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Back in September 2012, we had the privilege of reviewing A Cry From Egypt, by Hope Auer. This is a great book that depicts life in Ancient Egypt through the eyes of, Jarah, a young Israelite girl. Here's an excerpt from my review:

"This is a book about a young girl, Jarah, and her family, set in the historical period when the Israelites were slaves in Egypt. Through Hope's education and studying of Ancient Egypt, she was able to define the characters with great authenticity, and creates a setting that is, not only factual, but amazingly accurate. You are drawn into Jarah's life: her fears, her joys. . .her reality as an Israelite girl enslaved in Egypt. As each of the plagues fall upon Egypt, we see Jarah and her family's experience as it might have really been. And though the people are fictitious, the facts are Biblically correct." To read about our thoughts, hop over to my review.

I'm so excited to tell you that A Cry From Egypt is being released today! And, I have been given the opportunity to giveaway an autographed copy of A Cry From Egypt.

Entering is easy, and there are many ways to enter. The contest starts right now and ends in 1 week. I will email the winner and he/she will have 2 days to respond, so be sure that you leave a good email address :^)

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Since our very first Disney trip, we have used PassPorter's guide books. These books detail everything for you: the rides, dining, motels, planning worksheets, and so much more. 

They even have one for Disney Cruises, which, of course, we have for our upcoming trip :^)

I recommend PassPorter for anyone taking a Disney trip.

But I'm mentioning them here because PassPorter has a contest for a free iPad that ends May 1st. It's a fun contest, too. You enter by finding Disney pictures in their photo section. These pics are uploaded from members and gives you a virtual tour of all the Disney parks, resorts, and much more. 

It's easy to enter. Just go to PassPorter and sign up, and search away. Remember, the contest ends May 1st.

 
 
Reading is more than just a subject in school, it can be a way of life. It can take you into a world as foreign, or familiar, as you choose. It can be educational, inspirational, or fun. But it can also be arduous, abstruse, and obscure. Sometimes we need a little help understanding what's written, or the author's true intent. 

Progeny Press has created wonderful study guides to help your students understand and enjoy what they are reading. As a member of the Schoolhouse Review Crew, we were given a free copy of Things Fall Apart Study Guide.
Progeny Press was created in 1992 by Michael & Rebecca Gilleland. Their search for quality classic literature guides with a Christian Worldview yielded little and as homeschooling parents, this wasn't acceptable. Their first study guide was tested in a Christian school and loved. Now, 21 years later, Progeny Press offers more than 100 study guides that are edited and reviewed by The Gilleland's to ensure their high standards are met. 

Their mission: "To teach our children to think clearly, to understand literature, and to rely on the scripture for truth and values, and enjoy themselves while they do it!" (PP) You can read more about Progeny Press on their About Us page.

We have benefited from Progeny Press' study guides in the past. We had reviewed their guides back in March of 2012 and liked them so much I have since purchased a few more to use for our Co-op's classical book discussion. They are written well and thorough, but more importantly, offer a christian perspective in the analysis of each book. In my own research for study guides, I have found Progeny Press to be one of the only company's that offer this. 
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Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe, is a book unfamiliar to me prior to this review so I was happy to have received the Things Fall Apart Study Guide to complement it. We did purchase the book as it does not come with the study guide, but it is very reasonable and may be available from your local library.

The story is about Okonkwo, an Ibo clansman from a Nigerian village ,Umuofi . It takes place in the late 1800's which was entering the beginning of a time of change for what is now called Nigeria. The British would soon be attempting, and succeeding, at colonization of Nigeria, and Christianity was entering into communities, disrupting and disputing the belief system in place there for generations. 

Chinua Achebe was born in 1930 in Nigeria to a Christian teacher. He wrote Things Fall Apart to depict Nigeria and it's culture true to history and not just as perceived by many. He writes of "the complex rules, patterns, values, and rituals of Okonkwo's society". And he "weaves their vivid language, proverbs, and stories into the novel" (Things Fall Apart Study Guide, pg. 8).

