Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Schoolhouse Review Crew Favorites 2013

I can not believe it has been a year since I was accepted onto the Schoolhouse Review Crew. I was thrilled that I was given such a great opportunity. Our family was introduced to companies I have never even heard of before and we got to try out some great products. I loved being able to share them with you and am so pleased to be able to say that I have been accepted back for the 2014 Crew Year.

I have heard some fellow Crew members say they consider themselves "Review Homeschoolers" when asked what kind of homeschoolers they are. I have to say, that description fits us very nicely. Though we still use My Father's World as our core, I have been able to supplement with some wonderful resources.

One thing I didn't realize we were going to get to do at the end of the year is vote for our favorites. The results were shared on the Schoolhouse Review Crew blog earlier last week and I was pleased to see some of our favorites made it on the list. There were 86 different companies that the Crew worked with this past year, of which we reviewed 22. In the end, 38 Blue Ribbon Awards were given to 28 companies. You can see the results here.

Out of the 22 products we were able to review these are our favorites that made the list, in no particular order. (The links below will take you to my review for the product):

Brainfood Learning received the Blue Ribbon Award for Favorite Science Resource. We reviewed The Fascinating World of Insects DVD.

We had finished up our Insect unit and our Butterfly unit prior to receiving the DVD and it was a great way for the girls to extend their learning.

Gryphon House received the Blue Ribbon Award for Favorite Fine Arts Resource. We reviewed the book, Global Art: Activities, Projects and Inventions From Around the World.

The girls and I enjoyed doing projects to learn about different cultures over the summer. We learned about China, Japan and Africa. While we were working on our penguin unit I pulled the book out for some ideas for crafts for Antarctica. 

VocabularySpellingCity received the Blue Ribbon Award for Best App. Though we didn't use the App, VocabularySpellingCity was one of our favorite products we reviewed this year and one we are definitely planning on continuing to use. 

I love the way the girls can explore their spelling words and the girls really enjoy the different games, like Hang Mouse and Test-N-Teach.

Barbour Publishing received the Blue Ribbon Award for Best Children's Book. This was one of Tabitha's favorite review items.

We really enjoyed the adventures of E.J. Payne in the book Diary of a Real Payne Book 1: True Story by Annie Tipton. E.J. sure could get herself into some interesting predicaments with her daydreaming, but she also learned some important lessons. We can't wait for Book 2 to come out in March of 2014!

Chess House received the Blue Ribbon Award for Best Game or Toy and the Blue Ribbon Award for Kid's Choice. The chess kit we received contained a chess board, pieces, instruction/activity booklet and DVD all neatly packed in a storage bag.

This was by far the children's favorite product we reviewed this year, along with being my husband's favorite as well. I love the way it taught the basics of chess for beginners and helped me to remember how to play and work on my strategy.

There was one company that did not receive an award that I wanted to mention as it was Amelia's favorite. She loves getting on the computer and working on Time4Learning

Once we figured out what level she should be placed in she was just a zinging along in the Language Arts section. She hasn't been spending as much time in the math section though. Though I really do enjoy Time4Learning and she will continue to work on it while we have our membership, this is one we won't be able to continue as it is a bit on the pricey side for our family, especially if she is only using it for reading. 

My favorite product we received this year was the Logic of English's Rhythm of Handwriting: Cursive. The Logic of English did receive a Blue Ribbon Award, but it was for their Reading Curriculum which we did not review. 

I have really enjoyed working on my own handwriting while helping Tabitha to learn cursive. I love the way they group the letters together by the different beginning strokes and the terms they use for each stroke are very descriptive and easy to remember. Now when I write the children's words of the week on the easel I write them both in print and cursive, which is giving me the opportunity to expose Hannah to cursive as well.

If you would like to see what other companies/products received Blue Ribbon Awards just stop on by the Schoolhouse Review Crew blog. You can also follow the link at the bottom of the post to see what my fellow Crew members' favorite products were.

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