History Made Alive

Bookworm Beauty has literally devoured anything Laura Ingalls Wilder this last year. It was absolutely fitting, and well received, when we were given the opportunity to review Janet & Geoff Benge’s HEROES OF HISTORY Laura Ingalls Wilder: A Storybook Life through YWAM Publishing. as well as the DOWNLOADABLE Unit Study Curriculum Guide.

The Benge’s have written several books including those in the Heroes of History series, a unique biography series told in a narrative format. Their goal has been to ignite young readers’ interest in history by bringing these heroes to life through the written word.Staci Photo

When our book arrived, Bookworm Beauty immediately snuggled under a blanket and began reading. She is an avid reader and I can usually tell if a book is good because it is difficult to attempt to have any sort of conversation with her when she is engrossed in one. She told me that she really enjoyed the perspective that A Storybook Life brought her. She has read multiple books by Laura Ingalls Wilder herself, which are in the first person, and always feels as though she is  Laura in the books. This book was different as it is written from the third person perspective, which she said made her feel more like an observer in the story and it brought out different emotions for her throughout it.

I really appreciated the DOWNLOADABLE Unit Study Curriculum Guide for $5.49 that is also available through YWAM Publishing to coincide with the book. Included in the curriculum guide is a 25-page classroom overview as well as a 24-page homeschool overview, both outlining the process of using the book as a unit study for areas such as social studies, language arts, history, geography, public speaking, drama and art. There is also a 12-page group overview outline for studying the book with a group. Each overview covers the processes for both a leader directed study as well as a student directed study. Finally, there are printable worksheets including fact sheets, maps and a timeline.

We chose to work through the homeschool student directed unit study for the review. Bookworm Beauty worked through the unit study with ease. She enjoyed the memorization of famous quotes by individuals such as Demosthenes, Benjamin Franklin, George Eliot and others. Her favorite quotes were “it is the sweet, simple things of life which are the real ones after all” by Laura Ingalls Wilder and Helen Keller’s “Character cannot be developed in ease and quiet. Only through experiences of trial and suffering can the soul be strengthened, vision cleared, ambition inspired and success achieved.”  She also really enjoyed working through the mapping activities.

There are a total of 27 book in the Heroes Series, covering heroes such as Abraham Lincoln, Ben Carson, Billy Graham and William Penn. Individual books are regularly priced at $9.99 and are on sale for $7.50. There are several options for purchasing multiple titles in the Heroes Series such as YWAM’s Mix and Match Special where books are as low as $5.30. The complete set of books 1-27 can also be purchased and is a great way to fill a home library with fantastic and inspiring books. For those that prefer digital, the books are available as an audio book for $16.49 or as an eBook download for $7.50 in EPUB, Mobi and MP3 formats.
Heroes In HistoryU.S. History can be studied using the Heroes Series. A full curriculum, which includes 24 books, 23 Heroes of History curriculum guides and their Maps of the United States workbook are available for $248.75.

We have enjoyed reviewing this book and study guide. Bookworm Beauty has already looked over the list and has decided that she would like to read Abraham Lincoln next. Sweetness (7) has also shown interest and has asked to read HEROES FOR YOUNG READERS Bethany Hamilton: Riding the Waves.

It looks like we will be building our library…

Schoolhouse Review Crew Banner

disclaimer graphic

Raising the Bar in Writing

We have spent the better part of the last two months working through and reviewing Apologia Educational Ministries Writers in Residence Volume 1 (Apprentice).

This is a physical product and after opening the package, my first reaction was simply WOW! I was not expecting this to be a full inch-and-a-half thick book! Although seemingly huge, it is very attractive with a giant neon green spiral, literally begging to be opened. My second thought after seeing this product was of hesitance because it was, well… a very thick book. I went from total gratitude at this awesome book before me to overwhelmed in the blink of an eye.

If you know me as a homeschooler, you know that writing is my least favorite subject to teach the kids. I have struggled with teaching writing for quite some time. I had finally found something that was working for us and I suddenly needed to switch gears and trust that this review product was not going to be a hindrance and cause us to have to all but start over when we return to what we knew was working. I decided to set aside all despair and resolved to give it my best. Then I looked at the 576 on the bottom left hand corner of the last page, took a deep breath and decided to take it in stride and break it into manageable pieces… wondering if we would ever actually see that page number again as we worked through the book.

staci picAfter flipping through the book, I knew that I was simply going to have to start at the beginning, this was not a textbook where I could just jump in and start at the first lesson. I settled in to review the well written 17-page How to Use section. Like a good novel, I could not put it down. Seriously. It was evening and I was tired, yet I consumed the whole section. Every word increased my faith in this program and I could not wait to get started.

