Friday, June 9, 2017

Marsh Media ~ Review

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 reach out to the homeschool community.


Our family was given access to the suite of health and puberty videos that MarshMedia have available in order to bring this review to you.

What is MarshMedia

The company creates educational products, mainly based around puberty and health for children and young teens and up until now have primarily created these for schools. The company has put together a great plan though in an effort to reach out to the homeschool community!

The company was originally founded in 1969 and whilst the ownership has changed hands during that time their purpose has always remained the same. That is to provide quality, engaging and educational health videos to children from grades K through to 8.

The MarshMedia suite covers topics such as
  • Health
  • Hygiene
  • Safety
  • Puberty
  • Head Lice
  • Immune System Disorders
  • Nutrition
  • Character Education
  • Social Skills and more
MarshMedia points out that their video's do not discuss sex education, although the terminology is referred to within puberty and health education. I watched these videos mostly with my 8 year old son and was pleased to find nothing that was inappropriate for him to see.


Health Education Products for K-8 {MarshMedia }


How Did We Use MarshMedia

After logging on I spent some time browsing the various titles available as there was quite a range to choose from.


We watched several of the videos in the hygiene section, the Keep It Clean video was particularly useful, with a teen boy in the house they can always use a little reminder. The video featured a small group of teens singing and chanting with a catchy 'rap' feeling tune. The video covered a huge amount of information around keeping clean and why it is important, but because it was presented in this fashion it wasn't arduous to watch in any way.




Nutrition and safety are topics we discuss around here quite a lot, but having the video option to present the information in a slightly different fashion was a welcome change.


Whilst we didn't access the videos in the Special Needs area I was pleasantly surprised to see them available.

I have not shared images of everything available, these are just a cross section of what you will find in the range.

What We Didn't Like

I personally felt that the website as whole could be a little more user friendly, but after a bit of poking around I did get to everything I needed.

My eldest teen felt some of the videos were a little childish, but he is above the targeted age range.

What We Did Like

That we could quickly and easily access videos relating to just about any health topic a child may need. I didn't need to go googling I knew that all of the information would be presented in the videos here.

Further Details

MarshMedia are currently offering homeschooling families access to unlimited viewing of 59 videos for only $50 USD. To find out all of the details visit the Homeschool Offer page on their website.

MarshMedia Links

Facebook
Twitter
Google+
You Tube

If you would like to see more reviews about this product simply click on the image below


MarshMedia Reviews


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Wednesday, June 7, 2017

K5 Learning ~ Review

These past few weeks we've been using an online program from K5 Learning to supplement my son's math and reading lessons. Our family have been given a subscription to K5 Learning in order to provide this review.

What is K5 Learning

K5 Learning is an online portal created to supplement reading, math and spelling for children undertaking grades K through to 5. It is not a complete curriculum. If your child could use a little extra help though, this may be the thing for them.

The site includes assessments in both reading and math, which the child takes before diving in to any lessons. This gives the parent a good overview of where they are at and allows the program to work out exactly where to place the student and what to have them cover.

The lessons are all online using nice quality animated videos. There are also worksheets that can be printed as you go along.

 K5 Reading includes:

    Phonemic Awareness
    Phonics
    Sight Words
    Vocabulary
    Reading Comprehension

K5 Math includes:

    Numbers & Operations
    Measurement
    Geometry
    Data Analysis
    Algebraic Thinking

K5 Spelling includes:

    Adaptive instruction
    Optimized visual interface
    150,000 word database


The Assessment Component

I really liked how thorough this part of the program was. The assessment took around 30 minutes although the child does not need to sit and complete it in one sitting. On completion of each assessment (one for math and one for reading) you will receive an email which not only gives you a grade score but also breaks down the subject areas.

For example depending on how the student goes with their assessment their breakdown would look something like this ---->

Overall Reading Score: Below 2nd Grade Range

The Overall Reading score is based on student performance in phonemic awareness, phonics, sight words, vocabulary and reading comprehension.
Placement

We have now placed Student X at the following levels in our reading lessons: 


Phonemic Awareness             Exempt
Phonics                                  High 1st Grade
Sight Words                           Early 3rd Grade
Vocabulary                            Mid 2nd Grade
Reading Comprehension      Mid K

After completing the math assessment a similar report is emailed to you.

