Printable Worksheets and Tests for All Grades (HelpTeaching.com review)

Do you have a student who thrives on worksheets? Do you need a resource from which to get tests for your child? Or would you prefer to write your own tests but not have to deal with the formatting in a word processor? Then HelpTeaching.com just might be the right fit for you. For the past few weeks, I’ve been able to review their Help Teaching Pro to do some of the things I just mentioned.

help teaching product image

My older kids have plenty of schoolwork to keep them busy, but for Small Fry (Kindergarten), I felt like we needed something more, which is why I asked to review this product. After looking over the website, I determined that there would be lots of options there for his age, and I was right. It’s been a true blessing to have these premade worksheets the past few weeks so all I have to do is print them out and teach him the concepts. HelpTeaching.com makes it so easy!

I initially expected that my son would be fairly slow going with the worksheets (since this would be his first experience with them), so in my first perusal of the website after getting my access code, I decided to print off 5 language arts worksheets and 5 math worksheets, figuring that would get us through one week of classes. Boy was I wrong! My 5-year-old loved these, and he burned through all of them on the very first day. So that night, I hopped back on the site and found more to get ready for him.

help teaching screenshot 2

This screenshot shows a sample section of the website so you can see how the worksheets are organized. Those with the lock icon are available only with a paid membership; those without can be accessed with just the free account from HelpTeaching.com.

The site is very organized, which I appreciated. I was easily able to narrow my search down to exactly what I wanted because all of the worksheets are arranged by both subject and grade. By choosing the “Kindergarten” age level, I was taken to a page with hundreds of choices in all of the major subjects. Because we already had a science curriculum we were working on together, I didn’t pay much attention to those, but I looked at nearly all of the options for both language arts (including things like word building, reading comprehension, and sight words plus many more) and math, and over the past few weeks Small Fry has done many of them.

The worksheets are listed by title, and when you click on the name of the worksheet it opens up a visual of the worksheet right in your web browser. From there, you have options to

  • Have your student complete the worksheet online
  • Print the worksheet straight from the website
  • Download a PDF of the worksheet to print from your PDF reader

worksheet exampleI opted for the last choice, just because I was able to control the print quality (black and white, ink saver mode, double sided when appropriate) better. Once the worksheets were printed, I put them all in a folder for safe keeping. I stored blank worksheets on the left and completed worksheets on the right. It hasn’t been a perfect solution (sometimes the folder gets misplaced, the completed worksheets don’t get put in at the end, and the math and English worksheets are all mixed together), but it’s generally been fine.

It seems that I’ve forgotten to take pictures of the worksheets that Small Fry has completed; I assure you, he’s done many of them. Please forgive this oversight and use the sample image at the left to see what kinds of worksheets are available.

So that’s how I used the site. But what about those tests I mentioned in my opening paragraph? Well, that’s easy too! Just click on the Test Maker button at the top of the page, and you’re taken to a page with lots of options. You can fill it in completely with your own questions, you can populate the test with questions exclusively from the HelpTeaching.com library, or you can mix and match. How cool is that?!

Overall, I’ve been very happy with our Help Teaching Pro membership. I will definitely continue to pull worksheets for my boy for the foreseeable future; it’s too good a resource to not use.

Blessings,

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Help Teaching Pro. {HelpTeaching.com Reviews}
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Learning About Ourselves and God’s Creation (Apologia review)

apologia review

Munchkin, Small Fry, and I have had so much fun the past few weeks working on our new anatomy course – Exploring Creation with Human Anatomy and Physiology from Apologia. We were blessed to receive the full set, including the text book, the notebooking journal, the junior notebooking journal, and the mp3 CD. I love that we have both of the notebooking journals. The regular journal is perfect for Munchkin (a young 6th grader) and the junior version is just right for Small Fry (a typical kindergartner). Not having any kids in between those two means they can’t often do any lessons together, but this one was one that they both are enjoying immensely.

As many in the homeschool community know, Apologia is one of the biggest providers of faith-based science curricula (besides their other offerings). They have a multitude of options, and their “Exploring Creation” series (of which Anatomy and Physiology is a part of) is geared toward the K-6 crowd. Each title in the series goes in-depth through an aspect of elementary-level science with honoring God and his creation at the forefront of each topic.

How We Used It

In each notebooing journal, there is a suggested schedule to follow, which has you “doing” science twice a week. Being a bit unsure as to how else to run things, I started with this as my baseline.

jr notebookEach day starts with some reading. Older children could easily do this on their own. Because I was also working with a kindergartner (who doesn’t yet read on his own), I decided to read the text aloud to both of my boys. We’d gather up the three books at the dinner table and dive in. The reading is broken up into manageable chunks, which is good for both the reader and the student(s). After reading roughly 2-3 pages, there’s a place (printed in blue in the textbook so it’s hard to miss) to stop and have your student narrate back to you what they just learned. I really liked this aspect because it helped me to make sure that the boys were understanding what was being taught. They both did a very good job of being able to remember the things in each section, which really pleased me. They may not have remembered the exact names of things, but they remembered enough of the basics to satisfy me that they were, in fact, learning the material.

