Faith, Family, Love and Reviews

Golden Prairie Press; Coutdown to Thanksgiving by Amy Puetz (review)

**This post may contain affiliate links – if you click and purchase I will earn a small commission.**

If you’ve noticed I’ve had the chance to review other home of Golden Prairie Press! products and all are quality, well researched resources to use in your homeschool or even just your home if you don’t homeschool.  I’ve had the pleasure of using Heroes and Heroines of the Past, Uncover Exciting History, and Ten Girls from History.  With this latest book, Countdown to Thanksgiving Ebook, which can be purchased as an e-book (colored interior) or as a printed book (black and white interior) for $17.00, you’ll add a bit of old fashioned fun to your holiday as you begin counting down.  Grab your e-book version today so you can begin your countdown to Thanksgiving today.

I was given the e-book version which I loaded on my tablet’s Kindle app very easily so I can take it with us when we’re out and for ease of reading at home.  I printed off a copy of the countdown calendar and the proclamation sheet for each child – I liked this as there wasn’t much printing since I can read everything on my tablet, saving money on ink and paper.  Amy has a short introduction which gives you an idea of how to use the stories and activity ideas she lists in the days leading up to Thanksgiving, which begins today, the 13th of November.  She says that each days reading and activity should take between 30 and 45 minutes but that also depends on the family and how much they do, whether just reading the story, reading the story and doing the activity, or however each family tweaks it will depend on the time spent.

There are 14 days of reading and activities, that does include weekends and Thanksgiving day, I mention this because my 10 year old asked me so I know others may wonder the same thing.  Of course, if your weekends are like ours and already jammed packed, you could do two stories and activities on Friday and two on Monday to make up for Saturday and Sunday.  Honestly, though it’s short and I’m sure they can be worked in to even the busiest of weekends.  Amy also discloses in her introduction that almost all the daily readings are taken from the 1800s and early 1900s so the language is a bit dated but she has cleaned up the spelling to be more modern.  Another item of note that I like about Amy’s books, old language has such a nice ring to it and even includes words that we modern Americans don’t use anymore so it also expands our vocabulary.

So you may be thinking to yourself, what stories and what type of activities are in the book?  There are several and I won’t give them all away but here is a sampling of what you’ll find within the pages of Countdown to Thanksgiving Printed Book:

  • First Harvest – Home in Plymouth by W. DeLoss Love, Jr.
  • The Mother of Thanksgiving from Amy Puetz
  • Thankfullest Thanksgiving by Pauline Shackleford
  • Excerpt from Godey’s Lady’s Book Magazine by Sarah Joseph Hale
  • how to make a Pilgrim hat for boys and a cap for girls
  • songs and hymns (if you can’t read music you can search online to find the tune)
  • recipes – my favorite is the modernized version of pumpkin pie versus the old fashioned, time consuming way of making it

Of course there are more, but that is just a sampling – feel free to visit the product page where you can download a sample of the book and the contents page before you buy and even watch a video of Amy talking about the countdown to Thanksgiving book.  Geared towards ages 6 to 14, I truly think children of all ages will enjoy it, I know I enjoy the historical stories that are a part of American history and the tradition that is Thanksgiving and watching as my children complete the crafts and baking (I’m happy to say the biscuit recipe does not include eggs).  I’m even going to be asking my husband if we can spare some money so I can purchase Countdown to Christmas Printed Book for our Christmas celebrations next month.

(c) 2014, Sarah Bailey/Growing for Christ, All Rights Reserved, Unauthorized Duplication is a Violation of Applicable Laws

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FlyBy Promotions: Dolphin Tale 2 curricula

About the movie:

Inspired by true events, Dolphin Tale 2 continues the story of the brave dolphin Winter, whose miraculous rescue and recovery—thanks to a groundbreaking prosthetic tail—made her a symbol of hope and perseverance to people around the world and inspired the 2011 family hit movie “Dolphin Tale.” This film reunites the entire main cast, led by Harry Connick Jr., Oscar winner Morgan Freeman, Ashley Judd, Kris Kristofferson, and of course, the remarkable dolphin Winter as herself. Champion surfer Bethany Hamilton, who has been an example of courage, also appears in the film.

It has been several years since young Sawyer Nelson and the dedicated team at the Clearwater Marine Hospital, headed by Dr. Clay Haskett, rescued Winter. With the help of Dr. Cameron McCarthy, who developed a unique prosthetic tail for the injured dolphin, they were able to save her life. Yet their fight is not over. Winter’s surrogate mother, the very elderly dolphin Panama, has passed away, leaving Winter without the only pool mate she has ever known. However, the loss of Panama may have greater repercussions for Winter, who, according to USDA regulations, cannot be housed alone, as dolphins’ social behavior requires them to be paired with other dolphins. Time is running out to find a companion for her before the team at Clearwater loses their beloved Winter to another aquarium.


