Monthly Archives: June 2012

Homeschool Spanish Academy: A Schoolhouse Crew Review

Homeschool Spanish Academy: A Schoolhouse Crew Review

Homeschool Spanish Academy: A Schoolhouse Crew Review

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Sacha’s<25: An online Spanish program designed for personalized lessons with a native, Spanish speaking teacher for ages 5-adult.

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Home in the Trenches Product Rating (out of 10 stars)

Is it worth our time?  10 stars
Did it help us learn?  10 stars
Is it worth the money?  10 stars
Is it useful to me?  10 stars
Practicality-  10 stars
Quality- 9  stars
Kid Rating-  10 stars

Our Experience:

We have tried multiple Spanish programs over the years with my kids and had no success.  Spanish was my worst subject in college.  So how can I possibly teach it well?

Wow, we have been so blessed to do this review.  Andrew (8) has completed 4 of his 7 weeks we were given to review.  He is taking one-on-one Early Language Classes (geared for ages 5-12…they offer them for all ages up through adult).  In order to be able to do these classes you must have a computer, internet (a free speed test is done to make sure it is fast enough), speakers, microphone, and a web camera (this is very helpful).  These 25 minute classes are done on the computer with a female teacher in Guatemala.  HSA uses Skype to connect you with your teacher. In case you don’t know what Skype is….it is a free service  which allows you to video chat with anyone in the world who also has a Skype account.

Scheduling the class was really easy…HSA uses Schedulicity to do all of their scheduling.  Schedulicity is a free service and they will send you reminders of when your classes are scheduled.  Once I had scheduled Andrew’s first class we waited for a tech call to make sure we were set up for the class later that day.  The tech guy (also the owner of HSA) was very helpful and easy to work with.

We were asked to make sure we were at our computer 5 minutes before his first class.  His teacher would request a Skype video chat.  The first time it didn’t work.  We sat and waited a few minutes and then the owner from HSA called us and told us what to do in order to get it to work.  Super simple and we were on our way!  Here is the scope and sequence of what is covered in the Early Language classes: (I have found that they will cover what your child is able to in a lesson.  It is tailored to your child.)

Andrew’s first lesson was with Nora.  He covered alphabet pronunciation, fruits, animals, and then vocabulary word recognition-translating from both Spanish to English and English to Spanish.She was very encouraging to Andrew and worked to make sure he was pronouncing the words correctly. She spoke in Spanish and English saying “Muy bien” etc but she would always then say what she spoke in Spanish in English as well. The lesson involved  a quick conversation at the beginning to warm up to her and to work on general conversation in Spanish.  Then she puts on the computer screen a lesson to work through with her.  I felt the lesson was very through.  There was no homework after the first lesson.

After the 2nd lesson each week has a homework assignment.  It is emailed to me after the class.  I then have Andrew complete it and we email it back to his teacher.  She then corrects it for us.  How great it that?  I had Andrew write the answers down on the 2 pages of homework and then I scanned it in and emailed it.  However, if you don’t have a scanner you could just type the answers in and email it that way.

Being picky here….the homework was a bit hard for Andrew to write on…the spaces for answers are small…not made for a 5-8 year old to fill in. Also on his 2nd assignment we found that sometimes there weren’t enough answer spaces for what he was supposed to do or too few.  No big deal just not perfect.

Overall, I can’t be happier with what Andrew has learned and retained.  He already has a better accent with 3 lessons than I ever had with a year of college Spanish.  The two different teachers have been so friendly and encouraging to work with! Scheduling classes has been super simple, lots of times to choose from as well as a few different instructors.  We found that the teachers are all great, but some of them are better at looking into the camera at you instead of at their desk!

Once again I want to reiterate that HSA offers all kinds Spanish lessons for all ages.  They also offer 2 on 1 classes.  I think we will be trying those out for my older 2 kids.  Saves us some money!

Here is a great 3 minute video to really give you a flavor of what HSA is like.

What I liked:

  • Very easy to use…even with all the technology required.
  • I just need to schedule classes, the rest of the teaching, assignments, and grading are done for me.
  • The teachers speak in both Spanish and English and are very encouraging.
  • Very flexible…classes are schedule weekly around your schedule…one week might be Tues at 10am and the next week might work Wed at 4:30.
  • Private Spanish teachers can’t be found for this price!  Super inexpensive!

What I didn’t like:

  • This was no big deal, but I thought the homework assignments could have been written in a better format for 5-8 year olds.

To sum it up: Want to learn Spanish or have your kids learn Spanish?  This is the way to go.  Homeschool Spanish Academy is offering one-on-one classes for ages 5-adult which are scheduled around you!  Personalized instruction from a native-Spanish speaking teacher….it doesn’t get better than that….and it is very affordable for what you are getting!  Schedule your free trial class today!

