Friday, October 21, 2022

James Madison Critical Thinking Course (A Timberdoodle Review)

The James Madison Critical Thinking Course, part of the Timberdoodle Ninth Grade kit is the homeschool resource that I did not know that needed. This is one of those, "where have you been all my life?" type homeschool finds. After I received this in the kit and looked through it I knew that this was a course that I wanted to use with multiple kids—so I do. In the morning, as part of "table time" with  my middle schooler and high schoolers, we work through a portion of the lessons together. Although this could be used successfully with one child, it works perfectly in a group setting. I do not have many subjects that I combine with my older three, so this gives us more time to bond and connect. 

Critical thinking is essential. Not everyone is trustworthy and honest and children need to learn how to read people and how to discern the truth in a practical manner. This course helps students put their emotions aside and look at the facts. What an important skill to have! How many misunderstandings, fights, and arguments come from being led by our emotions? If we can teach our children to assess a situation in a practical manner, they will go far in life. 

The first lesson that we went through together was my favorite. The scenario introduces a Detective Wise who runs into a homeless man in need. The lessons go through a certain situation and then breaks it down in several ways. Students dissect each sentence several times and inspect how to critically approach what is going on. They look at the situation from different angles, see which information is important, which is not, and which can lead to more clues. This was my favorite lesson because our family runs into this situation often while in the city. My children are learning to offer homeless food (they know where to direct them to a free meal) rather than offering them money. Out of the goodness of their hearts they might want to genuinely help someone but if they are being deceived into giving money it isn't helping anyone. These lessons, this lesson in particular, has helped them to understand that you can be harmless as doves but also wise as serpents in the world. 

Additionally, I have used this course as an opportunity to work on their handwriting. At the beginning of the week we read the story and then I have them use the story as copywork. These stories are only a few paragraphs so they are the perfect length. It helps them to work on their handwriting and get the story into their heads for the rest of the week. We stick to one story a week and work slowly through the lessons, discussing different aspects of it each day of the week. We generally only work on textbook work four days a week so this works out well for us. 

Overall this course has been a blessing for our family. It is exactly what we need for higher level coursework in our homeschool. Great conversations are birthed from these lessons and I love that I can combine it and use it with multiple children.

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

Wednesday, October 5, 2022

Horse Academy (A Timberdoodle Review)


Timberdoodle Smart Games are perfect for single player play. One example, Horse Academy is part of the Timberdoodle Third Grade Curriculum Kit, and is perfect for children ages seven through adult. I love having these games stacked up for a time when my kids need some alone time away from their siblings. This game in particular has been a huge hit with my daughter. 

I remember as a kid loving strategy games and would sit in my room for hours with a cat strategy game that I bought from The Village Toy Shoppe (yes, this place was as cool as its name implies)! After wearing it out, I went and bought another one, and then another one. I enjoyed the different options and challenges, it reminded me of a "choose your own adventure" book, another fond childhood memory.

What makes Horse Academy so unique is the creativity it produces. Once your child completes a challenge, she can play with the horse and the course.

Your kids are able to learn, use their minds, and figure out how to problem solve all with one simple activity. Your child does not even need to know that she is learning. I encourage my daughter to begin with the easier levels. As she becomes more comfortable with the concept, she is enticed to try some of the more difficult levels. And they are actually difficult. My daughter admits that some of the challenges do make her stop and think and some she even needs to come back to. That, in my mind, is the definition of a good game. Like any puzzle, you most likely are not going to finish it in one sitting. This game is the same, a child does not complete every challenge in one day (most likely) but there are hours of potential play.

The quality of the pieces do not cause me to worry about it breaking, like my cat cards did after many hours of play. The game is sturdy and is able to be used by multiple children throughout the day.

As a homeschool mom with five kids ranging from Kindergarten to High School, having games like this in the house is a life saver. My kids love board games, we are not into video games all that much. The only problem with having a house full of kids who like board games is not everyone wants to play at the same time. One child might be in the mood for a game while the other is working on school or simply does not want to play at the time. Having these on hand is the perfect remedy!

I highly recommend horse academy if you have a single child or multiple, it allows for hours upon hours of entertainment!

Disclaimer: I received the above product in exchange for an honest review. All thoughts and opinions are 100% my own.