This blog is my attempt to document our busy but BLESSED lives. A child of God, wife to one, and mom to 6 fabulous kids. We are in our 8th year of homeschooling using a Classical approach.

Come along for the good, the bad & the ugly.

Thursday, June 22, 2017

UnLock Math: Algebra 1 ~ a TOS review

This fall my third child, Mikayla, will be entering high school. I am not quite certain how she grew up so quickly, but nonetheless she is ready to enter the realm of higher level math. Now, math can be one of those subjects that makes you tremble with fear or giddy with joy at the thought of teaching it to your child. I fall in between the two camps; but I really must tell you that math doesn’t have to be hard and you can teach your child upper level math with a little help from UnLock Math .

Over the last six weeks Mikayla and I have had the opportunity to use the UnLock Math Algebra 1 program from UnLock Math. UnLock Math is an online math program that has been around for a few years. It was developed from the teaching passion of Alesia Blackwood, a former homeschooler, who knew from an early age that she wanted to become a teacher. She accomplished her goal in 2000 to teach Mathematics to grades 7-12th.

UnLock Math Algebra 1

UnLock Algebra 1 is recommended for any child who is ready for traditional Algebra 1 program. I elected to start Mikayla in this level because it includes an extensive 19 sub-level review of Pre-Algebra skills in Unit 0 before diving into Algebra 1. I felt like she needed the review and I am glad this portion is built into the program.

UnLock Math

The complete program includes 12 units that have anywhere between 9-15 sub-levels each. The Topics covered in this math program include:

Unit 0 ~ Pre-Algebra Review 
Unit 1 ~ Equations 
Unit 2 ~ Linear Functions 
Unit 3 ~ Inequalities & Absolute Value Functions 
Unit 4 ~ Exponential Functions 
Unit 5 ~ Polynomials 
Unit 6 ~ Quadratic Functions
 Unit 7 ~ Rational Functions 
Unit 8 ~ Radical Functions 
Unit 9 ~ Transformations 
Unit 10 ~ Systems of Equations & Inequalities 
Unit 11 ~ Trigonometry 
Unit 12 ~ Probability

UnLock Math
By breaking up the math lessons into fun, interesting bite-size chunks students are able to understand the concepts being taught. In turn the student builds confidence without feeling any anxiety that typically comes with math. With UnLock Math’s unique teaching style your students will engage in: 

~ Teaching Videos that engage, explain, and entertain. Alesia teaches each lesson as she would to a class, explaining the concepts thoroughly and going through several examples. You won’t find any dry, boring lessons here! 

~ Advanced Assessment with various question types that truly assess your child’s understanding of concepts. 

~ Your Child Will Only See ONE Question at a time. Perfect for students who get overwhelmed and/or anxious when they see a whole page of "math". 

~ Immediate Feedback & Fully Explained Solutions for each question presented. 
~ Unlimited Practice to really master the new skills. 

~ Unlimited Review 

~ Grade book & Progress Reports real-time reports so that you and your child can track progress and assignment details.

UnLock Math

Getting started with this math curriculum is really easy! Once you go through the sign up process, your child will log in to their personalized Dashboard. From there you, the parent, can see the progress at a glance and choose the next lesson to be completed. A helpful pacing guide is included on the Dashboard that breaks down how many days it takes to complete a Unit and the course as a whole. I printed this out and placed it in my teacher’s binder/planner. When we are scheduling daily lessons it’s easy to grab and see where we are.
To start a Unit you need to “launch” it from the home screen. Just click on the rocket and it will take you to the lesson screen. Once there you will see the options available and any quizzes and/or tests for that Unit. Once you complete a sub-section the lock will be unlocked.

Each lesson follows a similar pattern of: 

warm up ~ five problems to review what you already know 

video instruction ~ Alesia lectures straight to the student in easy to follow lessons. They are short and to the point without a lot of fluff. You can see a sample for free here

 practice problems ~ problems are delivered one at a time without any distracting backgrounds

stay sharp ~ review problems (you can practice these more than once if your child is having problems) 

challenge yourself ~ a single challenging problem and 

PDF reference notes ~ these are printable not that can be printed and stored in your math binder for easy reference 

Once you have completed a lesson you can access the gradebook and see detailed information on how your child did on the lesson.

Overall, Mikayla has really enjoyed using this program. She likes that the lessons are short and easy to complete. This is not a supplemental math curriculum, it can stand alone as a solid program. However, we have been using it as a supplemental program to our math curriculum because it works better for my child in this manner. I have Mikayla take her laptop to the gym and do lesson in UnLock Math during her school hours at the gym. Mikayla excels at math, so she does not mind doing the extra work because typically it helps her with her lesson at home.

