Vocational Training at Home

If you know my family history, I am sure that the thought of ME taking a course to become a Registered Tax Professional is downright comical…..  borderline hysterical.

Yet, when this product came up for review, I was INTRIGUIED!  My husband and I had just decided to start a business, and with our finances the way that they are right now, I figured that maybe if I complete this course, it could be an avenue to bring in a bit more income from home.

So I said yes, and started back to school….. Tax School.

This distance education program is offered by National Tax Training School It is an institution that has been around since 1952.  They offer a variety of courses, The Federal Tax Course, The higher Federal Tax Course, The California Preparers Test, and courses for continuing education. 
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Reviewers were given the choice on which class we wanted to work from.  I chose the Federal Tax Course because it would teach me more about personal Federal Income Taxes as well as Small Business taxes.

I won’t lie, I was nervous when the big box arrived with my name on it.  I took a deep breath, got to work.

The lessons move topic by topic through all you need to know to properly fill out Federal Income Tax Forms.  If forms are discussed in the lessons, copies are included for you to look over.  Many scenarios are given to try to simulate some of the real life situations that you may come across when people need their taxes prepared.

I would read the lesson, sometimes twice and then read through it a third time taking the self test as I went.  I would write notes to myself on the self test explaining what I may have gotten wrong.  Sometimes it felt like the scenarios they gave were weird, and convoluted….. but over time as I worked through them, reading  them to myself out loud; then re-reading the material,  I got the gist of what I was supposed to be looking for and the questions became easier to answer.
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Here are a few topics that the Federal Income Tax course covers.
Bad Debt
Tax Consequences of the Sale of Taxpayers’ Residence
Self-Employment Tax
Tax Credits (EIC, Business, Child Credit, Education etc.)
IRAs and Self Employed Pension Plans
Depreciation and Depletion
Income Tax Withholding Payroll Taxes (FICA & FUTA)
Estimated Tax
Alternative Minimum Tax
Sale of Taxpayer’s Residence

After taking the self test, you move to the graded test.  This test you take, and send off to the teacher for grading.  (GULP)  I was a nervous wreck waiting for them to be mailed back….  I felt like I was waiting for my finals grades in college!  When they arrived, I was pleased to see I didn’t tank…. So far all A’s and B’s.  (I may get the hang of this back to school stuff after all.) The instructors sometime write helpful comments on your tests to let you know where you may have missed the question.

The company normally sends you the second half of the course when you complete Lesson 17.  However, for the purpose of this review, they sent it early.  Now I have TWO ginormous binders to work through, and much to my surprise I am looking forward to finishing it all.

National Tax Training School has also created a way for their course to be completed online.  The benefit would be instant grading feedback, and the ability to have discussion on the course.  The online structure, that I have seen, is easy to use.  Though, I think I prefer having the actual pages to flip through to help me find the answers.  I might have a panic attack if my Internet froze in the middle of a test.

The course is available at several different enrollment options,  Each with varying degrees of post graduate support.  Yes, that’s right; they work with you after you have completed the course to keep you up to date on the current tax codes.  You can begin your tax training education with a starting payment of $159.00, and scheduled payments to follow, or you may pay in full.  The complete program with 4 years of post grad support is $795, the full course with 2 years of post graduate support is $495. 

If you are looking for a distance course for yourself, to help your family income, I recommend this course.  Don’t kid yourself, it is work!  You will feel confused at times, but keep reading and stick with it, and you will have success.  If I can get A’s and B’s, anyone can! Maybe you are looking for an at home trade school option for your high school student or graduated high schooler. I think that this is a great course for those that want to earn an income before college or maybe instead of college.  At the completion of the course a person should be ready to take the IRS Registered Tax Preparers Exam.  Passing that test would be the key to earning money as a tax preparer.

To read what others had to say about their experience with this product, please click on the button below.

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******disclaimer*******

I was given access to the Federal Income Tax Course by National Tax Training School free of charge for the purpose of this review.  No other compensation has been received.

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Teach your kids about the “M” word

The majority of this review was completed by my 17 year old daughter. She is a VERY busy girl and I am very grateful to her for taking the time to use and write about her experience with Wealthquest for Teens.

