, help the princess, and return objects to their lost land. The graphics and music are engaging and keep kids interested.

 One of the best features allows me to see what facts my girls have mastered, almost have mastered, and don’t know at all. The chart is easy to read and the students’ biggest challenges are listed to the side. A sliding bar shows mastery level at a quick glance and another chart shows how much improvement has been made. This is available for each operation studied. I couldn’t think of anything else I would add to this and ti has proved extremely helpful for me as their teacher.

I used this with Rose (7) and Beth (5). Rose felt like she struggled with math. In reality, she understands the concepts, but recalling math facts quickly has been a frustration for her. When she did speed drills as part of her study she would get the answers correct, but not be able to finish them all in the amount of time allotted. I see the value of speed drills, but encouraged her that even if it took her longer to recall a fact the important thing was that she knew it. Even so she still felt frustration at not being able to finish her speed drills.

After just a few week of using Math Rider Rose consistently finishes her math fact drills early. That’s right! She moved from consistently having 4-5 out of 20 not done in the 60 second time limit to getting them all done correctly with 5-10 seconds left. I can’t tell you what this has done for her confidence.

Beth is only in Kindergarten, but she excels in math and has moved on to the 1st grade curriculum including starting working math facts. I didn’t have to actually teach the concept of addition. She just knew it (I assume from listening in on her older sister’s lessons).

Moving forward into adding three numbers was a breeze due in no small part to Math Rider. I never taught her this concept either (gasp!). She started working on her lessons while I was finishing up the morning chores. The next thing I knew she was adding three numbers without any explanation needed.

Math rider has blessed both my girl immensely. The game was created by a family who was looking for help with their own kids. They did a great job! I intended for them to use it a few times a week, but this has turned into a daily activity, because they beg to play it! They frequently ask to play this game when it isn’t even school time. Are you kidding? Math for fun? Now you know why I can’t say enough good things!

Don’t forget to check out the other reviews from my Crewmates!


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