Today's Wisdom

Monday, November 22, 2010

Review of Illuminations Year 2, Grades 3-8


I've been a fan of Mystery of History for the past several years so when I found out there was a program that used Mystery of History as it's spine I was thrilled!  This summer, I searched and found Illuminations by Bright Ideas Press.  It seemed like all I had been looking for in a program but the price at the time was more than I was willing to pay not knowing if it would fit our family or not.  So, when I got the opportunity for this review I was THRILLED!!  My review is of Illuminations, Year 2, 3rd-8th grade program which also includes some K-2 early learning.  So, it covers ALL 3 of my children!  A+++++!

What is Illuminations?  It is a Bible based, practical approach that uses Mystery of History as it's spine and gives you detailed lesson plans to complement it which include literature, writing, spelling, vocabulary, grammar, bible, geography, timelines, science, and many other supplemental resources such as Netflix movies. 

If you are tired of trying to pull your plan together all by yourself, then Illuminations is perfect for you (and me!).

I have very good intentions each summer but never can finish everything I want to when it comes to planning for our upcoming school year.  Well, with this it is so simple and better yet, still flexible!!  If you choose not to use one of their sources for a subject, you can simply fill in your own information in the schedule grid and type out your new plans.  It is just that simple!

Subjects come with complete lesson plans!  The subjects included in the schedule grids are.........

Literature and Writing

The Mystery of History Volume Two: The Early Church and the Middle Ages
Family Study Guides
Read-Alone Guides
hands-on activities
Copy-work (on several levels) is also provided for those following the Charlotte Mason approach.

A complete spelling program—in daily lessons— written by Kathryn Stout, author of The Natural Speller.

Vocabulary is covered through our literature picks as well as from the optional English From The Roots Up Volume 2 book.

The WriteShop program
Foundations to Writing

Grammar Punk
Winston Grammar
Easy Grammar

The Bible reading schedule is well-thought-out and is a great reminder to cover this with your students daily.

Hands-On Geography
The Ultimate Geography & Timeline Guide

History through the Ages Timeline Figures
The Ultimate Geography and Timeline Guide
Christian Kids Explore Earth and Space

Early Learners
Parents of early learners (K-2) will enjoy the bonus Early Learners Literature List, daily Bible reading schedules just for them, and we’ve adapted Christian Kids Explore Earth and Space to meet the needs of our youngest students.

Now, all you have to do is decide which one of these resources you would like to use and purchase them to get started.  We stuck with Mystery of History 2, the literature guides, the bible, spelling, and copywork for this review.  But if I had been starting at the beginning of the year, I would have looked into purchasing the rest of the curriculum as well.  They line everything up for you so all the work is done!  You can print off a list of what books and supplies that you will need to purchase and get started.  Many of the literature books can be borrowed from your library which is what we did.  And if you want to substitute a different curriculum that you already have on hand, you can easily do that as well with the schedule grid. 

The only thing missing from the line up is math!  All the rest is fully scheduled for you.  The scheduling is for a four day week which works best for our family too.

Tyler Hogan has some wonderful FAQ videos that he has done that will answer most of the questions you may have. 

You may also download samples here.

Illuminations offers Year 1, Year 2,  and Year 3 for 3rd-8th grades. Future years are in process! They also offer a high school courses for Year 1, Year 2, and Year 3.

You can purchase by semester for $82.50 or you can purchase a full year for $165.  High school costs $47.50/semester or $95/year.  If you need both the 3-8 and high school you can save by purchasing both for a full year at $240.  You will get a digital download file or you can get a CD for an additional $20.  If anything happens to your computer or your file if you have registered it, they will replace your product free of charge.

Would our family purchase Illuminations?  After seeing first hand the detail and plans involved and seeing how much time and effort it would save me I would say absolutely YES!  The price seems steep at first but I can use it with all 3 of my children so that breaks down to $55/per child.  My time is so worth that!  And it is one of those things that my husband will step in and say to purchase because he's just that kind of guy!


Don't forget to check out what my fellow crewmates thought of other Bright Ideas Press products also.

**Disclaimer:  I was given a digital download of this product for review purposes.  I received no other compensation for this review. The opinions here are my true and honest evaluation.**

Friday, November 19, 2010

Review of KB Teachers

KB Teachers is an online worksheet jackpot!  I really loved the fact that included in their worksheet jackpot were worksheets for middle and high school too!  Many of the worksheets on KB Teachers are completely free.  To customize your own and have access to all that they provide you will need to purchase a Premium Membership.