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Photobucket I am not really the most normal of teenagers. I have never been one of those kids who sit around and wait for things to happen. I have goals, and I know I need money to help me accomplish those goals. One of the problems I have is getting the money. I am only 17 and I attend community college pretty much full time. I also have responsibilities at church and at home, so my ability to have a “normal” part time job doesn’t really work out for me. That doesn’t mean that I never have any money. I do work all summer long at a farmers market, I clean house for a woman at church and I babysit. While my jobs aren’t at a fast food restaurant or a coffee shop, God always provides the work, so that I can pay for the things I need.

This summer I had asked my parents if I could read some of their books on money and budgeting, and not long after that my mom told me we were selected to review Wealthquest for Teens. I was excited to start the program and see if there was information that I could learn to help make my money work for me. I really liked having video lessons. Each lesson was interactive ( they used teens to teach introduce new concepts) and easy to relate to. I had a bit of trouble understanding that the e-book pdf WAS the workbook at first, but after that initial confusion it was very easy to do. It was nice that the lessons gave me time to fill out the worksheets as we went along. Photobucket Wealthquest did give me new information on how to organize my money. I have a different attitude about money from watching these lessons. Because my income is not that regular, I am often concerned about money and how I can make money that I need. These lessons showed me that I don’t really need to worry, I just need to remain diligent and determined to make my financial goals a reality. I was reminded that finding creative ways to make to make money is a good thing. Money never just drops into peoples laps!

The lessons talked about needing a really good reason to save money. This is the lesson where I was really able to identify my goal of attending and graduating from college debt free. This goal is very important to me and it is the main reason that I work right now. Even now I pay my way through school.

The program teaches a method called the silo system to organize your income. With my above stated goals, I found using the silo system as recommended, difficult. The program recommends the following categories: Future Financial Freedom, Big Ticket Items ( like cars, vacations), Heal The World ( Charitable giving), Necessities ( Clothes, fuel, food….ect.), Learning ( education and growth ), Fun and Fun Money. They recommend 10 percent to be placed in every category but Necessities, and that category will receive 50 % of your income.

If I were to use those recommendations, I would only be able to use 20% of my earnings on my education. Since my main needs are met through my family’s household budget, I decided I needed to have three silos. Learning, Necessities, and Big Ticket items. My percentage breakdown was 70% to learning, 10 percent to saving for my car, and 20 percent to my away from home food and incidental needs. I found it much easier to use the silo system as a mid-long term savings program. I need to be able to work, set the money in a easy to access saving location so it is free to be used for each quarter’s tuition and books. I did find the link to the money management site helpful. I could hypothetically move larger sums of money around and see how the cause and dream a little about what the future could look like. As I move into a 4 year college, I see myself better able to apply the system in its entirety as my income increases.

Jill Suskind, creator of the program, lists the following as a course goal: The intention of the program is to empower teenagers with habits and attitudes about money that lead to wealth. Wealth and being rich, in WealthQuest for Teens terms, means “the amount of money you need to have the life you want and to make a difference in ways that matter to you.” Taking this course helped me identify the amount of money I need to achieve my goal of attending college debt free. That is what I want for my life, that is what matters to me. This will help me make a difference in other people’s lives because I will not have a ton of debt when I am finished with school.

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When I asked her if she would recommend this product, she stated “Yes, I would, especially for those who really have little or no experience with controlling their own their own money… I think if a high schooler is going to have a part time job, and not going to be enrolled in college at the same time this system would be a good way for them to organize and save their money for college and beyond.”

As a parent, I was glad that the course was fairly self sufficient. The parent book that was provided was easy to read and helped me to set the tone of the lessons. She worked at her own pace, and completed the lessons. As she completed the lessons we would discuss the topics and she would run ideas past me to see if they were logical as well as practical. It was then that i could drop in some of the nuggets of wisdom from the parent guide. We have an open money discussion policy in our home. We do not live on any sort of credit, and save for the things we purchase. Reading through the guide helped to reassure me that we were on the right track as parents, in openly communicating about our household finances.

 Wealthquest for Teens is available for $39.95, a very affordable option for use with your 14-19 year old(s). The course is comprised of a Video Seminar, Student Workbook, a link to an online money management program, and Free Parent Guide. The product is downloadable and easy to print and use with more than one student.

To read more reviews about Wealthquest for Teens follow the link below.

