Monday, November 17, 2014

Blue Ribbon Winners and our Favorite Schoolhouse Reviews for 2014

It's that time of the year again where we take a break from reviewing for the Schoolhouse Review Crew and enjoy the holiday season . . . BUT FIRST!  Reviewers were asked to vote on their favorite products from various categories.  It's a fun way for us to share our final thoughts about the year, and give thanks to the vendors for their generosity!

So here I am, trying to share some of our favorites.  It turned out that it was really hard to narrow it down, but these are the ones we're still loving and using!  Several of our favorites were also blue ribbon winners, and I tried to note that wherever possible.  This list is not in any specific order, but you can click on the title of the product read the full review.

Spelling You See
This is from Demme Learning, of Math U See fame.  Math U See was one of our personal favorites last year, and I'm not shocked that we enjoyed Spelling You See as well.  It's definitely a different approach to spelling than the traditional memorization of rules and spelling lists, but it is Charlotte Mason friendly with the use of copywork and dictation.  Perhaps that's why we like it.

Spelling You See
This is a fun online K-2 science curriculum full of interactive videos and lessons for the student, and full of lesson plans, worksheets and more for the teacher!  What I loved was all of the hands-on activities that encouraged exploration and investigation, as that is the key to science!  Elliott loved this program, and still asks for it often, and that is why it's a winner in our house.  This was actually Elliott's runner up for his Kid's Pick vote, but he did vote for it in other categories.

ARTistic Pursuits
WINNER!  This program won for favorite Fine Arts Product/Curriculum!  
This was Elliott's top pick for Fine Arts, and it was one of our top five favorites last year as well.  This year we were blessed to review Book 2 in the Elementary K-3 series.  It is a great combination of art history, art appreciation and fun art projects to try.  I'm not artistic, but the boys love art projects, and this curriculum gives me enough information and background to help them develop different skills.  They have everything from Preschool to High School, so I definitely plan to keep it on our rotation for years to come!

ARTistic Pursuits review

Maestro Classics
For me, this was tied with Art for Fine Arts, and for good reason!  These quality productions are absolutely my favorite way to incorporate music now!  I was always scared of music education before, but Maestro Classics makes it so easy.  They combine narration of great stories, orchestra music, composer studies, and music appreciation all wrapped into an educational and entertaining CD.  The activity booklets are a nice bonus.  We reviewed two titles, I've already purchased two more titles, and the rest are on our wishlist!

{By the way, Maestro Classics has sent me a unique coupon code for my readers as a special thanks to homeschoolers, so check out the full article for specifics!  These would make great stocking stuffers, and are fantastic for car rides!)

Clued In Kids
WINNER:  Kid's Choice
After much deliberation over his favorites from the year, this was Elliott's pick for Kid's Choice!  These are treasure hunts that are fun AND educational.  Need I say more?  I love the ease and preparation, and the kids just absolutely went crazy over these!  I'll probably buy more throughout the year as a fun surprise for the boys!

WINNER:  Favorite Language Arts Supplement
Both of the boys actually use this frequently for math practice and review.  I find it more than enough for my 5 year old, and it's an excellent supplement for second grade.  It's computer based, but also available on mobile devices.  When I find my kid on the iPad "doing school" without me even asking, I know the program is a keeper!

Learning Wrap-Ups
WINNER:  Favorite Math Supplement
We loved the learning palettes and the wrap-ups that we reviewed.  It's a great way to practice math and reading in an informal and hands-on way, which is definitely our style!  In fact, Emory just saw this picture and asked if he could play it.

Motivated Moms
I'll be honest, I wasn't sure about this one in the beginning, because I'm not a checklist kind of person.  However, this has been a GREAT chore planner for me, and I can definitely tell a difference in my motivation when I have it out and use it regularly.  I don't know why this one is so different than other checklists/planners that I've tried, but I really like it.

Under Drake's Flag 
WINNER:  Favorite Book, Audio Book or Audio Drama
This is a captivating audio drama that we all loved!  It has great voice acting, dramatic sound effects and it was all around fascinating.  I was not even allowed to pause it during our car ride.  We are definitely looking forward to more productions from Heirloom Audio Productions!  

We Choose Virtues
This is a fun character training program.  We still use it alongside our Five in a Row studies whenever it aligns, and the boys look forward to which "kid" we will be learning about, and when my kids ask questions and look forward to a program, it is definitely worth mentioning!

Middlebury Interactive Languages 
WINNER:  Favorite Foreign Language Curriculum
This is an online foreign language program.  They have various languages for different age/grade ranges.  We reviewed K-2 Spanish, and we're still using it in our homeschool!  It is immersion based with authentic stories, interactive exercises, cultural lessons and speaking practice.

More Winners
These are other blue ribbon winners that we reviewed that maybe didn't make our personal favorites list for this year, but were still enjoyed and are still fantastic products in their own right, as shown by their blue ribbon status!

Moving Beyond the Page:  Favorite Language Arts Curriculum, Favorite Middle School Resource

CTC Math:  Favorite Math Program

Preschoolers and Peace:  Favorite Preschool Program (This did get our vote!)

Logic of English:  Favorite Elementary Resource

There were even more winners that covered other categories and age ranges, so be sure to check out the FULL list of Blue Ribbon Winners and find out which products other crew members voted for this year.

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  1. I love the list! I have some favorites I've chosen because of your reviews. Spelling You See, IXL and Middlebury Languages. Thank you for taking the time to review and share these products.

    1. Nita, thank you so much for taking the time to comment! I love to hear that others are reading my reviews and taking them into consideration when choosing curriculum!! :)

  2. So many great choices this year. Voting was tough!