Asia: The Peoples and History, a review

* the following post is a review of a book. I have received no compensation for reviewing this book, just an electronic copy, used for the purpose of this review*


Book:  Asia: The Peoples and History

Genre: Curriculum

Situational Uses: Home Bible Study, Sunday School, Children’s Church, Homeschool

Author: Bonnie Rose Hudson


E-Book available at: The Old Schoolhouse Magazine  for $6.95

Kindle Version available at: for $6.95

Print version is coming soon!

We used this book as a family devotional.  Each week, we broke from our usual family time and we would read a story and answer  the discussion questions from Asia: The Peoples and History.  My husband and I want our boys to have an understanding of other peoples and cultures. Life is so different when you live outside of the United States. We want them to know that not all the world has three or four Bibles to read or church buildings to meet in each week. Living in other cultures can be very difficult.

We are involved with a mid-week children’s ministry with our church and have been studying the missionary journeys of Paul in Acts. Our study of Asia: The Peoples and History helped us see that the need for the gospel hasn’t changed since the time of Paul. People today still need to know about Jesus.

Bonnie Rose Hudson uses vivid imagery to help your children experience what people in Asia experience each day. You will learn a bit more about the history of each country you study. There are also activities to help reinforce learning about each country and answer keys are included.

This book has studies on the following countries: Laos, Bangladesh, Napal, China, Iran, and Vietnam. If you were to follow a weekly study program the book would cover sixteen weeks worth of lessons.

My boys (ages 11 and 7) enjoyed the stories and activities each week.  They were always a little sad when a story ended, they wanted to hear more about the characters! My husband and I enjoyed listening to the boys answer the discussion questions. It was exciting to hear how they are growing and interpreting the world around them.  I think the best part for me, was hearing how they incorporated these lessons into their prayers.  With each new country we heard them include requests with their nightly prayers. It is a blessing to hear your child pray for people and places that need the Lord.

I encourage families to think about purchasing this book as a devotional study. It is a fantastic way to help your children learn about the people of Asia.

As a family, we decided to offer up a list of countries for Ms. Hudson’s next book.  We were thinking we would like to know more about the people and believers in the Philippines, Japan, Afghanistan, Cambodia, India, Kazakhstan, and North and South Korea.  What countries would you like to know more about? 


Pre-Sale! $4.95!

This sale is only good from 2/17/2014 until 02/23/14

Remember a few weeks ago when I told you I would be reviewing a book for one of my friends? Well, my review will post next week…..  but I wanted to let you know about the Pre-Sale. The book is available now and for a few dollars less than its regular price.

$4.95 is a bargain for this great study on Asia.

We have been using this book as a family devotional and it has been a wonderful trip through Asia.  If you are looking for a great little family study this book might just be for you.  You can click on the picture and be taken directly to the purchase page.



I don’t receive any compensation for reviewing this product.  I am just excited to share something a dear friend of mine wrote.  Thanks for reading all the way to the end of the post.


An Upcoming Review

I am excited to share with you something that a very dear friend of mine wrote.


I will be using this book with the boys in the weeks to come and you can learn more about it by going to Bonnie’s website.

The book is available February 24, 2014. Sign up here to receive information on pre-orders, discounts, and all the information on where you can purchase a copy.




Visual Spelling Help

I love it when things fall into place.  I love it even more when I find that “thing” that makes something click into place for my kids.  I happen to have a young man who is a very right-brained speller. Learning to spell has been a struggle for him.  He needs to “see” his spelling words in order for them to ever have the hope of remaining in his brain. We draw our words, we color them, we make flashcards with them….. you name it, we do what it takes to get those words locked in long-term memory.


When I was introduced to Lone Star Learning’s Greek and Latin Roots Vocabulary Cards…..  I nearly flipped with joy!  These cards are created for long-term memory retention for those right-brained learners!  These have helped spelling words “click” for my son.


They are bright, colorful and easy to use.  Their silliness ensures that they will be remembered.

The cards are designed to be a vocabulary builder and the directions that came with them suggested a few ways to use them.  Read a card a day and discuss the meaning, use the root words to create acrostic poetry, make simple songs about the root words; were just a few of the suggested ideas.