In case you’re not really digging the idea of reading an entire textbook aloud, or you student isn’t much of a reader, you can get the companion mp3 CD. The CD opens with an introduction explaining what you’re about to hear and how you should use the audiobook – namely, with the textbook in front of you because while the text itself is presented in the audiobook, things like the experiments are not. Where those show up in the text, the narrator (who happens to be text author Jeannie Fulbright) just tells you that a “Try This” exists there and that you should stop the CD to look over (and hopefully do) the experiment. This intro is given by a man with a pleasant speaking voice.

notebook sampleAfter the introduction is over, the text begins right at the opening page. The author reads her book with great diction and expression. It’s obvious from her reading that she’s very passionate about her work, and that’s a good thing. The thing that surprised me the most about her reading was how young her voice sounded (but that’s not a bad thing!).

The CD is split up into tracks based on the lesson number and topic heading within that lesson (if I was reading the mp3 reader on the computer correctly). That makes it quite easy to navigate right to where you need to go on lessons after the first one, which is a nice feature considering each lesson is broken up into four days of work.

One thing to know about the CD is that it’s not a regular CD; it’s an mp3 CD, which means it won’t play in a traditional CD or DVD player. You need something with mp3 capabilities (in our case, Will’s laptop), which is the main reason we didn’t use it. His computer is rarely available for us to use for school because he needs it for work most days.

After this reading (or listening), there is a page or two in the notebooking journal to work on. In the Junior Notebooking Journal, this is usually coloring pages. I let Small Fry color these pages while he listened to me read – I know I have an easier time focusing if my hands are busy, and he’s proving to be the same (actually, all of my kids are). In the regular Notebooking Journal, it was pages to make note of what was learned (which helps to reinforce concepts beyond just the oral narration).

Then there was more reading and narration (some days).

apple mummySprinkled throughout are also experiments, so even if/when there was a lot of reading, there were some really fun activities to break it all up besides just the “worksheets.” These experiments are described right in the text, so there’s no need to try to find things that correspond with the lesson you’re working on. You will need some supplies for these experiments, but they’re nothing super abnormal. For example, of the first two activities, one required plastic cups, apple slices (one apple’s worth), salt, Epsom salt, and baking soda. Stuff that a lot of people have on hand anyway, and even if you don’t, they’re quite inexpensive in the regular grocery store. The second one only required a zipper-top baggie and a bit of water (to make a magnifying glass of sorts). Easy. If you’re concerned about your ability to get all of the supplies in time for the lesson, you can find kits online for this course that include every single thing you need for each experiment in the book, all sorted out by lesson. We didn’t get one of these this time, but it was definitely something I considered. In the end, we opted to just pick up the stuff as we needed it, which hasn’t been a problem yet. And if you don’t get a kit and do find out that you’re short on supplies for an experiment, it’s not a major deal to skip some and just do the ones that work into your home and family. This is what we ended up doing (though I did make sure we were able to cover as many of them as possible). Included in the front of the textbook was an experiment page that included the basic questions – what is the procedure for the experiment? What do you expect to happen? What actually happened? What did you learn from this experiment? For each experiment, I photocopied this page for each child. I had Munchkin do the page on his own and I let Small Fry dictate to me his answers.

k copyworkWhen you finish up the lesson reading (on day 4), there are a few other pages in the Notebooking Journals that you have the option of having your child work through, including things like mini books, copy work, and crossword puzzles. We did most of these because besides reinforcing what was learned over the past two weeks, they were just fun.

What We Thought

As I’ve mentioned throughout different points in this review, we have really enjoyed this science course. I love that my kids are learning all about their own bodies and how they work, all under the heading of “God made you this way; isn’t it amazing?” The kids, especially Small Fry, have really like learning about human bodies (their favorite so far is the chapter on bones). I think Small Fry really thrives on the consistency of the lessons – knowing that it will happen a couple of days each week is really good for him. He craves a schedule, and has really thrived on having one in these lessons. Munchkin is similar, but at the same time old enough to a) schedule himself what he needs to do each day and b) feel lucky when things work out to where the school day is shorter than expected for one reason or another.

edible cellBottom line: Will we continue to work through this class now that we don’t “have to” (per our obligations as curriculum reviewers)? Yes! I can see how my kids are thriving on these lessons, and I have no desire to take them away from the boys. We will absolutely be continuing this course.

There are lots more reviews of Exploring Creation with Human Anatomy and Physiology on the Homeschool Review Crew this week. Make sure to click the banner below if you’re interested in reading more thoughts from real-life homeschool moms and kids on the class.