About Homeschool Movie Club:

Homeschool Movie Club is a fun, online community created to help homeschooling families discover new and old movies, media, & curriculum that help augment their home education. We will also have special ‘homeschool day’ discounts, giveaways, curriculum, and special screenings for homeschoolers for movies that haven’t hit theaters yet. Our mission is to create a community & resource that will help families find the right movies to use for their home education and enjoyment.



My Opinion:


Homeschool Movie Club is a free resource available to homeschoolers who desire to use recent movies in their homes and teach from them – Homeschool Movie Club makes it easy to download the curricula and watch complementary videos that pertain to the curricula.  The newest addition to the line up is Dolphin Tale 2, which comes out to theaters on September 12th, and to go along with that is a 5 lesson curricula that homeschoolers can use right now to learn about dolphins, habitats/environment, as well as life in an aquarium and more – there are even discussion questions for those who utilize Classical Conversations (of course you can use them even if you are CC members).  You must register or log-in to get access to the curricula, and don’t worry if you aren’t already a member – it is FREE and easy to sign up to begin using movies in your home school.


Each lesson has a video to watch before doing the day’s lessons – or if you’re very industrious I suppose parents could always add to what is in the lesson and make each lesson into a weeks worth of studies.  There are activities and experiments geared towards elementary and those are denoted with a dolphin and a sea turtle easily identifies the middle and high school level activities and experiments.  Suggestions are given for keeping a notebook, either a three ring one with the pages printed off being kept together or for the more creative making a lapbook of the educational experiences.  The author of this curricula is Sherri Seligson who also authors Apologia’s Exploring Creation with Marine Biology for high school.  I prefer to download the curricula and then use my ‘send to kindle’ feature which automatically sends it to my Kindle or my Kindle app to make reading easy and only print out the sheets I actually need, this also saves ink.  You could also use Dropbox, I hear this works better for those with iPad that doesn’t allow PDF documents.



(c) 2014, Sarah Bailey/Growing for Christ, All Rights Reserved, Unauthorized Duplication is a Violation of Applicable Laws


Crew Review: Golden Prairie Press; Heroes and Heroines of the Past: American History (Amy Puetz) #hsreviews #grow4christ

One of the favorite subjects I teach my children is history so when I find a great history resource I jump on it and that is the case with home of Golden Prairie Press!, started by Amy Puetz as she wanted to bring history alive and be able to work at home due to a medical condition.  Amy has a passion for history and I can so appreciate that as well as understand that passion and that comes to life in her newest offering, Heroes & Heroines of the Past: American History Curricula which I received in digital format.  The digital package comes with the following:

  • Heroes and Heroines of the Past: American History Part 1 e-book (this covers 1000 to 1837)
  • Heroes and Heroines of the Past: American History Part 2 e-book (this covers 1837 to the present)
  • Historical skits e-book
  • Sing Some History
  • Listen to Some U.S. History
  • Additional materials download (includes items such as timelines, coloring pages, videos and more)

Covering thirty weeks it is written for grades 1 through 6 although it could be used for younger or older children if you prefer to tweak it to add more material for the older or omit items for the younger set, if you’re like me and prefer to have everyone studying the same thing to save time.  The digital sells for $98.99 and there is an optional coloring book that can also be purchased if you want to use that, there is also a physical edition which is the same price as the digital version.  I loaded the e-books onto my Kindle Fire which made reading easy and accessible for when we needed it and the music and other audios I loaded onto my iPod for listening enjoyment in both the house and on the go.

I agree with Amy that history just cannot be truly understood unless it’s experienced and in order to experience history we must experience what those that went before us had to go through so Amy has incorporated hands-on learning experiences such as cooking, music, art, games and more that truly bring history to life for the student (and the parent as is the case in our home).  There are 5 lessons per section which means you can do one lesson a day if you do the typical 5 day school week or, like we do carry over a lesson each week into a new week as we only school 4 days a week.  Amy includes how to use the book in part 1 of the first Heroes and Heroines e-book, so read through that first before jumping in – and she reminds you not everything has to be completed, some things may have to be omitted or done at a later date and that is okay!  There are also additional literature books that can be used if you chose to add them – they can either be used for older students in 5th or 6th grades to read alone or as family read aloud books, we didn’t include these in our day but that didn’t detract from the curriculum itself.

