Saturday, November 19, 2016

Mermaid Tail Sale!

Does your little mermaid need a tail for Christmas? My handmade with love mermaid sets are on sale right now at my Etsy shop. Save 10% off your purchase with the code, “MERMAID10.”

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green mermaidh3jill

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Physics 101 (Homeschool Review)

cover of Physics 101 DVD set 

Are you looking for a fun way to tackle high school science courses? The 101 Series offers video based courses in Biology, Chemistry, and Physics, with a General Science scheduled to come out soon. I received the Physics 101 course to review and it has been a hit in our home!

The core of Physics 101 is the video instruction. 20 videos, each ranging from 20 to 40 minutes long make up the primary “textbook” for the course. For some students—those who want to use the videos as a supplement to another course or students who are younger than high school age—the video content will be sufficient. For high school students who want to use Physics 101 as a complete high school course, the DVD set includes two additional pdf resources.

The Guidebook is a 106 page resource that includes a 2-4 page summary of the content for each video, discussion questions, and a quiz. The Accreditation booklet pulls everything together, with schedules and assignments for video, research, labs, and quizzes. The schedule even includes space to document the required 120-180 hours to earn a full credit. While completing the course, students do a significant amount of research and write reports on their findings. The videos demonstrate each of the labs and the students are then expected to perform the labs on their own as well.

Physics 101 is divided into 7 topics, with 1-4 lessons within each topic. I think that you could complete the topics in any order, although lessons within the topic should be watched in sequence. Topics include:

  • Light
  • Sound
  • Heat
  • Electricity
  • Motion
  • Physics of the Weird
  • The Future of Physics

The 101 Series is a family enterprise. The concepts are all taught by Wes Olson, a filmmaker, science buff, and homeschool dad. Filming is done by family members. You would never peg this as an amateur production, though. The videos are top quality, professional films. Video lectures by Wes Olson, animations, experiment demonstrations, and photos combine to clearly explain and illustrate complex concepts.


How did we use Physics 101?

Emily watched a video, read through the corresponding summary pages in the Guidebook and took the quiz orally. She aced all the quizzes, which tells me that the material was taught well. She tried out a couple of the experiments, but hasn’t done any of the online activities or research reports yet, since at this point we’re using Physics 101 as a supplement instead of a full curriculum.

Our thoughts:

Emily loved this series. Seriously, this is an actual quote, “Physics makes me smile. I love physics!”  My original intention was to complete a small portion of the course this year, then to save the rest for next year, but since she keeps asking to watch more videos, I now expect that we will finish it this year!

I think that Physics 101 is ideal for an average student who wants a non-math based physics course. We’ve watched 6 of the 20 videos so far and find the teaching clear and solid. The concepts are related to their usefulness in daily life, answering questions such as “How does electricity get to our homes?” and “Why does light pass through some materials and not others?” Because the experiments are all demonstrated on the videos, students who choose to skip performing some or all of the labs will still get to see the results. All the experiments that we watched, however, were fairly simple. While this made them easy to do with household objects, they seemed more like middle school level labs. I would prefer that the labs be explained in the written course materials as well as demonstrated on the videos. It was sometimes difficult to remember exactly how a lab was done after viewing it one time and having written instructions would be more convenient than having to find and re-watch the lab on the video.The additional research activities in the Accreditation Booklet are helpful for building Physics 101 into a more solid course. This course would be easy for a student to study on his or her own without a lot of parental guidance other than grading or looking over the research reports.

We plan to have Emily do a more intense math-based physics course next year since she is strong in math, but will definitely use this video series as a supplement (if she doesn’t finish watching them all this year.)

The Physics 101 Guidebook includes summaries of each video segment that are work well for review or as a study aid.



The schedule in the Accreditation Booklet suggests additional activities and research assignments and provides a easy way to document study time.


The Homeschool Review Crew reviewed all three of these courses, so be sure to hop over to the Crew blog to learn more!

