UnLock Math’s UnLock Pre-Algebra Review

As I have mentioned in my previous posts, my daughter is not a fan of Math. So when UnLock Math offered The Schoolhouse Review crew members an opportunity to review UnLock Pre-Algebra, I was excited to see if this will work with my 11 year old daughter. I was given a full year access of the program for one child in exchange for this review.

Unlock Math Review

UnLock Pre-Algebra is a complete online Math curriculum for middle school students. It is best fit for 7th grade-8th grade students. Everything is done online, so you only need a computer with a browser like Chrome or Firefox and a stable internet connection to get it running. It is not a live class so your student can login anytime and she can go as fast or as slow as wants.

The different topics that UnLock Pre-Algebra covers are as follows:


As the parent, I logged in and created a student login for my daughter. It was a very straight forward process and I was done in a few minutes. My daughter immediately logged in and the dashboard welcomed her.

Unlock Math Review

A fast loading site and a neat-looking dashboard were positive signs for us. The site was easy to navigate and understand.  She can easily see how far along she is in the program by looking at the bar and what her average grade was. She can also see details by looking at the pie chart.

My daughter started her lessons by simply clicking on a rocket to launch her first lesson on whole numbers.  An objective is stated at the top of the page allowing her to grasp what she is expected to learn through the lessons. The lesson starts with a warm up section. Students get 10 questions as a review to previous Math lessons. The questions are presented one at a time. Questions come in different forms like multiple choice and typing the correct answer. After completing the warm up, it is time to watch the video for the day.


The first video is an introduction to UnLock Math and to the teacher Alesia Blackwood. Alesia is part of the Ontario College of Teachers certified in Intermediate and Senior Divisions Mathematics and Computer Science. She also has a certification from the Georgia Professional Standards Commission to teach Mathematics in grades 7-12. Alesia was homeschooled herself and is homeschooling her own kids — so she knows what is needed to make a Math curriculum interesting and effective.

What caught my daughter’s interest is Alesia’s enthusiasm in her teaching videos. She is very engaging and passionate about the lessons she is teaching and she offers bite-sized information every time. Allowing students who are not enthusiastic about Math like my daughter to absorb and enjoy the lesson. The teaching videos is only 5-7 minutes long. Alesia can clearly explain the concepts, then she works on sample problems and relates the concepts to the real world.


After the video, my daughter needs to work on Practice Problems. Again, the problems are presented just one at a time so not to cause anxiousness on the student. Immediately, after completing the practice problems, the answers are auto-corrected and there is an opportunity for the student to see details on each problem and what the correct answers should be.

Stay sharp is the next step that my daughter needed to finish and this is a section which includes previously learned concepts. There are about 10 questions in this section.

Challenge Yourself consist of just 1 question and student gets to try to answer this question one time only. Giving those students who want more challenge an opportunity to use their thinking skills.

As a summary, Reference Notes summarizes the concepts learned for the day. She can easily print the lessons should she choose to do so.

Once she has completed all steps, the lesson is completed and a mark appears on each item she has completed to help her remember what she has finished.

Unlock Math Review

The questions in  Warm-Up, Practice Problems and Stay Sharps can be taken as many times as needed. This is to help the student practice. Then the best grade is the one recorded for grade computation.

Quizzes and Tests happen every lesson while the Midterm exam needs to be taken after Unit 8. A final exam is also given at the end of the term.

Grade computations are done automatically. You can click on Progress Report to see an overview on how the student is doing. It shows you the overall exam grade and the grades of each area.

For a more detailed look, there is a button that says Launch Course Gradebook at the Dashboard and it shows you the computed grades, the time used by the student to finish the problems and the details of everything the students have answered. As for how the grades are computed, the welcome letter states the % of each lesson and how the grades are computed. All reports may be printed for record keeping purposes.




Some features worth mentioning:

> UnLock Math uses interactive and innovative ways to help students remember and understand Math concepts. They encounter different features as they progress along the different units. The curriculum is  good for visual, auditory and word learners.

> UnLock Math partnered with Maplesoft in developing  adaptive questions to ensure that the students are guided through difficult concepts as they go through different questions.

> UnLock Math adapts to students needs for more practice lessons or less practice depending on their ability and understanding of the lessons.

> UnLock Math uses standard mathematical notations so students don’t get confused with the system and can focus on learning Math concepts.

> Support service has been outstanding. We have had some issues with the grades but the people behind UnLock Math has been proactive in resolving the issue.

