Saturday, April 30, 2016

France ~ Jacques Cousteau

As part of our French unit we spent a brief amount of time looking more closely at the very famous French Scientist and Conservationist Jacques Cousteau.  What an interesting man!

We began simply by chatting about him as  I wanted to find out what knowledge the kids already had.  Which as it turned out was very little. I grew up watching Cousteau so for me that was a little sad to see.

I played this brief video clip to give everyone a broad over view of his life and a glimpse at some of his accomplishments and then it was time for the picture book component.

This part of our France unit was created for the primary aged children in the group so I hunted a picture book to use as our spine.

I chose this particular book because of the simple flow of text. I only had one hour and I knew I wanted to include some art work, I needed a book that would get across what I wanted but that didn't take an exorbitant amount of time to read.

My other reason for choosing this particular book, were the stunning illustrations. They are pieces of art themselves. In fact, in the end these are what I used as our inspiration for our art activity.

Whilst there were a few steps involved in creating these each step is a simple process. If you have the time I'd probably recommend you complete these over a couple of days though. It was quite a big job to tackle all of this in one block of time.

I made sure to purchase the heavier weighted water colour paper in A3. I knew we would be using plenty of very wet paint and given the general heavy handedness of most young children we needed a thicker paper to ensure it didn't tear during the process.

First up I had the kids draw wavy ocean like lines across their pages in white oil pastel. Yes you can't see them and that is on purpose. I simply told the kids they needed to wait for the surprise.

Next up was to paint the entire page to appear as though it is under the ocean, so we used a combination of blues and greens. All in water colour paints that were heavily watered down as we only needed a muted effect for this. Now their wavy ocean lines will start to show through.

As soon as the page was covered in paint and before it had a chance to dry we sprinkled salt across it. This is a trial and error thing to attempt. The idea is that when the salt combines with the paint and slowly dries it will cause little bursts of colour to appear on the page. This worked better on some pages than on others.

Once it is all completely dry you can simply brush off the excess salt.

Whilst our backgrounds were drying we set about organising our chosen Cousteau divers. To save time I had already traced some of these images from the picture book pages. The kids simply chose the design they preferred and cut out their own versions.

They then set about painting and colouring them as they wished.

Whilst our divers were drying we needed to get to work on some of the smaller finishing pieces. Things like seaweed, fish , shells and all manner of objects that one would find whilst diving.

This part was completely free form and the kids simply played around with their own ideas and drawings.

Once everything was dry and neatly trimmed we glued it all onto the background sheet.

Whilst this was a huge task to try and tackle in a single hour the kids did an awesome job and they turned out way better than I could've imagined.

Be sure to pin this so you can easily find it again later!


More Cousteau Activities

Ticia over at Adventures in Mommydom used this exact same book but used it to encourage her kids to design an underwater home. Way cool, and it would make a great activity to include in a unit on this fabulous man! 

More France Themed Ideas

Our study of the Eiffel Tower
Our time with Madeline
The Glorious Flight 

Take a look at my France Pinterest Board for even more ideas for your France Unit Study

More Ocean Themed Ideas  

Take a look at my Oceans Pinterest Board for even more ideas for your Ocean Unit Study

Have a blast learning more about Jacques Cousteau and our amazing oceans!

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Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Math Mini Courses ~ Review

My daughter has been polishing up her math skills with Math Mini Courses from A+ Interactive Math.

We were given access to the Time and Multiplication mini courses in order to complete this review.

What Are Math Mini Courses

They are exactly that, mini math courses and are a great way to help with math learning gaps. If you notice that your child may be struggling in just one small area then a mini course directly related to that area may just be what you are in need of.

For example I knew my kids needed a little more practice with telling time so we've been using the Time Math Mini Course, along with Multiplication as that is where my daughter is at right now.

The Time mini course is 20 multimedia lessons, whilst the Multiplication mini course has a total of 13 lessons. Every mini course also includes an assessment at the end of each lesson.

Whilst the lessons can all be done completely online via the multimedia video lesson format, if you choose you can also print them out via pdf, along with worksheets, tests and report progress sheets.

How We Used The Mini Courses

My daughter chose to do these courses solely online, so she logged in, chose the course she was currently working in from the dashboard area of our account and launched the multimedia video lessons.

