Sunday, March 31, 2013

Happy Easter - He is Risen!

I just wanted to wish you all a Happy Easter!
He is Risen!

"For God so loved the world, that He gave His only Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish, but have eternal life." (John 3:16 ESV)

"He is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world." (1 John 2:2 ESV)

I will link this post up at Scripture and a Snapshot hosted by Jennifer at A Glimpse of Our Life.
Scripture and Snapshot

Saturday, March 30, 2013

Batty Measurements: Wingspan Comparisons

Did you know that the Giant Flying Fox Bat has a wingspan of 5-6 feet from one tip to the other?
Don't worry ... it is a Megabat and eats primarily fruit. 

We read numerous bat books aloud as part of her mini bat unit done in conjunction with Apologia Zoology 1: Flying Creatures of the Fifth Day. Alyssa also read bat books independently during her 30 minute DEAR (Drop Everything And Read) time.

One day after reading a non-fiction bat book, a spontaneous math activity popped in my head. We had so much fun with our wingspan measurement activity and hopefully you will too!

Here's What We Did
For this activity, my daughter researched a variety of bat wingspans from two bat books. She focused primarily on Texas bats in the beginning. We added in a couple of our favorite extreme bat wingspans from other books.

First, she wrote the name of a particular bat on a white index card (unlined side).
Helpful Easel Book Stand Can Be Found at Tuesday Morning
Clipboard Holds Card Still While Writing
Then, my daughter recorded the wingspan range for each bat of interest. The meter stick was used to keep lines straight but was also used to measure and compare results later. 
This is an AB pattern using the colors blue and purple.
I extended the measurement lesson by having her create different color patterns for each wingspan measurement. Alyssa used colorful one-inch tiles to measure the wingspans. She did not use exact measurements; she rounded to the nearest whole inch when possible. Click on the photos to enlarge.
AB and ABB Patterns
Other Patterns Created: AAB and ABC
She Loved Patterning This Bat Wingspan
We discussed the graph results and compared the wingspan measurements in many ways. She told me which bats had the longest and shortest wingspans. I asked several other data questions including ones that required her to find the difference or combine wingspans. She tested my graphing skills as well by asking me several of her own questions. I always have her practice creating her own questions.

Her father and grandfather were amazed that the wingspan for the Giant Flying Fox ranges between 5-6 feet (bottom one) from wing tip to wing tip. I think I would be bewildered if I ever saw a bat that big ... okay scared to death even though I shouldn't be scared. That's humongous!
Different Angle
This was an extremely fun way to explore measurement. It really helped her see just how big the bat wingspans were in real life in a tangible and countable form. The wingspans were just numbers beforehand but now she can attach meaning to it. This hands-on project kept her busy reading and researching, recording information, creating color patterns, and exploring measurement using non-standard units. She truly LOVED this activity!

You can do the same activity for any topic that involves measuring lengths or widths. You do not have to use one-inch tiles either . . . we used to use colored paperclips in the classroom. Use what you have on hand! I wanted her to actually see the number of inches so that's why I chose the one-inch color tiles.

A Few Measurement Ideas:
Bird Wingspans
All About Me (Body)
Snake Lengths
Shadow Lengths
Shark, Fish, or Dolphin Lengths
Plant Heights
Room Distances
Jumping Exercises
Watermelon Spitting Contest (Sorry)
And . . . More!

Non-Standard Items (Predict and Compare Opportunities)
Hand Spans
Math Manipulatives (Variety)
And . . . So Forth!

*The ideas and possibilities are endless.

I will link up at Math Monday Blog Hop, Montessori MondayShare it Saturday, Mama to 4 Blessings: Link and Learn, Three Boys and a Dog: Homeschool on the Cheap, Blogging Through the Alphabet, 123 Homeschool 4 Me TGIF Linky Party
Montessori Monday Teach Beside Me3 Boys and a Dog
TGIF Linky Party hosted by 123Homeschool4Me

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Schoolhouse Crew Review: Math-U-See Beta

