Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Review-Zane Education-video learning

Zane Education is a learning system that uses online educational videos along with online quizzes, study guides and a study center with several resources.  Members have access to over 1500 educational videos.


Zane Education also has what they call The Missing Piece©.  The Missing Piece© is that most of the videos have subtitles which provides for more learning styles. This is also beneficial for some students with special needs and makes the videos accessible for the hearing impaired as well.  Students can even turn the volume off and just read if they wish. Read more about The Missing Piece©.

The chart below shows the subjects covered by grade and age.


Zane offers a variety of publications to help you in your homeschool This comes with any 12 month membership subscription or you can purchase the guides for $49.95. The first guide is the Zane Education Learning Video Catalog which is a 266 page downloadable e-book that provides an in-depth introduction to Zane's online educational video library and all of the 260 curriculum topics and subjects subjects except for math videos. You can find a free list of the math videos here. (The math videos are from Kahn Academy and not owned by Zane.)

Secondly, there is a Christian Learning Guide, another downloadable e-book that is essential reading for any Christian parents and teachers that need to be reassured that the learning material being provided to their children and students fully conforms to Biblical teaching. This 424-page Christian Companion to Zane Education's Online Learning Video Catalog was specially written for Zane by Marshall Foster and Ron Ball you can read a much more detailed overview of the entire contents of this ebook are available here on the Christian Learning Guide page

These guides are both extensive and well done.  It adds structure to the videos so that you could use this as the basis for your homeschool if you wanted to.  

They also offer two free guides.  One is the Zane Educational Video catalog which you can download here.  This is a shortened version of the full learning video catalog mentioned above.  The second free guide is the math guide also mentioned above.

The following guides are also available free for those who are registered basic free members:


All of the quizzes are also available with the basic free membership as well.

This is a screen shot of a quiz question.  Each question is multiple choice.
Students can go back and change their answers at the end if they wish.

The summary report at the end of the quiz.
 If answers are incorrect students each answer is then explained for the student.
 Students can print their results or email them to you (or themselves).

Here is a screen shot of a video:

The video cannot be made full screen.  This is a small screen shot,
 but the video  player is about 6" x 4"on my 17" screen.

What I like about Zane:
  • There are so many videos to choose from.
  • The subtitles are a great feature.
  • The education guides are excellent.
  • The quizzes and study center are a great help.
  • Video learning tools include a glossary, encyclopedia, dictionary, thesaurus and World Fact book

What I don't like about Zane:
  • These "videos" are in a Power Point style rather than actual videos.  My kids don't like watching them. They remind me of filmstrips and documentaries that I watched in school (and I'm in my mid-40s)
  • The videos cannot be made to fit the full screen.
  • The videos have buttons in the left corner that do not do anything.
One word of advice about the videos.  I did come across a couple of videos that I would not want my younger children to watch. (One in particular was a video about teen pregnancy which did show some pretty graphic pictures and video.)  Also some of the videos  have evolutionary content. The Christian Education guide would come in handy in steering you to appropriate videos.

I do think that we will continue to make good use out of these videos even if I have to coax the kids to watch them.  I don't think I would ever pay for this service, but it may be just the thing you are looking for.  This really does save you the time of trying to find videos to go along with whatever you are teaching.


There are several levels of pricing. Monthly subscriptions begin at $8.99 a month and go up to $17.99 a month.  Year subscriptions start at $98.99 and go up to $197.89 a year. Don't forget to register for a free basic membership to try it out or try a Topic Taster membership for $5 a month. For the month of August you can save 35% by using code ZE763HSM.

Find Zane education on Facebook.  They have an extremely active Facebook page.


See what others are saying about Zane Education on the Schoolhouse Review Crew blog.


disclaimer: I received a free one year gold subscription to Zane Education in exchange for an honest review.

Sunday, July 29, 2012

No-Nonsense Algebra by Math Essentials

I'm happy to be able to share with you about a math curriculum I hadn't heard of until Math Essentials gave me the opportunity (through the Schoolhouse Review Crew) to review No-Nonsense Algebra. I also received Mastering Essential Math Skills Geometry.

No-Nonsense Algebra is a text book with access to free (with the purchase of the book) online video teaching.


