Wednesday, June 29, 2016 Review for The Crew

Notebooking Pages Lifetime Membership Reviews

     Recently I was given a Lifetime Membership from to review.  I was pretty interested in this opportunity when I heard about it because we already do a lot of our homeschooling with journal pages and these note booking pages are so similar in theory and application.  Using note booking, or journal like pages, in your homeschool is a great way to make learning more meaningful to your learners!  

What is

Python pages were a big hit!
     This is a website that creates and collects thousands of notebooking pages for you to use for all sorts of subjects, ideas, and uses.  Using NotebookingPages  enables your students to follow their own interests and apply their knowledge to their journaling pages through drawing, coloring, writing, and other creative measures. 
     Through using's pages, kids are able to receive or pick a subject matter, do their learning and then have some where to record their learning in a fun and stress-free way.  They take ownership of their work and enjoy the freedom of being able to express themselves at their own level.  These pages make copy work and note taking easier too because it's simplified and based on their interest (unless you assign a subject matter of course).  One thing we have loved with this type of schooling is that we can make the application (printable) have more writing pages for those that like to write and more drawing pages for little ones and/or dylesxic spectrum kids. has pages on EVERY SUBJECT!  Seriously, it would take forever to just sit and look at everything!  Good thing their site is searchable!  Anyways, they have early learners - highschool pages.  Pages on learning the alphabet and hand-writing, pages on composers and music, pages on art, science, and history.  They have pages on famous people, nature, blank pages,  Bible, character study, etc, etc, etc!  They even have lapbooking pages and "3D" pages.  For reals, there are just sooooooo many pages!
Notebooking Pages Lifetime Membership Reviews

How we used it:

     Upon receiving the Lifetime Membership Program (which means FOREVER), they sent me a three-step tutorial that explained how to use their site and implement their pages in within homeschooling.  Because we already homeschool in a similar way, the "how-to" wasn't any new information but it was great that they sent it and helpful in navigating their site!

     I looked over the site and found some things I thought my 10-15 year old kids may like and asked them to pick.  We then downloaded and printed the following:

  • Johann Sebastian Back (Jo14b, C12b)
  • Reptiles: Pythons (A10b, J9b, K12b)
  • Emily Dickenson (H15g, M13g, CH11g)
  • Nature study: Birds (H15g, M13g, CH11g)
  • Bible pages: 7 days of creation (J9b, A10b, K12b)
  • Memorial Day (all)
     Some of our printables had multiple pages and some where just one page (or more if the kids needed more writing room).  I had them do their printables and then decide if they wanted them in a 3-ring binder or separate folder.  I kinda let them do what they wanted since we ere only trying it out and are at the end of our school year.  In the future, I will be more specific with them about making mini books or projects or collecting them for display in specific ways.

M13 doing research and writing
     The idea is that you use books, media, internet, whatever, to research your subjects.  For most all of our printables we used the internet, got some books at the library, listened to some things online, and watched some youtube videos.

     Because this is a familiar system for my kids, they were able to complete these pages without me and in their entirety.  This is SO NICE!!!!  It was fun watching them do their studying and seeing their end results!  My husband was pretty impressed that the older boys chose to spend part of a Saturday doing extra research on Bach!  But that is something I LOVE about this kind of learning!  It's education and it just becomes a part of everyday life!

     The kids all had great things to say.  They liked the pages and thought it was pretty neat that there were so many different subjects and things to choose from.  Some things they wouldn't have thought about on their own but they saw the title and their curiosity was peeked!

How do you get in on the goodness? offers a FREE sample of over 600 pages so you can try out their site before you buy. I highly recommend trying them out!

     If you DO like it, then you can choose between two payment plans for the lifetime membership program.  You could make a one-time payment $97 or you could spread it out over four months (Month 1 $10 and then Month 2-4 is $29).  
      This makes it highly affordable since you can use the pages with allllllllll of your kids for allllllll of your years- sweet!

Social Media is a great place to find out more!    

