Monday, June 13, 2011

The Write Foundation...revisited!! (Lessons 16-30)

I reviewed The Write Foundation Sentence to Paragraph Writing (Lessons 1-15) earlier this year, so I was excited when I got the opportunity to "complete the set" and look over lessons 16-30. I received the Instruction Manual and the Student worksheets for Lessons 16-30--Sentence to Paragraph Writing. It is recommended for ages 11-13, and I agree with that, although it is flexible for younger or older students as needed.

It is a very detailed, well-laid out program. I like how the Instruction Manual spells everything out for you, including the general teaching principles, age levels, and daily schedule suggestions (complete with a syllabus that is very clear and easy to follow) among other things. It is very specific in how to set up and implement the program, which can be confusing at first, but it all comes together when you work with it for awhile. The author of the curriculum, Becky Celsor, gives the option of a 5 or 10 day schedule, which allows for great flexibility on the part of the homeschooler. Don't you love that??

A five day schedule (taken from the instruction manual) would look like this:

Day 1: Sentence Structure and Sentence Practice

Day 2: Teacher instructions for writing process

Day 3: Independent writing assignment

Day 4: Finish paragraph writing assignment

Day 5: Poetry and Mind Benders

Or, if you prefer a 10 day schedule, it would look like this:

Day 1: Mind Benders

Day 2: Sentence Structure and Sentence Practice

Day 3: Teacher instructions for writing process

Day 4: Independent writing assignment

Day 5: Independent writing assignment

Day 6: Independent writing assignment

Day 7: Independent writing assignment

Day 8: Complete writing-edit own work, have teacher grade and correct

Day 9: Poetry instruction-practice

Day 10: Poetry independent

It is pretty straightforward and easy to follow, if you ask me!!

The student worksheets are very helpful for the students. You need to use both the worksheets and the manual as a complete set with this program. You make use of Mind Benders (from Critical Thinking Co.) along with the worksheets, and they are helpful. The worksheets have a variety of activities and keeps things interesting. That is a very good thing for young writers!!

We liked the program. On the website, it talks of who would benefit from the program and lists a struggling writer or a student who just needs to learn to write, giving teacher friendly lesson plans you can quickly prepare and teach with curriculum children will enjoy while learning creatively. I think that is a pretty good assessment!

When you order The Write Foundation Sentence to Paragraph program, you receive two spiral Instruction Manuals (Lessons 1-15 has 140 pages, 16-30 has 160 pages.), a full set of student worksheets for lessons 1-30 (200 pages), and additional resources to download to your computer immediately after your purchase. It was $70 plus tax and/or shipping. This is a very complete curriculum. I was impressed with the customer service, too, which is a plus.

There are other programs available. Paragraph Writing is for ages 12-15, and Essay is for ages 14-17. You should check out the programs at and see what you think. It is a homeschool friendly curriculum that just may be the key for your writing class!!

***I received this product independently and free of charge in exchange for my honest review of it. I received no other compensation.***

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Eagle's Wings--Considering God's Creation

Many years ago, while we were on a camping trip, the kids and I (I didn't have as many then as I do now!!) were sitting at the playground looking for rocks, classifying them, etc. and we were having a blast!! I knew then that I needed to find something different for our science curriculum so we could do more hands on things and have fun. We got home, and I did some searching on the internet, and found Considering God's Creation curriculum. It was fun and hands on and we enjoyed it. Fast forward to when this review came up. I realized I hadn't yet done this curriculum with my younger set, so I was glad to be able to review it!

Considering God's Creation is an easy to follow science curriculum or supplement, whichever will meet your needs. It covers such topics as creation, solar system, earth, rocks, weather, Plant and Animal Kingdoms, and animal and human anatomy and physiology. How's that for a lot of earth and life science topics??? It is easy to follow, with comprehensive lesson plans and minimum cost. What a great combination!

This curriculum is for grades 2nd-7th, although it can be adaptable for other ages, too. There is a "digging deeper" section that is for the older students. It is great for all students in your homeschool to learn together.

