Lessontrek ~ A Great Choice for Your Homeschool Planning Needs

Lessontrek Online Lesson Planner

{disclaimer ~ Lessontrek is a blog sponsor}

We have been using Lessontrek for 2 years and I can’t imagine my homeschool planning without it! Recently I have taught my oldest son {currently in 8th grade} how to use Lessontrek to create his own lesson plans!

Science Technology Engineering and Math (STEM) skills are becoming an essential part of education due to the high demand for these skills in the near and distant future. When our children go into the workforce in 2025, for example, they’ll be well equipped to perform at higher levels than other kids because the home school community can do a better job fostering the STEM education in the home. Lessontrek built a productivity application that nurtures STEM related curriculum. It not only equips the parent but the child as well to learn how to use modern and updated software applications to assist them with their daily tasks, and to prepare them for the types of software applications they’ll use in 2025.

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As you can see in the video below, he is fully capable of using the Lessontrek software to build his lesson plans. This not only encourages the development STEM skills but also encourages independence and teaches him to organize and manage his time. I want to do all I can to prepare him for college and beyond, both academically and in the area of time management!

He has a lovely sense of humor and he isn’t all too thrilled about me not doing his lesson plans any longer! Growing up and becoming more independent isn’t easy, but it’s good for him!

We have other reviews of Lessontrek, you can read my initial impressions here in our first review, and another post I wrote here. A video overview of the lesson planning feature is here and a peek inside the gradebook feature is here.

Lessontrek-Online-Homeschool-Planner[1]  Homeschool-Lesson-Planning-with-Less[1]  Lessontrek Gradebook Feature Review


Want to try Lessontrek? They offer a free 2 week trial and are offering my readers a special offer, which you can see on my sidebar! If you are a newsletter subscriber, look for an email tomorrow with an EVEN BETTER offer!

Enter to win…

Use Rafflecopter beow to enter to win a LIFETIME Membership to Lessontrek!  All emails will be shared with Lessontrek, giveaway is open worldwide, and ends April 27, 2016.

a Rafflecopter giveaway



Youth Digital ~ MOD Design 1 Review

Youth Digital MOD Design 1 Review

{disclaimer ~ Educents is a blog sponsor and provided MOD Design 1 for review}

Educents is the trusted resource for every child’s education. Whether you’re looking for curricula and science experiments, or tips and ideas, we hope we can help you discover new ways to make learning fun! logo-highres[12]

Click here to find innovative products and ideas created by a community of experts in education!

We noticed Youth Digital a couple of years ago at a homeschool convention and my Minecraft loving children, especially my oldest, were instantly interested. I was immediately impressed with the whole concept, we just couldn’t work it into the budget at the time.  When we were offered the chance to review MOD Design 1 thanks to Educents I was obviously thrilled.

I wish you could have been sitting next to me and seen my 13 year old’s reaction when he found out we were getting this!  The excitement has only continued, he fell in love instantly and has continued to LOVE the lessons.md1

So, what is Youth Digital?

"The future will be made by creators, not consumers."

Youth Digital offers an innovative online learning solution that kids can access from any computer with an internet connection. Their learning platform provides kids a comprehensive educational experience that is amazingly fun, highly interactive, and rewarding. Through Youth Digital courses, kids will master critical technology skills and learn to use professional-level software that will help them be successful in today’s digital world.

 

What is MOD Design 1?

Mod Design 1 by Youth Digital is an engaging way for kids ages 8-14, to learn key technical skills while programming their own mods for Minecraft. The interactive lessons are fun to watch and easy to follow. Kids are able to learn at their own pace and use their imaginations to create their own Minecraft mods! Kids will code their own Minecraft mod from start to finish and watch as the end result becomes a unique, shareable Minecraft mod that they built from scratch.

Kids will learn the basics of one of the most popular coding languages in the world as they modify real Java code to build their own Minecraft mods. Students will master introductory computer programming concepts including object-oriented programming, methods and parameters, instantiation of new objects, and more. Kids will also learn to use a pro-level Java development tool, Eclipse.

What’s included?

