Language Lessons for a Living Education 2: A New Book Review Crew at NLPG Review

Language arts is one of the trickier subjects in younger grades. Some schools of thought say to not teach grammar or writing at all until upper elementary or even middle school. Another group says to pile these things on heavily as young as possible. I do not personally fall into either camp and was pleased to see that Language Lessons for a Living Education 2 from Master Books is a very happy balance. It will teach your student some basics of grammar, review phonics, introduce literary analysis, and even address spelling and rhyming all in a gentle, Charlotte-Mason friendly approach. 
Instead of the traditional moans and groans language arts elicited from most of my classmates, I think children will find this a delightful subject to learn. 
The pages are consumable with traditional writing paper lines used for the written work. This is perfect for the younger ages who are still working on remembering how to form their letters. There are only small spaces given for answers which I think is brilliant. Young kids can become easily overwhelmed and frustrated when they feel an assignment is too hard or is asking too much of them. Seeing a full sheet of paper with blank lines can cause some kids to fall apart. This course gives just the right amount of space, not to little or too much. Lots of review is included throughout the book, but not in a way that feels tedious or overdone. The directions are perfectly Charlotte Mason with a conversational tone, written directly to the student. 
What brings all of this together into a fantastic course are the beautifully illustrated pages. The images are sweet and kid-friendly while not too babyish. This is great for kids who may need to work at a lower level while their technical grade level is higher. 
One of my favorite aspects of this course is the introduction to literary analysis paired with the traditional style of Charlotte Mason narration. It is never to early to begin discussing literature with kids! While you may not use the formal terminology for a few years, exploring characters, settings, and especially themes or feelings is perfect for younger kids. In helping them become comfortable discussing literature with simple stories now, you will find this much easier in the older years. I particularly love the discussions about poetry. So many students dislike poetry and my theory is that it is because of a lack of exposure or a negative perspective put upon them by someone else.

As with all material published by Master Books, God’s Word is woven throughout. This is not in any way forced, but simply woven in as a matter of conversation, just as we do with our children in our every day lives already. My daughters are beyond this beautiful title, but I will be recommending it for language arts for young learners from now on! 
Disclaimer: I received a FREE copy of this product through the New Book Review Crew at NLPG in exchange for my honest review.  I was not required to write a positive review nor was I compensated in any other way.  All opinions I have expressed are my own or those of my family.  I am disclosing this in accordance with the FTC Regulations.

Six Month Membership from Reading Eggs: A TOS Crew Review

Reading Eggs When I first learned of Reading Eggs a few years ago my girls were already strong readers. I still took a look at the website and was impressed with what I saw. I’ve since recommend  the program to many friends and they have raved about it! I was very excited to learn that there was much more to Reading Eggs than when I first looked at it many years ago. Both Beth (10) and Grace (8) had the chance to use Reading Eggspress and absolutely love it! 
You can get a 4 month free-trial with Reading Eggs by clicking here!  Reading Eggs*  There is so much to explore on the Reading Eggs website. The most exciting portion is the latest update for homeschoolers. Within this section is full, 36-week lesson plans for kindergarten, first, and second grades. They are very thorough and cover all four core subjects: language arts, mathematics, science, and social studies. The material needed within the various disciplines are available on the website within the library and included with the subscription. If you are looking for an online curriculum for your younger students I highly recommend checking this out. 

These smiles can tell you just how much my girls loved using Reading Eggs. It is the first thing they ask to use each day. Honestly, I don’t think they realize that it is a learning program. They really look at it as a fun game. Because of this I used it as a reward for completing the rest of their work. They have never worked quite so fast!  After completing the assigned reading passage or lesson they would take assessments to see how well they recalled the information they were taught. I love that I can check their progress and see how well they are progressing. I can see their assessment scores and check to make sure they are moving forward in their learning. I have been happy to see them progress throughout their time using it so far. 

Beth was excited to show me her Avatar (personalized character). She loved that it had a little panda purse because that is her favorite animal! Another aspect which is really nice is printable worksheets for each lesson. These can be used as supplements to the lessons and can be very valuable for families using this as their main reading program. I found them to be very well done and thorough. I personally like to have options which will allow off-screen assessment and practice so this is excellent for those who like to have that ability.  