Chapter 1 Necessary Tools for Algebra
Chapter 2 Solving Equations
Chapter 3 Graphing and Analyzing Linear Equations
Chapter 4 Solving and Graphing Inequalities
Chapter 5 Systems of Linear Equations and Inequalities
Chapter 6 Polynomials
Chapter 7 Rational Expressions (Algebraic Fractions)
Chapter 8 Radical Expressions and Geometry
Chapter 9 Quadratic Equations
Chapter 10 Algebra Word Problems

No-Nonsense Algebra also includes: a “How to Use This Book” section, chapter reviews, final exam, solutions for all problems, glossary and a resource center.

Though there is teaching in the text, much of the teaching is in the videos.  The videos feature a white board lesson with audio.  I like how the teacher encourages students to actually take notes and I think this is perfect training for homeschooled students who don't necessarily learn traditional note taking (at least I know that has been lacking here.)  The video lessons are concise usually lasting about 5-10 minutes and the teaching is easy to follow.
Choose the lesson you wish to view by using the arrows above and below the lessons.

This is a clip of the video player.  You can view it as a full page or smaller player. 

My husband has been a math teacher for over 20 years and he looked this book over and likes it. He said the newer algebra texts have too much "nonsense" in them. (OK he didn't really use that word but that was the idea and since this is No-Nonsense Algebra I thought it was the appropriate word.)

The lessons in the book are divided into an Introduction where the new skill is introduced, followed by Examples, Exercises then Review of previous topics. Solutions are provided for all of the exercises (but they are solutions only...they are not worked out step by step.) You could always remove the answer key pages if this is a concern for you but frankly, you can't do most Algebra in your head so if your student isn't showing their work, you already know there is a problem.

This is not a Christian curriculum but I did not find anything offensive in the book at all. I highly recommend you try No-Nonsense Algebra. I plan to use this in our homeschool for a long time to come.

We also received Mastering Essential Math Skills Geometry. This is from a series of books written for 4th-5th graders though I think it contains an excellent introduction to Geometry for any age student that might need it. Each lesson takes about 20 minutes to complete.

It contains Review Exercises which covers arithmetic and review from lessons as you go, helpful hints for the current topic, next you will find a section of exercises followed by a word problem.

This book has 63 pages of exercises including a final test, followed by an answer key and glossary for a total of 80 pages. View the Table of Contents and Sample Pages. I do like this book but find it lacking in detailed teaching. As a former math major (and with my husband being a math teacher) I am completely comfortable with this, but someone less comfortable with math may not be. (This is different from my opinion of the Algebra which I feel is thorough.)

You can purchase No-Nonsense Algebra text book with online video access for only $27.95 which will also come with a free ($4.99 value) A+ Math Kit. (limited time offer...prices current as of this posting.) Can you believe that price?? It is an amazing value! This has to be one of the most affordable Algebra courses on the market.

Mastering Essential Math Skills Geometry is available for $11.95. Other titles in this series can be seen here.

The Math Essentials offers a no risk guarantee. At the end of 30 days, if you do not see a dramatic improvement in math skills among your student(s), simply return the materials and for a full refund. There is absolutely NO obligation.

Learn more about the author, Rick Fisher and how these books came to be.

See what others on the Crew are saying about various Math Essentials programs on the Schoolhouse Review Crew blog. Titles being reviewed include Mastering Essential Math Skills Book 1 and DVD, Mastering Essential Math Skills Book 2 and DVD and Mastering Essential Math Skills Pre-Algebra. View all available courses here.

I received free copies of No-Nonsense Algebra with online lesson access and Math Essentials Geometry in exchange for an honest review.

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Stick with it Saturday

Last week, I missed my Stick with it Saturday post. We left for our family vacation so I didn't have a chance and then I just didn't feel like blogging while we were away. We got back last night so I went to a Weight Watchers meeting this morning (my usual day is Wednesday).  I was down 2 lbs (though some of that may have been from my morning run.) We went out to dinner twice while we were away.  I had a grilled haddock dinner one night and the other night I had a salad with greens, pear, goat cheese, craisins, glazed walnuts and grilled chicken.  Although both meals were "good" choices they still racked up some Points Plus values.  I can't imagine what it would have been if I had gone for less healthy choices. Both meals were delicious and I was very satisfied with my selections.