> UnLock Math is coming up with UnLock Algebra this August!

> UnLock Pre-Algebra costs $49 monthly per student and $299 yearly per student. You can use this link with the referral code: http://unlockmath.refr.cc/Z9TBCQR to get $74.75 off from the annual rate (This code is good until August 16, 2015 only) .


UnLock Pre-Algebra has earned our thumbs up. My daughter loves this online Math curriculum. It has helped her remember Math concepts better and allowed her to practice Math at her own pace. She used to loathe her Math practice time and during the weeks that we have been using UnLock PreAlgebra, she has genuinely enjoyed her Math. Each session takes roughly 30 minutes and its bite size approach has built her confidence as she studies Math. And because of that, I would highly recommend this program to struggling Math students or to those who needs to review Math concepts on their own pace at home. The easy to use interface, the effectiveness of the video tutorials by Alesia, the adaptive system and the automated correction and grading are the very reasons why I love this Math curriculum.  It is like having a personalized Math tutor at our own convenience. Definitely, UnLock Math’s UnLock Pre-Algebra is a perfect fit for our family.

For more information, please visit UnLock Math through the following links:


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UnLock Math Review
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Homeschool Buyers Co-op’s Homeschool Planet Review

Buying curriculum as a homeschool family can sometimes be costly,because we can’t get the bulk discounts, but thankfully, through the Homeschool Buyers Co-op we can get discounted prices! Homeschool Buyers Co-op is a family-owned and operated business, which seeks to help homeschooling families get the best curriculum at the lowest price possible. Today, I will be reviewing a program that they have developed to help parents organize their daily schedules. Homeschool Buyers Co-op has given me a full year access of their online homeschool planner,  Homeschool Planet in exchange for a review. 

Homeschool Planet Review

Homeschool Planet is very easy to use. As long as you have a computer, with a browser like Google Chrome or Mozilla Firefox, and an internet connection , then you are good to go. You can also view the planner through your mobile devices.

Moms like you and me are very busy and we don’t want to spend much time learning how an online planner works. This is what I like best about Homeschool Planet, there is very little learning needed. It is very straight forward to use. As soon as you have created your account with Homeschool Buyer Co-op, you can click on the link to Homeschool Planet and it takes you to your online planner.

The first thing I did was to modify my profile and make it personalized by assigning a school name, choosing settings like when I want the email digest to be sent to me and assigning school days and days off. I added our subjects and categories which fitted our family’s lifestyle. I edited the grading categories according to our needs. I also chose a theme for our planner. I added my family members and created a log-in for my kids to use as well.


As for the planner view, there are 3 views available.

The daily view:


The weekly view:

The monthly view:


I used the weekly view most often. Adding a new task was fairly easy. You just need to click on the time and date when you want the activity to happen.


Indicate the class details, like the Subject, the Title and for whom the class is for. You can also choose the frequency of the class. It has some pre-made choices but you can also specify your preferences if it is not on the list.



For the reports, the system has different printable sets of reports for record keeping purposes. There is the assignment list, class notes, grade report, class hours and transcripts.



One of the unique features of Homeschool Planet is the helpers. There is a grading helper which assists you in making sure you have completely entered your kids grades for each assignment and there is the rescheduling helper which assist you in changing your schedule like reschedule overdue assignments or scheduling a day off and reassigning the tasks  without having to do them one by one.

If you want a printed planner, there is a print feature which allows you to print the viewed schedule on your screen. This is best if you don’t want your students to login anymore just to see their schedules for the day.

I absolutely love the Homeschool Planet! Scheduling our days has never been more convenient for me. Let me list down the reasons why:

– It is easy to use. I have seen a number of online planners before and Homeschool Planet really made its system easy to understand. The simple menu and the organized flow of information is something that I really appreciate.  From creating a task until creating a report, I didn’t have a hard time doing any of it. It makes my record keeping easy and enjoyable!

– One planner for the entire family. I don’t have to go back and forth from one student to the other, I can easily see what our schedules look like and don’t have to be afraid that our schedules are over lapping.

–  The planner and reports are easily printable. No need to be online just to check our daily schedule.

– Class hours are automatically computed for easy reporting.

– Each student has their own login and can keep track of their assignments and chores. It teaches the students to be more independent and responsible with their assigned work.

– Daily digest sent to my email, so even before I start my day, I know what to expect!

Homeschool Planet is free to try for 30 days! You can try it out yourself and see if it fits your style.

