Wednesday, July 11, 2018

Review~ Math Refresher for Adults from Math Essentials

Mountain of Grace Homeschooling Review

Are your children getting older? Do you worry how you'll teach the higher grades? Does math scare you? Well if you've said yes to these questions, I have the answer for you. 
Let me introduce you to....Math Refresher for Adults from Math Essentials. It's a new book that helps parents teach the higher level math courses! Let's be honest, for many of us math class was quite a few years ago. We may have forgotten a few concepts over the years. I know I have!

High School Math Help

Math Essentials provides homeschoolers with  strong math curriculum from award winning author Richard W. Fisher. They offer math books that cover basic math concepts for 4th/5th graders, basic concepts for middle/high school students, Pre-Algebra, Algebra 1, Geometry, Fractions, Decimals, Problem Solving, and a math survival book. The titles can be purchased separately or they offer fantastic deals on book bundles! They truly have a book for all the different math skills students will need to know. I know I'm already looking at the Geometry book. The fraction and decimal books look great too. Concept review is always important! 

Higher Math Help

For this review, we received a physical copy of the book Math Refresher for Adults. The book currently costs $28.95. The price is subject to change so please check the website for the most up-to-date price. 

The book covers general math, problem solving skills, geometry, pre- algebra, and algebra. It covers every subject a parent or student would need to know.

General Math
Whole Numbers
Charts and Graphs
Word Problems

Pre-Algebra and Algebra
Sets and Integers
Positive and Negative Fractions 
Positive and Negative Decimals
Exponents and Square Roots
Order of Operations
Properties of Numbers
Scientific Notation
Rations, Proportions, Percents
Number Theory
Number Lines
Coordinate Systems
Algebraic Word Probems
Probability and Statistics 

The book is set up like a workbook, but the author recommends copying the problems onto a piece of paper or in a notebook. He believes that copying down a problem and then solving helps in understanding the problem and in the accuracy of solving it. I know I've found that when my kids copy the problems down they tend to focus more. Copying down the problems also allows the book to be used by multiple people.  Even though Math Refresher for Adults is geared for adults, high school students could easily work through it to help maintain their math skills. It would be a great tool for students heading off to college.

How Does Math Refresher for Adults work?

Most lessons are just one page. A few of the lessons are 2 pages long. The lessons are easy to understand. They can be done in very little time. Each lesson is broken up into sections. The first section is the review exercises. The review exercises are important for retaining what has been learned. This section usually has 2-4 problems. 
Following the review sections, students will find the new lesson. Each lesson contains two sample problems. It's extremely important to work through the two sample problems and check your answers in the back of the book. Once these to problems have been done, it's now time to more on to the rest of the problems. Helpful hints are included in each lesson. These are basically "reminders" on how to work through the problems. This is helpful just in case you might have forgotten how to solve the problems. Once the problems have been completed check your answers. A score of 80% is considered passing. If you didn't pass, you can go online and check out the free video tutorials. A code is included in the book. These are great videos. Michael and I have watched quite a few of the videos since he is currently working through the No-Nonsense Algebra from Math Essentials.

Included at the back of the book is the very important answer key, a glossary of math terms, a few pages with important symbols and tables used in math.

What Did I Think of Math Refresher for Adults?

It's another fantastic math resource from Math Essential. The lesson are simple, easy to understand, and definitely help students understand math! There are no tedious explanations that confuse students. There are no drawn out explanations that teach students to go through 20 steps instead of solving the problem in 3 simple steps.  I love that the lesson can easily been done in 20-30 minutes. The table of contents allows parents and students to quickly look up a topic they may have questions about. All I had to do was flip the book to the correct page, read, work through the problems, and check my answers. I love the confidence it gave me. I knew I could easily follow along and help Michael when he got to an area in math that he might not understand. I was a pretty good students in math, so most of what I read was a little boost to my memory. The only area I haven't dug into was the geometry section. Since I struggles there in high school, I know I will rely on this book and the videos for teaching Michael. Who knows maybe I'll finally understand geometry...I won't hold my breath though.

This is the second product we have reviewed for Math Essentials. Last year, we reviewed 
No-Nonsense Algebra from Math Essentials. It was fantastic. I currently have Michael working through the book this summer to strengthen his Algebra skills. He officially starts high school next year and I want him to have a strong understanding of Algebra 1.

