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.

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

VocabularySpellingCity: Review

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One of the first sites I stumbled upon as we began our homeschooling journey was VocabularySpellingCity. I thoroughly enjoyed the site and felt it was very helpful from the start. Getting to use the premium membership ($29.99 for up to 5 students) has been even better! The extra content which is now available to us has really been fun for Beth, my 1st grader, as she works on her spelling words each week. This is a great internet-based program for grades K-12. Not many cover this wide age range!
Since our iPad is new and shiny I’ve enjoyed finding learning apps for the girls. I was so excited to find out I could use this for Vocabulary Spelling City and she was too. I give my daughter a pretest of 20 words each week, then the words which she misses or she had to think longer about become her spelling words. I don’t believe in busy work and in my opinion including words she already knows is busy work. This program allows me to include only the words I want which can range from 1 all the way to 51. She has been averaging about 6 a week. 
Once I enter the words under the parent account she can log in under her account (which is connected to mine) on the computer or the iPad. She of course typically chose the iPad! I really like that when I enter the words I also chose a definition from a pre-selected list which also created a vocabulary aspect to her spelling lists which hadn’t been present before. 
There are so many games to choose from for practice. She liked to try them all and when I asked her which was her favorite she said, “I don’t know. They were all so fun!” It is great to have something fun to add to our spelling. She is already learning spelling rules which she seems to enjoy, but a change of pace is always a welcome diversion for any subject. The games are colorful and fun with immediate feedback so she knows if she made a mistake and how to fix it. 
This past week I let Beth enter the word list herself instead of doing them for her. She felt so grown up to be able to do the parent’s part and it was also great practice. She choose the definition she thought fit best and I was pleased she did this with ease. I also really like the option for a spelling test. The program calls the word out and she types out the correct word. Since everything is scored and recorded with the premium account her weekly spelling tests have been a breeze! 
Rose, 3rd grade, has also been using the site, but only with the supplied grade-level appropriate lists since she doesn’t have weekly spelling tests at the moment. I love that even without imputing a list my girls can practice their spelling skills and find it very enjoyable. Even Grace, four-years-old, has been wanting to spell! She watches her big sisters play on the site and will try to help them. She doesn’t quite understand it all yet, but she does know letters have to go in a particular order to spell correctly so she too is gaining insight from this website. 
Click here to see what my Crewmates had to say about the site!


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All About Spelling $50 Giveaway!

I’ve raved over All About Spelling from All About Learning Press in many of my posts. I honestly can’t say enough good things about it!

I came into homeschooling being labeled as a “poor speller” and it caused me great concern. It didn’t matter that I graduated from high school 10th in my class of 405, or that I entered college with 18 course credits from my AP classes or that I excelled in college and graduated magna cum laude with my degree in middle grades education. None of that mattered. I had been told early on in my education that I was a poor speller and I just needed to study harder. I did study. I studied a lot. Spelling was still hit or miss with me. No matter how had I tried this was my main struggle in elementary school and I dreaded the yearly spelling bees since I rarely made it past the first round just within my classroom!

What a relief when middle school came and spelling was no longer required! It was also about that time that computers were becoming more main-stream and they included spell-checker, so I basically gave up trying. Why should I try when I had basically been told I wasn’t going to ever increase my spelling ability? The irony of it all was that my reading level was much higher than most of my peers. I was told high level readers usually translated into high level spellers. So what was wrong with me?

No one ever taught me the rules. Rules? There are rules for spelling? Except for “i before e except after c (and a bunch of exceptions we don’t have a rule for)” I don’t remember learning any rules. All About Spelling has changed my entire understanding of this subject. I searched it out when my oldest, an excellent reader, was clearly not transitioning to spelling easily. Rather than giving up, I started researching. I prayed for wisdom then scoured the internet, read numerous catalogs, and asked veteran homeschooling moms their recommendation. I settled on All About Spelling and haven’t looked back!

Since then spelling has only become more and more fun! Here is an update on my two girls using All About Spelling…

Beth finished up her Kindergarten year a little over half-way through All About Spelling Level 1. I could have pushed her a little faster because she loved it and it seemed easy, but I chose to do only 1 lesson about every 2 weeks, practicing just a little bit each day. This worked well for her and I plan to up the pace a bit in the fall. She’ll continue some through the summer to guarantee retention. 
Something knew we tried and love is spelling using alphabet stamps in addition to the tiles. I try to switch ti up for fun. I always use the tiles for teaching and the first set of words we work on, but I try to switch it up some after that. 
Another unexpected benefit for Beth has been improvement in handwriting. She really wanted to use a traditional notebook like her sister and in doing so, her handwriting has started becoming more mature. What a fun transformation to see this year! 