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I had a hard time choosing just one math curricula for my daughter with all the options available on the market. After trying several different programs simultaneously, I chose the curriculum that Alyssa enjoyed most. It wasn't long before I realized that she was intrigued by "big girl" worksheets and liked the worksheet-based approach. Math-U-See stood out from the rest mainly because of its simplicity and the fact that it required very little prep on my part. As soon as I made the decision to use Math-U-See, my daughter's math abilities soared. We started our journey with Primer and used it off and on at around age three. She quickly advanced to Alpha and completed it with enthusiasm much sooner than expected. Thankfully, we were given the opportunity to review Math U See as part of the Schoolhouse Review Crew. We received the instruction pack and student materials for the 2012 edition of Math-U-See Beta. The company was very gracious and also sent us two complete sets of block manipulatives. We were sent the beta version of the books (white covers). If you purchase this set, you will receive the colorful covered books as seen on the website. 
She loves Math-U-See!
Math-U-See is a comprehensive K-12th grade mastery-based math curricula. They offer complete multi-sensory math programs that begin with a gentle introduction to basic math concepts working towards more advanced topics such as Algebra and Calculus. They emphasize the use of block manipulatives to demonstrate mathematical concepts. Each number is represented by a certain color and the units are notched into each bar making them stackableThe recommended 88-piece base-10 block manipulatives make learning more hands-on for my young learner! You will need to purchase your own set of blocks in order to utilize this curricula. The Decimal Street and Block Clock arrive in each set of block manipulatives as a double-sided teaching poster. The curricula levels are based on the Greek alphabet so that the curriculum emphasizes a child's skills or abilities. The programs are NOT grade level specific which allows any child to work at an individualized pace. Your child doesn't have to feel embarrassed about working above or below grade level. They can work at their own pace without any added pressure.

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Decimal Street
Block Clock
What Do I Need In Order To Use the Math-U-See 2012 Beta Edition?
Student Materials
Student Workbook
The consumable softcover student workbook contains 432 black-and-white worksheet pages written by Miriam Homer. There are approximately 6-20 questions per lesson. Each chapter consists of six front and back sheets and one "application and enrichment" activity sheet. The first three worksheets are meant to help a child practice the lesson concept. The three other pages are systematic or cumulative review which reiterate previously learned concepts. All pages are three-hole punched and perforated for easy use. The chapter enrichment activity sheets consist of activities such as color-by-number, real-life word problems, skip counting dot-to-dots pages, patterned designs, crossword puzzles, matching, math boxes (addition squares), drawing, graphing, and more. No answers are provided for these activities. My daughter loved the color by number sheets and addition squares the most! She struggled at first with word problems, but once she gained familiarity with types of problems and noticed clue words they became easier for her over time. There are two appendix lessons titled A1 and B1. The lessons cover equal shares using the fraction terms halves, fourths, and thirds. Shape attributes and operations using number lines are also taught. A certificate and block clock printables are found at the back the book.

Lesson Practice

Application and Enrichment: Addition Squares
The consumable softcover test book contains one chapter test per lesson which means you'll have access to 30 three-hole punched perforated chapter tests. There are approximately 10-20 questions per chapter test with an average of 15-18 questions. There are four unit tests. Unit tests appear every 7-8 lessons and contain a range of 20-30 questions. One twenty-five question final test is given upon completion of all lessons. All test pages are printed in black-and white on the front and back side of the paper. 

Unit Test
Instruction Pack
DVD Video Lessons
The DVD contains 30 video lessons varying in length. The video segment lasts approximately 5-7 minutes each and are presented by the author Steve Demme. He appears to be teaching a classroom of children in front of a whiteboard. We heard the audience give both correct and incorrect responses. Mr. Demme immediately guides the individual with the incorrect answer towards the correct response by utilizing questioning techniques. The DVD lessons are meant to provide teaching models for the parent. He shows the parent how to teach the concepts with blocks using step-by-step directions.

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Instruction Manual
The hardcover instruction manual consists of 200 black-and-white printed pages written by Steve Demme. The manual begins with a "How to Use" the curricula section and an introduction to their 4-step methodology or approach. I feel that  these introductions are imperative to the success and teaching of the Math-U-See curricula. Every user should definitely read this section before implementing the program. The lesson explanations are clearly stated and useful teaching tips are scattered throughout the book. Student solutions are provided for all lesson and test questions. There are no solutions for the "application and enrichment" sheets. A list of symbols and tables, a glossary, a master index for topics covered in Primer through Zeta, and a topic index for Beta appear at the back of the manual. 