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*******Disclaimer********

We were given access to Wealthquest for Teens Video Seminar, online money management site, Student Workbook, and Parent Guide, free of charge and for the sole purpose of writing a review.

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Faith, what do you use it for?

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Whatever worldview you ascribe to, and I know that for some of my readers that means that you do not believe there is a God, takes faith. Maybe not faith in the religious conotation of the word, but a faith that takes the things understood about a subject and forms them into an opinion that you are willing to live your life according to. That is faith. Faith is a belief in things that you can not see.  We all use faith everyday.  The questions is, what do we use it for?

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In their book I Don’t Have Enough Faith to Be an Atheist, Norman L. Giesler and Frank Turek, explore an issue of faith.  They ask you to consider if you have enough Faith to be an Atheist.  Their conclusion after much study is announced in the title of their book. But, how did they get there?  What did they study?  There must have been a process by which they came to this conclusion.

Geisler and Turek do not shy away from explaining other worldviews.  They address what it takes to be an agnostic, a skeptic, the difference between eastern logic and western logic, and importantly; how we can know what truth is. 

This willingness to tackle and explain what other beliefs are out there was a big selling point to me.  I don’t want a book that explores the issue of faith; to just tell me to have faith and be done.  I don’t want it to tell me that everything but this one thing is bad….  believe what I say and move on.  That isn’t a book I would read.  One of the biggest reasons this book was so interesting to me was that it took the time to present opposing views, present a counter argument, and trust that I will think critically to reach a logical conclusion.

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Meant to be much more than just a great book to read, but a catalyst to help you better understand the how and why of what you believe; I Don’t Have Enough Faith to Be an Atheist comes with a 279 page workbook that turns a great read, into a curriculum.  This workbook creates an in-depth learning experience for your High School aged student, or perhaps as a great adult small group study. The workbook presents you with supplemental material, study questions and activities that will encourage personal reflection, discussion and build writing skills.

I found myself pondering before answering the workbook questions.  They weren’t the standard regurgitating comprehension questions that we are so easily pacified with in bible studies.  This workbook is WORK!  You must engage your mind to reap the full benefit of it.  The answers are not yes or no, true or false….  They are questions like:  Why is it important to understand the origin of life?  ( pg. 90) or C.S Lewis wrote, ” Christianity, if false, is of no importance, and if true, of infinite importance.  The only thing it cannot be is moderately important.”  Do you agree or disagree with that statement? Why? (pg. 209)

The supplemental reading in the workbook is very informative!  I never knew a David Hume. ( I thought Hume was a lake in Fresno, Ca.!) or what in the world empiricism was.  Let alone pronounce it…. But I have learned, and understood and I feel more informed and better able to defend what I believe because I have read this book.

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Above you can view the table of contents and see that the topics are presented and discussed in a very engaging way.  It is not the intent of the authors to lose you or your child in  technical terms and hard to understand jargon.  They clearly define the terms discussed in each chapter and walk you through the arguments step by step.  This isn’t a book that you or your student will read without reflection.  It is meaty and I have found myself chewing on the morsels through out the day.

Whether you are looking for an in-depth Bible Curriculum for your High Schooler or a personal study for your own quiet time, I Don’t Have Enough Faith to Be an Atheist will keep you busy for a nine month study.  I have enjoyed my weeks with this book and I look forward to more hours with it in the months to come. 

The book is priced at $16.00*, the Workbook at $33.00.  I enjoyed reading the book and using the work-text.  I feel that both items are very worth the investment.  The folks at Apologia.com have hit it out of the park with the debut of an Apologetics Curriculum for High Schoolers.  Having used this curriculum in my personal study time, I feel that any students would be well prepared for the variety of worldviews that will be discussed during their college years and beyond. 

*At the writing of this review Apologia is currently out of stock on the BOOK.  They have stated that their inventory will return in September for those of you who wish to use this curriculum in the 2012-2013 Academic Year.

As with all curriculum advice I share on this, my little corner of cyberspace, don’t just take my word for it.  Over a hundred families reviewed this product.  Visit the link below to see how other families enjoyed it ( or not ) in their homeschool environments.

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*****Disclaimer*****
I was sent a copy of I Don’t Have Enough Faith to Be an Atheist, and the corresponding Workbook by Apologia.com, solely for the purpose of this review.  No other compenstation has been received.  All the above opinions were formulated by actually reading the book, and using the workbook in my personal study time.