Each course is contained within a folder which needs to be expanded to see all of the mini lessons that are to be completed.

Once a lesson is opened up it begins immediately with a friendly voice over and simple animations to explain the concept through a brief video based lesson. Each lesson is only a few minutes in length and it moves directly into the assessment questions at the end.

On completion of a lesson the user or the parent is required to mark the lesson and the assessment quiz as completed, along with the scores in the quiz. The program does not do this automatically and lessons will sit uncompleted until their status has been manually changed.

This is a simple system to use and was very easy for my daughter to jump on and complete a lesson in a few minutes.

The time lessons cover the following concepts days, weeks, months, years, seasons, second, minutes, digital, analog, hour, half hour, quarter hour and five minute intervals, duration and units of time, converting digital and analog, elapsed time.

The multiplication lessons cover these concepts, introduction to multiplication, multiplying using objects, a table and tricks and multiplying with 2, 3, 4 and 5 digit numbers.

What We Didn't Like

My biggest concern with these lessons is that we continually forgot to mark them as complete and I don't quite understand why that wasn't built into the system as an automatic feature. It seems like it makes extra work that would be unnecessary if the system could simply mark it complete once the child got to the end of the lesson.

This process also wasn't shown to us so it was only by trial and error that we found we needed to mark lessons and assessment quizzes as completed.

What We Did Like

I love the concept of mini courses for math, it is a great idea and certainly one that would fill a need with many families. The courses are affordably priced, starting from just $9.99 US dollars which gives you access to the course for an entire 12 month period.

Given that our Time Math Mini Course only has 20 lessons we can revisit during the year to be absolutely certain all of the concepts have been learned.

I really like the multimedia component and the fact that the child does not need to complete worksheets if they don't want. But the worksheets are available for those that want them or need the extra practice.

Looking Ahead

My daughter will absolutely be completing both of her mini courses and will no doubt revisit them again over the coming year.

I've got my eye on a couple of the upper level courses for my son, especially the probability and statistics mini course. I think he would enjoy that one and it will help to hone his skills in that area.

Pricing & Details

As I mentioned above the mini courses are reasonably priced, starting from $9.99 US dollars. To see all of the math mini courses available visit the A+ Interactive Math Website.

To see more from them you can also follow along via your favourite social media outlet


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

Happy Homeschooling,

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Friday, April 15, 2016

Five On A Friday #5

So it's first week back of term two, just after our Easter break. It's been tough getting back into the swing of things.

In The Home

Things have been a bit chaotic around here and with the busyness of my huge home and resources clear out I totally missed doing last weeks five on a Friday.

I am still doing bits and pieces and clearing spaces around the home and passing on items we no longer have a need for.

In School

Given how busy I've been over the break I really was not ready for school to start back so this week has been tough going in that regards. We've had a couple of gentle mornings and we have a few review products that are in use so at least we are keeping up with those.

We are also gearing up for our micro-school to start back next week so I'm getting my plans organised for that.

Out & About

Sunday we caught up with our fav micro-school friends for a family picnic and a small birthday celebration for one of our mums.

During the week the kids also had some of their friends over for an afternoon of hanging out, playing board games and getting rowdy on the PS4.

Today we took a drive down the coast to hang out with some other homeschoolers at Bounce Indoor trampolining. Everyone is always exhausted after two solid hours of jumping and flipping!

On The Net

In case you missed it The Old Schoolhouse has offered the Review Crew members access to some of their e-books for us to share with you. These will only be available for free during the month of April. If you missed my post you can see the 30 Free e-books I have here. I am trying to share as many of the links to the other bloggers that are offering freebies as I can over on my Facebook page so keep an eye on that.

On The Blog

Posts I've shared this past fortnight

I shared how I gently move my children towards independent learning.

Of course I shared the April only free e-books.

Did you see the Times Tales review? This is such a simple product and it sure does help with learning the tables.

I shared our recent visit to the Gold Coasts newest cool attraction.

We've finally added copywork back into our routine and I shared our thoughts on the site Homeschool Copywork.

Lastly, my youngest has been typing and reading up a storm with Read, Write & Type.

That about wraps up the week.