The parent area of the program also keeps you well informed of what your child is completing and how they are scoring in each particular area.



How We Used K5 Learning

My son doesn't generally enjoy many programs that cover language arts skills online, he prefers to do those more traditionally with me, however he worked through his lessons on K5 Learning without any complaints at all.

I believe this is due to the fact that they are highly colourful, engaging and kept relatively short. On most occasions he would complete 2 - 3 mini lessons in one sitting, several times a week.

The program remembers everything, so each time he logged on it simply gave him the next lesson that he needed to complete regardless of where he left off last time. For our busy lifestyle this has to be one of the most important considerations for me. My child must be able to log on themselves and know exactly what they need to be doing without needing me to get them set up. So of course I loved this part of the program.

What We Didn't Like

Unfortunately, being here in Australia, meant that some of the math components didn't work for us so we did mainly stick to the reading section of the site. This was the area I wanted my son to work on the most anyway.

What We Did Like

I loved that K5 Learning includes the assessment, it shows just how much work has gone into creating this program and I know that each lesson is going to be targeted exactly where it is needed. My son loved that it was quick and easy to use. We've never had a moment of frustration with the site, everything has always worked as it should.

Looking Ahead

We have a six month subscription to K5 Learning and I can't wait to see where he is by the end of that period. This program has gone into the basket to seriously consider purchasing our own subscription.



Further Details

K5 Learning offer a 14 day free trial, which does allow you take the assessments and use the program for the full 14 days.

Follow them on social media to find out more --->



If you would to read other reviews about this program simply click on the image below.


K5 Learning {Reviews}


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Sunday, May 7, 2017

Give A Kid A Camera



And watch their observational skills soar!

In this day and age of digital madness it's so hard to get kids outside, engaging with the natural world around them.

But add in a little piece of technology and they might just be immersed for hours!

Give them a camera so they can record what they observe.

We recently spent some time on a local island and whilst they had to share the one spare camera we have, all three kids got into some serious nature photography.

They spent an incredible amount of time wandering, engaged, observing and capturing what they saw.

My teen is teaching himself the manual settings, with a few pointers from mum and dad, when he asks. The younger two are content with the automatic setting.

I have so many images to sort through and those are the ones just from the kids. Far too many to share them all with you, but here's a few.

The following four images were taken by our 15 year old.



Love how my teen captured this. Starfish were everywhere on low tide, along the shoreline and they look fabulous in the sunset.


So ok, not exactly a nature shot but playing around with the light and his little brother during a glorious Moreton Island sunset.


You can't visit Moreton and not watch the sun set over the famous wrecks.


He was even lucky enough to capture this guy whilst we were out on the water.

The next five images were taken by my 12 year old.


She was enraptured with the starfish. There are several images of them taken by her.


Playing around with her little brother. She had my camera for this one.


Of course the obligatory, toes with a starfish photo simply must make an appearance.


These guys get battered around by the surf and many of them get flipped from crashing waves. Their undersides though are mesmerising to look at it.


She also managed to snap the only crab photo of the entire trip!

Our 8 year old barely went anywhere without the camera hanging from his neck. Consequently I now have a plethora of images that he took. The following nine are all from him.


We were so lucky to pass by a pod of dolphins on our way over to the island. They were quick and he was lucky to even grab this shot.


This sunset he snapped directly out in front of our villa. What a beauty!


Behind us was a smallish tropical rainforest inspired garden, which he spent a bit of time in.


This little guy sat and posed for him for ages.


And because everyone else was doing it, he thought he should too!


Once again there are heaps of starfish photo's, but I particularly like this one.


A view through the glass bottom boat.


This little guy was found sitting in the trees just out the front of our room.

Once again in the garden at the back of our room.

Taking these truly helped each of them to observe so much more than if they would have done by simply walking around. I hope to get some of these added to our hand drawn nature journals soon.

If you would like to see more of what we got up to on the island please follow along with our family adventure blog.

Happy Homeschooling,
Kylie

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Digital Savvy ~ Review

In this age of technology it is really important for our students to understand fundamental computing topics so I knew I had to review the new Digital Savvy course from CompuScholar, Inc. My teen has been using the information technology course, 'Digital Savvy' which we were given access to for the purposes of this review.

What is Digital Savvy.

CompuScholar, Inc formerly known as Homeschool Programming has a range of computer courses aimed at middle and high school aged students.

