Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Review: Clued In Kids


I am always on the lookout for fun and easy things to do to break up our home school routine and spice up life a bit. As soon as I saw these treasure hunts from Clued In Kids, I just knew it would be something my children would LOVE! Though there are many different types of hunts available on the website, we were given the opportunity to review two of the treasure hunts: the Thanksgiving Printable Treasure Hunt and the Soccer Printable Treasure Hunt.  Both of these hunts are simple downloads that sell for $5.99 each. 

What is Clued In Kids? Clued In Kids produces treasure hunts for all ages. It was created by a mom when her daughter was recovering from a lengthy illness, and she strives to make the hunts both fun and educational.

What types of hunts are available? There is a wide variety of topics, ranging from multiplication table practice to seasonal hunts that can be used at holidays. There are fun sports themes also. There is pretty much a theme to interest anyone!  While I only reviewed printable hunts that I downloaded from the website, there are also hunts available that come as a physical product.


I am going to show you how we used our treasure hunts in four easy steps:




















The Clued In Kids website is very easy to navigate. If you purchase a printable treasure hunt, you can have immediate access to it by downloading it to your computer, and then printing the pages. There are eight pages total, with two clues per page. There is also an "answer key" to help you navigate where to hide all the clues.

Here is what a typical "clue" looks like:

This is the first clue in the soccer treasure hunt


As you can see, there is a spot at the top of the page to write names, assigning each clue to a child if multiple children will be completing the hunt together. I did this, as the author suggested, and it really helped the children to work together well and not fight over who got to solve the next clue.















After printing the clues and cutting them apart, I set out to hide the clues in their assigned places. Some were pretty obvious, others took a little creativity. This took me about 10-15 minutes to complete.



I handed the first clue to the children and sat down with a cup of tea, listening as they giggled and excitedly worked together to decipher the clues. Some were very easy, such as holding the clue up to a mirror to read the backwards image, and others were a little harder, like filling in answers to questions about the pilgrims (for the Thanksgiving hunt) or solving simple math problems. Each hunt had one "action" clue, where the children had to complete a fun demonstration in front of me in order to earn their next clue. The soccer action had to do with dribbling a ball, and the Thanksgiving activity had them flapping their 'wings' and gobbling loudly like a flock of wild turkeys. It was hysterical!



At the end of both of our hunts, I hid some special candy that I had gotten as a treat for the girls. They were very excited to find it and share it. 

How long did it take?  The treasure hunts took me about 10-15 minutes to set up, and both of them took exactly 12 minutes for the kids to solve. They timed themselves, and literally ran from clue to clue with extreme excitement. I wish it would have taken them a little longer, but with three of them working the clues, they were able to do it quickly.

What ages are these hunts for? The website says that these hunts would be from ages 4-104. I definitely think the target age range would be 4-10. Older children will definitely enjoy doing them, as mine so aptly demonstrated, but the clues are fairly easy for them to solve. I would love to see some 'advanced' treasure hunts with harder clues for high school age kids to solve. My children are ages 9, 13, and 17, and all of them declared these treasure hunts to be REALLY Fun. Once they completed the first one, they literally begged me to do the second one. I had to schedule it a week ahead to give them something to look forward to!

What are my thoughts? I think these treasure hunts are really fun, and I love that they are so easy to implement. They are creative activities for a not-so-creative mom. The fact that these have an educational component with a tiny bit of extra math and spelling practice also appeals to my home school mom nature.

Extras: The Clued In Kids website currently has an offer to sign up for their newsletter  and receive a free treasure hunt. There is also a special Christmas to Treasure Set that is available for purchase, that seems like it would be a fun activity for Christmas.




Social Media: You can connect with Clued In Kids at the following sites:

To read about some of the other exciting treasure hunts that were reviewed, click the banner below:

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Easy Candy Corn Treats


Everyone is looking for a quick and easy snack that the kids can help make at this busy time of the year.

