Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Homeschooling High School: Language Arts Resources

In our state, students are required to have four credits of English to graduate high school. Language Arts is a broad term that covers English Grammar, Writing, Composition, Spelling, Vocabulary, Literature, and Critical Thinking Skills. Our goal in our home school is to cover all these areas of Language Arts for four years, which is equivalent to four credits.

Thanks to our core curriculum, A Beka, all of these areas are thoroughly integrated into our daily high school program, so there is not a whole lot extra for me to plan to make up the difference. There are a few programs that I have added to reinforce weak areas that my girls have had, and I will write about them here - how they have helped and enhanced our core curriculum.


While I have read much debate in the homeschooling community about whether sentence diagramming is a necessity or not, I would like to advocate that it most certainly is a helpful skill to learn. Being able to pick a sentence apart and correctly identify each part of speech will help the student in so many ways, including comprehension and improvement in their own writing.  Not only that, but learning to properly use punctuation will also make their writing stand out above the crowd, especially as an adult.

Many of the secondary grammar skills, such as identifying various types of clauses and infinitives, are greatly aided when a student learns proper grammar structure. My advice would be to not neglect diagramming and a solid foundation in grammar and punctuation. It should be covered every year starting young, and reviewed every year on a deeper level, until graduation. Most of us never truly 'master' grammar skills, so there is no harm in reviewing them annually for the high school student. Many of their future needed skills in life, including college essays, interviews, scholarship essays, and other job skills will benefit from strong and proper grammar usage.

Writing and Composition

The best way to improve a student's writing is to encourage them to be a reader of fine literature. They will grow accustomed to knowing how sentences are "supposed to sound" and will recognize when their writing is deficient.

While there are many ways to improve writing skills, one of the best ways is to practice, practice, practice! Teach your student to proof read their own work, and re-write when necessary. Edit their papers with a constructively critical eye, and show them how to re-write anything that is less than sound. If you have suggestions for polishing their work, give it. Often students can recognize that their writing 'needs something' but they are not sure exactly how to improve. One thing I have done when correcting and editing is to give two different options for a sentence that needed better structure, then allow the student to choose which one they preferred.

Students should practice writing all types of different papers: research papers, editorials, persuasive essays, dialogues, and journaling are just a few ways to practice various types of writing.

One area that our students found troublesome was writing a biographical sketch. They found it difficult to write about themselves! We used a wonderful program called Fortuigence that assisted in teaching how to layout and construct an essay. We happened to review the "personal statement" program, which was a great help in teaching how to write a biographical sketch without sounding too awkward. The techniques taught in this program are still being used by my now-college student in her essay writing!

Spelling and Vocabulary

Just because they are done with elementary school does not mean high schoolers can let spelling and vocabulary words fall to the wayside! On the contrary, proper spelling makes their writing appear more professional, and good vocabulary words are essential to writing and reading high school level papers and literature! Besides all that, the reading section of the SAT is comprised mostly of questions that demonstrate a strong vocabulary.

There are two programs we have used as resources to assist in spelling and vocabulary. My top go-to program is Vocabulary Spelling City, which can be used for all grade levels, but is especially helpful for review at the high school level. Parents can enter their own lists for the student to practice, or can assign pre-programmed lists. There are SAT vocabulary practice lists already on the program.

For specific SAT type practice, I have found that Wordly Wise is a great program to prepare the student for word analogies, which can be quite challenging. In just a few minutes a day, the student can adequately prepare for the SAT by using either the book or online version.


Promoting reading and interpreting Literature is one of the most important skills that a high schooler must learn. Readers will continue to educate themselves far past their graduation. If you have a reluctant reader, find material that sparks their interest and run with it. Work with them. Read together and discuss the material. It is vital that high schoolers learn how to read with understanding.

Reading the Bible is imperative not only for Christian growth, but to instill a daily personal walk with God in your high schooler's life, and to guide them in their understanding. If your high school student struggles with their daily devotions and Bible reading, then find a program that will help them read through their Bibles, and perhaps take notes or answer questions about what they read. Read it together as a family, so they can enjoy it and learn from others.