How it worked in our house:

The cards came out of the package and were never left alone again.  They were so colorful and fun looking, Hunter (age 10) had a hard time leaving them alone.  He also didn’t like to do just one word a day, that didn’t satisfy his curiosity enough.  Often we would go through the whole stack, either all the Greek cards or all the Latin cards in one day.

The most used application of the cards was to reinforce his weekly spelling list.  We would find all the root words (that we had cards for) hiding within his spelling list and underline them in the word,  we would use the card to help us remember how to spell that portion of the word.  The root words that were found in our spelling list went to the front of our pile for that week so we would be sure to see them often.

We also had fun trying to think up all the different words we knew that contained our root word.  Some of the words that he “made up” with the root words were downright hilarious.

Overall thoughts on the product:

Mom:  Having the cards has made spelling time more enjoyable and more visual.  He has had an easier time listening and looking for parts of words to remember that help him spell larger words.  I noticed that right off the bat he was able to infer the meaning of the root word from the picture on the card.  Learning the short quick word parts has helped build a confidence with spelling that he has not had before.

Hunter:   I like that they are short and easy to memorize.  They have fun pictures that help me to remember the words.  I like the way they write the words, each card looks different.  It is fun to see how many of my cards are in my spelling words.

More by Lone Star Learning:

The Greek and Latin Roots Cards are only a portion of what Lone Star Learning has to offer.  They have much more to help your child learn in their Get the Picture Vocabulary Cards.  If you have a visual learner like mine, I suggest you check them out.

Greek and Latin Root Cards retail for $39.99 and contain 60 full color cards; 30 Greek Roots, 30 Latin Roots. The cards would work with a variety of ages, but would likely benefit those in grades 3-8.  We used it with our 5th grader.

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Big IQ Kids

Photobucket presents a unique learning method designed to help each child develop the skills needed to perform to his/her full potential. Our award winning programs are designed for students in grades K-12 and promote spelling efficiency, vocabulary building, math fact mastery and US geography knowledge via multimedia reinforcement and independent learning.

BigIQkids made it’s PREMIUM program available to The Old Schoolhouse Magazine’s Review Crew in August, and we have been using it for a little over a month now. 

Hunter (9yrs old, grade 4) was our primary user.  I did create an account for Jeremiah (4) to see what the Junior Spelling Program that they offered would be like. ( It was great for those younger learners!) Big IQ Kids states their website is for children in Kindergarten – 12th grade.  I would make sure your Kindergartener is familiar with the Keyboard, and it beginning to spell small words before you begin using Big IQ Kids.  Jeremiah being in Pre-School did not get much use out of the program at all, during our test period, we will see if that changes as the school year progresses.

Hunter, on the other hand, used it, and enjoyed it! Except for Vocabulary… but I will explain that in a bit.

First, lets talk about what BigIQkids actually is. 

BigIQkids is an educational website designed to foster independent learning.  It is available as a free spelling and vocabulary program, to anyone who would like to improve their child’s skill in those areas.  The Premium Program builds on this base and has enhanced features for Spelling and Vocabulary, and adds in Math and Geography, with its U.S. States program.

Take a look at what they describe the difference as in their Free and Premium options:

The primary differences between the BigIQkids FREE and PREMIUM programs are the ability of the PREMIUM program to monitor the progress of the student and advance that student only when mastery of the subject matter has been achieved. Additionally, PREMIUM members have their progress tracked, saved, problem areas identified and these findings are reported via email to parents and/or teachers. The PREMIUM program offers students customized buddies, full game page access and the ability to save game coins and gaming high scores. These functions help double the fun while mastering core academic subject matter. The PREMIUM program has very LIMITED advertisement an no ads are displayed during lesson interaction.

You may purchase PREMIUM programs in a variety of ways.

Math only :


  States only:



Or as a complete bundle:

bundle price

Visit for more detailed information.

We used BigIQkids as a supplement to our existing curriculum in Math, States and Spelling.  We tried to use it everyday, but some days we weren’t around the computer. 

What we liked:

One of Hunter’s favorite programs was the U.S. State Program.  Each day you start with the interactive map and learn a few pieces of trivia about a particular state.  When the program asks you the questions there is a button the student can use to hear the answers.  For those that are not strong readers this function is WONDERFUL!  It made his time on BigIQkids a completely independent learning experience.  I was free to change over the laundry or load the dishwasher, or help his little brother with Pre-School, during Hunter’s time working in this program.