I have found these lessons to be a breath of fresh air! In our homeschool we require math to be done daily. I love that she can do her UnLock lessons at the gym and then when she comes home she can do her regular math lesson for the day. We follow this format because this ensures that we get math done, either online or at home, or both.

I am excited to see the new additional features that will make UnLock Math even better including easier navigation of the site, weekly progress reports, and updated dashbaords for students and parents just to name a few. I also love that a Pre-Calculus and Calculus courses are in the works! Because our method works, I am excited to purchase those programs when we get to those levels in a few years. Math doesn’t have to stress you or your child out. UnLock Math provides a refreshing new way to learn math that reduces anxiety for you and your child!

Be sure to check out what my CrewMates think of the Algebra 1 course or the other courses, Pre-Algebra, Algebra 2, and Geometry, that were reviewed.

Pre-Algebra, Algebra and Geometry {UnLock Math Reviews}

Company ~ UnLock Math 
Format ~ online homeschool math 
Ages ~ When ready for Algebra level work
UnLock Math
Social Media Links:
 ~ Facebook @UnLockMath    ~ Twitter @UnLockMath   ~ Pinterest @UnLockMath   
Crew Disclaimer
©2008 - 2017 A Stable Beginning. All rights reserved. All photographs, text, artwork, and other content may not be reproduced or transmitted in any form without the written permission of the author. 

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Apologia: How to HOMESCHOOL with Stunning Confidence, Contagious Joy, and Amazing Focus ~ a TOS review

While I am not a new homeschooler I can sure stand to learn some new tips and tricks. That’s just what happened when I received How to HOMESCHOOL with Stunning Confidence, Contagious Joy, and Amazing Focus (DVD & Coursebook) from Apologia Educational Ministries.
How to HOMESCHOOL with Stunning Confidence, Contagious Joy, and Amazing Focus (DVD & Coursebook)
Now, if you are a new homeschooler then you may not have heard of Apologia Educational Ministries so let me tell you a little about them. Apologia is one of those companies that everybody talks about and for good reason too! Apologia publishes K-12 Creation-based science and worldview curriculum for children K-12, inspirational books about homeschooling, and hosts online classes through Apologia Academy.

Taking on educating your children can seem like an overwhelming task. We are heading into our 9th year and I remember when I brought the subject of homeschooling up to my husband. It was scary, but I felt called to do it and I had a great friend show me her curriculum that she used with her girls. I was filled with questions and doubt but I knew deep down that I could do it.

The folks at Apologia have put together a great product to help all the newbies feel confident as they start there journey with this new How to Homeschool DVD and Coursebook.

The coursebook included 15 chapters that will help you get started on your homeschooling journey. Helpful topics to get you started include:

~ Join Us on the Journey 
~ How to Get the Most Out of This Course 

 Designing Your Road Map 
~ Setting Goals for the Journey 
~ Finding Support 
~ Choosing Curriculum 

 Finding Your Way 
~ Practical How-To’s (Nuts and Bolts) 
~ Organizing Your Homeschool Stuff 
~ Organizing Your Homeschool Day 
~ Tips from Veterans 

 Navigating the Detours 
~ Family Matters - Marriage 
~ Family Maters - The Rest 
~ Dealing with Opposition 

 Arriving at Your Destination 
~ High School Graduation and College 
~ If College is Not the End Game 
~ You Can Make It! 

 Beginning Your Journey 
~ Continuing Education and Encouragement Opportunities 

The 2-disk DVDs feature two veteran homeschool moms, Rachel Carmen and Leslie Nunnery, sitting down have a chat about homeschooling. The videos are short between 7-20 minutes each and feel like you are sitting down having a cup of coffee or tea.

"Never forget, God always equips us for what He calls us to do. Therefore, you can start your homeschool journey with confidence that the One who hold tomorrow also holds your children and your home school in the palm of His hand". {pg.10}

So how did I use this course as a veteran homeschooler? Quite simple really. I read the short chapter and took notes of helpful tidbits in my planner that I wanted to remember. I then would watch the DVD on my computer screen. I loved the DVD aspect of this curriculum, it was such an intimate setting and it felt like they were talking directly to me. As you work through the DVD’s and coursebook there are short assignments that help you dig a little deeper into the topic.