How did yours pan out? I'd love to hear from you.

Happy Homeschooling,

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Thursday, April 14, 2016

Read Write & Type ~ Review

My son has been using the Read, Write & Type Program from Talking Fingers Inc.

We were provided with  this program in order to review it. Read, Write & Type provides learners with early reading, spelling and typing practice.

What Is Read, Write & Type

Read, Write & Type is a research proven reading software program, that teaches phonics, spelling and early typing skills. The program is aimed at children ages 6 to 9 years.

My 7 year old son has been using the program.

How We Used The Program

As you enter the program you are introduced to the three main characters, those being Lefty LaDee Hands, Rightway McKay and the resident villain Vexor the Virus.

The premise being that Vexor has stolen all of the sounds and the child needs to help get them back to their rightful homes. Which are their keys on the keyboard.

To do so the child needs to work through a series of exercises and games each letter at a time. As they complete the activities the letters are won back from Vexor and returned to their rightful place on the keyboard.

Even though the program begins with the single initial letter sounds the child is very quickly typing words and simple sentences.

With each letter the child is presented with various challenges and games to ensure that everything is cemented before moving on.

Letters are taught in groups of four, once the child has successfully progressed through all of the activities associated with those four letters they will be presented with a certificate of merit, which you can choose to print out if you wish.

What We Didn't Like

My son felt he was slightly too old for the program, even though for me I believe he still got a lot out of doing it. He already knows all of his initial sounds and is completing early readers with ease but the lessons introduced very different words than what he is used to and it also helped him solidify his learning. Not to mention that he got to work on some early typing skills.

There are no real lesson stop and start points with the program so at times it is difficult to tell when you are finished. Although it does retain where you have progressed to so that the next time you log on the program simply picks up where you left off.

What We Did Like

I love that this is pretty much an independent program. Once in a while he needed to ask me something he wasn't sure on or every now and then I would need to remind him about his finger placement. Apart from that he could and did do this program independently.

I also like that once they progress enough they earn mini readers, which download as a pdf and are just another way to add in more reading practice for the child.

Each lesson is relatively short, being around 15 minutes, although as I mentioned earlier if the child needs to stop for the day the program will simply remember where they are at when they next log in.

Looking Ahead

My son is well over halfway with the program so he will continue and finish it off over the next couple of weeks.

If you have a child that loves to learn online, is asking about typing or needs extra phonics help then Read, Write & Type may just be the one for you.

Pricing & Details

Read Write and Type Review
Visit the Talking Fingers Inc. website for more details on this program and the other programs they also have available.

To see more from Talking Fingers Inc. visit them via your favourite social media outlet

Facebook ~   YouTube ~   Twitter    

 I hope you have found this review helpful. If you would like to see further reviews of the Read, Write & Type program from members of The Schoolhouse Review Crew, please visit this link.

Happy Homeschooling,

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Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Homeschool Copywork ~ Review

Today I am sharing with you my thoughts on a product we've been using in our homeschool over the past weeks.

We received a Lifetime Membership to Homeschool Copywork which gives us access to a variety of e-books for copywork and notebooking pages such as the Vincent Van Gogh Copywork, Transportation Copywork and Town Mouse Country Mouse Copywork, along with many other varieties of copywork and notebooking pages.

What Is Homeschool Copywork

I think I really need to take one step back here just in case some of you aren't aware or have never even heard of copywork. So what is copywork exactly?

At face value copywork appears to simply be handwriting practice and in reality one can use copywork pages specifically for handwriting. It is so much nicer to copy out a lovely passage or a poem than fill in boring handwriting workbooks, after all!

But copywork is and can be so much more if you use it wisely. With copywork one can cover spelling, grammar, punctuation usage, comprehension and reading skills.

Plus as the guiding light in your children's lives you can also choose certain passages that you feel are appropriate for them and may offer them guidance and inspiration.

There is so much more to copywork than simply handwriting and if this concept is a new one to you I encourage you to read a little further on the topic of adding copywork into your homeschool

Now that you understand what copywork actually is, you're probably thinking, 'right, now I need to find certain passages to use for our copywork, that's just going to add a bunch more work to my overloaded schedule'. 