The main idea of Things Fall Apart, to me, is best described when Achebe writes,
"Okonkwo ruled his household with a heavy hand. His wives, especially the youngest, lived in perpetual fear of his fiery temper, and so did his little children. Perhaps down in his heart Okonkwo was not a cruel man. But his whole life was dominated by fear, the fear of failure and of weakness. It was deeper and more intimate than the fear of evil and capricious gods and of magic, the fear of the forest, and of the forces of nature, malevolent, red in tooth and claw. Okonkwo's fear was greater than these. It was not external but lay deep within himself. It was the fear of himself, lest he should be found to resemble his father. . . And so Okonkwo was ruled by one passion - to hate everything that his father Unoka had loved" (Chapter 2, pg. 13)

These words foreshadow, to me, Okonkwo's impending demise. Okonkwo strived so hard at not being who his father was and being a man, that his life was filled with ill-fated decisions and actions. 

Progeny Press chose an excellent piece in Things Fall Apart to create a study guide for. Because the book is rich with a different culture and belief system, having a study guide to help understand it is critical, at least to me. There are many aspects of Okonkwo's culture that we are not familiar with, and the study guide explains it well. And offering this through a Christian perspective allows the reader/student to understand it without criticizing it.

Things Fall Apart Study Guide, like most of the Progeny Press study guides, is broken down into groups of around 3 chapters each. Each of these includes a combination of the following activities: Vocabulary, Questions, Characterization, Analysis, Dig Deeper, and Optional Activities. Also included in each of the study guides are the following sections: Synopsis, About the Author, Historical and Cultural Background, Pre-reading Activities, Overview, Essay suggestions, and Additional Resources.

One of the things I liked in this study guide was a Dig Deeper section for chapters 1-3. It described the various "cultural responses to sin". There was info on Shame Based Societies, Fear Based Societies, and Guilt Based Societies. I just found this fascinating. I'm not sure why, I just did : ^ ) Progeny Press has added it all. You can view a sample of Things Fall Apart Study Guide here

According to Progeny Press, Things Fall Apart Study Guide is designed for students in grades 10-12. Because the story is intense, I do believe that this age group would be likely to understand and appreciate it better than younger students. But I also believe that if there were a student in middle school (6th or 7th-9th) they might be able to understand it if working with an older student or parents. The book does have violence, domestic and criminal, as well as information about gods, oracles, and magic, since this was the culture and belief system of Okonkwo's society. 

How To Purchase: Progeny Press offers both the book and the study guide, but they are sold separately. Things Fall Apart, the book, is available for $11.95. Things Fall Apart Study Guide is available as a printed booklet - $21.95, CD - $18.99, or Instant Download - $18.99.

What We Thought: This was a difficult book to read, at times. There were a few chapters that had flashbacks and "two intertwining stories", that really made it necessary to concentrate on what I was reading. There are so many distractions around me that I often end up reading a paragraph a couple of times before getting the true meaning of it. I am glad that I had the study guide to help decipher what I was reading, or more importantly, bring an understanding to what was important.

The questions posed and the Dig Deeper sections of the study guide really brought about great conversations while we were studying this book. Questions like: "Which of the three responses to sin most closely resembles the culture in which you live?", "In Chapt 9, a medicine man told Okonkwo  'that [Elwefi's] child was an ogbanje, one of those wicked children who, when they died, entered their mother's wombs to be born again'. . .What do these statements imply that the Ibo believe about the afterlife? Read Hebrews 9:27-28. What do these verses say about birth and rebirth?". The questions not only helped to ensure an understanding and remembrance of what was read, but give a deeper understanding of what God and His Word says about the different subjects.

My 17yo daughter read the book on her own. She liked it, though she thought it was "dark". My 12yo son and I read through the book together. We all did the study guide together. We had the PDF file, which allows for answers to be typed into the file instead of having to print the pages. (It can still be printed if chosen.) We liked this. I didn't have to worry about using ink unnecessarily. We chose to do a few of the Dig Deeper questions and the Optional Activities, but not all of them. Progeny Press suggests to do one section a week, which could technically be done and include all of the extra optional work, but for the sake of this review, we chose to progress a little faster and not complete all of the work. We were still able to gain a much better understanding of the book. I did choose not to complete the essays (at least on paper). We did discuss the questions and thought about how we would answer. I really like being able to have open discussions with the kids about deeper subject matter like that included in Things Fall Apart. Even though it is based on a society that existed more than 100 years ago, there are still many relevant situations in today's world. 