Blessings,

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Apologia - Exploring Creation with Human Anatomy and Physiology Reviews
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Lots and Lots of Children’s Books (review)

The little boys (ages 5 and 2) and I have had the pleasure the past few weeks of reading a few books by Carole P. Roman. We were able to choose three books from the Carole P. Roman books and collections. I opted for one chapter book, one fun picture book, and one learning picture book for us. All of the choices have been huge hits with my children, and I’ll take a few minutes here to discuss each one. 

carole p roman reviewIMG_1204For our chapter book, I picked Oh Susannah: Things That Go Bump ($6.99 paperback, $0.99 Kindle). This book is about 40 pages, divided over 10 chapters. It tells the story of a little girl named Susannah who is going to be having a sleepover at her friend Lola’s house. The only problem is that Lola lives in a haunted house! Not really, but it is a big, old, creaky house, and Susannah is afraid to go there. Over the course of the novel, Susannah comes into contact with characters (her parents and other friends) who help her see the world – especially the scary parts – in new ways. Susannah is very skeptical, and the first bit of her time (2 or 3 chapters) at Lola’s is just as frightening and nerve wracking as she expects. But by the end of the book, she learns that some things aren’t always as they seem. 

I’m glad I had a chance to read this book (we read 1-2 chapters a day, depending on length) with Small Fry. Even though a few sections were rather creepy and scary for him, I feel like it helped him learn that it’s better to talk over your feelings and push through things that you’re afraid of (within reason). 

IMG_1205The fun picture book we chose was Captain No Beard: An Imaginary Tale of a Pirate’s Life (volume 1) (currently on sale for $5 paperback, $1.99 Kindle). Because Captain No Beard is a typical picture book, we read it in one sitting – and have since read it dozens more times! 

Captain No Beard is the story of a boy, his cousin, and a crew of animals out on the open sea. Together, they learn some pirate words, spot land, rescue one of the members from falling overboard, and have a conversation with a mermaid. There’s a fun reveal at the end that completely caught my boys by surprise (though a grownup should be able to guess is based on the title of the book). They had so much fun with this book; I don’t think they stopped laughing once through the whole thing. I loved reading them a book that they so clearly loved hearing. They will love to get another volume of this series one day soon. And yes, Dragonfly did listen with us even though he’s not in the pictures. He’s not feeling very well this week and was being a bit stubborn at photo time.

IMG_1206The final book we received was If You Were Me and Lived In… France ($9.99 paperback, $1.99 Kindle). Because we’ve been studying French as our foreign language for several years (less than we should recently, since my laptop went kaput several months ago), I’ve wanted to get this book for the kids for a while, but it hadn’t happened yet. I’d intended for the big kids to read it on their own, and while they did we also had a side benefit that I hadn’t anticipated with this title: the little kids love it too! Just this morning, Dragonfly (2) brought it to me and asked to “read.” Of course I obliged! From nearly the first page, he was even repeating some of the French words after me. 

This book, which is part of a series that teaches children about different cultures all over the world, does a good job explaining what things are like for French children. (At least I think it does. I’ve never actually been to France to be able to compare.) It tells about the capital city of Paris and the Eiffel Tower. It takes you on a trip to a boulangerie (bakery). It describes he names that are popular in France, for both boys and girls. It just generally gives a lot of good, but fun, information about the subject. My only critique of this one is that the pronunciation guide isn’t always super precise. Some of the words are given the American pronunciation rather than the French pronunciation, but others are given the French pronunciation. For example, boulangerie is given its French pronunciation (boo-LAHN-jair-ee), but Eiffel is given the English/American pronunciation (EYE-full). The French pronunciation of Eiffel is ee-FELL. Generally speaking, that’s fairly minor (because I know enough French to have said the words correctly to the little boys).

We have had such a good time with all three of these books by Carole P. Roman. Her books are super fun, even those that are more educational than “just for fun.” I am so glad we were blessed to receive these books for review. 

Members of the Homeschool Review Crew are reviewing a large selection of books from the Carole P. Roman books and collections this week. Make sure to click the banner below to find out more! And if you’re the social media type, you can find Carole on the following platforms:

Facebook

Twitter

Instagram

YouTube

Blessings,

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Carole P. Roman books and collections {Carole P. Roman Reviews}
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Fuse Beads, but safe! (Zirrly review)

When my older kids were small (circa 2009), a friend gave us a set of fuse beads. You know the kind: make a picture on a small peg board and iron them to melt the beads together. Easy enough, but not very kid-safe. Now there’s a much friendlier option: Super Beads from Zirrly. Remembering how much fun the older boys (especially Seahawk) had way back then, I thought they would like to try these.

