Thursday, November 9, 2017

Innovators Tribe ~ Review

We've recently been exploring applied science, design and technology all via the online platform, Thinking Like An Engineer from Innovators Tribe.

Innovators Tribe is an online multimedia program that currently offers two courses aimed at children from grades 6 to 12. Thinking Like An Engineer, Thinking Like An Architect and they are releasing Thinking Like A Carpenter sometime in the near future.

Thinking Like an Engineer

The course involves about 30 hours of the students time to complete and is made up of both online video and multimedia lessons, along with a large portion of hands on activities. Our family was provided a full subscription to Thinking Like An Engineer in order to deliver this review.

The Thinking Like An Engineer course comes with a printed syllabus and material list which makes it easy to know in advance what is required. These were the first things I printed so we could take some time understanding what was to be covered. You are also directed to download free design software that will be used within the course.

The course is built around a set of challenges and through both the lessons and the online components the students will learn to problem solve and to truly begin to think like an Engineer.

Thinking Like An Engineer contains five main units which compose of:

1/. Introduction To Engineering
2/. Introduction To 3D Design
3/. Engineering Rollercoasters
4/. Engineering Bridges
5/. Nano-Engineering

The early stages of the course include a series of videos to explain the concepts, ensure the student has a good understanding of what engineers do and some of the grand problems our world faces today that engineers are continually trying to solve. It discusses the various streams of engineering and even shows the students the average annual income for the various types of engineers, this part got the kids thinking that's for sure!

The videos are very interactive and often contain slides and links to other short video clips. They were great at keeping all of us intrigued, never were we sitting through a video simply watching the presenter standing in front of the screen for the entire time. I really liked how that component of the course was so well thought through.

It doesn't take long though before you are straight into the hands on activities, which are presented in the form of challenges. For example we were asked to build a five foot tower using only 5 sheets of printer paper and one foot of masking tape. Another challenge involving paper and masking tape was to create a structure that could hold a stack of books off the ground using only one sheet of paper and two feet of masking tape.

After the introduction and various hands on activities the course moves into 3D Design using online free software to explore this area. We are now only just beginning this section of the program and are excited to be diving into the world of Computer Aided Design.

This course is so well laid out that it is a breeze for the older student to complete independently, the dashboard clearly shows what lessons they have completed and what is coming next. With assistance I think this course could probably even work for students slightly younger than the 6th grade recommendation. They may not get as much out of it as an older student but I'm quite certain that if they love hands on challenges and engineering concepts then I'm sure they would enjoy it.

We are definitely looking forward to completing the remainder of the course and I can't wait to see more of the new course Thinking Like A Carpenter as I'm sure my younger son will love that one!

To see more reviews on Thinking Like An Engineer and even some on Thinking Like An Architect simply click on the graphic below.

Thinking Like an Architect or Engineer {Innovators Tribe Reviews}

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Friday, September 22, 2017

Let's Go Geography ~ Review

We've been having loads of cultural geography fun with this all new weekly homeschool geography curriculum from Let's Go Geography!

What Is Let's Go Geography

A full 36 week Cultural Geography immersion program. Each week the program visits a new
destination. In a full year you can expect to visit around 30 different countries.

The exploration happens via, mapping, flags and landmarks. Each week there are links to listen to songs and watch videos related to that country, along with notebooking pages, crafts, colouring pages and more!

Currently Year One is released, when complete the full program will contain three years worth of lessons. The best part is most definitely the inexpensive pricing. To have all of these resources at your fingertips for such a low price is most definitely worth it.

How We Used Let's Go Geography

Each lesson stands alone, so whilst it is laid out in numerical order you can jump about visiting any country you wish. I chose to start at the beginning, with lesson 1, the Northeast area of the USA.

Before beginning the lesson I printed, the required maps, flags, notebook and colouring pages. As the lesson contains links to songs, videos and pictures I knew it would enhance the lesson by viewing on the large screen, so I plugged our laptop into the television and we completed the lessons that way.

My kids really enjoyed the lesson on Haiti and so I will use that to give you a closer look around. 

The first we thing we do is discuss who's heard of the country, if they know anything about it and where it possibly might be. I always have our large world map out with us so we can go looking. Once we've discussed and located the whereabouts, we notice any major land masses and bodies of water nearby.

Then it is time for a brief mapping session. Firstly included in the lesson is a link to print off a map for North America and to colour the country of Haiti. The second map included is one of the Greater Antilles area, here we discuss the bordering countries and colour as we talk about them.