Physics 101
Chemistry 101
Biology 101

Physics, Chemistry & Biology 101 {The 101 Series}
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Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Commissioned (Homeschool Review)

Commissioned {Chara Games}

Our family has the pleasure of trying out a new game this month, Commissioned, produced by Chara Games. Right out of the box, it was obvious that Commissioned is a quality game. The game board is beautiful and two-sided, each side featuring maps of the areas visited by the early Apostles. The game includes wooden game pieces, tokens and Apostle cards of heavy cardboard, and good quality game cards.


Players of Commissioned aim to “spread the gospel’' across areas of the Middle East as described in the book of Acts. While the game is Christian-themed, no prior knowledge of the Bible is assumed or necessary. Players are likely to learn a bit about the geography and actions of the early church as they play, but the game is primarily a cooperative strategy game rather than an educational one.

I haven’t had a lot of experience with cooperative games, where all the players work together to accomplish a goal and wasn’t sure at first how fun this concept would be, but we actually did enjoy working together. After several game plays, we still haven’t won, though, which is making me even more determined to figure this out and win next time! If you really feel the need for competition between players, there is an “adversary variant,” which we haven’t yet tried.


Commissioned is NOT a game with “quick start” instructions or one that you will intuitively figure out. The 10-page rule book clearly explains how to play the game, but it took us a while to actually master the rules. The first time we played, I skimmed through the instructions, then studied the rules as we played through the first few rounds. After the game, I read back through the rules to clarify some of the choices we made as we played. My older children were home for the weekend, so we had a group of 5 to play the first game. My son-in-law did a pretty good job of interpreting the rules or guessing what to do next while my daughter, confused by the rules of game play, grumbled, “Where is the Ban**** game?”  Chara Games has also provided several videos that show how to play the game that will clear up some of the confusion and simplify matters. You can see them right on the product page to get a better idea of how the game is played.

Game play was much easier the second time through, and by the third time, Emily was begging to play! There’s a bit of a learning curve to the game, but it’s worth the effort!

Basic play required each player to take on the persona of one of the early apostles. Each apostle comes with game cards that perform different feats, so even before the game starts, choosing your character is part of the strategy. Using the apostle, missionary, and church member playing pieces, players work cooperatively to plant churches in cities around the map. Trial cards offer setbacks to the team progress and faith cards can offer help in growing new churches and multiplying members.

There are actually five different variations for Commissioned, each with  different requirements to beat the game. After we played the first variation, Acts of the Apostles, a couple of times and felt that we had a grasp on it, we tried Peter’s Gentile Outreach, and found that our strategy needed to change quite a bit to achieve the new goals. I really liked that this game is ever changing with the different game options!


We really enjoy playing Commissioned. The game is unique, and, while a bit difficult to learn at first, has been a lot of fun. I’m looking forward to trying out all five of the game play options!

Chara games also sent me a brand-new, hot off the presses card game called 3 Seeds, which I will be reviewing very soon. It is for ages 12 and up,  and players compete to earn the most points as they “sow seeds” and aim for the highest harvest returns. It looks like fun, too! image001
Please read more about Commissioned at the Homeschool Review Crew Blog!
Commissioned {Chara Games}
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Friday, November 4, 2016

Five Minute Friday—Journey

5 minutes of pondering on the topic of “journey”…


Life is a journey. A long, winding one with unexpected twists and turns.

When I plan a trip somewhere, the first thing I do is plan. I read the guidebooks, research on the internet. I make an itinerary, reservations, and notes about what to see and do. I pack carefully, thinking about what I might need. Because of all this planning, things usually work about more or less according to schedule. I may forget to pack something or have minor car trouble along the way or catch a cold, but the trip turns out more or less as planned.

To me, the word journey somehow seems to connote a more difficult or longer experience than a trip. I think of winding paths, uphill struggles, and coasting down the easy parts. I think that’s more like life. I like to think I can plan everything out (and would love to do so), but life takes unexpected turns that I can’t plan for—some wonderful detours, and some more difficult times as well. But doesn’t that really make life better and richer and more interesting?