Borrowing from ideas that I use to make Christmas treats, I assembled these candy corn treats in no time and they were a big hit with all the kids.

They are so easy to make that my 9 year old was able to put them together almost completely on her own, once I showed her what to do.

Only 3 Ingredients needed:

* Bag of small circle or square shaped pretzels

* Hershey Kisses or Mini Reese Cups

* Candy corn









First step, for easy cleanup, is to lay a sheet of wax paper or parchment paper on cookie sheets. It is best to use cookie sheets or baking sheets with small sides, so that if the pretzels slide around they won't slide off the edge. (don't even ask how I know this!)

Line up your pretzels in nice, neat rows (makes it easier to work faster when the chocolate is cooling).

Place a Hershey kiss or mini PB cup on the center of each pretzel.


Pre-heat the oven to 200 deg. and place the baking trays in the oven for 4 minutes.

As soon as you remove the trays, start placing a candy corn in the middle of each mound of chocolate. Push the candy corn down gently so it will stick and not fall off as the chocolate cools. 

Let the treats cool completely, about half hour, before removing them from the tray. Store in a cool, dry place.


Enjoy!


Copyright 2012-2014 - "Be The One" - www.aclassofone.blogspot.com  All rights are reserved. No text, photos, or content may be reproduced without direct permission from the author.


   photo 9c2d3d39-9e5d-4351-b060-d6251ee13eaa_zpseda17cd5.jpg
Linked with Lisa Boyle at "Try A New Recipe Tuesday"

Monday, October 27, 2014

Review: New Liberty Videos



After watching the trailer for a new movie called Anthem For A Nation produced by New Liberty Videos, I was very excited to receive a copy to review with my family. We are patriotic Americans who really enjoy learning about all aspects of our American heritage. Because this video was written from a Christian perspective, it was even more enticing.

What is New Liberty Videos?  This company was started by Brian Barkley, a former Hollywood film editor who became a Christian. For the past 30+ years he has been producing Christian videos for families. Many of them are historical documentaries.

What are the highlights of 'Anthem For A Nation'? This is a 42 minute long DVD that portrays American's Christian heritage, and seeks to "rekindle the torch of America's Liberty".  It begins with some interesting facts about our founding fathers and continues with a basic synopsis of what has made America great, and sadly, what has contributed to it's sad state we are experiencing today. I truly believe that the purpose of this video is to not only educate freedom loving Americans about their country's history, but also rekindle a love of patriotism in their hearts, motivating them to do more for our country.

Even being an American history buff, I learned a few new things about the Washington Monument by watching the tour of Washington DC and some of the highlights of the Mall. Did you know that at the very top of the Washington Monument is an inscription in Latin that states "Glory to God" and faces east towards the sunrise?  Since the top of the Washington Monument, by law, will always be the highest point in the city (no building is allowed to be taller) the first thing the sun rests on each morning is the statement "Glory to God" in the most powerful city in the world.

The video is not all documentary though. Interspersed with important historical facts are beautiful shots of scenery from around the country and an eclectic collection of patriotic songs. The video truly does seek to inspire Americans, not just teach facts or recall history.

There is a four minute long piece about the war on the unborn that is very gripping. In fact, in a very timely way, I happened to be teaching about abortion this week in my Senior High Sunday School class, and used that four minute snippet in my lesson. It spoke more to the girls than anything I could have said, comparing the sheer number of lives lost to abortion with the horrific numbers of soldiers who have been lost in all American wars throughout history.

Special features: There are two extra features included on the DVD that I found compelling. In fact, I would love to watch an entire expanded DVD made of just those two short videos. Both are interviews with women who grew up under the Nazi regime and later became American citizens. Their dissertation on how freedoms were taken away should serve as a tremendous eye-opener to complacent Americans.  My only regret with the special features is that they were not better illustrated.