Beta focuses on multiple-digit addition and subtraction. The company targets a particular topic for each level yet still introduces a wide variety of other math concepts. 
Topics Covered in Beta (in no order)
  • Simple Addition and Subtraction
  • Addition with Regrouping
  • Multiple Addition
  • Column Addition 
  • Multiple-Digit Column Addition
  • Multiple-Digit Subtraction
  • Subtraction with Regrouping (Borrowing)
  • Subtraction with Three-Digit and Four-Digit Numbers
  • Subtraction Multiple-Digit Numbers
  • Perimeter
  • Word Problems
  • Mental Math
  • Estimation (Rounding) to Nearest 10's, 100's, 1000's
  • Skip Counting by 2's, 5's, 10's, 100's
  • Measurement (Estimating Inches and Centimeters)
  • Place Value to the Nearest Thousands
  • Inequalities (Comparing Number as Greater Than or Less Than)
  • Reading Thermometers and Gauges
  • Expanded or Place-Value Notation
  • Money (Skip Counting, Decimal Point and Dollars, Adding, Subtraction)
  • Telling Time (Hours and Minutes)
  • Ordinal Numbers
  • Tally Marks
  • Bar and Line Graphs
  • Number Lines (+, -)
  • Shape Identification and Characteristics
  • Fractional Parts (Equal Shares)
*Please see the curriculum sequence or table of contents for more specific details. You may also be interested in reading the most recent curricula updates for Beta. 

A note taken from the website with regards to grade level expectations:
How We Used Math-U-See Beta
I implemented Math-U-See Beta on a daily basis at least five times a week with Alyssa (Age 5). She usually works on lessons for 30-60 minutes. A lesson may last one or two days. I observe how my daughter reacts to see how long we will work. Most chapter tests are given the day after all workbook pages are completed. She must master the concepts before having the chance to move forward with lessons. I usually ask her to explain her thinking and work when grading the tests. She also used the Online Drill Page 2-3 times per week to review and maintain fact fluency. The Worksheet Generator is an e-learning component used to create extra practice sheets. My intention was to use this feature quite often, but we didn't feel that extra practice sheets were necessary. I printed a cumulative practice sheet covering lessons 3-13. I gave it to her as a pop quiz which was a wonderful way to check that she's retaining the information. We use Math-U-See as her core curriculum in conjunction with online math programs, math games, and other thematic hands-on activities related to the concepts presented. Games created are played at the end of her lesson to review concepts.
Pick a Card Game
Building the Number on Decimal Street
She did make a ten and exchange bars. 
She stacked them for this game.

A Typical 4-Step Approach to Our Lessons
Step 1: Prepare for the Lesson
I will normally skim through the instructor manual quickly before watching the teaching video lesson with Alyssa on the computer or the DVD player. She uses the blocks during the video lesson. I didn't allow her to view Lesson 1 where he suggests new names for the teen numbers such as "onety-one (11), onety-two (12)" and so forth. I didn't want to confuse her, because she already has a solid understanding of this concept. Would you like to take a peek at a lesson? Watch Steve Demme teach Lesson 11 on Multiple-Digit Addition.

Step 2: Present and Explore the New Concepts Together
I taught a lesson from the teacher manual using the examples provided. I modeled the concepts using the "Build, Write, Say" method. If I felt that she understood the lesson well, then I would give her the problem verbally from the teacher manual to complete. The examples in the manual are the same exact problems from the DVD. Additional examples can be created using different numbers. Check out what she's been learning!

Decimal Street: Build 374

Write and Say: Number Words and Expanded Form
Build, Write, Say: Addition Without Regrouping
Felt Dot as Decimal Point When Adding Money
Place-Value Notation: Adding Money with Regrouping

Step 3: Student Practice for Mastery
After mastering the concept using block manipulatives, she completed the lesson practice worksheets independently. My daughter's task was to finish at least 3 worksheets a day depending on the concept being introduced. There were less than 20 problems per chapter lesson which is a reasonable amount of work for Alyssa. Not all worksheets must be completed if you feel your child has mastered the concepts. 

Adding Money
Step 4: Student Progresses After Mastery
Alyssa is a very eager student and on most days wants to complete ALL the lesson worksheets in one day including the three systematic review worksheets. I allow her to do this provided that she doesn't get frustrated and doesn't dawdle. If it were a fairly new or more difficult concept, then she would complete only the three lesson practice pages that day to reduce the chance of becoming overwhelmed. On these days, the three systematic review pages are done the next day. If she completes all six practice pages including the enrichment sheet, then the chapter test is given the next day to determine whether or not she will advance forward with the lessons. Here are a couple examples of the "Application and Enrichment" sheets.
Double-Digit Addition Squares
Robot Dot-to-Dot: Skip Count by 5's
The record or log sheet is located at the front of the student workbook or on their website. This resource enables the parent to see their child's overall performance and track their progress at a particular level. I store a copy of this form in her math assessment binder.