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This Week in History with A Thomas Jefferson Education

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 “For great education to occur, students must choose to study long, hard and effectively because they genuinely love it! It must be their passion and their delight. When students are deeply in love with studying, they learn in “the flow” and they absorb massive amounts of information, knowledge, understanding, connections and wisdom in a very short time.”  ~ Thomas Jefferson Education website.

That is a statement that I would wholeheartedly agree with.  My children learn the most when they LOVE what they are learning.   If they don’t love it; I might as well be telling them to chew off their own arm: for that is how pleasurable their learning will be.

A Thomas Jefferson Education want you the parent to experience the joy of helping each of your children to discover, develop and polish his/her genius. This is the essence and very definition of great education.

A Thomas Jefferson Education encourages parents to apply the 7 keys of Teaching:
1.Classics, Not Textbooks
2.Mentors, Not Professors
3.Inspire, Not Require
4.Structure Time, Not Content
5.Simplicity, Not Complexity
6.Quality, Not Conformity
7.You, Not Them

to help them educate their children to their full potential. To read more about the 7 Keys to Great Teaching, click here.

This Week In History; the Thomas Jefferson Education’s subscription program, delivers new lessons to your email inbox each week.  Each week full of pictures, links and videos to help you educate your children to their full potential. The program costs $9.99 a month; can satisfy the learning levels of grades K-12 and delivers the following benefits to you the homeschooling parent:

relieves fear, stress and burnout
fills in the gaps
cultivates cultural literacy
facilitates state or provincial compliance
correlates resources for co-ops, classrooms and family learning
harnesses the power of technology in a classical leadership education
harmonizes with Unschooling, Charlotte Mason, Montessori, Trivium/Quadrivium, IEW, eclectic, etc.
delivers new ideas and areas of learning to you and your child
instigates discussions and projects that expand wisdom and understanding
connects the subject areas–from music to math, from geography to world religions, from hobbies to science  projects, etc.
motivates you and your students to greater excellence

What we enjoyed about the This Week In History:

You can use it as little or as much as you choose.  There is no requirement to do ALL the activites or lessons for the week.  As we lazily wound our way through summer, this student led method of learning was enjoyable for us.  I let Hunter read through the Week of History and we dug deeper where we wanted to.  I see us using it weekly if not daily as the school year begins in a few weeks. 

Each week appears as a blog post when you log in to the site.  It makes it easy to read and easy to focus on.  You weren’t distracted by weeks and weeks of archives to scroll through, you get the week you need to currently explore. 

We enjoyed how each daily fact has pictures and additional links and resources to help you better understand each fact. I liked how there were suggestions for discussion, writing or hands on activites.  This week, there is a link to make your own silly putty.  Who can resist hands- on learning like that?

We have always been a more of a Charlotte Mason styled homeschool…. or maybe we are a little unschooled, and this year we will change our educational game plan completely, so I would most assuredly call us an Eclectic Homeschool…. and This Week in History certianly delivers many opportunities for learning that blends with our style of learning.  I recommend it highly, both as a supplement and a stand alone history source. The price for the quality of information is well worth it.

If you would like to view a sample week Click here.  Follow the link below to see how Schoolhouse Review Crew Members used This Week in History by Thomas Jefferson Education, in their homeschool environments.

 

Click to read Crew Reviews
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Disclaimer

The creators of This Week in History a subscription program from A Thomas Jefferson Education supplied Schoolhouse Review Crew Members with a on year subscription, for the purpose of this review.  No other compensation has been recieved.  All opinions were formulated by our use of the program in our homeschool environment.

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Learn with Zane

We were a little tickled when we learned that we were chosen for this review.  We knew it would be an easy name for us to remember, Hunter has a great friend named Zane.  :) 

Now, after this review, I feel like we have two friends named Zane, and one of them has the last name Education.

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What is Zane Education? 

Zane Education is an online learning website created for the whole family, especially those with visual learners. It is also helpful to those who have families with special needs. Learning can will happen away from the textbook with Zane Education.

Zane Education combines informative video clips to watch, and online interactive quizzes to help parents determine if their child is understanding the subject matter.

