Thursday, June 23, 2016

A TOS Review: LearnBop

LearnBop for Families Review

There are several ways to teach math concepts, but online learning is becoming more and more mainstream. However, finding a course that will fit the needs of your student can be a chore. LearnBop has been used by public schools all over the country for several years to identify learning gaps and to develop a customized learning path for the individual student. They are now being introduced to the homeschool community in the hopes of becoming an essential tool for homeschool families. I reviewed LearnBop for Families, a 12 months subscription Family Plan. This plan provides learning for all my students, grades 3-12.

Here's a screenshot of the Parent Page. I can look at all my students' progress from the same screen.

Each grade starts out with a roadmap. There are units to work through, so if you are struggling with a certain concept, you can go directly to it and not have them do work in areas they are already competent in. In each unit, the student is given a warmup lesson. Through this lesson, the program will determine any gaps in what the child knows about this subject. After this lesson, the student is given what are called Building Blocks in order to make it to mastery of the concept. These blocks consist of videos and SolveBops - problems to work in regards to the concept being taught. Through these SolveBops, the student earns awards and achievements as they work toward the goal of mastery. They must complete 5 bops in order to move forward. This is a great way to learn if your child is motivated by virtual reward systems. It also gives them a chart showing progress after every Bop completed, so they know what has been accomplished and what they have left to do. My younger kids enjoyed seeing their progress and thought the rewards were pretty cool, too.

When a SolveBop isn't answered correctly, the program takes the student back through the problem step by step. Depending on what concept it is, there may be many steps. The program is very throrough, and I love that it reminds the kids to check on every detail of the problem before finishing. Math is a very precise subject, and one tiny mistake can change the entire answer. It's a great place for them to remember to double and triple check their answers before clicking the button.

One thing I noticed that I didn't particularly care for was that the boys had to scroll back up every time there was a screen change. When the step by step process began, the boys would be at the bottom of the screen and would have to scroll back up to find out where they were. (Small technical thing, I know, but still kind of an annoyance!)

I also liked the detailed Parents Page. I could see everything the kids were working on and what they have accomplished. It is laid out so well, and it is neat to see the charts.

When I asked the kids their opinions of LearnBop, they were all pretty positive. All of my kids do pretty well in math, but it is Caleb and Canon's favorite subject. Chloe hates math, but likes to challenge herself in all she does. She found the progress reports very satisfying and kept her motivated to go back and do more. Caleb and Canon said some of the videos sounded like Hogwarts professors, which made it really fun! LOL! I don't know how many different instructors there are, but I never heard any British accents - but whatever makes them happy! They both liked the fact that there was a breakdown when you missed a problem. It made Canon realize how many more steps there are to figure out certain math problems as he gets older, and that he doesn't need to rush through - rushing leads to skipping something very important!

LearnBop is a great online math program. The building blocks and learning path set forward for each student will help you as a parent make sure that learning gaps are being filled. The step by step breakdown of incorrect problems gives you the confidence that true learning is going on, not just enough to pass the test and move on. It is detailed and thorough, and I can see the benefits. Give LearnBop a try for your student who may be struggling, or for a student that is ready to jump ahead. LearnBop will meet the need.

To find out more about LearnBop, check them out on social media.

Go read some more reviews and see how LearnBop worked for other Review Crew families!

LearnBop for Families Review

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Friday, June 10, 2016

A TOS Review: Shiloh Run Press

The Glass Castle {Shiloh Run Press Review}

My daughter Chloe and I are both voracious readers. We love to be immersed in new worlds, new adventures, and new friendships. Because, let's face it, characters in books you love really do become a part of you! That's why I was excited to review a young reader's book co-written by one of my favorite authors of all time that I could share with Chloe. The Glass Castle by Trisha White Priebe and Jerry B. Jenkins from Shiloh Run Press did not disappoint!

It is Avery's thirteenth birthday. She and her little brother, Henry, are out for a walk in their woods when the day takes a frightening turn. Chased, captured, and separated from Henry, Avery struggles to figure out just what has happened and why. She becomes more confused when she is unloaded and taken to a mysterious castle where she finds rooms full of other thirteen year olds. There is one big difference between her and the other children, though - she is the only one who is not an orphan. After just a short time in the castle, Avery discovers something that she has no way to explain: she knows the complete layout of the castle! From stories her missing mother used to tell her, to the elaborate tree house her father built for her, Avery realizes she knows much more about the castle than even her new friend, Kate, can understand. But why, and how? The Glass Castle will take you into a world where orphaned thirteen year olds become silent and invisible servants in a castle that has no idea the children are even there. Who has brought them here? What is the king trying to hide? What does the soon to be new queen have to do with it all? And most importantly, what in the world does Avery have to do with it all?

Chloe read this book in just two sittings. She absolutely was drawn into the story and couldn't put it down. It was a quick read (251 pages, written at an upper elementary level) and truly left her wanting more. She was taken aback when she realized it was a series - the book ends in quite the cliffhanger! - and the next installment, Ruby Moon, isn't going to be released until October! I read it as well, and it has given us many discussions of what we think is going to happen next!

