Friday, October 15, 2010

Psalms Study from Soli Deo Gloria Resources

Young Hearts Longing for God is a study of Psalms that we were asked to review.  It is a 30 lesson study, by Soli Deo Gloria Resources, to be used over the entire school year.  It is designed for grades 4 - 8, but can be used with both younger and older kids.  It is a bound booklet priced at $16.  Here is a sample of the first lesson. 

Isabel (10) began this black and white, no frills study with little or no understanding of Psalms.  She studies one Psalm a week followed by questions, activities, and journaling.  The first one she read through, she looked at me and asked how she was suppose to know what it meant.  So, I asked her to try to work through the questions.  As she highlighted what God had done to man, this Psalm began to make sense.  She re-read the Psalm each day before working through the question or activity for the day.  Each time she read it, she had a better grasp of the meaning.

She is able to work on this study independently, asking questions if she is stuck or needs clarification. There is no preparation on my part, so it is very easy to have her work on while I am working with her brother.  The study also includes a checklist, so she can keep track of what she has done (she really enjoys marking off things when she has completed them).  This has been teaching her great decoding skills that she can use elsewhere with text that is written in a way she is unfamiliar with. 

I would highly recommend this, it is a great study and a great price.  It would be an easy addition to whatever curriculum you are currently using.  Isabel looks forward to doing it each day.

Other products available from this company include further Bible studies, Unit Studies, and year long studies, such as a WWII Unit Study for $14 and Church Notebook for $12.  We plan on using the WWII Unit Study later this year!

*Disclaimer* I received this study free of charge for the purpose of this review.


Friday, October 8, 2010

Digital Frog Virtual Field Trips

Digital Field Trip DVD series from Digital Frog is the next item we reviewed for the Homeschool Crew.  It contains virtual 'field trips' to three different ecosystems: The Wetlands, The Rainforest, and The Desert.  The Home Licence costs $125 for the DVD set.  You can also buy the ecosystems separately for $60 each.

Would you like to take a trip with your kids to learn more about The Wetlands, Rainforest, or the Desert?  With the field trip series you can do the next best thing.  There are so many colorful, interactive features on this DVD, I don't even know where start.  First, we worked mainly with The Wetlands (that is what Isabel is working on in Science) and The Rainforest (that is what Logan is working on).  This was a wonderfully timed review for us.  Since there are so many things to talk about, I am going to stick with The Wetlands for this review, but the others are similarly set up.

On The Wetlands field trip, you can start off by using the interactive map to locate where you are going.  Next, you can choose from the following categories: Quick Tour, Field Trip to the Bog, Study of a Bog, Wetland Types, Mechanisms of a Wetland, or Our Endangered Wetlands.   On the Field Trip, you can take a 360° tour of Lake Cloud from 9 different posts.  You will learn about things at each post and you can click on plant or wildlife (for more interactive features) that you spot on your trip. 

There are so many amazing places to go and things to do. You can choose to learn basic information or dig a little deeper and go in depth. I am so amazed at the amount of interactive information on this DVD.  

There are also interactive games available to learn play.  In Food Chain game, you click on an organism to identify it and you can either drag lines between what that organism eats or click again to learn more about it.  Any time during the entire DVD if you see your cursor with a T next to it, you can click and open a definition of that word and sometimes hear pronunciation.  Each time we use this, we find new features we haven't explored yet.

One of the great features on the DVD is a student workbook and teacher manual for each of the three ecosystems, and they are available in many different file formats.  The DVD looks like it was designed for upper elementary/middle school with all the text and workbooks, but it would easily be enjoyed by the whole family.  The only teacher preparation needed is to print up the workbook files.

I really like how everything is interactive.  It really keeps the kids interested in seeing what else they can click on (and subsequently learn).  It has been a wonderful visual supplement to our Life Science and we plan to spend a lot more time exploring.

There are several other products available from Digital Frog: The Digital Frog 2.5 ($85) and ScienceMatrix: Cell Structure and Function ($40).  

*Disclaimer* I received this product free of charge for the purpose of this review.


Wednesday, October 6, 2010

LanSchool Technology

LanSchool Home is a computer program we are reviewing for the Homeschool Crew. The program gives you the ability to view, monitor, limit, or block your children's computers, all from your main computer. The program is designed to run on Windows and Mac computers. You can use it on one main teacher computer monitor and up to 3 student computers. The cost is $99 for a perpetual licence.

There are a lot of features that would make this technology helpful to homeschoolers. You have the ability to see a thumbnail of all your students' computer screens at once.  This program is extremely interactive.  Not only can you view what your child is currently doing on the computer, you can 'chat' with them.  This is useful if they need a reminder to stay on task, or simply have a question for you.  The best part of this is your ability to utilize this tool to communicate with all of the remote computers making it simple to teach a lesson to your students.  You can do this all from different rooms, making this a virtual classroom.  Also, you can allow a student to share something with the rest of the computers. Another neat feature is you can create and send tests with up to 100 questions to each of the student computers and receive them back already graded. You can send and receive files from one or all of the student computers.

 This program could be a very helpful tool if you have a very distractible child. You are able to view all he/she does on the computer at all times from your main computer. You can limit or block programs and/or websites from specific computers. You can also view all internet browsing history because the students are not able to delete their browsing history.

There is a list of product features from LanSchool's site.  The LanSchool website has easy to use video tutorials so you can learn to use each feature.
This product would be great for families that use multiple computers for their school work. With the 'virtual classroom', it would minimize the amount of time mom spends going from one computer to the next making sure everyone's questions are answered and everyone was on task, especially if they are spread out around the house. As we do the majority of our school from books or hands on activities, we aren't really able to utilize this program in our homeschool.

*Disclaimer* I received this product free for the purpose of this review.


Friday, October 1, 2010

Review: The Foundlings by Matthew Christian Harding

The Peleg Chronicles, book one, The Foundlings, is a paper back Christian Fantasy book that sells for $11.95.  The author writes the book from a Christian Creation standpoint and does not include any magic, evolution, or humanism, for ages 10 and up. 

The summery from the publisher: “In its pages we meet dragons, giants, false priests, the death hunt, an under-city of the Dwarven Brotherhood, and many memorable characters.
The story begins with Lord McDougal and his faithful shield-bearer, Fergus Leatherhead, departing their lands with giants at their backs, while before them lie in wait denizens of the bog-land and forest.
Ever ready to protect and serve others, they gather in tow an assortment of displaced adventurers and find themselves embroiled in a mysterious search for the foundlings: orphaned Thiery with his companion Horatio the white wolf, and Suzie who has been deceitfully retained by the thieves Elvodug and Flemup.
Others also seek the foundlings, and their purposes are most sinister – Dragon Priests who practice cozen sacrifices, and their leader Count Rosencross who is torn by his God given conscience and his pursuit of personal glory.
Onward toward the city of Hradcanny they travel, meeting with treachery, beast attacks, camaraderie and psalms of praise with an eye toward the gospel. Though their battles are at times fierce and the outcomes uncertain, the author maintains the integrity of these noble characters, who through weakness are made strong by Him in whom they trust.
Foundlings weaves together the Biblical principles of chivalry, truth, courage, duty, faith and love within the framework of Genesis, and a bold adherence to its historicity. It’s an exciting page turner that leaves you wanting more, but more importantly it leaves the reader with Godly heroes to think on and emulate, and a young earth creationist view of history that conforms to the Word of God.”

My son had a difficult time getting into the story and didn't enjoy it.  The story might appeal to others as an alternative to other fantasy books that may be against their beliefs.

*Disclaimer* I received this book from the author for the purpose of this review. 

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