 Even when they weren’t using Reading Eggs themselves these two were often sitting side-by-side watching the other one work! Rose (12) was even intrigued by the fun graphics and style of learning.   The only part I did not care for was teaching slang as vocabulary. For instance, in one story the word “sick” is used and they were supposed to identify the definition based on context. I absolutely love the fact that it teaches inference. I am not thrilled that this is taught by using slang. I personally feel there is better use of instructional time than this.   While my girls clearly enjoyed it and I do think the reading comprehension assessments are highly useful, this would be best suited for families with younger children or less advanced readers. I also know many who love to have their children’s learning online for a variety of reasons, but that is typically not my preference. I will absolutely recommend this to families looking for online learning options because although it is not my personal preference for the majority of my girls’ learning, this is one of the best and full programs with which I’ve had the opportunity to work.   Take a look at what my Crewmates have to say! Reading EggsCrew Disclaimer

The Bears on Hemlock Mountain E-Guide from Progeny Press: A TOS Crew Review

Progeny Press  Literature is one of the most important subjects for me as a homeschool teacher. That is probably because my background is in teaching literature and writing. I love good books, especially classic children’s literature that has stood the test of time. We usually take a very relaxed approach to literature, simply reading and informally discussing the work through elementary school, but I have several friends who use Progeny Press and I was very interested to give The Bears on Hemlock Mountain E-Guide (Grades 1-3) a try with Grace. She was eager as always and really enjoyed the study! 

Bears on Hemlock Mountain, The - E-Guide
We took one week to use this unit because Grace is a very fast reader. It could be stretched out longer without any problem, but since I knew she would want to read the short book quickly I wanted to make certain she completed it at the same time she read the novel. I wasn’t sure how she would respond to completing the reading questions because of our typical way of studying literature. I shouldn’t have been surprised that she was eager for “more work” as she puts it. This little girl loves school and eagerly jumps into new learning styles. She seemed to like writing the answers write on the worksheets I printed. There were a couple of frustrating moments for her when she could not find the answer to a question. 
I really love it when resources are available in a downloadable format because that means I can use it with younger children. It also saves shelf-space which is a huge benefit for us. I also really like the option of printing the entire file or a selection of needed pages. Since some of these are for the teacher and some are for students this is a great option when you may be studying the novel with more than one of your children. Please note the downloadable files are for an individual teacher or parent to use within their home or classroom. You should always strictly follow the company’s guidelines and use the material in an ethical way. 
I really liked the reading questions. Some were straight forward and factual, but others were deeper and provided more thought or inference. I’ll be honest, Grace was not a fan of these more thoughtful questions in particular. She is still only 7 and very concrete in her thinking, but it is time for her to be able to delve more deeply and be able to make inferences about motives or emotions. This was exactly why I loved the questions. Not only did they serve this purpose, but they also showed me an area of weakness in her literature studies I had not yet pinpointed. 
In addition to the literature questions which I found to be so valuable, there are a number of other fun resources and activities. There a number of pre-reading activities which are all highly engaging and Grace particularly liked the mystery word work page and the vocabulary word pages. She adores learning new words so this was perfect for her. There are also several post-reading activities and even a recipe to go along with the unit! The easy to navigate answer key is another plus in this wonderful unit! 
I was highly impressed and am exploring some other studies from Progeny Press. I appreciate their solidly biblical world-view and the inclusion of this via Scripture study themed to the novel. It was a great way to help my daughter look at her literature through a Christian worldview. 
There are several other levels and titles my Crewmates have reviewed including Charlotte’s Web E-Guide (Grades 4-6), The Silver Chair E-Guide (Grades 5-7), and Macbeth E-Guide (Grades 9-12). Make sure you click below to see what they have to say about these excellent units!

Study Guides for Literature {Progeny Press Reviews} Crew Disclaimer

Lightening Lit Grade 7 from Hewitt Homeschooling: A TOS Crew Review

Hewitt Homeschooling One of my greatest joys of learning is sharing my love of great literature with my daughters. Like most homeschooling moms, I have a large collection of wonderful literature available to my girls and we read all the time for school and pleasure. I was incredibly excited to have Rose review the Gr 7 Lightning Lit Set  from Hewitt Homeschooling. Rose was incredibly excited to get her hands on this as well!  My experience with middle school English curriculum is rather extensive. Before the girls came along I taught English to 7th and 8th graders at a private school. I’m now privileged to teach 7th and 8th grade homeschoolers at a local homeschool learning center. We have spent the elementary years of Rose’s schooling reading as much quality and classic literature as possible and discussing it throughout the reading. My teaching experience had lent itself to what some may consider a more informal approach. I was excited to see what Hewitt Homeschooing had to offer for middle school!   Lightning Literature and Composition Pack Grade 7   My first impression was great excitement about the literature titles chosen. With so many traditional schools choosing trendy and often inappropriate reading material for their students I am overjoyed when a company with such a high reputation chooses quality titles to study. I was especially excited about the book Stories and Poems for Extremely Intelligent Children of All Ages. The short stories and poems included in this book were many of the same I read when in grade school but are much harder to find in current literature books. They are true classics just as much as the novels are.  