Wrong, this is where Homeschool Copywork comes into play. All of the sourcing and preparation has been done for you. Simply log into the membership area of the site and you have access to a myriad of copywork and notebooking pages, covering all manner of themes.

How We Used The Membership

Copywork has been on my list to add back in to our days, as it is something we let slide. Often I found myself reinventing the wheel when it came to providing the kids with copywork passages but with access to Homeschool Copywork I didn't need to do anything other than log in and find an appropriate piece to use with each of the children.

  As you know I have three children of very different ages and abilities so I needed to ensure I could meet those with our copywork. 

I was also quite eager to add in some Artist study that I had been working on. It seemed it was the perfect time to begin with our unit on Vincent Van Gogh. Homeschool Copywork has a total of five full volumes of van Gogh copywork pages, each containing a beautiful full colour image of one of his art works and the passage to copy. 

There are various line options and writing styles, making the book suitable for all ages.

I love that we can discuss the work of van Gogh right there on the copywork page, I don't need to go hunting for the art work images. Plus each of the passages is simply beautiful to read.

For some fun we've also been using the delightful Town Mouse Country Mouse book.

One thing that jumped out to me almost instantly was with my youngest and his need to write so small that it is nearly impossible to read. Of course I jumped straight onto the membership area of Homeschool Copywork and found the transportation pages.

These are very simple pages that work their way through the alphabet, but what I loved about them for my son is they gently forced him to slow down and to increase the size of his writing. He works on a few of these each week.

What We Didn't Like

My main issues with the membership area is there is no search function which I feel would be a very valuable asset in ease of finding what your looking for.

I would also love to see a preview option somehow built into the membership area as I needed to download the entire ebook to actually see what is inside. Granted each time I did a download we used the book anyway, but I still feel that this would be advantageous to have available.

We are secular homeschoolers and did find a large portion of the material to be religious in nature.

What I Do Like

Absolutely hands down the ease when it comes to finding passages is a winner for me and this is the exact reason why we have started and fallen off the copywork band wagon so many times over the years. Now that I have access to a range already prepared for me it will truly make it so simple to ensure we keep up with our copywork.

I mentioned earlier in regards to the membership area housing many religious themed copywork pages, however, there were more than enough secular books for me to choose from.

Some of which include, artists such as Monet, van Gogh, and da Vinci. Composers such as Bach and Mozart. There also topics such as the Wright Brothers, John James Aubudon, The Town Mouse and The Country Mouse, along with others.

Looking Ahead

Homeschool Copywork has most definitely become part of our regular routine now thanks to how easy it is having the download membership.

Pricing & Details

Visit the Homeschool Copywork website where you can find all the details and the different membership options available to you.

To see more from Homeschool Copywork visit them via your favourite social media outlet.


I hope you found this review helpful. If you would like to see further reviews of Homeschool Copywork from members of The Schoolhouse Review Crew, please visit this link.

Happy Homeschooling,

Come on over and join me at

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Monday, April 11, 2016

Spaceflight Academy - Gold Coast

Gold Coast Attraction Space Flight Academy

Recently we were lucky enough to be invited along to the brand new Space Flight Academy which is about to open to the public here on the Gold Coast

Gold Coast Theme Park

If you have children that aspire to be an astronaut, a pilot or to work in the field of space flight in any way then you really need to get them down to the Space Flight Academy.

Upstairs you will find the lecture room, which would hold up to 40 people seated. Here you will be given an introductory run down on the simulators that are housed below on the ground level.

Space Flight Academy is recommended for children 11 and over. And rightly so, this is not kids party stuff, this is a serious space flight learning experience.

Here the kids are being trained on how to use the fighter jet controls.

Behind the lecture space is a second smaller class room area, where the academy has plans to hold high school level science classes, in topics such as aerodynamics and rocketry.

Gold Coast Attraction

Our group was split in two, with one half heading straight into the fighter jet simulators.

This experience was much harder and way more involved than the kids every imagined. They all really enjoyed themselves, although it is something that you want to be coming back for again and again so you can perfect your skills.

The other half of the group were preparing to send some of their crew members into space. So some of them entered and worked in Mission Control, which is completely decked out like an actual control room and works in a similar fashion to one. Those working in the control room watch the space flight and converse with the astronauts during the flight.