Pearson has published a suggested high school reading list of works that a high school student should be familiar with before graduation. Not all may be appropriate for your family's values, but I have found that reading and discussing literature with your high school student, even things that we might deem inappropriate, allows a great opportunity for the parent to point out the flaws and instill good character in their children. Covering age-appropriate vices in literature helps prepare the student for adult life when they will face these topics on their own without the benefit of parental guidance at their side.

During high school, it is important to have the student read early American literature as well as early English literature. So much of what has been written reflects the culture and aids in understanding history.

Literature also includes Poetry. Some students are naturals at poetry, while others have to really work at it. Any good Literature program in high school will also contain an in-depth look at the various styles of poetry as well as reading and interpreting famous poems. Expose your student to some of the great poems of history, as well as your own personal favorites. You never know when they might take a liking to a certain poet and develop a taste for it. I even have my students memorize poems that I have found useful for character building. I have found that even though the complained a little, they really enjoyed having those poems committed to memory.

These are just a few of my ideas and suggestions for enhancing Language Arts in your home school high school. This is really just scratching the surface of the vast materials that are available. If something is not working, do your diligence and find what does. The Old Schoolhouse Review Crew has a vast number of resources and reviews to help parents find suitable materials, and has a specific Language Arts Pinterest Board with many great ideas for home school parents to use.

Ready for some more ideas? Visit the other blogs on the Homeschooling High School Blog Hop:

Carol from Home Sweet life shares Homeschooling High School- Language Arts (&History!)
Tess from Circling Through This Life shares Teaching High School Language Arts: Resources
Michele from Family, Faith and Fridays shares Language Arts
Wendy from Life at Rossmont shares Highschool Language Arts
Erica from Be the One shares Language Arts Resources
Kym from Homeschool Coffee Break shares History in the Form of Stories
Debbie from Debbie’s Homeschool Corner shares Teaching High School English
Gena from I Choose Joy shares Homeschool High School: Using Socratic Discussion for Literature Studies
Laura from Day by Day in Our World shares How to Teach High School Language Arts Without Tears

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Review: Middlebury Interactive Languages French 1

Last school year, we had the privilege of reviewing Middle School French from Middlebury Interactive Languages when Melissa was in 8th grade. It was her first real exposure to the French language, and she was hooked! We had a positive experience with the program, and Melissa desired to further her French studies in high school this year. I was SO overjoyed to again have the opportunity to review a course from Middlebury Interactive Languages this school year. Since Melissa is in 9th grade, we decided to pursue High School French I.  

What is Middlebury Interactive Languages? Middlebury offers extensive foreign language courses in Spanish, French, Chinese, and German for all ages and grade levels. The courses are online and completely interactive for the student, with an intricate, detailed grading system that allows the teacher or parent to know exactly how the student performs, whether they are familiar with the language or not. The program is based on the principles of learning the language by immersion, and exposes the student to real life language situations, while also teaching grammar, context, and culture.

Does the parent need to know the language? No! Especially in the high school level, the student works independently with the program, and the parent is in a supervisor role.

What courses are available for French? In high school, Middlebury offers French 1, 2, and 3, as well as French Fluency 1 and 2, and an AP French course. If desired, a student could take a course for all four years of high school, and fully develop their French language fluency by the time they are completed. The AP course is designed to prepare the student to successfully complete the AP French exam. Each course is designed to last an entire school year, and fulfills one high school credit.

Does French 1 have a pre-requisite? While prior exposure to French instruction might be helpful, there is no pre-requisite necessary for taking French 1. It starts off with basic greetings and vocabulary, and quickly progresses to simple reading and listening skills. Since Melissa took Middle School French last year, some of the topics in the beginning of French 1 have been more of a review than new material, but it has been very helpful review for her.

What is the program like? Middlebury is completely interactive and very interesting. No boring pages of repetitious vocabulary lists. It makes the vocabulary come to life by showing how it is useful in everyday situations.