The first thing the very next morning, Bookworm Beauty reviewed the 3-page Welcome, Students, to Writers in Residence! Debra Bell, the author of Writers in Residence wrote a personal letter to the students explaining the writing journey they are about to begin and what they can expect in the process. She even finishes the letter with an invitation to email her “anything you would like – your suggestions, your stories, your questions.” This was a great step in making this book a living, interactive writing journey for the students. It is not a typical text book in any way. It flows like a written conversation between Ms. Bell and the students.

Ms. Bell introduces the students to a spotlight on a Christian Writer at the beginning of each Unit. The authors introduced are some that the students may already be exposed to, such as Bill Myers, the author of McGee and Me; Jason Lethcoe, whose work is included in Home on the Range, The Little Mermaid, and Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs; and Phil Vischer, one of the VeggiTales creators. Additional authors featured are Amy Green, Irene Howat and Amy Parker. I like how the famous author’s specific craft is taught so that the students are able to follow their models for their own work.

Writers in Residence follows the Six Traits Writing Model and teaches the Writing Process. What is most unique is that it teaches each of the four traditional forms of writing: personal, expository, persuasive, and narrative in a holistic way. They are presented from a real-life approach, as writers actually combine several forms at once in all types of writing. The four styles covered are labeled: I Remember (personal narrative), I Imagine (creative writing), I Investigate (research writing), and I Think (persuasive writing). Although each lines up with a traditional form, they are interwoven as students learn to discover their own voice in their writing.

I can not express how refreshing it is to have a program that is designed for students to work independently as much as possible. The textbook indicates that content is appropriate for grades 4-8. I feel that is has been appropriate for Bookworm Beauty as a 5th grader. It would have been equally appropriate last year and probably the next couple of years as well. She has successfully worked independently during this entire review. I am recognizing additional value of independently working with writing as I am finding that it enables a student to truly own their voice and learn to express themselves through their writing. Of course, I am involved with reviewing her work, which has facilitated a lot of rich conversation. Writers in Residence has almost become a diary of sorts which has unlocked Bookworm Beauty’s thoughts and given her a place to record them.

As a complete language arts program, the work is presented in 24 modules separated in to 6 units. The suggested daily schedule is 4 days per week for 32 weeks. There’s a 4-page daily schedule already outlined with places for the student to follow along and check off after the work is completed. Additional supplemental tools include: Word Collection Sheets, Glossary, Rubrics, Memory Chart, Writer’s Toolbox Strategies, Paragraph Planning Chart, and more.

The language arts elements covered  are: action verbs, nouns, conjunctions, subjects, predicates, adjectives, proper nouns, personal letter, capitalization, commas, simple sentence, linking verbs, complements, paragraphs, modifiers, descriptive adjectives, determiners, sensory words, adverbs, transitions, first person, phrases, prepositions, prepositional phrases, object of the preposition, quotation marks, punctuating and formatting dialogue, interjections, question marks and exclamation points.

Another fabulous feature is the Apprentice Log. Students earn paints for their work and use the log to record them. If they successfully earn 85% of the possible points in Volume 1, they earn an Award of Distinction from Writers in Residence.

I can not be more impressed with this curriculum, even the price is impressive at $89 for the Full Set, which includes the All-In-One Student Text and Workbook as well as the Answer Key. To top that off… there are additional volumes in the works including: Volume 2 – Journeyman; Volume 3 – Craftsman; and Volume 4 – Master Craftsman.

If you are still on the fence, you have the ability to download the first 75 pages of the book. Look for the download link near the bottom of the Writers in Residence page. Included in those pages are the How to Use and the Welcome, Students, to Writers in Residence! sections that I mentioned in this review, as well as everything else through the first module. I will warn you however to be prepared to order the product once you download it because you will probably do so anyway!

Oh… and we will definitely see that 576 on the bottom left hand corner of the last page as we work through this book. By then, this textbook will wear the markings of a well worn and loved book.