Everyone can use a little confidence and this course gives you just that as a new homeschooler or as a veteran too. Homeschooling is a big task but it doesn't have to be a daunting one especially when you have access to How to HOMESCHOOL with Stunning Confidence, Contagious Joy, and Amazing Focus!

Be sure to check out what my CrewMates thought of this product and the other product being reviewed, Internship for High School Credit, by clicking the banner below.

Homeschool with Confidence & Internship for High School {Apologia Educational Ministries Reviews}

Product ~ How to HOMESCHOOL with Stunning Confidence, Contagious Joy, and Amazing Focus Format ~ paperback with 2 DVDs Price ~ $49.00 
Ages ~ For moms and dads

Apologia Educational Ministries

Social Media Links: 

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©2008 - 2017 A Stable Beginning. All rights reserved. All photographs, text, artwork, and other content may not be reproduced or transmitted in any form without the written permission of the author. 

Wordless Wednesday ~ Transformer's The Last Knight

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Adventures of Rush Revere Book series ~ a TOS review

Are you looking for a fantastic book series for your kids to read? Today I am so pleased to tell you how we have been enjoying the Adventures of Rush Revere Book Series from Adventures of Rush Revere #1 New York Times Bestselling Book Series by Rush and Kathryn Adams Limbaugh.

Adventures of Rush Revere

Written by radio host Rush Limbaugh and his wife Kathryn Adams Limbaugh these books will sure to be a hit with any child who loves adventure stories. Together, Rush and Kathryn have written 5 books, Rush Revere and the Brave Pilgrims, Rush Revere and First Patriots, Rush Revere and the American Revolution, Rush Revere and the Star-Spangled Banner, and Rush Revere and the Presidency to share their passion for American history like no other books have for young readers. It’s no surprise that this series has soared to the top of New York Times Bestselling book series because they truly bring American history to life.

We are not strangers to this series as we have been fans of the books since last year when we had the privilege of getting a copy from our state homeschool convention. My 10-year-old Montana was so excited when I told her we were getting this set of books! When they arrived at our doorstep I didn’t want to untie them from their pretty bow but Montana was ready to devour them.

Each of these hard-backed books make the perfect read-aloud book or as an independent reader for a child aged 9 and up. The pages are printed on high quality, medium weight paper and come with full color illustrations of historic landmarks and paintings along with some modern pictures. Let me tell you a little about each book.

You start your journey back in time to experience life aboard the Mayflower in Book 1, Rush Revere and the Brave Pilgrims. Mr. Revere, an American history teacher, and his trusty talking horse, Liberty, spend some time aboard the Mayflower with two of his young student’s, Tommy and Freedom, time-traveling and getting to know the pilgrims journeying to the New World. On the way, they meet William Bradford, Squanto, and English military offer for the colony, Myles Standish. While in Plymouth the trio experience history first hand and discover the Who, What, When, Where, and Why. They even get the chance to build a fort, sword fight, and witness the first Thanksgiving.

 "I know, today, that this land will prosper and become a great nation. And it will remain a great nation as long as we are one nation under God." - Rush Limbaugh, [William Bradford], in Rush Revere and the Brave Pilgrims

Experience the first rumblings of American Independence in Book 2, Rush Revere and the First Patriots. This book takes you on an adventure right before the start of the American Revolution where you will meet some truly exceptional Americans like Patrick Henry and Samuel Adams. A new student, Cam, joins Rush, Liberty, Tommy, and Freedom in this book. Along your journey you will travel to London and meet King George III to attempt to convince him to stop making life so hard for the colonist. Because he won’t listen to them the quartet rush back to Boston in time to join the Boston Tea Party and make sure that snobby Elizabeth, another student, does not change history forever.

"Never let uncertainty or fear stop you. If you work hard and think big you can accomplish anything, especially in a free land like America." - Rush Limbaugh, [Benjamin Franklin], in Rush Revere and the First Patriots 

 In Book 3, Rush Revere and the American Revolution, you are immersed right in the thick of the American revolution with Rush, Liberty and the rest of the crew from Manchester Middle School. Cam is the focus in this book, as his father is deployed overseas. While his father is away his mother sees a change in Cam’s behavior. Being able to meet some of the exceptional American’s of the time like George Washington, John Hancock, and Dr. Joseph Warren, Cam truly begins to understand the meaning of freedom.

