Thursday, April 18, 2019

CrossWired Science REVIEW

CrossWired Science, "A Whole New Way to Do Science."  This is an online subscription service so you will need access to the internet.  I received access to their first two projects, Sound, and Fluid Dynamics to review.  The idea behind this company really is "a whole new way to do science."  Named "CrossWired" because they aim to teach science as a whole, not in bits and disconnected pieces.  They want kids to learn about God's creation and how it ALL works together.  How different disciplines of science work together and are interwoven in "real life."  They are in the progress of growing their program so it is pretty much a "work in progress" (beta stage) at this point.  In addition to this review and others, I think the best way to see where they are going is to go to their ED Whys? page and read what they are about, what their thinking and motivations are, and where they would like to be.  I truly believe that their vision is unique and will be more than we all hoped for.

Two current projects: Fluid Dynamics and Sound

I agreed to review this with my Kindergartner daughter.  She LOVES learning through videos so this curriculum is a big hit with her.  I have other science videos loaded on her Kindle for her and she has learned SO MUCH through them.  The videos on CrossWired Science are engaging and seem to keep her interest just fine.  There is more content on the site now than when we first started the review.  I am very happy with the direction things are going and look forward to what the finished product will look like.  I wish I had considered adding my son in on the subscription.  I can still add him on, but not at the lower add-on price since it wasn't done with the original subscription.

CrossWired Science is geared for all ages from Pre-K to High School.  There are two levels currently available, First Timers and Second Timers.  The First Timers is meant for the younger crowd and those using the curriculum for the first time.  The Second Timers level is more in-depth and has more difficult questions.  The idea behind their goal is that your child will use this throughout their school years and have covered all of the material a total of 3 times.  Repetition is core to long-term retention and even though they will "repeat" lessons, they will be different with more in-depth material to cover over time.

There are 8 "Core Videos" in each "Project."  As the program has evolved over my review period the projects are more complete and also incorporate experiments, general links (for further study), U-Choose (activities, articles, books, coloring pages, etc), reinforcement (more activities and projects), field trips, reading, gold dig (digging deeper), and devotions.  There is a course navigation list on the right of your screen with a progress bar for the current project.  They have now also added calendars for suggested use of the curriculum and this is great if you don't want to come up with your own schedules. It helps to direct and guide you on what to cover each day and how much time you should spend in different areas.

Each video has a worksheet (PDF printable, or online) and online quiz to complete for reviewing the information learned.  Since this is a work in progress there is more being added to each section almost every day.  Your current subscription if you sign up through May will continue until July of 2020.  The subscription is generally for one year.  Please keep in mind that there will be a LOT more content available over the next year.  Again, please read their Ed Whys? to get a feel for their heart in all this and what their future goals are.

Sample worksheet

Online quiz

Little Bug has been enjoying it and we are taking it little bites at a time.  I know she will learn through their technique because it has worked so well for her with other programs we have used.  I am so excited about the future of CrossWired Science and I look forward to continuing to use them in the future.  We like what we see and how things are working.  We give Sound, and Fluid Dynamics a thumbs up!

If you like what you see and decide to give them a try be sure to use the awesome coupon code they gave me to share with you.  The cost for the program is extremely affordable (currently only $27.95/year plus $10 for each additional student) and even better with the $5 off code of 5offCWS.  Folks,  this is a LOT of awesome curriculum for next to nothing.  You really can't go wrong by trying it out and I don't think you can hardly be disappointed in the content.

Please be sure to check out what other reviewers are saying by clicking on the graphic below.  Enjoy!

Sound, and Fluid Dynamics {CrossWired Science Reviews}
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Wednesday, April 17, 2019


If you've followed my blog at all you know I might be slightly obsessed not only with chickens but especially my roosters.  When you hatch your own eggs and raise them, you do tend to get an attachment to them and the cockerels (young male chickens) tend to be more personable.  The above is a picture of one of my young roosters, Pepper.  He is currently in a pen with his "brother," Pip (a silkie cross young rooster).

I have some hard decisions in the future because I already have too many roosters and I don't have a place to put either of them permanently.  On top of that, they have begun to fight each other because they are in such close quarters right now.

I know it's not much to be too newsworthy but I wanted to take the opportunity to mention that you can house roosters together if they have been raised together.  You can actually have "bachelor" colonies fairly successfully if you need to keep spare roosters around (in case one of your main ones are taken by a predator or some accident).

It is generally recommended that you keep 1 rooster per 10 hens for good fertility and not having your hens overworked by roosters.  I have heard more or less also (as few as 8 and as many as 15 hens per rooster).  I personally think that 1 rooster per 10 to 15 hens is a pretty ideal ratio.  I do have a pen with 1 rooster and 4 hens and there has not been a problem with overmating but he is also an older (about 3-4 years old now), more mature, rooster.