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Tuesday, June 28, 2016


     So about 2 weeks ago I had a moment of brilliance (yes, they do happen on occasion) .  My boys decided they wanted to make some things from the Dangerous book for Boys and then I thought "I should gather supplies for them" and then I thought "I should make them earn these things".  Thus, the Boy Buckets were born for the Little Boy Brigade at my house!
     The short story is that I filled buckets full of misc. crud amazing stuff and make them work for it thus, providing hours of happy workers and then hours of occupied boys.  It's truly a win-win.  Now here is the long version.
     I started by having them make me a general list that I could work with.  I don't have a picture because it was tossed already BUT 85% of the things in the Bucket list are from their original list.  I went to the $tree and bought supplies and buckets.  Each bucket cost me $10 to make.

Here's whats in them:

  • Bucket
  • Pop-its (they think it's dyno-mite)
  • Shoe laces
  • Pens
  • Mechanical pencils
  • Carabiner
  • Clothes pins
  • Plastic cups
  • Rubber bands
  • Tooth picks
  • String
  • Plastic Straws
  • Popsicle sticks
  • Balloons
  • Paper Clasps
  • Pencils
  • Super glue (only older boys)
  • Safety goggles
  • Random pieces of wood ends
  • Zip ties

Now, for the rules!
  1. You only get your bucket if you have obeyed the morning house rules.
  2. Boy Buckets all filled up!
  3. You only get your bucket if you have completed all your morning chores.
  4. After the above have been completes, you must do an extra chore to get your bucket.  God says you must be faithful with a little to be faithful with much!  Report to me for your extra.
  5. If you leave your bucket out- you will lose your bucket (for a day or so).
  6. If you leave the contents all over the place- again grounded.
  7. If you leave your creations out- yet again, bye-bye bucket.
  8. If you steal from someone else's stuff or trade unfairly- yup, you guessed it, no-das-bucket.
     In use =)

     Every day these boys are excited to get their buckets.  They are eager to get their stuff done, get assigned an extra chore and earn the privilege to use their buckets.  They never seem to get tired of the buckets and have used the book and their imaginations to create some great stuff!  Even the older kids have joined in and have been found on many occasions asking the Boy Brigade if they need help with making anything.

     These buckets have been so successful that I have since run back out to the $tree and decided to have a "bucket box" where they can use sweat equity to get more supplies.   I have not had them do this yet as everyone except my youngest, still have plenty of supplies.   My youngest, E6, has already used up most of his supplies but is excited just to have the bucket and use it to collect things and play make believe stuff! I want to keep them all motivated and busy though so have some extra supplies they can get is a worth while investment for me.  Some of the new things are repeat items and others are just random things.  They include:
  • Pipe cleaners
  • Toilet paper rolls
  • Mini flash lights
  • Duct tape
  • Needle and thread
  • Small plastic containers
  • Funnel
  • Etc.
      Anyway, we are having a great summer so far and these buckets have been a huge part of my busy boys keeping themselves entertained!
     I have included the link here for you to the book that inspired it all!  

Monday, June 27, 2016

Family Friendly Online Bible Curriculum! {Review} Veritas Press

Old and New Testament Online Self-Paced Bible Veritas Review
Veritas Bible advertising
For about six weeks now our family has been reviewing the One Year Family Subscription 
of from Veritas Press. This is an online bible study curriculum 

So..... What is is a fun, self paced, independent way for kids to study the Bible!   Through fun games, quizzes, and videos they travel through the bible creatively. There are currently three courses aimed towards grades 2nd-6th:

  • Genesis to Joshua
  • Judges to Kings
  • The Gospels 
      They have plans to add more as well!  The two currently being worked on are:

  • Chronicles to Malachi and Job 
  • Acts to Revelation
  What do you get in these lessons?
     Each course covers 32 Bible events with four lessons for each event. I had my 12 year old son do the math for math and he has calculated that that is 128 lessons in each course for a total of 384 lessons!  That is a lot of bible lessons!!!
Veritas Bible Biblical Proportions
     Each course includes the following:

Veritas Bible Brought to Life
  •  Music to memorize the chronology of bible/historical events
  • Memory tools for names, dates and places
  • Foundational concepts for future in-depth study
  • Exploration activities in art, music, and geography
  • 32 major biblical events
  • Activities, Projects, Work sheets and Tests

     Each lesson starts with a short video with real actors that go over the main parts of that days lesson. Interspersed between every five or so minutes of these videos are quizzes, activities, games, and review.  