My children like this curriculum. It is full of activities, and I like that it is hands on and more enjoyable than just reading a textbook. You can go to the website at and take a look at this fun, affordable science curriculum. You can get the teacher's guide and student workbook for $29.95, and additional student workbooks for $13.95. There is also an audio CD included, and a replacement is $3.00.

This is worth checking out to see if it will work for you family!

***Disclaimer: I received this product at no charge in exchange for my honest review of it. I received no other compensation.***

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Mad Dog Math

I struggled with math facts when I was a kid. I remember having to stay after school to practice them over and over. While practice and review is a good concept, the delivery and results weren't the best! Mad Dog Math gives a better option to practicing math facts that is fun and effective. It was developed by Julie Kotoff, who has been a classroom teacher, administrator, and now an educational consultant. It was while she was a 3rd grade teacher that she came up with this program using paper and pencil. Now, with our technology, it is done on the computer.

Mad Dog Math is downloadable software that gives the student short, timed practice tests that are paced individually. There are 3 levels, plus a challenge level, to give the student/s lots of practice. Levels 1-2 are addition and subtraction, level 3 is multiplication and division, and the challenge level has all operations. The student can do a worksheet that has 20 math problems (levels 1-2) or 24 problems (level 3 or challenge) and if they get 2 or less problems wrong in 2 minutes, they will get a student sticker for the 2 minute club. Then, they would go back and do a worksheet in 1 minute, and again if they get 2 or less problems wrong in 1 minute, they will get a student sticker for the 1 minute club. Then, it moves on to 30 seconds. It is recommended to do this program for 10 minutes a day, which would be time well spent. Drill, drill, drill has never been so much fun!!!

I had my 7 and 9 year old boys do this program. They liked it, and were challenged to get better and better. They got pretty competitive, even though it was MATH they had to work on, and enjoyed it and learned from it in spite of that! My 12 year old daughter looked over their shoulder, then finally had to try it for herself. She had a disinterested interest in it, as most 12 year olds do, but had some fun with it. We weren't able to do it every day for 10 minutes, but we did it when we could, and it worked for us. A big thing in homeschooling is the flexibility, right?!

Mad Dog Math is $19.99 for 1 year, $29.99 for 2 years, or $39.99 for a perpetual license. It is a good deal for a product that can produce results. Check out the website for more information, (and see some cute pics that I'm still not able to download onto my blog) at and see what you think. You can sign up for a free trial and give it a test drive today! You can see what other crew members say about this product at

***Disclaimer: I received this product free of charge in exchange for my honest review of it. I received no other compensation.***

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Monki See

I received some Monki See products to review, and it was fun to try them out! I have 4 children who I knew might benefit from this, ages 2, 3, 4, and 5, two with some learning challenges. The age range on this program is actually 3 months-2 years, but I knew the older children in my "young crowd" would benefit from it as well. They loved reading the book and watching the video, and even for a child farther along in reading, it would be a good review.

My kids loved the book we received called Know Your Monkey. The two year old carried it around a lot, even before we watched the DVD. He would sit on the floor and go through the book and say words to go along with the pictures. It was such a cute little book, and all the kids enjoyed the rhyme and pictures.

The DVD, called Baby's First Words, was very fun for my children. There were 40 words introduced with poetry, music, puppets, and real life images. It (mostly) held the attention of my 4 little ones. There was a slide show with the words and real life pictures at the end, and they liked going through that.

My children aren't reading War and Peace or anything, but they had fun that happened to be educational and that is what matters to me. The creator of the MonkiSee products, Krista Guerrero, says in the DVD not to push, but allow the child to have fun. Goal accomplished!!

I am still having troubles trying to put pics up on my computer, or I would have posted some of the cute MonkiSee logo, or other fun pictures from the website, but you'll just have to check them out yourself when you are looking into these products at You can get the books for $9.95, the DVDs for $19.95, and lots of other products like word cards and a reading kit. It may just be a good fit for the younger crowd at your house!

