UnLock Pre-Alebra

Teaching elementary math over the years was no big deal. Fast forward to middle school & high school and well, I needed to brush up on my math to be able to help the kids out. But with several children close in age, there isn't always enough of my math skills to go around so I looked for math curriculum that could do the teaching FOR me. We recently had the chance to review UnLock Pre-Algebra from UnLock Math.

What is it?

UnLock Pre-Algebra is a complete online homeschool math course taught by Alesia Blackwood, a former math teacher and fellow homeschool mom. We have used other math curriculum's in the past that use a video to teach but we have to say that the way Alesia teaches has been by far the most engaging, easy to understand teacher we've worked with for math! You don't just hear her voice for the lessons but you actually see her as she demonstrates problems on a white board! She does all the work for you in not only teaching pre-algebra in a way that makes sense, but lesson plans are already laid out and the grading & record keeping is taken care of for you right online. I LOVE curriculum that makes my busy life simpler.

There are 16 units with each unit containing a variety of lessons & quizzes as well as a midterm quiz and final exam.

How does it work?

Once the student logs in, they are brought to their dashboard that shows the list of lessons (and which ones they've completed), their average grade, a link to check out their gradebook as well as progress report. If you aren't sure how long your child should take on each lesson/unit, there is a pacing guide that you can download that tells you approximately how many days they should spend on each. I felt this was a great idea and lets me know if my son was on target or needed some extra help.

Click on photo to enlarge.

Once the student clicks on which unit they are on, it takes them into a page that lists all the lessons for that unit and shows which ones they have complete. Upon selecting the next lesson, they are set to begin that days lessons which starts out with a warm up session of 5 math problems. Once those are complete, they move on to watch the math video. Alesia teaches each concept in small, easy to understand pieces so it isn't overwhelming. The videos vary in length, from what I've seen 3-10 minutes each.

After the video, the student then completes about 10 practice problems that goes over what they just learned in this lesson. These problems are automatically graded. If the student needs more practice, the program automatically generates new problems for them to complete (how cool is that!!) The other awesome feature that I adore about this program is the fact that after the student completes the practice problems, they can they get an explanation on each problem which especially comes in handy if they got one wrong. Many other programs just show the student WHAT they got wrong and not WHY it was wrong and how to do it correctly. I think this is huge in helping a student understand the concepts.

Next the student moves onto the stay sharp section which reviews concepts they learned about in previous lessons. This helps them retain what they have already learned.

UnLock Pre-Algebra

Finally they end with the challenge yourself section which is a way to earn extra credit. To wrap it all up, you then have the ability to print out the reference notes for the lesson. The notes go over what they learned in the lesson as well as new vocabulary they might have learned. If you print this off, it would be best to put them in a notebook so your child could reference them in future lessons if they need help with something they previously learned.

As if this curriculum in itself isn't already great, their customer support deserves a huge mention as well. You can have a wonderful program but if you find yourself needing help, where can you turn to? Let's just say Matthew (Alesia's husband) is wonderful to communicate with by email and even though we (so far) haven't needed Alesia's help, he has assured us if at any point we need help, Alesia is there for us through either email or phone support! That to me speaks volumes knowing I have a math teacher ready to step in if we need the extra support.

Our thoughts?

UnLock Pre-Algebra is a well thought out online math program that covers everything I would want in a math curriculum. My son typically would've waited another year before starting pre-algebra but because of how well this program dissected the concepts, he plans to complete the program this year for his math curriculum. He averaged completing 1 lesson a day during the review period. I would love to see Alesia eventually role out other levels in math down the road!

If this program sounds like something that would work with your family, feel free to use this link to save $50 on purchasing UnLock Pre-Algebra or Algebra 1.

Connect with UnLock Math:

UnLock Math Review

Crew Disclaimer

"You Wouldn't Cry For Me Today"

This song hits home for me right now and I imagine Noah hugging me as he whispers these words in my ear. I am thankful he is experiencing the joys of Heaven but man, we miss him big time here!!! There is no way to describe the hole in my heart and the tears that continue to fall as we reflect on the last 5yrs without our son/brother.

