Tag Archives: reading

Homeschool Mosaic Review: Apologia Picture Book “A Light for My Path”

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review disclaimer1We love picture books in this house, so I was glad to get the chance to check out a new one from Apologia called A Light for My Path. Written by Davis Carman and beautifully illustrated by Alice Ratterree, this ABC book is based on Psalm 119.

A Light for My Path picture book

A Light for My Path picture book by Apologia

Both of my kids already recognize the letters of the alphabet, but they still enjoyed naming each corresponding animal or plant as we got to it (and learned a few new ones as well!). Additionally, the book teaches both uppercase and lowercase forms of the letters, so it’s a good book to reinforce that concept. Their favorite part was looking for the animal from the previous spread on the current page.

L for Light with a Ladybug (and a Koala from the previous spread)

L for Light with a Ladybug (and a Koala from the previous spread)

After the ABC pictures that describe attributes of God’s Word and Law, A Light for My Path contains Psalm 119 divided into individual stanzas that start with each letter of the Hebrew alphabet. I pointed out the picture and name of the Hebrew letter at the top of each page as I read them to my kids, and noted how the letters looked different than our English alphabet.

Psalm 119 with Hebrew letters

Psalm 119 with Hebrew letters

What I love:

  • Although it’s a paperback, the book is well made and the thick pages seem like they will hold up pretty well.
  • The illustrations are colorful and engaging, and my children loved searching out the different animals throughout the book.

Potential pitfalls:

  • I was expecting a bit more text in the main part of the ABC section, rather than a repetitious phrase and a one-word attribute. I think I had initially expected the verses from the Psalm to be incorporated on the ABC pictures, instead of at the end. But the book states in its introduction (a “how to use this book” section, essentially) that this is intentional and I can see how this approach would work well for young kids still learning the alphabet.

If you’re interested in checking out A Light for My Path (available here for $14), there’s a bigger sample here on Apologia’s site. And read more reviews from the Mosaic team at the Mosaic Reviews blog!

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Homeschool Mosaic Review: The Classical Historian Medieval History Memory Game

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review disclaimer1Family Game Night. Does that conjure up memories of endless Monopoly games or charades? A child who can’t get enough of Chutes and Ladders? We have a lot of great games that we enjoy bringing out to play as a family. My husband recently taught our daughter how to play mancala, and now she’s beating him at it! 🙂 She positively loves just about any type of game, and especially matching games. So when Homeschool Mosaic Reviews was offered the chance to check out a memory game from The Classical Historian, I was pretty excited. I wasn’t sure if the material would be too far over her head, but since it was a game, I was willing to take a chance. And I’m so glad I did!

Fresh out of the box: The Classical Historian Medieval History Memory game cards and instruction sheet

Fresh out of the box: The Classical Historian Medieval History Memory game cards and instruction sheet

The Classical Historian is a family-run company that sells history curriculum for middle and high schoolers and games for all ages. I got the chance to review one of their memory games, Medieval History (available here for $14.95). Other games include Ancient History and American History Memory, and a Go Fish game in the same three time periods, for the same price. The Go Fish games looked fun also, but with a nonreader and an emerging reader in my home, the memory game was the way to go.

Medieval History Memory contains 64 game play cards and two sets of four category cards (Europe, the Americas, the Far East and Arabia). Game set-up and play is like any other Memory game on the market. Set up the 64 cards in a grid formation, face down, and players take turns flipping over two cards at a time, looking for matches. The player with the most matches at the end of the game is the winner.

Game play is ready to begin!

Game play is ready to begin!

The cards are nice and sturdy cardboard (so is the storage box), and the pictures on them are high quality. I like the variety in them, both in terms of subject and in medium (some are photographs, some are illustration). The Medieval History set covers several people, places, events and concepts from Europe, the Americas, the Far East and Arabia, although the highest concentration of cards fall in the Europe category.