I like the fact that as the states program was asking you to spell something, it showed it to you.  It didn’t expect you to automatically be able to sound out the word.  Hunter struggles with spelling, and this was a great feature for us.  He was able to do what the program asked, and feel successful completing the lessons.

I enjoyed how the math program was customizable.  So did Hunter! The default setting is for 50 questions, and that is A LOT of math when you are already doing it away from the computer.  I was able to go in and change the program to only show 10 questions making math on the computer a nice quick review.  We were able to answer questions in simple addition and subtraction, multiplication and division, and double digit addition and subtraction, every day.  This was a great way to keep him experienced in all types of problem solving without having lots of worksheets to do.

With Hunter’s spelling struggles, I expected him to be resistant to the spelling part of the website.  However, the opposite was true.  He really liked it!  He was eager to spell the words and play the games.  He seemed to have a great time sounding out the words, something he struggles with on paper, but on the keyboard he didn’t seem to mind. Again, the showing of the spelling word for many days as you are spelling it within the lessons was a large help and confidence booster.  He had SEEN the word spelled so many times and places correctly that when he would spell it on the tests he would SEE that it wasn’t quite right, and be able to change it. The program will not let you pass a spelling list until you have passed at 100%, which is another feature that helps assure that you are really spelling the words correctly.

We will take longer than a week to do a list of spelling words, but by using this program in conjunction with the flash cards that I am already using, I believe we will being to make some serious progress in this area.

What we didn’t like:

Sometimes the computer generated voices are weird, at least for me, but Hunter didn’t seem to care one bit.  I did make sure that I was saying the spelling words out loud with him the first few times we worked on a new list so that he understood how the computer was pronouncing them versus how we really say them.

Sometimes the program seems a bit glitchy, but I think that was a browser issue (Chrome) and not the program itself.  We would have to toggle around awhile to get to certain programs because the option to choose them didn’t appear on each page.

If you went to the games page to use your coins after each lesson, you had to log in again to do more lessons.  Sometimes you had to log in 3 or 4 times a day.  Great for password memory skills, but it didn’t always make for smooth user interface in the first few weeks.  There were lots of “MOOOOOMMMMMM, it logged me out!….again!”

Vocabulary wasn’t much of a fit for OUR family, at this time.  Hunter didn’t need two different lists to study words on each week.  It was too much.  So we just chose to skip this option.  Now, if you chose to use the vocabulary words AS your spelling words in the combined spelling and vocabulary list, it might work better.  I did like very much the way it gave the definition, the antonym, and synonyms for each word. The lessons and games for the vocabulary portion are very thorough.  Your children will really know the word by the time they are through with the vocabulary program. I think that after we get a handle on the spelling, I will incorporate this using the spelling list he is currently working on.

Closing thoughts:

It is really important to remember that while almost all portions of BigIQkids is available for free.  It is customizable only within the Premium Program.  Having the Premium Program is where you can make it work for you.  Changing problems in math, adjusting passing percentages, adding word lists, unlocking games, adjusting grade level work…… are all part of the advantage when you purchase the premium program.

Overall we liked BigIQkids and plan to continue using it as the school year progresses.  This is not just a homeschooling curriculum.  Children attending more traditional schooling institutions would also benefit greatly from using BigIQkids. This would be a great way to “tutor” the struggling public or private school child without ever having to leave the house. Grandma?, Grandpa?, this is a great educational gift to invest in for Christmas and Birthdays. 

Never. Ever. … take just my word for product reviews.  Lots of families, with lots of different learning styles spent time using BigIQkids this last month.  You can read what they have to say HERE.

Take the time to visit and see ALL they have to offer.  There is SAT prep, Vowel games, interactive homework lessons, E-books, and much, much more.

See you soon, Happy Schooling!

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we received free access to the BigIQkids Premium Program in exchange for an honest product review.



Visit ALEKS for 1-Month Trial

Once again, I am amazed at the products that I am privileged to review as a member of the TOS Homeschool Crew.

Last month we were asked to access a one month free trial of ALEKS an online math curriculum.  ALEKS is not a game site, here is the company’s description:

What is ALEKS?
Assessment and LEarning in Knowledge Spaces is a Web-based, artificially intelligent assessment and learning system that uses adaptive questioning to quickly and accurately determine exactly what a student knows and doesn’t know in a course. ALEKS offers truly individualized instruction that meets the student at her learning level and instructs her on the exact topics that she is most ready to learn. As a result, no two students will experience the same learning path while working in ALEKS. Learn more by watching a quick 2-minute video.