Each lesson is further divided into grade levels, which I think is just a fantastic idea – the first part is geared towards 1st and 2nd grades and the second part is for 3rd to 6th grades – both have the same information with the 1st and 2nd grades not having as much added but with the 3rd up having much more information given.  Now that said there might be a lesson that is for all grades – such as lesson 2 which is a story that is written by Albert F. Blaisdell in 1922 about Leif Erikson, and this lesson is for 1st through 6th grades.  Unfamiliar terms or hard to pronounce words are defined or given a pronunciation guide in parenthesis to aid the student in understanding the text, something else I appreciate versus having to run to a dictionary every time an unknown word comes up.  After the lesson comes the fun part, such as questions about what was just read, writing topics (a non-writing student can do dictation, this is what I did for my children who either aren’t writing well or don’t like to write a lot), geography, art, timeline, acting it out and the literature readings.  Each week also includes a Bible memory verse that can be written on an index card as Amy suggests or whatever works for your family – writing it out on paper is what worked for us and hanging it where we could all see it.

The optional literature selections.

I cannot tell you how much we’ve enjoyed using this elementary American history curriculum these past few weeks and we will be continuing to use it as it provides such a great hands on learning experience for all my children.  Did we do everything that was given to do?  Not at all and I love it when the author of a curricula gives you permission to not have to do it all.  Making a clay canoe was a big hit with my son as was the teepee for all three, even my oldest and I had an excuse when my husband walked in to a mess in the living room, “they are doing history”.  Honestly, though I cannot say enough about this well researched US history for homeschoolers – Amy put much work into this curricula which is easy to literally just pick up and go – no time consuming lesson planning needed, it’s all done for you – and this busy mom appreciates that.  Last but not least it’s written from a Christian and Biblical worldview so no objectionable content was found in the lessons we have completed this far.

Please visit the Schoolhouse Review Crew blog to see what other homeschool parents thought about this curriculum.

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Crew Review: Spelling You See #grow4christ #hsreviews


What if teaching a child to spell correctly could be easy?  Some would probably laugh or scoff at that.  What if I told you it could take less than 30 minutes a day?  More laughter.  Cue Spelling You See from Demme Learning, the same company that puts out Math-U-See – now has a great spelling curricula for elementary aged children or for older children who need remedial work.  I was given Level B: Jack and Jill which is geared for children who are moving from the phonetic stage of learning to the development of skill-building and I used it with my 7 year old, not yet reading son but who knows his letter sounds and can write letters.  There are 36 lessons divided into 5 parts, A through E, and each lesson takes place over one week – our school week runs Monday through Thursday so depending on what the lesson had in store for my son we either just skipped it or doubled up, I’ll explain more on that later.


I was given the student pack ($30.00) which includes two student workbooks, a set of erasable colored pencils and a guide to handwriting chart.  Also included was the Instructor’s Handbook ($16.00) that gives you the philosophy of the program, getting started with it as well as the lesson guides on how to run each of the 36 lessons.  The instructor’s manual explains that you should not try to match the child’s reading level  with their developmental stage of spelling, as they can both be different, as in the case of my 7 year old.  He can write both upper and lowercase letters, knows his letter sounds and even some words but is not reading yet so he was too ‘old’ for Listen and Write but too young for Wild Tales.  The instructor’s manual also includes a guide to chunking, no rule day, frequently asked questions, passages for dictation, answer keys, a glossary and more – it may appear as a short, think book but it’s big on information.



As I said above, I had my son who is 7 and is not reading yet, use level B with is called Jack and Jill each week we read a new nursery rhyme – lesson 1 uses Jack and Jill, I’m a Little Teapot, Black Sheep Black Sheep, Little Miss Moffat are just some other rhymes your child will encounter in this visual memory learning system of spelling.  My son is left handed which didn’t pose a problem until he started writing, and with these workbooks it isn’t a problem either as they have facing pages so they are great for both left hand writers and right hand writers!  I would look ahead to see what part to not stress over so much or which one I think he’d like to double up on each week.  Since we only do school four days a week and I also wanted to make sure I threw in a “no rule” day every so often, but not each week as it’s suggested – as that would mean he’d only have 3 days of instruction and this program is meant to be used each instruction day for short periods (I think our lessons only lasted 10 minutes as most, even on the days we doubled up!).