The cards contain a great variety of subjects in Medieval History: people, places, concepts. In addition to classic Memory, game players can also play a Categories game and match cards to regions.

The cards contain a great variety of subjects in Medieval History: people, places, concepts. In addition to classic Memory, game players can also play a Categories game and match cards to regions.

We played Medieval History Memory as a family and had a great time. My husband and I were able to tell a little bit about each card as it was drawn, and I love that the game provides an informal and fun way for the kids to learn about important people and places in history. My daughter drew the card for William Shakespeare, and as soon as I read his name, she got excited. She knew who he was because we were currently reading a Magic Tree House book about Shakespeare. “He is the man who did the play with Jack and Annie!” she said. I can see us playing this game again and again, and learning more a little each time. I’m also pretty interested in the American History matching game; I’m putting that on my wish list for when we start an America unit in our homeschool.

What I love:

  • The game uses lots of different depictions on the cards: photographs of real places and art, illustrations, etc and are well made.
  • The pictures spark great questions and provide a jumping off point for further research and learning, even though we aren’t doing any “formal” history lesson right now.

Potential pitfalls:

  • The game says it’s for players age 3 and up. But even though my 4-year-old made the first match on his first try (there’s luck for you!), he didn’t stick with us in the game for very long. Maybe if we had done a smaller number of cards than the whole 64, he would’ve been more interested. He’s not much of a Memory fan in general though, and he did pipe in with questions and want to see the pictures when others made matches, so even with smaller kids who may not want to play the game, there are still lots of fun ways to use the cards for learning.

Check out The Classical Historian’s web site for this and several other games that are fun for the whole family! Also, the Mosaic Reviews Facebook page is hosting a FB party for The Classical Historian on Friday, June 28, from 9 p.m. to 10 p.m. EDT. Feel free to pop in and learn more about the games–and maybe even win something!

Made a match of Monastery! Now it's your turn!

Made a match of Monastery! Now it’s your turn!

Homeschool Mosaic Review: Apologia Picture Book How Do We Know God is Really There?

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review disclaimer1Our homeschool year has been finished for a few weeks now, so I’ve been away from the computer for a bit as we enjoy our free time together as a family. But I’m back with a couple of Homeschool Mosaic Reviews in the next week or so, including this picture book from Apologia that tackles a tough question: How Do We Know God is really There?

My kids love sitting out under the stars and listening to their dad tell them about what they are seeing in the sky (he loves astronomy!), so I was excited when Mosaic Reviews offered the chance for me to review this picture book about a boy and his father talking about the evidence of God’s existence through His creation of the cosmos. It seemed like it would fit in with the talks they have already had.

Reading Time: How Do We Know God is Really There?

Reading Time: How Do We Know God is Really There?

How Do We Know God is Really There? by Melissa Cain Travis is the first in a series of picture books “designed to introduce kids to important questions of the Christian faith,” according to Apologia’s site. In the picture book (available here for $16), Thomas and his father are enjoying viewing God’s creation through a telescope, but what he sees prompts Thomas to go even deeper with his questions, because a friend told him God didn’t exist. His dad converses with Thomas to explain about how science proves God’s existence because something (the universe) cannot be created from nothing. 

I’m not sure the science part of the book quite resonated with my kids yet; my 4-year-old in particular was antsy before we got to the end of the book. But it did prompt some good discussions, and the kids loved the pictures. They thought skateboarding on the moon and racing around Saturn would be fun, and they laughed hysterically at Thomas’ poor cat.

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Thomas scares his poor cat!

 

What I love:

  • The book is well made. The hardback cover and thick pages seem like they will hold up well, which is important in my house where my kids don’t treat books as nicely as their mom (yet).
  • The colorful and fun illustrations by Christopher Voss engaged my kids and they liked to leaf through the book and talk about what they saw in the pictures.

Potential pitfalls:

  • Even though it’s a picture book, some of the content seemed just a bit over the heads of my 4 and 6 year olds. However, I think it’s a great conversation starter even for the younger ages and talk with them about the subject in ways closer to their comprehension level. For those with a bit more science background, I don’t think this would be a problem at all.