Find out more about Math Refresher for Adults from the other crew members who reviewed it!
Click on the link below....

Till Next Time,

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Tuesday, July 10, 2018

Biomes~ Strolling through the Temperate Forest

Please Note~ This post may contain affiliate links. If you choose to click on a link, add it to your cart and complete your purchase, I will receive a small percentage. We are very grateful for this additional source of income. Thank you. 

Our last biome to learn about was the Temperate Forest. We saved the best for last. Since we live in the mountains are technically in the forest this was an easy study for us. In fact, the kid and I have been learning about the temperate (deciduous forest) since we moved up here. 

We've discovered lizards, snakes, toads, tree frogs, deer, raccoons, foxes, coyotes, and bears!
All of these amazing animals have been up close and personal ON OUR BACK PORCH. The bear sitting on the back porch was a little too close to comfort for the chickens and I.

We've also visited the Smoky Mountains over the years and were lucky enough to see the elk that have been reintroduced to that environment. They are truly magnificent animals!

We learned about leaves, pine needles, and all the different trees that surround us. 
The kids collected a variety of leaves from our trees and made a leaf collection. They had to research to discover what type of tree the leaf came from. It was fun project to do!

We've explored wild flowers.

Books to learn more about Temperate Forests
The Temperate Forests
Temperate Forest Biomes
A Walk in the Deciduous Forest
Forest Biome

We found a wonderful selection of reading passages about biomes, worksheets with multiple choice, and for more advance students short answer worksheets. You can check them all out here.
For younger kids, here is a fun matching biome and animal coloring page. The site Ask a Biologist has a lot of great science activities.

The best way to learn about a biome is to get out there and go exploring.
Take a walk, visit a pond, enjoy nature!

Till Next Time,

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Tuesday, July 3, 2018

Biomes~ Hanging out in the Tropical Rain Forest

Please Note~ This post may contain affiliate links. If you choose to click on a link, add it to your cart and complete your purchase, I will receive a small percentage. We are very grateful for this additional source of income. Thank you. 

Let's explore the tropical rain forest!
It's green, vibrant, hot, and humid.
Are you ready for an adventure?
I know the kids were when we started this trip deep into the rain forest.

For this diorama, the kids used more shoe boxes, construction paper, paint, leaves and flowers, glass pebbles, and plastic animals to create their forest scenes. Almost all of the supplies we've used for this fun dioramas came from the dollar store or from our own craft bin. I loved how the kids drew their own pictures by using books for guides.

Tropical flowers and poisonous frogs!

Therese even added a hut to her diorama.

We found a few fun sites to explore and some worksheets to help us learn about the different layers of the rain forest.

Rain Forest Canopy Worksheet and a bunch of other sheets for older kids

Of course we checked out books from our local library. We LOVE the library. I can't tell you how much money it has saved us over the years during our homeschooling journey.

Books about the rain forest....

A fun read along for younger kids is the Magic Tree House book Afternoon on the Amazon and the research guide Rainforests. We read this years ago when the kids were little. we did a unit study all ab out the rain forest. They loved reading these book aloud together!

Till Next Time,

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Wednesday, June 27, 2018

Review~ The Master and His Apprentices: Art History from a Christian Perspective

As the kids got closer to high school, I started looking for an art history curriculum for them to use. Sadly, the pickings are a little slim. I found a variety of resources geared to younger students, but high school was almost non-existent. So when we were given the chance to review a new art history curriculum called The Master and His Apprentices: Art History from a Christian Perspective, I was eagerly hoping it would be a fantastic fit for our homeschooling.  This new high school art history program from The Master and His Apprentices is geared to the Christian homeschooling family.
The Master and His Apprentices:Art History from a Christian Perspective is a full art history curriculum. It is written from a Christian point of view, contains no nudity or any other objectionable material.

For this review, we received the digital textbook and the digital teacher's guide. The digital books come in a fixed layout downloadable PDF. Due to the size of the book, it is recommended to view them on a computer and not a tablet. The textbook and the teacher's guide are also available in a physical copy.

Digitale Textbook~ $34.99
Hardcover Textbook~ $149.99
Digital Teacher's Guide~ $19.99
Softcover Teacher's Guide~ $24.99

*Prices are subject to change.