Each lesson is outlined for you, and as the instructor you should read the notes in the instructor’s manual before the lesson so you can just focus on the student’s workbook with him (or her).  That is my opinion anyway – my son tends to get distracted if I have to flip back and forth between his book and my book so if I know what I’m supposed to be doing before working with him I can keep his attention longer.  So the checklist will tell you what you are supposed to do each day with your child such as:

  1. Read the rhyme with your student.  Say it together and clap in rhythm.
  2. Read it together slowly.  Have the student point to each word as you read.
  3. Help your student find and circle all the commas and periods.  (from lesson 9D, page 90, part 1)

The rhyme and copy work are one the left hand page, while the checklist (items to watch for as your child works), while the dictation boxes are on the right facing page.  As they get into part 2 the child gets away from the boxes and will have lines to write on during the dictation phase of the lesson.



Spelling You See Review

I must say that while this is a homeschool spelling program I think it also helped in some ways encourage my son in his journey to reading – by using nursery rhymes and seeing patterns in words it’s helped him see that reading and spelling aren’t as scary as he thought.  I know we’ll be continuing to use this program because it is fun for him, and with short lesson times it doesn’t feel so much like work – I will say that if he begins to get frustrated we put it aside and that is okay.  I will admit I haven’t been big on teaching spelling as my oldest is such a good natural speller but with Spelling You See I’ll be rethinking my stance on that and looking into which level will fit my 9 year old who isn’t as good a speller.  I’m quite thankful that I’ve been able to try out Spelling You See for the purposes of this review with my son.


If you’d like to see what other parents thought of Spelling You See, this level as well as others, please visit the Schoolhouse Review Crew blog.
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Homeschool Legacy Review: Christmas Comes to America #grow4christ

About the Unit Study (from Homeschool Legacy):

Celebrate Christmas!

Christmas Comes to America embraces Jesus and the traditions we have come to associate with the classic American Christmas. As you celebrate, your children will learn about the Dutch, German, and English settlers who first shared those traditions with the New World.

You can purchase Christmas Comes to America from Homeschool Legacy for $17.95 and it comes in printed form, shipped to your house.

My Opinion:

You might remember seeing me having done a review for a similar study titled Knights and Nobles, also put out by Homeschool Legacy but if you don’t I’ll just say we enjoyed it, so when Homeschool Legacy contacted me about reviewing Christmas Comes to America I eagerly accepted the offer.  My one favorite item to note with Homeschool Legacy is the fact that their unit studies also incorporate American Heritage Girls (Boy Scouts as well) – meaning that as the girls work on the work in the study they can also be working on badge requirements.  For Christmas Comes to America my daughters will be able to finish their Music Appreciation badge very easily, which also makes my life as mom and AHG Unit Leader easier, they only have to complete the two optional requirements on their own.

So, what you may ask is covered in this unit study?  The first week you’ll be studying the Dutch, the 2nd week the English, the 3rd week the Germans and the 4th week is An American Christmas.  Once-A-Week Unit Studies are just as the name suggests, meant to be used once a week for a period of 4 weeks – however if you’re like me, you can tweak it – this isn’t a ‘you have to do it their way or it won’t work unit study’ – and it isn’t just for those in AHG or Boy Scouts, any homeschool family can use (or those families who want something to do during school breaks).  Basically, it’s laid out that on Monday and Tuesday you’ll do your regular school work and add in the Unity Study reading and the Family Read-Aloud, then on Wednesday you’ll eliminate the regular studies opting to do the family devotional, the reading and the activities with Thursday being like Monday and Tuesday and Friday doing the “3 R’s”, the read aloud, field trip and family movie/game night.

I’d like to think I’m the queen of tweaking, but then again maybe not, but I tend to tweak to fit our family’s schedule with only doing school four days a week.  In keeping that in mind I chose to break up the week and include a little bit from each day through out our four day week – which added a little fun to our day.   Given that I’m using this way before Christmas and even before Thanksgiving, I picked what we could do now and will re-visit it again when we add in the AHG activities as well.  I also appreciate the only prep work I need to do in advance is getting a couple books from the library, of which Sharon Gibson outlines in alphabetical order and gives you the call numbers! Also I make sure we have the supplies listed at the beginning of each week, which are either on hand or inexpensively and easily obtained – such as for the 1st week you’ll want an inexpensive Christmas mug (you can find these at a dollar store) and cellophane bags (our craft store sells these for dirt cheap) as well as ingredients to make hot cocoa mix and marshmallows.