Rose finished up 2nd grade and I am thrilled with her progress. We are about 1/4 the way through level 3 and will also continue during the summer. She used to ask me how to spell very short words she should not have a problem with, she now rarely asks how to spell anything, or tries it first and then just asks me to check it. I have also caught her making her own corrections. This is HUGE! She would frequently flip 2 letters and now she is seeing it. What a blessing All About Spelling has been for her! She especially likes finding Silent E in words and deciding which rule it follows. 
She also really enjoys using the homophones book. It is divided into grade-level appropriate practice. She has only done a few of the pages, but she now quickly recognizes homophones.
Although we do uses the tiles for teaching, Rose never uses them for spelling practice now. It is faster for her to write and since she likes that better it is fine with me! She also has improved her cursive as a result. The transition for a student from copying cursive to writing their own words can sometimes be tricky. All About Spelling has been a good medium to make this transition. We still have some work to do here, but she’s definitely well on her way! 
Don’t forget to enter the giveaway!

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Let’s Go Bananas!!!! (Review and giveaway)

We are a game family. Both my husband and I grew up playing games in our families so we have continued the tradition with the girls. We also have a monthly game night at church and have so much fun just spending time with our church family. This is where I discovered Bananagrams. I had seen the oh-so-cute banana-shaped game in stores, but hadn’t had a chance to play it until one lovely game night when a friend brought it.

I have always enjoyed the typical tile-letter board game. While my husband was willing to play with me, he honestly didn’t have much fun. He considers himself a poor speller and since my major was in English I think he sort of felt like he never had a chance to begin with! I tried to convince him otherwise, but to no avail.

…and then came Bananagrams

Wow! It’s fast paced, and isn’t about spelling long words, just spelling quickly. I loved the game and I was so happy when he had fun too! Basically you make your own crossword-style grid out of letter tiles. Everyone plays at the same time and you are working to be the last one to finish first. Fun! I thought after playing just one round how much fun my girls would have playing this game…when they were older.

…and then came new games!

The makers of Bananagrams created two new games with a younger audience in mind….Pairs in Pears and Appleletters!



I have been giddy ever since I found out I was going to get the opportunity to review these two wonderful games! I had no idea how to play either game, but I knew they would be fun. They come in adorable packaging that instantly drew my girls’ attention. Each came with instructions for multiple game variations and I couldn’t wait to try them all!

In this game each player is given a set number of tiles. There are four complete sets of the alphabet with four different designs. The first to make a set number of pairs of words crossed in the middle wins. The number of tiles and number of pairs changes depending on the number of players. For instance, in a two-player game each player is given 52 tiles and must make 4 pairs of words to win.

In addition to the directions for the original game there is a small booklet with a variety of variations and activities. The activity ideas are separated by levels including pre-readers, early-readers, and solid readers.

I loved Pairs-in-Pears for my youngest daughter who is three. She is learning her alphabet and really enjoyed sorting the tiles into letter sets. Another activity she enjoyed was sorting the four patterns. She sat in the floor for 45 minutes playing with these tiles! For a three-year-old, 45 minutes of focused, structured learning-play is almost unheard of. She frequently asks to play her fruit game which is a great way for her to stay focused and still be learning while I’m teaching her older sisters.


This game is a fun way reinforce spelling for students of all ages. In Appleletters each player starts with nine tiles. Players then take turns building words in the center of the table. The catch is that each word must begin or end with either the first or last letter of what is already on the table. In the end you have a word worm of sorts.

My older daughters really enjoyed this game. They played well together. I had to help Beth the most who is five. She is learning to spell through All About Spelling, but was struggling to see words with the letter tiles she had in front of her. She eventually caught on and was quickly making words on her own. Her sister, Rose, was a little quirky about this game. She would think of a word before she really looked at her letters. It took her a little while to figure out that she should look at her letters before she decided what word to use.

The girls really did have fun and worked together to get the entire pile done! We’ve played this several times now and each time they have more fun. I love that their spelling skills are being reinforced in such a fun way. There are a variety of other ways to play this game as well, but they are intended to make the game harder, so for now we’re sticking to the original version.

Remember the church game night I mentioned? I took Appleletters to game night and we had a great time playing with just the adults! I wasn’t sure how it would go over since it was created for a younger audience, but the four of us who played really had fun with our word building.