"'Is that George Washington?' Cam asked. The man was tall, with broad shoulders and looked to be in his forties. He wore a white linen shirt with a cream vest..." - Rush Limbaugh, Rush Revere and the American Revolution 

The most exciting adventures take place in the fourth book, Rush Revere and the Star-Spangled Banner. Rush Revere is back with his horse Liberty and the students from Manchester Middle School. In this book, Tommy takes center stage because his grandfather is sick. By taking a field trip to Washington D.C., Rush hopes to distract and inspire him at the same time while visiting the National monuments like the Washington Monument and The White House. During their adventures the evade the Redcoats, see a patriotic symbol saved from the burning Capitol, and see the writing of the Star-Spangled Banner.

"Tommy jerked awake and we both stood and ran out the door to the ship’s railing where we last saw Francis Scott Key. We stared across the water at Fort McHenry. The sun had just started to peek over the horizon." - Rush Limbaugh, Rush Revere and the Star-Spangled Banner

Cam decides to run for student-body president in the fifth book, Rush Revere and the Presidency. This story focuses on the American elections as well as the leadership of the early presidents such as Adams and Jefferson. Initially Cam believes winning the election will be a piece of cake, but he soon discovers that winning an election takes work. Traveling back in time helps Cam and the rest of the crew realize that winning an election and being president isn’t all about the fame and glory, but rather serving the people.

"'Well done, young man. Being president is certainly not easy but it is an honor that the people have chosen you as their leader,' President Washington said, nodding at Cam." - Rush Limbaugh, Rush Revere and the Presidency 

Overall, we have loved these books! Montana has read them individually while I have read them aloud to McKenzie and Micah. Frequently, I have found Montana curled up in a chair or on the couch reading away. Her favorite character is Liberty, the horse, and she encourages you to get a copy of these books for your family to enjoy. I love that these are quality books that bring history to life. I wish I could have learned history by reading these stories while I was growing up. History doesn’t have to be boring and these books prove it!

Be sure to check out what my CrewMates think of these books by clicking the banner below.

Adventures of Rush Revere Book Series {Reviews}

Format ~ hardcover books 
 Price ~ retails for $19.99 
Ages ~ family read-aloud or independently for 9 and up.
Adventures of Rush Revere
Adventures of Rush Revere
Social Media Links: 

Facebook @rushrevere   ~ Twitter @rushrevere ~YouTube  

Crew Disclaimer

©2008 - 2017 A Stable Beginning. All rights reserved. All photographs, text, artwork, and other content may not be reproduced or transmitted in any form without the written permission of the author. 

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Wordless Wednesday

©2008 - 2017 A Stable Beginning. All rights reserved. All photographs, text, artwork, and other content may not be reproduced or transmitted in any form without the written permission of the author. 

Friday, June 9, 2017

MarshMedia ~ a TOS review

Have you ever wished you had access to the educational videos that you may remember watching as a school-aged child. I had a public school education and have fond memories of the days when the teacher would forgo lessons and pop a video in instead. Today I would like to introduce you to MarshMedia a company that produces health education products mainly for use in schools but would like to start reach out to the homeschool community with a Homeschool Special.

Health Education Products for K-8 {MarshMedia }

MarshMedia offers a wide variety of educational videos that cover topics such as hygiene, health and safety, immune system disorders, nutrition, bullies, head lice, and puberty education. If I have stopped you right in your tracks with the puberty education, its not what you think! The focus is not on sexual education but rather a wide scope of puberty in general and how the body begins to change.
Health Education Products for K-8 {MarshMedia }

Many of the puberty videos are separated by boys and girls and are meant to be watched separately. The videos use the real medical terms to talk about the changes that begin to happen to the body and not slang words or silly made up names. Their puberty educational videos are what the company is known for and they handle it in a tactful way in my opinion. All of the videos range about 15 minutes and leave room for discussion at the end if you so choose to do so with your children.

Health Education Products for K-8 {MarshMedia }

My younger girls and I took advantage of watching the video about Taking care of your skin, hair, and nails. We learned all about the skin and how germs can be spread. Montana, is especially sensitive to mosquitos so the parts on insect bites and poison ivy were insightful and helpful. This video is geared towards kids K-3 but Montana was able to get something out of it since she is a rising 5th grader.

Health Education Products for K-8 {MarshMedia }

Right now you, as a homeschooler, are in luck to take full advantage of their Homeschool Special. In short you can receive access to all 59 videos MarshMedia has for just $50. And the best part is that you can watch the videos as many times as you would like without restriction! The Homeschool Special gives you access to the videos until the end of December 2017 so it’s a really good deal to take advantage of. If you wish to take advantage of the opportunity to introduce the MarshMedia curriculum to your home schooler(s) click on the link below for more information: "

Be sure to check out what my CrewMates think of these educational videos by clicking the banner below.

