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Friday, October 17, 2014

TOS Review: Standard Deviants Accelerate

Standard Deviants Accelerate Review
I was so very excited when I was chosen to review Standard Deviants Accelerate Homeschool Courses from Standard Deviants Accelerate.  I received a one-year online subscription for my children ages 8 to adult, which homeschoolers can purchase for $99 per subject, per year/$24.95 per month, and $14.95 per month for the AP classes.

Standard Deviants Accelerate Review


The program is really easy to set up, and it is done entirely online. The parent signs up each student for the courses he or she are to take. From there, the student logs onto his or her account to watch a video in each subject that is assigned to them. It is followed by a quiz that provides immediate feedback, and if the student gets an answer wrong, it allows him or her to play back that portion of the video lesson that applied to that particular question.

At the end of each unit, there are group activities that are designed to meet the needs of a wide variety of learning styles having the student explain what they learned, pretending to be describing it to a particular audience, such as forgetful people, comic strip readers, cheerleaders, office supply sculptors, etc. It was really creative and fun to see the options. Since we don't have a group of students in the same grade, I just had my son choose the activity and use either me or his sister to explain what he had learned.

Each student needs his or her own email address.

The courses offered include:

  • Arithmetic - Grades 3+
  • Fundamental Math - Grades 4+
  • Earth Science - Grades 6+
  • Nutrition - Grades 6+
  • Algebra - Grades 7+
  • Biology - Grades 7+
  • Chemistry - Grades 9+
  • English Comp. - Grades 9+
  • U.S. History - Grades 9+
  • AP Biology - Grades 11+
  • AP Chemistry - Grades 11+
  • AP US Government & Politics - Grades 11+
  • AP US History - Grades 11+
  • AP English Composition - Grades 11+

We absolutely loved this program. It is intended to be used as a supplement. We used it as a supplement for my 3rd grader for math, but we used it as the starting base point for my son's entire curriculum.
My son used it for:

English Comp
U.S. History
Algebra at a 9th Grade level

Standard Deviants Accelerate Review
Standard Deviants Accelerate Review
The parent's account provides immediate progress reports that are set up in a colorful dial graph that summarizes how the student is doing. By looking at the dial and color, the parent knows how the student is doing: Where the student is excelling and where the student needs more work.
Standard Deviants Accelerate Review
Standard Deviants Accelerate Review     Standard Deviants Accelerate Review

There are a few courses offered for Third and Fourth Grade, but most of the subjects are a great fit for middle and high school homeschoolers, Grades 7-12, offering a total of 14 subjects.

Standard Deviants Accelerate Review     Standard Deviants Accelerate Review

I believe this site is a good fit for a wide array of students in many different grade levels, but for me - It was beyond amazing!

I was so, beyond thrilled, that when I told my extremely reluctant 9th grader that he needed to "do school" using Standard Deviants Accelerate, he did not fight me in the least when I told him it was time for school. He found the format to be very easy to follow. But, the most exciting part of it all is when I hear him explaining something new he has learned. I never thought that would ever happen. This child is so very less than thrilled about learning anything, but he has told me many things that he has learned through this site.

Read what other members of the TOS Review Crew thought by clicking on the picture below. Find Standard Deviants Accelerate on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Google+.

Click to read Crew Reviews

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Tuesday, October 14, 2014

TOS Review: Apologia iWitness

Apologia Review

I was privileged to be asked to review three books, written and designed by Doug Powell, from Apologia Educational Ministries:

  1. iWitness Biblical Archaeology
  2. New Testament iWitness
  3. Old Testament iWitness 

Apologia Review
  1. iWitness Biblical Archaeology - This book explores historical finds, outside of the Bible as a resource book, that reveal the accuracy of the Bible. It covers Old and New Testament accounts. This book begins with discussing historical discoveries surrounding the biblical account of Noah's Ark, then it moves into Egypt and the account of Moses, King David, and chronologically continues through discussing the burial shroud of Jesus.
Apologia Review
2. New Testament iWitness - This book focuses on how the New Testament that we read today came about. It presents the historic facts, and then allows the reader to draw his or her own conclusion.
Apologia Review
3. Old Testament iWitness - This book focuses on the books in the Old Testament, how they differ from the Hebrew Bible, how they came about to be included, who wrote them, and whether or not the words are based on fact or mythological stories. The back of the book includes a timeline of events and how they correlate to Scripture.