Right away I noticed that there was no search feature and I found my answer to why in the FAQ section.

"We believe that on a well designed website you should easily find your way around and find what you need in 3 clicks or less. Gone are the days of searching endlessly!"

Along the sidebar you will find the categories of.....

For This Season - Here you will find the seasonal worksheets.  For example, right now it has different Thanksgiving, fall, and November printables available for you.

English Language - Here you will find lots of printable alphabet, cursive, and grammar sheets.

Math Activities - Here you can find math with images, counting money, addition, subtraction, multiplication, division, telling time, themed math, and a classic math section that includes algebra worksheets!

Science - Here you will find astronomy, geology, weather and climate worksheet.  We used several of these to aid in our Classical Conversations memory work.

Biology - Here you find human anatomy, nutrition, marine biology, plants and microbiology worksheets.  We used some of the nutrition sheets to aid in our Cub Scout learning.  Stephen was earning his fitness badge.

Social Studies - Included in this section are workbooks on Ancient History to The Cold War.  This section is primarily for middle and high schoolers.  Grade recommendations are included for the worksheets.

and More Activities - Here you will find many themed worksheets such as dinosaurs, seasons, clip art, basic skills such as shapes, colors, etc.

Some of the worksheets available on KB Teachers website are free.  But in order to print most without a watermark you will need to purchase a premium membership.  The cost of the membership is $29 annually or $49 for a two year membership.  That breaks down to just over $2.00 a month.  It really is a great price!

Here is a sample of a worksheet with the watermark.

Would our family purchase this membership?  At this stage in our homeschool, I would have to say we would not.  We are moving into a new stage where we are using more and more living books with our curriculum and less and less worksheets.  I can see how this could have been a very valuable asset to us at the beginning though when I couldn't keep Sarah busy enough with worksheets!  The themed sections are also very appealing.


Don't forget to check out what my fellow crewmates thought of KB Teachers also.

**Disclaimer:  I was given a subscription to this website for review purposes.  I received no other compensation to review this website.  The opinions here are my true and honest evaluation.**

Monday, November 15, 2010

Review of Corps of Re-Discovery - Fringe Pouch Kit


I am excited to tell you about today's review.  It comes from a company who calls themselves "Corps of Re-Discovery".  Their name is derived from The Corps of Discovery which was the name President Thomas Jefferson gave to Lewis and Clark’s party as he commissioned them to find an east-west water passage to the Pacific Ocean over 200 years ago.

Corps of Re-Discovery is a homeschooling family who working together have found and created great project kits to enrich your studies of American Indians, Frontiersmen, and Pioneer and Colonial Americans so you, too can "re discover" America.

Through the homeschool crew we were able to review The Fringe Pouch kit from the Frontiersman selection.  My seven year old, Sarah, was who I chose for this project.  Recommended age was 7 and up.  My oldest son really wants to do one also and he is 12!

Here are the supplies that came with the kit.  All parts are pre-cut and pre-punched. Kits include thread, needle, laces and instructions. Suede Leather. Finished size: 5 1/2" x 6" plus fringe. 

Sarah was so excited and loved every minute of making this.  It was really VERY, VERY simple.  She needed a little help with lining up the fringe at the beginning and adding the drawstring at the end but the rest she did entirely on her own.  The instructions for the drawstring part were a little confusing for me too but we finally figured it out. 
Here is Sarah busy at work.

And her ta-da moment!  She was very pleased with the end result and so was I!

We took two days to complete the kit but it could certainly be done in one sitting!  The cost of the kit is $11.99 + s/h and it can be purchased online here.  It is also available in a Frontiersman Craft Pack Kit that includes the Possibles Bag Kit, Powder Horn, Coon Tail Hat Kit, Regular Tomahawk Kit, the Fringe Pouch Kit (assorted colors), and the Kentucky Pistol for $71.92 + s/h.   You may also make your purchases by phone or mail.  You can find out more about those options here.

Would our family purchase this?  Absolutely!  It was so simple to do yet my daughter was extremely proud that she could do it without much help from her mom!  I thought that the quality for the price was a good match as well.

Check out what my fellow crewmates received and what they thought of some of the other products from Corps of Re-Discovery.

**Disclaimer:  I was given this product for review purposes.  I received no other compensation to review this product.  The opinions here are my true and honest evaluation.**