How did we use

     I set up an account for each of my kids and my sorta-nephew (who is staying the summer with us) ages 6yrs-12yrs and they all started in the Genesis to Joshua program per the suggestion of the program itself.  
     While is geared for grades 2nd-6th I would say it was most perfectly matched for the 4th-5th grade kids.  My non readers and young dyslexic spectrum kid had a really hard time doing the program on their own.  We quickly realized that they would need a buddy to sit and do it with them.  This made it more "hit and miss" with my 6yr-9yr old.  The three other kids though could handle it just fine! Those three have been doing it 4ish days a week on their own.

What do we think of

     My Opinion first =)  
     I thought it was very well put together.  The videos were high quality; both in acting and animation.  The additional activities were engaging and not overwhelming.  The content was sound and theology was on target.  I really loved that they could do it on their own!  I also loved that they were encouraged to take out their bibles and look things up and it inspired many wonderful discussions!  Another great thing is that it remembers where each child left off as they all have their own accounts.
K12 happily working through it.
     The only down falls I have are these:  The program does not work on tablets... at least not on my samsung ones.  We could get it to load initially but nothing beyond that.  It would just scroll and scroll.  It would have been sooooo nice if it had worked on them so that it would extend the computer use better.  Another thing that was annoying was that the kids had to get everything in the questions correct to move on (no biggie) but the program would re-set the questions but something in the formatting was wrong and it wouldn't let you interact with it.  So we would have to "refresh the page" every time, wait for it to load and then try the questions again.  
      The last thing that I didn't like was the way the two actors portraying a brother and sister were scripted to treat each-other. In fact, this really bothered me.  They were rude to each other, argued, self-seeking, lied, and had bad attitudes with each other.  This was interspersed throughout the video so there were plenty of kind moments too.  It was easy to tell that these things were put in there in order to create some "humor" but I just don't find those things humorous.  
     My kids are not allowed to treat each other like that and when things do come up they are corrected.  I didn't like that it was being modeled as "funny and normal".  I thought maybe I was being too sensitive about it but my kids noticed too.  On more than one occasion they commented that the way the siblings were acting was "not nice", "wrong", "rude" just to name a few.  I agreed that it was unfortunate that they were behaving so and I prolly made a comment on how their parents should have taught them better.  In the end we acknowledge the sin and moved on.
     Those few things though were minor and easily worked with (and may just be my tablets/my internet/my computers/my standards).  All in all, it was a smooth, well done program and it allowed me to slip in more bible study in a fun and independent way for my middle kids.  A10.11 and K12 especially loved it and would ask to do it ALL THE TIME!!!!

What the kids thought:

F16 doing a lesson with E6
E6b:  "It was too hard to do by myself.  I didn't like the questions but I like the videos."

D7b:  "I like doing it with a buddy.  I like the videos and the songs but I do not like all the questions, sometimes they are hard."

J9b:  "It was good but too hard to do on my own because it does not do all the talking for you and some of the words are really hard.  I didn't like how the brother and sister acting either.  It was just wrong.  I did like that you traveled through the bible world doing the lessons."

A10.11b:  "Veritas bible is great.  I love it!  It is really fun.  The video are funny and do a good job on the bible lessons.  The tests help a lot because it helps me memorize and solve different bible verses.  It really is helping me learn where things are in the bible.  My favorite thing is the "Parts of the Bible" song.  I am not sure if that is it's name but it is a great song."

K12b:  "I like it a lot.  It is a good program for kids to learn about the bible.  My favorite part is the song "Genesis to Joshua".  I think it is helping me memorize more about the bible and I am remembering stuff better because the learning is fun."

Ch11g:  "I thought it was pretty good for younger kids.  I didn't really care for it because it was just very young.  I don't mind doing it with one of the little boy's but for just doing it on my own it was very young in presentation and I have been doing much older bible studies.  Also I really did not like the way the brother and sister treated each other.  I think their interactions showed that brothers and sister can treat each other in a snarky way.  I think it modeled bad character."