  • Over 30 hours of self-paced, engaging online lessons
  • 1 year access to our dedicated team of online teachers to help your student along the way
  • Professional software

 

Here are some screenshots showing what things look like inside.  The first shows the student dashboard with the lessons…

YD Homescreen

 

Within each lesson there are videos and an outline of what will be covered.  Here are 2 outlines…

YD 1 YD 2

The informative and entertaining videos also include screencasts, showing the child exactly what to do and how to do it.  Here’s a peek at the sword lesson…

YD 3

Below you can see a screenshot of the coding section, your child is taught how and where to insert code!

YD 4

 

This was one of those reviews that I knew would be a team effort and I told my 13 year old son that from the beginning.  He agreed to work with me and this has been a fun process.  He has been into Minecraft for years now and I am very supportive of his interest.  Once I learned about Minecraft I quickly realized what an incredibly educational game this was for my kids. Extending the love of Minecraft into learning in this way through Youth Digital has been awesome!

Here’s what my son had to say about his experience with MOD Design 1…

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OK so when I was told that I was going to do the MOD Design 1 course I was extremely excited because I already loved to play Minecraft and I enjoyed programming. The people that created the course are geniuses because you can definitely learn a lot from the course.

It does get hard at times but it is really nice because you can get help with what you are stuck on just as simple at clicking the HELP! button and tell them and show them what’s wrong! I had to use this a few times and they are super helpful and respond quickly.

The program is awesome because as you go through the course you do interactive quizzes and and solve problems and you can earn points! You can use the points to learn even more stuff to put into your mod! What’s also cool about it is ALL the software to run the program comes with the course and even if your course expires you can still keep the software to keep working on your projects!

The age recommendation is from 8-14 years of age, I think that younger ones (8 and 9) can definitely do this course. It may get hard but with the HELP! button makes it ease to get unstuck from your problem. I’m turning 14 here soon and I love the course so I also think that 13, 14 and 15 year olds will learn and enjoy the course as well.

Going into the course you don’t have to know anything about programming to enjoy the course! They do a through job of explaining how to do it and what it means. So for all the Minecraft lovers out there this course is a great learning experience and fun way to play Minecraft!

 

Even better, here’s a video interview I did with him.  Ever wanted a peek at his personality?  watch this.  He’s a goof…I love him so.  The video is almost 7 minutes long, he had a lot to say!

 

Final Thoughts…

I definitely recommend MOD Design 1 and Youth Digital in general for a few reasons. Expanding on an interest and providing real life learning skills in our computer driven world is so valuable.  He has already begged for another course and we will be seeing if we can fit this into our homeschool budget.  Watching my children be comfortable with computers means a lot to us.  No matter what they decide to do with their lives, it is almost certain a computer will be involved somehow.  Pac actually has dreams of possibly working with software design so this was a fabulous experience for him. 

Want to Purchase MOD Design 1?

Educents is offering an EXTRA 10% off when using code: 1P10

Buy Here!



Monthly Homeschool Wrap-Up October 2015 {1st, 4th, 8th}

Homeschool Monthly Wrap Up October 2015

You can see our detailed curriculum posts by clicking on the graphics below.

1st-Grade-Homeschool-Curriculum-Choi[1] 4th-Grade-Homeschool-Curriculum-Choi[1] 8th-Grade-Homeschool-Curriculum-Choi

{disclaimer ~ affiliate links are used}


All Together Learning

 

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We do 3 subjects all together and really enjoy our time with our kids all together {most of the time}.

Daddy teaches Mystery of History which is awesome.  We are almost finished with the 1st book and will move on to part 2 when we are done. My kids use the notebooking pages, and my daughter colors the coloring page.  Daddy teaches and I write notes on our board to help guide the kids with their note taking. I love our timeline notebook which is shown below…

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We still love our Heroes of History books.  We finished up reading Ben Franklin and are well into George Washington now. We are still enjoying Liberty’s Kids DVDs, to help deepen our American Revolution knowledge. 