These are three paperback books written for those at an age 11 year-old or older reading level. Each book is $14.

Read a complete interview with Doug Powell including behind-the-scenes views about what went into these books.

The books are written and presented in a way that makes it easy to read, in short segments, with pictures integrated throughout.


I have reviewed and enjoyed other curriculum from Apologia Educational Ministries and have absolutely loved everything I have been able to get my hands on. So, I was thrilled to get a chance to review these books, as well.

Even though, Apologia Educational Ministries has never let me down, I still wanted to oversee the use of these books to make sure they fall in line with other materials we have come to know that give Apologia a trusted name in our house.

Before I handed the books over to my children or began reading them to my youngest, I wanted to read through them myself. So, I sat down to read, starting with the archaeology book.

I was so happy to discover that the use of these three books together formed a complete picture of Apologetics, why we believe what we believe, and how historic accounts that are recorded outside of the biblical references back up the Word of God in both the Old and New Testament.

I started with archaeology, because I thought that this would be a great historical launching point to lay the groundwork for the substance that is in the Old and New Testament books to follow. I figured, if there was enough archaeological proof displayed in the first book, then my children would have a boost in trust and faith enough to delve into the other two books.

As I read, I felt like I was sitting in my Bible college Apologetics class. These books covered information I learned when I was in Bible college, but they also included additional information I had never considered before, and they were illustrated in an interesting format that presents historical pictures right alongside the text. So, I was excited to present them to my children.

Read what other TOS Review Crew members thought of these three books by clicking on the picture below. In the meantime, find Apologia Educational Ministries on Facebook, Twitter, Google+, and Pinterest.

Click to read Crew Reviews

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Free Linking Verb Worksheet Download

My kiddo is learning about linking verbs, and we are having a lot of fun.  We are having so much fun with it, that I thought I'd share our fun with you in the form of a free Linking Verb Worksheet Download.

We wrote a bunch of nouns out, using the color blue.
We wrote a bunch of adjectives, using the color green

And, our linking verbs of:


are in orange.

We, then cut out the words and formed our own sentences.

You can do the same.

Get your free Linking Verb Worksheet by clicking on the picture below:

Just download it, print it out with a color printer, cut out the words, and make your own sentences with linking verbs, using the format:

Blue noun/pronoun - Orange linking verb - Green adjective

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Free Fall Word Scramble

Fall is in the air!

There are leaves starting to change colors, trips to the pumpkin patch, and Thanksgiving on the horizon.

If you have been around homeschooling for longer than a minute, you've probably discovered that we are a bunch who love our vocabulary words. OK, maybe it's just me who has discovered this. I don't know, but regardless - Here is a free Word Scramble for you.

Just click on the picture below, and voila! It's a ready-made Language Arts kickstarter lesson plan. If you tailspin into turning it into a science lesson, history lesson, or an outing that involves PE - Consider yourself a tried and true homeschooler.

Click on picture below to get free Fall Word Scramble:

Fall Apple Theme Lessons Roundup

It's fall! Yes, that often conjures up images of pumpkins and leaves. But, it also involved apples.

Apples are used in delicious recipes, and in old-fashioned games like bobbing for apples. And while it gets a bad rap by being associated with the fruit that Eve ate in the Garden of Eden, it is really one of God's best fast food options - just pick, wash and eat.

The Jewish New Year, Rosh Hashanah just came and went recently. One part of the celebration involves dipping apples in honey.

September was a time of ripened apples, so if you went apple picking you still just might have some apples to use in one way or another.

Apples can also serve to be a launching pad for any number of interesting homeschooling lessons.

Following are links to the best apple lessons I've found across the web;

Apple Counting Activities for Preschoolers

Tons of Apple Lesson Ideas from A-Z

Apple-Themed Activities

Scholastic 'Apples, Apples, Apples' Book Lessons

Teaching Heart Apple Lesson Plans

And, of course - The resource of all resources:

Apple Lesson Plans on Pinterest

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

TOS Review: Essay Rock Star Persuasive Essay Writing Course Online with Real Teacher Interaction

Fortuigence Review
Fortuigence Review

I had the privilege of reviewing the Essay Rock Star Persuasive Essay Writing Course with my new-to-high-school 14-year-old, 9th grade son. This online course is from Fortuigence and is recommended for students ages 12 to 18. This Persuasive Essay Writing Course is $57.