Sunday, April 24, 2011

See the Light art curriculum

My kids are crafty, and are drawing or creating or coloring a lot. But, we seem to neglect any formal art curriculum in this homeschool, as it is not my "thing." Fortunately, it IS Pat Knepley's "thing" and she teaches it well!!

We received a DVD with Lessons 1-4 on it. It was a treat to watch and learn!! Included on this DVD were the following lessons:

Tools of the Trade , which teaches the basics of what makes a drawing.

It All Starts With a Line, which discusses lines and contour drawing.

Contours & Composition, which shows how to be synchronized and how to place things in a drawing.

Draw What You See, which helps you know if you are drawing what you see or what you know.

These DVDs were enjoyable and educational. My children enjoyed them, and learned from them. I would say they are good for elementary age, but could also be good for older children with little or no art instruction. In all, the entire course consists of 9 DVDs with 4 easy step lessons on each. It is $99.99 for all. You can also start an online subscription for $10 a month. If you go to the website, you can request a free DVD of the first four lessons, like the one I received. It is and it has the curriculum and many added products you might be interested in. It is definitely worth looking into!!

The best part of this curriculum, besides the great instruction, is how it "draws children to Him" as it says in the logo. (I would have added that to this review, but we are having computer trouble and after numerous tries, we gave up trying to add pictures!!) It is wonderful to use a curriculum that is Christ-centered!

I would recommend this "art class" to anyone who is looking for a good foundation in art. It has added extras, like chalk lessons, that are fun, too. Take a look at the website and see if it would appeal to the budding artists in your homeschool!

***Disclaimer: I received this DVD at no cost in exchange for my honest opinion of it. I received no other compensation.***

Friday, March 4, 2011


It's fun to find a product that teaches math facts under the disguise of a game, and that is exactly what MathRider is!! My kids had a good time playing MathRider, and that makes learning (or mastery) happen.

MathRider is a fantasy game where the student completes noble quests riding through Mathland on a horse named Shadow. For one example, the child has to answer math facts to try to get a flower to make medicine for his or her sick mother. (hence the "noble" quests!) Just FYI, there is a wizard and elements of magic, so that may be an issue of concern for some families. All through the quests, math fact mastery is going on while the child is having a great time.

There are 4 levels for each operation (addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division) so it is a very versatile program for all ages and levels. It works on the areas your students need work on, which is a great feature. The four quests are the same in each operation, but the rewards are different.

Here are some screen shots of the game to give you a feel for it:

I had three of my children work on this game. My 12 year old daughter loves horses, and did like the game. She was able to quickly complete quests in addition and subtraction, and got the practice she needed in multiplication and division. My 9 year old son needed practice in all the operations, so it was great for him. My 7 year old didn't get very far because of his age, but still liked doing it and did well. I love that you can set it up with more than one student, and everyone can do it and talk about it and learn math facts. My little ones often gathered around the computer to watch, and that is great secondhand learning!! I am always looking for different ways to work on mastery, so this is a great supplement to their math curriculum.

If you think this sounds like a good thing for your family, go to and check it out. For the very reasonable price of $37 for a download, you can give your children a good tool to learn math facts. You can also read more reviews on this product at to see what others think of it.

Here's to educational, yet fun, products for our students to learn from!!

***Disclaimer: I was given a free trial of this product in exchange for my honest review of it. I received no other compensation.***

Sunday, February 6, 2011

VocabAhead SAT Vocabulary

It is fun to find a product that helpful... and practical... and useful. That is what this wonderful book from VocabAhead is, and more. It is called VocabAhead SAT Vocabulary: Cartoons, Videos, and MP3s. This is a very good tool for all your vocabulary needs.

This book takes a word, gives the definition, adds a black and white drawing, then gives sentences to reinforce the definition. It also gives the synonyms and antonyms to each word. The drawings are clever, oftentimes funny, so they stick with the reader so he/she can remember the definitions easier. How fun is that?!? (well, it's educational, too, but fun sounds better!)