Schoolhouse Review Crew Banner

disclaimer graphic

A+ Interactive Math Review

Although math is one of the strongest subjects among our students, we were excited at the opportunity to add A+ Interactive Math to our repertoire of Math resources. Their newly released Math Mini-Courses offer the ability to focus on specific mathematical concepts through interactive video lessons and online worksheets and tests.

One could use this resource to close any mathematical learning gaps, review old concepts or even learn new ones. Sweetness is well above her expected grade level and has no real learning gaps at this time. However, this was an excellent opportunity for us to get specific instruction around the concepts that we have begun touching upon. We chose to explore Elementary Fractions and Elementary and Middle School Multiplication.

Setting up her account was a simple process and we began working through the material immediately. She enjoyed the learning format for fractions. The concepts were taught using real-world examples that made it easier for her to understand. For example they taught fractions using pizza to demonstrate the concept: if two friends came to visit and you wanted to share your pizza with them you would need to divide it equally into three parts; each would get 1 of 3 parts or 1/3. I have always appreciated using food to demonstrate fractions because children have a keen awareness of fairness when it comes to cookies, pizza or other treats they enjoy!

Although the content was thorough, the teaching was a bit slower and less interactive as I had expected. One of its best features is the report sections. Each Mini Course provides access for one parent and one student. The parent is able to generate reports on worksheets, tests, interactive Q&A or lesson completions. Unfortunately, we learned a little too late that there are a few nuances with the program itself that is not entirely intuitive. For example, any time there was a requirement to enter an answer during the Q&A, the student needs to click on the frog’s belly to record the answer before selecting “next” to move to the next question. This was not blaringly obvious for us so after a Q&A series we were not expecting to see that it said that she only had 20% correct and 80% unanswered. We did not want to spend additional time working through the problems for a second round.

Another nuance was noticed during the completion of a worksheet. After the student enters their answer, he or she needs to click on submit answer and then select next to move to the next question. There are also other areas that required multiple steps, such as four or five clicks (each leading to a new page) just to reach the destination. None of these seemed to inhibit her progress but it did require unnecessary steps to navigate through the program, which called for additional effort and paying attention. For us, this meant that I had to be with her during her use of A+ Interactive Math and could not leave her to work independently. This had a significant impact about how we felt about the program. Sweetness is really enjoying her ability to work more independently and felt like something was wrong with her for her to need me close by or with her while she worked.

Despite the nuances, we fell into the rhythm of the program and were able to move forward through the lessons provided in the Mini Courses. Sweetness learned quite a bit about both fractions and multiplication which has enabled her to excel in her primary math program. All in all, we both agree that the Mini Courses provide solid instruction in individual areas which is exactly what it is intended to do. There are 20 different Mini Courses each offering a student and a parent access for a full-year and ranging in price from $9.99 to $19.99. The concepts offered are as follows:

  • Counting and Identifying Numbers (1st-3rd) – 15 lessons
  • Place Value and Number Combinations (1st-3rd) – 15 lessons
  • Naming, Comparing and Arranging Numbers (1st-3rd) – 17 lessons
  • Early Elementary Fractions (1st-3rd) – 10 lessons
  • Early Elementary Addition (1st-3rd) – 17 lessons
  • Early Elementary Subtraction (1st-3rd) – 15 lessons
  • Elementary & Middle School Multiplication (2nd-6th) – 13 lessons
  • Elementary & Middle School Division (2nd-6th) – 15 lessons
  • Tables, Charts and Graphs (1st-6th) – 17 lessons
  • Elementary Geometry (1st-4th) – 19 lessons
  • Elementary Algebra (1st-4th) – 27 lessons
  • Advanced Geometry (4th-7th) – 35 lessons
  • Advanced Fractions (4th-8th) – 26 lessons
  • Decimal Numbers (3rd-7th) – 20 lessons
  • Percentages (5th-8th) – 13 lessons
  • Time (1st-4th) – 20 lessons
  • Money (1st-5th) – 18 lessons
  • Number Types and Conversions (3rd-6th) – 35 lessons
  • Ratio, Proportions, Probability & Statistics (3rd-6th) – 14 lessons
  • Measurements and Conversions (2nd-6th) – 23 lessons


It typically took us about an hour to work through a lesson, worksheet and a test. It would take longer if a student needed to review a particular step at any given time. A+ Interactive Math states that student’s could easily work through a Mini Course within 2-3 months. I believe that is a conservative estimate and an average student, working at an age appropriate level, could complete a course in 1-2 months. Some students however may require additional time. The greatest feature is the full-year access allowing a student to take as long as needed or even go back and review throughout the year. We anticipate having the system generate additional tests periodically throughout the year to test for retention.