The digital textbook can be printed at home and stored in a three ring binder. We received instructions on how to do this. I chose not to print the book out. It's a large book and contains a large amount of colored pictures. It just didn't seem cost effective to me.

The hardcover textbook is 380 pages and contains over 600 pictures. Over 500 of those pictures are colored. The book is 8 1/2 by 11 in size, so it's a standard textbook. The softcover teacher's guide is the same size as the textbook. It contains 120 perforated pages.

The Master and His Apprentices: Art History from a Christian Perspective covers the history of art from the beginning to now. The program in intended for high school students. The course intended to be used by students for a full year (1 credit). Students will cover one chapter a week. The book is broken up into 5 units and there are 19 chapters in the book.

The Beginning
Chapter 1~ Introduction to Art
Chapter 2~ Creation

Ancient Cultures
Chapter 3~ Ancient Near East
Chapter 4~ Egyptian
Chapter 5~ Aegean

Classical Antiquity
Chapter 6~ Early Greek
Chapter 7~ Etruscan
Chapter 8~ Roman

Middle Ages
Chapter 9~ Early Christian & Byzantine
Chapter 10~ Medieval & Islamic
Chapter 11~ Romanesque
Chapter 12~ Gothic

Chapter 13~ Proto-Renaissance
Chapter 14~ Early Italian Renaissance
Chapter 15~ High Italian Renaissance
Chapter 16~ Northern Renaissance

Baroque & Beyond
Chapter 17~ Baroque
Chapter 18~ Rococo to Today
Chapter 19~ Global Highights

At the end of the books is the Appendix. It contains a few essays, a period chart, a timeline, a list of pieces by location, a list of terms to describe art, a sources list, and an index.


Students will learn about great sculptures and painters, like Fra Angelico, Michelangelo, DaVinci, Vermeer, and Bernini. They will study ancient artifacts, beautiful cathedrals, and stunning works of art.

How Did We Use The Master and His Apprentices?

After downloading the book to my computer, I forwarded it to my kids so they could have it on their own personal computers. This made it easy for everyone to read and follow along. We jumped right into the first chapter, which was a introduction of what art is. For us, this chapter a sort of a recap. My kids have studied over since we started homeschooling. Our Catholic religion books and history curriculum have been wonderful at introducing Michael and Therese to beautiful works of art and  talented artist. I enjoyed how this chapter encouraged students to ponder what they think art is. I loved how it stressed that God is the best artist out there. There is no way we can walk around and not see the beauty he has created for us.

The second chapter focused on the days of creation. This chapter felt like a recap of the bible or religion class. I personally didn't find too much art history in this section. It had a lot of other useful information. Students will learn about creation, how things in the world works (water cycle), and how we should be grateful for all the amazing things God created for us.

Chapter 3 and chapter 4 is when we really started learning about art history. This chapter took us back to ancient times. We learned about the Persian Empire and the Ancient Wonders of the World. The kids were thrilled to learn about the Ziggurats again. They had previously learned about them a few years ago when we studied ancient history. I was amazed to see what they had remembered from our co-op and history curriculum. It's always a win when a mama sees her hard work pay off!

What Does the Teacher Guide Include?

The teacher's guide is 116 pages. I did print this out for my own personal use. I printed it out, 3-hole punched the pages and put it in a 3 ring binder! Simple and easy.  The teacher's guide provides moms (teachers) with a suggested time frame. There is a sample syllabus for students and classes. Suggested reading schedules are provided, worksheets for the students to fill in, exams, a guide for teachers to follow, an answer key for the worksheets and exams, and options for writing! Everything you need to teach this art history course is included in the teacher's guide!

What Did We Think of The Master and His Apprentices?

Overall, the book is extremely well done. The pictures are stunning! There are a ton of them, over 600 pictures! They're clear, bright, and wonderful quality. The variety was exceptional....paintings, artifacts, cathedrals, mosicas, etc. There is no way you can study art history from a book without fantistics pictures. I can't stress how amazing the pictures are! 