We have already recommended this book to others. There is no language or inappropriate themes you have to worry about. It is a very refreshing thing to pick up a book for my thirteen year old and not have to be concerned about the content. There is plenty of mystery and intrigue to keep the attention of boys or girls, and every chapter leaves you anticipating what comes next.

Here are some questions I had Chloe answer from her perspective!

  • What did you think of the book overall? It was very mysterious and intriguing. I wanted to finish it to find the answers...but I didn't want it to end!
  • Was there a character that you personally related to? If not, who was your favorite character? My favorite character was Kendrick. He was the boy who arrived at the castle the same day as Avery. He wasn't a big part of the story until he was chosen by Tuck to be his Advisor. I don't think I really related to anyone in particular, but I found many of them interesting.
  • What age level would you recommend this book? Thirteen! :) Probably ages 10 through 15 would enjoy the book. Any younger would probably have a hard time following the twists and turns. But, Mom, you said you loved it, too! (I did!) So I guess all ages!
  • What did you like and dislike about the book? I liked that Avery had a secret admirer. It gave us something lighthearted to think about even when we know that they are prisoners and dealing with heavy adult mysteries. This showed that they were still kids!  I didn't like the whole escape scene chapter. I didn't think it added to the whole overall just complicated things for the reader and the characters!\
  • Compared to other books you've read, how did this story stack up? I liked it a lot. It's not my favorite book, but I can't wait to continue the story in October! I would definitely recommend it to anyone who enjoys mysteries. If you don't like cliffhangers, don't start it until the next book comes out!
I was very pleased with this book. Jerry B. Jenkins is one of my favorites, and I was glad to see his collaborative efforts with his assistant, Trisha White Priebe. This book would be a great summer read for middle schoolers, or a fascinating read aloud for the entire family!

Shiloh Run Press is a division of Barbour Publishing. To follow them on social media, click the links below:

To see what other reviewers thought about The Glass Castle, check them out here:

The Glass Castle {Shiloh Run Press Review}

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Thursday, June 2, 2016

A TOS Review: Hey Mama! Homeschool Planner

Hey Mama! Schoolhouse Planner 2016-2017 Review

"Hey, Mama!"

If you receive the The Old Schoolhouse Magazine, like their Facebook page, or are friends with TOS Publisher Gena Suarez, these two words have to ring familiar. And I hope they make you as happy as they do me. When I see these two words come up in my newsfeed, I KNOW I am about to receive some much needed encouragement. Gena has a way of reminding us that even though we may be in the trenches, we are never there alone. That's why when The Hey Mama! Print Schoolhouse Planner 2016-17 came up for review - and I saw the name - I was very excited! The Hey Mama! Planner is going to be a blessing every day of our coming homeschool year!

Hey Mama! Schoolhouse Planner 2016-2017 Review

If you are like me, sticking to a schedule doesn't always go the way you'd like. I mean, come on. Our lives are far from normal. Between balancing homeschool obligations, housework, appointments, activities, meal planning, and wrangling toddlers, no two days ever look alike! I have tried many planners before - online planners, calendars on my phone, hard copy planners...none ever seem to fit the bill. I have had some success, but many more failures. But as I skimmed through this one the very day I received it, I knew this was going to be different in many ways.

Here are some of the many things this planner has that I am excited about:

  • Curriculum Planning Sheet - 5 of them!!! This makes this mama of multiple school aged children very thankful!! The sheet has space for seven subjects and a place to write down the price and vendor/curriculum name. I've already been using these to see what gaps I have to fill for next year for all the kids. It's great to see it all laid out in such an organized way.

  • Two Page Layout of Monthly Calendars, starting with July 2016 - big spaces to write down appointments, activities and birthdays. Plus, a single page for notes on that month. I am not sure how I'll utilize this yet, but I am sure it will come in handy.

  • Two Page Layout for Weekly Schedules - this is amazing! The spaces are big - and I mean BIG! There will be room to write assignments and kids' names to keep track of things I may usually miss.

  • Book Log - one thing I lose track of quite often is what books each child has read and what we've read as a family. Now it will all be in one convenient spot for record keeping.

  • Educational Helps - these are fantastic! Writing prompts, States and Capitals, Presidents, and many, many more!

  • Transcript assistance and example - this one had me skipping! Having just finished our oldest son's first year of high school, putting together his transcript in May had me very apprehensive. This note came at just the right time, and gave me the confidence to make Connor a comprehensive transcript without worrying if I'd done it well.

  • Notes of encouragement from Gena - these are like little diamonds just waiting to be discovered! I am sure as I go through my year, and I am having a hard day, I may flip the page of my planner and find a note that seems written directly to me that will help me take a breath and move forward stronger. Because I have a God who cares for me!
We are not in full planning mode for  the coming school year just yet. We have a lot going on this month, and I haven't had the heart to jump in. But I know, with the Hey Mama! Homeschool Planner with me this summer, I will have a much better chance of staying on track than going it alone. And besides, we aren't meant to take this journey alone - we are all in it together.

To buy your TOS 2016-17 Planner and receive a discount, go to this link below. Hurry! The school year will be here before you know it - get to planning, girl!

Coupon Code Hey Mama Planner 2016 2017

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Come see what other reviewers are going to do with their Hey Mama! Planners here:

Hey Mama! Schoolhouse Planner 2016-2017 Review

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