Reviews by Cherrie

For the budding architect or engineer, Equilibrio provides the ultimate challenge of building 60 structures with blocks, using graduated skill-level instructions. For younger students, the activity exposes them to various geometric shapes and encourages them to follow directions and hone their problem-solving skills. For older students, the process will test their reasoning skills and dexterity.

The book indicates which 3-D blocks will be necessary to complete a particular structure, but the image of the structure itself is 2-D, requiring the student to figure out exactly which shape will work best in each position to provide the ultimate balance. Although listed as a single player game, we have used it with multiple players, as each student builds ever more intricate structures. We have also used the blocks in free play, trying to build the tallest or most complex structures or experimenting on uneven or multilevel surfaces. Despite varying interests among our boys, Equilibrio has been a great learning tool for the whole family. Includes 18 blocks and booklet with rules, models, and solutions. Ages 5 and up.

--Cherrié, Spring 2014

As a family we love to play games! We own several of the card games by SET Enterprises and enjoy them all. One of our all-time favorites is Five Crowns. In this game, you play 11 successive hands, starting with 3 cards and working your way up to 13. You have a wild card in each hand, but it changes according to the number of cards in the hand. This makes for a very interesting game, as you try to build sets and remember which card is the wild one. Since the object of the game is to get the fewest points and the potential to be left holding points gets greater as the game progresses, you really don't know who's going to win right up to the end.

Another favorite is Quiddler. It introduces questions like what are you doing when you yot or yote? Our whole family learned the answer to this and more, when someone had to defend their use of the word while playing this game. We encourage dictionary usage so you can share the definition of your words with your fellow players. With some help, even the very young can play . . . and win!

Cherrié, Winter 2014

From the time our children were young, reading aloud was a favorite part of our daily routine. Books that focused on history were always at the top of our list, so we were delighted to discover this series. The author is a master storyteller and uses teen boys as his main characters. These young men always exhibit noble qualities and find their lives intertwined with high-profile historical personalities. We felt so connected to the main character in By Pike and Dyke that we were appalled when we found that one of the Three Musketeers was in the army that opposed him. We felt sure that the Musketeer had chosen the wrong side, the side of our personal enemy! The books draw you into the story and help you personally connect with the events taking place, even so much that you feel you are a part of it. Ages 10 and up. Approx. 300 to 400 pages each, illustrated hardcovers from Robinson Books.

-Cherrié, Winter 2014

I've always been a big fan of the Saxon Math teaching method, which facilitates the learning process through long-term repetition. My six children, with a wide range of learning styles, have all benefited from this approach. So we were thrilled when we found a writing and grammar course that utilized the same principles.

Hake's Grammar and Writing presents a new grammar or writing concept every day with review exercises that allow the student to continue practicing concepts previously learned. The detailed lesson presentation encourages students to be self-guided throughout, with very little intervention by the parent/teacher. My three boys have all acquired excellent writing and grammar skills through the use of this program.

Kits include student text and workbook with 107 to 112 lessons; and teacher's packet with test masters and answer keys. Grade 4 to 8. From Saxon.

Cherrié, Summer 2013

From the first time I saw Wes Olson teaching, I was impressed with his ability to present complex science concepts in simple terms. Although these are high school courses, Wes uses analogies and simple, everyday examples that make it easy for even younger children to understand. The video presentations are interesting enough to draw in young students, but still intelligent so older students won't feel they are being talked down to. My three boys, all with very different learning styles, love Wes's teaching and the easy-to-follow printable course book, which is provided to guide students through the required coursework needed to earn high school credit.

The 9-lesson survey for biology covers life classification, plants, aquatic creatures, birds, land animals, mankind, and a brief history of genetics. Four DVDs, approx. 4.5 hours total.

The 19-segment curriculum on chemistry includes the periodic table of elements. Four DVDs, approx.11 hours total.

-Cherrie, Summer 2013