    You can get a free two-week trial at!  I think it is awesome that they offer this so you can get a real feel for if this is right for your family!

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Old and New Testament Online Self-Paced Bible Veritas Review

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Tuesday, June 21, 2016

LearnBop: Online math for the 3rd-12th grade!!!

          Online math curriculum is a space we know VERY WELL, in fact, I prefer computer based math programs to anything else. Thanks to the Schoolhouse Review Crew we received LearnBop for Families from LearnBop, which is a 12 month Family Plan subscription for up to four students.
     LearnBop offers interactive math tutoring for grades 3-12.  Each student has their own account and it's pretty easy to navigate. You can choose either a grade level or a specific math concept for your child to work through.  If you are not just learning concepts as a "one off", then the program will move you through the grade level progressively as you master concepts.
Key Components of LearnBop:
  • Adaptive Road Maps
  • Step by Step Learning
  • 11,000 Lessons
  • Growth Mindset
  • Real Time Insights
  • Fun Motivational Grades
  • Self Grading
  • Concept Trackers

Who used it in my house:
     I actually was able to finagle 5 of my kids to use this program instead of 4.  The "Parent" also has their own account and so I had my oldest using that one as I was not going to,  so here's the line up!
  • F16g Algebra 1 math
  • M13g 8th grade math
  • C12b 8th grade math
  • CH11g 7th grade math
  • A10b 7th grade math
     The four younger kids got their own accounts and passwords.   Because F16g used my account she just logged in with my account information.

     It was easy for all of them to navigate the program, as you can see from the picture.  They just needed to start at the beginning with whatever was on top.  There is always a video for the lesson and then the problems follow.

     ON the Parents side, you can see where your student is at.  Your students are listed to the left and you need only to click on their name and their learning info will pop up.  (The picture below is a clip but I purposely did not include the part that listed personal information).  F16g used my log in info and I could see her work by choosing my own Dash Board.
     The parent and student Dash Boards look a little different but all-in-all they have the same info.  It's pretty self explanatory and easy to understand.

PARENTS VIEW OF Clip of  A10's Dash Board.  This was near the beginning of him using it.

 What the kids thought:
F16g:   "I felt like that for older kids the format was more "kidish".  It wasn't a bad thing and for younger students it would be a real positive thing.  There are bigger fonts, brighter colors, and a more "kid-friendly" feel.  But that also made it feel "younger".  I felt like other online programs I have used were a little more simple- but I think that is because of the ability to progress through some concepts while working on others.  As far as the learning aspect goes,  I felt like I understood what they were trying to tell me but things could have been broken down a little more before they gave you the problems to work on.  Their explanations were great but they have too much information in one learning video and then when it was time to do the problems, I didn't remember all the different steps for all the different ways to do things (this was with statistics).  Other than that it was very good."
M13G:   "LearnBop is like a tutor and the instructions are simple but thorough.  I like how it takes you step-by-step through everything.  I thought it made math a little more enjoyable with the way it was set up.  It is a very encouraging math program.  They have achievement awards and effort awards you get for doing the math and I liked that.  I do wish that the problems where read to you."
C12b:  "I like it in the way that it is easy to work with.  I did think the instructional video's seemed more for really little kids.  I thought for it being 8th grade math it would have seemed a little more... mature.  The instruction though is very well explained and the program is easy to work with.  My favorite part of it is that if you get something wrong, it takes you step-by-step through the problem to see just where things went wrong."
CH11g:  "I think it's a good site and it does teach you your skills in a good way.  I like that after every skill it shows you your progress and where you are heading.  Sometimes it was hard knowing exactly what they wanted from you and you had to get a problem or two wrong in order to see how they wanted you to actually put the answers in.  In some concepts I was a lot further ahead but it keeps you in your grade level and doesn't know which concepts you are better in.  You have to complete those whole sections even if you get them all correct."
A10b:    "I really liked it.  I wished that the problems were spoken to you though.  It would have really helped.  I really liked it though, because the process of helping you when you get a problem wrong is easy to understand.  I also like how I know where I am at with math because of the percents.  I can see how much I have gained.  I think it was good encouragement too because even if I got something wrong, I still earned a badge for trying hard.  I like getting the badges.  The only thing that is frustrating is not having the probelms read to me.  Sometimes, I get overwhelmed with reading and it's easier if I can read along with someone or a program."
What I thought:
     It is very similar to another online program we use so this was an easy "pick-up and go" program for us.  I was VERY HAPPY with the way the program works and what my kids' reaction to it is.  I only had 2 minor problems with it: 1)was that there was no audio for the math problems.  I think this is something they could add to make the program run even better!  I often had to read things out loud for my Dyslexic Spectrum kids because that is an element they need.  The 2) thing is that I wish the program had the ability to  move kids ahead in areas they were advanced in while they worked on areas they were not.  I know this can be done because we use a program that does this.
     In my home we use two different computer based programs and the kids that do well with one do not do well with the other and vice versa.  What was interesting is that LearnBop is kind of a mash up of the two and the blend was quite nice!  I would say this program is nearly perfect!  The only thing that would have made it better would have been the addition of audio on the problems.