This video learning site is quite extensive.  Our review period has barely afforded us the time to view all that is available….. the video catalogue is 41 pages long!

There are videos available in the following subject areas and for the following grade levels:

We enjoyed watching the subtitled videos, all the videos…. even those that weren’t in our age range.  We watched lots of Science videos that were geared for older students, we loved them and even tried to take a few of the older tests.  Let’s just say that these tests are not wimpy tests.  I had to step in and finish taking the test for Hunter, and I flunked them…. there were words on that quiz I couldn’t pronounce!  When your children pass these online quizzes, they will really know their stuff!

All of the videos contain subtitles to help a child with their reading skills.  I understand the idea of that………  but something tells me that for my kid…. he isn’t looking at the words….. he is just watching the show.  I guess the theory is that just the subliminal sight of the words helps to improve reading.  I am not sure I completely buy into that theory for my child, but if you would like to read more research and decide for yourself, you can go here to read more.

Zane Education is committed to bringing a complete and comprehensive educational choice to homeschoolers for an affordable price. 

With the exception of the online subtitled video library which is a Premium Service, all of the other resources/ videos provided on the website are free to use after a user has completed the Registration form for a free Basic Membership. And yes, even the Math videos (without subtitles) are free to use.  This Basic Membership Level would be a great place for you to begin if you would like to experience the website for yourself.

They offer the following Membership Levels:

  • GOLD MEMBERSHIP provides access to the videos for all topics at just $17.99 per month or $197.89 per year.
  • SILVER MEMBERSHIP provides access to the videos for all topics in a particular Age/Grade at just $12.99 per month or $142.89 per year.
  • BRONZE MEMBERSHIP provides access to the videos for all topics in a particular Subject at just $8.99 per month or $98.89 per year.

Each Membership Level is good for use with your ENTIRE family, regardless of how many students you have. 

Zane Education is currently offering a  35% discount on the purchase of any annual 12-month Gold, Silver or Bronze Membership subscription.  This discount is valid through until the end of August 2012.  Use the coupon code:  ZE643HSM  at check out to obtain your discount.

Overall, we liked using Zane Educations Visual Learning Website.  It was easy to navigate, videos were easy to find by grade or subject level.  It was a great way for use to have learning through the summer months without having to plan, organize and teach the lessons myself.  During the school year I can see us using the site as a resource to learn additional information that might not be covered in our usual studies.

Please visit the Zane Education website to see the extensive resources that are available to help you and your child succeed.

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Disclaimer:  I was given access to Zane Education’s full premium website ( Gold Membership) for one year, free of charge, for the express purpose of this review.  No other compensation has been received, all of the above opinions are based on the use of this program within our homeschool environment.

 

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Lightning Literature and Composition ~ A High School Course

Photobucket Great literature unfolds a page at a time….. and so should the lessons. I have thoroughly enjoyed using Lighting Literature & Composition ( recommended for grades 10-12) by Hewitt Homeschooling.

We were able to review their British literature: Mid-Late 19th Century Student Guide and Teacher’s guide. We focused on the poetry section in Lesson 1 by Alfred Lord Tennyson, since many of the selections were included in the book. As I write to you we are in the midst of doing Lesson 2; reading Silas Marner by George Eliot.

The student text begins with a very healthy introduction, which I recommend you read. If nothing less, it will be a refresher of what you may have learned in your own literature studies and it will help you to brush up on your terms and how to apply them as you teach your student. Reading the Poetry section was especially helpful to me. College was a long time ago, I had forgotten things like Assonance ( the repetition of vowel sounds) and the section on Meter ( the measurable rhythm of the words) was a great help.

The introduction on writing a paper gives the student a clear and concise target to shoot for as the write. There are great guideline questions to help them self edit and re-write. My daughter found the pages on Fluidity of Language and Pronoun Confusion helpful. It helped her understand why some of her college professors were marking things differently than others as she had turned in her papers last year. I helped me as a parent to know how to better critique my younger students and offer assistance to them as I read what they write and prepare for college papers.

The Teachers Guide has a nicely organized schedules for you to use, both semester and weekly for a full year long course. There are grading tips and sheets, as well as all the answers to the comprehension questions throughout the student text. I will keep it real and let you know that I am very grateful for comprehension questions, especially where poetry is concerned. Some times I read through a poem and then say… ” What? What did that just say?” and having the questions in the student text helped us through the poetry.