Here is an example of a 'Speaking Lab' which helps the student practice greetings they have learned.

When the student signs on to the program, they are greeted with their own individual home page, which consists of a calendar of assigned lessons to keep them on track, and a table of contents to show where they left off. I love the fact that the Table of Contents checks off each lesson as it is completed, so the student can start right in on their next assignment without any difficulty.

As the student works through each lesson, there is a nice variety of lessons, both printed and video, as well as an assortment of methods to practice those concepts. Each unit contains practice exercises, journals, comprehension quizzes, and tests. 

The practice exercises use varied methods such as matching, fill in the blanks, and listening skills. While concepts are constantly reviewed and repeated, the methods used to review are not. This makes for a very engaging experience, as the student certainly cannot get bored with so many different presentations of the material! Journal assignments allow the student to practice writing the language, and quizzes test the memory banks for vocabulary words. Tests incorporate all the concepts together and review the entire unit. 

Middlebury has an option that allows the student to record their own French speaking to have it graded, or even just to hear themselves speak the language. 

Exercises and quizzes give instant feedback to allow the student to know whether their answers were correct or not. 

The teacher's favorite part: Middlebury has one of the best teacher grading records of any online program that I have used. It is simple and easy to navigate. I click on the gradebook and am able to get not only an instant course average, but a breakdown of the grades of each assignment and quiz that has been taken, and the date is was taken on. There is also an option for the teacher to view the actual assignment to see the particular question that was missed.

How we are using it: Melissa uses her Middlebury French 1 course four days a week. She typically completes 1-2 lessons each day, depending on how long they are. It takes her about 20 minutes per day. Our goal is to complete the entire course by next Spring.

What we think: Melissa absolutely loves this program. She looks forward to using it everyday, and her best compliment is that it is actually teaching her to read, understand, and USE the language, not just memorize lists of vocabulary words. As a mom, I think this program is extremely effective. It is enjoyable to use, which is half the battle when trying to learn a new language. I enjoy the French culture videos that are interspersed throughout the lessons, as I think they inspire the students with a real purpose to not only learn the language, but also learn about the people that use that language.

I have been so impressed with how much French Melissa is learning and retaining. She is able to read and interpret paragraphs of written French, and several times we have come across a French speaking person who will ask her a question in French and she is actually able to answer them - in French! If just working through this program for a short time has instilled that much understanding, I look forward to how much French she will know after completing the course! I highly recommend Middlebury Interactive Languages for your home school.  

Follow Middlebury Interactive Languages on social media:

Members of the Crew have reviewed all levels and languages of Middlebury recently. To read other reviews, click the banner below:

 Middlebury Interactive Languages Review
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Friday, September 25, 2015

Natural Root Beer {THM Friendly}

Here is a suggestion for a natural Root Beer beverage if you are looking to skip all the chemicals, sugar and corn syrup. Since this uses just mineral water and flavored stevia, it is also a great addition to a sugar free or diabetic diet.

16 oz mineral water
Sweet Drops Root Beer flavored liquid Stevia
Sweet Drops Vanilla Creme flavored liquid Stevia

This is my favorite mineral water to use. I think it has the best taste, and it is also usually the cheapest one at my grocery store!

Sweet Leaf Sweet Drops can be purchased through Amazon or your local health food store.

Use chilled mineral water for best taste!

I add 10 drops of root beer flavor and 5 drops of vanilla creme flavor to my mineral water. I don't like a strong taste, just enough to remind me of root beer.  You may have to experiment with the amount you add to make the flavor just right for your own tastes.

This is a delicious beverage, and a nice alternative to water for those days when you are looking for something 'sweet' to drink. Since stevia is plant based, and the flavorings are all natural, you also avoid doing harm to your body with sugar and chemicals.


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Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Wordless Wednesday: Making Grape Juice

Love this season!

YUM!!! There's nothing like fresh homemade grape juice!

