Monday, November 16, 2015

Our 2015 Blue Ribbon Winners

Last week I completed my last review for the Schoolhouse Review Crew's 2015 year, and now it's time for our holiday break, but first we had one last "job" to complete.  Every year we get to vote for the Blue Ribbon Awards.  We are given the opportunity to vote for our favorite reviews and companies.  It's a way to give one last Thank You to the publishers and authors for their great curriculum and books, and for allowing us to review it and share it with the homeschool community.  It's just fun to share our thoughts one last time as the year winds down, and since many of us blog about our favorites at the end of the year, it's always intriguing to see what other crew members choose as their favorites.

We get to vote in a variety of different categories, and I'm going to share some of our favorites from this year, in no particular order, as well as winners in some of the categories, so if you missed any of these reviews, I'm linking to them here so you can check them out!

Artistic Pursuits
What can I say?  This has become a household favorite.  ARTistic Pursuits has made our list the last two years as well, and I'm just thrilled we've been blessed to review it again.  This was Elliott's Kid's Choice, and although it wasn't a category winner this year, it is a FABULOUS curriculum.  I love that it is easy for novice art teachers to use, that it covers all facets of art, and that students are encouraged to create unique art and not cookie cutter projects.  The kids love the variety of media they get to use (this isn't just crayons and construction paper folks--we're talking watercolor crayons, gouache paints, oil pastels, clay, and more), and the projects are FUN!  I love that they have curriculum for Preschool to High School, and I imagine this will be our go-to for years to come.

La La Logic
Winner: Favorite Preschool Product and Kid's Choice

This has been my most popular crew review post this Crew year.

It won our vote in a few different categories, including the two it won.  (For Kid's Choice, it got the vote of Emory and Eleanor.)  It is described as a Preschool logic curriculum, designed for 3-6 years old, but it is certainly adaptable for older and younger ages.  I love it!  It has the fun online element, flexible lesson plans for parents, and developmentally appropriate worksheets so little ones can "do school" like their big siblings.  I don't generally recommend preschool curriculum, but I adore this program and think it is very age appropriate.  Emory (now 6) used it during Kindergarten and is finishing up the online element.  Eleanor, who is a few months shy of 3, is starting to play around on it now, so it has so much long-term value.

Maestro Classics
Winner:  Favorite Fine Arts Curriculum

Here's another company that has become a favorite after reviewing for them in the past.  We reviewed Handel and The Sorcerer's Apprentice last year, and I've bought several titles since then.  This year my family was blessed to review their new release, The Nutcracker.  A beautiful, must-have Christmas production for the whole family!

In Freedom's Cause
Winner - Favorite History Supplement!

This got our vote in a couple categories, including the History Supplement.  (The companion product we reviewed was equally impressive, but a little more intense for my kids, so that's why I cast my vote the way I did.)

The story of Wallace and Bruce is brought to life in an exciting audio drama.  It's history and entertainment entwined into a fantastic listening experience.

With Lee in Virginia
This production is also by Heirloom Audio Productions, another amazing listening experience that takes you right into history with the people who made it happen.

Yes, Heirloom Audio Productions is so good that it gets two spots on my Favorites list!  Under Drake's Flag made our Blue Ribbon Winners List last year too. They are educational, exciting, suspenseful, entertaining and carry a strong message of faith, honor, and courage. I will gladly continue to buy new stories as they are produced.  There is some content (violence of the historical type) that might be intense for sensitive children, but overall they are appropriate and enjoyable for the whole family.

Winner- Just For Fun

We reviewed Wonky and Tapple, and it did get our vote for Just for Fun!  My 8 year old loves board games, and although these aren't typical "board games" they were still a huge hit in our house.  I appreciate the educational value of these games, and of course we all love the fun factor.  They're great for an after school reward, Fun Friday activity, Family Night, or I could even see them being used in an Educational Games class at a co-op.

Middlebury Interactive Languages
Winner:  Favorite Foreign Language Curriculum

We loved this last year (we reviewed K-2 Spanish) and this year we were blessed to review it again!  I moved Elliott up to 3rd-5th Grade Spanish and again we have a winner!  It's interactive, immersive and fun!  

GrapeVine Studies
Winner:  Favorite Christian Education Curriculum

These are Bible studies that help you draw your way through learning the Bible.  It got a couple votes from me, including the category it won.  The teacher's manual is easy to follow, and the kids enjoy drawing while they work.  Having them draw during the lesson keeps them more involved, and it's something I want to carry over into our other studies.

Brinkman Adventures
Winner:  Favorite Christian Education Supplement and Book, Novel or Audio Drama

A winner in multiple categories for a reason, this is a fabulous resource for families!  These missionary stories really are adventurous.  They're fun, upbeat, exciting and and the kids and I love listening to them.  The other two seasons are already on our wishlist.  It's one of those things that EVERYONE listens to and enjoys.

Blue Ribbon Winners
So here's a sneak peak of some other category winners.  These are just the ones that we reviewed, which were amazing in their own right, even if they didn't make our favorites or weren't a good fit for us.  I can say, I didn't review any "bad" curricula or books this year.

Favorite Vocabulary Program - Dynamic Literacy
Favorite Penmanship Program - CursiveLogic
Favorite Literature Curriculum - Progeny Press
Favorite Science Supplement - Ann McCallum Books:  Eat Your Science Homework
Favorite Math Supplement - SimplyFun
Favorite Elective Curriculum - Apologia Educational Ministries:  Field Trip Journal
Favorite Parent Product - Koru Naturals
Favorite Planning Product - Apologia:  The Ultimate Homeschool Planner
Best Online Resource - Super Teacher Worksheets

Favorite Reading Curriculum - Reading Kingdom
Favorite Writing Curriculum - Institute for Excellence in Writing
Favorite Math Curriculum - CTC Math

*I did not review Reading Kingdom, PAL (which was part of the IEW Writing category) or CTC Math this year, but I have reviewed them in the past, so I separated them for distinction, but included them in case you want to check them out too.

Now I can't review everything the crew offers, because sometimes they offer multiple products at one time, or my kid's aren't the right age, so there are still several winners left for you to check out!  You can view the full list of Blue Ribbon Awards to see all of the category winners and to find out who won All Around Crew Favorite!  Who knows, you might just find something new to try out for your family!

2015 Schoolhouse Review Crew Blue Ribbon Awards

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