Time to look at the flag, we discuss the details, the kids colour, cut out and stick to the appropriate map, currently we are staying in the North American region so all of our flags are from that area. The program does have a printable passport that you can add on to your studies. We have chosen to simply keep everything in one folder.

Now it is time for music, so far all of the lessons have given us the lyrics and a link to listen (and watch) the National Anthem of that country.

And like any visit to a country one simply must do some exploring, and that's where we are off to
next! This is the part of the lesson that is different each time because you are dealing with a different country, with Haiti for example we had some 'did you know' facts and then we did a spot of virtual sight seeing. We took a tour of Haiti's landscape, the Citadelle and looked at some of the ways the people earn a living, including a virtual visit to a market.

After the brief trip around the country there are a photographic images included of some of the places visited on the virtual tours. 

As the complete lesson is a pdf download these could be printed and added to the child's travel notebook, we have chosen just to view on the large screen.

We are nearing the end of our visit to Haiti, but first there is always some form of craft or colouring page related to the country.

And finally we notebook a few details using the included notebooking page. 

All up this is taking us approximately 1 hour to complete. We are not doing the crafts as my kids simply didn't want to do them. I found that I prefer to start and finish an entire lesson in one setting, but it is definitely structured that you could do 15 minutes or so a day and complete a lesson over the course of a week.

With each lesson being accessed as a pdf, I love that we can view it on the ipad or via the laptop and then on our large screen tv. We simply spread out on the lounge room floor.

What We Didn't Like

For us the only thing was the crafts that my kids weren't too fussed on. I would like to see some more thorough physical geography concepts. This is a cultural geography program with a small amount of map work included.

What We Did Like

This is definitely one of those programs that everyone can gather around and do together, big tick here in  my box, as now that my kids are no  longer little it is so hard to find things we can do together. There is such limited prep required, download the lesson, print the needed pages, organise the craft if you are going to do that and off you go. All of the leg work of finding images, videos, music and snippets of information has been done for you. And of course you can't beat the price. A full years access is only $21.99 USD.

Further Details

Visit the Let's Go Geography website for a closer look around.

Let's Go Geography on Facebook

Let's Go Geography on Pinterest

If you would like to see more reviews on this product simply click on the image below.

Let’s Go Geography {Reviews}

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Thursday, July 20, 2017

Doctor Aviation ~ Review

I have a unique product to introduce to you all today, called Doctor Aviation, if your family enjoys anything to do with aviation then this may just be right up your alley. My high schooler has been undertaking a course in aviation education and was provided access to the complete course in order to bring this review to you.

doctor aviation review

What Is Doctor Aviation

This product is the brain child of Daryl Smith, aka Doctor Aviation. The course is an introduction to all things aviation and will provide the student with the basic tools and knowledge to take off into the world of flight. The course is recommended for ages 16 and up, of course if you have a younger student that is a very keen aviator then be sure to take a look at the trial lesson on their website.

Doctor Aviation himself has a long list of credentials, including those of United States Airforce Command Pilot, Instructor Pilot, Research Pilot, he has authored an aviation book and is currently a college professor.

The program is based around a series of video lectures, that all average 60 minutes in length.

The lesson structure is broken into sections, with each section containing two - four accompanying lessons. It is broken down as follows.

Section One - Course Overview
The Aviation System

Section Two - The Aircraft
The Major Components Of An Airplane
Axes & Forces
Why An Aircraft Flies - The Secret Of Airfoils & Lift
Why An Aircraft Turns, Pitches & Slides - The Flight Controls

Section Three - Air Traffic Control
How We See An Aircraft Miles Away - The Secrets Of Radar
The Air Traffic Cops - How Air Control Works

Section Four - Aircraft Maintenance
Keep 'em Flying - Propeller Engines
Keep 'em Flying - Jet Engines

Section Five - Airfield Operations
The City In & Of Itself - Running A Large Airport
The Small Airport & Running An FBO

Section Six - The Aircraft II
Flying In The Clear & Not So Clear Air - VMC & IMC
Important Pilot Instruments - Attitude Indicator
Important Pilot Instruments - Airspeed Indicator
Other Aviation Ships - Gliders, Helicopters, Airships

Each section also contains a printable guided notes pdf. This is intended to be downloaded and completed as you watch the video lectures.

