HomeschoolPiano Review

I’ve never learned how to play the piano and I don’t want my kids to experience the same. Thankfully, we were given an opportunity through the Schoolhouse Review Crew to review  HomeschoolPiano. We received a lifetime subscription for up to five students for HomeschoolPiano – Complete Set of Books. This would give my children an opportunity to learn playing the piano even while at home!

Homeschool Piano Review
HomeschoolPiano offers piano lessons online. The lessons are all-video based and is made for all ages! If you are a beginner or you already have prior lessons, HomeschoolPiano can help you read music and even create your own music! This is perfect for learning piano at your own pace since you can view the lessons anytime of the day from your computer or your mobile devices like the phones or tablets.

The program is a well rounded music curriculum as it follows a 6-steps cycle which lays a foundation based on the National Standards for Music Education.

Homeschool Piano Review
In every unit, the lessons center on the following fundamentals: Technique,Rhythm, Ear Training, Reading, Song, Improvisation. This ensures that the students learn how to develop their ear, read music and create their own music and improvisations later on. There are a total of 4 books, the Core Piano, Book 1, Book 2 and Book 3.

Core Piano is a collection of 30 lessons teaching piano essentials. It is a must for those who have no previous piano experience. Book 1 is for the absolute beginner, Book 2 is for those who have some previous  piano training and Book 3 is for the advanced student where he will learn to create piano rich arrangements.

Homeschool Piano Review
There are 7 lessons in each unit and 6 units in each Book. Every lesson ranges from 5 to 10 minutes in length. After watching the video, it is expected that the student will practice what he has learned on his own keyboard or piano.

To use HomeschoolPiano, you need to have reliable  internet connection and a piano or a keyboard with at least 49 keys. You may use your computer or your tablets since you don’t need any special software to view the videos as you access them online.

If you can not watch the video online, there is a link which allows you to download the mp3 file for audio and mp4 for video.
HomeschoolPiano can be purchased in 2 ways. Through the Success Package which means you have to pay $299 in one payment or the Payment Plan which means you can pay $99.97 per month for 3 months. You will have unlimited life-time access to HomeSchoolPiano along with all bonuses (downloads, jam tracks, sheet music) for up to 5 students.

How We Used the Program

I created 2 logins for my 2 children. My 10 year old daughter started with Core Piano for 3 times a week. She has previous piano  experience so she breezed through most of the lessons in Core Piano, then she worked on Book 1.

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She also took the lesson quiz to assess her knowledge.

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After watching the video, she follows the instructor’s lessons on the keyboard so she remembers what she has learned. It usually takes her a total of 30 minutes per day to complete about 2 lessons.

My 7 year old son has no previous music or piano lessons so he took the lessons slower. He also started with Core Piano and is still watching Core Piano. He did the lessons twice a week.

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After watching the videos, we usually do the activities. Like when the lesson was about skip or steps, I asked my son to create his own steps scale and skip scale.

 

What We Thought of the Program

As the homeschool parent, I liked several aspects of  the program:

- It requires no assistance from me. I just made sure that they were properly logged in and doing their piano lessons.

- The continuinity of the lessons were important so that the student were learning efficiently. I am confident that they are not missing any foundational lessons.

-  My children can repeat the video lessons when needed. My daughter breezed through Core Piano and was excited to work on Book 1, but there were times when I asked her to check some topics in Core Piano again to remind her of the basics.

- I liked it that my children were learning music without us having to leave the house or hiring a piano teacher, since our budget can not accomodate it at the moment.

- One program for both kids. Since this product is for all ages, we can use it for both of our kids.

- The creative side of my children is also being trained as they are continuing on with their lessons. They are encouraged to vocalize and improvise.

- There are online quizzess to check whether they are learning their lessons.

- We have unlimited lifetime access to a program that can be used for a couple of years.

The most challenging aspect of this program for us is our internet connection. There were days that we had a hard time accessing the video online because of our slow or intermittent internet connection.

Another factor is that we have to be consistent in watching and practising the new learnings. As with most programs, it is up to the diligence of the student if she wants to learn and make the most out of an amazing product.