Each week you’ll cover a range of subjects such as Bible, History, Geography, Language, Culture, Life Skills, Music, Research/Field Trip, and some unit studies also include science, math and other subject areas.  The other great thing is, if you have children in different grades like I do, in 6th, 4th and 2nd – they can all work together on the same thing at their own levels or you can omit items for the younger children if that works with your child.  I like what it says in the book that “Once-a-Week Unit Studies help you build relationships while making family memories” – it’s the truth, since it’s all laid out for me, the teacher, I don’t have the stress of having to plan everything AND search for books AND videos AND activities and this aids in me being more laid back and not as apt to yell to get school work done.

Now for my friends who prefer to avoid Santa, Saint Nicolas or any of the typical American Christmas stuff I will say that you will study these and Christkindl who are presented as gift givers.  That being said – we did use to do the Santa thing but my children have wised up and we decided to not continue with that – but we have no issue in discussing and studying the people or fictional characters in light of history and our Christian faith.  Some field trips aren’t an option – we could visit a tree farm but since we don’t use a live tree we couldn’t purchase one to bring home – again this is where tweaking comes into play, if you want to figure out another option that works for your family.  There is an end of the unit study activity which is called “decorate an After Christmas Tree for the Birds” but I won’t give away what it is because we haven’t done it and I want you to enjoy this unit study as much as we have so I hope that teaser gets you to buy your own copy!

I must apologize for the lack of pictures – I’ve been so busy that I forgot to take pictures of us working on the study – so when we go back and do more I’ll update or do a whole other post about it!


(c) 2013, Sarah Bailey/Growing for Christ, All Rights Reserved, Unauthorized Duplication is a Violation of Applicable Laws

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Crew Review: Apologia; Exploring Creation with Chemistry and Physics #grow4christ #hsreviews

Most of my readers know that I love using Apologia  science curricula in our homeschool and we wrapped up Swimming Creatures right as the newest installment came up for review – Exploring Creation with Chemistry – so you might say I was a tad excited.  Along with the text Apologia also sent notebooking journals – I received a regular journal and the junior journal to use with my 7 and 9 year old since my oldest is moving on to their middle school science.  This set is geared towards grades K through 6th grade but I’ve been using it with my 7 year old 2nd grade son and my 9 year old 4th grade daughter.

Exploring Creation with Chemistry and Physics by Jeannie Fulbright is the newest addition in the Young Explorer series for homeschool science curriculum and it fits in great with the series.  The book covers 14 lessons which covers Chemistry and Physics matter, matter, building blocks of creation, mechanics, energy, light and more that spans a full 28 weeks – for a full school year.  I tend to follow the daily schedule that is included inside the pages of the journals, which makes knowing what each child needs to complete each day easy.  It is set up for 2 days a week, for us that usually means Tuesday and Thursday but there have been times where the children and I are excited and we do science four days a week completing one lesson in a week.

Isn’t that cover pretty? I love the bright colors, it just makes it seem more fun to study this area – that most children don’t experience until their later years. The inside is also filled with a lot of colorful pictures that my children and I liked to look at as we studied the text, I read it aloud to them and stop as we need to too look at the pictures or do the “Try This!” sections.  One difference I’ve also noticed in this newest science is that there are more hands-on experiences like Try This and actual projects – which use more items found around the house and made it easier for us to complete these activities as we came across them.  They still include a list in the back of the book of all items that will be needed divided up by the lessons you’ll need them in.  One suggestion is to gather all non-perishable items and store them in a box somewhere and getting the perishables as they come up in the study.  Unfortunately, that isn’t an option in our tiny space so I just gathered them by the week as they came up.  The text sells for $39.00 and with the beautiful colors and pictures and hands-on stuff makes it well worth that price.

To my children and I the journals are what really makes this a great science curricula – there is no printing or extra bulky binders to store, it’s all in one spiral bound journal that is easy to store in their school drawers and also to put away after end of the year assessments are done to look back on at a later date.  Each journal is geared toward a child’s ability, the regular journal is said to be for the child who can write independently and also can take notes.  That said my 9 year old hates writing so I still help sometimes by taking dictation from her but she really needed more in depth study than the junior journal could do.  The regular journal has smaller writing lines, no coloring pages, what do you remember questions to answer, bigger crosswords and copywork in both cursive and print as well as the much enjoyed mini books to cut out, assemble and write in.  The regular journal sells for $24.00 and is a big time saver in both planning the lessons and getting the work done.