Schoolhouse Review Crew Banner

disclaimer graphic

Two Steps Forward… One Step Back


Colorado weather is known for varying extremes day by day, sometimes changing from flip-flops and shorts weather to winter coats and gloves weather all in the same day.

Today we are enjoying a wonderful spring storm that is bringing much needed moisture with it. The winds are reaching up to 70 mph on the prairie, nearly knocking us over while we tend the animals. It’s interesting to reflect upon yesterday where we were still sporting our summer attire.

Colorado weather, often feels like it is two steps forward and one step back. We’ve been greeted with glorious sunshine for days on end. We’ve pulled out all of the summer clothes and diligently packed up the winter clothing. We’ve enjoyed the green blades of grass popping up all around us. Then just as we begin to relish in our newfound warmth, we begin to prepare for a storm and plan a lazy day in.

I can’t help but to think about how the weather seems to parallel life. As changes begin taking place it often feels as though progress is made and then set backs come along to derail the progress. I have the choice to see these one-step-back moments as obstacles set in place to remind me that I haven’t really accomplished moving forward or I can see these obstacles as they really are… speed bumps on the way to my destination.

It’s still JUST a speed bump…

Whatever you may be moving towards in your life, just know that as long as you keep putting one foot in front of another, you will make progress. Accept the speed bumps along the way, then shake the dust off your feet and keep moving forward. You will get there or at the very least, you will get far from where you were; and that in and of itself is progress.


Reading and Writing at the Fingertips

Read, Write & Type teaches children to write whatever they can say and read whatever they can write!

Like it or not, technology is something that absolutely needs to be a part of our children’s education. We happen to be in the like it category so we were overjoyed when we received notice that we were selected to review Read, Write & Type by Talking Fingers Inc. because although my children have had quite a bit of exposure to technology, they have not had any formal teaching.

My first assumption with this program was that it was just a typing program for Kindergarten through 2nd graders, which would have had plenty of value in and of itself. However, after creating Sweetness’s account I sat with her through the first of the 40 lessons. I was in awe. Read, Write, & Type is an exceptional program and has so much to offer, beyond typing. It’s a highly kinesthetic phonics program, unlike anything I’ve ever seen before. It is an online program that is easily navigated by my five year old and not only are students introduced to the proper hand formation for keyboarding while receiving typing instruction, but they also receive reinforcement of each letter’s phoneme.20160415_120704

Sweetness has been an exceptional reader for quite some time, which led me to think that she may feel a bit above the lessons as they introduced each individual letter’s sound. However, it was engaging as well as entertaining and she never acted as though it was for younger kids. She took every lesson seriously and celebrated each one by displaying the individual certificates that was able to print out.

The Boy really needs additional phonics reinforcement, so we made sure that he had an account too. However, he was not near as excited as Sweetness was to learn to type correctly and therefore did not really put as much effort into the work. He did enjoy the program, as it is engaging and entertaining but he had no desire to focus on the proper fingering mechanics needed for typing instruction. He wanted to continue with his two-finger hen-pecking typing through the program. I had to monitor him closely and 20160317_114306would not let him receive the natural rewards that Read, Write & Type offers for completing the levels unless he would type correctly. Ultimately we had to restrict his access. I appreciate the phonetic reinforcement he could be benefiting from, but I believe that the typing instruction is just as important.

It amazes me to think about how vastly different things are in schools today versus when I was in school. I was in high school before I had typing lessons on a typewriter. Today, our children have access to a lot of technology that is introducing them to the keyboard at very young ages. This program is a perfect formal introduction to children in Kindergarten through 2nd grade. I also believe it would benefit even younger children that have the dexterity to attempt the keyboard as well as older children that need phonetic reinforcement.  It has also been shown to benefit children with various learning disabilities and children learning English as a second language.

Read, Write & Type was developed by the creators of Reader Rabbit, which is near and dear to my own heart as it was the reading program I used over 15 years ago with Princess and Angel, both of which are exceptional readers. We still have the little reader books and have used them with each of the children over the years.

