"Only 4 out of every 10 eighth graders are
proficient in Math, and by grade 12 only 2 out of 10! 

Don't let this happen to your child! "
Math Essentials
That is an incredible statistic. Think of the people you encounter every day that need to know some form of math for their job, and then realize it's possible that only 2 out of every 10 of them actually know what they are doing. That's kind of scary, don't you agree. Doctors, nurses, pharmacists, cashiers, contractors, technicians. . . . there are so many professions that require a proficiency in math, yet it's a skill that is going to the wayside with all the technology that's available to do it for us. 
Rick Fisher, the founder of Math Essentials, wants to help you teach your children/students the techniques that will ease them through math lessons. Techniques that they will remember and help them enjoy learning & doing math.

"Rick has developed a highly functional, successful mathematics teaching system that produces amazing results. Results that he shares in his books, Mastering Essential Math Skills in both elementary and middle grades versions." (Math Essentials)

Math Essentials offers several different levels of workbooks & DVD's, from elementary school through high school. Members of the Schoolhouse Review Crew were given the opportunity to review various curriculum from Math Essential. Each member of the Crew was given one main curriculum and one math skills book of our choice. We received the  No-Nonsense AlgebraMastering Essential Math Skills Decimals and Percents.

The No-Nonsense Algebra curriculum is 275 pages & includes: 
* A “How to Use This Book” Section *
 * Chapter reviews *
* Final Exam *
* Solutions for all Problems *
* Glossary *
* Resource Center *

There is:
* No Fluff! *
* No Distractions! *
* Short, concise self-contained lessons *
* Topics are explained in a way that students can easily understand *
* Lots of examples with fully explained step-by step solutions *
* Review built into each lesson to ensure mastery *
* Chapter tests and a final exam allow students to measure progress *
* Dramatically Improves Test Scores! *

With every No-Nonsense Algebra book, there is a special code in the back that allows you & your student to watch FREE video's (with the code) to every lesson in the book. Mr. Fisher has created a corresponding video lesson for each lesson taught in the book. Below, you will see on the left, the main screen of the video player. On the right of the screen, there is each and every lesson listed, designated by chapter and title. Just click the lesson desired and you will then see a "white board" like the picture on the right. Mr. Fisher walks the student through the lesson, offering tips throughout.
I found that the video's were pleasing to watch and to listen to. Mr. Fisher's voice is pleasant: not monotone, not loud, not soft. The video's were overall just plain enjoyable to view. The content was easy to follow, too. My 16yo, who exclaims "I don't like math. I'm just not good at it", actually said "wow, I really like this. It [math] seems simpler." : ^ ) She is right. Mr. Fisher lays it out so that it is easy to understand and easy to follow. I like that. I love math, but I think that's because I can see beyond just the numbers and symbols. I can see the sense of it all, the whole picture. Mr. Fisher offers a strategic way to help the viewer see how it all works together.

There are 10 chapters in No-Nonsense Algebra. That may not seem like a lot, but when you get your book home, you will see that each chapter has several lessons in it. For example, chapter 1 has 22 separate lessons or skills. The other chapters range from 4-13 lessons.

In the back of the book, you'll find: Important Formulas, Important Symbols, Multiplication Table, Commonly Used Prime Numbers, Squares & Square Roots, Fraction/Decimal Equivalents, & the solutions to all of the problems.

This book is truly comprehensive with lots of extras!

You can purchase No-Nonsense Algebra from Math Essentials for $27.95. Your upper Junior High or High School student could use this to learn or renew their understanding of algebra.
The additional book we received was the Mastering Essential Math Skills Decimals and Percents. It is just one of the 8 books in the Mastering Essential Math Skills book series. 

According to Math Essentials website "The key to this program's success is that every lesson is fun and exciting. Each daily 20 minute session is short, concise and self contained. Students don't have time to get bored or discouraged." 

These workbooks can be used to supplement any math curriculum and can help build or reinforce your student's math skills. This, in return, will help boost his/her self confidence in math, which can carry through to each math skill encountered.

The Decimals & Percents workbook covers "the four decimal operations and shows the close relationship that exists between decimals, fractions, and percents." To see exactly what this workbook contains, you can view the Table of Contents or Sample Pages.

Each lesson starts with a few review questions, then offers "helpful hints" for the new lesson, followed by the lesson of the day's questions. Lastly, there's a "problem solving" question, a word problem. "Teachers have flexibility in introducing new topics, but the book provides them with the necessary structure and guidance." There's a simple tutorial section, too, "how to use this book", that will help the teacher & student walk through the lessons with ease.