ALEKS can provide you with the instruction and support that you need to homeschool your children in mathematics for grades 3-12. With a comprehensive course library ranging from elementary school math to complex subjects such as PreCalculus, ALEKS acts much like a human tutor to help take the stress off of homeschooling parents.

ALEKS offers highly-targeted, individualized instruction from virtually any computer with Internet access, making it a comprehensive and mobile education solution for your children. A subscription to ALEKS offers access to all courses and your child may take as many courses as needed during their subscription period.

ALEKS is a Research-Based Online Program:

  • Complete Curriculum Solution for Math with Access to Full Course Library
  • No Textbook Required
  • Artificial Intelligence Targets Gaps in Student Knowledge
  • Assessment and Individualized Learning for Grades 3-12
  • Master Account Includes Quizzing and Automated Reports to Monitor Learning Progress
  • Unlimited Online Access – PC and Mac Compatible
  • QuickTables – Complimentary Math Fact Mastery Program for Multiplication, Division, Addition, and Subtraction

I had three students that I enrolled in the 1 month free trial.  I had a son who was enrolled in Level 3 math with Quick Tables, my daughter, in Algebra, and another son,  in Algebra II.  For the purpose of the review the older children completely stopped doing their current textbook curriculum and moved over to the ALEKS system.  My third grader used the program far less. (He is just less computer savvy that his siblings.)

I was very impressed with the assessment that each child was given.  It was a very accurate portrayal of what they already had mastered in each subject. I was pleasantly surprised at how much of Grade 3 math my youngest had already mastered so early in the school year.   I also enjoyed how the curriculum gave them surprise assessments, prompted review questions, and gave instantaneous feedback to them.  The quiz feature is great, and very easy for parents to use, and assign.  The progress reports are easy to read and understand and print out for your personal record keeping.  I think one of my favorite features was being able to create worksheets for your child to use away from the computer.  If you are traveling, and will not have computer access, this is so helpful to keep them current in their work.

My son, who used the Algebra II curriculum says that he found the ALEKS system “not as daunting as a textbook” .  He was easily able to see the progress he needed to make to master a certain area of study with his pie chart.

He also added that he felt like the program was very individualized.  He liked that he could work at his own pace, and change courses at anytime.  If he had mastered all of Algebra II he could move on, and not have to wait until the next textbook arrived.  He has asked to continue with the ALEKS Math system.

My daughter who used the Algebra curriculum echoed her brother in her feelings about this system.  She also has requested to continue using this program for her Math for the remainder of High School.  She likes the hyperlinked text that shows how to solve problems various ways. 

Both of the older children, stated that even if they had a shortened amount of time to spend on Math that day, they always felt a sense of accomplishment by completing one or two topics.  With a traditional textbook they felt always like they needed to complete an entire lesson, and some days, that just felt too hard.  They also enjoyed the lack of repetition that the program provides.  They always felt like they were moving forward.  Yes, the program repeats concepts with new assessments to assure that the child has mastered the concept, but, my children really liked the fact that 80% of their learning was NEW information, and not repeating the lesson before.

For children in the lower grades, I recommend that they practice their keyboarding and number pad skills, prior to using Quick Tables.  My youngest never got past entering random numbers in as his skill.  The program must require they meet a certain speed before they can enter the answer to math problems.  Even though that was what he was given every time he wanted to play, he still enjoyed it very much and always wanted to do Quick Tables.

ALEKS is a subscription based program.  You can pay monthly for $19.95 per child.  You can pay for 6 months, at $99.95.  A year subscription is $179.95, for one child.  They do offer a family discount, and for my two high schoolers it would be $305.90 for a year, a 36% savings.  To see how much your family can save click here.  In comparison, ALEKS would save me about $5 per child over the math curriculum that we currently use, and with a family discount, it would save me $32 per child, a more substantial savings!

Please take the time to use their 30 day free trial.  Test it out with your children and see if it is a fit for your family. 
Visit ALEKS for 1-Month Trial

Other members of the TOS Homeschool Crew reviewed this product, click here to see how it worked for them.

