Tuesday, January 31, 2023

Math-U-See Geometry (A Timberdoodle Review)


I have to be honest. I have a favorite math curriculum that I use in my homeschool. Yet what I learned was, my ninth grader was not a fan. My eleventh grader loves it and my second grader loves it, but not everything will work for all kids. That is the true joy of homeschooling though, we can adapt and adjust to each child. My ninth grader flat out said to me that he did not want to be sitting in front of a screen for his classes, and the math curriculum I general use is online-based. I listened to him and asked if he was open for a compromise. I asked him if he would be willing to take a math course that had one video tutorial per week (on a DVD) and then he could work through the concepts in a workbook, with my help if needed. 

He thought that was a great idea which is what let us to begin Math-U-See Geometry. Part of the Timberdoodle 9th Grade Curriculum Kit, I knew the flow of the Math-U-See courses and thought it would be a good fit for my son. I was absolutely right!

The way the lessons are set up, work well for him. There is a lesson a week. He watches a DVD lesson (these are also available online with your purchase but my son prefers the DVD) that comes in the book. Then there are five lessons that can be worked on throughout the week using the concept that was taught on day one. If my son gets stuck on a concept, he can rewatch the video or come to me. I was nervous the first time he came for help, but there was no need for me to worry. All of the concepts are written out in the teacher's manual. As I began to go though the manual, everything I learned in high school geometry came back to me and I was able to help him better than I thought I would.

He is able to work though the work in his workbook and the answers for the workbook pages and the tests are available to me in the teacher's key. The entire course is straight-forward and simple—even when the concepts are not. I appreciate the video instructions from the creator of the program, Steve Demme. He clearly has a heart for teaching and a heart for kids. 

For my son that is generally fairly average in math, he has been learning the concepts. The course has regular tests to see where they stand. My son has had average to above-average grades this entire school year thus far, which is a huge step in the right direction. With his other course, he would often struggle and have to repeat lessons to master a concept. With this course, he has never had a failing mark and is confident when it comes to understanding new concepts. He does have to come ask for help once in a while but for the most part, this course consists of independent work. It works well in our homeschool environment. 

Monday, January 30, 2023

Friendly Biology (A Timberdoodle Review)


If teaching high school level science intimidates you, Friendly Biology is just what the doctor ordered. As part of the Timberdoodle 9th Grade Curriculum Kit, this course by Joey and Lisa Hajda is the most easy, homeschool-friendly science curriculum that I have implemented in my homeschool. So many different options are available in the homeschooling world and I have reviewed many that I love. Some take a hands-on experimental approach. Some use the textbook/workbook approach. Some science curriculum are easy to follow, and others are not.

Friendly Biology takes both approaches and it is easy to follow

My ninth-grader enjoys science, but when it comes to sitting down and reading a textbook, he is not a fan. This means I was hesitant to try this curriculum. I was pleasantly surprised to find out not only that he enjoys it, but he is passing the course with flying colors, retaining the information, and excited when it happens to be an experiment day. 

He loves working on the science experiments which have ranged from making butter to using cabbage as a PH test.

The experiments are practical and use items that you would normally have in the house.

 The best part is he works on these on his own while I am teaching the younger kids. 

Additionally, the workbook is challenging yet doable for my ninth grader. It reinforces terms and concepts that he has learned in years past while also introducing new topics.

From crossword puzzles to fill-in-the-blank to matching, the worksheets are never too redundant but are filled with variety to accommodate different learning styles. When my son was younger, we enjoyed working together with experiments and workbooks to learn new concepts, now that he is older and more independent, he is able to work on this subject almost completely on his own, coming to me only when he has questions. I am completely fine with this. We have other subjects that I work one-on-one with him to work on spelling, vocabulary, and other important skills. Once he has these skills down, he will have the foundation to love learning and learn on his own, which I see him do on a regular basis. Not only does he work through this course independently, but he will seek out how-to book to figure out how the world works. In his case, independent learning works well for him. Although he was never a fan of a textbook, this book is more conversational-style, so it keeps him engaged.

The name of the curriculum suits it well for it really is "friendly." It explains difficult and challenging topics in a simple and easy-to-understand manner. The text readings are not too long. They are bite-sized, to the point, and real-world relatable. My son appreciates content that is to the point, which is why Friendly Biology works so well in our home. 

Although I completely trust my children, I don't like to place temptation out there in front of them to tempt them. When I first began using this course I noticed that the answer keys were located in the same book as the tests. Although I could easily rip out the tests, or copy them, and hand them to my son, I knew they would get lost easily. Having his tests bound already in the book works better for him so instead I tore out the answer key, which has helped to keep his work organized.

I am so thankful for this course and I am eager to check out other science courses by this company and plan to try them out in years to come.

Disclaimer: I received the above item in exchange for an honest review. 
All thoughts and opinions are my own.