Zirrly review

Knowing how creative my kids are, I chose to review the Mega Pack of Super Beads. They have specific kits (birds, animals, cars, etc), but I chose the generic pack for my kids. The Mega Pack comes with 4 interlocking peg boards (which can be used individually for small projects or connected together for bigger ones), 4500 beads, 4 design templates (5 each of 4 designs – elephant, turtle, apple, and cupcake), 2 spray bottles, the design tool (to help lift the beads off the tray, either after they’re fused or before if you made a mistake), and an instruction sheet. 

Small Fry with Zirrly elephantI had the kids use a couple of the templates to get the hang of the Super Beads before I let them branch out on their own. Small Fry (age 5) was the first one to create with the beads; he chose the elephant for his first project. He did it largely without help, which was great as he’s at the very bottom end of the recommended age. I put the template under the peg board for him, and then he did the rest basically on his own. Once he’d gotten it (nearly) perfect, we filled up one of the water bottles and spritzed his creation all over. The instructions say to get it wet but not to soak it so much that it sits in a puddle, so we were fairly liberal with the water. We let it dry for about an hour, then tried to peel it off of the board. After having a little bit of trouble, we decided to let it dry for longer. Then it came off fairly easily using the design tool.

zirrly beeMunchkin (11) was next. He had seen how they work from his younger brother (and really, it’s not so complicated for an older kid). So he took one of the template designs and improved upon it by making an apple with a worm. He’s also made several of his own designs, including a bee and a rainbow fish.

zirrly worm apple

zirrly campfireSeahawk (14) was the one who really liked fuse beads as a young child. Combine that with his current age, and I pretty much let him go to town from the very beginning. He’s made several things. I think the little kids’ favorite of his creations is the Troll Hunters amulet (they love the show and love playing games around the plot). But the piece of his that I’m most impressed with is the campfire. 

After some trial and error, Seahawk came up with a “new” method of drying the beads so that the designs stuck together better: dry it overnight on the peg board, then remove it and let it dry on the other side for an hour or two before playing with it. Ever since we started doing that, we haven’t had any problems with our creations falling apart. Except for the time when Dragonfly, age 2, got hold of one of them and ripped it apart. But even then, he just pulled the legs off an E (which was fairly fragile in the first place as it was only connected by 2 beads in any specific point); he couldn’t split it back to individual beads.

zirrly fishMy kids have had so much fun with the Super Beads from Zirrly. Small Fry, especially. He asks basically every day if he can build something with the “water beads.” It’s a really great way for him to spend some time alone (if he’s feeling overwhelmed or even if I just need him to be occupied for a few minutes while I do school stuff with the older kids). I love that he’s having fun and that it’s screen-free time. I definitely recommend them!

Members of the Homeschool Review Crew are reviewing all sorts of options from Zirrly this week, including some of the kits I mentioned earlier: Jungle Animals, 3D Animals, Birds, 3D Car and Truck, Spinning Tops, Jewelry Set, and of course the Mega Pack. Click the banner below for more information.

Blessings,

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Super Beads {Zirrly Reviews}
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Hands On History (Home School in the Woods review)

History is an easy subject to make dry and boring. It’s just as easy to make it fun and interesting. So why wouldn’t you go for the latter? That’s just what Amy Pak and the rest of her family, who founded and run Home School in the Woods, think. And they’ve developed a line of curriculum to do just that. Recently, we were blessed to be able to review several items from the Á La Carte line. Each of these products is a digital download that you print out to make your own hands-on history project. There are so many to choose from that it was hard to decide which ones I wanted for this review!

HSitW review

IMG_1186First up, the boys (the three older ones, ages 14, 11, and 5) have had a lot of fun playing the Pirate Panopoly game. This game comes with several pages, but really only two of them are necessary: the pirate and his clothes. The game is played like many other preschool level games, so was easy enough for my 5-year-old but still engaging for the older boys. Each player gets a printout of the pirate in his “skivvies” and one of his clothes. They can color the pictures if they want (mine didn’t – boys!) and then cut out the clothes. Once that’s done, each player sets his pieces in front of him. On his turn, he rolls a die and depending on the number shown puts a piece of clothing on his pirate. The first person to fully dress his pirate wins! 

This was a fun activity because on top of being a game (who doesn’t love to play “instead of” doing school?), students learn about the clothes of yesteryear. On the pirate page, there are labels naming and describing each piece of clothing. And if your kids are extra curious, you could easily make this part of a bigger unit study. In fact, it’s originally part of the Time Travelers: New World Explorers unit from Home School in the Woods. Pirate Panopoly is available for $1.95.

IMG_1187Next, we learned all about how orchestras have changed through the ages with The Orchestra file folder project. I chose this one for the boys because they dance ballet. I thought it would be good for them to learn more about the music they’re dancing to every week, and I was right.