If you are looking to learn piano at home and unleash your musical side, this is a good product to try out. For more information, you can check HomeschoolPiano Facebook  or at HomeschoolPiano Twitter or at HomeschoolPiano Pinterest.

Homeschool Piano Review
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WriteShop Junior Book D Review

WriteShop Review

I was looking around for a writing curriculum for my 5th grade daughter and I stumbled upon WriteShop. It seemed like a good choice so when I was given the opportunity to review the product through SchoolHouse Review Crew, it was an answered prayer for us! We reviewed the WriteShop Junior: Book D Set.

WriteShop is an incremental writing curriculum for kindergarden to high school. They offer WriteShop Primary for grades K-3, WriteShop Junior for grades 3-5, WriteShop for grades 6-10, Write Shop II for grades 8-12. They also offer Fold-N-GoGrammar lessons.

WriteShop Review

I chose the WriteShop Junior D to review with my 10 year old daughter. WriteShop Junior D is recommended for students in 3rd grade-4th grade but can also be used by struggling students in 5th grade and 6th grade or those who have never taken any formal elementary writing lessons. The lessons are taught in a step by step approach using the stages of  pre-writing, brainstorming, writing and self-editing . Using the correct punctuation marks, brainstorming before writing, structuring a sentence, narrowing a broad topic and self-editing and revising your own work are just some of the skills introduced in this book. The student will also have the opportunity to write the following:

> Letter of Invitation
> Humor 
> Adventure 
> Science Fiction 
> Mystery 
> Poetry/Haiku
> Folktales 
> Historical Fiction
> Personal Narrative
> Expository Writing: Factual Article

We were given digital copies of the following items:

Book D Teacher’s Guide digital copy costs $35.50. It contains 278 pages of comprehensive instructions on how to use the writing program. Daily lesson plans, writing samples, guided scripts and list of required supplies for each activity set can be found here. It is also available in a spiral bound physical book which costs $45.95.  This is a required component for the effective use of the writing curriculum.

WriteShop Review
Activity Pack digital copy costs $35.5o. It includes the 66 pages of engaging student worksheets and 72 pages of  Level 1 Fold-N-Go Grammar pack. The activity sheets are presented in an animated, fun and creative manner. Student will enjoy completing all the interactive activities which makes learning fun!  Some of the pre-writing activities need preparation from the teacher. Preparation includes printing and cutting. Level 1 Fold-N-Go Grammar pack is a reference tool to help review grammar rules. You can assemble it by using file folders.

The digital copy enables you to print as many copies as you need for your entire family. If you want to buy the hard copy, it costs $45.95 but do note that it  can only be used by 1 child. This is a required component for the writing curriculum.

WriteShop Review
Optional Time Saver Pack digital copy costs $11.50. It has 24 pages of ready made tools to lessen preparation time of the pre-writing activities from the activity packs. It is also available in hard copy and costs $14.95. Note that this is just an optional component for the writing curriculum.

All files can be simply opened using Adobe Acrobat.

How We Used The Product

We were given 8 weeks to use this product. As soon as I got the files, I immediately opened the Teacher’s Guide. As I scanned the document, I was a bit overwhelemed with the wealth of information found in this file. I decided to read the document in sections. I liked it that WriteShop has laid out a 2 week and 3 week cycle schedule of  the lessons. We chose to use the 3 week schedule and printed it out so we have a visual guide. To save on paper, we only printed the Activity Worksheets.

My daughter worked on Fold-N-Go Grammar on Mondays while I prepared the activities for pre-writing. photo 4 (8)

We worked on the pre-writing activity and this is where we have the most fun! There is a different fun activity in every lesson.

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Then we follow the Model and Teach script. For the following days, I asked my daughter to work on the journal writing practice, brainstorming activities and the writing project.

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Usually, my daughter types the finished project into the computer. Then she edits and revises the document using the self-editing checklist provided by WriteShop. After the 3 week cycle, we evaluate her work and the skills she learned during the entire cycle.

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What We Thought Of the Product

My daughter Kyla thinks that the product is wonderful. It’s a  fun and creative curriculum that allowed her to grow as a writer. She mentioned that she liked how the lessons started with games and made the lessons easier to remember. Every start of a new lesson, she looks forward to the unique games and it sets the tone for her writing assignment.  She also appreciates the self-editing checklist since it made editing and revision work easier for her. Her favorite lesson so far is the humor writing project. It was her first time to write a humor piece and it turned out quite good!