I like this book, too. It offers straight forward lessons, simply stated and easy to follow. This comes from "Multiplying by 10, 100, & 1000" lesson:
As you can see, the lesson is to the point. There really is "no fluff".

My son (entering 7th grade) likes the simpleness of the page/lessons. There's not an overload of unnecessary things. Again, you can view a whole sample page here and see for yourself. For us, it is important to not have extras on the pages. Both of my kids can be easily distracted with almost anything, so it's nice to have a plain page sometimes. 

The Decimals & Percents workbook can be purchased from Math Essentials for $11.95.

I encourage you to look into Math Essentials curriculum and skills books. I believe you will appreciate the short, concise lessons as much as we did : ^ )
Disclaimer: I received these products free as a member of the Schoolhouse Review Crew  with the sole purpose of providing an honest review after using them. For more information on this, please see my disclaimer.
Super Duper Publications was started in 1986 by Sharon & Thomas Webber. Today, they are making "hundreds of creative, colorful educational and therapy materials that you and your children will love." Here is an e-Catalog where you can see their terrific products. You can click here to read more about Sharon, Thomas, and the editors.

Their facility is located in Greenville, SC and is shaped like a castle! It's really cool looking. I want to go visit on my next trip to SC just because it looks so neat, lol. You can even take a virtual tour of the Castle

We received Jeeper's Peepers, The Ask & Answer Question Game to review. This game is pretty fun. To me, it's almost like the reverse of charades but instead of one person acting out the words and everyone else guessing, there's only one person asking questions to try and figure out his own word.

You may wonder how playing a game can be educational. Well that is easy to answer. Using Super Duper's own description: Jeeper's Peepers helps "build questioning skills, describing skills, categorizing skills, problem solving skills, and more!" By each player having to think up yes/no questions to get a better description of his word, his questioning skills will increase, as well as his analizing skills. The other players must use their describing skills to answer the questions effectively. There are many more skills that you will find can be increased while playing Jeeper's Peepers.

Jeepers Peepers comes with everything you need to play a fun and interactive game:
  • 6 pairs of Jeepers Peepers glasses
  • "My Cue Cards"
  • 101 photo cards (4" x 5")
  • Spinner and bingo chips
  • Instruction booklet

There are 4 categories to the cards. You can view them below. The cards are each 4"x5" in size, so a nice big size. There are suggestions
Here's an informational video that will give you a peek at the actual game:
Jeeper's Peepers can be purchased for $29.95. You can purchase additional glasses and more cards, too. And if you use the code BLGJP30 by August 31, 2012, you will receive 30% off!

What we thought? We had so much fun playing this! Trying to answer yes or no questions may seem easy, but it really isn't, lol. We really did practice our various questioning and answering skills and had fun doing it : ^ ) 

I think you will love this game as much as we did. Super Duper Publications offers other great games, too. Check out their products today.
Disclaimer: I received this product free as a member of the Schoolhouse Review Crew  with the sole purpose of providing an honest review after using it. For more information on this, please see my disclaimer.
Knowledge Quest began in 2001 when a homeschooling family was looking for something more than what they were finding on the market for history & geography (H&G). You know that feeling. . . "I know there's something missing, but what?". The Johnson family realized that missing "what", and put together "simple black and white maps that children could label and color while studying both world and American history". Since then, they have worked together with other authors and developed "the best resources possible" for H&G, and a new website, HomeschoolingABC's.

As a member of the Schoolhouse Review Crew, I received the TimeMaps Collection, which includes Ancient China, The Rise of Rome, The Fall of Rome, The Rise of Islam, The Black Death, European Exploration, & Atlantic Slave Trade. Knowledge Quest is developing additional TimeMaps, too.
The TimeMaps are a combinatin of timelines, historical maps, and encyclopedia entries that have been merged together to be appealing as well as factual. We received the digital version of TimeMaps, but it is also available on CD. The maps are in chronological order, which makes it easier for the student to learn history as it happened. The student will learn about the civilizations, countries, and continents, and the changes that have taken place over time. There are quizzes & encyclopedia entries that you can utilize however preferred. (Knowledge Quest)

The following video will give you a little glimpse into what TimeMaps are all about.