Who will enjoy this documentary? Any freedom loving, patriotic Christian American would love this DVD. It can also educate those who do not fully comprehend our great Christian heritage in this nation. I truly believe this video is good for all ages. We watched it as a family. While there are some mature themes, (ie. abortion), there is nothing offensive in the way it is presented. Parents may want to preview the movie so they will be prepared to guide younger children through the more intense parts of the movie. We watched it as a family, and my youngest, a nine year old, had no problems with any part of the movie.

Rating: The movie is rated G for general audiences.

Price: The DVD sells for $19.95 on the New Liberty website.

Other videos: New Liberty has several other interesting titles available. Click on the banner below to read reviews of some of the other titles.


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Friday, October 24, 2014

Obscure Bible Heroes {Blogging Through The Alphabet - Z}



Z is for Zacharias

Luke 1:5-20-  "There was in the days of Herod, the king of Judaea, a certain priest named Zacharias, of the course of Abia: and his wife was of the daughters of Aaron, and her name was Elisabeth.
6 And they were both righteous before God, walking in all the commandments and ordinances of the Lord blameless.
7 And they had no child, because that Elisabeth was barren, and they both were now well stricken in years.
8 And it came to pass, that while he executed the priest's office before God in the order of his course,
9 According to the custom of the priest's office, his lot was to burn incense when he went into the temple of the Lord.
10 And the whole multitude of the people were praying without at the time of incense.
11 And there appeared unto him an angel of the Lord standing on the right side of the altar of incense.
12 And when Zacharias saw him, he was troubled, and fear fell upon him.
13 But the angel said unto him, Fear not, Zacharias: for thy prayer is heard; and thy wife Elisabeth shall bear thee a son, and thou shalt call his name John.
14 And thou shalt have joy and gladness; and many shall rejoice at his birth.
15 For he shall be great in the sight of the Lord, and shall drink neither wine nor strong drink; and he shall be filled with the Holy Ghost, even from his mother's womb.
16 And many of the children of Israel shall he turn to the Lord their God.
17 And he shall go before him in the spirit and power of Elias, to turn the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the disobedient to the wisdom of the just; to make ready a people prepared for the Lord. 18 And Zacharias said unto the angel, Whereby shall I know this? for I am an old man, and my wife well stricken in years.
19 And the angel answering said unto him, I am Gabriel, that stand in the presence of God; and am sent to speak unto thee, and to shew thee these glad tidings.
20 And, behold, thou shalt be dumb, and not able to speak, until the day that these things shall be performed, because thou believest not my words, which shall be fulfilled in their season."


Zacharias is best known as the father of John the Baptist. He was an active Hebrew priest who had a deep faith in God, and was chosen as the father of the great forerunner of the Lord Jesus Christ.

It is noteworthy that Zacharias and his wife Elisabeth were older, yet had no children. They were faithful servants, and Zacharias was busy in the service of the temple. The Biblical description of them was that they were righteous and blameless. Most definitely, they were special people who spent a life of service to God.

When the angel of God first appeared to Zacharias to tell him of the promise of a son, Zacharias did not believe the messenger. Because of his unbelief, he was stricken for the duration of Elisabeth's pregnancy, and was unable to speak.

I can sympathize with Zacharias and his unbelief. He and Elisabeth were well past their child bearing years, and things like this did not "just happen". Being a humble servant, Zacharias probably did not compare himself to the similar story of a promise made to Abram and Sarai many years before.

When Elisabeth was full term, and the baby was born, she and Zacharias were careful to closely follow the instructions given to them by the angel of God, and named the baby John, despite protests from well meaning relatives. They raised him up according to the vows and commands that God had instructed, and John became a great man and preacher.

Luke 11:51- "From the blood of Abel unto the blood of Zacharias, which perished between the altar and the temple: verily I say unto you, It shall be required of this generation."

