Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Latin for Children (Classical Academic Press) (TOS Review)

My girls learn a smattering of Latin every week in co-op and I’ve been searching for a way to reinforce and add to that knowledge at home.

Confession time – Latin intimidates me.  Clarification – both teaching Latin and  learning Latin intimidates me.  Hence, there’s been little reinforcement of Latin at home, other than our basic memory work.   

Until now.

Enter Latin for Children by Classical Academic Press, our latest review product as a member of the TOS review crew.  As soon as I learned we’d been chosen to review the program, I viewed product samples from the website – and loved what I saw.

Product Details

  We received the Mastery Bundle for Latin For Children A, which includes one copy of one copy of each: Primer A (textbook), Primer A Answer Key, DVDs & Chant CD, History Reader and Activity Book and retails for $99.95 (a savings of almost $18 over purchasing the items individually at regular price).  Latin for Children is targeted for students in grades 3-5.  In Primer A the students are taught 240 Latin words.   Each lesson is taught on the DVD, and the vocabulary is reinforced on the chant CD.  Each lesson on the DVD (32) is about 15 minutes long.

The suggested schedule, available here, recommends 30 minutes a day, 5 days a week.  With all of the girls’ outside activities, I decided to spread the five lessons over two weeks. 

The Primer A (textbook) is the "heart" of the program.  It includes 32 chapters filled with grammatical explanations, with exercises, tests and a large reference section, and includes mnemonic aids to help the students remember the material.  You can view a sample here.

The Primer A Answer Key features the actual full-size worksheets from the Primer, with answers to quizzes, exercises and worksheets in bold print.  You can view a sample here.

DVDs & Chant CD - Set in the author's office, the DVD offers a one-on-one teaching experience to your students.  Better yet, Dr. Perrin's Latin students will lead your Latin students through the memory work, complete with motions and songs.  The text from the Primer appears on the screen making it easy to follow along.  The CD includes grammar and vocabulary chants. The set includes 3 DVDs and 2 CDs.  You can listen to a sample of the CD and watch a sample lesson here (scroll down to the middle of the page and look for "samples").

 The History Reader  includes a selection of simple (yet challenging) Latin stories, integrated with the grammar and vocabulary taught in the Primer.  The reader also corresponds with the Ancient Greece and Rome Veritas Press history cards.  Includes a glossary at the end of the book.  It is suggested that the reader not be utilized until the student has finished the first half of the course.  You can view a sample here.


Last but not least, the Activity Book, in workbook format with 32 chapters to correspond with the Primer.  Provides extra practice for your student through games, puzzles, mazes, crossword puzzles - and it's just plain fun!  You can view a sample here


Classical Academic Press also offers other Latin products to enhance your student's (or your!) study of Latin. 

What I like

After a while, I would hear the girls sing the chants in their spare time.

I like that it focuses on the grammar aspect, not simply rote memorization of Latin vocabulary. 

The girls enjoyed the teaching on the DVDs.

The program is flexible in many ways.  With the DVDs, the children can learn fairly independently (although I highly recommend not doing this, I believe it *is* possible).  You can do the program *without* the DVDs if cost is an issue, but it's tremendously easier to have the audio and visual components.

I like that with the mastery bundle you're appealing to lots of different learning styles - auditory (DVD/CD), visual (DVD), kinesthetic (activity book). 

The activity book is fun and engaging - much more so than I would expect from a Latin workbook.

Love that the history reader somewhat correlates with the Veritas Press history cards.  We have been memorizing the VP timeline in our co-op, so that's just a bonus reinforcement for our co-op memory work! Caveat, though - we did not actually use the history reader, as it is recommended not to begin using it until about halfway through the first year of study of Latin. Note too that the readers were not designed to be easy reading, but instead to challenge the student's knowledge of Latin grammar and vocabulary.

I wish…

I had found this program sooner.  Seriously.

They would do a program like this for German. 

Watch out for

The first decision was which pronunciation to use – ecclesiastical or classical.  We chose classical because that’s what is used in our co-op. 

The chants go very fast.  After a couple times through you get used to it, but initially it seems as though you'll never be able to keep up.  My girls picked up on the English part quickly, but took a little longer to be able to quickly chant the Latin.  Perhaps that is to be expected but at first, until we became accustomed to the speed, it was slightly frustrating.