What We Liked
  1. The program is based on conceptual understanding rather than just rote memorization. Alyssa knows "why" she solves certain problems a particular way and when to use one approach or method over another. 
  2. This curriculum is great for many learning modalities including visual, tactile, and auditory. Children that need to "see" the concept visually and work using a hands-on approach (tactile) will benefit greatly from using this curricula series. 
  3. Continuous or systematic review is built into each lesson. Additionally, each level builds on previously learned topics or skills. 
  4. Alyssa is now a very confident math problem solver. Her grandfather was impressed with her mathematical abilities. She asked him to give her a big addition problem to solve and she successfully solved it. She said, "That problem was easy because you only asked me to regroup once and I learned how to add multiple numbers in a column with Math-U-See."
  5. Years ago, I wasn't sure how felt about mastery-based curricula and was hesitant to even consider a curricula based on this approach. I have grown accustomed to the way it works and prefer this type of curricula now. I like knowing that she has mastered the concepts and skills taught which will prepare her for advanced mathematical concepts in the future. I can easily supplement lessons for other concepts that I would like to cover in the year. Although, at this point, I haven't felt the need to supplement the Beta curriculum. I feel all math concepts are thoroughly covered. 
  6. This math curriculum was impressive and exceeded my expectations with the inclusion of more word problems, mental math, and concept coverage. I couldn't believe she was rounding number to the nearest ten thousands and adding multiple-digit numbers. I was very pleased with the number of word problems in the student workbook and the mental math activities included in instruction manual. I haven't seen older editions of Beta, but I have noticed an increase in these types of problems from Alpha to Beta.
Examples of Word Problems
Possible Cons or Suggestions
  1. I was disappointed that the Beta curriculum didn't include very many games to help reinforce the concepts in a hands-on way. I would also suggest activities or games that require movement for kinesthetic learners. 
  2. Several problems have limited work space and seem somewhat crowded on the page. This is easily fixed by providing your child scrap paper or a mini whiteboard to show work. However, I am not fond of tracking down scrap papers and prefer all work to be shown on the same page. The lack of space was most noticeable when solving word problems. Alyssa was forced to squeeze her tables, drawings, and calculations into a small area. 
  3. I was hoping the new edition would have included different examples in the manual from those on the DVD especially for individuals that choose to watch the lessons with their children. Parents would have more lesson examples, leaving the workbook pages for the child to complete independently instead of using those problems as extra examples. 
  4. I wish that the lesson tests and unit tests were incorporated into the student workbook. There were a couple times that I actually forgot about the tests. We divided them over several days treating them more like extra worksheets.
  5. My only thought is that once you start using this type of curricula, you must continue to use all the levels to reach its full potential and benefits. Skipping levels or changing curricula may have an impact on the results you want in the end. Furthermore, not all concepts taught using a mastery-based approach will match the concepts taught to their public school peers.  
  6. The worksheet-based approach may not suit your child's learning style. There are a lot of worksheets included in this curriculum. A parent can adapt the lesson by limiting the number of worksheets necessary for a child to complete or by assessing their mastery level verbally with the manipulatives.
Math-U-See Beta is available at the company store website. The hardcover instruction manual and DVD can be purchased for $43 and the student materials including the tests and workbook retail for $30. All student materials are three-hole punched with perforated pages. That's $73.00 for printed materials! The manipulative blocks used in all levels except Epsilon are purchased separately for $38 per set. Two sets are recommended for larger number problems. Shipping and handling will vary depending on your location. Here's the shipping and returns policy. Current retail prices are listed at the time of this review. I suggest that you give your child a placement test to determine the appropriate level before making a purchase especially since the program is NOT based on grade levels

Other Products
Please visit the company website to view the curriculum sequence and prices for all other levels. 
Primer $53.00
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Alpha $73.00
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Gamma $74.00
Skip Counting CD $11.00

Our Thoughts
Overall, I believe that Math-U-See Beta is a user-friendly math curricula that is easily implemented. This curriculum teaches Alyssa at an instructional level. We've finally found a curriculum that somewhat challenges her thinking. She listens attentively and enthusiastically participates in all the lessons. Alyssa likes to watch the videos of Mr. Demme teaching and demonstrating mathematical concepts. I also have noticed that the mastery approach has benefited her math studies; she learns the concept well before moving on to the next topic. 

