Thursday, June 2, 2016

Essentials Skills Advantage ~ Review

For the past few weeks my younger kids have been brushing up on their math, phonics and spelling skills using the online Complete Home Learning Suite from Essential Skills Advantage.

What Is Essential Skills Advantage

ESA is an online platform for children in grades K - 6. It houses more than 14,000 activities across the subject areas of English, Math, Science and Geography. ESA is a supplementary program rather than a full curriculum, making it suitable to sit alongside any curriculum products you may be using.

The ESA program has been developed by a team of experienced teachers with the aim of covering all of the 'essential skills' a child requires to succeed at their specific grade level.

The platform is bright, colourful and engaging but does not have any unnecessary distractions on the screen.

We have access to the Complete Home Learning Suite, which gives us the flexibility to choose from all of the subject areas across all of the grade levels. This is perfect for a child that may be a bit all over the place because they can work in grade 3 Math and then grade 2 English all at the same time.

How We Used The Program

With two children using the program we've been all over it so to speak. What I have loved the most is the ease in which we can choose the subject area or the grade and then jump between them.

We often found ourselves in three different grade levels all in one morning. My youngest loves looking at the reporting area and seeing the green bar rising, showing him how much he has completed in a certain area.

Whilst there are no lessons in the program as they assume prior learning it really is a simple way to practice spelling, phonics or even math facts.

Each level also has a story time component where the child reads the story out loud and then completes a series of comprehension activities all based on the story. Each story progresses in length and difficulty as you move through the grades.

The story component has been a great way to add in yet more read aloud time for my daughter, which she really needs right now. If a tricky word appears, in most cases she can click on the word and have it read aloud to her.

What We Didn't Like

Honestly I'm having a hard time coming up with something I don't like about the program. Once you realise that there are no lessons here only review work then it really is very easy to navigate and use.

On the odd occasion my kids have complained a little about some repetitiveness in the activities, but overall they are both more than happy to use this program.

The one area where I did notice something was that in the spelling activities. The program always lets you know the focus words and then the child proceeds to work on the activities, however the focus words always sit right up along the top of the screen. If the child clues into that they can easily just copy the words needed for their activities rather than having to try and remember them.

What We Did Like

This is a really simple program to navigate, there are no levels or lessons to complete before moving on. Once you click into a Subject and then the appropriate Grade Level you can see all of the activities available to you. From there you can easily choose what you would like to complete on any given day.

The flexibility of the program, the fact that it is purely review and that I can easily check in on the reporting area to see how the kids are going are all bonuses here.

Looking Ahead

Will we continue using the ESA program, absolutely we will for all of the reasons I have listed above.

Further Details

You can get started with Essential Skills Advantage for as little as 7.99USD a month. Visit the pricing page on their website for more details.

Want to know more, check out ESA across your favourite social media channels

Twitter: @SkillsAdvantage
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I hope you found this review helpful. If you would like to see further reviews of the ESA program, from members of the Schoolhouse Review Crew, please visit this link.

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Saturday, May 28, 2016

Sunya Math Game ~ Review

To help my son get his addition facts mastered we've been playing Sunya The Magic and Wonder of Math and Science Adding & Subtracting from Sunya Publishing.

What is Sunya

Sunya (pronounced soonya) is a simple math concept game which aids children in learning their math addition and subtraction facts. It is intended for children aged 7 years and up.

We all know that everything seems easier when it comes in game form and this is a fine example of that.

How We Used The Game

There are two variations to the game we received to review. It can be played with a focus on addition facts or with a focus on subtraction facts, we alternated between the two during our time reviewing the product as my son is right in the midst of learning these.

There are also a couple of different levels in which you can play the game but given my son is on the youngest end of the recommended age scale we have chosen to stay with the most basic form of the game. Which for now has been more than enough for him.

To play the game it is as simple as building a number sentence on the table, dealing the cards to each player and in turn they need to try and create a new number sentence using their cards and the ones that are already on the table.

It's a simple concept, but one that gets the brain working. The deck also includes 'wild' cards and it is somewhat similar in nature to the game 'uno'.

Once we were familiar with how to play the kids could easily play the game together. This was a great way to end our school time each day, with a few rounds of Sunya!

The deck also includes fun little science themed fact and riddle cards that the kids got a kick of.

What We Didn't Like

The instructions for this game really make it way more confusing than it actually is. I'm still not quite sure why a simple card game needs a booklet to detail all of the instructions. Once we realised how simple it was we were off and running, but I do feel that instruction booklet could really do with some reworking.

What We Did Like

The simplicity and the fact that this is a simple game really won us over. As I said earlier it was so easy to include a few rounds at the end of our school day.