"You Wouldn't Cry for Me Today"

All you saw was pain
All you saw was rain
But you should see me now
Moments filled with tears
Lasted all those years
Disappeared somehow
You never said goodbye
On your knees you cry
You're still asking why, but

Blue has never been bluer
True has never been truer
Honey never tasted so sweet
There's a song in the breeze
A million voices in praise
A rose has never smelled redder
The sun has never been brighter
If I could find the right words to say
If you could look at my face
If you could just see this place
You wouldn't cry for me today

What you think you see
Isn't really me
I'm already home
You've got to lay it down
'Cause Jesus holds me now
And I am not alone
Your faith is wearing thin
But I am watching Him
And He's holding you too, and


What may seem like years will just be a moment
Oh, the day will come when I'll show you where you're going
I can't wait to show you that



Let's face it, cursive handwriting is a dying art anymore. Despite that, I still teach my children cursive, even if they don't continue to use it, I want them to be able to read it. We've used many approaches to teaching cursive over the years so we were excited to try out a totally new concept using the CursiveLogic Workbook from CursiveLogic.

Cursive Logic

The workbook is a 96 page, consumable spiral bound workbook that contains both the teaching instructions for the parent to instruct as well as the student pages. There are even 3 laminated pages in the back where the student can keep practicing their work while reusing it again and again.

Their approach to teaching cursive is unlike anything I have ever come across. In fact though, their innovative approach makes complete sense. They teach the letters by shape and not in alphabetical order. There is also a verbal task analysis that helps the student learn verbally how to write each letter shape. In addition, the different letter shapes are grouped by color & shape, all while helping the student to group the same shaped letters together.

From CursiveLogic's Website:

"Letters grouped by shape ― Four foundational shapes underlie the entire lowercase alphabet. Rather than teaching the letters alphabetically, CursiveLogic groups the lowercase alphabet into four groups based on the shape of the initial stroke of the letters and teaches all of the similarly-shaped letters in a single lesson.  Letters are also taught in a specific order that reinforces the pattern.  By teaching all of the similar letters together, CursiveLogic captures the natural synergy of the alphabet itself, allowing each letter in the series to reinforce the proper formation of all the others.

Letter strings ― CursiveLogic captures the flow of cursive by teaching all of the similarly shaped letters in a connected string rather than as individual letters. CursiveLogic’s letter strings teach students to connect letters from the first lesson, allowing students to internalize the flow of cursive handwriting even before they have learned all 26 letters.

CursiveLogic also uses visual and auditory cues to reinforce the shape patterns:

Theme colors — Each shape string has a color—orange ovals, lime loops, silver swings, and mauve mounds—that reinforces the formation of the basic common shape.

Verbal task analysis — Students learn a simple, rhythmical chant that describes the path of the writing instrument as the letter shapes are formed.  The process of verbally describing a motor task while performing it aids the acquisition of new motor skills."

The main focus of the book is to teach lower case letters but they do touch on forming each capital letter. There is no set schedule as to how to go through this book. I had my son who was new to cursive writing work on one page a day. I was amazed at how quickly he was picking up the skills since he never had previous instruction in cursive. He found the instructions easy to follow and actually enjoyed practicing his writing every day. I felt he picked up on cursive using this method quicker than my older children did in a different way that I had taught them.

CursiveLogic is afforable at only $29!

Connect with CursiveLogic via:

CursiveLogic Review
Crew Disclaimer

In Honor of Noah's 5th Birthday. . .

It's hard to believe how quickly Noah's 5th birthday is approaching (July 13th). I know I've been suppressing my grief to a degree and am in denial that we are rapidly approaching another milestone without my son though I'm sure it is all going to crash in on me soon enough. It always does.

The cake I made for Noah's 1st Birthday

He's turning 5.

He should be starting homeschool Kindergarten this fall.

He would probably be writing his name by now.

I could've signed him up to finally play fall soccer.

And so much more, the list is endless.

In honor of Noah's birthday, I would love to remember YOUR child(ren) that have died. I want to write their names on a sky lantern that we will release the week of Noah's birthday (13th) and home-going (14th).

I will take a picture of each child's name as I write it and put it together in a video montage that I plan to later share here. All you have to do is go fill out their name on this form.

Secondly, I can't tell you how much it means to see Noah's name written out or have it spoken out loud! It truly is a priceless gift to all of us! I have a name album for Noah that we started several years ago that many have contributed photos to. I would love for you to take a minute and send us a photo of Noah's name that I can add to his album. You can directly post it on Treasuring Life's Blessings wall and I will put it in his album or message it to me through my page there. (you can also drop me a note here and I can give you an email address to send the photo to).

We covet your thoughts and prayers as we enter the upcoming time of reflection on Noah's brief but miraculous life, celebrating all that he is while mourning that he isn't in our arms.

Please feel free to share this post so I can remember as many babies as possible and thank you for participating!