In this file folder project, you print out the images provided and glue the “stage” to your file folder. (We used an 11×17 sheet of paper because we didn’t have any file folders available.) Then you cut out the different pockets (each with a number that corresponds to a space on the stage) and glue or tape them into place. We were out of glue sticks when we did this project, so we used tape which proved to be a little tricky, but we managed in the end. Once that’s done, you cut out the different instruments and start studying the different time periods. For each time period, your student can slide the appropriate instruments into the pockets representing where the people who play that instrument would sit in an orchestra of the time period. It was really interesting for all of us to learn how those positions changed over time. The Orchestra is available for $4.95.

IMG_1185Finally, we received the Frontline News newspaper. This has been a really cool project for the older boys (they’re still working on it each school day). The PDF has 19 pages. The last 14 are what you need to print for your kids (really just 12 of the last 14; one of the pages is there twice and you print the one you want depending on whether you want the “classified ads” filled in or left blank for your student to complete). I printed ours double sided to make it feel more authentic.

Each page has space for your student to write two articles, plus room for them to design an ad or two. Some of the articles come with photographs built in. Students are given a headline, which tells what they need to research, and then they fill in the rest, writing an article based on what they learned. For the most part, we were able to find the information using the large pile of books we got from the library, but there were also a few rather obscure stories that we ended up having to look online for. For example, did you know that the Navajo people used their language as a sort of “secret code” to help the Allies? That was something that didn’t show up in any of our books, not even the “Everything World War II” one.

You could move at whatever pace is good for your students when doing the newspaper project. Since this is now our main history for the time being (we’re not doing anything else or even supplementing this in any way), I’ve had the boys do one article and one ad per day. Between the research and the writing, that takes them a reasonable amount of time for the subject, without being too overwhelming. Frontline News is available for $2.95.

Overall, I’ve been really pleased with our choices, especially the newspaper. The boys agree that it’s a really fun way to learn about history, and we’ve decided together that we will very likely be purchasing more of these once they finish up Frontline News.

There are so many choices in the Á La Carte projects from Home School in the Woods that I can’t possibly mention them all here, but besides the categories of products I’ve reviewed, there are also Timelines (the Composers Through History timeline would go very nicely with The Orchestra file folder project), 3D projects (The Art of Quilling looks especially neat), Lapbooks, and more! I really hope you’ll check them out, especially if you need to breathe new life into your history studies. Each of the projects has its own recommended age level, but there are things from K all the way through 12th grade, so you’re guaranteed to find something that will work for your kids.

Members of the Homeschool Review Crew had their choice of anything from the Á La Carte “menu,” so make sure to click the banner below to find reviews on other projects!

Blessings,

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À La Carte Projects - Individual projects designed to enhance your studies! {Home School in the Woods Reviews}
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Parenting Made Practical (review)

Being a parent is hard work. Anyone with kids – especially teenagers – can attest to that. It can be a very frustrating process to teach your kids to really listen to you and not just tune out as soon as you open your mouth to chastise/discipline them. Taming the Lecture Bug . . . and Getting Your Kids to Think by Joey and Carla Link is a book for parents of kids ages 8 and up to help teach you how to get your kids to actually start taking responsibility for their actions instead of constantly giving them the same lecture over and over again. 

PMP review

This book, offered by Parenting Made Practical, has 12 chapters for parents to work through. The opening chapter, Blah, Blah, Blah, takes the authors’ real life experiences with their children and showcases how they used to just lecture their children whenever they (the kids) didn’t do something. Sound familiar? It does to me. I’m sure there are a lot of parents out there who utilize this technique as a form of teaching discipline. But think back to your own teenage years; did you listen – really listen – when you were getting one of these lectures from your parents? Yeah, me neither. Teens and pre-teens think they’re so smart. Much smarter than their parents. This is why lecturing them doesn’t work. 

The psychology of the child goes much deeper than that, though. Taming the Lecture Bug also has chapters on that, explaining not only why kids don’t think, but why to a certain extent it’s the parents’ fault they don’t. They break it down into six main reasons: reminders, lectures, anger, busyness, expectations, and being well-trained (the parents by the kids, not the other way round). By not teaching our children to manage their time well (and suffering the consequences when they don’t), we’re actually doing more harm than good for our kids. This was a bit of a hard pill for me to swallow, because I always want to help my kids and keep them out of trouble. But in the long run, I’m not helping by doing that. Reminding them of their chores and schoolwork is actually doing them harm (according to the authors of this book).

In order to “tame the lecture bug” in yourself, you have to open up a dialogue with your children. The key word there is dialogue – not monologue. Start retraining your children’s stubborn heart by teaching (or reminding) them about sin. We all need to be in a good place with God, and that means confessing our sins. As long as our children are being defiant to us, they’re also being defiant to God. Instead of lecturing (the monologue), ask them open-ended questions (Why did/didn’t you do that? What were you thinking when you did that? How do you think I felt when in,earned of your behavior? Did you think you’d get away with it?) to start a dialogue. Use their answers as a springboard to the sin conversation. 