Homeschool Planet only costs $6.95/month or $65/year.

For more information, please visit the Homeschool  Buyers Co-op Facebook or follow them on  Twitter at hsbuyerscoop and on their Google + account : https://plus.google.com/112069021534542740249/about

To see what others think about this product, check the rest of the reviews from the Schoolhouse Review Crew.

Homeschool Planet Review

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SmartKidz Media Library for Homeschoolers Review

As part of the Schoolhouse Review Crew, we were given a full year subscription to a product of SmartKidz Media, the SmartKidz Media Library for Homeschoolers in exchange for a review. As the we are still on summer break, we looked forward to doing this review.

SmartKidz Media Review
SmartKidz Media Library is a subscription-based digital media source library for homeschoolers. It has an endless collection of over 1,000 educational videos and animated eBooks which you can stream online. It also has some interactive study guides and fine arts music. All you need is a computer or mobile device with an internet browser and a stable internet connection. It is important that your connection is at least 500 kbps (0.5 Mbps) but 1 Mbps is recommended to ensure better viewing experience. The content is streamed and not downloaded so your internet connection is important to ensure the full utilization of SmartKidz Media Library.

The collections are appropriate for the whole family. Content includes features on animal kingdom, history, science, social studies, world cultures, the fine arts, sports, and health. It is a very rich resource for homeschoolers like us who don’t have library access. It is a perfect complement to our curriculum and gives my 8 year old and 11 year old access to visual information which can’t be viewed elsewhere.

Here are some sample collections:

Animals & Wildlife Collections
Documentaries & Culture Collections
Health & Fitness
History (World War II and the Cold War)
Lifestyles & Cuisine
Travel & Adventure: World Wide Discovery Collections
Cooking Instruction
Fine Arts
Classical Music Collections
Cultural Music Collections
Cultural Music: Vol 1
Cultural Music: Vol 2
Jazz and Blues Classics Collections
Relaxation Music Collections
Mighty E-Book Collection (interactive Flash eBooks for younger kids)
Sign Language Collection
Special Needs Learning
Fun Zone

Here are some more which will eventually be added to the collections:

Action Sports
US History
Foreign Language Lessons
Living Skills

One year unlimited access costs $99.00  or you can pay monthly fee of $10.

How We Used the Product

As we were given access, we just logged in and started browsing the different categories. Since we are on summer break, I asked my children which topic they wanted to watch and we just watched from episode to the other. It was fairly easy to use as we just needed to click on which topic we were interested in and just go from one video to the other.

We watched about 3 videos a day, since one video is approximately 27 minutes in length.

What We Think of the Product

My kids and I both loved this product. It is like having your own library at home!  The information was interestingly presented and wasn’t too long to cause boredom. Each time the video ended, they still wanted to watch another video and I took that as a positive sign that the product was able to capture the interest of both boys and girls.

The favorite sections of my kids are the World of Discovery : Animal & Wildlife Collections. They saw numerous videos and learned new information. Each time we watched, we learned something new. They enjoyed the Wild Ones : The Cutest the most. They loved the clownfish, the penguin and the koala!

clownfish sea otter

Since I love traveling and world history, I thoroughly enjoyed features on World War II history. I finally understood why the war started and what really happened back then.


They also enjoyed the Fun Zone! There were different games that they enjoyed including dress up and finding the ball!

fun zone


Since my kids are school aged, we didn’t take time checking out the other sections but it seems very interesting as well. There were animated flash videos categorized according to ages.


There were also videos for parents like Baby Sign Language and parenting guides like potty training and other research materials.

baby signs


If you have children with special needs, you can browse through their numerous videos and interactive books!

special needs

A wide range of study aids is also available. Each guide contains hundreds of definitions, rules, and examples. It covers Language Arts Basics, Math Basics, Science Basics and Social Studies Basics.

I loved this product because it makes a homeschool mom’s life easy. I don’t have to search the entire Internet for these information and I can be sure that my children are safe from pop-up windows or unwanted advertisements. The videos have rich content and are quite unique! It is like visiting museums or zoos without actually leaving the house! This has really made our summer break more fun and stress free.

I would recommend that you check out SmartKidz Facebook page at  https://www.facebook.com/smartkidzhomeschool and follow them at Twitter https://twitter.com/smartkidzmedia . You can also subscribe to their 14 day trial and see if you’d like this product yourself!

For more information, please check the other reviews.