 

The important information:

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Sign up for classes at: http://homeschoolspanishacademy.com/

Price: 
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To read other Schoolhouse Crew reviews of this product click here.

 

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Disclosure/Disclaimer:  I received the above product free of charge for review purposes.  I am only expected to give an honest review.

A favorite summer vegetable recipe!

A favorite summer vegetable recipe!

While we don’t do a lot of gardening, I am sure that many of you do.  We just aren’t home enough during the summer to make a garden work!  This is a great way to use those vegetables from your garden. (if you have any extras still…you can send them our way!)

Or don’t feel guilty that you don’t have a garden and go buy some at a local farmers market or your local store!

This recipe that I am going to share is a favorite of our family.  Tim’s mom shared it with me and I in turn want to share it with you. It is super simple and quick and you could really include your kiddos in helping.  Of course, don’t let your kids use knives if you don’t feel comfortable and aren’t watching them. (I can’t believe I even had to say that….just covering myself for when someone decides to have their toddler use the knife and has an accident!–wouldn’t be so good!)

Vegetable Salad

Mix together in a bowl big enough for all of your vegetables:

  • 2/3 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 1/3 cup oil
  • 3/4 cup sugar (yes a lot of sugar, however it is a in a marinade you aren’t eating it all—or cut it down)
  • salt and pepper to desired taste

Then cut up into bite size pieces—tomatoes, green pepper, onion and cucumber.  We usually do one of each of these, but it is totally up to you and you could add other things as well to it.  Add all the vegetables to the marinade in the bowl.  Cover and refrigerate 2-4 hours before serving! Enjoy.  This is best eaten the same day you made it.  Leave it in the fridge overnight and the vegetables get a bit soggy!  Tastey but soggy.

 

Join other Hearts at Home bloggers and see what their favorite summer recipes are….click on the image below to see!


IXL.com: A Schoolhouse Crew Review

IXL.com: A Schoolhouse Crew Review

IXL.com: A Schoolhouse Crew Review

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Sacha’s<25: An online, math subscription to IXL provides over 2,000 skills spanning pre-k to algebra ready to help reinforce what your kids are already learning.

Home in the Trenches Product Rating (out of 10 stars)

Is it worth our time?  8 stars
Did it help us learn? 8 stars
Is it worth the money? 8 stars
Is it useful to me? 8 stars
Practicality- 9 stars
Quality- 10 stars
Kid Rating- 8 stars

Our Experience:

We received a free membership for up to 3 family members from IXL.com for a full 6 months!  Very generous of them and I am super excited that the kids will be able to use it so long….as they like it and don’t consider it so much like school!  I just let the kids work on whatever topics they wanted to do within their grade level.  I consider this just to be great practice/review over the summer.  During the school year I will be more choosey as to what they work on, maybe choosing topics they need more work on or to introduce a new topic we are getting ready to study.

Have you heard that they lose 2 1/2 months of what they had already learned over the summer?  I’m not willing to give up that much time or energy that we have put into anything for a summer break! This is a great website to have your kids work on over the summer to make sure they don’t lose the ground they covered during the school year.

I didn’t get any complaints from any of my 3 kids-going into K, 3rd, 7th this fall-on using IXL.  They were happy to do it.  I do get looks when I ask them to do regular math books! But yes, they still do these as well this summer!

From IXL.com website:

Piles of textbooks, stacks of worksheets—no wonder kids get frustrated studying math. They’d rather be playing on the computer, so let them! They’ll be giggling as IXL asks them to count the hippos, cheering as they earn medals and awards, and, best of all, they’ll be learning. (Shhh, don’t tell!)

Membership benefits:
  • Complete coverage of math curriculum from pre-K to algebra. Your kids won’t miss a thing!
  • Unlimited questions in over 2,000 skills.
  • Fun and colorful practice formats.
  • Questions that adapt to your child’s ability, increasing in difficulty as they improve.
  • Immediate feedback and question-specific explanations to solidify understanding of each concept.
  • Audio for all pre-K through first-grade skills.
  • Weekly e-mail updates on your child’s progress.
  • Informative, detailed reports pointing out successes and trouble spots.
  • Awards and certificates for you and your children to print out as they reach important milestones.