Below are a few screen shots from various individual TimeMap units. You can see the graphic quality of each of them.
Ancient China
Atlantic Slave Trade
The Rise of Rome
The Black Death
TimeMaps can be purchased as a collection or the individual time period. They are available for Mac & Windows and can be used privately at home, or for schools or co-ops.
The price for each individual TimeMaps is $9.95 and the collection is $44.95

What we thought? I am super impressed with the amount of information and interaction these files contain. Not only will your child learn about history, he/she can see where it took place, watch the steps of change over time, and interact with each separate map. There is an "i" on each for information and a "q" for questions about the lesson. Each map comes to life as the time progression is set in motion (a click of the button). Information is presented about each map in the informational box as well as extra little interesting facts in pop-up like tabs. You can see in the above video how it actually works and looks. I liked that there are worksheets available to use if chosen, and each map comes with pdf files specifically to explain how to use the maps and suggestions for teaching and activities. There are external links given for each map that offer even more info. I love it. The only thing that I would change is to have sound added to the maps. Voiceovers can enhance the learning experience or even a pleasant musical piece from the era. . . .  but that's just my opinion. I like music : ^ )

My kids really liked that it's not presented in a plain, dry format. It's pleasing to view and it offers as much, or as little, interaction that is desired. They liked the information that was presented for each map, too, it wasn't "boring".

I recommend TimeMaps as a supplement to any history and geography curriculum. The price is great, at just $9.95 each. There are not many supplements available at such a reasonable price.

There are many other products that Knowledge Quest offers. You can check them out for yourself at their website and you can read more reviews about TimeMaps and MapTrek from other members of the Schoolhouse Review Crew.
Disclaimer: I received this product free as a member of the Schoolhouse Review Crew  with the sole purpose of providing an honest review after using it. For more information on this, please see my disclaimer.

"While I can imagine no wrong physical position for reading a classic,
I can conjure up several wrong mental positions....
Perhaps worst of all, is reading a classic with a closed mind,
because what cannot enter the mind cannot enter the heart or soul."
Elizabeth Kamath ~ author of Lightning Lit
How poignant this quote is. So often while learning literature, students are pushed to read the piece with no instruction on who, what, why, or when. Yes, they may have to find these answers to write a report on the book, but are not given the guidance to truly understand.

As a homeschooling mom, I want to ensure that my children not only enjoy reading, but know what it is they are reading, have a sense of the whole picture and not just some small bit of it., and be able to effectively write about it.

As a member of the Schoolhouse Review Crew, I have been introduced to a curriculum source I hadn't seen before from a company I am quite familiar with. An author of the curriculum wrote the quote I started this post with. You can read the enter quote here.
Hewitt Homeschooling is a name synonymous with excellence. I have known of Hewitt for several years and utilize their PASS test for end-of-the-year testing. Hewitt offers hand-picked curriculum to homeschool families, to ensure quality and substance of the products. The curriculum available is from several different publishers, including Hewitt. 

One collection that is offered by Hewitt is the Lightning Literature & Composition studies.

This collection "provides a balanced approach to the classics. Introductions to the authors, their times, and their works give students a strong start to their adventure. Comprehension questions keep students on track while the lessons are a guide to the beauty of the literary landscape".

There are courses for Junior High and Senior High students. The Junior High courses are intended to be a full year course, while the Senior High courses are designed to be a semester long, but can be completed in a longer time if it suits the student.

Through the Lightning Lit courses, the student will read full-length novels, autobiographies, plays, essays, short stories, and poems to learn deep reading and composition skills. They will be given the proper guidance to fully understand what they are reading and learn how to write about.

We received British Medieval Lightning Lit & Comp Pack.

This course covers the books 
BeowulfPiers the Ploughman
Sir Gawain & the Green Knight, & Canterbury Tales

The lessons that are taught are: story telling, imagery, symbolism, characterization, persuasive writing, drama, and description 

The student guide is comprehensive and covers: comprehension questions, writing exercises, discussion questions, an additional reading list, semester and full-year schedules, and a bibliography. You can preview a sample chapter of the Beowulf book here and you will see that Hewitt has truly You will find the answers to all of the comprehension questions in the teacher's guide, too. So if you didn't learn about this while you were in school (and many have not), this guide will help you grade your student as well as offer support and encouragement. There is also a wonderful schedule in the teacher's guide that can help you prepare the lessons.

The Lightning Lit & Comp courses vary in price. For example, The British Medieval Pack that we received is $60.10 and the Grade 8 with Stories and Poem Pack is $125.95. The curriculum can be purchased separately from the books, if you already own them. 

Not all members of the Crew received the Lightning Lit curriculum. Those with younger children received The Joy of Discovery, Chronicles of _____ series (a state history notebook), & selections from My First Report Series.