Copyright 2012-2015 - "Be The One" -  All rights are reserved. No text, photos, or content may be reproduced without direct permission from the author.


Wordless Wednesday at Life at Rossmont

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Wordless Wednesday: Surprise Backyard Visitors

Feasting on apples for breakfast!

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Wordless Wednesday at Life at Rossmont

Monday, September 14, 2015

Homeschooling High School: Math & Science Resources

Math and Science can be a very intimidating topic to those contemplating home school for high school. First of all, few of us have the intensive training and background to understand all the sciences completely, and to a level that we can comfortably teach. The rest of us are many years removed from complicated high school math, and if we haven't used all that algebra and geometry in many years, it may not come back to us so easily!

If you have a student who is considering a college path to a health related field, they definitely need four years of strong science and math instruction. If you have an exceptional student, you can often give them high school level classes in eighth grade, which would even allow them to pack in five years of science and math. Benefits to this include rounding out their understanding, making their transcript look amazing, and allowing them the time to pursue some special interests on top of their necessary core subjects.

We have been blessed to be able to use A Beka curriculum throughout our entire homeschooling years, which has given my children a very strong foundation in their core subjects. This has solved our dilemma of being able to teach honors level science to our children. Using the video teachers has been a tremendous and fun experience. Both children who have graduated feel that the A Beka high school curriculum strongly equipped them for the rigors of college, and both are in health medicine tracks, which have been very heavy in science and math courses. In fact, so far A Beka Chemistry is the winner, in that the high school course they completed closely mirrors the college Chemistry classes they have taken. (My daughter even commented that they do the same labs!) Their grades have reflected their comfort level with the science preparation they received.

Recommendations for high school Science for a math or science major in college:

  • 8th grade - Physical Science, Earth Science
  • 9th grade - Biology with labs
  • 10th grade - Chemistry with labs
  • 11th grade - Physics with labs
  • 12th grade - A science of the student's choosing, focusing on their interest. Some specialized courses include Anatomy & Physiology, Specialized Chemistry, Mechanics, Electric, Marine Biology, Zoology, Engineering, Robotics, Computer Science.
Recommendations for high school Science for a non-science major:
  • 9th grade - Physical Science, Earth Science
  • 10th grade - Biology with labs
  • 11th grade - Chemistry with labs
  • 12th - Physics with labs or a Science of the student's choosing. (see above list)
We have also greatly enjoyed using materials from Apologia to enhance our curriculum. They do offer some of the specialized courses as well.

I cannot stress enough the importance of doing the labs. Often completing the labs was the light bulb moment for my children. It was when the book learning came alive in an understandable way. I highly recommend purchasing a high quality microscope. Not only will it get a lot of use, but it is just plain fun to see things on a microscopic level. Never allow science to become a drudgery to your child. If they "hate science" then they just need more hands on discovery to pique their interest. Science is absolutely amazing.

A great place to order lab materials is Home Science Tools. Not only do they put together kits that correspond with various curriculum and courses, but the company was started by a home school family! We have purchased all our lab materials over the years from them.

The Importance of Science and Math Together!

Science at the high school level requires skill in math to be able to complete. While most of the Biology course consists of investigation and dissecting and memorizing parts, all the other sciences require a good deal of math comprehension in order to understand how they work. It is extremely important to make sure that the levels of math are consistent with the Science course that your student is taking, otherwise they will not be able to complete formulas, equations, and other deciphering. This is especially true for Chemistry and Physics. Math can be taken concurrently, or a year ahead of the corresponding Science.  

A list of recommendations for matching Math courses with Science courses: 
  • Algebra 1 prior to or during Physical Science
  • Algebra 2 prior to or during Chemistry
  • Geometry prior to or during Physics 
Just the Facts about Math:

Hopefully by the time your student rolls around to high school, they will have all the basic math facts committed to memory, such as multiplication tables, units of weight and measure, and basic formulas. If they have struggled with memorizing those, or have forgotten them, it would be beneficial to spend a summer refreshing them and making them sharp before they begin their high school math journey. Having it fresh in mind will save them a lot of time and trouble later on.