I am continuing to use Jeff Galloway's Easy 5 K app. I am able to continue running but lessen the intensity and it just makes it fun. I made it my goal to get at least 10,000 steps on my pedometer each day and I did that and more. This morning I did a 3 mile run and went grocery shopping and I've already got 12,000 steps in. The pedometer is SO motivating.

So while I was away I did lose enough to be over 75 lbs lost now.  75 lbs....that's a lot of weight I'm glad I'm not carrying anymore!

There isn't a new Stick with it Saturday post at Sam's Noggin, but I'm posting anyway.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

HearBuilder Following Directions Software

HearBuilder® Following Directions Software Program by Super Duper Publications is our latest review item and it has been a big hit around here. HearBuilder is an interactive software program that gives children a systematic way to improve their auditory and following directions skills. Webber HearBuilder Following Directions is for children in preschool up to third grade (or older for children with special needs).


While earning their own toy factories and becoming "Master Toy Makers", children will learn to follow :

Basic directions (click on the small blue dog)
Sequential directions (first, set the color to red, second set the size to small, and then press "start"
Quantitative directions (choose all of the blue dogs)
Temporal directions (before you put a robot in the box, put a dog in the box)
Conditional directions (If a dog is in the box, put the box on the large truck)


Each activity has multiple levels of difficulty.  A child masters the task at one level before progressing to the next level.  Parents can choose the level of play for each child.  The levels include Play All, Beginner, Advanced and Expert.  The program provides data tracking for up to 4 children and the option to print progress reports.  In the expert level, there is an option for adding background noise to give children practice listening in noise.

Getting started is as easy as popping the CD-ROM into your computer.  The game saves data onto your hard drive.  Children will need to use HearBuilder on the same computer in order for tracking to work.

The main screen where students sign in.  You can also obtain progress reports here.

This is where students can choose which section they would like to work on.
They can choose any of the 5 doors.

In level 2 students build up to completing 3 tasks.  They have to listen to the entire list before
 they can start clicking on the shape size and temperature.

If the student answers correctly a toy comes out of the machine.

If the student answers incorrectly they get a toy that isn't a real toy and get to try again.

This is one activity from level 3 where students need to choose the object between the houses.

If the student chooses correctly a large tube vacuums up the object.

Students can check their own progress.

This is a sample of the parental progress reports available.  You can choose the level you wish to
see progress on or see them all as shown here.  You can print these reports as well.

Watch this video for a demonstration of HearBuilder:

Ellie (4) loves this the most, she asks to play it frequently.  This is was also fun for my 11 year old with Down syndrome, and my 6 year old. My 9 year old also has spent some time playing this but she's really just a bit too old for it I think.  I like how this program helps the child to build their listening skills. Though I couldn't actually see myself spending this much on this program, I think it is a valuable program and definitely something I am glad we have.

In addition to getting this program, I also received the Super Duper Publications catalog which is filled with a lot of fun and educational games and programs especially for children with special needs.  I hadn't ever heard of Super Duper Publications until this review and I'm glad to know about them.  The catalog is 280 pages and divided into sections such as articulation, phonology, auditory processing, augmentative communication, autism, sequencing skills and much more.  They even have apps. View the catalog here or request a print catalog.


You can purchase Webber HearBuilder Following Directions home edition for $69.95.  Use coupon code: BLGFD30 to save 30% on HearBuilder Following Directions Home Edition before 8/31/12. Free shipping is included for every order over $20.

See what others are saying about Webber HearBuilder and other Super Duper Publications on the Schoolhouse Review Crew blog. Crew members are also reviewing a game, Jeepers Peepers and another software program, HearBuilder Auditory Memory.  Coupon codes for these products will be found in the reviews.


disclaimer: I received a free copy Webber HearBuilder software in exchange for an honest review.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Map Trek

Map Trek by Knowledge Quest and Bramley Books is an atlas plus historical outline maps that allows you to teach geography alongside history. I have been using Knowledge Quest products for many years and can attest that they are very high quality, wonderful products.  I was SO excited to get the entire 6 volume set of Map Trek maps and lessons to download (pdf). These maps are designed for kids in 1st-12th grades. So, if you homeschool, this means you.