I really liked how the book had a review page after every 10 words. There the reader can match the word to the correct definition, and fill in the blanks with the appropriate word. What a good feature to test how well the reader understood the words! It's just a very good review.

You can download cartoons, videos, and MP3s to reinforce the book. The download is large, and will take a bit, just FYI. Those kinds of things can really cement the words in the minds of the reader.

My older kids enjoyed looking at the book and videos. There were laughs and aha moments, which is always good to see. (and hear.) One example is the word "writhe." It says it is a verb, then gives the definition "To twist or bend and roll around,usually in pain." Then, the picture shows a young man on the ground holding his head, obviously (from all sorts of squiggles and marks) writhing in agony. That is a good word picture!

You can get the book at Amazon for $12.95 currently. There is also a DVD-Rom that other crew members reviewed that is $24.99. Check out the website at and discover all it has to offer. There are a lot of helpful resources just waiting for you. It just may be something that will be a lifesaver for your school!

Find other reviews of this product at:

As with any homeschool materials, you will want to preview it to make sure it is appropriate for your tastes.

Have fun!!!

***Disclaimer: I received this book free of charge in exchange for my honest review of it. I received no other compensation.***

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Maestro Classics--Peter and the Wolf

It's nice to find products that are both fun and educational. I was sent a copy of Peter and the Wolf by Maestro Classics to review, and we feel it is a good find!!
The CD has 7 tracks.

1. Introduction

2. Peter and the Wolf

3. About the Composer--Prokofiev

4. A Russian Peter

5. About the Music

6. Peter and the Wolf (Instrumental version)

7. Invitation to Grandfather's Party

8. Kalinka (Dance Along--Trio Voronezh)

We enjoyed Peter and the Wolf. It's different than anything my kids have been exposed to, but it was good to hear a sample of a symphony orchestra. It was beneficial for my kids to realize that music can set a mood or tone in a story. They didn't always understand it, but enjoyed the music nonetheless.

There were many extras on the CD. The introduction was very helpful to set the stage. It talked about the characters, and the instruments that would represent them, among other things. The other extras were fun and interesting, and I was glad they were on the CD.

There was a booklet included in with the CD, and it had puzzles and information about the composers and instruments. That was so nicely done.

The only thing I didn't like was it being said in the extra material that it wasn't right for Peter to disobey, but if he didn't they wouldn't have caught the wolf. Other than that, it was very enjoyable. I can see that it would be good for homeschool families to listen to in the car or in productive free time.

You will definitely want to check out the website: and see all that it offers.

The CD sells for $16.98, or CD's for $45. The other titles available are The Story of Swan Lake, The Sorcerer's Apprentice, Mike Mulligan and His Steam Shovel, and Juanita the Spanish Lobster.

Read what other reviewers said about this product at to see more and decide if you think it would be something your family would enjoy.

***Disclaimer: I received this CD free of charge in exchange for my review of it. I received no other compensation.***

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Virtual Nerd

Math and science have never been my strong subjects, and a few of my kids are following in my footsteps. I reviewed a product that I thought was really good--a math and science tutor on the computer!!

Virtual Nerd is an online tool to help with math and science, and I was really impressed with it!
The concept (from the website) is easy:

My daughters and son are not exactly at the place in their math and science where the videos are, but I had them watch some of them anyway. I watched them, too. and I thought they were good. (and so did my kids.) Really good. The tutors were pleasant and knowledgeable, dressed in black shirts to help prevent distractions, and explained things clearly and simply in front of the whiteboard. It was not dry at all. Could I even go so far as to say it was sort of interesting? (coming from someone who isn't mathematically or scientifically bent!)

The subjects covered were Pre-Algebra, Algebra 1, Algebra 2, and Physics, with more on the way. You could search for the topic you wanted by keyword, topic, or textbook. While you watch the video, the problem is being displayed on the right side of the screen. If there are any questions or problems within the topic, there is a link for that, too. You'll go to another section to get the question answered. It is quite the set-up, if you ask me--very cool how you can go from one thing to another to get all your questions answered. You really shouldn't have any excuse to not understand with so many options!!