 The workbooks which are included are incredible. As a teacher I have had the opportunity to create my own curriculum in both of my teaching settings. This follows much the same style as I use and is incredibly high quality. I love the consumable workbook format. They are clear to understand and they reflect many levels in Bloom’s Taxonomy, a guide teachers use to create activities and assessments which reflect various levels of understanding. Hewitt Homeschooling does an excellent job of hitting every level. I also love that there are fun pages worked in as well like crosswords puzzles and word searches. This company proves that learning can be so much fun!
  Rose has very much enjoyed our study through literature once we started with this set. She loves that I can give her an assignment she can complete on her own. The teacher’s guide and answer key makes grading and evaluation incredibly easy. Literary elements are thoroughly covered and detailed. The English teacher side of me is incredibly impressed with just how well this is done. The mom side of me loves that my daughter is engaged and enjoying it!  

 Just like me, Rose adores Stories and Poems for Extremely Intelligent Children of All Ages. In fact, I couldn’t find it one day when I was gathering supplies for school and found her in her bed reading it! I knew she had been enjoying what had already been assigned, but I was honestly surprised to find she enjoyed it so much she was reading it on her own time, at her own initiative. The other way I know she loves this set is it is the first thing she wants to work on each school day. Based on her answers in the workbook I can tell she is not only enjoying the study, but she is understanding and retaining what she is learning.  Check out what my Crewmates had to say about the other levels from Hewitt Homeschooling!  

Hewitt Homeschooling {Reviews}

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K5 Learning Online Program: A TOS Review Crew Review

K5 Learning  My daughters are just like every other child of this century. They adore their technology! I’m often quite hesitant when it comes to including technology as a part of our regular learning program because I am well aware of the dangers posed online. That being said, I’m not against technology completely. I am just extremely picky about what technology we use and how we use it. I was very excited for my girls to have the opportunity to try out the online program from K5 Learning. We used this delightful program as a supplement to our regular studies. 

K5 Learning

 There are three subject areas covered within the program: Math, Reading, and Spelling. Prior to beginning the program students take an assessment to determine their course of learning. Each student will have their own accounts and a unique course of study. All three of my daughters have been using the program and it has been a lot of fun for each of them!   

The assessment results are easy to understand, and I appreciate that the program sets itself for each students needs. This means if you have any gaps in your child’s learning you’ll quickly identify it and they can work on these specific areas where they need it most. I also really like the feature which allows the parent to create spelling lists. Even if you currently have a spelling program which you are happy with this will allow for a different way of reviewing the words.

The girls would ask to be the first one to do their computer work each day. This tells me they truly enjoy it! The lessons are short and simple, but clear. They are presented in a fun, story-like way that kept my girls engaged. The lessons’ brevity did not keep them from wanting to work more. The graphics are not the most modern, but I personally appreciate this. I tend to appreciate less distractions or my girls where technology is concerned. They thought the stories and illustrations were fun and I typically had to pull them away from their work each day because they were enjoying it so much.

   The most helpful thing for me was seeing where the girls placed in math and reading with the assessment tests. They were at the points where I thought they were, which was affirming, but more than that I am pleased that they are getting specifically directed instruction to fill in those gaps. Math seems to be the area where gaps happen most often. One thing I did realize was that some of the perceived gaps are not always actual gaps. Math curriculum often varies in its sequence even if the scope remains the same. The problem is many standardized tests to not account for this. While many recognize this and some are trying to address it, there will always be some differences between curricula and this is a great way to not only assess the issues, but have a practical solution to them.  While this is not a full curriculum, the program is intended for children of all educational backgrounds and I highly recommend it as a supplement no matter how your child is learning. Subscriptions are available monthly or annually. We will be continuing to use the program and the girls couldn’t be happier!   Check out what my crewmates have to say!K5 Learning {Reviews}Crew Disclaimer

The Beginner’s Bible from Zonderkidz: A TOS Review Crew Review!