Here is our final word worm from the night!
Are you ready for a giveaway now? I know you are!!!! Check out what the wonderful people at Bananagrams is giving to one lucky winner!!!!!
Did you notice the third game? Zip-It is a face-paced two-player game. The 24 letter cubes are divided between two players. Using any letters on the cubes each player creates a cross-word style grid. The first to do so wins. Wow! Each round typically lasts lest than a minute. My husband and I even played one round in 20 seconds! The first player to win 10 rounds wins the game. I am very good at this game. My husband is determined to beat me, no matter what!
So now I’m sure you’re asking how to enter? There are several ways to enter through Rafflecopter below. I wish you all could win, but for everyone else don’t forget to pick this game up while you’re doing your Christmas shopping. The entire line of Bananagrams games are great stocking stuffer ideas! 
When you have time, take a look at the story of Bananagrams. It’s a family run company and their story is really inspirational! 
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*I received Appleletters, Pairs in Pears, and Zip-It in exchange for an unbiased review. No other compensation was received. 

All About Spelling Review…And GIVEAWAY!!!

When we brought my daughter home mid-year from 1stgrade to begin homeschooling one of the areas she seemed to be struggling with was spelling. We realized later that the words she was being taught were high 2ndand 3rd grade level words which explained her struggle, but I didn’t know that at first. So I sought to figure out how to teach spelling. I was a horrible speller because I do not memorize well and that was the strategy I was taught in school. I was given a list of 10 words, tried to memorize them by Friday, only miss two or three, but struggled with retention.
I had seen All About Spelling mentioned on several blogs and websites, so I discussed the situation with a veteran homeschooling mom and asked about the curriculum. She told me a lot of parents she knew used it and that it was very rule oriented. Bingo! I knew it would be perfect from my rule-oriented daughter!
I received the box after just a couple of days and was thrilled to get started! The brightly colored tiles intrigued my daughter and she eagerly asked when we could start. It is suggested that you start at the very beginning in level 1 to make sure their foundation is laid strongly. Because she was already devouring books on a 3rd grade level the beginning seemed too easy, but after having been through half of the second level I am extremely glad I followed the advice to start in Level 1. There are somany things which are built on from that level which seem insignificant at the time but are truly stepping stones to upcoming levels.
We have a beautiful white board hanging on the wall. We also have a young preschooler! Add in brightly colored letter tiles and you have an enormous mess and the possibility of some missing letters! I opted to purchase 2 cookie sheets and 2 small platters from the Dollar Tree. One cookie sheet holds the basic phonemes which I use with both girls. The second sheet holds the letter combinations I use with Rose. we use the small platters for the girls to do their tile work. This has worked really well for us so far. One day we may switch to the white board, but for now this is a better solution!
I didn’t buy the box that you can purchase from the website. In hindsight I wished I had! I have one that is working, but it definitely won’t continue to hold all the cards!
Because the beginning lessons were basically review I did about 1 lesson a day until we reached something new to her, about lesson 14. To be honest, my daughter was done with the tiles after about a week. So I tweaked. We use the tiles to learn a new concept, but everything else is done on paper. This has worked well for her. Once we reached the “new concept” point we now take about 1 lesson a week.
Although spelling is not her favorite part of the day, it is certainly more enjoyable now that she is learning rules and succeeding.
I have once again started with level 1 with my next daughter. She just started kindergarten, but has completed her phonics program and is reading on a 2nd grade level. I would highly recommend waiting to begin spelling until after finishing a year of phonics. From my experience it seems to work best if done in this order.
Since she was younger at the start I took the whole program slower. She took about 2 weeks to memorize the initial yellow phonograms. She didn’t have any trouble with the consonants and already memorized the basic long and shorts sounds of each vowel, but remembering the new sounds for those was harder for her to remember. She mastered them this past week and was able to quickly review all the sounds. I accidentally included sounds taught later in the book like /th/ and /sh/, but she breezed through those without a second thought! Beth has currently been working on segmenting the words and she really likes sliding the colorful circles!
The only portion of the program I have not used as much are the green index cards with words on them. It is a good way to keep track of which rules and words she has mastered, but I think I would prefer a checklist that I could look at easier.
I didn’t quite get the need for so many colored letters, but now that I’m well into the second book I appreciate the various colored tiles for different phonograms. This is a huge bonus for visual learners and my daughter quickly recognizes letter patterns because of them.
**Secret Bonus**
I finally figured out why I wasn’t a good speller…I never learned the rules. Why oh why wasn’t I taught these very clear and helpful rules when I was in school? I had no idea there was actually a rule for when c says /s/ and when it says /k/ or how to know whether to use c, k, or ck to make the /k/ sound. Now that we are learning the rules we are all spelling better! 
To find out more about All About Spelling click on this link!

And NOW for the giveaway! There are a few ways to enter, but nothing too painful! Our giveaway will run until September 24th. Good luck!

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*I received Level 4 for this review