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Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Accountable2You (Homeschool Review)

Accountability across all your devices {Accountable2You}

This month we have been trying out the Accountable2You internet accountability plan. Accountability software differs from filtering software, which actually blocks sites and search terms. Filtering software can be very helpful, especially for children who may accidentally stumble upon inappropriate content during their web use. Accountable2You offers a different approach. It does not filter, but instead it monitors activity and app usage, then sends alerts or reports to a specified accountability partner of any questionable activity

Accountable2You offers several different plans: Individual, Family, Small Business, and Group. We reviewed the Family Plan. The benefits of this particular plan include monitoring of up to 20 devices, child user accounts, unlimited accountability partners, and the ability to set time limit alerts. Like all the account options, it offers a choice of daily or weekly email reports, instant text alerts, real time reporting, and management of objectionable word lists.

The user is responsible for making good choices while on the internet. Determined users can sometimes disable or get around filtering programs and “beat the system,” but accountability programs teach the user to self monitor. If the user knows his password, he can change settings himself, but his partner will get a notification that he did so!

Accountable2You works with many different devices, including computers, tablets, and android phones. Unfortunately, the features are more limited for iPhones and iPads because of Apple’s own restrictions. Apps cannot be monitored and internet usage is only monitored through a specially designed browser on Apple products.

I already have filtering software on the computer that Emily uses. However, since I don’t have a filter on her Kindle Fire, which is the device she is more likely to use anyway, I was excited to have the opportunity to give Accountable2You a try. I don’t have any particular concerns about her internet usage, but I do like to monitor what is going on just in case.


Accountable2You is easy to use.

  • Step 1: Set up an account.
  • Step 2: Add family members to the account. Each person will have his or her own sign in name and password.
  • Step 3: Install the app on each device. Each device is linked to a person and individual time controls, alert words, and accountability partners can be set for the device.

Devices are then monitored automatically. Depending on the setting, emails or texts are sent to the designated accountability partner. Notifications can be sent instantly, daily or weekly, depending on settings. I have Emily’s reports set to daily (although I will get an instant notification for time infractions or serious concerns). The daily report will show me any questionable activity and also lets me click onto the site to see ALL of her app activity. This could be a good way to see if your child is getting distracted during school time!

Emily’s alert activity has been pretty quiet. The first day I put it on, though, I got an alert that she was on the internet after 10 p.m. It was okay—she had a friend spending the night and they were listening to a song on YouTube shortly after 10:00, but I’m glad that I got the alert. I definitely want to know if she’s staying up late watching Netflix or browsing the internet at 1 a.m.!

I entered a few terms as alert words just to test the program. She’s currently taking a course in Terrorism and Homeland Security, so I chose “crime” and “terror.” I didn’t get an alert when she searched for “terrorism,” so I realized that I did need to specifically list forms of words.


Emily also has an iPhone SE. Her Safari browser  inexplicably stopped working recently, so she was happy to install the Accountable2You browser and I don’t have to worry about her using another browser to avoid being watched. The app does NOT monitor any other app usage, though. One feature that is supposed to work on the iPhone is tracking. This would be wonderful to have. I’d really like to be able to better monitor her location when she is out with friends. Unfortunately, we couldn’t get it to work. I sent a message to the company and they responded quickly and were very helpful, but after trying the suggested  solutions, it just didn’t work. If the tracking feature was functioning, I would be able to see a location map like this for her location over the past 24 hours or more.


I also installed the app on my Fire Phone to test the features. Here, I was very impressed. Although the location app didn’t work on my phone either, all the other monitoring features worked well. I was sent alerts for questionable activity, like disabling or enabling features and apps within the phone. Also, when logging onto the website, I could view data about all activity on the phone, including the content of text messages and senders and receivers of all phone calls and data about what times the phone was used. This was really awesome! I really wish all this data was available for Emily’s phone as well.


If you have any concerns about your child’s app or internet usage, I highly recommend Accountable2You for use on Android devices, tablets, or computers.

Plans start at $6.99 a month and a 10-day free trial is available.


Accountability across all your devices {Accountable2You}
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