For those that wish to delve even deeper there is also a 'To Learn More' page, this area has a huge array of further resources to take the learning to a deeper level. Here you are given recommendations of books to read, websites to visit and further study ideas all pertaining to that particular lesson.

As you progress further into the course you will have the option of printing off Exam Practice Questions. Potentially allowing the student a complete high school credit option if they chose to undertake all of the learning opportunities housed within here.

 photo Doctor Aviation Logo_zpslkv44u3k.jpg

How Did We Use Doctor Aviation

My teen chose to use the site in its simplest form, that of watching the live lectures and completing the printed guided notes, as you can see in the image above.

Whilst we do spend some time looking at the extra resources to see if there is anything there he would like to follow further, for now he is content in simply increasing his introductory knowledge of aviation.

What We Didn't Like

This is a thorough course, giving a great introduction to aviation and it is designed for students 16 years and over. My son is 15, he is able to complete this independently and whilst he has found the video lectures extremely informative, he personally doesn't overly enjoy the basic lecture style of video presentations.

His wish was two things, for it to be somewhat more animated in the delivery style and for the videos to not be quite so long, therefore expanding the number of videos included. This is always going to be a personal preference though.

What We Did Like

He is however truly enjoying the sharing of information and the exploration of aircraft. He does feel he is learning a great deal from this program. If aviation was a possibility on his list of potential careers then I know that this course would be a truly valuable asset.

Further Details

Visit the Doctor Aviation website for a trial of the first session, The Aviation System.

Doctor Aviation on Facebook

Doctor Aviation on Twitter

If you would like to see more reviews about this product simply click on the image below.

Aviation Course {Doctor Aviation Reviews}

Crew Disclaimer

Friday, June 9, 2017

Marsh Media ~ Review

Today I would like to introduce you to MarshMedia a company that produces health education products mainly for use in schools but would like to reach out to the homeschool community.

Our family was given access to the suite of health and puberty videos that MarshMedia have available in order to bring this review to you.

What is MarshMedia

The company creates educational products, mainly based around puberty and health for children and young teens and up until now have primarily created these for schools. The company has put together a great plan though in an effort to reach out to the homeschool community!

The company was originally founded in 1969 and whilst the ownership has changed hands during that time their purpose has always remained the same. That is to provide quality, engaging and educational health videos to children from grades K through to 8.

The MarshMedia suite covers topics such as
  • Health
  • Hygiene
  • Safety
  • Puberty
  • Head Lice
  • Immune System Disorders
  • Nutrition
  • Character Education
  • Social Skills and more
MarshMedia points out that their video's do not discuss sex education, although the terminology is referred to within puberty and health education. I watched these videos mostly with my 8 year old son and was pleased to find nothing that was inappropriate for him to see.

Health Education Products for K-8 {MarshMedia }

How Did We Use MarshMedia

After logging on I spent some time browsing the various titles available as there was quite a range to choose from.

We watched several of the videos in the hygiene section, the Keep It Clean video was particularly useful, with a teen boy in the house they can always use a little reminder. The video featured a small group of teens singing and chanting with a catchy 'rap' feeling tune. The video covered a huge amount of information around keeping clean and why it is important, but because it was presented in this fashion it wasn't arduous to watch in any way.

Nutrition and safety are topics we discuss around here quite a lot, but having the video option to present the information in a slightly different fashion was a welcome change.

Whilst we didn't access the videos in the Special Needs area I was pleasantly surprised to see them available.

I have not shared images of everything available, these are just a cross section of what you will find in the range.

What We Didn't Like

I personally felt that the website as whole could be a little more user friendly, but after a bit of poking around I did get to everything I needed.

My eldest teen felt some of the videos were a little childish, but he is above the targeted age range.

What We Did Like

That we could quickly and easily access videos relating to just about any health topic a child may need. I didn't need to go googling I knew that all of the information would be presented in the videos here.

Further Details

MarshMedia are currently offering homeschooling families access to unlimited viewing of 59 videos for only $50 USD. To find out all of the details visit the Homeschool Offer page on their website.

MarshMedia Links

You Tube

If you would like to see more reviews about this product simply click on the image below

MarshMedia Reviews

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Wednesday, June 7, 2017

K5 Learning ~ Review

These past few weeks we've been using an online program from K5 Learning to supplement my son's math and reading lessons. Our family have been given a subscription to K5 Learning in order to provide this review.