Alyssa's recent writing assignment was to write me a friendly letter telling me her opinion about Math-U-See Beta. I photographed her assignment so that you can read her thoughts. She already completed both of the lessons she referred to in her letter. I will definitely continue using the Math-U-See curricula with Alyssa. Gamma is already at the top of our wish list. I believe she will begin this level in the summer if not sooner especially if she continues to work diligently through Beta.

I highly recommend Math-U-See to ALL homeschool families with lower elementary aged children regardless of their teaching approach wanting a unique mastery-based math curricula. This is a magnificent curricula for tutors, after school programs, small group co-op settings, and private schools. I would definitely recommend this curricula to special education instructors in public schools teaching children who are at risk, in title programs, or for students with learning disabilities.

Do you have any questions about this product? Please read the FAQ section for additional information. You can contact the company via e-mail at or call them at 888-854-6284 (MATH). Visit and follow the social pages of Math-U-See on Facebook and Twitter. If you are interested in viewing additional You Tube videos, then click on the provided link. They even have a newsletter if you would like to receive updates and tips.  

Please visit the Schoolhouse Review Crew Blog to read more Math-U-See reviews written from crew members. 
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Sunday, March 24, 2013

A is for Art and Artist Study Resources

We are super excited about our core art curriculum this year. We are using Artistic Pursuits Book 2. She has completed several oil pastel projects. Click on the link provided to read my review. This time while in the great outdoors, she decided that she wanted to draw our car. Here are a few photos of her art work.

I love to supplement with notebooking, timelines, lapbooking, and other resources. I wanted to share my list of favorite art and artist study resources with you. As with any art material, please view all art works to see if they will be appropriate for your child. 

Free Resources
Confessions of a Homeschooler - World's Greatest Artist Study 1
Peace Creek on the Prairie - Adventures in Art E-Curriculum
Concordia University Chicago Art Lessons Grades 1-8
Ambleside Online Artist Schedule

That Resource Site - Art Learning CardsMontessori Art Cards
Living Montessori Now Art Appreciation
Montessori Materials - Artist and Art Cards

Notebooking, Lapbooking, Timelines, or Picture Study
Practical Pages - Famous ArtistsTimelinesActivity Pages, Impressionists
Notebooking Fairy - Artist Notebooking Pages and Printables
Dynamic 2 Moms - Art Units
Jimmie's Collage Artist StudyCM Artist StudyArt Log
Simply Charlotte Mason Subject by Subject Series: Teaching Art
Garden of Praise - Art Appreciation Lesson

Other Resources
SmartHistory (May Contain Nudity)
An Old-Fashioned Education Art Appreciation
Web Gallery of Art
Stories of Art and Artist E-Book
Harmony Fine Arts - Free Downloads
Artist Tea Party - This can be done for poetry and music as well!
Red Ted's Art Blog
Edupics - Art Color Pages
Color Me Masterpiece

Paid Items
Variety of Resources
Artistic Pursuits - Book 2 (Review at A Learning Journey)
Notebooking Pages Famous Artist Notebooking Pages
Harmony Fine Arts
Currclick All That's Good Publishing Artist Montessori Cards +
Meet the Masters
Child Size Masterpieces
Artventure - Four Free Art Lessons
Zane Education - Artist Videos

Book to Read
Laurence Anholt Art Series
Getting to Know the World's Greatest Artists by Mike Venezia

iPad Apps
Da Vinci - Art History App (May Contain Nudity)
Knowledge Quest TimelineBuilder App - We created an artist timeline.

What free art resources should I add to this list?
 Please leave suggestions in the comments

I will link this post up at Blogging Through Alphabet and Frugal Family hosted by Marcy's from Ben and Me. The letter tomorrow is "B." Come join the fun and link up your ideas!

  Frugal Family 2013 Blogging Through the Alphabet

This page will be updated as new resources are found or utilized. Thank you for reading this post! Please feel free to leave a comment if you found this post useful. 

God bless, 

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Schoolhouse Review: Children's Music Journey Series

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Are you looking for an effective music and piano curriculum?

Our previous music curriculum subscription expired which left us without a curriculum to enrich our homeschool day. My daughter has a strong passion in learning how to play the keyboard (piano). I don't know about you but we can't afford private lessons. I have always heard that once a child learns how to play the piano, then they will have an easier time learning how to play other instruments. This will help later because she wants to learn how to play the guitar too. Additionally, music has a huge impact on the child's academic achievements. This informative article explains the developmental improvements and benefits that music has on reading, math, and science. I don't have any experience or background knowledge to teach children music. With that in mind, I do want an effective music curriculum that will guide Alyssa in the right direction should she desire to study piano further. Let me tell you about a music curriculum called Children's Music Journey that we started reviewing about a month and half ago. It was the answer to our family’s need for a music curriculum!   