As the parent teacher, I liked the different activities that WriteShop provides. Instead of the usual drills, it adds creativity and widens my daughter’s choice of words and story lines in the different writing projects. The step by step approach was able to guide my daughter in forming the different skills needed to write more creatively. I especially liked the exercise on narrowing a broad topic, as it helped her to think more specifically on her writing assignments.

After 8 weeks of use, this product has not failed my expectations. If you have a reluctant writer in your home or if you are looking for a fun way to unleash your child’s creativity, I suggest you give WriteShop a try!

For more information on WriteShop, check the WriteShop Facebook page  or follow WriteShop Twitter or the WriteShop  
Pinterest or Writeshop @ Instagram or Google+ 
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Veritas Press Self Paced History: Middle Ages, Renaissance and Reformation Review

Studying history is one of the favorites in our homeschool. As part of the Schoolhouse Review Crew, I was given the opportunity by Veritas Press to review their Veritas Press Self-Paced History online product, my 5th grade daughter was as excited as I am to see how it works and if it fits our family.

Veritas Press Review
The Veritas Press Self-Paced History curriculum offers several time periods. The available time periods are:

Old Testament and Ancient Egypt

New Testament, Greece and Rome

Middle Ages, Renaissance and Reformation

Explorers to 1815

1815 to Present

I chose  to review the  Middle Ages, Renaissance and Reformation time period because this is the lesson my daughter has been studying before she took her summer break. The lessons start from St Augustine until John Knox and the reformation in Scotland.

Veritas Press Review

The Middle Ages, Ren & Ref Flashcards accompany the online lessons. it covers the 32 major events in chronological order and has a brief summary of the event or life story of the specific person. It allows the student to remember the lessons easily and gives them easy access to their lessons without needing to go online. The flashcards can be purcahsed separately with a price of $19.95.

Veritas Press ReviewVeritas Press Review
 Veritas Press actually started their company with their history and Bible Flashcards many years back!  Marlin and Laurie Detweiler  wanted to teach history chronologically to their children, integrating the Biblical timeline along with world history so that they can  relate what they read in the Bible along with their history books! Many like minded parents loved their products and thus, the couple were able to develop several programs to help other families and schools achieve their goals.

Here are important information about the Middle Ages, Renaissance and Reformation Self-Paced history lessons:

- Age range of this product is for the 2nd Grade to 6th Grade.

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- It covers 32 historical events during the whole time  period.

 

- Each historical event has 5 sessions totalling to 160 class periods for the entire course.

- Each class ranges from 20 to 30 minutes of interactive teaching.

- The lessons are taught by 2 people who are in character. They talk to each other and to the student in a friendly way making history lessons interesting .

- The lessons are discussed in-depth and shows different resources like images, maps and other important information in relation to the topic.

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- Every lesson has an unique game to make the student remember details. Kids will love the soccer and adventure type games.

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-  A memory song which states the 32 historical events,  plays over and over every lesson to make memorzing fun and easy.

- You can easily access old lessons and retake them if needed by going to the dashboard and clicking my courses to see grades, and access all the video lessons.

- The student can not proceed to the next lesson without completing the current one. This ensures that your child masters the lessons before proceeding to the next one.

- After every 5 sessions, there is an exam which checks to see if your child has remembered the details of the lessons. The student gets immediate feedback whether their answers are correct or incorrect.

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- The curriculum is accessed online using your web broswer. It is expected that your internet connection should have a minimum speed of 768 Kbps to run the course successfully. There is no need to install any special software to access the online course.

- There are hands-on projects to make on some of the lessons. A project supply list is provided so you can prepare the supplies ahead of time.

- A historical fiction reading list and schedule is also provided, though it is optional.

- The course costs $199 and has a sibling discount of $100 off!.

- Upon registration, you have one year to access the online course.

 

How We Used the Product

My daughter used this curriculum on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays as her primary history lessons. She just opens the browser and goes to Veritas Press logon page,  types in her username and password and plugs in her earphones. She can’t be disturbed while enjoying learning. The topics she has covered for the duration of the review period are St Augustine, the Vikings and the Barbarians and St Jerome!

