Monday, 17 September 2018

Rescue Me! {The Captain Sun Adventures Review}

Nathaniel has been pursuing superheroes this year.  We have watched most of the DC and Marvel series movies and are looking forward to new releases coming soon.  I didn't think I could enjoy superhero stories as much as I've grown to enjoy them with him.

Recently we were introduced to Rescue Me! What Superheroes Can Teach Us About the Power of Faith. The heart behind The Captain Sun Adventures is part comic book, part children's devotional resource.

Rescue Me! is book one in the series and focuses on origin story, rescue, power and a team of heroes. 

Chapter 1 sample page

There are a total of eight chapters in the story. Each chapter is three pages long and follows a comic book layout with text boxes giving story background and speech bubbles. The graphics are beautifully drawn and family friendly. Although there is a villain in the story he is not grotesque making this book family friendly.

The story is set in the city called Capital City where a darkness is slowly creeping into everything and everywhere.  The citizens are wondering where Captain Sun is. Captain Sun arrives and defeats the villain only to have him return.  What to do?  How can this villain be conquered once and for all?  You will need to read Captain Sun's Rescue Me! to find out ...

Devotional News Paper Sample
Each chapter is followed by a one page devotional in the form of the Capital City Chronicle.  The Chronicle expands and explains the chapter before and presents a scripture to contemplate and questions to help the reader think deeper about what is going on in the story and how this applies to us in every day life.

At the end of Chapter 8 you will find a list of questions to think about for each of the preceding chapters. 

For children who like merchandise or to colour in be sure to check out the fun stuff tab on the It's Captain Sun website.

Book Details
Title: Rescue Me! What Superheroes Can Teach Us About the Power of Faith.
Author: Bryce Morgan
Illustrator: Mitch Martin
ISBN: 9781466401471
Publisher: M5 Productions
Pages: 39
Format: Softcover, PDF, Kindle

Other Books in the Series
  • Book 2:  Captain Sun and the Army of Fear
  • Book 3: Captain Sun and the Scourge of the Shadow Dragon

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Hashtags: #hsreviews, #CaptainSun, #itsCaptainSun
Over All I thought ...
Rescue Me! is a great tool to present the gospel to today's younger generation.The devotional pages are thoughtfully written and beautifully presented.  As your student works their way through this comic book they will be taken on a journey to deepen their understanding of the Christian faith and the body of Christ.   I look forward to sharing Captain Sun Rescue Me! with my younger nieces and nephews.


Wednesday, 12 September 2018

Learning Latin with Picta Dicta by Roman Roads Media {Review}

Ever since we began home educating the idea of learning Latin has been simmering in my mind and over the years we have attempted a few different programs.  Latin is foundational to many aspects of the English language and is an integral component of many scientific fields.  At times over our homeschooling career I have been frustrated at not being able to pronounce the Latin words before me.  Recently Roman Roads Media offered us the chance to build our Latin vocabulary via their latest Latin course called Picta∙Dicta.

What is Picta∙Dicta
Picta∙Dicta has been created by Timothy Griffith to assit teachers and home educators to teach Latin vocabulary to their students using a specific on line app. It has been designed to be a self-paced learning environment where students learn both English and Latin words. Each course includes multiple difficulty levels allowing the parent to customise the level each student is working at, providing a stimulating, achievable and challenging learning environment.  Picta∙Dicta has been designed to be used on iOS, Android, PC or Mac.  An Internet connection is required to function properly.
  • Picta∙Dicta Natural World - This level is aimed at elementary and jr. high age students. In Picta∙Dicta Natural World students will learn the Latin words for over 400 things in Nature equipping them with a foundation for future studies.
  • Picta∙Dicta Vocabulary Builder - This course has been designed for students who are learning to read Latin or those wishing to improve upon their Latin vocabulary.
  • Picta∙Dicta Ancient World - This is a sequel to Natural World and is currently under development and is coming soon.
To use Picta∙Dicta you will need a separate licence for each user.  The system has been designed to track each student's progress and customise the lessons and review according to individualised performance.

Learning is entirely self paced and there are no live instructors or students.  There is no need of parental involvement in the learning process.

Picta∙Dicta has been designed to build Latin vocabulary and therefore works well in conjunction with any other Latin course you are currently using.

For more information visit the FAQ page about Picta∙Dicta.