I recently had the opportunity to review a remarkable multi-level music curriculum suitable for children ages 4-18 developed by Adventus called MusIQ Homeschool as part of the Schoolhouse Review Crew. We received ALL of their downloadable software program titles via e-mail which cover seven year's worth of lessons. Since I own a Mac computer, I could only review a portion of the titles. It was a blessing and honor to review the award-winning Children's Music Journey 3-Volume Series which is meant for children ages 4-10. This program systematically and logically teaches piano skills to children in pre-k through approximately fourth grade. Children's Music Journey contains three volumes with a total of 95 piano or keyboard lessons. Each volume has 25-35 lessons. The first volume consists of 20 sessions divided into two 10-week sessions (lessons 1-25). The second volume consists of 30 sessions organized in three 10-week sessions (lessons 26-60). The third volume also contains 30 sessions split up into three 10-week sessions (lessons 61-95). Each session group is represented by a letter (A-C). This unique curriculum integrates music appreciation, composer study, music history, music theory, music notation, ear training, composition, improvisation, and more. The program teaches children about pitch, notation, and rhythm. The lessons slowly progress in difficulty or complexity over time.

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  • Beethoven
  • Bach 
  • Joplin
  • Mendelssohn
  • Villa-Lobos
  • Satie
  • Dvorak
  • Mozart
  • Beach
  • Tchaikovsky
  • Handel
  • Chopin
  • Scarlatti
  • Haydn
  • Bartok
  • Chaminade
  • Debussy
  • Schumann
Here's a video describing the Children's Music Journey software.

Required Equipment
Computer (Windows 2000/XP/Vista/Mac OS X)
Internet Connection
MIDI Keyboard (M-Audio KeyRig 49 is recommended.)
Standard USB Cable or USB-MIDI Cable
Headphones (Optional)
*System requirements and details can be found here.

How I Used Children's Music Journey?
Children's Music Journey was the core music curriculum used with my five-year-old daughter. We started at the beginning of the first volume in normal mode. The three learning modes are normal, free, and strict. The program was utilized 1-3 times per week for a minimum of 30-60 minutes a day. One lesson included a visit to each room. Alyssa was also allowed to practice the concepts presented in the weekly music lessons up to four times per week for 15-20 minutes a day. She practiced the concepts in the practice room, in the game room, at the library, or in the improvisation room. Children's Music Journey was utilized on my Mac OS X 10.5.8 computer with Safari as my browser. A USB cable connected our computer monitor to a general MIDI compatible Casio keyboard. We completed several of the supplemental activity sheets from the homeschool manual including coloring pages, word searches, mazes, and activity worksheets. These lesson plans are available as a separate purchase. We used this program in conjunction with a timeline iPad app and composer notebooking pages to further enrich the study. We found the composer information sheets particularly useful with notebooking extensions and when writing composer descriptions for her timeline.  
Composer Word Search
 Labeling Finger Numbers and Hands 
Identifying Finger Numbers by Tracing Hand
Musical Alphabet

The MusIQ Library give parents access to a conglomeration of music study resources. We focused on the items categorized under the Children's Music Journey which was divided into three sections: Activity Sheets, Teacher Resources, and Assessments. You will also find the Children's Music Journey Software Overview which will give you a detailed overview of concepts learned as children progress through each level. The General tab contains resources such as the blank five line staff, blank grand staff, pizza (notes), two sizes of the blank keyboard cards, blank line staff, large musical alphabet flash cards, grand staff ladder board game, game cards and more. I can't wait to give an official certificate to my daughter after she successfully completes the first level.

A Typical Day Visiting the Five Learning Areas

Alyssa logs into the curriculum by clicking on her personal avatar. Progress is saved for each individual utilizing the program. A positive aspect of the program is that the pace can be individualized. The curriculum makes it possible for any child to work independently through the program at their own pace. I can adjust Alyssa's pace based on how successful she is with the components of each level. 