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You can see our entire World Geography plan here.  We are LOVING this so far.  We have been focusing on South America and are finishing up the last few countries! Here’s a peek inside of their notebooks…

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1st & 4th Together Learning

Ladybug and Krash do 2 subjects together and it is working well!  We do Picture Smart Bible {K-3 Old Testament} and US Geography twice a week.

They absolutely love US Geography and I think it’s because they both really love coloring and they love birds.  Seeing the bird for each state is very exciting for them! We have completed states through Maryland and they each have a beautiful notebook for review!

You can see Ladybug flipping through her notebook in the video below…

We review all the states we have learned each day we do a new one, we use our USA Geography PowerPoint for this.  The PowerPoint show is a favorite and is really great for review.

We have added in a couple more resources to expand our US Geography learning.   The kids absolutely LOVE the awesome USA States song/video by Readeez

You can see a bit of it in action in the video below

 

My kids LOVE this and we listen to it daily now! You can also see Krash playing Stack the States on our iPad.  This is too advanced for Ladybug but she likes to watch. 

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    We enjoyed playing Sequence States and Capitals together and will be using this game much more!  If you don’t own this game and are working on states and capitals, I highly recommend it!

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      We are enjoying Picture Smart Bible together and have completed through Numbers and are working on Deuteronomy/Joshua.

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      8th Grade

      Homeschool -8893  8th Grade Homeschool Curriculum Choices[3]

      #8thGradeWithPacMan[3]

      Pac is by far my least photographed child because a majority of his schooling is done independently or with his Dad.  All of my photos of his are usually taken during his science experiments, since that’s the most exciting thing to photograph of an 8th grader’s homeschooling!

      He is awesome about including his siblings when possible. 

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      He is a pretty easy student and we are thankful.  Sure, we have issues, but overall he does what he is supposed to do. His dad oversees his math, spelling and science completely.  I oversee everything else.  Writing is the only subject I am still teaching directly.

      One of my favorite portions of his homeschooling is his reading.  He recently finished Elijah of Buxton.  His favorites are in bold, with Peace Child being the absolute favorite so far.

      Here’s his completed list…

      All of his other subjects are going well, we are pleased with our choices for him this year.


      4th Grade

      Homeschool -8866  4th Grade Homeschool Curriculum Choices[4]

      #4thGradewithKrash[3]

      In order to stay committed to his gymnastics he doubles up on his schoolwork 2 days a week so he can be free to practice the other 3 days. I have recently been coming to the gym for an hour on his break to do a few subjects.   

      4th Grade -0627

      I am WAY low on photos of him during school!  Nothing has really changed, we continue to be pleased with his progress.

      We finished our first novel together, Robinson Crusoe which he loved! We were both sad when the book was finished, it was a perfect fit for him.  We are now reading Mighty Men together, which is a collection of short stories. 

      He also reads books on his own at night and currently reading Revolutionary War on Wednesday.

      His reading list so far this year…

      1st Grade

      Homeschool -8872 1st Grade Homeschool Curriculum Choices[6]

      #1stGradewithLadybug[3]

       

      I continue to use Lessontrek for her weekly planning and then build her daily work grid from my lesson plan.  She chooses the order of her subjects each day.  She likes to come with me to the gym when I teach Krash so she does some work there too. 

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      In no particular order, here’s a recap of her past month.  You can see her very first week of 1st grade in our post here.

      First Week of 1st Grade Homeschool FB[4]


      Science

        We have been enjoying her science together.  On a whim I decided to use an Evan-Moor science book and I love it!  It is simple, and has a project at the end of each chapter. One of her favorite topics this past month was leaves.  Here’s she was working on her leaf rubbings, which we turned into leaf friends and a leaf family tree.
        Leaf Friends -0271

       

      After reviewing The Curious Kid’s Science Book we decided to add it into our curriculum and continue to love it.  She chooses one project to do with Daddy per week.  Here she was exploring how different liquids melted.

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      Below you can see a peek into a really fun paper flower project.

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      I have been letting her choose an animal to study which has been really fun. We finished our fun unit all about FROGS.

      Exploring Frogs Unit Study and Lapbook


      Handwriting

      Handwriting is one of her favorite subjects now and she begs to learn more cursive letters! 