What I liked:

  • The parent reports are emailed to me each week–so I don’t even have to remember to log on to see what my kids have been working on.  And the parent reports are very thorough. Below is a portion of the email report I received on what my kids had worked on.  It gives lots of information….just what I like!
  • If you log on to look at reports..wow…they will tell you everything you wanted to know and a whole bunch more…
  • What a steal to add extra family members!  Really appreciate this from IXL! $2/per kid/month or $20/per kid/year to add on is really reasonable!
  • If you need to, you can put your membership on hold for up to 3 months…no wasted subscription.
  • Joy said, “Well it is math, but it is fun!” So if she is enjoying doing something she doesn’t really enjoy doing I am a happy camper!
  • There is just so much to choose from….plenty of topics for each grade level to work on!
  • Love the monthly or yearly subscription options.

What I didn’t like:

  • There are awards/certificates you can print when your child hits a milestone.  My kids earned them for 100 problems done, 1 hour of math etc.  I printed them out for my kids….they could have cared less.  These might be a motivator to some kids, but weren’t to mine…they hit the trash.

To sum it up: Are your kids struggling in math? Are you wanting to reinforce what they are learning? Or are you wanting them to keep reviewing math over the summer?  Then this program is for you and your family!  Easy to use, Fun for your kids.  Check it out….You are able to have you kids sample it by completing up to 20 questions for free.

 

The important information:

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Order from: IXL.com

Price: $9.95 per month (add add’l kids for $2/mo) or $79 for the year (add add’l kids for $20/mo).

To read other Schoolhouse Crew reviews of this product click here.

 

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Disclosure/Disclaimer:  I received the above product free of charge for review purposes.  I am only expected to give an honest review.

Paralyzed by Choices…

Paralyzed by Choices…

Choices….I don’t do well with them.  When we first moved to the town we live in now we had a choice of one grocery story (and still do).  The store was tiny maybe 6 aisles.  I loved it!  I didn’t have to stand in the aisle and try to decide between 18 different types of spaghetti sauce…maybe only 3.  Canned goods were between the store brand and one national brand.  I loved it!  I cut grocery shopping down to a half hour in store. You can imagine me in Walmart….that becomes a 2 hour experience!

Now our store has been remodeled and is really much bigger with many more choices.  It is really nice.  But it takes me longer to choose which items I want, check prices between brands and wander through those aisles.  I miss the days of few choices.

It is the same way with all kinds of things in my life….especially picking homeschool curriculum!  Are you with me here?  How on earth are you supposed to decide between history curriculums….even when you know what type of learning style you want to go with?  It has paralyzed me.  And that is only history, what about math, science, language arts, foreign language, music, art, the list goes on and on? I think reviewing curriculum has helped me know what I like when we can try it out for 3-6 weeks, but has made it harder for me when I can’t try out something I am looking  at switching to.

How do you decide when making choices? (OK, besides the obvious to pray about it!  That is always a really good idea!)

MyMathLab-Algebra 1: A Schoolhouse Crew Review

MyMathLab-Algebra 1: A Schoolhouse Crew Review

MyMathLab-Algebra 1: A Schoolhouse Crew Review

Sacha’s<25: A complete online Algebra 1 course which is available to use for 18 months from date of registration.

Home in the Trenches Product Rating (out of 10 stars)

Is it worth our time? 7 stars
Did it help us learn?  7 stars
Is it worth the money? 7 stars
Is it useful to me? 7 stars
Practicality- 8 stars
Quality- 7 stars
Customer Service- 5 stars
Kid Rating- 8 stars

One of my favorite homeschool products comes from Pearson Homeschool.  So you can guess my excitement to find out that I was going to get to review another Pearson product!  We were chosen to review MyMathLab Algebra 1 from Pearson Homeschool.  This program runs completely on your computer.

We got home from vacation and in our mail was a brown envelope with everything we needed to get started.  In order to use this program you need to purchase a “Student Access Kit” as well as a “Parent Access Kit”.  These kits are just online registration info along with your unique access code to get started. Once you access your online registration you have 18 months before it will expire.

Matthew was super excited to get started as he is really wanting to do his math lessons on the computer.  It didn’t take too long to get it all set up and he was ready to go.  I like that the program tells him exactly what to work on next.

Below is a screenshot that he sees on his home page of the program.  The calendar across the top shows if he has a specific quiz/test etc due on a certain day, it also shows what days that week he worked on lessons.  Below the calendar it shows him his next 3 assignments.  He cannot move onto the next assignment until he scores at least 90% on the assignment he is working on.  While I like this feature, I found that he could just go back and rework the problem and if it was then correct it counted it as correct.  However, I am not sure that he is mastering it  just because he went back and answered it correctly.  There was no way for me to see that he had answered it incorrectly to start out with.  From what I could find, as a parent, the grade book only shows you the grades of tests and quizzes…not homework assignments. Which maybe isn’t a big deal, I just haven’t figured out how I feel about this….maybe I am overprotective?