What We Think of the Product

I asked her what she thought of this product and she just loves it. She likes the interesting way the lessons are presented and she likes how the song has helped her in memory work. The games were also a favorite!

As the mom, I really loved this product. This dynamic self-paced chronological approach to learning history is truly the best way for my daughter to learn the grammar stage of history! She used to have problems with memorizing dates and important details but with the help of the memory song, the interactive story-telling and games, she has been remembering more details about history now! The in-depth discussion of each topic and the variety of resources used plays an important part in my daughter’s learning too. Being an online self-paced curriculum, my daughter has become more independent in learning about history too. I hardly was needed in the duration of her sessions. I also liked that she can go as fast as she wants or slow down on lessons that she finds difficult.

I do recommend this product for families who wants classical way of studying history with little parental intervention! For more information, check out the other reviews of the Schoolhouse Review Crew.

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Frog and Toad Together E-Guide Review

As a family who loves to read literature together, we have been on the look out for great literature guides. I have heard of Progeny Press from another homeschooling mom before so I was excited to start reviewing the Frog and Toad Together E-Guide  with my 7 year old son!

Progeny Press Review
Progeny Press has produced over a hundred study guides for popular and classic literature over the years. What makes it unique is that the study guides are written from a Christian’s perspective. The literature that they choose are mostly award winner (Newbery, Caldecott, ALA Notable Book, Coretta Scott King, etc.) books which ensures that these literary pieces are endowed with quality and substance. The differrent study guides are categorized according to year levels :

  • lower elementary (K-3)
  • upper elemenentary  (3-5)
  • middle school (5-8)
  • high school (8-12)

All the study guides come in three versions: the physical book, the CD version and the Downloadable E-Guide. Each of the different versions contain the same content and have the same price. The CD version and Downloadable E-Guides both are PDF files which can be accessed with the use of Adobe Acrobat Reader. Guides for grade levels 4-12 all come in interactive PDF format, meaning your children can type in their answers and save their work so you can check later!  Answer keys can be found at the end of the book.

The recommended time to complete work on a single guide takes 8-12 weeks but it could take lesser time for those using the K-2. You may end up using three to four study guides in a school year!

Progeny Press Review
 

Frog and Toad Together Study Guide is recommended for  Lower Elementary students ranging from Grades K-2. It only costs $11.99.

 

Frog and Toad Together is written by Arnold Lobel and is probably one of the most popular children’s stories. It is a story of friendship. We have read the adventures of frog and toad many times before and we’ve enjoyed it immensely, often laughing at the silliness of toad! But we’ve never really discussed the lessons we can learn from the stories.

While downloading the PDF file to my computer, I asked my 7 year old son to read the 1st chapter of Frog and Toad Together. 

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Then we opened the Frog and Toad Together Study Guide and saw that it contained a note to the instructor. It details how Progeny Press  Study Guide should be used. Aside from a copy of the literature, we needed to have a dictionary and Bible on hand. Then we went on to read the synopsis, information about the author and started on the before-you-read activities.

As the activity has suggested, I asked my son to draw his best friend and what character qualities he thinks a good friend should have. It was amazing to see that even at 7 years old, he already has a concept of what he wants in a friend and how he can be a good friend to another. Then he went right on to answer the questions on Chapter 1. Because the chapter discusses about Toad making a list and how silly it was for him to be confined on what he was to do based on a list, he was tasked to make a list of his own at the end of the chapter. My son is not fond of making lists so it was a nice activity for him to do for the first time! He enjoyed writing down what he was to do the next day. And he found himself constantly checking the list to make sure he has accomplished what he planned on doing. Interestingly, we also learned that not everything happens according to plan. Just as the study guide mentioned, it is not for man to direct his own steps. My son was able to understand the reality of life — how  interruptions and challenges may happen and we need not fear them since it is God who directs you in the way you should go.

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At the end of each chapter, there were different hands-on projects suggested and fairly easy to do since all materials are easily found in your household. Projects were of a great variety as there were experiements involving seeds, baking cookies, making a schedule, drawing and painting.