Digital Savvy is aimed at grades 6 - 12 and is an overall Information Technology course. It aims to teach the students about computers, various applications, it explores social media, has them creating simple web pages.

The topics covered in the Digital Savvy course are:
  • Hardware, software, and operating systems
  • Managing files and folders
  • Basic networking
  • Online safety and computer security
  • Using Word processors, spreadsheets, and presentation programs
  • Creating simple databases
  • Image editing
  • Using social media and email communications
  • Introductory website design
  • Simple computer programming concepts
  • Exploration of computing careers

This is exactly the sort of course I have been wanting my teen to undertake.  A good overview of all things I.T and so far this course has been valuable to him.

How We Have Used Digital Savvy

This has been one of the easiest to use programs we have come across in a very long time. It is so well laid out and navigation is a real breeze. As a user you really can't get anything wrong.

After logging in to the program and selecting the Digital Savvy Course we were greeted with the screen below. There are a total of 25 Chapters in the course.

Each chapter contains several lessons, a brief quiz at the end of each lesson. A culminating activity and chapter exam is also included.

It really is as simple as log in and get started right where you left off the previous day.

Below I have shared a series of screenshots showing the progression through the program.


After logging into the Digital Savvy Course you are met with the chapters screen. Digital Savvy contains a total of 25 chapters.



The lessons within each chapter are again very simple to navigate to. Each lesson contains a video and a quiz. All of the quizzes are graded.
 


At the end of each chapter (approximately 3 - 5 lessons) is a culminating activity or project. These are submitted to the teacher (parent) for grading and the grades are stored along with each of the lesson quizzes.



On completion of all the lessons and the activity for each chapter is a longer multiple choice test, which once again, this is graded.

What We Didn't Like

My son and have been chatting about this and there really isn't anything he doesn't like about the course. Some of it he already knows but that will be the case with many things he undertakes. Whilst he still is only in the early chapters the short lessons and ease of use really make this such a simple subject for him and a very hands off one for me.

What We Did Like

For me as the teacher/parent I love that this is completely graded. All of his scores are kept and he can see his grades for each test immediately. He also has the option of repeating the test if he wishes to try and improve his score.


To use the program effectively we need nothing other than our computer and a decent internet connection. Every now and then a pen and paper and a word processing program is required but the bulk of the course is completed through the course itself.


As a busy mum with younger kids in the house that need my attention having the teen able to work independently, even on new to us courses, is such a blessing.



Looking Ahead

Without a doubt we will continue working our way through this course to completion and I am very confident that I will have my other children take the Digital Savvy Course also as it is great computer science basics course.

Further Details

Payment options for courses are either month by month or year long access. To find out more details about this program be sure to visit the Compuscholar, Inc website. You can also find them on your favourite social media channels. Facebook -
https://www.facebook.com/CompuScholar Twitter -  https://twitter.com/CompuScholar

If you would like to read other reviews about the various courses offered simply click on the image below.


Digital Savvy, Web Design & Java Programming {CompuScholar,Inc Reviews}



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Thursday, April 6, 2017

Ex Tropical Cyclone Debbie Aftermath


We recently experienced one of the worst natural disasters our local area has seen in a very long time. I personally have no memory of anything ever hitting our area as hard as this.

In less than 30 hours our area had 890 mm of rain dropped on us. No wonder it had nowhere to go.



We though, are the lucky ones and whilst being placed on a possible evacuation list was mightily scary our only real threat was that of surrounding roads being cut off.


And cut off they were and still are. The above three images are from a road that we use almost daily. The sheer force of the water is simply unimaginable.



This is a major bridge and thoroughfare for our area and we cross this bridge at least once a week. It is an area of the river that floods regularly, but that happens way down below the bridge, across the old original bridge that is much closer to the actual river flow height.


This newer bridge is several metres higher than the flow of the river and has received extensive structural damage.



For water to bend a light pole is simply mind blowing.


The kids could not believe their eyes and this was absolutely hands down the best way to show them the reasons why they never ever enter flood water or try to cross a bridge that is covered with flood water.

We simply have no idea what is under that water and whether the bridge is even actually still there, as happened a few kilometers from us.

So whilst we certainly didn't want to experience a natural distaster on this scale and my heart breaks for everyone that has been so severely affected by this, it truly is education at it's best.