There are two different plans available for homeschoolers:
Single Student Plan
    LearnBop for Families Review
  • Subscription (month to month) $14.95
  • Prepaid (12 months prepaid) $149.95
Family Plan—Up to 4 Students
  • Subscription (month to month) $19.95
  • Prepaid (12 months prepaid) $199.95

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Monday, June 13, 2016

Forbrain Review: For Reading, Speech, Attention, and more!

     I was, and am still,  sooooo super  excited that our family got the opportunity to review Forbrain.  This device, which was sent to us by Forbrain - Sound For Life Ltd, uses bone conduction to assist in auditory processing.  Auditory processing affects many different areas from speech and reading fluency, to attention and awareness.
Forbrain – Sound For Life Ltd ReviewForbrain is a headphone like device.  There is no piece that goes in your ear, instead the "amplifier" is in front of your ear on top of the bone conductor (top of your jaw bone).  This allows the sound to not just be heard but felt through bone conduction.  
     When we can both hear and feel something, it changes how our brain processes the information.  Taping into our brain on another level can increase attention, memory, and sensory processing.  The brains ability to hear all the sounds while also feeling them can help to better develop speech, fluency in speaking and reading, memory, concentration, attention, better communication skills, self awareness, written expression, focus, and builds self confidence.  It can also help with ADD and ADHD.  
     Are you intrigued yet?  I know I was!  When I heard about it I thought this could really be a great tool to use to help a few of my kids with their reading and speech skills!  I spent a lot of time on the Forbrain website to learn more and found this VIDEO to be very helpful.

     When we first got our package, I was super impressed with the quality of it all- nothing about this is chintzy!  Like I said earlier, Forbrain is like a set of headphones but it doesn't go in the ear, the bone conductors sit right 
in front of the ear.  The microphone is adjustable so that you can position it near the mouth. It has in internal rechargable battery that uses USB.   The battery, by the way, last forever!!! The USB cord came with it but it is the same as my windows phone so I just used that charger ;)  
     When we are not using it, it lives in the super sturdy black case it came with.  There is a spot for everything so nothing gets rattled around.  Plus, it makes it look so cool everytime you take it out-HA!

I really wanted this for J9b

  My son J9b has some speech... things.  We have taken him in and have had him checked for hearing and speech over the years.  Everyone says he's fine.
Forbrain – Sound For Life Ltd Review   J9b had his adenoids and tonsils takes out at the age of 4.  Prior to that, He sounded like a drunk russian with cotton balls in his mouth!  Every year since his surgery his speech has improved but he still has a bit of a lisp, a stutter, and has a "lazy mouth" (his only diagnosis).  The slower he speaks, the better.  But if he is talking fast (his usual) he stutters, skips words, uses lots of sound effects and laughs while he talks.  He often does not form his words correctly and we are always helping him with that.
     J9 is also one of my "slow to read" guys.  He has some dyslexia tendencies (like his older brother A10) but otherwise is doing fantastic in school.