      We are using Logic of English Cursive.  We begin by introducing each letter in the salt tray, she loves this!  We also use the salt tray for review, which is fun and low stress for her since she can easily erase a mistake.

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      Here’s a video clip of a review time…

       

      She started writing words recently and LOVED this!

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      She makes a little card after we learn each letter by turning the letter into some sort of shape!  This is our collection recently…

      1st Grade -0577


      Math

      We do a few different things for math and our combination is working beautifully for her.  She continues to LOVE Life of Fred and is finished with book 1 and well into book 2.

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      Spielgaben is a great fit for her and we do about 2-3 lessons per week, mostly using the worksheets.  See our recent post here…

      Hands on Math with Spielgaben


      Grammar

      Growing with Grammar and First Language Lessons are both wonderful and she enjoys both.  We use both because they are different, yet similar. 

      Here’s a video clip of her working on her second poem she memorized, Work {she’s using our Poem PowerPoint}.


      Reading

      All About Reading 2 is moving along completed through lesson 24. She is moving along as a reader at a pretty rapid pace now, it’s exciting! She loves the games in the lessons.

      1st grade -0430

       

      Here’s a video peek of her reading her level 2 reader aloud.  She LOVES these stories!

      Ways we supplement reading development…

      We go to the library at least twice a month, sometimes more! Her library books are read daily both independently and aloud!

      1st grade -0227  1st grade -0243

      Before we take books back I ask her to set out her very favorites and I snap a photo and share on Instagram.  These are some recent favorite stacks…

      1st grade -0218 Library Love -0483  Library Love -0799

       

      We are almost finished with The Dragons of Blueland, the final book in the series.  She LOVES these books!  We also started the first Little House on the Prairie book, MUCH to my JOY!!!

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      We recently got the Life of Fred Beginning Readers for review and she LOVES them!

      Life of Fred Readers -0537


      We Choose Virtues has been awesome, we are finishing up our last virtue currently!  She talks about them a lot and loves our display!

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      Whew!  I think that’s it! It takes me forever to write these posts but they are my favorite to look back on!

      Here’s last month’s post…

      Homeschool Wrap-Up The First 6 Weeks with 1st, 4th and 8th Grade[3]

       

      You can also see much of our everyday homeschool life on Instagram!

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      Linking up with Weekly Homeschool Wrap-Up



      Our 7th Grade Homeschool Curriculum Choices

      7th Grade Homeschool Curriculum Choices



      My oldest son is 12 and going into 7th grade this year. Up until now, we have used Calvert as our base curriculum, you can read here why we chose to change.  Below are the 7th grade homeschool curriculum choices we have made!  He had input on these choices and we are both excited about our final decisions.

      {disclaimer ~ affiliate links are used below}

      7th Grade Subjects

      These are the subjects only Pac will be doing {the others are listed below in the group subject section}

      The visual version…

      Apologia General Science TT Prealgebra LOF Pre Algebra Write Shop 1Vocab Connections G Growing with Grammar 7 Spelling Workout G Who is God

      Group Subjects

      I also I chose some subjects to do with all 3 of my children together, you’ll see these below {and also in this post here}.  My kids will be Kindergarten, 3rd grade and 7th grade so I will adjust these subjects to each child’s academic ability as far as my expectations.

        The visual version…

      YWAM Heroes of History U.S. History Curriculum Draw your way through the Bible  Continent Boxes What's in the Bible DVDs and Coloring Book Geography and Cultures Young Composers



      A Peek Into Our Homeschool ~ October 2013

      Homeschool-Life_thumb1

      Woo-Hoo!  My goal is to keep up regularly with a Weekly Wrap-up post, this is my 2nd this year, I am off to a good start!

      {disclaimer: affiliate links are used below}

      This year we don’t do much as a whole group, it just wasn’t working.  The boys have been participating in some of Ladybug’s Integrity Time lessons, I “make” Krash sit in and I invite Pac when I think he might like it.  Recently we did the letter D for Determination lesson and explored magnets together {they stick with it}, as an object lesson.