Be sure to

Check out the other Latin programs  offered by Classical Academic Press - Song School Latin for younger students (primary target age is K-2), two other levels of Latin for Children, and Latin Alive! for more advanced students.  They also offer products for other languages (I now have Greek for Children on my wish list!) You can view their 2011 catalog here.

Read out these great articles by Karen Moore - one on why to study Latin, and one on how to teach Latin.

Check out all the free resources!

Check the FAQ here.  Note the FAQ includes a comparison chart between Latin for Children and another popular Latin curriculum.

Visit Headventureland!  A fun website that offers games, videos and other ways to assist in learning Latin (and other languages)! 

Final thoughts

We have been extremely blessed by being on the crew this year, one of the main blessings being all the great products we've been introduced to.  This product, Latin for Children, is very close to the top (if not at the top) of my list.  I predict we will continue with the next two volumes of Latin for Children and then move on to Latin Alive!

Thoughts of my crew mates

To see other reviews of this product and others by Classical Academic Press, click here. For giveaways, other product reviews and other fun things, follow the 2010-2011 TOS Homeschool Crew blog at:


Disclaimer: As part of the 2010-2011 TOS Homeschool Review Crew, I received the product described in this review at no cost in exchange for my fair, honest and unbiased (and not necessarily positive) review. No other compensation was received.


Friday, March 25, 2011

Big IQ Kids (TOS Review)


Hours - that's how long the girls would spend playing mindless computer games if I'd let them.

Much to their dismay, I don't.  They have a 30-minute limit for games, and they're only allowed to play a limited selection of pre-screened games.   With certain exceptions, they don't think spending 30 minutes doing school subjects online is nearly as fun.

Our latest review product is the best of both worlds - part game, part educational.  Actually, mostly educational, since even the games teach.  I received two one-year premium memberships to Big IQ Kids to review (the girls were thrilled they didn't have to share!).   When this program was announced (before the review list was posted), I allowed Punkin to try it out.  After that, she asked me when I was going to purchase a subscription for her - and she asked every single day.  

Product Details

Big IQ kids covers four subjects - spelling, math facts, vocabulary and (the girls' favorite) U.S. States.  It is targeted to K-8 students, and is designed for use every day.   Click here for basic information, here to read how it works, and watch the following video for a great introduction to Big IQ Kids:

The spelling and vocabulary programs come pre-loaded with 40 lessons.  You can modify the lessons to use spelling or vocabulary words from your own curriculum, or simply add words to one of the pre-loaded lists. The program will take each word list and create a weeks' worth of study/spelling practice with that list, including daily lessons and quizzes, and a test at the end of the week.

The math program is also easily customizable.  The parent can specify the percentage of each mathematical operation (and also the percentage of various topics within each operation) which will appear in the lesson, which allows for targeted learning.  You can also specify the number of daily problems.  The math program also has a really cool interactive "white board" and pencil that the girls loved to play with.

The girls' favorite was the U.S. States Program.  This program teaches/tests state location, state capital, state spelling and state abbreviation.  There is also a great interactive map - click on a state, and the "tutor" discusses such things as state capital, state size, nickname, main industries, fun fact, etc.  For example, for Texas, the "fun fact" was that it is illegal to put graffiti on someone else's cow.  (I'm not kidding - that's what it said!)  You can also add other info to your state's summary information.

As if the student isn't motivated to do his/her lessons simply because of the sheer fun of it, further motivation  is provided in the form of games when they complete a lesson.  Students can also be part of the "100% club" when they receive 100% on a quiz. 

Memberships are offered at varying costs, but you can also use many of the features for free. Subscription prices vary, and are per student. - starting at $3.33/month for the U.S. States program, to $99.99 for twelve months' access to all four programs.  A classroom option is also available.  Learn about the pricing options and compare the features of the free and premium levels here, or watch the following video:

What I like

I like that the girls could do this program independently.  The life of a homeschool mom is often hectic - Big IQ Kids provided a welcome respite for me.   I don't make it a habit, but it is nice to have something that they can do independently.  (Note that I"m not sure this would apply with the free version, since we did not try out the free version.)