Talking Fingers Inc. offers more than just Read, Write & Type. Their programs are developed for children ranging from preschool to approximately 9 years old including Talking Shapes; Read, Write & Type; Wordy Qwerty; and Jingle Spells. To top it all off, the pricing structure is almost ridiculous! All Home Online Subscriptions are for 5 Years and are priced as follows: single user – $35; 2 users – $55; 3 users – $70; 4 users – $85; or 5 users – $100. With this pricing, a family can purchase 5 users for 5 years and ultimately spend $4 per user per year! It is also available on CD for $79 or as a bundle with Wordy Qwerty for $99.

Schoolhouse Review Crew Banner

disclaimer graphic

Meaningful Copywork

Having an opportunity to review Homeschool Copywork gave us an opportunity to fill in the penmanship gaps in our homeschooling. With three children in varying grade levels, I sometimes feel a bit overwhelmed with trying to keep up with and maintain meeting the subject standards. Handwriting practice, better known as penmanship, always seems to be one of the things that gets overlooked.

I happen to like penmanship even though it seems that it may be a bit controversial in our electronically savvy culture. I have heard it said that cursive writing is absolutely unnecessary; and correct spelling is no longer required because computer programs auto-correct everything. I wholeheartedly disagree. Enter the copywork.

Last year we began learning old hymns and copying the verses. I had not even heard the term copywork at that time. We enjoyed learning hymns and singing them together and as a bonus I noticed that the children’s handwriting was improving. We selected another hymn at the beginning of this year and were reminded how much we really enjoy learning hymns together. Finishing the second hymn, we began our selection of a third when Homeschool Copywork came along.http://homeschoolcopywork.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/05/AnywhereWithJesus3D-Square-300x300.jpg

Homeschool Copywork has a wide array of copywork packs available for immediate download. There are packs designed for early writers that offer larger writing space with dashed lines or even dashed traceable letters and include coloring pictures. There are elementary level packs in manuscript, script, and cursive allowing you to choose which is appropriate for your student. There are also packs with lengthier copywork for middle and high school ages.

The topics available are extensive. There is copywork packs that include bible passages, character studies, famous quotes, and more. Imagine our delight when we discovered the Hymn studies copywork! We chose our third hymn and began learning Anywhere With Jesus.

Copywork is a fantastic addition to our homeschool. It allows my students the opportunity to practice handwriting, reinforce spelling and proper grammar; as well as reflect upon the meaningful writing that they are copying. I most appreciate the reinforcement they get from copying the meaningful text.

20160413_095405One must be a member to have unlimited access to download the packs offered by Homeschool Copywork. There are two subscription options. The annual membership is good for one full year and is $29.95. The Lifetime Membership is $45 and offers access as long as there is a website! There is also a free membership option offering access to the free section of copywork. This is a great way to sample the outstanding products that is offered.

If notebooking is20160413_101241 a part of your homeschool, then you will be happy to know that there are several BONUS Products available. These ebooks include notebooking pages, coloring pages and more!

This is a fairly new website and is continually growing in content. I found that there are a lot of great products and it would be great if there was a search option made available to allow searching by name, subject matter, themes, etc. It can be a bit overwhelming to scroll through the many options to find one that you want to download. We have enjoyed perusing the site nonetheless and have already decided that our next project will be J. S. Bach Quotes from Composers Copywork to correspond with our classical studies and Wilbur and Orville Wright Copywork to correspond with our early flight studies.

In the meantime, Bookworm Beauty saw the Greatest of These 1 Corinithians 13 Cursive Copywork and wanted to work on it just for fun… that says a lot.


Schoolhouse Review Crew Banner

disclaimer graphic


Junk Food with a Healthy Twist

In our house, junk food seems to be around a lot more than necessary. We try to limit it, but somehow things always manage to creep in. The kids routinely come home from Awana’s with awards such as chocolate or soda and enjoy grandma’s cookies far too often. And, of course, I will refrain from mentioning the biggest culprit because I want to avoid throwing Handsome under the bus…

On Monday, Handsome returned home after running an errand in town. He was sporting a nice round plastic barrel of cheese balls. The kids went nuts, of course. I exercised my sheer will power for about 10 minutes longer than they did.

It’s always a battle over junk. We talk about health all of the time around here. We drink electrolyzed reduced water at a nice alkaline pH. We eat farm fresh eggs from our free range chickens. We buy organic and we avoid GMO’s as much as possible. And then we eat cheese balls… I can’t help but shake my head.