I believe that the Things Fall Apart Study Guide would be an excellent resource for your high school student if they are reading Things Fall Apart. If this book is not in your syllabus, check it out and see if it might fit. If not, Progeny Press offers many, many more study guides that might. To read reviews about a few of them, click here or the banner below.
 
 
History is one of those subjects that has the potential to be engaging and exciting, but is often taught in a manner that is dry and boring. I know that when I was in school, it was one of my least favorite subjects. Actually, I think it was my least favorite subject.. But with homeschooling, I have learned that history is full of interesting facts and have come to really like it. But finding a curriculum or supplement that brings excitement into the format, can be a challenge.

Knowledge Quest offers a change to that "same old" style of learning. We have been blessed to review their products not once, but twice. Back in the summer of 2012, we reviewed their TimeMaps computer program and loved it, and this year we received for review their Timeline Builder for iPad APP. 

First a little bit about who Knowledge Quest (KQ) is. KQ was started in 2001 by Todd & Terri Johnson. They are a homeschooling family that set out to develop black and white maps to help supplement lessons on American and World history. Over the years, they've expanded their products to include wall timelines, hardcover timelines, and historical biographies which included geography. In 2011 they took their products to a whole new level and created mobile apps of the iphone and iPad. You can read more about the Johnson family and Knowledge Quest here.

Our original review of, TimeMaps, introduced us to KQ's exceptional products. The goal of TimeMaps "is to communicate history in a truly engaging way", by merging historical timelines, maps, and information into one resource. 
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Now with KQ TimelineBuilder for the iPad, we have their wonderful software in a portable platform. 

Timelinebuilder is not exactly like TimeMaps, as you and your student build the information yourself. 

TimelineBuilder has fully customizable timelines for any subject.

As KQ put it, "TimelineBuilder is THE timeline resource tool that will organize and display chronological events the way YOU want to see them" (KQ).

So How Does It Work?

With the TimelineBuilder, you can choose from a "sample" timeline or customize your own, choosing your own dates, title, subject, pictures, and description. There is a direct link to wikipedia that automatically pulls up a relevant search based on the event name you put in. You have the option of using that info or searching for something different. You also have the choice of which pictures you want to use for each event. Photos can come from an outside source (ex. wikipedia) or your own photo files.

The following photo shows an enlarged image of the bottom of the Apps main screen (seen in the image above).

To begin, you would select "About this App" which gives you a great introduction on how to use it. After viewing this, you then will choose either "New Timeline" or "Sample Timeline". Whichever tab you select, the following screen (image on the left) will come up and you there will create the "Timeline Name". Once you've selected that you can dates, description and select a background, then click the "done" button, which will come up when you start typing. If you've chosen a sample timeline, one will automatically be generated based on your timeline name. A "New Timeline" will generate a blank template where you can add your own events. Whichever timeline you started with, you will have the option of adding a "new event". The image below, on the right, is a screen shot what pops up. Here you add an Event Name and/or dates. You can add images and search Wikipedia, too. The event then will show on your timeline.
We created a few timelines using the Sample option and the New option. 
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This timeline was started as a sample and we added in "The history of paper" and "Be Thou My Vision". Once the date is added, the program automatically places it on the timeline in chronological order. We chose images from Wikipedia for our added events. We were also able to adjust the sizes of the images simply by dragging it. Each of the events can also be moved around to fit the screen or to adjust to your preference. 

In the image, you can see that "Be Thou My Vision" is highlighted in red. I had chosen it to modify. At the top of the screen shot, you can see 3 tabs that allow you to either edit, delete, or "snap to vertical", which will return you to your main timeline.

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In this timeline, my daughter (17yo) was practicing. You can see "practice timeline" on the left hand side of the screen. When she created the timeline, she added this in the description. She was able to choose her background and used images from our own photo files for each event. 

She had fun matching images to her selected dates. 

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We used this timeline to build our family tree. I used just the "start date" and added the full birthdate and date of death (for my dad) in the description. The description is seen by clicking the image.

I've been playing around with this using different photos and adding my husband's family info, too. It's an interesting way to create a family tree : ^ )

Another option that KQ TimelineBuilder for iPad has is to "Share" the timeline. You can share either by sending an email using the events alone or the entire timeline. You can save the events and/or timeline as photos, and even save the file to share via iTunes.