They think I'm even more awesome for letting them "play".  (Shhh - it's our little secret that it's educational) 

I like that you can customize the spelling list and the vocabulary list to fit your current curriculum. 

The girls were excited to use this program, which leads to them being excited to learn - one of the goals of most homeschool moms I know. 

Love the tracking feature that comes with the premium feature. When the girls finish a section, I get an e-mail telling me how they did!  I can also access more detailed progress reports within each of the girls' subscriptions.

I like that I can customize the grade levels in each program.  Have a child at 5th grade level in math, but 3rd grade level in spelling?  No problem! 

There is an easy way to report errors - just a click of a button, and you can let the vendor know something needs correcting.  Some of my crew mates did this, and got quick responses! 

I wish…

At first I wished the computerized voice sounded a little less robotic - but you quickly become accustomed to it. 

I wish their home page wasn't quite so "busy".  But it appeals to my girls, so I guess that's what's important! 

Watch out for

The free version will have advertisements in some places.

Be sure to

Check out the other freebies (including games) on their website at their home page. 

Read about their awards and media coverage here

Sign up for the newsletter here

Check out this "Back to School Guide - 10 Steps to Better Grades".  Good info for both homeschooling parents and parents of public schooled children.

View the informational/training videos here

Final thoughts

The girls loved this program, and I feel comfortable and confident with allowing them to use it independently.  I believe we will make good use of the two one-year premium subscriptions we received, and then we will  most likely renew.

Thoughts of my crew mates

To see other reviews of this product, click here. For giveaways, other product reviews and other fun things, follow the 2010-2011 TOS Homeschool Crew blog at:

Disclaimer: As part of the 2010-2011 TOS Homeschool Review Crew, I received the product described in this review at no cost in exchange for my fair, honest and unbiased (and not necessarily positive) review. No other compensation was received.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Who is God? And Can I Really Know Him? (Apologia) (TOS Review)

We initially began homeschooling out of necessity, in an effort to protect the health of Punkin due to her severe food allergies.  Over the course of several years, our reasons changed to the "usual" ones you hear - better education, more time together as a family and, most importantly to us now, the ability to instill our own values and faith into our children.  Our hope is to grow little disciples that can influence the world for Christ.  Of primary importance to me in that effort is to instill a worldview into my girls.  I had somewhat put that task on the backburner until they're older simply because I hadn't found a resource that I liked that I could use at their ages.
Enter Apologia Press (a division of Apologia Educational Ministries, Inc.).  We have always loved Apologia's Elementary Science curriculum. When I heard that Apologia Press had partnered with Summit Ministries and was publishing the "What We Believe" series, I was thrilled, expecting the quality of product I'm accustomed to from Apologia.  When my purchase of the series was delayed, and when I then I heard that as part of the TOS Homeschool Review Crew we'd get to review the first book in the series, "Who is God? (And Can I Really Know Him?)", I was thrilled.

First, thank you Apologia Press - this series is fabulous.

Product Details

Who is God? (And Can I Really Know Him?) is the first book in a planned four-book series.  The second book, Who am I? (And What Am I Doing Here?) is available now.  The third book, Who Is My Brother? (And Why Do We Need Each Other?) is scheduled to be available later this year, and the fourth book, What on Earth Can I Do?, will be available in 2012.

I normally don't cut/paste from a vendor's website during a review, but I can't say it any better than Apologia Press says it on their website:

Regarding the series:  Our children are bombarded on a daily basis with competing messages. Every song, movie, book, TV show, blog, and game is full of ideas—ideas about truth, morality, beauty, identity, faith, and more. Not all of these ideas are true. Some are wrong, some are deceptive, and some are outright destructive. It is more important than ever that young children be equipped to discern among competing ideas and stand in the truth. This is why Apologia has teamed with Summit Ministries to bring you the "What We Believe" Series. The "What We Believe" Series is an outstanding way to teach your child the essential beliefs of the Christian faith, but it’s so much more! With this student-directed, Bible-based curriculum, your children will learn how to use Scripture as a lens through which to view the world around them—to see everything the way God sees it—and know the truth.  