What is K5 Learning

K5 Learning is an online portal created to supplement reading, math and spelling for children undertaking grades K through to 5. It is not a complete curriculum. If your child could use a little extra help though, this may be the thing for them.

The site includes assessments in both reading and math, which the child takes before diving in to any lessons. This gives the parent a good overview of where they are at and allows the program to work out exactly where to place the student and what to have them cover.

The lessons are all online using nice quality animated videos. There are also worksheets that can be printed as you go along.

 K5 Reading includes:

    Phonemic Awareness
    Sight Words
    Reading Comprehension

K5 Math includes:

    Numbers & Operations
    Data Analysis
    Algebraic Thinking

K5 Spelling includes:

    Adaptive instruction
    Optimized visual interface
    150,000 word database

The Assessment Component

I really liked how thorough this part of the program was. The assessment took around 30 minutes although the child does not need to sit and complete it in one sitting. On completion of each assessment (one for math and one for reading) you will receive an email which not only gives you a grade score but also breaks down the subject areas.

For example depending on how the student goes with their assessment their breakdown would look something like this ---->

Overall Reading Score: Below 2nd Grade Range

The Overall Reading score is based on student performance in phonemic awareness, phonics, sight words, vocabulary and reading comprehension.

We have now placed Student X at the following levels in our reading lessons: 

Phonemic Awareness             Exempt
Phonics                                  High 1st Grade
Sight Words                           Early 3rd Grade
Vocabulary                            Mid 2nd Grade
Reading Comprehension      Mid K

After completing the math assessment a similar report is emailed to you.

The parent area of the program also keeps you well informed of what your child is completing and how they are scoring in each particular area.

How We Used K5 Learning

My son doesn't generally enjoy many programs that cover language arts skills online, he prefers to do those more traditionally with me, however he worked through his lessons on K5 Learning without any complaints at all.

I believe this is due to the fact that they are highly colourful, engaging and kept relatively short. On most occasions he would complete 2 - 3 mini lessons in one sitting, several times a week.

The program remembers everything, so each time he logged on it simply gave him the next lesson that he needed to complete regardless of where he left off last time. For our busy lifestyle this has to be one of the most important considerations for me. My child must be able to log on themselves and know exactly what they need to be doing without needing me to get them set up. So of course I loved this part of the program.

What We Didn't Like

Unfortunately, being here in Australia, meant that some of the math components didn't work for us so we did mainly stick to the reading section of the site. This was the area I wanted my son to work on the most anyway.

What We Did Like

I loved that K5 Learning includes the assessment, it shows just how much work has gone into creating this program and I know that each lesson is going to be targeted exactly where it is needed. My son loved that it was quick and easy to use. We've never had a moment of frustration with the site, everything has always worked as it should.

Looking Ahead

We have a six month subscription to K5 Learning and I can't wait to see where he is by the end of that period. This program has gone into the basket to seriously consider purchasing our own subscription.

Further Details

K5 Learning offer a 14 day free trial, which does allow you take the assessments and use the program for the full 14 days.

Follow them on social media to find out more --->

If you would to read other reviews about this program simply click on the image below.

K5 Learning {Reviews}

Crew Disclaimer

Sunday, May 7, 2017

Give A Kid A Camera

And watch their observational skills soar!

In this day and age of digital madness it's so hard to get kids outside, engaging with the natural world around them.

But add in a little piece of technology and they might just be immersed for hours!

Give them a camera so they can record what they observe.

We recently spent some time on a local island and whilst they had to share the one spare camera we have, all three kids got into some serious nature photography.

They spent an incredible amount of time wandering, engaged, observing and capturing what they saw.

My teen is teaching himself the manual settings, with a few pointers from mum and dad, when he asks. The younger two are content with the automatic setting.

I have so many images to sort through and those are the ones just from the kids. Far too many to share them all with you, but here's a few.

The following four images were taken by our 15 year old.

Love how my teen captured this. Starfish were everywhere on low tide, along the shoreline and they look fabulous in the sunset.

So ok, not exactly a nature shot but playing around with the light and his little brother during a glorious Moreton Island sunset.

You can't visit Moreton and not watch the sun set over the famous wrecks.

He was even lucky enough to capture this guy whilst we were out on the water.

The next five images were taken by my 12 year old.

She was enraptured with the starfish. There are several images of them taken by her.

Playing around with her little brother. She had my camera for this one.

Of course the obligatory, toes with a starfish photo simply must make an appearance.