Below are shots from my email after sharing my daughter's timeline. The first photo is a share of the timeline, which includes a photo of the main timeline and a listing of the events. The smaller image (to the right) is a share of the events only. The photos of each event is included along with the description of the events. We though this feature was pretty cool. 

How To Purchase: You can purchase the KQ TimelineBuilder for iPad for $6.99. That is an excellent price for this great App. You will have tons of history right at your fingertips.

TimelineBuilder is for ages 10 and up, but I believe that children of all ages could have benefits from using it.

What We Thought: We enjoyed being able to review this App. We had fun creating different timelines and played around with all the different features. Since we are studying Medieval ages right now, we did try to create a few within this time period. I like the fact that we had instant access to Wikipedia to come up with the descriptions and photos, too.

There were a couple of things we didn't like. First, with the sample timeline, all the event descriptions that are created by the program itself are in Latin. Though we studied Latin some, we couldn't really figure out what was being said. We could go in and edit the descriptions, but it would've been nice to have it in English from the start. There may be a way to do it automatically, but we weren't able to figure that out yet. 

The other thing is when you are creating an event, if you touch outside of the popup, it takes you back to the main timeline and your info is deleted if it wasn't completed. This became frustrating for my daughter because she wasn't used to using the iPad and kept touching the wrong spots.

Overall though, we loved this App and plan on using it with our history lessons. I believe you will like it, too.
 
 
"Be still, and know that I am God;
I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth!
The Lord of hosts is with us;"

Psalm 46:10-11

 
 
We love science! There are so many interesting things to learn about, and see, and do. We believe that God created all things and that He gives us the wisdom to explore & learn what He wants us to. For centuries, those explorations have led scientists to incredible discoveries. Today, we can learn about all of these through various sources.

But what's the best way to learn it? There are innumerable science programs available in the forms of textbooks, modules, videos, unit studies, lapbooks, and online. Determining which is best really depends on your family. But one company that we've recently been introduced to has definitely caught our attention. Supercharged Science is a company that offers a physical science curriculum and their awesome Supercharged Science eScience Online Learning Program. This is an online program that offers a complete science education, including experiments, to K-12 students and educators. We were able to review the eScience program with the extended high school level as members of the SRC.

Supercharged Science was started by Al & Aurora Lipper several years ago. Aurora has an extensive education and career experience. She has a Bachelor's and Master's in Mechanical Engineering Cal Poly State. Her thesis was in flow patterns of F-15 engines (with a 4.0 and "Graduation with Distinction"). She taught at Cal Poly, has worked at NASA, and then created Supercharge Science to help children learn science and have fun doing it.  
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So What is the eScience Program?

Supercharged eScience (SCS) is a complete science curriculum that can be used independent of other curriculum or in conjunction with, depending on your own preference. They even offer a "conversion chart" to help direct you to which lessons coincide with a particular curriculum from another company. SCS "meets or exceeds" state and national standards. Each of the lessons includes exercises and quizzes, as well. 

SCS does not teach evolution or creation. This sets eScience apart from most curriculum that I've seen. Though we are creationists and use a creation based science program, it's refreshing to be able to use an online source and not have to worry about what "facts" my kids are learning that are irrelevant or unnecessary to the topic, like many secular sources have. 

SCS is a step-by-step program that guides your student through each lesson and every experiment. Aurora is an interactive and vibrant educator that will engage your student's desire to learn science. She is the sole instructor in each video and absolutely brings science to a hands on level, even astrophysics and thermodynamics!

SCS is self-guided. Even though the lessons are titled Unit 1, 2, 3... they can be done in any order of preference. And each unit can take as long, or as quickly, as you and your student decide. With the conversion chart, Aurora has made it very user friendly. And each of the lessons has experiments listed for young students as well as high school students. The units are categorized by topic and grade level (SCS FAQ's).

SCS is accessible on or offline. Aurora has also made all of the lessons plans printable, too. You can download the complete lesson as a PDF file and/or view them online. The videos are included within the online lesson. There is even a complete "shopping list" to ensure you have all the necessary lab equipment/supplies for each of the units far in advance of when you are ready.