My son enjoyed doing the overview activities which included a venn diagram and word search. There was a list of suggested books for further reading. Thankfully, we had more books about Frog and Toad on hand and continued reading the adventures of these 2 friends!

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We completed one chapter a day and worked on the study guide 3x a week . We finished the whole study guide in 2 weeks.

The study guide exceeded my expectations. I was a bit wary that my son who isn’t very fond of writing would be bored but surprisingly, he enjoyed doing this study guide. The questions challenged him to think and the activities were fun and enjoyable. I liked that the material was really age appropriate and that it was downloadable over the internet. But best of all, the study guide was able to tie up scriptures which reminded us of God’s character and His Word with a story we love. I am looking forward to more guides that are coming soon from Progeny Press and will definitely be getting some more E-Guides for our future use!

For more information on Progeny Press, follow them on their Facebook page at  https://www.facebook.com/progenypress Twitter at  https://twitter.com/progenypressPinterest at  http://www.pinterest.com/progenypress/ and YouTube at  https://www.youtube.com/user/ProgenyPress.

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Trident Kraken A.M.S. Case for iPhone 5/5S Review

My husband gave me an  iPhone 5S a few months back. I know how pricey it is to own one so I was looking for a tough protective case. It was perfect timing as I was given an opportunity to review the Kraken A.M.S. Case for Apple iPhone 5/5S from  Trident Case!

Trident Case Review

Trident Case was established in May 2010 with the goal of providing the toughest cases for the growing mobile device market. All Trident  Case products are manufactured in the United States of America.

Trident sent me the iPhone case overseas and I received it in good condition. I received a white colored case and as soon as I received it,  I read the instructions and immediately put it on. In fact, it was very easy to put on! As I was looking at the packaging of the case, I was amazed at the numerous features of the Kraken A.M.S. Case!

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Features:

Gives 3 layers of protection with a hardened polycarbonate shell and shock absorbing TPE. It also has impact resistant thermo plastic elastomer (TPE) on the corners.

Meets military standards for dust, vibration, sun, drop and rain. The following details are taken from Trident’s website. The tests were performed by a third party company.

  • Drop (Mil-STD-810F, Method 516.5) – 26 drops onto concrete from 4ft.
  • Vibration (Mil-STD-810F, Method 514.5) from 20-2000Hz across 3 different axes for a total of 18 hours.
  • Dust (Mil-STD-810F, Method 510.4) – blow dust for 3 hours at 29 ft / sec.
  • Sand (Mil-STD-810F, Method 510.4) – blow sand for 3 hours at 59 ft / sec.
  • Rain (Mil-STD-810F, Method 506.4) – 7.9 inches per hour of rain at 40 mph wind velocity for 1 hour.

Includes built-in screen protector to ensure your screen will not be scratched or broken easily.

Detachable media stand makes hands free viewing possible.

Device controls and ports protected to ensure your device is protected from dust and water.

Degradable, compostable and recyclable material used to ensure that the product is eco-friendly.

Comes with belt clip/holster for additional protection.

 

My phone is widely used by my kids too  now and the case has proved to be very useful for our family. It has been 4 weeks ago since I have installed the case over my phone. So far, I am very satisfied with the tough protection it gives my iPhone 5S. Through out the past 4 weeks, my phone was fallen to the floor twice already. Thankfully, the iPhone is still in one piece and is working properly. I also am grateful that there is a built-in screen protector as it keeps my screen scratch free from all the usage. The detachable media stand has also proven very useful to me and my kids. We use it whenever we read eBooks or watch YouTube videos. I also like the way the ports are covered from dust and other possible scenarios. With kids using the phone, you just don’t know what might happen to your phone. It is better to have it protected!

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The camera is not obstructed by the case and the buttons at the side are all well protected. The screen is very clear as though there is no built-in screen protector on top of it.

For all these wonderful features, the case  only costs $49.95! That is really a great deal.

The Kraken A.M.S. Case for Apple Iphone 5/5S is designed for all ages and for both genders. It actually comes in several colors.

Trident Case Review

Trident Case Review
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Trident also has cases for mobile devices from other manufacturers, like Samsung, HTC, Motorola and other smartphones. They also have cases for tablets! For more information and product reviews of Trident’s other products, read the Schoolhouse Review Crew posts!

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