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.

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Math Grab ~ A Fun Multiplication Game for Kids

Math Grab Multiplication Card Game for Kids

{disclaimer ~ Math Grab is a blog sponsor and sent us a game to review}

Memorizing multiplication facts is a task all kids must do!  Anything to make this more fun and hands-on is a plus in my book!  We were sent the Math Grab game to review and I used it with my son, who is in 4th grade.  He knows all of his multiplication facts but is a bit slower with some so this was a GREAT game for him!

What is Math Grab?

Math Grab Multiplication Card Game

Math Grab is a fun Multiplication Card Game to help kids learn their multiplication times tables! Unlike most other methods kids use to learn multiplication, Math Grab uses a new effective, fun, and quick way to get kids to memorize times tables. The game is simple. Each round, one player flips over a card, and everyone else quickly reviews their cards to determine if they have a match.. if so GRAB IT and discard. First player to discard all cards wins!  See more about how to play here!

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He is HIGHLY competitive so this game is a winner in our house!  He wants to be faster with all facts so he can beat me!  As you can see below, I had a multiplication chart next to him to glance at if he came upon a fact he couldn’t remember.  Having to look made him slower, but gave him the confidence in having the ability to self-correct if needed.

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Math Grab is a great addition to our homeschool, it is now on his lesson plan to play at least once a week with a parent for review of multiplication facts!

Buy Math Grab here!

Enter to Win!Fb-Cover

Giveaway is open to US addresses only and ends 4/22/16.

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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…

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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…

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

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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!

Penguin and Pinecone Unit Study with Ivy Kids Kit Review

 Penguin and Pinecone Unit Study with Ivy Kids Kits

{disclaimer ~ Ivy Kids is a blog sponsor and sent us a kit for this review}

We continue to be in love with Ivy Kids Kits.  These are by far the best monthly subscription kits I have seen.

Not familiar with Ivky Kids Kits?

Ivy Kits are a monthly educational subscription for children ages 3-8 developed by early childhood teachers with children of their own. You can tell these kits were developed by people who truly know young kids.  The activities are awesome. Not only can you subscribe to a monthly kit, you can also buy past kits.

Each Ivy Kit contains instructions with ways to modify games to best suit each individual child and provide adults with questions to structure a child’s learning. There are enough games and materials in each kit to engage and cognitively stimulate a child throughout the month and can be replayed for years to come.

This is a photo of the inside of the box, there is a fabulous reference guide on the box to show you all of the items and activities included at-a-glance. We were sent  “Penguin and Pinecone” for this review. 

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When you subscribe to Ivy Kids, each month you will receive a very well organized kit containing a book and ten or more activities based upon the story. Everything you need to learn and play is included in your kit.  I mean EVERYthing.  These kits are incredible!

Each activity has a very well written instruction and idea sheet.  I organize all of these in sheet protectors in a binder.  They come in these great plastic baggies, but this method works better for my brain.

I keep all of the bigger items in the box, and when we chose an activity, I go to the box and grab what we need.


Activities From Our Box…

I showed her the book first and she immediately curled up to read it herself.  I read it to her also.

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She LOVED it!

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We began by extending the story and making scarfs for the tree and the pinecone, just like the book.  She loved the little plush penguin and sled.

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Planting her own pine tree seed was a BIG HIT! I was hoping the seed would actaully grow, and thankfully it did!

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About 2 weeks later she has a sprout! We will plant it in our yard in the spring!

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We used the cute little walking penguin to play a game together using the included alphabet board.  She wound up the penguin and let him walk on the board, wherever he landed she had to think of a word that started with that letter!

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Any craft is her favorite craft.  She loved making the penguin bag and the snowflake mobile. The mobile took her awhile, each snowflake is laced!

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One of the best things about these kits is the organization.  The clear instructions allowed me to leave activities for my mom to do with her while she was babysitting one day!  They did the BINGO activity together and played the Feed the Penguin game with the cute little fishies.  Nanee even took some pictures for me!

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We explored a pinecone together and learned lots of facts about them!  She loved this!

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She spent SO long getting her pinecone craft just right.  We are planning to use it as a Christmas tree ornament!

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We ended with a bang, a very successful pinecone in water experiment.  She had to guess what she thought would happen to the pinecone after it was in water for awhile.  Based on what she had learned, she guessed that it would close up.

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It did!  She was amazed!  It closed up even more after I took this photo! 

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Her enthusiasm for these activities is through the roof, she loves her “box time” and begs me to do something from the box all the time! You can see ALL of the activities included in the box here!

We also loved our A House for Hermit Crab kit, which we reviewed a couple of months ago.

Ivy Kids Kit Review


20% off your first kit for NEW Subscribers to the monthly subscription kits!

Use code: IVY20

10% off all past kits during February 2016


A huge thanks to Ivy Kids for sending us these kits to review.  If you are looking for a simple way to do unit studies with your young child, I highly recommend Ivy Kids Kits!

Magformers Review

Magformers Review

{disclaimer ~ Educents is a blog sponsor and provided Magformers for review}

Educents is the first online marketplace forhomeschool_ad300x25011 educational products. In just 2 years we’ve saved homeschoolers & parents over $20 million on much-needed educational products and resources for their students. We hope we can help you discover and save BIG on all the educational products you deserve! Discover thousands of educational items at the absolute BEST price available all at your finger tips!

Click here to browse and discover all our affordable deals.

I have seen Magformers all over the internet but we have never owned a set until now.  I figured my kids would love them, but we had tons of open ended building toys and I just could’t get myself to buy another.  So, when Educents asked us to review Magformers I was thrilled!!

If I am being honest, I wasn’t quite sure the 30 piece set would provide enough for my kids to really get into. Boy, was I wrong. They have thouroughly enjoyed this set and have done TONS with it!

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I video taped Ladybug {age 6} as she was first exploring with the set so you could see her authentic reaction and how well she was able to follow the guide.  I was mainly looking for the clarity of instructions, her ability to follow them, and how the actual pieces stayed in place. Take a peek below to see her building two different things, the video is less than 2 minutes, and shows her very enthusiastic reaction to her success!


Here is the photo version…

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She began with the simple cube and then added a roof of triangles.

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After experiencing great joy and success, she decided to go for something big! She did this all on her own, in the video I began taping at this point, but she laid this entire thing out by herself, only needing me to help where she miscounted one row.

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She was absolutely thrilled with the result and I couldnt believe how sturdy it was!

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My boys love the Magformers too. We have had random creations almost daily since we got these.  Here is one of my favorites, made by my 13 year old son for my 9 year old.

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Final Thoughts…

I definitely recommend Magformers for a few reasons.  I love how sturdy they are, the creations don’t fall apart!  You can do a lot with a few pieces, we have the smallest set and it has already provided hours of play. I love the colors and the way you can add other sets onto your first set to keep expanding. The appeal to young and older kids is a big plus, it’s a great family toy. So much learning happens through play and this toy is no exception!

Want to Purchase Magformers?

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