The junior journal is for the younger student who isn’t quite writing on their own yet or has limited writing ability and that is obvious from the bigger lines with a middle line to aid in handwriting.  The junior journal is more ‘fun’, with coloring pages – I let my little guy color these while I’m reading and he seems to be better able to focus on what he’s listening to when I let him do that.  Like the regular journal there is copywork in both cursive and print but it gives bigger lines including that mid line to help them – I don’t force this with him and let him instead chose to do the print copywork or not.  The crosswords are also not as in depth as the regular but it gives him enough to think he’s doing the same thing his older sister is.  It does not have the ‘What do you Remember’ pages and that and the coloring pages are the two major differences, as the junior also includes the mini books to go on a page at the end of the lesson.  The junior journal sells for $24.00 as well and like the regular, this saves a lot of time in planning and completing science work.

An experiment with eggs, water and salt water to demonstrate buoyancy. It was a lot of fun!

As I said we aimed for two days a week or sometimes four depending on the level of excitement of the children (or mom).  The try this sections really helped keep my children’s attention since it breaks up the readings more and enables all of us to concentrate versus a long, uninterrupted reading.  I didn’t always have everything on hand for all the hands-on projects but I either tried to substitute or we’d skip it depending on what it was and if I could obtain the items, sometimes we’d back track and make it up another day.  So far though the favorite project has been making our own lava lamps.  I’m hoping with using this homeschool science curriculum that once they get to the higher grade levels it’ll come easier and even make it more enjoyable.  If you’d like to see what other homeschool parents thought visit the Schoolhouse Review Crew blog.


(c) 2013, Sarah Bailey/Growing for Christ, All Rights Reserved, Unauthorized Duplication is a Violation of Applicable Laws

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Crew Review: Fundanoodle: I Can Write Cursive #hsreviews #grow4christ

In most schools today cursive and the teaching of how to write it are falling away and even being done with completely, which is unfortunate for our children.  It used to be that children would only write in cursive and then learn print in school, then it switched until now cursive is no longer thought of as a necessity.  That is why I’m happy to tell my readers about the company Fundanoodle which makes some very high quality curricula in a wide array of areas for math, writing and other areas for ages 3 years old and up.  I chose and was given Purple: I Can Write Cursive book to use with my 9 year old (she was 8 at the time we received this and began to use it) as I hadn’t really focused on cursive with her yet.

The book is a 70 page spiral bound book with pages that measure 9 inches by 12 inches and are thick, durable paper that put up to a lot of mistakes and erasing and so on.  This is geared for ages 7 and up or those in 2nd grade and up but as my readers know I can tweak things and this was useful and will continue to be used by my 9 year old daughter to learn how to write cursive.  Max and Alphie, two characters from Fundanoodle will guide the child along in their lessons as well as giving the child some interesting facts and trivia along the way.  For easy removal the pages are perforated, this is great if you’d like to hang them up as posters or to free up clutter of completed lessons – my daughter and I preferred to leave the pages in.

After learning the lowercase letters they’ll learn their uppercase letters and then begin to put it all together into words and sentences.  Max guides the child in how to form and make the letter, while Alphie gives the fun facts and trivia.  After the child writes the letter several times by tracing, they then write it on their own and then evaluate their best letter – you can have them circle it, star it, put a sticker on it, or however they’d like to recognize their best letter – after that they’ll join some letters to either just join letters or to actually make words.  As they learn their uppercase letters that is when they begin to write sentences all in cursive using what they’ve learned about joining letters, upper and lower case and putting it all together.

I love that it progresses fast enough to keep a child’s attention but slow enough to make sure that they grasp the concepts and actually learn them before moving on.  There is no schedule so I just followed my daughter’s pace of how she wanted to complete some days she wanted to do two pages and others just one – it’s quite laid back in how you want to make it work for you and your child.  There are certain features built in to this program like muscle movers that aid in fine and gross motor movements, visual motor which aids in the eye and hand cooperation, sensory as it encourages touch and visual learning, and brain builders which encourages problem solving, finding and confidence.  I’m grateful for a fun way to teach cursive to my daughter so that we can make her writing look more legible and make her assignments go faster.  This book sells for $8.99 and depending on how you schedule the lessons could be used for a year’s worth of cursive curricula.

If you’d like to see what other parents had to say about this and other Fundanoodle items visit the Schoolhouse Review Crew blog.

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Crew Review: Time4Writing Grammar Rocks

Vendor Name:  Time4Writing

Vendor Contact:   Contact Information

Name of Product:   Grammar Rocks

Price:  8 week e-course $99

Age/Grade Range: elementary

Time4Writing is an online eight week e-course that is taught with a certified teacher, one on one with your child.  There are many classes available for elementary, middle and high school.  I wasn’t sure what to expect when I logged my 3rd grade daughter in for the first time but I was very pleased with the ease of maneuverability around the site as well as the ease in accessing the class.  Her eight week course of  which she has completed a little over six, has been a fun and great experience in using an online class to aid in her grammar lessons.