It’s not an easy path, but we all knew that when we decided to have kids. With the help of resources like this one, it can be a little easier though.

Members of the Homeschool Review Crew are discussing a variety of Parenting Made Practical resources this week. Click the banner below to learn more about

Why Can’t I Get My Kids to Behave?

Navigating the Rapids of Parenting

Dating, Courting, and Choosing a Mate… What Works?

What Every Child Should Know Along the Way

as well as a video version of Taming the Lecture Bug.

Blessings,

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Parenting Made Practical {Reviews}
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(Re)Learning Cursive with CursiveLogic (review)

A few weeks ago, the opportunity to review the CursiveLogic Quick Start Pack was presented to me. I might have passed, but then I got to thinking about Seahawk and how he sometimes forgets how to form his cursive letters. And when he doesn’t forget, they’re often sloppy – not difficult to read per se, just messy. So after some careful consideration, I decided he could probably benefit from CursiveLogic. In addition to the main curriculum workbook, we also received a copy of the The Art of Cursive coloring book. The other benefit of doing this review at this time was that it was right around the time we were displaced due to flooding, and having a physical workbook was something of a calming influence. It’s hard to explain, but it really helped us to feel grounded in a frantic time in our lives.

CursiveLogic review

CursiveLogic is a bit of a different approach to writing in cursive. It doesn’t just teach the letters. Instead, this method breaks each letter down by shape, helping students to figure out the very basics of writing in cursive. Students learn at a young age to draw circles, but they’re never (usually) really taught how to use that basic skill to influence their handwriting. Thinking about it after having used CursiveLogic with my son (age 14) for a few weeks, and it really makes a lot of sense now, though. CursiveLogic has broken it down into four basic “starting” shapes, and every single letter in the English alphabet falls into one of those categories. The main one I’ll focus on today is the “orange oval,” which includes the letters A, C, D, G, Q, and O (in lowercase).

IMG_1144Lessons are grouped by the color shape of the different letters, so your student won’t be learning the letters in alphabetical order. Each lesson has several parts and is divided up into “days.” Depending on your student and his or her maturity and motivation, you could potentially move quite quickly through the lessons. We chose to move a bit slower (as written, not too slow), but that’s because I really wanted to monitor my son and make sure he was mastering each shape as we moved. He’s a typical teenager and tends to a) be more concerned about finishing than doing well and b) easily revert back to old habits. I really wanted him to focus and get those shapes down as muscle memory before we moved on, so we didn’t move as fast as we might otherwise have with a student who already knows how to read, print, and write in cursive.

cursivelogic comparisonYou can see in Seahawk’s “before” picture that his handwriting was adequate. Not amazing, not terrible, but adequate. After working on this lesson for just a few days, he showed great improvement. The thing that really helped him master it was when I explained to him that the oval shape has a bit of a hook on top before changing from the shape to the letter. Before this, he was getting more of a slide up into the letters rather than the oval shape. Once he understood the purpose of the oval, his handwriting improved immensely – and he said it was easier to write that way! It was quite rewarding to watch him “get it” and hear how much he appreciated these lessons. But it’s easier to appreciate something when you (the student) can see your own improvement, which was totally the case with Seahawk and CursiveLogic.

When he finishes the workbook, I think Seahawk will enjoy taking some colored pencils to the coloring book. We didn’t do a whole lot with it during the review period because I wanted him to focus on the actual work at hand (remember that teenager mentality – he could easily have tried to talk me into letting him color instead of doing a lesson, and that’s not adequate). In fact, The Art of Cursive is designed as a supplement to the curriculum, and is not intended to be something done instead of the lessons. He does seem quite interested in being able to work on the pictures that “are made up of cursive letters and words.” I think having that coloring book hanging out “mocking” him will be good motivation to him being willing to finish this curriculum.

In addition to the workbook and coloring book, CursiveLogic has a webinar. I wasn’t able to view it because we have iffy internet at the moment, what with being in temporary housing. Especially at the beginning of this review, I had no idea when we would be moving again. There are lots more Crew reviews, though, and several (maybe even most, I’m not sure) of them did watch the webinar, so make sure to click the banner below and check those out so you can learn more about that.

If you’re interested in trying CursiveLogic with your child (or yourself!), now is a great time to do it. CursiveLogic is offering a 20% discount on the CursiveLogic Quick Start Pack, which includes the workbook (not the coloring book) and webinar. These retail for $49 together. Just use coupon code CREW2018, which is good through March 31st, 2018.