SCS is parent friendly. If you have any questions while using Supercharged Science' eScience program, you can simply call or email a customer rep directly. Aurora is even available on Wednesday afternoons (as of this posting) and you can call her directly with any questions of the lessons or experiments. That, to me, is amazing!!! There is a full list of FAQ's and a special Parent Resources page that offers info like: what should my child know about science, common mistakes made when teaching science, 6 keys to teaching science, keeping a scientific journal, and so much more.

SCS offers a Getting Started page. This page will help you and your student learn the basics on using Supercharged Sciences' eScience program. It lists how to get started and how to get the most out of the program. This is a great place to start, for sure. There is a video that you can watch, too, with Aurora talking about the program. Check it out for a quick sample view.

How To Purchase Supercharged Science eScience Online Learning Program:

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The eScience program has 2 different levels. The K-8 level is $37 per month and the K-12 level is $57 per month. The expanded K-12 program includes the High School levels which are wonderfully designed with higher level experiments. 

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What We Thought: I have to admit, when we first began to use the eScience program, we were not fascinated. We had a difficult time navigating the site, which was frustrating. And it seemed like some of the experiments didn't give us the list of supplies needed. 

This was before we viewed the getting started page and watched the video. We jumped the gun a little on that. Once we figured it all out (read the instructions, lol), we loved it. My 7th grader is completing General Science through Apologia and all of the lessons fit smoothly with it. My 12th grader is using Apologia's Physics curriculum and enjoyed Supercharged Science very much.

We pretty much jumped around to whatever we chose to do most of the time, but it was really nice to be able to look up specific lessons depending on the topic we were learning that week. I also like that we could go at our own pace. This allowed us to do as we pleased, which is important to us. 

The experiments, for the most part, were very user friendly, too, except the Chemistry ones. These required a chem kit, which we didn't have. But we were able to watch the videos and still learn. Most of the experiments used around the house supplies or easily accessible ones, with links to sites we could get them from. This, again, was nice.

I do believe we will continue to use this program throughout the rest of the year and into next. It has many positive aspects. I think you will really enjoy it, too. You can try it out for 30 days to see. 

For other great reviews, click the link below.

 
 
Do you like reading old books? We do. We enjoy the use of the language and reading about the culture of those times, but the primary reasons we like older books are the fundamental beliefs that God reigns, morality exists, and right and wrong is black and white. But often we're not sure what the books are about or which ones really are family friendly and wholesome. Some of these books we've not even heard of because they haven't been available for several years. 

Daniel Mills wanted to change this. He founded Salem Ridge Press in 2005 specifically to republish books that are wholesome, teach godly character, have a high moral value, and "fit the qualifications of the Bible" (SRP). Salem Ridge Press' philosophy comes straight from Philippians:
There is a rigorous process that each book must endure before it is chosen by Salem Ridge Press (SRP) to be republished. We have had the pleasure of reviewing one of those wonderful books, Elfreda The Saxon: Or, The Orphan of Jerusalem. This is the sequel to Leofwine the Monk by Emma Leslie
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Elfreda The Saxon was originally published in 1875, is 265 pages long and is geared for readers age 12 and up.

It takes place in Medieval years of 1189-1215 A.D. and is in Emma Leslie's Church History series.

Elfreda is a young Saxon orphan that must go to live with her aunt, Lady de Valery, in England. Lady de Valery was not pleased with the situation and ultimately sent Elfreda to London. It was during the Muslim capture of Jerusalem, King Richard I's reign, and The Crusades.

The underlying story, and the connection to Leofwine, is that there was a family curse placed on him 100 years ago and it seems that it still follows Elfreda. She and her cousin, Guy, meet when she arrives in England, and they endeavor to free the family from the curse. Guy had joined King Richard's Crusade and believed he could bring honor to the family and break the curse. Elfreda believed she could break it by living a devout life. But there was only One that could set the family free from the bondage of this curse

The events we read about in Elfreda the Saxon, were true to the historical accounts documented on the history of the church.. The persecution of the Jewish people was painfully accurate. Not that the book depictions were horrifically graphic, but it was the fact that it happened at all that had an impact.