We awoke a little later than normal this morning so our normal routine was replaced with the free-flowing-whatever-routine. Consequently, breakfast options were last minute. The Boy opened the pantry and hugged the barrel of the fluffy orange chemicals with a sly inquiring expression. I chuckled and initially denied his request, “uhmmm… No. Not for breakfast… unless you want a cheese ball omelet!” I laughed at the silly notion, until he interrupted me with an affirmative nod. cheese ball omelet

Wanting to retreat from the offer, I decided to just go with it and a handful of cheese balls were placed on top of the eggs just as they began to set.

There were crazy squeals of delight this morning at the breakfast table. The Boy was sure to tell me that it was the best omelet ever while Sweetness devoured hers with a smile. It was comical to say the least.

I justified it all by telling myself that eggs and cheese are great sources of protein and what’s a bit of fun to go along with healthy?


Memorizing Multiplication Facts: Fun and Easy

We have been having so much fun with the many outstanding products that we have been able to review as a part of our involvement with the Schoolhouse Review Crew this year. Our most recent review was Times Tales from The Trigger Memory Co. and let’s just say that the fun still continues!DVDDownloadwithMouse_zpsudjcolkc

When I first received notice about being selected for the review, I have to admit that I was a bit skeptical about the program itself. I felt myself take on a pious attitude with thoughts about not wanting my children to be recalling seemingly non-related stories to answer multiplication facts 20 years from now. It was in this ridiculous self-righteous moment that the light bulb went off. In my aha moment, I began to think about just how often we use various memorization techniques to recall information, such as taking long passages or lists and putting them to music or hand motions.

Years ago I attended a memorization workshop by a famous individual known for memorizing a 32-digit number on the spot and reciting it back to the crowd! He taught us how to take a known building of our own choosing and dividing it into different segments that will later be recalled in a specific order. We then mentally placed various objects into each location and therefore were able to memorize them and recall them. I still have the first 20 presidents memorized from this method! I reflected upon how effective that was, more than a decade and a half later.

I decided to get a bit of a head start on the program before having the opportunity to set up the account. I went ahead and downloaded the FREE Times Tales Sample Video Download, covering the multiplication facts for 9×6, 9×7, 9×8 and 9×9. In approximately 15 minutes both The Boy (Kindergarten) and Sweetness (1st grade) had committed the facts to memory!

At this point I was simply blown away; and we hadn’t even started yet.

It took a bit of time to complete the download, as the files were fairly large. The following day, we spent about an hour going through Part 1. Although the product review was intended for Sweetness, both Bookworm Beauty (5th grade) and The Boy were enamored with the presentation.

The initial minutes of the presentation introduces each number as a character. Once that is covered, there are several “stories” that are shared, each involving two of the characters. For example the number 6 is the 6th grade class and the number 4 is a chair… the story involving 6 and 4 is that the 6th grade class played musical chairs for 24 hours. The story contains all of the pertinent information… 6, 4, and 24… and then it is put together for them (6×4=24). times tales

As soon as Sweetness and The Boy realized that the story contained the math facts, it was a game to them to figure each one out. Once the stories were memorized, the children were also able to use the same elements to figure out the division facts.

I remained impressed.

Also included in the downloads were additional printable worksheets. There was a fun worksheet, flashcards, dice templates to roll and multiply, and tests. We went through them only to discover that Sweetness was successful in memorizing her multiplication facts!

It is recommended that you wait at least a week before moving on to Part 2. We waited just over a week. Sweetness was eager to learn the remaining multiplication facts and did just as well as she did in Part 1.

I remember learning my multiplication facts in 2nd grade, through route memorization. It worked. I learned. It wasn’t fun. I also know for a fact that I did not learn them all in under a few hours! It has been a couple of weeks since we went through the presentations and it is safe to say that they are committed to memory… Sweetness can still recall the facts!

The Digital Download is only $19.95 (normal price is $21.95) and the best part is that they are mine for good. When The Boy is ready to review them, we will still have them. Hands down, I think this is the most fun and definitely the easiest way to commit the multiplication facts to memory.

Schoolhouse Review Crew Banner

disclaimer graphic


Living for Our Sun-Days

sun dayMost school-aged kids treasure any snow days they got during the school year. It’s comical that they don’t even really complain when school is extended for a day or two at the end of the year. It is worth every minute of unplanned time off.