I found this on the website:

"Created by an expert tutor and a designer, Virtual Nerd gives students a new option to turn to when they need help. For a fraction of the cost of private tutoring, students gain access to hundreds of interactive step-by-step video tutorials that match up with the practice problems in their textbooks. Virtual Nerd's patent-pending e-Learning system anticipates students' questions, so they can easily drill down to related tutorials if they get confused. The innovative design makes it easy for students to stay focused. Plus, unique reporting features mean parents and teachers can stay involved with students' progress."

There are daily, weekly, monthly, and 3 month subscriptions, with varying costs. It would be handy to purchase a day or week "pass" if you are having specific problems with math and need immediate help, or a longer subscription if you know there will be lots of problems. It is not intended to replace a textbook or a teacher, but it is so good when there are problems to have some good explanations to help. That is exactly what you'll find on the Virtual Nerd website!!

It would be worth your while to check out the website : and see if it would be something that would be a help for your family. You can see prices, FAQ's, and other details concerning the product.

You can check out other review of this product at and get even more opinions on it.

***I received a subscription to this online product in exchange for my review of it. I received no other compensation.***

Monday, January 10, 2011

Easy Classical Early Modern History Schedule

It's always nice to find a product to make our job as homeschoolers easier. I was sent a link for the Early Modern History Schedule from Easy Classical to review. I am just reviewing the schedule and how it could be used in a homeschool, but did not receive any of the books on the schedule to review.

This schedule, intended for grades K-6, includes history reading, writing, geography, hands on and other activities, read-alouds, quizzes, review questions, and a shopping list for the next week. What more would you need?? It has 36 weeks worth of schedules, plus 45+ pages of charts, sheet, and helps.

It is set up really well. It is easy to read and understand. I like having something in front of me to direct us, and this definitely fits the bill. It tells you what books you will read, and the activities to go along with them. It even has some symbols to let you know if you need to complete a mapping exercise or history summary, sing history songs, or complete a reading narration.

The notebook version of this product is $35.95. The digital version is $29.95. You can go to to find out more about this product. It just may be a perfect fit for you and your family!

Check out other reviews of this product at to see what others say about this product.

***Disclaimer: I was giving a copy of this product free of charge in exchange for my review of it. I received no other compensation.***

Friday, January 7, 2011


I received a handy tool from See-N-Read that I would like to tell you about. It is a See-N-Read reading tool, and it is a practical reading intervention tool. From the website, it says it improves reader focus on the line being read, reduces distractions on the page, reduces word- and line-skipping and pattern glare, and reduces eye strain and fatigue. It puts text in manageable chunks, and helps with smooth eye movements on a page. There you have it--a BIG help with reading!

It is made out of a flexible material and has a reading window called a ReadBar. You place this on a page with words you are reading in the cutout window, and move it down the page. It's a very easy concept for a big job! You read the text in chunks and not individual words, so it is easier to stay focused and comprehend what you read. It helps you to see, focus, and remember, which are the goals of reading. The material surrounding the window is tinted, so you don't totally isolate the text in the window.

It is a handy tool. We found it to be somewhat hard for my little ones, but the older ones can manipulate it easier. It would be worth trying it out to see if it helps a problem reader. This morning I mentioned this product to my husband for the first time,and he said it sounded like something that would help him stay focused as he reads. I guess I'll have to loan it to him!

This product comes in different sizes. I got the book size, which is 5 1/2" x 3". The document size is 8 1/2" x 3". You can pick your size to help you meet your needs best.

The book size costs $2.99 for a one pack, $8.99 for a three pack, and $27.99 for a ten pack. It is a very cost-effective product, in my opinion. Look at the website to check out this product, and see the other products available.

Try it out and see if it can make a difference with the readers in your family!

You can read other reviews of this product here:

***Disclaimer: I received this product in exchange of my honest review of it. I received no other compensation.***