Salem Ridge Press chose a remarkable book to republish in Elfreda the Saxon. It's an excellent book that teaches about accepting The Lord as Savior and trusting Him, all while bringing church history lessons to a very personal level. You can read a sample of the first chapter here. But I warn you, you're going to want to finish it : ^ )

A couple things about Salem Ridge Press' books: Because the books were originally published between the 1800's-1900's, some of the words are no longer used today. SRP wisely added these words and their definitions as footnotes on the first page they are seen. SRP also has added historical notes in each of the books which helps the reader gain an insight to the time period before reading the book. They also have included a write-up on the author, which is nice. SRP has not just republished old books, they've brought outstanding books back to life.

How To Purchase: Salem Ridge has republished many great books (I was able to review a few others back in 2008) that all can be purchased directly from them. Elfreda the Saxon is available for $14.95 (softcover) or $24.95 (hardcover).

What We Thought: As you can tell from my review, I am impressed with Salem Ridge Press' books, Elfreda the Saxon was no exception. While reading, I was easily absorbed in the story. I loved that I was given the short history lessons at the beginning so that I knew more about the time. It allowed me to understand more of what Elfreda was really going through. 

I had my daughter write her own opinion, which follows:
"I like the formatting of the book, for example., the font and setup. The historical facts and word meanings are nice. I would have liked to see a glossary of the words though, instead of having to search through the book to find where the definition was printed. Especially when I couldn't remember them later in the book.  I think that this was a good book to reprint, I do not think I would have even heard of it otherwise. I am glad I was able to read it :)"

I am sure we would not have heard about Elfreda the Saxon if SRP had not republished it. I am thankful for the dedication they have given to these "old books".
 
 
 
 
My husband and I grew up in the 70's & 80's. We didn't have a computer, except in high school (and maybe a little in junior high), and it wasn't anything like it is today. There were no colors or great graphics, that I can remember, at the beginning. It was MS/DOS or something : ^ ) I used the computer in math and at the library. At home, we did things like play outdoors, ride bikes, play Atari, and basic other kid stuff (at least I did, not sure about my husband, lol). I didn't know much at all about the language of a computer.
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But the world of technology has changed a lot since then & Computer Science for Kids wants to help students learn the basics about computer programming so that they are better prepared for an ever advancing technological world. They offer products that will help your kids learn how to create applications and games using Microsoft Small Basic.

Computer Science for Kids (CSK) offers 2 programs to do this: Beginning Microsoft Small Basic and Computer Bible Games for Microsoft Small Basic. They are essentially the same programs up to chapter 10. After that, Computer Bible Games adds 3 additional chapters that allows the student to program & play Christian based games instead of Secular games, as the Beginning Microsoft Small does. As members of the SRC, we were given Computer Bible Games for Microsoft Small Basic for review. 

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This program is geared for middle school students (10 & up) and is designed to help them understand Microsoft Small Basic "while developing "fun and simple" learning games and Computer Bible Games" (CSK). 

So what is Microsoft Small Basic? It is a programming environment to help prepare kids for future work with "more complex programming languages like Visual Basic, Visual C# and Java" (CSK).

Computer Bible Games is an interactive, self-paced, program that is very easy to follow. Your student will learn: program design, text window applications, graphics window applications and other elements of the Small Basic language. Throughout the 13 chapter course, your student will learn a great number of things about programming. The following is a list of the chapters (you can click Table of Contents to view the chapters in depth and Sample Lesson to view chapter 4).

1. Introducing Small Basic
2. Small Basic Program Basics
3. Your First Small Basic Program
4. Small Basic Program Design, Input Methods
5. Debugging, Decisions, Random Numbers
6. Small Basic Looping, Subroutines
7. More Small Basic Looping, Arrays
8. Small Basic Graphics, Mouse Methods
9. Timers, Animation, Keyboard Methods
10. Noah’s Ark Project
11. Daniel and the Lions Project
12. Elijah and the Ravens Project
13. Additional COMPUTER BIBLE GAMES & Learning Games Projects

Your child will learn how to program and play: Noah's Ark, Daniel and the Lions, Elijah and the Ravens, The Good Shepherd, The Prodigal Son, The Lost Coin, and Bible Scramble

Computer Bible Games offers numerous examples in the over 400 pages of course notes teaching the student to use Microsoft Small Basic to successfully create programs while having fun. Each chapter builds upon and reviews the previous lessons.