SmartKidz Media Review
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Successful Homeschooling Made Easy Review

Learning never stops. I believe that moms, especially homeschool moms, should continually learn from others. Successful Homeschooling Made Easy has created an online course which is designed to make the homeschooling an easier journey for moms. I am blessed to be chosen to review this course. I have been homeschooling my children for the past 5 years and the journey has not been a smooth one. There were many ups and downs along the way and learning from seasoned homeschoolers has always helped me through the various seasons of my journey.

Successful Homeschooling Made Easy Course  is a 26-week long subscription program for parents who are interested in homeschooling or those parents who need a fresh start in their homeschooling journey. The lessons are sent via email every week as a PDF attachment by Stephanie. Stephanie Walmsley created this course as a homeschooling 101 guide to help parents achieve successful homeschooling. Successful Homeschooling Made Easy Review

Each week, a PDF document  with at least 5 pages will be sent to my email address. Every lesson address a key component in achieving stress free homeshooling through out the years. Lessons are focused on giving the teacher tools to develop personalized ideas on homeschooling and help them apply these ideas to their own families. There are weekly assignments that needs to be completed.

Some of the topics include: How to Start Homeschooling Straight Away, Teach Math and other Subjects, Vision and Goal for Your Family’s Homeschool, Fireproof Your Homeshool, The Key Ingredient for Success and others.

The lessons can fit whether one is homeschooling a preschooler or a highschooler. It also works even if you are homeschooling just one or a group. The lessons also help you avoid burn out and unneeded stress by teaching you to choose the right curriculum and programs your family.

The whole course costs $48 but if you want to pay monthly instead, it will cost $10 a month.

How I Used the Product

As I received my email with a download link for the first lesson, I made sure that my Adobe Reader was working so that I can open the file using my laptop. I read the short introduction and was immediately starting my first lesson. The first lesson was about making a schedule that works for my family. There were a series of questions about how we spend time as a family and based from my answers, I was asked to make our 8 week schedule. I printed the file at the end of the document and followed the instructions.


It took me about 15 minutes to complete the first lesson and the assignment. I took note of the tips that I think will be useful for our family like the LITERACY HOUR.

As I received the 2nd lesson for the succeeding week, I was  quite excited to see how I can make Math more easy for my children. I was reminded that Math needs to be taught 3 ways: via practical experience, talking about it and writing about it. Most of them, I just skip the first part which is practical experience and it makes Math more dull and that is probably why my daughter doesn’t like Math very much.

The very practical guide to choosing the right Math curriculum for your family is truly a helpful guide for me. It helped me evaluate if we are using the right product for our family. Then I even received a BONUS lesson which was about  Math Ideas, making Math more enjoyable to learn for the kids.

The 3rd lesson was about helping a child who has been studying in a public or private school adjust to homeschool. There were several moms who shared their real life stories and what they did to help their kids adjust.

4th lesson was about fireproofing our homeschool. It talks about the philosophy on education, what I want to achieve in my life and whyI want to homeschool the kids. This week also see my adding new things to our schedule like FUN things to do.

5th lesson revolved around 3 questions that will help me achieve our family’s goals. It was really important as this helped shaped the goal of our homeschooling.

6th lesson reminded me to take care of myself and to reach for my dreams. It is important that as a person, I do not neglect myself as it is not holy to forget myself in the name of my children.

7th week is all about homeschooling. It gave a brief background on “school” and why curriculum shouldn’t really matter. It also gave an overview of the methods of homeshooling.

What I Thought of the Product

As I used this product during the review time frame, I have gained fresh insights on Math and how to fireproof our homeschool. I was also reminded of our family’s goals and how I shouldn’t be worried about the “best” curriculum there is. It was refreshing to learn from a veteran homeschooler!

If you are seriously considering to homeschool your children, I  would recommend this product to you. You will gain valuable insights and be guided in making wise choices for your homeschool. As this product is designed to work alongside your current homeschool year, you would probably need to use it best in the beginning of the school year or even before your school year.

For a homeschool parent who needs guidance in re-organizing and restarting their homeschool, this would also be a good start. The course asks the important questions and makes you reflect on your style, goals, methods and how to be a better homeschool parent. It is like attending a conference.

The only downside of this product for me is that it takes too long to complete. 26 weeks is half a year and almost an entire school year. I would rather have all the lessons in 2 or 3 months at least.

For more information, check out the Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/TheBroadRoom.

I invite you to read the reviews of other Schoolhouse Review Crew members to see what they think of this product!