Who else can use it?

     Everyone!  From Pre-K kids though adulthood!  Because Forbrain is designed for such a wide range of things; from early talkers to public speaking.  It is applicable for everyone!

How we used Forbrain:

     It is suggested that preschoolers use it for 10 minutes a day, children use it for 15 minutes a day, and adults for 20.  All should use it for 6-10 weeks, then take a rest period so the brain can progress without the device, then start another 6-10 week session. 
    Now, I will be honest, we didn't quite get that in.  May is an extremely busy month in our household.  I run two programs and each wrap up for the year, which include a formal dinner and ball for one and a year-end party for another.  Add to the state testing, research projects, and end of the year homeschool reporting.
     So...  We used it more like 3 days a week for 5 weeks. Now that all the crazy end of the year stuff is over, I plan on doing it again over the summer. 
      The lessons consisted of different activities from reading with your child, them reading on their own, repeating things back to you, etc.  But really, you could apply the use of Forbrain to just about anything where the child/student needs to talk.  
A10 using the headset while doing math
     As part of another review, A10 was trying out a new math program.  While computer based, it does not read the problems or read the directions out loud to you.  A10 was immediately frustrated with that as reading takes a lot of energy.  The first couple days I was helping him.  He can read just fine but he was not comprehending what he was reading very well.  When read to, he does fine.  This was taking more time than I had to give.  Then I had this brilliant idea!  He can "read to himself"!
     He got out Forbrain went back to math, reading outloud again but this time with the headset and voila!  His comprehension immediately got better and he didn't need my help as often!  Success!!
Using It

 It was easy to use.  You didn't really "feel" anything, you just heard yourself like you were speaking in a microphone.  I had to keep reminding my boys, at first, to "talk normally" but that was the only real reminder I needed to give.

  We followed the directions for sitting and making sure that we gave our best attitude and effort.  After 2 weeks, I included the rest of my readers in the Forbrain fun, but in a slightly different way- I will get to that.  For A10 and J9 though, when we were doing our "Forbrain Time" we did it the way it was described in the instructions.

A10b - 5th grade - He  really enjoyed using this and immediately noticed that there were things he was not doing or saying correctly.  The first week especially was a real eye opener for him.  Understanding words and what they are really came alive for him!  It was exciting to see!  The connection for him was sooooo much different then when not wearing 
the Forbrain headset.  

     I remember the first day asking him why he thought he kept pausing during one of the exercises.  He said he didn't realize that his reading speed was so "off" before. 
     We both noticed that his reading fluency has gotten a lot better in the last month and his reading confidence.  I also think his immediate comprehension skills for his own reading has gotten better.  If you read to him, he does fine, if he reads it, he spends all his energy on the reading and doesn't always know what he read.  This has definitely helped with that! 

J9 - 3rd grade - He is the child I described in detail above.  The first day we used it he cried.  Great intro huh?  I don't think J9 realized how differently he spoke and the instantaneous realization for him was emotional.  
     Now, in all fairness, he is not "that bad".  People can understand him, it's not a "man that kid has speech problems" kind of a thing.  Sometimes you have to ask him to slow down and there are different words you have to help him with if he keeps saying them wrong.  But for J, he often could not identify the difference in what he was saying and what you were asking him to change.  With Forbrain he could!  This was a startling thing for him and I think that is where the tears were from.

     As the weeks progressed, his confidence got better and we started noticing different things in his speech.  It was over-all more clear, he didn't seem to be stuttering as much and his connection between words and what he was saying got so much better!  Also, he finally seems to have gotten the sounds worked out for words like "actually" which he would normally say as "atchalee".  This is HUGE progress!

Everyone else

     I started using Forbrain during our group reading time.  When it's your turn to read, you get the headset!  Everyone thought it was cool and it made everyone pay a little more attention.  Through this experiment,  I noticed that I have a couple other kids that I think would really benefit from using  Forbrain as an actual thing and not just during reading time.  I plan on implementing that over the summer as well.

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Forbrain – Sound For Life Ltd Review
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