Lesson Room
Alyssa begins her music journey in the Lesson Room. The Lesson Room consists of 95 well-organized and developmentally age appropriate lessons throughout the entire series. This is where animated composer characters teach her about a specific musical concept or skill within a 5-10 minute time frame. The composer also narrates background information about their life and major works. The child's short lesson begins and ends with the chance to enjoy a musical composition created by that particular composer. Children learn facts about each of the famous composers and music appreciation is emphasized early in the program. I loved that the program was taught by different animated music composers! This aspect changes things up and provides variety which helps maintain a young child's attention. My daughter remained enthusiastic and focused during her lessons. Alyssa interacted with the instructor and learned a variety of skills. Topics that are covered in Children Music Journey Volume 1 are recognition of high and low notes, locating and playing middle c, rhythmic patterns, ascending and descending notes, directional note sequences, from and to middle c, double notes, holding notes, finger numbers, stepping notes, musical alphabet, keyboard letter names, music history, and music appreciation for great composers. I was simply amazed and appreciated how the program began with pictorial representations for notes and graduated to reading stemmed music notation. My daughter was actually playing familiar simple songs with only a few sessions under her belt. She remembered to use an ant tunnel to play musical arrangements and attempted to use both hands to play the keyboard. Alyssa's favorite composer was Joplin, because his music made her want to dance. The screenshots below are from Lesson 16 with Franny.
Listening to an "Untitled" Composition
Alyssa titled the song "United."
Learning a New Finger Number Song:
Finger to Use is Highlighted Red
Notes are Highlighted Green as Played
(Check out the 4 Count Holding Notes)
Musical Alphabet Review
Letters Turn Blue with Thick Lines 

Practice Room
Alyssa reviews the material with the stylish yet conservative Miss Melody. Each practice session reiterates the lesson concepts differently. She also has the child practice the new songs several times (2-3 times) depending on the number of mistakes. She provides immediate feedback and praise that encourages the child to practice. Incorrect responses are gently acknowledged. There are a total of 95 practice session in the three-volume series.
Song Titled, "On Wings of Song" 
Practicing Finger Numbers:
Notes Highlighted as Played 

Games Room
Thirty games are included in the entire series to help her practice the concepts and skills addressed in the lesson in an interactive and fun way. Ten games are available to play each time. However, all ten games do not stay open in the normal (recommended) mode. Only certain games related to the lesson can be accessed in one sitting. The games cover a variety of concepts such as but not limited to early note reading, pitch recognition, timing and holding notes, reading and playing notes, word rhythm practice, finger numbering, and musical alphabet notes. This room was very popular with Alyssa. 
Available Games Highlighted Green
Type Missing Letter on Computer Keyboard:
Crane Adds the Block

Alyssa's favorite game is the Princess Storybook Game. The princess begins the session by telling a story. However, part of the story is missing. The dog barks rhythmic patterns aloud. She must play the rhythm correctly in order to choose one of three words to complete the story. Basically, she has three tries. An option is removed for each incorrect attempt. If incorrect, the princess might say, "Oh dear . . . that isn't quite right." 
Words read aloud are highlighted red

She was overly excited when playing the "Catch the Note" game. Birds represent high notes in the sky and whales represent low notes in the deep ocean. She must play a high or low note depending on which type of animal passes between the two buoys. 
High Note Played 

Improvisation Room
Alyssa had the opportunity to explore the sounds of 16 different musical instruments and choose background music to create her own compositions. Each channel gave her access to different music genres including rock, waltz, samba, latin, march, jazz, classical, and more. My recommendation was for her to create at least one or two arrangements that utilize her newfound skills. Then, she had free time to explore the features so that she could express her personality while recording her own music arrangements. The compositions created are saved, dated, and sent to the Library Room for future listening sessions. She looks forward to the improvisation room every single day, because it was her time to perform. After several lessons of Children's Music Journey we have seen drastic improvement in her improvisation arrangements. Her compositions are pleasing to the ear and sound more like musical pieces. I also noticed an increase in her understanding of the concepts. Creativity is fostered in the improvisation room. This is the only music program that I have come across that allows the child to create their own compositions in this manner. 
Keys light up as they are played. 