How we used it
Picta Dicta log in screen.
 After setting up a parental account, I set up an account for Nathaniel to use.  We were blessed with two courses to use: Picta∙Dicta Natural World and Picta∙Dicta Vocabulary Builder. Due to our lack of Latin vocabulary I decided to get Nathaniel to start with Natural World.  Once logged in the student can see which ever courses they are enrolled in.  Nathaniel is enrolled in two classes so both are on the home page.  He can then choose which one he needs to work on. 

Natural World Campaign View
The top of the list shows the class title and in brackets the difficulty level is displayed.  This is set by the teacher when enrolling the student.  On the right hand side of the same bar there are two options: training or proceeding with the next lesson.
Just below this title bar there are two tabs: campaign (the lessons) or history (date that the lesson was completed and % results for the lesson).

The campaign screen is divided into several columns
  • The first column is the lesson number.
  • Second column depicts the subject matter being covered.
  • The centre column tells the student what the campaign will be doing. (Learning Latin words, matching pictures to Latin words, translating Latin to English, Latin spelling, Reviews in English or Latin) 
  • In the fourth column the student can see at a glance their proficiency which is depicted by a scoring system of stars. If a lesson is still in progress it is saved and is depicted with a clock face.
  • Should a student want to redo a chapter they can click on the anti-clockwise arrow below the cog in the right hand column. 

History View.

Nathaniel is a competent reader and as such I selected Reader Level II for him to work on in the Natural World vocabulary building.  I enrolled him on the same level for Vocabulary Builder but we both soon realised that this level was far too difficult to work through.  I was quite pleased to find that I could log into the parent portal and change the level that he was working on to a more suitable class level.  This reset the program back to the beginning.

Latin word introduction Picta Dicta Natural World sample for horse.

In the first lesson you are introduced to a new word.  The narrator says the word in Latin.  It appears on the screen written in Latin along with a graphic representing the word.  If there is interesting background information pertaining to the Latin word this is provided below the graphic.  We have learnt some rather fascinating things about dogs, chickens, donkeys, wolves etc. The word being learnt is click able and the narrator will repeat the word helping you to learn to pronounce it. To proceed you can click on the enter button or the thumbs up symbol in the bottom right hand corner.  Be sure to read these as questions do come up in the tests about the words and their back grounds.

Picta Dicta Natural World multiple choice sample
 Once the words have been introduced students then practise hearing the word, seeing the word and then selecting the correct graphic to match the word.   Progress through the lesson can be tracked via the circle in the top right hand corner of the page. At the reader level the system uses different processes to memorise the words and their meanings such as: English to Latin word, Latin word to graphic, graphic type the English word, graphic type the Latin word etc.

Once you have completed a lessons words the system progresses you to the next set of words.  Once you have learnt these words, the two lessons words are combined so that you do not forget the words you have already learnt in previous campaigns.

Should your student want to do some fun hand written reinforcement of words learnt using Picta∙Dicta you can download two PDF documents with crosswords on the Picta∙Dicta Downloads page.

Topics covered in Picta∙Dicta Natural World 
There are a total of 256 chapters divided into the following topics.  Each topic is followed by a number of review lessons to maintain vocabulary already learnt.
  1. Basic Animals
  2. Fruits, Berries, and Nuts
  3. Human Anatomy I
  4. Land Forms and Terrain
  5. Small Animals
  6. Parts of Tress and Plants
  7. Human Anatomy II 
  8. Water
  9. Birds I
  10. Growing Things
  11. Sky and Weather
  12. Animal Anatomy
  13. Sea Life
  14. Trees
  15. Hand and Foot
  16. Constellations
  17. Exotic Animals
  18. Flowers and Herbs
  19. Vegetables and Legumes
  20. Human Anatomy III
  21. Birds II
  22. Insects, Arachnids, and Worms
  23. Sign and Habitat
  24. Light and Fire
  25. Metals and Stones
  26. Ground cover and Vegetation
Sample Game Descriptions for Reader Level II
  • Learn Latin II - Learn new Latin word and read stories about the different animals and their roles within the ancient society (see graphic of horse above).
  • Latin Picture II - Connect Latin to English, using the Latin words and English descriptions.
  • English II - Label the given picture in English (great spelling revision)
  • Spell Latin II - Translate the Latin words into English and type it in.
  • Review Latin VII - Translate the English word into Latin and type it in.
Student Difficulty Levels Available
  • Basic: Learn both the English and Latin names for items. Reading and typing are not required. All lessons are simple, short and narrated to the student.
  • English: This level is for young children who cannot yet read.  Each of the exercises are multiple choice and all words included are read aloud.
  • Reader I: Students who are comfortable reading English.  Recognise English and Latin words, choose and spell both in English and Latin.  Descriptions for each item is basic.
  • Reader II: Aimed at students in upper elementary who read well.  Read stories from history and literature relating to the words and basic etymology.
  • Express: For older students who want to proceed quickly with no English assignments or review lesson.. 
  • Teacher: designed for those who do not wish to do drills but need access to the vocabulary, concepts, and articles.
For the Parent
Picta∙Dicta has been designed for children to use, it does however require you to set up a parent account before the student can begin their course. To find our more about setting up and managing a Picta∙Dicta account you can go to Roman Roads Media where they have shared a step by step video tutorial on how to do this.