Blessings,

ladybug-signature-3 copy

 

 

The Art of Cursive & Quick Start Cursive {Cursive Logic Reviews}
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Wulf the Saxon (Heirloom Audio review)

I have a special treat for you today. My older boys have spent the last couple of weeks listening to the new drama from Heirloom Audio Productions, Wulf the Saxon. Today, they will share their reviews with you.

wulf the saxon review

From Seahawk (age 14)

The story kicks off with the Earl Harold in his chambers, talking with his wife, Lady Edith, about a problem concerning Wulf the Saxon, who had insulted several noblemen. The Earl then exiles him to keep him out of more trouble, including possibly prison (since they are good friends).

Some time later, Wulf is called out of exile so that he may apologize to the king himself and then serve as second in command to Earl Harold in the war against the Welsh. During this war, he proves himself to be a brave warrior and and excellent commander, so he is made noble himself.

Wukf then goes on a victory cruise, and the boat shipwrecks on the French (Norman) coast, where they’re captured by Duke William of Normandy. While captured, the Duke tricks Harold into swearing an oath of loyalty to William. Meanwhile, Wulf has escaped from captivity and goes looking for help. He finds a family powerful enough to free Wulf’s friend and master from William’s grasp. Wulf quickly befriends this family, and it is a friendship that will last him his entire life.

When Wulf returns back to England, he finds that the King of England is ill and has passed command of the country to Harold, who now has to use his new power to civil war in England – all the while dealing with William, who demands that Harold fulfill his oath of loyalty.

I think that my favorite part of audio dramas in general is the sound effects. The wind, the carriages, and even the sound their horses make when they’re running into battle… It really brings the history to life.

Side story: we have 2 pet frogs, which means we also have lots of crickets on hand also. When we were listening to Wulf, there was a nighttime scene, and we didn’t know until we turned off the CD player that the sound was not part of the recording.

As far as things I did not like about this production, I don’t think the excitement built as much as in other story lines (from the same company). Normally, the first disc is set up and the second disc is the climax. Wulf has more excitement spread through the whole thing. This is not bad, but I prefer an epic ending. In this one, the climax (disc 2) was more tying up loose ends than anything else.

Some of my favorite audio dramas include In Freedom’s Cause and In the Reign of Terror, both of which are available from Heirloom Audio Productions.

Thanks for reading my review.

Seahawk

From Munchkin (age 11)

wulf coverWulf the Saxon is about a young Saxon who was shipwrecked on the shores of France. There, he becomes friends with a family, who, after three years, sends him home where he discovers a lot has changed. Wulf soon realizes that England is struggling and on the verge of war. Serving his king on the battlefield, Wulf stays loyal to courage and honor.

My favorite part was the ending, which I liked because it was the Battle of Hastings, which I’ve studied with my dad. It’s one of my favorite historical time periods.

My least favorite part was when Wulf was shipwrecked in France. I did not enjoy this because I didn’t find it exciting. This part didn’t feel like the rest of the audio drama to me. It was just a lot of talking without as many background sounds, which took away from the normal intensity that I’m used to hearing from Heirloom Audio.

Final Thoughts from Mom

While I’m not a huge audio person (I prefer visuals), I’m always glad to have a chance to review these dramas because I know my kids (especially Seahawk) really enjoy them. Oftentimes, they come with a great study guide, too, to help make the drama into a full unit study. Many of these are available on the Live the Adventure Club website, which is run by Heirloom. As of the date of this posting, there isn’t one for Wulf yet, though. 

You can purchase the 2-CD set of Wulf the Saxon for $29.97, which includes a free mp3 download. If you prefer just the mp3, that’s available for $24.97. If you want more than one copy, there are bulk discounts available (see website for details). 

Membership to the Live the Adventure Club is $7.95 per month and includes access to loads of great resources, including the study guides I mentioned before. This price also gets you a free copy of all Heirloom dramas, on physical CD, before they’re released to the public. There’s also a $5.95/month plan, which is the same as the other except you get digital downloads of the dramas (no CDs).

Blessings,

ladybug-signature-3 copy

 

 

Wulf the Saxon {Heirloom Audio Productions Reviews}
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Review and Giveaway: ESV Illuminated Bible #FlyBy #ESVIlluminatedBible

Happy Thanksgiving! In celebration today, I have a review and giveaway for one of the things we as Christians should be the most thankful for today: the Bible.

Bible reading is a super important part of the life of a Christian, and a lot of us feel like we “need” more than just text on a page to keep us going on that each day. If that’s you, then I have just the right Bible to tell you about today: the ESV Illuminated Bible.

94AA25A3-FCA5-4AFD-A3F4-9A91C049CE1CThis Bible is a super nice hardcover edition that comes in a box. The cover is dark blue with gold embossing all over. The cover itself is gorgeous, and once you open it up, it just gets better. The Bible (as you can tell from the title) is the English Standard Version, which is the one my family prefers. There’s a single column of text on each page (instead of the standard two columns most bibles have), plus lots of room for you to make your own notes and drawings. Some of the pages have specific verses written in decorated text in those margins, and many of the books (64 of them) have their own illuminated (fancy illustrated) opening page.