We are very much enjoying reading through Silas Marner…… we are reading it aloud and going through the discussion questions as a family. Discussing them as we meander through the summer, staying indoors to read and escape the near 110° heat. Even my younger children are learning the finer points of plots and sub plots and better understanding what a climax is within a story.

I look forward to continuing on using this literature guide through the summer. I think we will purchase the Early- Mid 19th Century book next! I would highly recommend this course to those who are looking for an affordable comprehensive High School Literature course. All the guides and books are available for $52.86. Just the Student and Teacher guide alone are available for $33.90.

Please take the time to read the other reviews on the many different products that Hewitt Homeschooling has to offer by clicking the link below.  

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******Disclaimer*******
As a member of the Schoolhouse Review Crew, I received Lightening Lit and Comp from Hewitt Homeschooling, free of charge, for the purpose of this review. No other compensation has been received.

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Exploring Literature from a Christian Perspective

I remember, waaaay back in High School reading several classic pieces of literature in my English classes.  The teacher always had a endless bank of questions that were designed to engage us in thinking about a book as more than just words gathered onto pages and creating a nice little read.  We were challenged to look at the world through the perspective of the characters, to understand the when, where and why of the setting the author had chosen…. That was the stuff that made literature come alive for me.  I will confess that it is the exact thing that gave me more than a bit of trepidation as a homeschooling parent.  I didn’t know if I would be able to replicate the amazing-ness of my high school English teachers.

To my rescue, comes the company Progeny Press.

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They sent me two of their literature study guides.  Pride and Prejudice for my High Schooler and The Bronze Bow for those in Grades 6-8.  I primarily worked with Hunter (4th grade) on the Bronze Bow study guide, so I can testify that they are indeed appropriate for those in even younger grades than 6th.

My daughter, Tayler, a Junior in High School, enjoyed going through the lessons designed for Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen.  It is one of her favorite novels; she has read it for pleasure many times.  This was the first time she read it with literary analysis in mind.  She found the questions thought provoking and felt that they helped her to delve into the characters more deeply.  She really enjoyed working in the interactive PDF.  She could pull it up on her laptop and not have to carry around a large printed booklet to work from.

I especially appreciated the way it tied themes of pride, humility, control of one’s tongue to Scripture, and asked her to reflect on a possible different outcome of things if the characters had behaved according to Scripture.  It really puts this great work by Jane Austen into a whole new perspective.

Hunter and I worked through The Bronze Bow by Elizabeth George Speare.  First, let me just say that this is a wonderful book.  We are a little over half way through reading it and answering the questions in the guide.  I had never even heard of this book until this review and I am very glad we had a chance to read and review this guide.  The questions within the study guide are teaching him to pay more attention to the characters in a book; to ask himself questions about them, to infer, and predict.  It is also building his vocabulary.  For Hunter, we printed out several pages of the PDF file at a time to work on as we read each set of chapters.

The study guide draws from Scripture and asks you to read an compare a passage from the Bible with a section of the book.  We have really enjoyed reading the book and the time that it is giving us together as we work through the lessons.

Progeny Press offers you a chance to look at samples before you buyPricing varies by what might be on sale, the grade level of the study guide, and the format that you would like to use.  For example, I received The Bronze Bow via email; the price of the file would have been $6.95 + $3.00 processing fee, bringing the guide to a grand total of $9.95.  The cost would increase if you wanted a CD or Booklet version.  Please make sure you check their store for availability and pricing that would best suit your family’s needs.

Honestly, $10.00 isn’t a bad price, not for something that I can use over and over and over with multiple children as they come along.  It really turns out to be a great investment in your children to help them better explore literature through the lens of the Bible.

Don’t just take my word for it, be sure to check out the many other reviews on the TOS Homeschool Crew Blog

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Disclaimer:

I received two study guides from Progeny Press, free of charge, for the sole purpose of this review.  The above opinions are my own and those of my family members who used the product.  We are not obligated to furnish a positive review.  No other compensation has been received.

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Staying on Task, Clearly and Simply

 

Simple.     Organized.     Easy to Use.