In lesson 4, we created a savings calculator that simply asked for basic input and then calculated the total amount saved including percentage rate. It was simple, but fun : ^ ) Below is a screen shot. . .
The only thing that we found disappointing was that these games are not discussed until the later chapters. But this is because it's important to learn the basic steps before moving on to the next level. Jumping from A to D without B & C will cause you to miss essential lessons that are vital to your program working correctly. So we have been patiently working 
through the lessons, building our knowledge base up in preparation for more fun to come.

How To Purchase: Computer Bible Games for Microsoft Small Basic can be purchased as a physical book or a digital e-book. The E-book is really a set of files that download and are opened individually as a Word document. We received the single user e-book version for review. The Single User License Digital E-book is normally available for $59.95, but now through 7/4/13 can be purchased at the sale price of $34.95. That's a good price for basically a one semester program.

What We Thought: We have enjoyed using Computer Bible Games for the last few weeks. So far I've learned some new things, and am realizing that I already knew a few of the basic lessons. My kids are enjoying learning about programming and are looking forward to completing the whole course.
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Since we have only had this program for only a few weeks and each chapter takes approx. 3-6hrs. to complete (over the course of a week), we have not completed all 13 chapters. But we are eagerly anticipating learning how to create, & play, the actual Bible games in lessons 11-13. The screen shot to the left is from the game Elijah and the Ravens taught in chapter 12. 

We worked together on each lesson and spent the necessary time needed for all of us to fully grasp the concept. The language of programming can take a little bit of time to get used to. My daughter (17) caught on pretty quick and wanted to zoom through the lessons, but my son (12) needed some extra time to understand. She has seen some programming before, but he never had. He is, however, anxious to get to the games. He loves playing computer games and the fact that we will be creating them ourselves (with clear guidance from the lesson, of course) is fascinating to him. I think that once all of this truly "clicks" for him, he will be asking to continue on to the next level of programming. And then. . ."boldly go where no man. . ." Sorry, I couldn't help myself  : ^ )  All of this computer talk reminded me of the advanced technology of the sci-fi show of my day, lol. 

But really, learning to navigate through Microsoft Small Basic with Computer Science for Kids can start an exciting journey into the world of computer programming for my son and yours. We've had a lot of fun so far and know that there's more to come. 

Check out Computer Bible Games for Microsoft Small Basic for yourself and see what you think. For more reviews on this program and Beginning Microsoft Small Basic, click the banner below.

 
 
Math U See is the math curriculum we have used for several years. Why? Because it works for us. The primary levels include manipulatives that are helpful in understanding the concepts of the lessons. My kids have enjoyed using the blocks, not only for doing their math lessons, but also building things : ^ )

As members of the SRC, we have been privileged to review Math U See's Calculus level. We had previously worked through Trig with my daughter (17yo), followed by their Stewardship level but had not completed Calculus up to this point. We were excited to receive Calculus for review and are just as delighted with this product as we have been with MUS's other levels that we have used.

Math U See was founded by Steve Demme in 1995. Mr. Demme was a math teacher in the public and private sectors, but in 1989 was approached to teach math to a homeschool co-op. From there, he developed materials to sell, then videos and manipulatives, until MUS was incorporated. Since then, MUS has continued to grow and their curriculum can be found at many conferences and conventions. You can read more about the history of MUS here.

MUS has curriculum from the Primer level (beginning) through Calculus, including a Stewardship level, which is a Biblical approach to personal finances. There are no set ages or grades assigned with each level, but MUS does offer a placement test to help you determine where your child should start. There are several FAQ's that can answer questions you might have about which level to start with, as well. 
Calculus typically would be completed after the student has learned Geometry, Algebra 1, 2, and PreCalc including Trig. It is often the math that is taken in the senior year of high school for advanced students.

MUS's Calculus level is a full year, complete course. As you can see the from the scope & sequence (below), it covers everything that would be expected from a great Calculus program.
What's Different About Math U See? MUS not only teaches the concepts of solving a problem, but why it's solved that way, and where/when to apply the specific concept. MUS encourages all students to master each concept before moving on to the next. It is designed to ultimately have the student understand the concept enough that he/she can "teach it back". 