Here’s what the program looks like while he is working on an assignment: (you can click on it to enlarge it)

I wanted to include this screenshot because it shows all the things he can do while he is working on an individual problem.  If he isn’t sure how to answer it he can click “assigned media” and it will take him to the portion of the “on screen” textbook or the media files (video) which explain the problem.  He can also see the problem solved or have an example shown to him.  Wow, that is a lot of different ways for him to try to grasp the topic at hand! He should be able to figure it out by all of these.

Each assignment is a different number of questions and also has different media/textbook assignments to go along with it.

Parents can go into their side of things and edit assignments, add tests and quizzes etc.  You are also able to edit what percentage you want them to score before they can go onto the next assignment. But you don’t have to do anything – the program is made to run without you!

While I think that there are many positive aspects to this program, and Matthew is really hoping to get to continue with it, there are a few things that keep me from giving it rave reviews.  Don’t get me wrong, compared with some other online Algebra courses the price is great!  But even with a great price I still want to be thrilled with what I am paying for.

From Pearson Homeschooling Website:

Features and Benefits

Elayn Martin-Gay is a best-selling author for Pearson developmental mathematics. The Martin-Gay franchise has achieved its success based on the strength of Elayn’s texts, her innovative videos, and her popularity throughout the college math community. The MyMathLab Algebra 1 andMyMathLab Algebra 2 courses are built from the best-selling textbooks, Beginning Algebra 5e,and, Intermediate Algebra, 5e by Elayn Martin-Gay.

For parents:

  • Deliver quality instruction through videos, animations, and other presentation tools
  • Turn-key course with preloaded assignments or choose to customize the lessons and create your own personalized to fit your child
  • Easily create, edit, and assign homework assignments, quizzes, and tests
  • Assess your child’s understanding with auto-grading feature
  • Implementation Guide that includes mini-lessons for each section
  • Pacing guidance to fit your child

For your child:

  • Utilize anytime/anywhere access to the online Student Edition
  • Homework assignments provide immediate feedback
  • Increase understanding with the help of tutorials, videos, and animations
  • Receive personalized study plan based on quiz and test results
  • Student Organizer, available as a PDF download or in print, helps develop study and note-taking skills
  • 30 minute live online tutoring session for free

What I liked:

  • Matthew knew what he was supposed to do….it told him and it was very simple to follow online to know when to watch a video, read text or answer questions.
  • Love the 18 month access.  No need to stress about getting it done….you can work at you student’s pace. Here’s what their website says about pacing:  A typical course in Algebra 1 or Algebra 2 is completed over an entire school year – or approximately 36 weeks. However, this course is set up so that it can be delivered based on your desired timeline. If your child works for 90 minutes per day and 5 days per week, the material could be covered in approximately 18 weeks. There are 10 units included in the course; you should determine how much time to spend each week per unit in order to complete the course by your desired deadline. To complete all 10 units in 36 weeks, approximately three weeks per unit is needed.  
  • Love that it grades everything.  Very little work on a parents’ part.

What I didn’t like:

  • Sometimes the videos were slow to load or once you clicked on them it would say “coming soon”.  While it didn’t happen very often it was still frustrating. One day he wasn’t able to do his math at all.  (while this could have been an internet issue on our end…it is part of having to deal with an online program, versus a loadable program or book)
  • Customer service.  I had to call one time because I was having a problem.  I despise calling somewhere and feeling like they are reading from their script about what to tell me.  ”We apologize for the difficulties you are having….”  On more than one occasion I had the representative tell me it was working on their end, not sure why it wasn’t working on mine…try again.  Happened again when I used their online chat service.
  • I’m not sure that he mastered what he did work on, even with scores of 100%.  I would like to know more about how he is doing on individual assignments, the first time he answers the problem.  I realize that once he takes a test it will tell me what he still needs to work on.  I just find that I would rather know what he isn’t understanding fully 1 or 2 days into it instead of 2 weeks.

To sum it up: This could be a great online Algebra course…and it might be for your family.  I like to have a little more knowledge of how individual problems are going on daily assignments.  Looking for an online option for a Math program?  Then head over to Pearson Homeschool and see what they have to offer.

 

The important information:

MyMathLab Algebra 1 from Pearson Homeschool

Published by:  Pearson Homeschool

Order from: Pearson Homeschool

Price: 

MyMathLab for Homeschool Algebra I – Student/Child Access Kit standalone price: $49.97
MyLab Parent Access Kit for Pearson Homeschool Edition price: $30.00

To read other Schoolhouse Crew reviews of this product and the many other Pearson products others reviewed click here.

 

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Disclosure/Disclaimer:  I received the above product free of charge for review purposes.  I am only expected to give an honest review.