As the story continues, we don't hear much more about the life of Zacharias and Elisabeth, but we do know that Zacharias met an untimely death doing what he loved - the service at the temple. What a man he must have been, that even at his older age, he was able to instill such strong character and a fierce determination for right in the heart of his son.

Like Zacharias, I would like to be found faithful to carry out the promises of God in my life. I would like to overcome my times of fear, doubt, and unbelief, and allow God to use me despite my failures. I pray that I can instill such strong character traits in my children as Zacharias instilled in John the Baptist. And when the time of my departure from the life comes, may I be found still in the service of my Lord.


Copyright 2012-2014 - "Be The One" - www.aclassofone.blogspot.com  All rights are reserved. No text, photos, or content may be reproduced without direct permission from the author.


Ben and Me

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Review: Standard Deviants Accelerate

We recently had the privilege to check out several Homeschool Courses from Standard Deviates Accelerate. While some of the courses target elementary students, all the way down to third grade math, for our review we chose to focus on several high school courses that coincide with our current studies.

What is Standard Deviates Accelerate Homeschool Courses? It is an online collection of educational resources to supplement or round out a home school curriculum. Struggling students can use it for remedial help, and advanced students can use it as an extra resource to enhance their learning. The program is fun and fast paced, and purposely made to appeal to middle school and high school students through the use of multi-media productions.

What happens when you purchase the program? Parents can purchase a one year subscription to one course for one student for $99. Each course can also be purchased for $24.95 per month, and AP courses can be purchased for $14.95 per month. Once you have purchased the program, you will receive an access code for the student. Students must have their own email address to sign in to their courses.

When students log in to their home page, they will see tiles for each course they are enrolled in. It will look like this:



How to use the program:  Students can access their program either by clicking the tile or clicking on the "classes" pull down menu. Once they are in their course, they can use the menu to go to where they left off in the program. The program does not keep track of this, so the student has to know what they have already completed.

An example of this is the menu of the Nutrition course. Here are the first two chapter's table of contents:



What does a course consist of? Each course has several steps. First there is a pre-assessment which introduces the student to the subject matter, and asks several questions to help them gauge how much they know.

The pre-assessment question for AP English Comp

Following the pre-assessment page, students have access to the course itself, which consists of the lessons, a vocabulary word bank, diagrams (which are short activities that reinforce that chapter of the lesson), a short quiz, and a written assignment. 

About the courses:

Nutrition Course

The Nutrition course is geared towards sixth grade and up. I believe it would be a great program for middle school. The chapters are broken down into small lessons, which take about 15-20 minutes to complete. On the right of the screen is a small video lesson that is fast paced and uses young people as actors, teaching the lesson in a fun and informal way. They use slang, props, and graphics to get the points across. To the left side of the video is a written transcript of the lesson that the student can follow along with and read. If you have a student that is "all business" and doesn't care for the somewhat silly nature of the video lesson, they can opt out of the video and just read the written portion. Most middle schoolers will likely enjoy the upbeat video lessons though. 

Here is a screen shot of a Nutrition lesson:













Following the video lesson, the student can review vocabulary words from the word bank, then do the diagrams, which are short activities that reinforce the concept from that lesson. Here is an example of the diagram activity from a Nutrition lesson. Students drag the answers to the correct place on the page, and the program records the number of attempts it takes them until they get it correct. Answers won't 'stick' if they are in the wrong spot. 


After completing the activity, students can take a short quiz on that chapter. Most quizzes had about five questions. If the student was stumped, they could go back to the lesson and watch that part over again, or read through that section on the transcript. Quizzes have multiple choice answers. Here is an example from the AP Government course: 


Once students have selected all their quiz answers, they submit their quiz and are told if any answers are incorrect. One thing I really appreciated is that wrong answers are marked correctly and explained, and a link is provided to review that section of the video lesson so that the student can clearly understand the concept before moving on. 


"Throw it against the wall and see if it sticks" is the hot button to click to submit quiz answers. Not very conventional, but again, the program is meant to appeal to middle school and high school students!