Within the parent portal you have access to follow each enrolled students progress. Once you select the student you want to follow up on the system will provide you with a summary of where that student is at and what their current campaign and score is for the week.

Parent Portal student report card.

Connect with Picta∙Dicta on Social Media
Click on an icon to learn more.
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Over All I thought ...
I am impressed with the simplicity and ease of use of Picta∙Dicta.  I love the graphics and back ground information supplied and that this level groups together all things in the Natural World.  There is sufficient repetition to reinforce learning and the system adapts to the student need.  Having a regular review lesson after each new concept is learnt is helpful in maintaining vocabulary already learnt. For students who can already read I have appreciated the Latin and English spelling component.  Overall it is a well thought out and practical app safe to use with your students of all ages at home or on the go and I am looking forward to gaining a wider Latin vocabulary alongside Nathaniel in the year ahead.


Classical Rhetoric and Picta Dicta {Roman Roads Media Reviews}

Wednesday, 5 September 2018

GrammarPlanet {Review}

I am super excited to share my new favourite home schooling product.  Nathaniel and I have been working our way through GrammarPlanet and are finally beginning to understand how to parse sentences using the different parts of speech.

What is parsing? Parsing is labeling each part of speech in a sentence, and using an abbreviation over each word to indicate which part of speech each one is.

Grammar was not my forte at school or after for that matter.  I could give you the definitions of the parts of speech and examples of each one, but I could not apply my knowledge to every day sentences at all.  When it came to teaching grammar to Timothy and Jane they were handed a grammar curriculum and told to work through it.  I was very grateful for the Teacher Key so I could mark their work because it made no sense to me at all.

We have been using GrammarPlanet for the last month and LOVE it! I'm finally beginning to understand how to apply my grammar knowledge.  I do this daily with Nathaniel and we are both enjoying the journey.

How to get started
  • Click on sign up for FREE! and create the parent account. You will need to put in your first and last name. Under role select Teacher and then input your email and selected password.
  • GrammarPlanet will send you an email with a link to activate your account.
  • Once activated you will be taken to a page to enrol your students, which can also be found when you click on the drop down arrow next to your name in the upper right hand corner. Click on +ADD STUDENT. You will need to add in their first and last name, user name (this will be lower case), a password, under group you will need to select the group you made and you can add in an optional parental email. Click CREATE.
I love the simplicity of the program.  You have the flexibility to group your students or have different classes.

As the teacher you can see each students progress and average percentage score at a glance.

From the class page you select a student to see a review of their personal progress.  This is the page you will need to access to either reset or unlock a unit should the student need this done.

The program is based on mastering the materials they are working on.  Should the student get too many incorrect answers the unit is locked and an alert is emailed to the teacher.

I can look through the unit and see which sentences the student incorrectly labelled and help the student understand which ones were incorrect and why. The unit report button produces a pdf document with a list stating the unit practise numbers and whether the student got them correct or incorrect.

The GrammarPlanet program has been written to asses the students understanding of the work and adapt to their specific need.  Should the student need more practise it will provide more practise questions. For example in Unit 1 Nathaniel was given fourteen practise questions and five Test questions whereas I was given eleven practise questions.

When a unit is locked you have the option of either unlocking the unit or resetting the progress. I have chosen to RESET PROGRESS on the units so that he can redo the unit he has not successfully navigated and gain proficiency before learning the next part of speech.

Resetting a unit is done by clicking RESET PROGRESS, upon which a pop up window appears stating Reset Student Progress with a drop down box for you to select the unit needing to be reset.  Select the unit you want reset and click RESET.  GrammarPlanet will then double check and ask if you are sure.  If you are click on YES and the unit is reset back to the beginning.