Unlike many other art history books, there are no nude pictures included. For me personally this isn't an issue. However when my kids were little, I would have loved this. For years, I taught an art class at co-op and always had to be careful with pictures. With different families views, it would have been nice to have an art history book without naked people. Little kids tend to giggle when they see naked people, which can really disrupt a class. For my own kids, I never hid the beauty of the body God created. I have never viewed the naked forms in artwork as inappropriate. It was art. 

The timelines provided in the book are a great feature. They help students see when and how things progressed. Too often students study a topic and have no clue where it falls in the grand scheme of things.

I'll be honest...I hate reading books on the computer! I would much prefer an actual book in my hands. However, for the budget conscious homeschool family, a $150 for a textbook is just not feasible. The option of the digital book is a nice. It allows families with a limited budget to still have access to great materials.

The historical information was very good. The author provided a lot of facts and definitely spent time researching the various time periods and works of art. There were a few instances were I felt the author was presenting her own personal opinions. At times, it felt like story time. This was a turn off for me. In high school and college when I studied art, I don't remember our books containing the personal views of the author. Others may find this particular style appealing. I would for younger students, but not for high school. This style would be a better fit for students in 5th-8th grade.

For us, this art history course was not the best fit. It came close to what I was searching for, but did have a few concerns for me. The textbook is written from a Christian point of view, but isn't necessarily friendly to those of the Catholic faith. I felt it was more of a protestant point of view. The first few chapters about the ancient cultures were relatively harmless, but as I read further in the textbook I found a few things that definitely came across inaccurate for what we believe as Catholics. It was nothing we hadn't come across before, so I knew we could work around it. We have a strong religion and ancient history course that teaches my kids their faith, so I know they are strong in their faith. We'll continue to use The Masters and His Apprentices along with our other courses. It would be a great learning tool for both Michael and Therese. It will help them learn how to defend their faith to others. 

Overall, I will say I would recommend the program. The pictures are fantastic ( I know I've already said that, but they really are) and the book does contain a wealth of knowledge. I would definitely let my fellow homeschooling families (Catholic and non-Catholic)  know of my concerns with the curriculum. There are very few art history courses out there for homeschoolers. This course could be a wonderful addition to any homeschooling curriculum. I wish I would have kept my high school and college books, but sadly I didn't. As we continue to use the course, I will add additional books and information for my kids.

Find out more about The Master and His Apprentices: Art History from a Christian Perspective...

Discover what the rest of the crew had to say about The Master and His Apprentices:Art History from a Christian Perspective.

Till Next Time,

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Tuesday, June 26, 2018

Biomes~ Wading Through Fresh Water

Please Note~ This post may contain affiliate links. If you choose to click on a link, add it to your cart and complete your purchase, I will receive a small percentage. We are very grateful for this additional source of income. Thank you. 

This biome was pretty easy for us. For years, the kids and I have walked down to the creek and explored its hidden treasures. We've seen frogs, small fish, crayfish, turtles, and a variety of plants along the banks. We even carried home a few special rocks that the kids just couldn't leave behind.

Since we were so familiar with the freshwater biome, the kids decided not to create a diorama for this particular biome. We just took a walk instead! Hands-on learning and a nature walk all in one!

Ducks and Geese....


Small waterfalls....


Polished river stones....

Michael found a crayfish nursery.
They are so little.

and we used an underwater microscope to explore things more closely.
Michael even used a water straw to purify the water and drink some. He's ready to go camping and prepared if he gets lost.

Books about freshwater biomes....

Till Next Time,

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Thursday, June 21, 2018

Review~ Persuasive Writing and Classical Rhetoric from Silverdale Press LLC

Classical Writing Curriculum Review

The kids and I were recently given the opportunity to review a wonderful writing curriculum from Silverdale Press LLC. The Persuasive Writing and Classic Rhetoric: Practicing the Habits of Great Writers was a fantastic classical writing curriculum to use!

For this review, we received a digital download for the Persuasive Writing and Classical Rhetoric: Practicing the Habits of Great Writers. The curriculum package includes the Lesson Book, Student Reader, Consumable Workbook, and Answer Key.