The Bible is printed in 9-point Lexicon black ink, and the illuminations are printed in gold, matching the cover. The two color printing is really nice together. In addition to the 64 Bible book opening pages, there are another 50 full page memory verse illustrations and over 250 small, in the margin, illustrations. All of the drawings are by American artist Dana Tanamachi, whose work has been featured by companies such as the USPS and Target. 

BF411EF0-6F5E-49C1-88A5-30707F586EA6If you’re into the new craze of decorating your Bible with your own thoughts and colors, then this is absolutely the Bible for you. The wide margins give ample room for those notes and drawings that I’ve seen all over Instagram. The only downside I can think of to this Bible is that it’s quite big and heavy. It’s probably not the one you want to carry around with you every day for basic reading. But for studying and taking notes in your own home, it’s a great option. You can purchase a copy of the Bible on Amazon.

If you want to win a copy of this Bible for your very own, just fill out the Giveaway Tools widget below. The giveaway will run through Thursday, November 30 at 11:00 p.m. PST. Winner will be contacted via email and announced here on December 1st, 2017. Good luck!

Blessings,

ladybug-signature-3 copy

 
 
 
 
 
Disclosure (in accordance with the FTC’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising”): Many thanks to Propeller Consulting, LLC for providing this prize for the giveaway. Choice of winners and opinions are 100% my own and NOT influenced by monetary compensation. I did receive a sample of the product in exchange for this review and post.

Learning by Hearing Yourself (Sound for Life review)

47CA1D19-73A1-4BCE-9926-7A4C111D2E09

For my final review of the 2017 Homeschool Review Crew year, I have a very interesting product to talk about. The Forbrain headset is from Sound for Life LTD, and its purpose is to help people age 4 and up to help improve attention, short term memory, concentration, and verbal working memory. They recommend this headset for people with attention difficulties, speech and language issues, and poor memory. 

No one in my family has any of those problems. 

That might make one wonder why I requested to review this product then, and that would be a fair question. In fact, I almost didn’t request simply because I didn’t think we were the right fit for the product. But then I got to thinking about a couple of things going on with us right now (one new and one not).

First, Seahawk. This is a bit of a delicate issue, growing more so as he ages. But as it pertains specifically to this review, I can’t really beat around the bush. He’s a terrible speller. I had a thought during the request period for this product that maybe if he wore it each day and recited spelling rules and words, maybe something would click in his brain and help him to retain the words he consistently misspells (that always becomes thate, for example). 

The second thing is that our Rosetta Stone microphone broke a few weeks ago, so it’s been a bit difficult for the kids to get a good handle on their foreign language (French) pronunciations. So we’ve been using the Forbrain headset to help them be able to hear themselves during their lessons. 

E9921E8E-FCCF-4AC5-B1B4-8BED9D3D4846Now that I’ve discussed what its intended uses are and how I’d planned for us to use it, let’s talk about what it is. Forbrain is a headset which has little pads that sit in front of your ears, a band that wraps around the back, and a microphone coming off a little box on the right side. The box contains a rechargeable battery (and all the mechanical stuff that make the product work, I’m sure). There’s also a power switch on the box. To use it, you first turn it on, then place the headset on your head properly. Then you start talking. It doesn’t matter what you say – if you (or your child) is studying, then say the things they need to remember. If you’re working with a child who has speech difficulties (ages 4 and up only), then they can just repeat what you say. If your goal is to help improve memory issues, then read a book out loud. The important thing is that the speaking happens. You see, when the person wearing the headset speaks aloud, they can hear their own voice. I’m not entirely sure how that happens considering there’s nothing that goes inside the ears, but it does. By wearing this headset while speaking, people can hear their speaking mistakes for themselves, thus prompting them to correct themselves over time. It’s really a remarkable tool.

8481DC51-2216-4734-9D30-1BBF37D23E72How did it work for us, a family of people who aren’t necessarily the intended audience for this product? I’m happy to say that I’ve been really pleased with our progress. I can hear the difference in my children’s French pronunciations after a few weeks of using Forbrain. Additionally, Seahawk doesn’t put that pesky silent E on words that shouldn’t have it anymore – at least not as often. He still has a long way to go to become a “good speller” (or even an adequate one), but I really think that his being able to hear the spellings of the words he struggles with the most will help him in the long run. He’s the most auditory learner of all my kids (so far), so listening to things – even his own voice – is a huge help for his learning. Consistent use of this product will help him over time. I’m sure of it.

Blessings,

ladybug-signature-3 copy

Forbrain {Sound For Life Ltd Review}
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