The Library
The Library Room has several locations to visit which improve her understanding of music theory and concepts while gaining familiarity with compositions created by well-known composers. My daughter listens to famous compositions from several specific composers by clicking on the globe. She also listens to her own musical pieces by visiting the improvisation icon. Alyssa can review and practice previously learned lessons by clicking on the "Lessons and Practice Book." If she clicks on the computer, then she has the opportunity to hear and play new songs. The "Practice and Learn" area contains 150 pre-recorded songs. 
Lesson and Practice Book
"Practice and Learn" Session
Recorded Songs

What Will Children's Music Journey Cost Me?
This software is available in two formats. It can be purchased as a software download or as a CD-ROM. You can purchase each volume for $69.95. The series is available with lesson plans for $89.95 per volume. Another option is to pay for a MusIQ Homeschool monthly subscription which will cost you $10.95 per month for unlimited full access to ALL of their software products in downloadable format via e-mail. This option seems best geared towards families that homeschool children at multiple levels. The lesson plans are not part of the monthly subscription. However, the homeschool lesson plans are available for $29.95 as a separate purchase. They offer a 30-Day Money-Back Guarantee when you purchase a product through their Adventus website store. There are a variety of bundle packages available so please explore their website to find out which one fits your budget and homeschool needs best.

What I Like 
  1. The supplemental homeschool lesson plans (separate purchase) provided me with additional teaching tips, games, and practice ideas as enrichments to the core software lessons. Not to mention, they provided me with the tools I needed to monitor and assess Alyssa's progress. 
  2. The program provided my daughter with the chance to learn how to play the keyboard (piano) at a higher level. It really does work! I never imagined that she would gain so much knowledge and skill in such a short amount of time. She was actually playing familiar songs by reading stemmed notes on the screen. I look forward to seeing her progress this year. The program claims that it can help children compose their own music. Alyssa did gain the ability to read, understand, and COMPOSE her own music after participating in the lesson and practice sessions. This aspect of the program is what astonishes me the most!
  3. The lessons take place in the convenient and quiet atmosphere of our home. We do not have to waste gas money or time driving to private lessons. The cost of the program is more affordable than weekly private piano lessons. The cost of traveling back and forth when living out-of-town must be accounted for as part of the expense which we cannot afford at this time. 
  4. The curriculum is user-friendly. It can be easily implemented and scheduled into a daily or weekly routine. Alyssa quickly learned the routine and was able to independently complete lessons while I supervised.
Possible Cons
  1. This curriculum is a software download therefore it does take up space on your computer.
  2. The directions for the Building Block game may need clarification. I read the user manual to figure out how to play the game. My daughter kept trying to play the musical alphabet note on her keyboard, but in actuality, she needed to type the correct letter on the computer keyboard. 
  3. The cost of the program may still be too high for some homeschooling families.
Possible Suggestions for the Vendor
  • I wish Alyssa had the ability to title her compositions from the Improvisation Room.
  • I would absolutely love to see this series expand further with additional composers yet remain Mac compatible. 
  • Is there any way the company could create supplemental notebooking pages to use in conjunction with the program? Many homeschooling families utilize notebooking tools as extensions to their music curriculum program. This bonus resource would make your program even more appealing. I loved that the homeschool manual included historical composer timelines.
  • An online concentration (matching) game would be a neat way to explore composers and their music? The child can flip over two cards. One would have the composer's name and photo; the other would play a compositional piece. The child must decide whether the two cards are a pair or not. 
Our Thoughts
I am extremely impressed with the results of this effective program that incorporates an efficient "teach, practice, apply" method to learning piano. Children's Music Journey is one of reasons why Alyssa has a positive attitude towards learning piano. The curriculum builds up my daughter's confidence level as she progresses through the levels of challenging yet fun lessons. The program lead to dramatic improvements in her understanding of music concepts and ability to play the keyboard. I believe that Children's Music Journey will provide children with a solid foundation in music. We will definitely continue using this curriculum for the rest of the year. At that point, we will reevaluate our curriculum options based on our budget and pray we can purchase the levels needed to continue. 

Other Products

Adventus also offers a variety of music software program titles in their store for ages 10 and up including Piano Suite PremierEar Training Coach 1-4MusIQ Challenger Game, and Children Music Journey Homeschool Lesson Plans (scroll down). Accessories such as keyboards and cables are sold. 


Children's Music Journey is an outstanding comprehensive music curriculum for children between the ages of 4 and 10. I definitely recommend this complete program to ALL home and music educators. I also think that this fantastic curriculum can be implemented by any parent, after school facility, in any co-op group setting, and in all public or private schools.

You can contact the company and fill out the form with any questions you have about the curriculum. Adventus can also be reached at 1-888-999-MIDI (6434). Skim through the Children's Music Journey FAQ before contacting the company. You can follow Adventus on Facebook or Twitter. You can also sign-up for their newsletter to keep up-to-date with products or promotions. They do offer a Free 7-Day Trial if you would like to try their program. 

Please visit the Schoolhouse Review Crew Blog to read additional Adventus MusIQ Homeschool reviews. 
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