Map Trek can be purchased as individual e-books,  CD-ROMs or as a Complete Collection hardcover book with CD-ROM. There are 6 different editions of Map Trek. The full set includes 350 world maps and 265 US maps. (click on each title for more information)

Map Trek maps provide:

Historical maps that will help you navigate through history studies.
Accurate maps that show what the world was like THEN and NOW.
Maps that are easily downloadable yet inexpensive to print.
Attractive maps that you and your children will be proud to display.
Lesson plans that will show you what to do with them each week.

The student map.  I love that they don't use much ink to print.

The labeled answer map

Each e-book is organized chronologically with a blank map followed by the answer key map.  Complete lesson plans in 3 levels are also included or you can download free Curriculum Integration Guides to go along with many different history curricula including A Child's History of the World, Story of the World, Streams of Civilization, Veritas Press, TruthQuest History, Adventures in MFW, Ambleside Online, Sonlight, A Little History of the World, The History of the Medieval World, Ancient Civilizations and the Bible, Exploring World History and Joy Hakim's History of US. Others are being added over the month of August so be sure to check back if you don't see your program. This is an amazing resource for anyone using these history programs. However, these maps would be suitable for ANY history curriculum you are using.

a sample of a lesson from volume 1
You can download a 47 page sampler here along with a free US edition sampler andou can download their complete catalog. I own many of their products including Expedition Earth, A Child's Geography (both versions), The Star Spangled State Book, and the Wonders of Old Timeline.  All recommended. :)  Knowledge Quest also has a free e-book called Globalmania: Master World Geography in 7 Months or Less that you won't want to miss.

Keep in mind that these are historical maps and not your basic outline maps.  I am very thankful to have these maps at my fingertips.


Purchase Map Trek as a complete set (download) for $47.00.  Individual map sets are $14.95. The CD ROM set is available for $49.95 plus shipping. The Hardcover book with CD-ROM is $55 plus shipping.

Visit the Schoolhouse Review Crew blog to see what others are saying about Map Trek and Time Maps.


disclaimer: I received the complete set of Map Trek maps in exchange for an honest review.

Monday, July 16, 2012

Keyboarding for the Christian School

A-S-D-F-J-K-L-semi.  If you had typing in a school setting like I did, you can probably still hear your teacher saying chanting that over and over again.  Typing is one of the skills that I learned in high school that I use on a daily basis.  Of course, back then, there was no reason to learn to type until you were in high school.  (Am I dating myself? :) )  Nowadays kids need to learn to type when they are young so they don't have to unlearn incorrect typing methods later on. Keyboarding for the Christian School is a great way for your children to learn to type.

Rather than type directly from the screen like most typing programs, students learn to type by looking at the printed pages.  I put ours in a 3-ring binder but you could print as you go or have them bound.  Print versions are also available.  You will need to e-mail the author for information about that.

Why choose a printable e-book versus a web-based program? Think about the things you type. Are they readily available to copy from the screen or are they something that you are looking at on a piece of paper? Usually you are typing something from a rough draft. If the lessons are only available on the computer monitor; your student will not get the needed skill of transferring information from paper to the computer. A printable e-book allows you the preference of binding the whole book or just giving your student one page at a time. A printable e-book is portable and economical. -from the website

The large font edition of Keyboarding for the Christian School uses 20-point Times New Roman font.  The default for most word processors is 12-point.  I really like the large print, as it makes it easy to see and keep your place especially in early lessons when students are typing groups of letters and not actual words.

The lessons are intentionally brief to allow for shorter class time, review or to complete more than on lesson at time.  This course is for a QWERTY keyboard.

My 6 year old learning to type

There are 12 guidelines for how to position yourself when touch typing that are provided in the book.  (such as sit up straight and lean in at the waist).  We have our computers on a table and it's impossible for our children to follow these guidelines since they just aren't tall enough.  We did the best we could without following these rules.

Keyboarding for the Christian School Elementary Version is a 90 page book divided into 32 lessons.

Lessons 1-20 cover Alphabetic Keys
Lessons 21-25 cover Numbers and Symbol Keys
Lessons 26-29 cover the Number Pad
Lesson 30 is on Centering
Lesson 31 covers Enumerated Lists
Lesson 32 has 10 pages of Timed Writings

A partial sample page-I like the cute lady bug ad the colorful keyboard.