Successful Homeschooling Made Easy Review
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Star Toaster’s Orphs of the Woodlands Review

My 5th grade daughter loves to read and when I was given a chance by Star Toaster through the Homeschool Review Crew to review their online curriculum, Orphs of the Woodlands I was really excited to see what this program was all about and how my daughter would like it! I was given a  one year access to the program in exchange for my review.

Star Toaster Review
Orphs of the Woodlands is an online interactive reading adventure for 4th-7th grade students. This product was developed by the Star Toaster team who believes that children primarily learns inside the home and that character eventually defines success. With the goal of helping parents to teach their children positive values, this interactive program also sets the tone that learning is NOT BORING. With a very interesting storyline, the student can become involved in the story through the completion of games and while doing so, learning vocabulary words, grammar, math, science, thinking skills, life skills and the arts. There are over 300 lessons in the whole program!

Since this is an online program, I only needed to make sure that my browser Google Chrome was working and I had a stable internet connection. Upon logging on as the parent, I added my daughter’s account and set a password for her. It is important to note that you must use a different password for your children as you will be using the same email account to log in the system.

My daughter logged in and immediately started watching the tutorials and she was on her way! She started reading the story, The Treasure of the HighTower and was hooked! She was asked to name the main character of the story, who is a squirrel and she named him Squeaky. She read about 15-20 minutes before she finished the first chapter. As she was reading, whenever she encountered a word in red, she can point the cursor to that word and the meaning would be flashed. She learned several new words in each chapter.    


The story is about the squirrel who is newly recruited to become a spy and fight against the Night Creatures. As he learns how to be a spy, he also learns about the orphs or orphans of the woodlands who needs his leadership and care to survive.

After each chapter, my daughter needed to complete jobs or games to collect stars. There is a specific number of stars that each orph needed to survive. So the more jobs completed, the more stars collected. The number of stars needed depends on the number of orphs under her care.

The jobs are divided into several categories. There is Math, Science, Vocabulary, Thinking Skills, Character, Life Skills, and the Arts. As she reads more chapters, there are more jobs for her to click on and finish. As she completes more jobs, she earns more goldstars per job each time she finishes the chapter.


The jobs are quite interesting as she gets to learn different things for example, she clicks on Sound Specialist under Science and she learns about sound waves. A video teaching will be shown as her training then she answers some questions based on what she just learned. Sometimes, instead of videos, she will be presented with texts about the subject matter.

Star Toaster Review 
She can also choose to click on the map and buy land, build projects and acquire the needs of the orphs. She needs more stars to do each project so this will lead her to complete more jobs.


Upon clicking the timeline, she can go back to the previous chapters she has read and review them or proceed with the story. Though she will not be able to skip to chapters she has not finished yet.



What We Thought of the Product

My daughter enjoyed the product. She said that it felt like she was playing a game more than doing an online reading curriculum. Her favorite is that she got to learn many new words and fresh insights on science facts! The only thing that she didn’t like was that she had to finish so many jobs for the numerous oprhs that she had to care for and couldn’t get to the next chapter easily! Sometimes, she would tire of the jobs and log out already.

As the mom, I loved this product!

First, it encourages independent learning. My daughter needed little assistance from me during the entire time she was using Orphs of the Woodlands. It was easy to use and interesting enough to hold my daughter’s interest to complete the jobs/games .

Secondly, I loved the updates that I was getting through email. I was sent an email everytime she finishes something. I also like the fact that I can login and see what she has been accomplishing and learning.



Thirdly, this is a well-rounded product. I don’t need a separate curriculum for each subject. The program touches on the basics of what your child needs to know in every area of life.

Fourthly, the learnings from the story is not just academic but it’s all about life skill and is character based. I like it that my daughter learns to be patient, diligent and responsible as she completes the jobs in the story.

Lastly, it is not a costly online reading curriculum. In fact, it is perfect for a summer reading program. The book can usually be finished in 2 months and just costs  $19.99 for the 60 day subscription for up to 3 students. The 30 day extension just costs $6.99.

If you have reluctant readers at home, I encourage you to try this out! There is an on-going FREE TRIAL to the first chapter of The Treasure of HighTower book of Orphs of the Woodlands!

Star Toaster Review
For more information on this great product, follow Star Toaster Facebook page, Star Toaster Pinterest page and Star Toaster Twitter page.

Check out what other Schoolhouse Review Crew says about Star Toaster…Star Toaster Review

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