Again, math has options based on the student's desires after graduation. If the student has ANY flicker of interest in even considering a math or science path in college, they should take the most rigorous course of mathematics as possible. If they are a strong student, they can begin Algebra 1 in eighth grade.

Recommendations for high school math for a college Science major:
  • 8th grade - Algebra 1
  • 9th grade - Algebra 2
  • 10th grade - Geometry
  • 11th grade - Pre-Calculus, Trigonometry
  • 12th grade - Calculus 
Recommendations for high school math for a non-Science major:
  • 9th grade - Algebra 1
  • 10th grade - Algebra 2
  • 11th grade - Geometry
  • 12th grade - Business Mathematics or Pre-Calculus or Consumer/Personal Finances
Most students struggle with Geometry and often it is a subject that home school parents opt out of, especially in non-science major students. I think that Geometry is important for every student because of the logic and thinking skills that it teaches. While it may be true that most of the formulas and problems seen in a basic Geometry course may never be seen again in real life, the programming that is done in the brain while working those problems out cannot be obtained another way. Geometry solutions are crucial to teaching a high schooler how to think and come to logical conclusions.

SAT Test Preparation:

Much of the math on the SAT and ACT tests is comprised of skills learned in Algebra 1 and 2, so make sure the student masters those before moving on. It is a good idea to give them frequent reviews of the simplest Algebra processes even as they complete higher math, just to keep those concepts fresh for them as they begin the rigorous process of taking SAT tests. 

A Few Resources:

These are a few programs that we have used (and in some cases, reviewed) that we have enjoyed, to enhance our studies:
Math As An Elective:

We have required all of our high school children to take Dave Ramsey's Foundations In Personal Finance course as an elective sometime during their junior/senior years. We purchased the DVD set and all the girls have found Dave Ramsey to be funny and interesting, and have been challenged to manage their own personal finances efficiently. After completing the entire course, (videos and workbook), I awarded them a half credit on their transcripts. 

These are just a few ideas we have compiled in our own home school, to navigate the fascinating world of high school Science and Math. I hope something here will be a help to you. Don't fear these courses, just find the help you need to complete them and have a wonderful home school high school journey with your children! 

Here are some more resources for Math and Science and History: (I will be covering History in a separate post).

Home School High School Hosts Share this Month:

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Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Wordless Wednesday: Family Fellowship

....just relaxing with my pony....

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Wordless Wednesday at Life at Rossmont

Friday, September 4, 2015

Homeschooling High School: Electives and Special Interests

After taking a brief break, I am back to work on posts for my Homeschooling High School series! This post is focusing on Planning and Choosing Electives, and pursuing the special interests of your high school child.

In my last post, I discussed making a plan with your child as they approach their high school years. I am a big believer in goal setting and the communication that surrounds it. TALK to your kids and enter their world, discovering what makes them tick and what they are passionate about. There are SO MANY resources out there to pursue dreams and interests, and it is extremely easy for a home school parent to match up their child's special interests with some very neat opportunities. Home schooling gives the student the time and flexibility to not only learn their core courses, but to do so while spending plenty of time on special interests, and getting credit for them as electives.

When should this planning and investigating begin? I highly suggest parents start looking into building electives while the student is in 7th and 8th grade. Often, there are deadlines or even scholarships available for special classes that can be taken as electives, so the earlier the better to start looking for these.

Check your state's home school regulations to make sure you know the minimum requirements that you must meet. In our state, during high school our students are required to take two years of foreign language, as well as physical education, and arts. While the electives requirements are very broad, we must still be sure to meet the minimum requirements as well. Those will be the foundation that you can build around.

Once you have an idea what kind of special interests your child has, you can begin the process of finding what is available in your area to meet those needs. Many community colleges offer classes at a very reduced rate to homeschoolers. Check websites or call the admissions office to see what is available. The side benefit to this is that the student can earn full college credits while still in high school, that will transfer to their undergraduate studies if they pursue college after graduation.