Also, remember that you DO NOT have to have a rooster to get eggs.  hens lay eggs regardless.  A rooster is good for keeping peace in the flock and watching out for predators. His warning signals can send hens running for cover in a flash.  It is quite a sight to watch.

How about you?  What do you do with your extra roosters besides rehoming or processing them?

Stopmotion Explosion REVIEW

Guide Book

They say there is a first time for everything, right?  Well, I must say that reviewing the Stop Motion Animation Kit from Stopmotion Explosion hit it out of the park for my son!  I remembered that he had taken a class at our local library on videography but I did not realize that they had worked with stop motion.  He was SO EXCITED to be able to review this product.  In the kit, we received a quick start guide, the Stopmotion Explosion guide book (294 pages), CD-Rom program disc (animation software, Audacity program, and many extras including some sound effects), and a full HD 1080p camera.  Everything you need to get going is included in the kit.  You will need internet access to use the online content that includes step-by-step video tutorials and sound effects.

System requirements are a computer running OS X 10.7+ (MAC) or Windows 7 and newer (the computer we used had Windows 7).  If you do not have a CD-ROM drive you can access the contents on the CD disc online at the link given in the Quick Start Guide.  With the included Quick Start Guide you can be up and going in a very short time.  

The Quick Start Guide gets you up and going fast.

The Stop Motion Animation Kit is recommended for ages 13+ but younger children with good computer skills and/or additional help from an older sibling or parent can also successfully use it.  The online video tutorials are VERY helpful.  Just what is stop motion anyway?  It is basically taking a series of pictures and stringing them into an animated movie.  The process can be a little challenging and the editing a little frustrating, but the end result is so worth it.  To be able to view a movie that you created from scratch is pretty cool.  There is even an app that you can download and use to create a movie clip on your phone or tablet.  From what I can tell you can create but not edit from your phone.  I'm guessing you would take the created file and import into your editing software like Movie Maker.

Free App download

The instructions guide you through how to go about editing your creation(s).  If your computer doesn't already have Movie Maker on it you can download it yourself for free.  We learned online that Movie Maker 6.0 is the better one to use because the newer version for Windows Live isn't as versatile.  Audacity is an audio editing program and it is available and loads from the included program CD (or as a free online download).  In the "What's Next?" chapter it discusses how you can take it to the next level with better software (which of course isn't free).  Please note that with all that is included and with the free downloads available, you can create wonderful movie animations.  The lack of quality of our sample videos in this review is due to the technical difficulties we had (with our computer) and the fact that he forgot to add brighter lighting when filming.  The guide book stresses how important good lighting is to the quality of the finished product.

He needed much better lighting here.

Creation in the making

Since my son is older and had a little experience I just turned him loose with the product.  There were some technical difficulties along the way (our computer, not the program), but he managed to get things done.  We lost his original creation which was awesome so I'm sad about that.  We had to start over and ran out of time for more edits.  I will definitely take the time in the future to look at this more in depth and make my own movie!  I think the amount of instruction given with the guide book and especially the online videos is terrific.  It all takes time to review, but the instructional videos are wonderful. These are some sample practice videos he created.

Be sure to check the CD-ROM contents out because there are extras such as sample movies, sound effects, PDF version of the Quick Start Guide, and a PDF of a blank storyboard sheet.  Again, there is also plenty of material available online through their website and links provided in the guide books. Here is one of my son's final creations.  Not his best, but we didn't have time to redo after he lost his best one.

There are 17 chapters covered in the Stopmotion Explosion: Animate Anything and Make Movies guide book that include:

  1. How Movies Work
  2. Animation Actors
  3. Creating Stories
  4. Building Sets
  5. Cameras
  6. Lighting
  7. Composition
  8. Animating
  9. Flight
  10. The Art of War
  11. Sound
  12. Video Editing
  13. Files and Formats
  14. Frame Conversion
  15. Sharing Your Animations
  16. Animating with DSLRs
  17. What Next? (suggestions on how to take it to the next level)
It's easy to see that they have all the basics covered for you to have success in creating stop motion videos.  The included stop motion camera makes this kit such a great deal for your little creation artist.  We definitely give the Stop Motion Animation Kit a double thumbs up!!  We are hooked and look forward to creating more stop motion videos.  In the words of my son, "It was a really good program."

You can connect with Stopmotion Explosion on FACEBOOK, TWITTER, and YOUTUBE.  Please also be sure to check out the other reviews by clicking on the graphic link below.

Stop Motion Animation Kit {Stopmotion Explosion Reviews}
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