Thursday, April 11, 2013

Apologia Ultimate Planner~review

I was given the opportunity to use and review several of Apologia's planner.  I received The Ultimate Homeschool Planner ($28.00), The Ultimate Weekly Planner for Teens ($19.00), and The Ultimate Daily Planner for Students ($19.00) all designed by Debra Bell.

Now in all fairness I have a different homeschool planner that I use and like.  I have been using it for several years and it is very hard to teach this ::ahem:: pushing forty dog new tricks.  That said I have been intrigued by the Apologia line of planners for some time and it was a great opportunity to look them over.
•Durable, yet flexible plastic covers (mom planner has folder pockets inside front and back cover)
•Year at a glance all the way up through 2016!  I don't even want to think that far in advance but it is nice to see it.
•Bright engaging colors
•study aids in the student planners
•open ended calendars (no big deal if you take a week off you don't waste a page)
•reading lists for the college bound

To highlight some of the above points with more detail.  The plastic covers are perfect at protecting the planners from coffee cup rings.  All three planners are spiral bound and these durable covers help keep the interior pages protected from squishing in back packs or shuffling in piles.
The study aids in the student planners are awesome.  Plenty of informational tips on how to study, use the planner and be successful.  I noticed in the student planner there is even a log for the Presidential Active Lifestyle Award.  In the teen planner there is a very well laid out high school section.  College admissions timelines, high school checklist, and reading list.  Over 25 pages of study tips!

I handed the teen planner over to my teen...the first one complained that there was not enough space each day to jot down what she needed to do.  I have to agree with her as the student planner are half the size of the mom planner.  She did like the time on task wheels and felt it helped her stay on track to see how much time she was actually spending doing her assignments.  The second teen I handed it to felt it was reinventing the wheel because the curriculum she uses all ready is set up planner style.  So not a huge hit with my teens.  I could see how it would be very practical for a teen in a traditional school setting or with co-op classes.

I entered a week for my ten year old in the planner and sent him off.  He really wasn't interested either! He has very little free work that I am not sitting with or near him for.  Again that is just our homeschooling style and the planner just made more work for me.  But in a different style homeschool, or a traditional setting I could see how this would be handy.

The big mom planner was nice.  I enjoyed having space for each kid, but again I found there to not be enough space for each days assignments.  Only five lines per day per student was a bit tight for us.  I found myself not writing stuff down because I was out of room.  I absolutely love the fact that these three planners are designed to work together.  Had I started my year fresh when I received them and was able to follow the wonderful yearly planning advice by Debra Bell I may have had a better love for these planners.  Like anything I find that some people like the things I don't and disagree with the things I love. There you have it.  These are great planners but just not my style.

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

We Choose Virtues REVIEW

When this product arrived in the mail I eagerly opened it, the packaging alone made me.  I was met with adorable engaging characters, each of whom represented one of thirteen virtueville kids.  We Choose Virtues creates a fun way to teach and learn virtues for the homeschooler or traditional schooler.
In the same mail package I received one of their parenting cards.  The full set retails for $34.99.  These cards are just what you need to get started teaching virtues.  They provide ideas, virtue challenges, teachable moments,verses, and character bios on the back.  It takes the one virtue and wraps it all up in a thick card stock half sheet.
We Choose Virtues offers many supplements too. Sent as a PDF was a kids of virtueville coloring book $3.00. My 8 year old daughter enjoyed coloring the virtue of the week. I let her use my highlighters as a treat :).

We used this product in our homeschool. The way I approached it was during our bible time. Once I had finished our standard curriculum I brought out the clue cards. The first week I brought out the virtue kind. Our living situation right now lends itself to some short fuses and mean words. It is something I have been working on with the kids but yelling " be nice" was not working so well! Go figure! So I started with the clue card. It stated: I am kind in my words and actions. The verse associated with it was from Proverbs. Now when my kids were bickering and being mean, rather than yell at them I just repeated the catch phrase, I am kind with my words and actions. Whew! A load was taken off of me. I could keep my head and model kindness while getting a gentle point across. It worked so well my 16 year old daughter repeated it to the chicks who were picking on one another in the coop! We reviewed the virtue and the verse each day. By doing this it opened up conversations with the kids and in general kindness was returning in words and actions. Our next virtue we choose was diligence as my son is studying to be a memory master and the test is coming up. Asking him if he is being diligent is a lot easier to say and hear than "have you studied yet?"
We Choose Virtues offers many different packages and supplements. You can buy a whole package or pick and choose. The wonderful creator of this product is offering 20% off the homeschool kit during April. Use the code home20. For 15% off any product enter the code virtue15 at checkout. These codes can not be combined.
I encourage you to browse the website and see all that is offered. The accommodate different bible versions and have some secular products as well. I love this product so much I will be purchasing the parent cards to enhance our bible time. My kids enjoyed it too. They loved the love able characters and could relate easily. By using this product I have been able to improve an area of my parenting that has sorely needed a tune up!