Another opportunity is internships or apprenticeship, especially for vocational interests. Personally, our oldest two children were interested in health and medical fields, so we were able to set up an internship during their senior year at the local children's hospital, where they could be in a patient care setting and learn valuable lessons. A huge benefit to this is that the student can 'test the waters' to see if they really are interested in that particular area by experiencing it first hand. Perhaps you have a student who wants to be a paramedic but discovers they don't do well in emergency situations or with lots of blood! It's better to find out as a younger person, before time and energy is invested in pursuing a goal that will only change once they experience it firsthand.

Most students who have an interest in a vocational area, such as auto mechanics, electrician, plumbing, or building, can easily find someone who will allow them to spend some time working with them in that area, to test out whether they have the aptitude for that area or not. A creative home school parent can even build coursework around such an opportunity, to allow the student to actually earn high school credits for their time invested.

Here are some suggestions for creatively fulfilling electives:

Physical Education: Participation in community sports or home school group sports, gymnastics, horseback riding, swimming, running. If your student would like to really push themselves, you can download the Army Physical Training Guide and let them work on that!

Foreign Language: We have reviewed two programs that have been very effective and challenging. For Spanish, I highly recommend Homeschool Spanish Academy, which is a program that utilizes online, native-speaking tutors through Skype. Also Middlebury Interactive Languages has a wonderful program that is very easy to work with, in an assortment of languages for high school. Foreign language is a great program to look into at a local community college as well. Often the beginning classes are available to students who have no experience with the language. A great, fun idea for a language is to have your student learn American Sign Language. If they become proficient enough, they can even be hired as an interpreter!

Arts: There are no shortage of opportunities to build art electives into your curriculum. Community classes, private classes, and continuing education classes are available at local libraries, colleges, and craft stores. There are even online classes that can be purchased through AC Moore. If your child is interested in sewing or cooking, they can take video classes or find a local store that offers those. Photography and Videography can also be fit in to this category.

Computers: Again, plenty of great opportunities abound both online and at local libraries or community colleges. Students can learn basic MS office all the way up to complicated graphics design or programming. Many local non-profits would welcome a student doing some "volunteer" work for them, making graphics designs or posters, to give the student some real world practice.

Music: Look for opportunities for private or group lessons, as well as group opportunities to learn through churches or local home school groups. There are also some wonderful online courses available, such as Piano with Willie.

Volunteer Work: If you can find a place for your student to volunteer regularly, it will benefit them in many ways. It will help them to be compassionate towards the needs of others without always expecting to be paid back for their kindness, and it will teach them important skills of interacting with others. Also, students can learn a lot about their intended area of study by spending regular time working in that environment. Parents can tailor studies around the volunteer work, and require students to do research about their area of volunteerism, and write a research report about it. This will round out volunteer work enough to earn either a half-credit or credit, depending on the number of hours spent.

There are many ways to incorporate special interests into your high schooler's life. This is the very best time for them to pursue those interests, before the responsibilities of life engulf them. Supportive parents can make their home school student's life full and enriching, while investing in their future!

Copyright 2012-2015 - "Be The One" -  All rights are reserved. No text, photos, or content may be reproduced without direct permission from the author.

Here are some other blogs on the High School Blog Hop, with lots of great information about choosing electives for your high school home school.