After completing all of the above for one lesson, last but not least there is a written assignment for the student to complete to demonstrate mastery of the subject. Here is the writing prompt for the first chapter of the Nutrition course: 


While the program does keep track of the student's progress with diagram activities and quizzes, it gives rubrics to aid parents in correcting their own student's writing assignments. Parents can also go in to their parent side of the program and edit the rubrics. The program does not give a grade - that is left up to the parents. 

Course Evaluation: At any time while a student is logged in, they can click on their progress reports and get a feel for how they are doing with the course. Parents also have an administrator side of the program where they can evaluate the progress of their students. The program allows repetition of course materials to achieve mastery.  Progress reports use a series of arrows to illustrate how successful a student has been with their work.  

I am including two separate "compasses" here to illustrate progress of two courses. The first one shows a shorter arrow and color bar, which shows the need for improvement in the AP Government course. 


The second compass shows a longer arrow and a fully colored bar, which illustrates almost complete mastery of the subject matter so far in the Nutrition course:




About the AP courses:  The AP courses are designed to refresh a high school student over an entire subject that they have already completed, and prepare them to take the AP test in that particular subject. We looked extensively at the AP American Government course, since Laura is currently taking that course, and could possibly take the AP test for it. 

The AP Government course begins with a detailed explanation of the AP test itself, going over how many questions are covered in each section, what types of questions will be on the test, and giving test taking strategies for the test itself. It is a very thorough dissertation preparing the student for the AP test, and leaving no surprises as to what they can expect when taking it. 

The next section of the course is in two parts, and each one is called "30 in 30". It is a thirty minute video lesson (with the corresponding transcript) that essentially covers all the main topics in a typical American government course, and summarizes all the areas a student will need to know to get a high mark on the AP Government test. There is a total of one hour of lesson time, and plenty of vocabulary lists, diagram activities, and written assignments to make this course last several weeks. Motivated students could probably work through the entire course in several days.

Here is a screen shot of the AP Government lesson: 


I would like to discuss a few things you will see on this screen shot above, that are great assets to this program. First of all, there is a white window below the video. Students can type notes on this white board during the lesson, and then "save" their notes to their "locker". This will give them full access later on to all the notes they took. This can be used to highlight things they didn't know, or perhaps areas that they found confusing and wanted to go back and study later. There is also buttons to choose "Print full" which allows the student to print an entire copy of the written lesson. "Print work" allows them to print out the notes they recorded on the white board.

Here is an example of an activity in the AP Government course:




























A few other tidbits: SDA can be used on iPads! This is very helpful if a home school has multiple students using it. There are fourteen courses currently offered, including several AP test prep courses. 

Courses offered:
  • Arithmetic & Fundamental math (grades 3+)
  • Earth Science (grade 6+)
  • Nutrition (grade 6+)
  • Algebra (grade 7+)
  • Biology (grade 7+)
  • Chemistry (grade 9+)
  • US History (grade 9+)
  • English Composition (grade 9+)
  • AP Test prep courses for grade 11+ include: AP Government, AP Biology, AP Chemistry, AP US History, and AP English Composition.
*Parents should note that science courses are taught from a secular perspective and do include teaching on evolutionary biology.

The bottom line - what we thought: I was very impressed with the fun and upbeat nature of the lessons, and the thorough degree of preparation offered for students that are planning to take an AP test. I think having this course for the month prior to taking the AP test would adequately help a student keep all the pertinent topics fresh in their mind, and really help them improve their scores.  I think the nutrition course is a helpful supplement when coupled together with other coursework for that subject. The subject matter is comprehensive and would definitely reinforce concepts that are learned, helping to cement them down in the student's brain.  This program is a great supplemental tool to enhance your home school curriculum, or perhaps round out a curriculum you are already using that does not quite feel complete.



See how other members of The Old Schoolhouse Review Crew have used this program in their home schools:



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