MarshMedia Reviews

Company ~ MarshMedia 
Format ~ online streaming videos 
Price ~ $50.00 subscription until Dec 2017
Ages ~ elementary and up
Health Education Products for K-8 {MarshMedia }
Social Media Links:
 • Facebook Twitter @Marsh_Media  •  Google+  •  YouTube

Crew Disclaimer

©2008 - 2017 A Stable Beginning. All rights reserved. All photographs, text, artwork, and other content may not be reproduced or transmitted in any form without the written permission of the author. 

Thursday, June 8, 2017

K5 Learning ~ a TOS review

We have been using a supplemental online program for math and reading from K5 Learning to shore up my younger children’s math and reading lessons. With K5 Learning you can help your child unlock his or her potential by using the math, reading, and spelling activities the website provides.

We received a 6-month subscription to K5 Learning for this review. K5 Learning is an online program that can be used to help your child review topics in math, reading, and spelling that they already know and improve on areas they have a bit of a weakness in. For this review we only focused on the math and reading portions. In all of the lessons available, the program is able to customize the learning experience based on your child’s skill level, not just grade level so you get a truly tailored program just in the areas your child needs help in. At the same time study habits are introduced to help the child fine tune those areas too.
K5 Learning

K5 Learning is geared towards students in Kindergarten through 5th grade. The sign up process was easy through the user friendly website. If you would like to try it before you buy it there is a FREE 14-day trial (no credit card needed) to get a feel for the courses. Upon starting the learning activities your child will need to take the assessments. These detailed assessments will test eight key reading and math skills to give you a personalized learning program including:

5 Key Reading Skills:
 • Phonemic Awareness – identifying individual sounds in spoken words.
 • Phonics – written letters and spoken sounds. 
• Sight Words – recognizing high frequency words .
 • Vocabulary - understanding words and constructing meaning from their context.
 • Reading Comprehension – understanding of fiction and non-fiction reading materials. 

3 Key Math Skills:
 • Numbers and Operations –  counting through fractions and beyond.
 • Measurement Concepts –  telling time and counting money. 
• Geometry –  characteristics and properties of geometric shapes.

I used this supplemental online program with my two youngest daughters, Montana, rising 5th grader, and McKenzie, a rising 2nd grader. I choose to test them at their rising grade levels instead of their current grade levels so I could get a feel as to what we needed to work more on over the summer weeks.
K5 Learning

I am just going to be honest right here and let you know that when Montana took the assessment tests she was not in a good mood. We have been dealing with attitudes and heart issues over the last few months and she did not give the assessments her all. In return, the assessments came back at low levels for her. I struggled with whether I should have her retake the assessments or to just let her progress from where the program started her. After talking with my husband, we decided she would start where the program assessed her at.

K5 Learning
Yes, the work was too easy for her but she had made the choice to not give it her all when completing the assessments and she needed to own up to it. She has made great strides in getting back on level and I am pleased to say her progress report says her reading comprehension and vocabulary is between Intermediate to High 5th grade level. Her overall reading score is also within the 5th grade range at 535.

McKenzie on the other hand loves computer time. She was eager to do her lessons on this site everyday, so much to the point I would have to tell her that her time was up. She frequently would log in and do lessons when it was her free time play. Her reading has improved so much and while she is not quite at 2nd grade reading level she is oh so close. For the math portion she is at 2nd grade level and I see from the reports that she is not as strong in measurements.

Overall, we have enjoyed this program! I love the detailed reports this program gives because it lets me know the areas we need to focus on a little bit more on to get the girls on track. With the 14-day FREE trial I think you should definitely check this program out. You have nothing to lose but everything to gain because it is FREE for two weeks. The assessments alone are a valuable asset to making sure your child is on the right track during the school year.

K5 Learning

Click the banner below to see what my CrewMates think about K5 Learning.

K5 Learning {Reviews}

Company ~ K5 Learning 
Product ~ Online programs ~ K5 Reading, K5 Math, and K5 Spelling 
Format ~ Online Price ~ $14.95/month or $119/year for the first child, $9.95/month or $79/year for each additionial child 
Ages ~ K-5th grade

K5 Learning
Social Media Links:

Crew Disclaimer

©2008 - 2017 A Stable Beginning. All rights reserved. All photographs, text, artwork, and other content may not be reproduced or transmitted in any form without the written permission of the author.