  • Chareen at Every Bed of Roses with thoughts on Electives in the High School Years
  • Debbie at Debbie's Homeschool Corner shares Electives: The Fun Part of High School
  • Carol over at Home Sweet Life on Homeschooling High School ~ Electives
  • April from ElCloud Homeschool shares High School Homeschooling: Electives and Jobs
  • Tess from Circling Through This Life shares on What about Electives? ~ Homeschool Highschool Blog Hop
  • Leah from As We Walk Along the Road shares her thoughts on Choosing Electives for Homeschooling High School
  •  Kym at Homeschool Coffee Break shares on Customized Education and Electives
  •  Wendy at Life at Rossmont shares thoughts on High School Electives
  •  Gena over at I Choose Joy! shares Homeschool High School Public Speaking: Drama, Speech, and Debate
  • Cristi from Through the Calm and Through the Storm shares on Interests + Opportunities = Electives
  • Dawn Oaks at Double O Farms shares Just What Do You Do with Elective Requirements?
  • Jennifer from A Glimpse of Our Life on High School Electives
  • Michele at Family, Faith and Fridays shares How About Some Fun?
  • Lisa at Golden Grasses says Frosting on the Cake- High School Electives, Jobs and College Prepping
  • Meg from Adventures with Jude on  High School Electives - Tasting the Real World
  • Debra over at Footprints in the Butter asks Is your high schooler taking the "right" electives?
  • Wednesday, September 2, 2015

    Review: Dig-It! Games

    Over the summer we have had a fun and interesting opportunity to learn about Mayan Culture in depth through our review of Mayan Mysteries (Online Game) from Dig-It! Games.  This game is unique because it combines something that my children love - a mystery - with a fun game on the computer. While the kids are playing the game, and trying to solve the mystery, they are absorbing A LOT of information about Mayan history and culture that would be very difficult to learn in a traditional setting.

    What is Dig-It! Games? This company has produced a lineup of interesting and interactive games for the computer and iPad that teach children through an immersion method of learning. The programs use clever games, puzzles, and graphics, telling a story and drawing from all areas of learning - math, reading, and thinking skills.

    What is Mayan-Mysteries? This is an online game that teaches ancient Mayan culture and history through story telling and interactive problem solving. The animated characters in the story are Professor Alex Quinn, his niece Fiona, and nephew Charlie. Professor Quinn is an archaeologist who is called in to an ancient Mayan site when it is discovered that looters have been stealing artifacts. The children follow their uncle through many adventures as they seek to find the looters and solve the mystery, while learning a whole lot about archaeology in general and Mayan history specifically as they discover clues.

    What is the target age? Mayan Mysteries is designed for play by students in 5th through 9th grade. There is a good deal of reading and reasoning skills involved in solving the puzzles and finding the clues.

    How long does the game last? There are about 9 hours of playing time to completely solve the mystery. Parts of the game can be repeated though, to gain more points or a higher score.

    What type of learning is involved? Some of the games fine tune math skills. Others have the student reading and answering questions. There are lots of deductive reasoning games to locate clues and identify artifacts. There is a wide variety of activities to appeal to many different types of learners. The entire program has a built in encyclopedia and unknown or unfamiliar terms can easily be looked up and learned to help the student's progress through the game.  There are multiple maps and map activities as well.

    Map Study
    The archaeological site where the team is searching for clues and learning about the Mayans. Notice the small exclamation point above the head of one of the workers. 

    A set of challenge questions with multiple choice answers.
    How did we use Mayan Mysteries? Melissa and Kelly are at opposite ends of the recommended age for this game. Melissa is in 9th grade and Kelly is in 5th. Both girls played the game on a regular basis this summer. They often played it together so no one would miss an important piece of information to solve their part of the mystery and progress through the challenges.

    Favorite activities: Melissa liked the map puzzles and Kelly liked using the clues to find artifacts. They also liked the decoding and deciphering activities, where words were replaced with Mayan symbols. They liked answering challenge questions, being rewarded with the "success" screen and earning points. Both of them thought the background music was cool as well.

    What does Mom think? I confess, I got sucked in to playing this game a bit too! I thought the information challenges were very interesting, and just the right amount of information to learn something new without being too overwhelming. I like how the children are able to retain key points of information that they learn, through repetition and the games. I think the game based learning is a very effective way to really absorb information that might otherwise be considered dry or boring.

    Dig-It! Games made learning facts about ancient cultures fun, interesting, and exciting! 

    Check out Dig-It! Games on social media:

    Read about how other Crew members used Mayan-Mysteries as well as another Dig-It! Games product, Roman Town, in their home schools this summer:

    Dig-It! Games Review

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