I recently made the decision to do away with her current writing/language arts curriculum as she was having issues in completing the assignments but not so with Grammar Rocks – she actually asks to complete it and enjoys working as much as she can in one day.  There are clear directions given in how the student accesses the class, how they can contact the teacher, and how they are graded – if a parent wants their child to work more independently then this will fit the bill.  Grammar Rocks is broke down into the following units:

  • nouns
  • pronouns and adjectives
  • verbs
  • capitalization
  • sentence structure
  • sentence subject
  • sentence predicate
  • proofreading

There is a short lesson for the auditory learner the student can listen to it and read along at the same time, a visual learner can watch the lesson (we didn’t get to do this as our computer issues had it streaming too slow, but this is not Time4Learning’s fault), or they can just read it.  My daughter preferred to have me read it to her and I would explain any concepts that she had a hard time understanding or needed clarification – of course it’s meant for the student to do on their own but if your child isn’t a strong reader and you can’t watch the video it can still work with your helping them read the material.

After reading, watching or listening to the lesson the child can go on to the practice part, usually a game is given first and the child is instantly told if their answer is correct or not.  The games can be replayed, if so desired to make sure that they are retaining the information learned in the lesson.  There are writing assignments that the child completes, one that my daughter did was to fix run-on and incomplete sentences that are on the screen.  My daughter then types in the box below and submits the answers to her teacher and personal feedback is given within 24 to 48 hours, sometimes faster depending on the time of day she submitted her work.  My daughter looked forward to the feedback coming back and was so happy with the way the teacher gave her corrections on work that was incorrect.

I must say that in regards to the typing – I too helped my daughter as she is not a proficient keyboard user and  became easily frustrated by the time it took to hunt and peck.  I would type while she gave me the answers – all the work was her own except for the typing.  Again, if your child is proficient in typing they can do this on their own but that wasn’t an option for us.  There are also quizzes which are graded on the spot and they have two chances to take the quizzes.  I liked that I could look in at her grades as well as the feedback received from the teacher or see only her grade which right now is at a 90.31!  At the end she’ll received a course completion certificate which we will display in her school portfolio and will count towards her language arts.

Overall, I’m very impressed with this program – would I pay $99 which equals to about $12 a week for one student?  Probably not, I can definitely see this being an option for a family that has the resources for the fee or whose child really needs help that the parent feels unable to provide – however I rarely spend this amount on one child for one year of school.  I must also say that for my readers who do not recognize Halloween or participate in trick or treat there is mention in one assignment of Halloween being a holiday.  I felt that my daughter has and is learning quite a bit from using Time4Writing’s Grammar Rocks and it’s been away to break up the school day with something fun and interactive.

To see what other homeschooling parents thought visit the Schoolhouse Review Crew blog.

**Disclaimer:  As a member of the Schoolhouse Review Crew, I received this product, at no cost to me, in exchange for my honest review. All opinions are mine.


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Crew Review: Super Duper Publications; Hear Builder

Vendor Name:  Super Duper Publications

Vendor Contact:   Super Duper Publications contact page

Name of Product:  Hear Builder

Price:  CD ROM Hear Builder Home Edition: $69.95

Age/Grade Range:  Ages 4-9 or Grades PreK-3

I was very excited to try this computer program from Super Duper Publications because following directions and listening to verbal commands and/or requests is something my younger two children struggle with so I was hoping this would help them in that area.  The Webber HearBuilder Following Directions CD ROM is an interactive, evidence based computer program that aims to help children increase their auditory and following direction skills.  Aimed at ages 4 to 9, I’d say even an older child might have fun playing this game if they need some help in listening skills – because I had fun playing it, but I won’t tell you my grown-up age in the review!

With this software, which is easy to run as soon as you pop it into your drive, your child will learn to:

  • Follow directions that increase in difficulty
  • Become proficient in 40 basic concepts in five areas:  Basic directions, temporal directions, sequential directions, conditional directions, quantitative and spatial directions

The home edition allows you to add 1 to 4 players which is great if you have multiple children who need help with their listening skills and you have another one who just enjoys computer games.  You’ll add a new player simply by typing in the child’s name and when the child goes to play again he’ll be ready to start where he left off the last time.  A word of caution here, you may need to check your firewall settings so that the child’s progress will be saved.  Then each child can chose a level of play, for my 5 year old I chose the basic, beginner level which began something like “Click on the dog” as they progress the commands get more advanced.  Of course this also will depend on what area they are working on such as sequential directions or conditional.