If you’re interested in this fun and educational book, there’s a bigger sample here on Apologia’s site–go check it out!

Homeschool Mosaics Review: Ooka Island Adventure Reading Program {+Coupon Code!}

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review disclaimer1Over the past several weeks, Homeschool Mosaic Reviewers have had the chance to use a pretty fun tool for reading: Ooka Island Adventure. Ooka Island’s program is geared toward pre-K to second graders and teaches phonics, phonemic awareness, vocabulary, fluency and comprehension. Due to the nature of the program, children are introduced to a new skill only when they have mastered the previous one.

Ooka Island is divided into three sections, called the Learning Flow Cycle by the creators. Guided Play focuses on phonic development through skill-building instructional activities;  the e-Reader book series focus on fluency, vocabulary and reading comprehension; and  Free Play allows children to play activities that reinforce what they have learned, reread e-books or just do fun games. Guided Play lasts for 20 minutes, the e-Reader for up to 10 minutes and the Free Play for about 8 minutes. The structure and sequence of these different sections help the children stay engaged in the program.

Ooka Island's cast of colorful characters

Ooka Island’s cast of colorful characters

My kindergartener (age 6) is already a reader, but she’s a brand new one and still learning. I liked that we could use Ooka Island to reinforce concepts she’s already learned and to improve her reading fluency and comprehension. She loved playing all the games, unlocking various rewards after completing certain levels and enjoyed listening to and reading the stories. Her favorite games were the soccer ball one and the submarine one, where the pigs are dropped into the water. My 4-year-old also used the program, but his attention span for the game was not as long as my daughter’s. He also had a more trouble maneuvering the mouse in the game, but as he practiced more, I could definitely tell he improved in that area. All the games are point-and-click based, so it was more of a physical skill of moving the mouse for him to learn than the interface being difficult. He would only play for about 10 minutes or so at a time; my daughter could probably spend all day on Ooka Island if I let her!

Ooka's books follow the adventures of Kayla, Jaiden and Boo.

Ooka’s books follow the adventures of Kayla, Jaiden and Boo.

What I love:

  • Ooka Island’s colorful graphics and fun games entertain my kids as well as help teach them phonics and reading skills and computer skills.
  • Because it’s not a streaming online program, I don’t have to worry about either of my young children accidentally surfing to something I wouldn’t want them to.
  • The Ooka Lighthouse assessment on the web site helps me keep track of which skills the kids are learning and their percentage of correct answers in the games.
  • The freebies online, including motivational tools like certificates and book paths to track your child’s progress.

Potential pitfalls:

  • A few times, the program would freeze up, and once or twice it kicked my child off in the middle of play. Part of the reason for this might have been our computer, which has been locking up more over the past month. They didn’t seem to lose their progress, however.
  • Due to the way the game is set up, players have to wait until they progressed in the game to certain points and unlocked features and places to use during free play. Not a big deal, but it took some convincing of my four-year-old who desperately wanted to go to the volcano first thing. 🙂
Ooka Island's map filled with areas to explore

Ooka Island’s map filled with areas to explore

This was the first time I’ve used a computer program in our schooling, and it’s been a good experience so far. If you’ve got a child in the 3-7 age range, or a slightly older child who could use reinforcement in reading skills, I invite you to check out Ooka Island. For home and homeschool editions, you can pay monthly ($12.95 for 1 student/$19.95 for up to 4) or annually ($124.95 for 1/$149.95 for up to 4). There is also a school edition.

Ooka Island has given Mosaic Reviewers a coupon code good for 30 percent off your annual or monthly subscription! Offer valid until June 1, 2013. Simply copy and paste this URL when you order:

http://offers.ookaisland.com/inblog?purl=wnOve

Edit: More Ooka Island experiences at the Mosaic Reviews blog!