The simulator in which the cadets use to train and head into to space with.

Their first briefing, of all the goings on inside the simulator. As you can see they are fully equipped with uniforms, and helmets which gives them radio access to Mission Control.

All smiles after his first successful space launch!

Around the room is other space themed paraphernalia with some of them being available for visitors to sit inside and take a closer look around.

I really would not like to be traveling through space in this little thing. Those are some very brave people!

Overall this was a fabulous experience and we were extremely chuffed to be one of the very first groups to go through the centre. Well done to the Space Flight Academy for making this happen. It will be such an asset to the Gold Coast area.

Happy Homeschooling,

Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Times Tales ~ A Review

For the past few weeks we've been enjoying a highly entertaining way to help learn multiplication with this fun program called Times Tales from The Trigger Memory Co.

We were provided with a complete copy of times tales in order for my child to use and review.

What Is Times Tales.

Times Tables is a fun, creative way to aid in learning the upper times tables. The times tables are introduced via quirky simple little animated mnemonics to aid in learning. The program also includes printable practice worksheets to use as re-enforcement.

How We Used The Program

Times Tales is a breeze to use. The program is broken into two parts. It is recommended that the child watches part one, learns the mnemonics and practices with the supplemental worksheets and flashcards for at least a week before moving on to part two.

Although we received this product primarily for my daughter who is currently in the land of multiplication right now, we all watched the animations. The animations used are simple line drawings that have been brought to life. They are not boring by any means though, each character has a little personality of its own.

Each character, represents a number. In the very early stage of the program you are first introduced to the individual characters. For example, the number 3 can be seen in the wings of the butterfly, the number 7 is known as Mrs Week, the number 8 can easily be seen in Mrs Snowman and so on.

How the characters interact with each other in each of their simple stories is how they relate to multiplication. For example, here Mrs Snowman (the number 8) stands on a chair (the number) to reach her 3 buttons and 2 mittens. The mnemonic is first introduced as page in a story, from there it opens out into a short animation to help the child learn the story related to each character.

In the very early stages the program simply has the child learning the stories. After they have worked through several the program comes to a game and quiz area so the children can check how they are going. I was pleasantly surprised to see that not only my daughter but also my youngest memorised the stories quite easily and relatively accurately from the very first viewing.

Only after the stories have been learned does the program then introduce the actual times table. So the example I used above of Mrs Snowman, once the child learns the story they use the numbers in the story. Therefore 8 x 4 = 32.

It's really quite a simple premise but one that for us so far us been effective. If we ever forget a times table we can use the characters as a prompt to remind us until they become automatic.

The easiest way to understand this is to see it in action, this short clip will give you a brief overview of the program.

To see more simply visit the times tales website where you can download for free a small component of the entire program. That way you can see for yourself how simple this really is.

What We Didn't Like About This Program

This is such a simple concept and such an easy program to add into your day, there really isn't anything I can find about it that I don't like.

If you choose to order the download the files are really quite large so just be aware if your internet connection isn't all that great.

The only other point I would raise is that of double learning, which I do suppose Times Tales does fit under. There are some education experts that dispute double learning because the child actually needs to learn the item twice. So here in this example, the child learns the story and then needs to relate that story to a number and eventually learns the actual times tables using numbers only.

Whilst I understand the premise behind double learning, in this particular instance, for us, it has been in no way a hindrance. In fact it has helped in many ways. The visual component has really helped the kids see the times tables as they are shown right before their eyes with moving pictures and sound.

What We Did Like About Times Tales

The ease of use is hands down the winning point for me here. Honestly it doesn't get much easier for the parent or the student than this. Watch the animations, play along with the quizzes, and then practice.

Of course, it goes without saying that price is also a huge plus, making it something that's very easily added into a regular math program. In fact if this opportunity to review Times Tales didn't arise I would have bought the program anyway and have been equally as happy with it!

Looking Ahead

Times Tales has absolutely become a part of our multiplication learning regime and it will continue to be so.

Pricing & Details

Visit the Times Tales website to download a free trial version and to see more details of the program.

To see from Times Tales visit them via their Facebook page

I hope you found this review helpful. If you would like to see further reviews of the Times Tales program 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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