One word of caution when doing this be sure to select the correct unit to reset as the whole program will delete everything achieved by the student from the unit you select and includes all units completed after the selected unit.

When the student logs in they will be taken to their dashboard, from here they can see their progress at a glance. They can go back to completed units or continue forward by clicking on the green CONTINUE PROGRESS BUTTON.

  • On launching the program opens up the next unit being studied.  In this unit we can see at a glance on the top right we are studying Pronouns.  
  • The orange button on the bottom left is where we access the unit notes which are provided in PDF format and are to be printed.  We have been printing these and will be comb binding them upon completing the program.   The notes are concise and beautifully presented.  I'm looking forward to having a complete grammar reference book upon completion. You do not need to read the notes to your student as Erin (the teacher) will fully explain the grammatical part of speech within the video referencing the notes on hand.

Erin speaks clearly and slowly carefully teaching the concept at hand. If you hover over the video an outline of the class will appear on the left hand side of the screen.

After a concept has been taught,  the video will auto stop and a small multiple choice quiz question will appear. If you answer the question incorrectly you have the option to replay the last section or continue. Upon completing the video teaching the student then progresses onto the unit practise questions.

From here you then commence the practise questions for the unit you are working on.

Each word in the sentence is contained in a box.

A pop up box containing the parts of speech already learnt opens.
The student selects the part of speech relevant to the word they have selected.
The parts of speech within the box are shown in order of operation as taught by the teacher.

Once they have selected the part of speech pertaining to the word.
The word is highlighted and the part of speech selected is added.
Once you have finished all the words you want to mark  you hit submit.

GrammarPlanet then marks the work submitted.
Students receive instant feedback on work submitted.

Any incorrect or missed selections are highlighted in red.
Correct answer is indicated above the word in a green text box.

How long does it take?
The recommendation is for students to work on a lesson for 15 minutes a day. I found that doing a longer lesson or multiple lessons left us both feeling overwhelmed.

  • Our routine now is to listen to the lesson and answer the video questions on day one.  
  • We then attempt the practice questions the following day.  
  • If we don't pass the practice questions I reset the progress and we redo the practice sentences the next day. I keep resetting the unit until we pass.  
  • Once we pass the practice questions Nathaniel then does the test the next day.  

Scope and Sequence
GrammarPlanet currently has 13 units available.  New units are being added weekly and the total number of units will be 60 upon completion.  Sentence diagramming starts in unit 7.  Once we reach that level I shall add a screen shot to this review for you to see.

Cost of GrammarPlanet
  • You can sign up for FREE!  The free version of GrammarPlanet is supported through advertising.  
  • Purchasing GrammarPlanet removes the advertising bars (this option is currently under development and will be available shortly).
Recommended Age Range
  • GrammarPlanet is aimed at students from 10 to 99 who want to improve their English. It can be used by students in school, students at home, or adults individually or as a group.
About GrammarPlanet
The creation of GrammarPlanet is the realisation of a years-long dream to be able to make grammar education … REAL grammar education … available and affordable for anyone, regardless of the type of school, the economic background, the location, etc. While there are a lot of homeschoolers who will benefit from it, I also hope low-income schools, students who go to schools that don’t teach it, and adults who never learned it, will be able to finally learn HOW our language works and therefore learn how to speak and write it correctly.
The core philosophy behind GP is my mother’s creation: Analytical Grammar, a book-based program that has been on the homeschool market for more than two decades. Mom passed away more than three years ago, but before her death we were talking about how cool it would be to have a website like this. It’s SO exciting to me that the dream she (and Jerry!) and I discussed back then is now real. Her way of teaching grammar is just SO GOOD. I want as many people around the world as possible to have access to it, and digital is by far the way to go to achieve that dream.
- Erin Karl CEO Grammar Planet/Owner of Analytical Grammar -

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Over All I thought ...
I love this program and am very grateful to the developers for making it available to us.  As a mom who personally struggles with parts of speech and sentence diagraming it's a relief to have someone available to teach each part of speech along with reliable notes.

I like that the program gives instant feedback on each problem and test. Erin Karl is a great teacher who speaks clearly and helps the student understand the part of speech they are working on. Grammar is taught in a logical easy-to-understand manner.  I have learned so much in the first four units I can confidently explain the why behind each grammatical choice I make (thank you Erin!).

I am looking forward to working my way to the end of this program and gaining a fuller understanding of grammar in the English language and would highly encourage you to enrol your students in the Grammar Planet program.


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