      Integrity Time -9311

      Integrity Time -9305

       

      See our Homeschool Curriculum Choices for this year!


       

      Krash--2nd-Grade_thumb1

      I decided to make a few changes to K’s curriculum.  Although we use Calvert through a cyber school, I have a lot of freedom and basically use what I want and change if needed.  I am very blessed with my situation.  One thing I have always disliked about Calvert is their Calvert Script, so with Pac I used a basic cursive and with Krash I have decided to use Logic of English’s Cursive Handwriting program. I wanted a plan and this gives it to me.  I did TONS of reading prior to choosing this one and purchasing it.  I am really happy so far and he loves it.

      We are learning 2 letters per day, going through the sequence of using the salt tray,

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      A dry erase marked on large lines…

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      Finally the pencil and paper practice.  We each circle the letter we think he wrote the best each time.

      2nd grade -9388

       

      I have decided to let go of the phonics and spelling program that comes with Calvert.  It’s not bad, I just like All About Spelling and All About Reading better. I was having him do both, but realized that at this point it’s not necessary.  We are now doing two AAS 2 lessons per week and three AAR 2 lessons per week.

      Below he was using the AAR/AAR word cards to work on alphabetizing to the second letter.

      2nd Grade -9266

      I am keeping the literature portion of Calvert, which brings in sight words, vocabulary words and awesome stories and themes. I really like this aspect of Calvert.

      One thing I love about Calvert this year is the option of using Singapore’s Math in Focus. We are in LOVE so far, it is a great fit for Krash and for my teaching style! This is an aspect of Calvert I am definitely keeping and love.  The hands on aspect is a big win for both of us.  I won’t say it’s always easy, he does struggle with some of the intense methods that are teaching the WHY behind the problem.  However, I am glad he is being taught this way, I think it will benefit him in the long run.

      Below was an activity he did, to find the missing number in the addition problem.

      2nd Grade -8747

       

      Our Continent Box is a fun extension to our homeschool, Krash likes working towards his goals on his Continent Box Challenge.  Below he completed the one of the challenges from our Australia Continent Box to create the continent out of a material of his choice, he chose rainbow blocks!

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      2nd Grade -9317

      Here he was matching the 3 part animal cards

      2nd Grade -9320

       

      Recently Krash had to write a story, to work on writing structure {we use Calvert’s writing portion}. He uses a Try-It notebook for words he has difficulty spelling.  It’s a technique I used when I was a classroom teacher.  He tries a word on the left side and then brings it to me and I write it correctly on the right side. This enables him to use his phonics and spelling skills while also having the correct end result to reinforce correct spelling.

      2nd Grade -8511

      He had to read his final story aloud, and since it was about Minecraft, PacMan was an eager listener!

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      2nd Grade -9011

       

      We are using Calvert’s science and have been learning about seeds and plants. We soaked bean seeds and investigated them the next day.

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      He learned to identify the seed coat and the embryo.

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      2nd Grade -9190

      2nd Grade -9212

      Ladybug joins in when she thinks it looks fun!

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      Best part of homeschool, the cat gets to come!

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      PacMan-6th-Grade_thumb1

      I don’t get many photos of PacMan, since 6th grade isn’t always a photo-worthy as the younger grades! 

      Below you can see his study notebook.  Calvert uses assessments every 20 lessons and they can sometimes be a bit overwhelming in my opinion.  In order to stay prepared throughout the entire 20 lessons, he utilizes printed flashcards I prepare in advance.  I use the free flashcard creator software here, and print them out and file them in a study notebook. As we read he looks for key terms and writes the page number and definition on the paper.  In the end, before the tests, we cut them out and work through the flashcards to prepare!

      6th Grade -8749

       

      He is currently reading City: A Story of Roman Planning and Construction, and learning a lot.

      City

      This book as amazing drawings, I learned SO much when I read it this past summer to prepare to teach him!  He is enjoying it, but he much prefers novels with more of a story line.


      That’s certainly not everything we did, but a glimpse of what my camera captured over the past couple of weeks! To see more weekly wrap-ups, visit…

      kris_weekly-wrap-up1