Sunya Publishing is still in its infancy and in fact the game is not yet available to the public. We were very lucky to receive an advanced copy. I recommend keeping an eye on their website so you know when it is released.


Visit the Sunya website for more information.

I hope you have found this review helpful. If you would like to see further reviews covering the Sunya Game, from members of the Schoolhouse Review Crew, please visit this link.

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Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Science Shepherd - Review

My daughter has been brushing up on so many science topics with her new Introductory Science program from Science Shepherd.

What is Science Shepherd

The Science Shepherd courses have been developed by a homeschooling dad, that also holds a degree in Bachelor of Science and a Medical degree. He saw an increased need for science offerings for homeschooling high schoolers and has since branched out to produce product ranges for younger students as well.

How We Used The Program

We were provided with a complete copy of Introductory Science Level B, which includes a student workbook, an answer key and twelve months access to the online video tutorials.

This is absolutely an open and go program. I simply love the simplicity and ease of use for both my daughter and myself.

Once our books arrived, we simply logged in using the details provided to us from Science Shepherd via email. Chose our course level from our account and began watching the first videos.

Each video lesson is exactly matched to the workbook pages. This part of the program has been so well thought out. It is so clear to both the adult and the child where you are and what video you need to be watching.

The lessons are broken down into weeks, with the vast majority of weeks having 5 lessons. My daughter is 11 and is at the upper end of the age range for this particular product and it literally took her minutes to complete a lesson.

The videos are short and succinct and correspond perfectly to the student work book pages.

The student workbooks are laid out in a simple, no fuss fashion. There are no bells and whistles, no bright colours, nothing to distract.

The vast majority of the workbook pages are simple question and answer type pages, with a few puzzle activities included here and there.

There are some simple hands on activities/experiments but not too many that the program becomes overwhelming. Every now and then you need to be prepared with a handful of items to complete the hands on component.

This particular level - Introductory Science B - covers all manner of scientific topics. It aims to provide the student with a good overview. It starts out with Science Skills & Tools, moves into Earth Science topics, followed by Life Science topics and then finally wraps up with Physical Science.

It provides lessons for 35 weeks of science instruction. So a full year of science for the upper primary aged child.

What We Didn't Like

This program is unashamedly Christian and is written from that perspective. I knew this going in to the review but there are so many wonderful Christian programs that can be easily tweaked for Secular Home Educators that I really wanted to give this one a try.

As close as I can tell, as we aren't finished the program yet and won't be until closer to the end of the year, there are 40 lessons out of the total 170 lessons that contain religious content.

So if you are strictly a Secular Home Educator then this program most likely will not work for you. However if you are flexible, looking for a simple, open and go program than I would still recommend you take a look at this.

We discuss world views here a lot and I did discuss this program openly with my daughter before having her try it out. The entire first week covers creation, but after that we were simply able to skip over anything that we felt we needed to.

Whilst the videos are very short, only a couple of minutes each, at times they can be a little on the dry side. The presenter appears as though he is a news broadcaster delivering the nightly news. They are well prepared and edited, but I think we have been spoiled with all of our over the top fun video presenters that we use for other programs in our homeschool.

My daughter was more than capable of watching each and every video, but I did feel that my younger son, may have gotten bored quite quickly with the program.

What We Did Like

Hands down the ease of use is an absolute winner here. There really is no excuse to not include science in your week, Science Shepherd understands the busyness of our days and what we need to make things simple.

My daughter easily understood what was required of her and she completed the vast majority of her work independently.

For me I don't have to spend hours planning and prepping, we simply open the next page in the book and pick up where we left off. So far for all of the hands on activities we've been able to find the items needed right here at home.

I do also really like that in one full year the student covers all of the major science topics and gives them a good grounding to be able move forward with their science understanding in the years to come.

Looking Ahead

We will absolutely complete this course, for all of the reasons I have just mentioned above.

Pricing & Details

The great thing about the Introductory Science course is the price. Access to the video components for a full 12 months is $35.00, the student workbook level B is priced at $15.00 and the answer key $3.00. (all pricing is in USD)

To see all of the courses on offer visit the Science Shepherd website and navigate to the courses tab across the top of the screen.

You can also catch them on social media:

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Pinterest - ​

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I hope you have found this review helpful. If you would like to see further reviews covering the Science Shepherd Courses, from members of the Schoolhouse Review Crew, please visit this link.

Happy Homeschooling,

Come on over and join me at

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Have you looked at my Pinterest Boards lately?

Visit Our Worldwide Classroom's profile on Pinterest.

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