Some are anxious to bundle up and get out into the snow. Others are thrilled to sip hot chocolate and watch the snow from indoors. It doesn’t really matter how it is celebrated… it is simply celebrated. Unless of course, you are in our house.

Being on the Colorado prairie, having any significant snow fall is an infrequent event. Yes, it is fun. Yes, it is beautiful. Yes, we love it. No, we do not take time off of school! We just might allow for an early release (because the weather is a bit warmer in the afternoon) but school is still in session.

However… when the sun unexpectedly decides to come out in full force with just the right atmospheric pressure allowing us to enjoy those prized 60 degree days in the middle of January… we… uhmmmm… take a Sun Day!

I know, it is April. We are well into spring now. The warmer days are becoming routine, but the sun is just screaming for us to take a break and come out to play!

Am I the only one that has had to revamp our school schedule a bit? We have been starting earlier so that we could be done early enough to be outdoors. We may even have to extend our school schedule and make up some days in July. That would be okay though, because by then it will be too hot to play outdoors!

God bless our Sun-Days!

The Sweet Joy of Great Literature

We like to include as much literature as possible in our homeschool as we believe it enriches life. It has been an incredible joy to have the opportunity to review the Second Grade Literature Guide Set by Memoria Press with Sweetness.

Memoria Press has literature sets for first through ninth grade. Having three different grade levels in our homeschool made it difficult to decide which level to review. Sweetness is finishing first grade and really stretching herself as a reader so we made the decision to review the Second Grade Literature Set which included Little House in the Big Woods, Tales from Beatrix Potter, Prairie School, Animal Folk Tales of America, and The Courage of Sarah Noble.

Each study is designed to encourage growth in comprehension, vocabulary and spelling. The enrichment activities in each study covers additional literacy devices.Tales from Beatrix Potter focuses on composition, subjects, verbs and adjectives. Animal Folk Tales of America introduces folk tales. Prairie School focuses on life lessons and culminates with a Psalm of Life by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow. Little House in the Big Woods introduces research and information organization. The Courage of Sarah Noble focuses on details, illustrations, characters and quotations.

It was like Christmas when the package arrived. Sweetness was so excited and looked over each student study guide. I let her make the decision as to which one we would start with. I was only a bit surprised when she chose Little House in the Big Woods as Laura Ingalls has become a household mainstay over the last several months. We immediately went to the used book store, picked up a copy, and began reading.

20160401_101402Sweetness has been comfortably reading chapter books. I have not been sure how well she had been comprehending and retaining her readings until we started Little House in the Big Woods. The Literature Guidelines in the Student Study Guide encourages the student to take some steps prior to the days reading. These steps include reviewing previous vocabulary; reviewing the setting, character and plot; and to review vocabulary so that students will be prepared to look for and recognize them when they are read. We have found these steps to be very helpful. There are words in these books that Sweetness is unfamiliar with and it helped her to pay attention to them as we read. I appreciate the children learning vocabulary this way. I believe that students are more apt to actually learn words that they have discovered within something as it gives them a purpose for understanding them.

After the days reading, Sweetness completes the vocabulary fill-in-the-blank section. Having reviewed the words prior to reading helps her to pay attention and be able to complete this section. There have been a couple of times that she has had to go back and look through her reading to recall the information, this is another valuable skill. We then do the comprehension questions together. We go over them orally, then we write the answers together in a complete sentence on the white board. I like this part because it gives me the opportunity to model the proper way to answer a question in w20160401_101259riting. She then copies the answer from the white board into her Student Study Guide. Most sections have an additional opportunity for learning such as an activity, a life lesson or art. We have not done all of these but we do at least discuss the ones we decide not to complete. In Little House in the Big Woods, there are also Honors Activities. These activities offer great enrichment opportunities such as understanding the difference between fact and opinion and event sequencing. We have enjoyed these additional studying opportunities.

The best part about literature time in our homeschool is that Sweetness and I have had the opportunity to have those few moments together, just her and I. We take turns reading together then we go over the work. The work often leads to wonderful discussions about life and dreams. I treasure these moments.

We are almost done with Little House in the Big Woods. I am a bit sad that we are wrapping it up but I am glad that our literature time is not ending. We are looking forward to completing the next four studies together, starting with Animal Folk Tales of America. It will not be long before we order the Third Grade Literature Set!

Schoolhouse Review Crew Banner

disclaimer graphic