You can read reviews on all of these by clicking the link below.
I am very pleased with the Lightning Lit series. As I wrote above, I want my children to get what they read, not just read it and forget it. With Lightning Lit, my daughter was really able to delve into the meaning of the pieces (we did not read all of the books prior to this review), and gain an understanding beyond what the forward said. She enjoyed learning about the history of the book, the time period and having questions set in her mind prior to reading. This brings out so much more of the story, without having to reread it many times. And the writing exercises were inspiring and encouraging. They weren't just "do this" or "tell about that", they were "think about this & write about it" (this is a very simple explanation, for specific examples, please refer to the free preview chapter I mentioned above. 

Try Lightning Lit today and see if it is what you've been looking for in a literature curriculum : ^ )
Disclaimer: I received these products free as a member of the Schoolhouse Review Crew  with the sole purpose of providing an honest review after using them. For more information on this, please see my disclaimer.
Teaching a foreign language is not only a requirement, it's become a necessity. We are frequently introduced to people that speak English as a second language or speak severely broken English. In the United States, Spanish is the #2 spoken language (census.gov) after English. And though the percentages are significantly different (80:12), the ratio has changed substantially in recent years. 

Because of this, I believe learning Spanish is important for our children. As they become adults, they will meet more and more people, and having the ability to speak and understand Spanish will be beneficial: in the work place, in the grocery store, and even at theme parks. 

This year, we have been learning Latin, which is the foundation for many languages. It is really interesting to learn this "ancient" language and it's ties to modern spoken words. Spanish is one of those languages that connects very easily to our Latin study.

We have studied Spanish previously in our home, but have recently been introduced to a wonderful new company, Homeschool Spanish Academy (HSA), through the Schoolhouse Review Crew. HSA has brought together the study of Spanish with the world of Skype. Students are actually taught, one-on-one, with a native speaking Spanish instructor from Central America, via Skype! One of the pitfalls to studying a foreign language at home, or even in a traditional school setting, is that you are learning the pronunciations and conversations yourself or by someone who was taught that language as a second language. Much like learning a trade from a textbook and expecting to find on-the-job work to be anything like the book, learning a foreign language cannot be adequately learned without full immersion

Homeschool Spanish Academy does this and does it well. Watch the following video for a bit more info.

It's easy to get started, with HSA's technical support literally walking you the set up. You can watch a quick video of the process. Once you are all set up, you're ready to go. You schedule your first lesson and you, or your child, are on your way to learn Spanish. The lessons are timed and are 25min for early learners or 50min for students middle school-adult. The lessons & homework assignments are sent via email for your student to review, as well as being visualized through the lesson on Skype. The homework can be completed and sent to the instructor for grading via email, too. It's that simple. Here's a video of a sample lesson:
The courses can be half a semester (7 lessons) or a full semester (14) and can be scheduled at your convenience. That's really nice. We are so busy all the time, yet we have been able to fit them in. The price ranges from $59.99 to $314.99. You can view single pricing below, and there is also the option to have two-on-one for 2 students. You can view that on HSA's website.
What we thought? As I wrote above, this concept is wonderful. It's "why didn't I think of that", lol. You can actually read the history of the company here, it's interesting. I like that it was super easy to set up and HSA is customer friendly, too. That's a really nice touch. As for the lessons? We set this up with my daughter. She has taken some Spanish before, but not extensively. At music camp last year, her roommate was from Guatemala, and as it turns out, her instructor is, too : ^ ) She was excited to be learning from a native Spanish instructor. Her first lesson went great. She interacted well with the instructor and was smiling when she was done. Everything went smooth with no glitches in Skype or technology. Her instructor was pleasant and personable. This was great for my daughter! 

We scheduled the second lesson with, who I thought was her instructor, but when the day came, it wasn't. I had originally scheduled the first lesson with her, but somewhere it was changed to the instructor we had. The second lesson didn't go as smoothly. There were major issues with Skype, though I am not certain if it was us or the instructor, but I thought the instructor. We tried for several minutes to correct it, but nothing was working on our end. My daughter couldn't hear the lesson well, it was very broken up. And the instructor - was not the right one for my daughter. She did not end smiling and was actually upset. But we pressed forward and for the third and fourth lesson I ensured it was with her first instructor. Both of those lessons went well with no technology issues and smiles and laughter throughout. My daughter really likes it and we are considering purchasing lessons on top of those given free for this review.

I think this is a wonderful program and think you will, too. You can actually try it out for free. It's a great way to see if it'll work for you and your family.
Disclaimer: I received these lessons free as a member of the Schoolhouse Review Crew  with the sole purpose of providing an honest review after . For more information on this, please see my disclaimer.
I have joined a group of bloggers to offer a contest with several prizes. The contest starts today and ends 7/31. 

Read on to learn about this exciting contest and enter!


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