*** Disclaimer***  I received a one month free trial of the ALEKS Math system free of charge just like anyone else in the whole wide world can.  I was asked to blog about my experience with their curriculum, as a member of the TOS Homeschool Crew.  No other compensation was received. ***


Soli Deo Gloria Resources~ William Tyndale Unit Study Review

In September I was sent this lovely unit study from Solio Deo Gloria Resources to review, as a part of the TOS Homeschool Crew.  We worked on this unit study with all the children. The unit study stated that it was designed for use by all grades, K-12; and I am happy to report we had a great response from the Junior, the Sophomore, and the 3rd grader.
William Tyndale: God’s Smuggler is a unit study that is greatly enriched by several key resources.  At the beginning of the study there is a list of videos, and books for you to choose from.  Without using these resources, I believe the study would fall flat, and lose some of its interest.  Kim, the author of these unit studies, offers suggestions on how to obtain the videos at little or no cost.  We were able to use 2 of the videos from the list and one book.  The videos were in my church library, and the book was at my local public library.
The video on the left is from Answers in Genesis, the book is historical fiction, and the video on the right a cartoon story produced by Torchlighters.  In combination, they gave us a very good perspective on the life of William Tyndale.  My older children really enjoyed the Answers in Genesis film… it was a lecture/sermon, and was full of information.  We watched it on the last day of our study and it helped tie everything together well.
There were many activities to work on.  We enjoyed the timeline, it was interesting to see who was alive when William was.  We also enjoyed the translation, and printing press activities.

Another way we made the materials ‘come alive’ was to lapbook some of the things we learned.  While this was not a listed activity, we just thought it would be a fun way to collect and see the things we were learning.  Here are two of our lapbooks.
 the 3rd grader’s
?the Sophomore’s
If you have never done a unit study before, this would be a great first time study to use.  The price is very affordable at $8.00.  The format is PDF (or E-book), so you receive it for download right away, and can print as many copies as you need.? 
Hop on over to Soli Deo Gloria Resources and browse their affordable and fun products.
Remember to stop by the TOS Homeschool Crew page to see what other families had to say about Soli Deo Gloria’s products. 
as a member of the TOS Homeschool Crew, I received the above named unit study, free of charge, in exchange for my opinion of how this product worked in my homeschool setting.  No other compensation was received.

Peterson Directed Handwriting – Cursive Handwriting Review

I was given the opportunity to review several new E-books by Peterson Directed Handwriting.  They developed these E-books to help teachers take advantage of technology in their classrooms. They are perfect for the homeschool community as well.   I enjoy the ease of storing E-books as well as the ability to print out exactly what I need, as many times as I need it.  I was chosen as a member of the Cursive Handwriting Review team, and received Levels 1-4 to review.  Other Crew members reviewed the use of this PDF software with a Wacom Pen tablet, and other members received Print Handwriting Material.  Please click here, if either of those materials are of interest to you.

The PDF by Hand E-Workbooks are available from the Peterson Directed Handwriting website.  You will need  purchase the license to print out their materials, and that only costs a meager $19.95 per level. This cost is a ONE time fee, not a yearly subscription.  You could use this product with successive students for that one time price per level.   Included with each level are Instructions, Blank Lined practice paper, Fluency Tests, Basic Movement strokes, Reading Puzzles, Letter Practice and much more.  I have been using this program at Level 1 and 2 with my Third grader, and having the ability to print exactly what I need, is so much easier than having to write in a bulky workbook.

Before we were given this product to test in our own home schools, we were all able to meet with Rand Nelson, the Director of Training, for Peterson Directed Handwriting.  We met with him over the web, and received a tutorial on how the Peterson Directed Method is different than the tracing methods that are widely used today.  Mr. Nelson explained to us their movement instruction and how it develops a recording of muscle movement in your child’s brain.  Most tracing programs, teach your child to draw a letter, not understand or develop a pattern to create it.  Muscle memory, not the eyes, should be responsible for guiding fluent movement of a pen or pencil across a paper.