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I like things orderly.  Looking at my desk, with notes and pencils splayed out in front of me you would not know that, but I do….. I like things to be neat and easy to find.  This need for order is exactly what appeals to me about the Task Cards, from Creek Edge Press.

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See how neat and compact the assignments are?  To best use the Task Cards you need a few resource materials:

A History Encyclopedia

An Atlas

An Encyclopedia Set

We do not have all of these resources in our home, but we were able to find all of them at our local library.  The “Teachers Book” that accompanies the Task Cards lists a great variety of literature books for you to use with the material. The book also lists each card, it’s topic of study, as well as what additional materials parents may need to gather from the store or from the internet to help the student complete that card.

We chose to learn about the Medieval World.  Creek Edge Press, graciously gave the TOS Crew Members the ability to choose our area of study from their list of products.  Hunter wanted to know more about Kings and Knights, Castles and Conquests, Popes and Dynasties.

So far, we have explored Rome and the collapse of that great empire.  We have, through our reading, learned more about how the divided kingdom affected the collapse.  We have studied Constantine and his importance to the church during their time of persecution. We have mapped that part of the world, and traced the routes of the Visigoths and the Vandals.…………and that was just Card 1.  We spent about 3 weeks on Card 1; studying from it about two days a week.

Prep time for me as the teacher is a few hours (about an hour or less a week).  I research the books we will use and reserve them from the library, then skim for the portions we will read and cover, the night before we will work on them.

This method of study supports several main teaching methodologies.  You could easily use it with the Classical approach, researching, responding, thinking and exploring.  It fits well with Charlotte Mason, you may use narration as your form of responding to the reading tasks that are on each card.  The cards also support a Montessori style, where the parents would organize the material and the child is allowed to investigate each point at a pace that best suits them.  Our family falls somewhere in the Eclectic range, taking parts of all three methods of teaching and applying them as they fit the situation….. We found that the Task Card Approach suited our family learning style to perfection.

Hunter and I have really enjoyed learning History this way. The organization keeps me on task and gently gives us a direction in which to tread.  It is a great way to get a whole family learning the same subject at the same time.  Older children can do the cards at their own pace leaving Mom or Dad to help the younger ones with reading their information.  Hunter and I can’t wait for our next big trip to the library to learn all about Augustine, the Barbarians, and the Christian Church in Europe.

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Priced at $20 a set, Creek Edge Press does a great job of keeping their material at an affordable price.  They have discount pricing for larger complete History or Science Sets.  They also offer studies in Art, Music, and Grammar.  Please visit their website for more information on each of the products they offer.

To see more reviews on all the different products that Creek Edge Press produces, visit The TOS Homeschool Crew Blog.

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Disclaimer:

As a member of the TOS Homeschool Crew, I received a set of Medieval World Task Cards free of charge, solely for the purpose of this review.  No other compensation has been received.  Thank you, Creek Edge Press, for introducing us to your Task Card Approach to learning.

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A book that rescues bad spellers like me

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Last year, I had the opportunity to review an amazing reading tool by See-N-Read®.  This year I was able to review another product in the See-N-Read® family of products:

The 40-page, See-N-Spell™ booklet.It is SOOO cool!

It is designed to be easy to use and is broken down into three alphabetized categories:

  1. Most Commonly Used Vocabulary Words
  2. Commonly Misspelled Words
  3. My Special Interest Words

Hunter simply flips to the page showing the first letter (a,b,c, etc.) of the word, then scans down the page to find the word he is looking for.  Then he can copy the correct spelling right into his work.

With the help of the See-N-Spell™ booklet, Hunter has been able to use a wider variety of words in his sentences.  We use it often at Spelling time when he needs to write sentences that include his spelling list.  I really like the fact that the book includes homophones on the pages.  Those tricky words that sound the same but are spelled so differently, are paired with small definitions so that Hunter can chose the one that fits best into his sentence.

While the See~n~Spell Booklet contains many commonly used words, it also leaves room for you to write in it.  Yes, they want you to WRITE in your books!  There is a space for you to write down words that YOU or your child constantly struggle with…the My Special Interest Words, section. I will let you in on a secret, I use it too…  I am a chronic misspeller (is that a real word?) of the word receive, you just never know it because spell check saves my bacon….  I used the book today when I couldn’t remember if independence finished with –dence, or –dance.

Each See-N-Spell™ bookletalso comes with a See-N-Read® reading tool.