One of the things I love about this program is that the typing exercises are scripture. As you can see in the lesson above it begins with a scripture as well.

If you don't want to print your book, you could do a side by side with the lesson or timed writing on the left
and  your word processor on the right. This works great.  You could also use a second computer or tablet.

Keyboarding for the Christian School Elementary Version won
Best Exclusive e-book
from Small Christian Publishers this year.

Also available from the publisher is Keyboarding for the Christian School revised edition which covers everything in the elementary version and much more. It is 106 pages long and has lessons on the tab key, reports, cover page, works cited, bibliography, letters, envelopes and proof readers marks. This version is excellent for your older students. This black and white book uses Times New Roman 12 point font.

Click here for sample lessons. I highly recommend Keyboarding for the Christian School to anyone who wishes to use a traditional approach to teaching typing. I plan to continue using this with my children. I think typing is a valuable (necessary!) skill and what better way to learn than by typing God's word. Thank you Leanne Beitel for creating this wonderful resource and for the opportunity to review it!


Keyboarding for the Christian School Elementary is available in two versions, regular font and large font.  I prefer the large font as mentioned above.

Keyboarding for the Christian School Elementary Version (For grades K-5) is available for $12.95 and Keyboarding for the Christian School (for grades 6 and up) is available for $15.95.  See the website for package deals and other products including lesson plans. I am excited to be able to offer an unpublished 20% discount to my readers. Use promo code SUMMER2012 when you check out. Coupon code will expire on August 29, 2012.

Visit the the Schoolhouse Review Crew blog to see what others are saying about Keyboarding for the Christian School.


disclaimer: I was given copies of Keyboarding for the Christian School in large font, regular and revised editions in exchange for an honest review.

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Stick with It Saturday

It's Saturday and time for a Stick with it Saturday post. I lost .8 at Weight Watchers this week which was a pleasant surprise since I thought I hadn't lost.  Last  week I mentioned that my shin hurt.  After my run last Saturday I was in a lot of pain for a couple of days.  I ended up taking 4 days off from running.  I've done 2 pretty easy runs since and am doing OK.  My leg didn't hurt at all after I ran last night.  I really love using Jeff Galloway's Easy 5 K app. I am able to continue running but lessen the intensity and it just makes it fun.

Sunday- 2.62 miles on my pedometer- surprising since it hurt so much to walk

Monday-4.76 miles on my pedometer

Tuesday-3 miles on my pedometer.

Wednesday- 3.43 miles on my pedometer (including a short run)

Thursday-7.18 miles on my pedometer. We took a 3 mile walk on the beach.  My shin hurt when we got home but after putting ice on it I was fine.

Friday- 7.0 miles on the pedometer.  We went to a historical museum in the morning and I ran at night.  This makes it easy to accumulate lots of steps.

Saturday- No planned exercise.  I hope to accumulate a minimum of 10,000 steps today.

Link up your own diet/exercise post over at Sam's Noggin.

Friday, July 13, 2012

Summer Bucket List-Napatree Point (beach)

Last night we took 3 of our kids on a beach walk to Napatree Point.  Napatree Point is the southern and western most point of our state.  You can read more about the history of it on Wikipedia.  Two of the most interesting facts about it are that until 1938 it was heavily wooded and had houses built along it.  The hurricane of '38 changed all of that.  Secondly,  it was the home to Fort Mansfield.  We weren't wearing shoes so we couldn't get to the part that has the remains of the fort.

It was an absolutely gorgeous night for a 3 mile (total) walk on the beach.  I love where we live.  My husband and I got engaged on this beach, but this was the first time I've ever actually walked out to the point which is why I put it on my summer bucket list. :)

Ryan, Jenna and Emma heading toward the beach

At the start of the beach you walk up a steep, sandy hill.
This is looking back toward Little Narragansett Bay.

Jenna and Emma (Ryan is hiding behind them)
This was taken just down the hill at the start of the walk.
This is right near the spot where Rob and I got engaged.

My favorite picture of the night.

The lighthouse in the distance
Lighthouse in the distance

At the point
At the Point

time to walk back
Looking back toward where we started out walk....starting to head back.

The kids are sitting on this log...hard to see.

Another picture of the bay


A last look at the beach before heading home.
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