Eyes glued to the weather radar, watching the cyclone, tracking it's moves, discussing the eye and then watching how it breaks up as it heads south.

Then sitting through the torrential rain, only to wake and see the worst flooding we've seen right across the road from us.

Nature's fury right there in all its glory.



The vast majority of the time flooding creates nothing but havoc and devastation but every so often it creates a beautiful scene and the stillness of what appeared to simply be a lake was quite beautiful, except that it was covering a road, had entered several houses in this area and took lives, both animal and human.

Simply heartbreaking.

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Creating A Masterpiece ~ Review

We are currently receiving excellent fine art lessons via the monthly plan from Creating A Masterpiece. Our family has been access to this online program in return for our honest review.


What Is Creating A Masterpiece.

C.A.M is an online subscription based fine arts program, that is suitable for students of all ages. We were provided access to the Monthly Plan option.

The video lessons are presented by the artist herself, in an easy to follow step by step manner.

All the lessons are broken into appropriate levels so that you can easily assess the difficulty of which level would best suit the child.

In all there are six levels, plus an art history section, to choose from. Within each level are several art projects all using a wide variety of mediums.

This is not an arts and crafts or simplistic art projects program. This is a fine arts program designed for school age students. 

How We Have Used The Program.


When we were first given our family access to C.A.M we immediately set out to explore the site. There is a large number of projects for the children to choose from. After a good look around in each level, watching a few video snippets and downloading the printable supply sheets for a couple of the projects, we settled on choosing an introductory level lesson.

 Lessons In Watercolour: Floral Medley

This particular lesson was broken into three step by step videos and it required drying time before moving on to the next step in the video lessons. 

Sharon, the artist, walks the students through every step of the process. At first we tried to keep up with her, only pausing the video when we needed. We quickly realised for us it was better to watch the video all the way through and to then go back and begin the lesson ourselves, referring back to the video when required.

From there we moved on to a lesson using oil pastels.

 Lesson In Oil Pastel: Winter Cabin

This was a longer lesson with four videos in all, which the kids chose to complete over a couple of days.  Each lesson also includes a section with hints and tips to assist you in getting the best out of the video lessons.

My teen decided to tackle one of the lessons with something a little more challenging for him. He does enjoy his art and seems to me to have a natural flair and this program is a good fit for him to be able to work quietly and independently.

 Lesson In Soft Pastel: Country Rooster

As I type he is sitting across from me on the other computer browsing the lessons for his next choice.

What We Didn't Like


There's actually not a lot we didn't like about this program. If I had to pick something it would be that my youngest does not thrive in this type of video based art instruction. This is the third program of a similar nature that we have tried and I have come to realise that for now at least this type of art instruction is not for him. 

He finds it all quite overwhelming, the watching, the doing, the remembering it all and then add in the fact that his piece never looks like the piece in the video and he simply doesn't enjoy it. My eldest two though are fine working with a video based instruction program, so you just need to really know your kids.


What We Did Like


The variety of what was on offer and the depth at which the student can go if they wish. Some of those upper level pieces are really quite involved, so even some of the most accomplished artists will not be bored here.

The fact that this is true art. It is not craft. It is not cookie cutter art either, that you often see in other programs.  

Now that we have settled in to the program I love simply adding 'art' to the list of topics to be completed this week and my eldest two can get themselves online and choose their own project and complete it entirely on their own.

I also really like the variety of mediums on offer in the various lessons:

    Acrylic
    Batik
    Block Printing
    Carving
    Conte' Crayon
    Copper Tooling
    Glass Mosaic
    Gouache
    Ink
    Mixed Media
    Oil Painting
    Oil Pastel
    Pencil/Charcoal
    Sculpture
    Silk Painting
    Soft Pastel
    Watercolor
    Wood Burning


Looking Ahead


We were given access to Creating A Masterpiece for six months, in return for our honest review. It has absolutely found a staple place in our week and it will continue to be used here in our homeschool.

Further Details


I always love a true, 'try before you buy' and you can do this with Creating a Masterpiece, with their free sample project.

To view the various ways to subscribe to the Creating A Masterpiece website visit their subscription page.

Want to know more? Visit their website or follow Creating A Masterpiece on facebook.  



I hope you have found this review helpful. If you would like to see more reviews about this vendor from other crew members simply visit this link. 

 

Happy Homeschooling,
Kylie

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