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We love the See~n~Read.  We have been using it since last year, and it is such a help when we are reading small print or things from research books.  It really helps Hunter stay focused.

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The See~n~Spell Booklet retails for $9.99, a fair price for the ability to have over 300 words at your fingertips.  It was created for use with those in grade 4 – Adult, and in our home, that has proven very true.  Nearly everyday you hear… “Mommmmm!, where is that spell book thing……???”  as someone scrambles to spell something correctly.

Please make sure you visit the See~n~Read website to find out more about their reading tools

To read what other Crew Members are saying about this product, visit The Old Schoolhouse Magazine’s Homeschool Crew Blog.

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Learning a language at any age

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This year we were on the hunt for a Spanish program for Evan.  It is his last year in school and all he really “needs” to graduate is a Foreign Language Credit.  Understandably I was very excited to be chosen to review The Easy Spanish Level I and use it for our Spanish Curriculum this year.

I remember my own High School Spanish class as being a bunch of exercises and sentences, conjugation of verbs that I could never remember, and a whole lot of “what did she say?”  Never learning to think in the language, I only learned to spit back the information for tests….  and as a result I never felt like I retained very much.

Fast forward 20+ years… and I was in the middle of Mexico City, Mexico….  Immersed in the language, and very quickly I began to learn…. as it was a matter of survival.  That experience cemented the importance of immersion for me.  I knew if I wanted my children to learn a language they needed to be able to think in this new language.  Just spitting back facts wasn’t going to cut it.

Great Commission Languages - Spanish Level 1

For our review, we primarily used The Easy Spanish! Level I with Evan, a High School senior and very independent learner.  I would make copies of the work text for him to carry in a three ring binder, and he would work on his Spanish before his Radio Broadcasting Class.  I chose to do this because I want to use the book again with my other three children, and I didn’t really want it traveling around the countryside in a teenage boy’s backpack Smile.  I also copied and laminated the flashcards from the back of the book to make them more durable to use with 4 children.

In the beginning he thought the first few parts of the lesson were “a bit young” but as he progressed, and worked through the Independent Learner and Charlotte Mason Activities, he began to see were the real work was.  This course is designed to be used at any grade level.  There are lesson plans for younger children Grades 3-6, for Middle School, as well as for the High School child or adult wishing to learn a new language.  The curriculum is geared to help you begin to think in another language.

For example, you are not given a list of sentences already written in Spanish to copy and learn.  With The Easy Spanish! curriculum you are given a small amount of information such as a verb and a condition, and told to write sentences to describe them.  Your brain has to think in Spanish to come up with them.  The Independent Learner section encourages you to begin a journal, even if it is only a few sentences.  Evan said that this was hard, but it helped him learn the words better.

Each lesson starts by listening to a dialogue on CD. It is recommended that this be done daily.  It is important to be able to hear the language pronounced correctly, especially when a parent does not have the experience of a native speaker.  The text provides

It was great to have a learning template or lesson plan already scheduled for us.  My son could easily look at it and know what portion of the lesson that he needed to work on for that week.

If you teach with Charlotte Mason methods, or even with a more Classical approach, this curriculum would be the one to choose.  You will find none of the rote methods of filling in the blanks here.  Great Commission Languages seeks immerse you in the language so you can embrace it.

The Easy Spanish! is available for $139.95.  This includes a workbook and 2 CD’s.  One of the CD’s is enhanced and when placed in your computer allows you to print out additional copies of some of the templates in the book, as well as notebooking pages for each lesson.  Overall, I found The Easy Spanish! easy to use as a parent,  my son found it easy to use and was able to work at his own pace.  I am excited to start it with my younger two children, and my daughter is itching to start on it next week. Smile  I would say that it is a hit with this family and our learning styles.

Great Commission Languages also has a Junior Spanish, The Easy French! and many more products to help you learn available at their website.  Please take the time to visit them.

TOS Homeschool Crew members reviewed both the Spanish and French language programs produced by Great Commission Languages.  Please visit the TOS Homeschool Crew Blog to see what other families experiences with these products.

***disclaimer*** We were giving a copy of The Easy Spanish! Level I for free for the sole purpose of this review.  No other compensation has been received.  All of the opinions above are those of the family members that participated in this review.

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