Regarding the first book:   Who is God? (And Can I Really Know Him?) introduces the concept of worldview while laying the foundational truths upon which the evangelical Christian worldview is built: God is truth and He reveals His truth to people; He is the one true and almighty God; He is the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit; He created everything; we are God’s children and are made to love and to praise Him; God meets all our needs; sin keeps us from God; and Jesus is the only way to God. 

The book is a beautiful, hard-bound, 252-page book targeted to ages 6-14 which contains ten lessons and retails for $39.  It is recommended that each lesson be covered for two weeks, three days per week.  Each lesson contains several key sections:

1 -The Big Idea - an introduction to the main topic of the lesson.

2 - What You Will Do: learning objectives for the lesson.

3 - Short Story: gives your children a peek into the lives of children around your children's age with differing world views, and who work through the issues in the story by seeking counsel through the Bible and their parents. The story allows your children to see what holding a worldview looks like in action.

4 - Think About It: questions that reinforce the story and which encourage your children to think about the issues in the story plus allow you to check for comprehension.

5 - Words You Need To Know: vocabulary words used in the story, including their definitions, that your children can use in their notebooking exercises.  

6 - Hide it in Your Heart: Two recommended memory verses:  one to reinforce the Biblical theme of the lesson, the other to focus on a related character trait.  

7 - Integrated Learning: interesting articles related to the main text which will allow you and your children to connect and pursue the book's ideas/concepts in other fields of study.  

8 - What Should I do?- it's not just enough to know the material in the lesson, so this section helps your child learn to apply what they've learned to their own life.  

 9 - Prayer: allows your family to acknowledge the attributes of God and to simply thank Him for who He is.

10 - Worldview Study - helps your child understand why they believe what they believe which will help them understand why others believe the way they do, which leads to more effective communication of the truth of Christ.  

11 - House of Truth - a hands on memory aid, the House of Truth is a model constructed one step at a time, giving the child a concrete visual of thinking about his life within the Kingdom of God.

What I like

When you purchase the book, you're given the password key to a wealth of supplemental information:  teacher helps for all ten lessons, notebooking

I like that the girls were immediately drawn to the studies in this book.  I love that they ask to do it.  Praise Him!

I love the layout of the book.  It's simple to follow.  It's made for self-study for children in the older range, so the girls will just take it and keep reading.  But I'm selfish - I want to read with both of them, because I want to learn too.

It's easily adaptable for children in the entire suggested age range, but I can see that it could also be used for children outside that age range.  I'm enjoying it, and I'm certainly outside the suggested ages.

I love that finally, at my age, I'm able to start cultivating my own worldview through this book - something that has been lacking in me.   

The "Think About It" questions have spurred some very interesting, entertaining, and in-depth conversations about God and faith and the belief systems of others - all of which, I believe, are strengthening my faith and that of my girls. 

I like pretty much everything about this book.

I wish…

I could find the three-dimensional model for the House of Truth!  It is supposed to be available from Summit Ministries, but I haven't been able to find it.  I think the hands-on visual would really help the girls.

Watch out for

The suggested schedule - don't feel like you're tied to it, as it's merely a suggestion.  Basically we ignored it, and just read until we felt like we were at a good stopping point.  It was hard for us to take two weeks for each lesson - when it was time to stop, we all wanted to just keep studying.  What a blessing!

Be sure to

Review the Table of Contents here

Preview the first chapter here

Check out the FAQ here

View the 2011 catalog of Apologia Educational Ministries, Inc. here.  The catalog includes some complementary products (audio CD, coloring book and notebooking journal) which are due to be released this spring.

Final thoughts

I love this study.  My girls love this study.  It has given me confidence that I can teach my girls about having a worldview without previously having one myself (and I can learn right along with them, which will be a precious memory).  I foresee us purchasing, using and loving all the books in this series, along with some of the complementary products.

Thoughts of my crew mates

To see other reviews of this product, click here. For giveaways, other product reviews and other fun things, follow the 2010-2011 TOS Homeschool Crew blog at:

Disclaimer: As part of the 2010-2011 TOS Homeschool Review Crew, I received the product described in this review at no cost in exchange for my fair, honest and unbiased (and not necessarily positive) review. No other compensation was received.