There are four levels of play, beginner, advanced, expert and play all – again I had my 5 year old do the beginner, while my 8 year old did the advanced and I did some of all three for the purposes of the review.  Your child is aiming to get supplies and tools for their toy factory which is a great incentive and fun to see them progress as they earn more tools.  As the parent you can get a progress report that can be printed if you want something for your child’s portfolio for school or take to appointments.  You can also delete records, if your child has completed all activities or no longer is interested or outgrows the program which frees space if you have other children who you need to add.  Also as the parent you can do the following:

  • Individualize each student program
  • Set levels of difficulty for each activity
  • Identify and print learning objectives for all levels
  • Add background noise at any level
  • Monitor progress and track data for an unlimited number of students (the home edition is up to 4 students)
  • Track all relevant data
  • Customize and print reports

My two children who tried it enjoyed this however my 5 year old become a little frustrated because it tends to move slower than he wanted or he didn’t want to wait for the instructions and just began clicking on whatever he felt like.  I ended up sitting with him to help him with his patience and make him wait for the instructions.  My 8 year old did fine on her own but she tried to hurry the game along as well when it wasn’t going quick enough for her, but she was more willing to wait for the directions to be given.  I really enjoyed the game and even found myself getting excited over my next tool, I guess I’m a bigger child than I thought, this was a great way to have my children practice their listening skills and I hope to continue and see more improvement as they each move through the other levels.


Super Duper Publications is offering a discount to my readers for the HearBuilder Auditory Memory Home Edition for 30% off using coupon code:  BLGAM30  expires 8/31/12

**Disclaimer:  As a member of the Schoolhouse Review Crew, I received this product, at no cost to me, in exchange for my honest review. All opinions are mine.


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Crew Review: Knowledge Quest; Map Trek: The Complete Collection

Vendor Name:  Knowledge Quest

Vendor Contact Knowledge Quest contact page

Name of Product Map Trek: The Complete Collection

Price:  Hardcover atlas + CD ROM $55.00  (other prices vary depending on e-book versions and individual purchases)

Age/Grade Range:  Grades 1st through high school

Do you feel lost when your history curriculum has you doing mapping activities with your children?

Do you fumble in finding just the right map for every single age you have in your house?

Then head over to Knowledge Quest and take a look at their Map Trek map collections, available in hard cover with CD ROM or as e-books for immediate download after purchase and then you can load them to your e-reader or view them on your computer.  Knowledge Quest also has free PDF curriculum integration guides which will help you in figuring out how to align your current history curriculum such as Story of the World, Streams of Civilization, Truth Quest and more on a weekly basis.  I’ve been using this with our history program as a more easy way to include geography according to what we are studying.

If your history doesn’t include geography, no worries, as there are included lesson plans at each of the different time periods such as Ancient World, Medieval World, New World and Modern World.  The lesson plans are divided by grade level – level A is grades 1-4, level B is grades 5-8 and level C is 9-12, some levels are combined and that is noted.  As of yet, I’ve haven’t followed the lesson plans as I’ve been using this as a go-along with our history curricula but I do plan on integrating some of the lessons to help refresh what we’ve already studied or what my younger students missed before starting ‘official’ school.  Terri Johnson, the creator of Map Trek, recommends you do two days of map work (this is good as I know my children get a little frustrated with more than two days), and these lesson plans could easily carry your family through a half to a whole school year depending on your schedule per section.

The included CD ROM is a very important part of this collection, the book is the atlas where as the CD has all the lesson plans and glossaries, blank student maps, reproducible teacher maps, world and continent maps, U.S. History and state maps and much, more more.  The CD makes all maps accessible and easy to reproduce for your family, no more bending the binding of the book in order to get it copied on your home printer.  It does open in an internet browser (Opera for us) but while I was surprised at first it did seem to load faster than if it was just on my hard drive.

I didn’t use to enjoy geography but being able to look at map in this beautiful full colored atlas has made me enjoy being able to look at any given map for a time period and seeing just how it looked back then or even today.  This is going to be my family’s go-to resource for when we need a historical atlas or a modern atlas and it will last with it’s heavy paper pages and hard covers this is a book that will last years and be a treasured part of our homeschooling adventures for years to come.

Photobucket**Disclaimer:  As a member of the Schoolhouse Review Crew, I received this product, at no cost to me, in exchange for my honest review. All opinions are mine.

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