The Beginner's Bible {Zonderkidz}  

I’m so excited to start this new year off with a review of The (BRAND NEW!) Beginner’s Bible from Zonderkidz! This will be our third version of this wonderful children’s Bible and the updates are just spectacular.When my girls were little we found this to be our favorite for Bible story time and we used it for history as well when they first started to read. I was very excited to get my hands on the updated Bible, as was Grace!   Grace is 7 and is in 1st grade. She is reading at about a 3rd grade level so this was an easy, but not too childish version for her to read from. Growing up in a pastor’s home you can imagine we receive A LOT of children’s Bibles. We have the tradition of reading a Bible story or devotional together before bed on nights we do not have church. The girls take turns choosing the book and Grace most often chooses The Beginner’s Bible.          I love that the pages of this Bible are sturdy. So many of our children’s Bibles are rather flimsy and just can’t hold up to the wear and tear of young readers. We have always encouraged the girls to pick up the Bible or Bible stories on their own to read anytime they want, but this means I’ve had to use a lot of book tape to make repairs. The pages in The Beginner’s Bible are thicker and glossy. The binding is also much sturdier than most children’s books are made. This will absolutely hold up to  use be little hands, which is exactly how a children’s Bible should be made. We want them to explore God’s Word on their own so they can begin to deepen their faith even at such a young age. I assure you they will beg for just one more story between the beautiful storytelling and whimsical illustrations! 

Since were in the Christmas season the very first stories we read were about the birth of Christ. Familiar as this is to our kids, they still loved to hear as I read aloud. The illustrations are darling, but also very accurate. One of my favorite parts about this particular story is that they showed the Magi visiting Jesus Christ as a child, not a baby in the manger. While we absolutely include the gift-bearing men in our nativity scenes (almost as numerous as Bibles in our home!) this isn’t exactly what is described in Scripture. It was wonderful to see a more accurate presentation in The Beginner’s Bible.  One more aspect that I appreciate about this particular Bible is that it includes such a wide range and large amount of stories. There is a feeling that it is a complete account of the Word of God, just written in a way that very young children can absolutely understand and even read for themselves. It includes some of the standard stories we are used to, such as Daniel and the Lion’s Den, Jonah and the Big Fish, and Lazarus Lives Again, but in addition there are also others not always found in children’s Bibles such as Earthquake in Prison (Paul and Silas’ escape), Deborah Leads the Way, and Jesus is Coming (Revelation). This full presentation of the Word of God is a uniquely important feature of The Beginner’s Bible.  Watch below to see a sample story…  Also included is a dictionary of potentially unfamiliar terms and even a map of Paul’s missionary journeys. The terms are clearly defined in “kid-speak” and even gives multiple definitions for words such as “heaven” which in Scripture refer not only to where God lives, but also the sky itself.  I highly recommend The Beginner’s Bible if you are looking for a solid children’s Bible told in story form for your own children or as a gift. I encourage you to start your own tradition of reading the Bible together to help your little ones’ learn the habit of the importance of consistently learning from God’s Word. I can think of no better way to introduce a little one in your life to the Word of God as this new year begins! 

The Beginner's Bible {Zonderkidz}

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Moses Leads the People: A BookLook Blogger Review

My girls are always excited when I get new books for them to review. This time I received Moses Leads the People, an I Can Read book from Zonderkids. This book is part of the Adventure Bible series. She also reviewed the bigger kids full version of the Bible which she absolutely loved. This shorter version of the history of Moses is perfect for her and right on her reading level. 
This is a great series of books to use with early readers because for many kids they are already familiar with what happened. Grace was so proud of herself to be able to read this on her own. She was quite giddy as she ran off to her room to read during her afternoon quiet time. She returned about 20 minutes later and said, “Mommy! I read all the words by myself!”
The beautiful pictures only add to the loveliness of this book. The artistry engaged my daughter as well. She spent quite a bit of time gazing at all the lovely illustrations while she was reading. I loved watching her because she would turn a page and take in the entire illustration before starting to read the words. She was so sweet about it!
I highly recommend any books from this series for your early readers. There are several in this series from the Adventure Bible. You can find these books at Christian bookstores and online retailers. If you’re looking for a last minute Christmas gift for young readers, look no further! 