Now, if you were to say….  “sure you like the program, you had a personal training session!  They aren’t going to do that for little ole’ me…”  I would answer, “quit being Eeyore, and go look at their site! They will too do it for you!”   Teaching and training people is at the heart of this company.  They not only want you to purchase a great handwriting system from them.  They desire to educate you, and be there to answer your questions.  They offer “meet live now” sessions right on their homepage, open to visitors to ask a question.  They periodically hold online training, you can sign up to be notified of the next class.  They have personalized training available for purchase  ($35.00 ) as well as a Online tutor service that could lead you to a Formal Endorsement Certificate ($75.00) if you wish more in-depth understanding.  There is also a free 20 minute presentation on the Peterson Method, click here to view it. 

I have had the opportunity to use this for a few weeks with my son.  He looks forward to his lessons in Cursive Handwriting…  (and this was NOT the case with the workbooks we used before… )  He says it is easier to talk the lines onto his paper, and he enjoys the rhythmic movement, and exaggerated muscle memory exercises.  I recommend this product to homeschoolers of all ages.  You can begin to teach cursive in Kindergarten with Level One, and with older students you can improve proficiency and proportion with Levels 2-4.  Go to their website, look around, and consider using the Peterson Directed Method as your handwriting curriculum this year.

Remember, don’t just take my word for it…. read what other homeschoolers have to say about this product on The Homeschool Crew Blog.

**** Disclaimer****
As a member of the TOS Homeschool Crew, I received this product in exchange for my unbiased, honest opinion, humble as it may be.  No other compensation was given, which is fine, because I enjoy living in a one income family.


Explode the Code…. Online version

I have always know that Explode the Code was great curriculum for phonics and word building skills.  Years ago I worked at a small private school, and this is what they used in their classrooms. I have always been eager to try it at home, but was leery of using yet ANOTHER workbook.  Not long ago, I saw someone post a question on a discussion board, asking if anyone had used Explode the Code online.  I didn’t know they even HAD such a thing…….. so off I went to look at the website.  I was intrigued by the way that it worked, and how interactive it was in the demos.  Then came the price.  It was $60 to be able to access it for a whole year.  So I decided to pray about using it….. and talk it over with my husband.  We talked later that night, and decided that if nothing else, we could try it, and see if it helped Hunter improve his reading skills. The next day, came the answer to prayer part.  Another homeschooler posted on a discussion board that Homeschool Buyers Co-op** had Explode the Code on a group buy.  So I went there, and it was half price.  I miss out on a couple of months of the “year” but for the price it was worth it.

We had been using TATRAS  (Teach America to Read and Spell ), here at home with Hunter for the begining skills and word blends.  This is a WONDERFUL program, and I will still wholeheartedly recommend it.  It teaches ALL the sounds that letters make, teaches the student to decode their words through these sound combinations. It has great lists of words, to use as spelling words for K-6th grade, and it teaches writing skills as well. The only drawback was the lack of interaction.  This is were Explode the Code excels.  It re-enforces the blends that are at the begining and endings of words. It also helps to strengthen the “hearing” of difficult vowels to assist in common “e”, “i”, and “o”, “u” spelling and pronunciation errors.

The other benefit to Explode the Code Online is the instant assesments it gives the parent.  You are able to see exactly which areas your child is having difficulty in.  It gives you suggestions to work on when you are away from the computer, to help your child better learn a concept.  We have worked on the suggestions while we are running errands around town…. it has made car time more productive.

I feel that this has improved his reading skills.  He has been a slow reader, and that is fine, I am not expecting him to pick up a copy of War and Peace anytime soon.  My goal with the program was to help him begin to see past each individual letter as a sound, and get a better grasp on what we call “two letter teams” , so that his speed and comprehension would begin to improve.  After 10 or so days working online, we have seen him start to pick books up on his own and read to his younger brother. He no longer rolls his eyes at me and huffs and puffs, if I ask him to read something.  He has read 2 entire library books, on his OWN, with help sounding out some of the words….  I believe the program has improved his confidence with reading, and the instant feedback it gives him is the key to his success.

Head on over to Explode the Code online, and see if it would be a fit for your young reader ( K- 4th grade).  The demos on the website are great. 

**  Homeschool Buyers Co-op is a business that seeks to serve the homeschooling community find curriculum at a discount price.  It works on the premise that when a school district purchases it’s curriculum, it recieves a discount for it’s quantity order.  The Co-op provides that same service to single homeschooling families, allowing us to band together under their “umbrella” to get the better price.  To check them out, click here. It is free to join and recieve the information about what they are offering, and often the deals they get are extrordinary.