The Fortuigence courses are all online, but the work your student completes is turned in for a real teacher to review. Lily Iatridis was the instructor for the Essay Rock Star Persuasive Essay Writing Course, and her enthusiasm for writing makes her very encouraging and easy to listen to.


There are 7 lesson sessions in the Persuasive Essay Writing course. Each lesson is on screen to read with the option of playing the video that has the teacher reading the words as your student follows along. It is not a video instruction, but more of an audio that is accompanied with a video of the teacher, as if she is in front of the classroom reading. By offering both the audio along with the text, you have at least two learning styles covered. Plus, you can rewind, or fast forward and pause as often as necessary.

To accentuate the lessons and assignments, there are links in each lesson that takes the students to samples of well-done work, reference material, and worksheets that can be downloaded, saved, and printed. This way the students can see what is expected of them.

At the end of each lesson, at the bottom of the screen, there is a link where the student submits the assignment. Each lesson's assignment must be turned in for grading and received back before the student can continue to the next lesson. The lessons are turned in for grading by the real-life instructor who returns the assignments quickly, usually within about 24 hours or less.

I was asked to work with the program at least 3 days a week for the purpose of this review, and I discovered that it's easy to spend this much time or more to thoroughly take in and complete all that is included in each lesson.

Fortuigence Review


I was very excited to have the opportunity to review this course. My son is a very reluctant writer. Even though, he read fluently at age 3, he no longer enjoys either reading or writing. He's very timid to write anything, and the idea of turning in his work to a real instructor who would grade it was overwhelming to him, so I was pleasantly surprised to discover that the instructor would return the work with such encouraging words for comments. There was no reason to be afraid.

Most high school students would probably be comfortable and quite able to complete these assignments without much oversight from the parent, but with my reluctant writer son, I found it best to review the assignment with my son before having him complete the assignment. Then, I had him dictate to me his thoughts. I was pleasantly surprised at what he had to contribute when I allowed him to dictate his thoughts to me instead of requiring him to write them down himself.


The course is very comprehensive and a really good resource for anyone who wants a step-by-step guide to writing a persuasive essay, like those found on SATs for college entrance. Spend as much or as little time as your student needs to complete each assignment, and print the resource materials for future reference.

Find Fortuigence and the Essay Rock Star Persuasive Essay Writing course on Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Pinterest, and YouTube. Read what others had to say about this and other Fortuigence courses by clicking on the picture below:

Click to read Crew Reviews

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Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Homeschooling When You Don't Like to Read

Recently, it's becoming more and more clear how much out of the loop I can be even among the "odd". See, I'm a homeschooler, but I've never really truly ever liked to read - Let along, enjoying literature or anything of the like.

I have a son, who even though he read fluently at age 3, now hates books.  Sigh!

Thankfully, my oldest daughter lives, breathes, and eats reading.  Ahh!

My youngest is on the fence.

So, how do I homeschool when I don't like to read, nor does one of my children?

First - When my kids were little, I was determined that they would not have an aversion to the library that I had as a kid and a teen. It was a struggle for me to sit down and read. It's not because I couldn't read - It was because most books just plain bored me....  Still do.

I hear friends talking about all the great literature they are sharing with their children, and I cringe in my seat hoping not to be noticed as they speak.

The first book I ever really enjoyed reading was not until I was in 10th Grade. It was Huckleberry Finn. But, honestly, I'm not really sure I even want my kids exposed to that book (sorry Huck Finn fans).

I don't like the Hobbit
I don't like romance novels

I just don't like fiction....  I suppose I'm just too much of a realist to dream, even through the pages of a book.

I want truth and books that are real.

Am I alone on this?

It's ok if I am.

For my non-book loving boy, I dance around finding curriculum that holds his interest.

But, the bottom line is that fine literature is great, but it's not the only way to learn. Just because I don't enjoy reading, nor does my son, doesn't mean we are not learning. In fact, I absolutely love to learn. I read much every day. I just don't enjoy it.

Still, we make our treks to the library, while I revel in my daughter's love for something that always fell short at holding my interest. I also hold out hope that my youngest will catch the shirt tail excitement of her older sis.


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