Adventure Bible for Early Readers: A BookLook Bloggers Review

When I was younger I remember having a hot pink Adventure Bible. I loved that Bible and all the fun little extra’s it included. I was really excited to see a new, update version for early readers. My sweet little Grace was excited too! She’s turning 5 soon and we have finished up her initial reading curriculum. She’s reading on an early 1st grade level and this has been the perfect Bible for her. 
The bright cover immediately started her jumping up and down. She was so excited to get her hands on it when I pulled it out of the box. I could hardly keep her from jumping up and down when I took this sweet little picture on the first Sunday she took her Bible to church. 
She was so very surprised she could read it when she opened the Bible. Her first verse of choice was Genesis 1:1, a verse she had memorized in Cubbies at Awana. The NIrV version is nice for kids who are beginning readers. They need words and phrases which are more manageable. I’m honestly not a big fan of the NIV translation, but I love how my daughter is excited about reading her Bible and other versions are just not accessible to her right now. 
Every Sunday morning and Wednesday night Grace calls out, “Daddy? What are you going to preach about today?” Then she and I find the Scripture passage in her Bible. She marks it with a bookmark and makes sure she opens her Bible while listening to her Daddy preach. She doesn’t understand what he is saying most of the time, and I don’t expect her to, but I’m excited she wants to learn and grow as she studies the Bible. 
I also liked the extras included on every page. Some parts are informational and historical, but I particularly like the boxes which lead her into a deeper understanding of who God is. She is still very young and hasn’t yet grasped a full understanding of what it means to ask Jesus to be her Savior and follow Him, but she will, and God’s Word in her hands is a huge step towards this. 
Disclosure:  I received this book free from the publisher through the® <> book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own.

Reading Kingdom: Review

Reading Kingdom logo photo readingkingdomlogo_zps9012735a.jpg
This year I’m getting ready to teach reading for the third time. The first time I began reading instruction with my oldest I felt completely inadequate and unprepared. My background is middle school education and so even though I took a reading class in college, I never thought I’d be teaching it. Then both of my oldest daughters, always eager to learn, started asking, begging to learn at age three. While I didn’t start their reading instruction that young, they were reading on a 1st grade level before they turned five.

And now there is almost four-year-old Grace. The sweet little thing is so incredibly distraught she doesn’t know how to read yet, but repeatedly tells me she doesn’t want me to teach her. I’m not a fan of teaching reading to very young children, but when children show an interest in any kind of learning I do not want to hold them back. She is incredibly advanced and her hesitancy has surprised me. I had decided to hold-off on her reading instruction for a while until I had this chance to review Reading Kingdom. This is a computer based reading program to be used with pre-readers through a 3rd grade reading level. I hesitate to list an age because kids learn at such different paces, but the website says it is intended for ages 4-10. It allows children to move at their own pace, requires mastery of a skill before moving forward, and as excited my little reader. The price is $19.99 per month or $199.99 for an entire year with discounts for multiple children. A 30-day risk-free trial is also available to try out first.

Grace has enjoyed using this almost every day…so much in fact she asks, “Can I play my owl game?” even after school has finished for the day. She started by taking an assessment which placed her where she needed to be. Parents are firmly instructed not to help at all with the exception of helping with hand control. This assures the child is accurately placed and will be able to work on their own. I followed this guideline and since Grace is used to using the computer I didn’t need to help her with the mouse at all. 

The program then begins at the appropriate level. I wish there was a bit more indication of what the levels were, but this is not preventing her from moving forward. I do really like the reports which you can access at any point. She has moved on much more rapidly than I expected. I’m not certain how her progress is measured, but I can see she has completed 10% of the entire program and 17% of the current level which is working with letters. I would really like a better understanding of where she is, but I am pleased there is a report to see.

Grace works on her own needing no assistance beyond accessing the website. She loves the owl. I’m not sure what has captured her about the character exactly, but she is particularly fond of it. She will sometimes complete more lesson in one day, but since I know the program will not allow her to progress without mastery this is fine. This is an example of what she is doing now. She is asked to identify the letters listed on the top row in the same order on the bottom row using the keyboard. There is an option to use the actual keyboard or an on-screen mouse activated keyboard. I have chosen the latter at Grace’s request. I think this is better for her age anyway because she can keep her focus on the screen. 
I would recommend this program to those looking for computer-based reading instruction, but from this point on I will only be using it to supplement the phonics curriculum I have already used for a couple of reasons. The first is I really do not care for computer-based only instruction for our family. Kids spend so much time in front of screens I prefer to do most of their learning through books and experience. The second is I disagree with some of the philosophy behind this reading program. While it is working well and Grace enjoys it I find some flaws in their assertions about reading instruction and why traditional approaches are failing the majority of students. 
To read more reviews of this program from my Crewmates click below!

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Books in One Syllable: Free E-Books!

I happened across a series of books which were written with the intent to help with early readers. Most of these were written over 100 years ago. The links will take to you a site where you can download a free pdf version, kindle version, nook version, and more! If you use any of these in your homeschool let me know how your kids like them!