Expedition Australia!!

Two weeks ago, we went on an expedition…. where you may ask? ……… to AUSTRALIA! …. no packing… no passports, no awkward moments while TSA searches your carry-on and steals your favorite hand lotion…… we only had to “Download N Go”…….

I have always wanted to visit this “land down under” ever since the movie “Crocodile Dundee”.  (I think I may have just dated myself with that comment) My son knew next to nothing about Australia, and could barely find it on our globe. After a week working through Expedition Australia, he will gladly tell you all he has learned. Not only can he show you where Australia is located, he knows about it’s climate, major geographic areas, how it was founded, it’s national holidays, currency, and of course he learned about The Great Barrier Reef. He even studied the different marsupials that live on Australia and Tasmania. It was an action packed, fun filled week!

Expedition Australia is a 103 page E-book, that is a collaborative venture between The Old Schoolhouse Magazine and Amanda Bennett. It can be found in The Old Schoolhouse Store, in their ‘Download N Go’ section. This is geared to work best within grades K-4, and at a mere $7.95, is worth every single penny. It downloads right to your computer after you purchase, there is no need to wait for anything to ship! It is very much worth the investment, and can be referred to again and again as your child grows. Created to be both a lapbooking study as well as a notebooking study, it is very well organized into daily segments, and has hyper-links to other sections of the book which contain the lapbook components. Expedition Australia is one of many E-books, in the Download N Go series, that follow this format. You can pick from their Welcome Spring bundle, a pick your own bundle, a whole semester of study, or even a whole year! ( the whole year option is the BEST value! ) I think that you could even incorporate this study into work for your older student. They could certainly work on their writing and research skills using this study as a starting point.

When I read through the book before we started, I noticed that it gave additional reading books we could use with each day’s study. My library has an on-line reservation system, so I brought that up, and looked up all the books the authors had listed. Out of the 25 books that were listed, I was able to obtain 6 from my local library system. We got a very nice cross section of books for all 5 days, some were fun stories, and others were more informative. The E-book has links to all of these books for purchase, and if your budget can support the expenditure, I would recommend all of the reading material. There are resources that are contained in this book that will keep you busy for well past the week of study it is designed for.
Included in the book is an introduction to lapbooking. I found this VERY helpful, we had never lapbooked before. I found it a great hands on way to reinforce the material that was learned throughout Expedition Australia. One helpful hint was the suggestion to wait to add some items to the folder after the week of study was complete. My son is very much a hands on guy, and these activities were very interesting for him to piece together, he is still asking for little things to add to his folder.  ( I have added some pictures of his actual lapbook at the end of this post )

Each day we used this book as our complete curriculum. (Well, we kept doing our regular math too, so we didn’t get behind). It does contain some math within each day, and it was good reinforcement for units of measurement, temperature and time. Each night I printed out the pages for the next day, my son would read from the page, and I would read the material from the computer screen. When there were links to videos, or to more information on a given subject, he would come over and watch it, and we would take turns reading it. We used the comprehension questions for each section as our handwriting practice; reading and words of the day, as our language arts and spelling; and the drawing exercises for our art. Science was well covered by all of the wonderful animals of Australia. The remainder of the E-book would fall under the social studies, history or geography category for our day’s work. It took us about 3 hours to complete a days worth of work with a few breaks scattered in for a very active 7 year old boy.

Some unit studies are books or CD’s that you receive and they are all inclusive, meaning that the information you will study has been gathered, and written out in a narrative form and you study that material. This E-book differs from that style. Most of the information that you get to fill out the notebook portion as well as the individual components of the lapbook, come from the internet links contained in each day’s work. You really need to be at a computer for this E-book to function as it is intended. This was not a problem for us, we use the internet for many parts of our homeschooling day, but if you do not have a computer to use, you need to be aware of this feature.

My son really enjoyed learning all about Australia. His favorite thing was a link to study more about the Great Barrier Reef. It was very interactive and I think he had me scroll over every part of it at least six times to make sure we didn’t miss anything. Since it was our first lapbook, I like that we now have a couple of keepsakes from our study for years to come, and to show Grandma the next time she is up to visit.

I recommend this study! Particularly to anyone who is interested in trying out lapbooking or unit studies for the first time. You will not be disappointed!

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