 The Lesson Book is 235 pages. It includes lesson plans and ideas to discuss over the week. The lesson book is written to the parents, but an older student could easily read the lesson book and work independently. I think discussing the lesson together with your student would lead to deeper thinking. The Lesson Book introduces the Profile in Rhetoric (great writer being covered that week), objectives that should be covered and learned during the week, and the four day schedule for what should be covered each day. Each lesson is about 5-7 pages long. There is plenty of information provided on the topic being covered, the writer being discussed that week, and tips in becoming a better writer. The notes provided in the lesson allow parents and students to dig in and really discover the world of writing. Students will learn how to write interesting works, how to take notes, how to pick a subject, how to arrange your thoughts, etc.

The Student Reader Book is 111 pages. The reader is broken up into lesson too. Each week the student will read about great writers. Patrick Henry, Saint Augustine, John F. Kennedy, Eleanor Roosevelt, and Ronald Reagan are just a few of the writers that students will read and learn about. The reader provides the students with excerpts from famous writings from the various men and women covered during the course.

The Consumable Workbook is 202 pages. The workbook provides the students the 4 day schedule for the week. During the week, students will define key terms, answer review question, work on writing exercises, and finish the week off with writing prompt. 

The Answer Key is 68 pages long. It's for the teacher! Teachers will find a rubric to evaluate the weekly 500 word writing exercise the students will work on each week. Answers to the questions found in the student workbook are also included. 

Persuasive Writing and Classical Rhetoric: Practicing the Habits of Great Writers is geared for students ages 14-18. This course is a 36 week language arts curriculum for students in grades 9th-12th. Students will learn how to write persuasively by following the Classical Rhetoric approach. By studying the great classical writers, students will learn how to apply the habits of these great men and women.

Not only will the students focus on writing, they will also read and interpret great works of non-fiction. Through this multi-step process, the eager student will learn about writing styles, proper grammar and sentence structure, and clarity in writing. The classical approach is an exceptional way to help student's writing techniques flourish!

So How Does Persuasive Writing and Classical Rhetoric: Practicing the Habits of Great Writers Work?

The writing curriculum is broken up into 36 weeks. Each week is broken up into a four day schedule. So, for example, during week 2, students will read a speech from John F. Kennedy and work on learning some of the habits of the great writers.
On day one, students will read lesson 2 and answer lesson 2 review questions. On day two, they will read John F. Kennedy's Rice Stadium Speech in the reader and then answer the questions about the speech in the student workbook. On day 3, students will work on the writing exercises included in the student workbook. Finally, on day 4, students will write 500 words on the wiring prompt provided. 

What Did We Think of Persuasive Writing and Classical Rhetoric: Practicing the Habits of Great Writers?

I was extremely impressed with this curriculum. It was everything a homeschooling family following a classical approach would want in a writing curriculum. I enjoyed the variety of writers included. I was pleased to see men, women, and saints included. I loved seeing strong Catholic men included in this writing curriculum. I liked the fact that older, more mature topics were being covered and discussed. Planned Parenthood and abortion are just two of the topics that I thought were important for young adults to know about and discuss.

"an investment in knowledge always pays the best interest."
~Benjamin Franklin

Therese was a little on the younger side for this curriculum. In fact, she was below the recommended grade suggestion. Michael currently does 8th/9th grade work, so he made it into the recommend grade suggestion, but I will admit that his writing is not quite that strong yet. Both of them struggled with some of the readings, questions and writing exercises. I strongly suggest to follow the grade guidelines. We worked through the first 3 lessons, but then had to stop due to a family situation. This family emergency stopped our schooling and basically put our life on hold for a few weeks. With it being so close to the end of the year, I decided to restart the program next fall and have the kids work through this fantastic writing curriculum next year.

Michael loved looking through the reader. He was thrilled to see Saint Augustine, Justice Scalia, and Ronald Reagan. He considers all three of these men great role models and men to study further.

Do you have younger students that want to learn more about history, social studies, or writing?

Silverdale Press LLC offers a wonderful selection of unit studies for younger and older students.
The White House Holidays Unit Study was also reviewed by the crew. It covered important holidays like Labor Day, Martin Luther King Day, Veterans Day, Thanksgiving, Christmas, and Valentine's Day. These unit studies are geared for students ages 5-18. The unit studies offer two options for study. One lesson is geared for students in elementary school, while the other lesson is geared for junior/senior high school. This perfect for families that school together. The whole family can learn together!

Find out more about Silverdale Press LLC.

Be sure to read the rest of the reviews written by the 
Homeschool Crew Review!

Till Next Time,

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