These guys get battered around by the surf and many of them get flipped from crashing waves. Their undersides though are mesmerising to look at it.

She also managed to snap the only crab photo of the entire trip!

Our 8 year old barely went anywhere without the camera hanging from his neck. Consequently I now have a plethora of images that he took. The following nine are all from him.

We were so lucky to pass by a pod of dolphins on our way over to the island. They were quick and he was lucky to even grab this shot.

This sunset he snapped directly out in front of our villa. What a beauty!

Behind us was a smallish tropical rainforest inspired garden, which he spent a bit of time in.

This little guy sat and posed for him for ages.

And because everyone else was doing it, he thought he should too!

Once again there are heaps of starfish photo's, but I particularly like this one.

A view through the glass bottom boat.

This little guy was found sitting in the trees just out the front of our room.

Once again in the garden at the back of our room.

Taking these truly helped each of them to observe so much more than if they would have done by simply walking around. I hope to get some of these added to our hand drawn nature journals soon.

If you would like to see more of what we got up to on the island please follow along with our family adventure blog.

Happy Homeschooling,

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Digital Savvy ~ Review

In this age of technology it is really important for our students to understand fundamental computing topics so I knew I had to review the new Digital Savvy course from CompuScholar, Inc. My teen has been using the information technology course, 'Digital Savvy' which we were given access to for the purposes of this review.

What is Digital Savvy.

CompuScholar, Inc formerly known as Homeschool Programming has a range of computer courses aimed at middle and high school aged students.

Digital Savvy is aimed at grades 6 - 12 and is an overall Information Technology course. It aims to teach the students about computers, various applications, it explores social media, has them creating simple web pages.

The topics covered in the Digital Savvy course are:
  • Hardware, software, and operating systems
  • Managing files and folders
  • Basic networking
  • Online safety and computer security
  • Using Word processors, spreadsheets, and presentation programs
  • Creating simple databases
  • Image editing
  • Using social media and email communications
  • Introductory website design
  • Simple computer programming concepts
  • Exploration of computing careers

This is exactly the sort of course I have been wanting my teen to undertake.  A good overview of all things I.T and so far this course has been valuable to him.

How We Have Used Digital Savvy

This has been one of the easiest to use programs we have come across in a very long time. It is so well laid out and navigation is a real breeze. As a user you really can't get anything wrong.

After logging in to the program and selecting the Digital Savvy Course we were greeted with the screen below. There are a total of 25 Chapters in the course.

Each chapter contains several lessons, a brief quiz at the end of each lesson. A culminating activity and chapter exam is also included.

It really is as simple as log in and get started right where you left off the previous day.

Below I have shared a series of screenshots showing the progression through the program.

After logging into the Digital Savvy Course you are met with the chapters screen. Digital Savvy contains a total of 25 chapters.

The lessons within each chapter are again very simple to navigate to. Each lesson contains a video and a quiz. All of the quizzes are graded.

At the end of each chapter (approximately 3 - 5 lessons) is a culminating activity or project. These are submitted to the teacher (parent) for grading and the grades are stored along with each of the lesson quizzes.

On completion of all the lessons and the activity for each chapter is a longer multiple choice test, which once again, this is graded.

What We Didn't Like

My son and have been chatting about this and there really isn't anything he doesn't like about the course. Some of it he already knows but that will be the case with many things he undertakes. Whilst he still is only in the early chapters the short lessons and ease of use really make this such a simple subject for him and a very hands off one for me.

What We Did Like

For me as the teacher/parent I love that this is completely graded. All of his scores are kept and he can see his grades for each test immediately. He also has the option of repeating the test if he wishes to try and improve his score.

To use the program effectively we need nothing other than our computer and a decent internet connection. Every now and then a pen and paper and a word processing program is required but the bulk of the course is completed through the course itself.

As a busy mum with younger kids in the house that need my attention having the teen able to work independently, even on new to us courses, is such a blessing.

Looking Ahead

Without a doubt we will continue working our way through this course to completion and I am very confident that I will have my other children take the Digital Savvy Course also as it is great computer science basics course.

Further Details

Payment options for courses are either month by month or year long access. To find out more details about this program be sure to visit the Compuscholar, Inc website. You can also find them on your favourite social media channels. Facebook - Twitter -

If you would like to read other reviews about the various courses offered simply click on the image below.

Digital Savvy, Web Design & Java Programming {CompuScholar,Inc Reviews}

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