"Math-U-See is structured with step-by-step procedures for introducing, practicing, mastering and reviewing concepts. This gives the parent clear understanding of when to move the student to the next lesson."(MUS)

Their Calculus program is no exception. As with all of the other levels, the full set consists of the instruction manual, DVD, student manual, and tests. The instruction manual contains "lesson-by-lesson instructions and detailed solutions" and the student manual contains the lesson-by-lesson worksheets. The DVD is comprised of videos for each lesson of Mr. Demme at a whiteboard teaching the lesson step by step. He breaks it down to the simplest form and builds the lesson in an understandable, manageable way. In the earlier levels of MUS, the videos are intended for the teacher, who then instructs the students. At the Calculus level, the student and teacher can watch together, or the student can be independent and watch alone. A sample of the video can be seen on MUS's calculus page.

The textbook has the same lessons that Mr. Demme teaches on the video, but without the personalization that he offers in the video : ^ ) Using the textbook along with the video allows the student to listen and watch as they are following along. Mr. Demme explains each step of the equation/process, which is wonderful for anyone who isn't sure how to get from step A to step B. The student lesson pages have questions applicable to the lessons and the answer guide in the instruction manual breaks down each problem and doesn't just give the answer. Another great aspect about MUS is that if you have any problem with any concept or question, "lesson support" is available by phone, chat, or email. Though we did not use this option, it is incredible to have that access to someone that can help.

The student text has 4 sets of lesson practice pages for each lesson with multiple questions per page. Each question has space to perform the problem on the page, instead of being cluttered with other problems. You can see a sample lesson on MUS's calculus page. It will download as a PDF file and includes the lesson from the instruction manual as well as the lesson practice pages from the student text.
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How To Purchase: The Calculus curriculum can easily be purchased through Math U See. The Instruction Manual and DVD set is $92 & Student Text and Test Booklet are $32.

It is ideal for the student to have both sets to complete this comprehensive course. Calculus is a difficult subject, but Mr. Demme, through the video and the instruction manual, make it much easier to learn than I remember when I took it in school.

What We Thought: Since we have been using Math U See for several years, I did have a preconceived opinion of what their Calculus level would be. I can say: they did not disappoint : ^ ) 

I liked this level as much as I expected to. In the last couple of years, MUS has changed the presentation of the texts by moving from a soft cover instruction manual to a hard cover. I like this style much more. It is more durable than before. The student text and test booklet each have 3 hole punches so they can easily fit into a 3 ring binder. I like this, too. The pages of the student text are consumable, but if you choose to not have your student write on the pages, the questions can easily be transferred to a sheet of paper. I had my daughter do this, but with a few of the other levels we've had, I had them tear out the page (along the perforated edge) and put with a blank sheet of paper in a binder so that there was plenty of writing space. Since both of my kids are like me and like to doodle, I would rather have them doodle on a blank page instead of the actual question page.

One of things I liked the most about MUS's Calculus was that the first few lessons are review from the previous levels. This helped my daughter a lot since she completed Trig two years ago. We did have to work a little slower through it to make sure she understood each of the concepts. She is not a huge fan of upper level math, but does well once the concept is grasped. Usually with the products we are reviewing, we try to do a few of the lessons at various stages of the curriculum, with Calculus, or math in general, it's not really feasible. It is very important to understand each concept before moving on, or your student will be lost. Math U See doesn't dictate at what pace each student should move along in their programs. It is actually encouraged to stay in place until the student has mastered it, whether it's days or a couple of weeks. If additional practice questions are needed, the lesson tests could be used. Otherwise, they should be used as a tool to determine if the student understands well enough to move on. For the most part, we completed a lesson per week, with the exception of a couple of the review lessons that only took a couple of days to complete. Being able to set her own pace is extremely beneficial for my daughter, since math frustrates her when she thinks she's not "getting it". But once she's got it down, she wants to move on and not dwell on it.

Another aspect I like about MUS is that it doesn't have a lot of filler. The lesson questions do not drag on forever with hours of repetitive questions. If your student needs it, they can have it, but if they understand the lesson, they can move on to the next. That is important to us.

We really do like Math U See and I believe you will, too. Even if you haven't taken Calculus yourself or are not math friendly, I know that if your student is ready to take Calculus, MUS's program will work for him.