Phonetic Zoo ~ Review

If you have read my blog for any length of time, you probably know that AJ and language arts just do not get along. Writing, spelling, reading – she dislikes them all. Amazingly, the Institute for Excellence in Writing was a hit with her for writing. After years of struggling, their program really helped her. So when I was given the chance to review their spelling program Phonetic Zoo Spelling Level A [Starter Set] I jumped at the chance. I actually begged for this product! We received a set of 5 CDs, lesson cards, personal spelling cards, teacher notes, zoo cards, and online access to a seminar called Spelling and the Brain.

Phonetic Zoo is a different approach to spelling, it uses audio to help your child learn.

What is Phonetic Zoo?

Phonetic Zoo is a different approach to spelling. The normal spelling curriculum has your student work with a word list for a week, then they test on the words on Friday. The student may memorize the words for the test, but the skill doesn’t always translate over to their writing.

Phonetic Zoo gives your kids a spelling rule, or a group of words that are somehow related. Your student goes over the rule and learns a little saying to help them remember how to spell those words.

Phonetic Zoo is a different approach to spelling, it uses audio to help your child learn.

Each day your child goes over the spelling rules and then takes a test. They listen to the words on a CD and simply write down the words. There are 15 words in each lesson. After the test they go to the next track on the CD and write the correct spellings of the words. They hear the word and how it is spelled, so the person would say, “either e-i-t-h-e-r either.”

Then they count how many words they spelled correctly, and spelling is over for the day. It takes about 15 minutes total each day, and should be able to done independently once the new rule is introduced.

Once the student gets all of the words correct twice in a row they move on to the next lesson.

It is incorporating aspects for audio, visual, and kinetic learners.

How we used Phonetic Zoo

While the program didn’t work out as intended, I still think it is a great program. The issues we had with the product were due to cheating, a lack of effort, and a poor attitude, not the program its’ self. Now that the review is over, we will be making slight changes that I think will make a big difference.

We did a simple placement test to see what level AJ should start with. Age wise she should be on level B, but according to the test she should start with level A, the first level. I assumed that AJ would breeze through the first few lessons since the words didn’t look too difficult.

The first day she sat down and we went over the spelling rule. Then she numbered her paper 1 to 15 and we listened to the introduction together. She had a big issue when the speaker on the CD announced that this was the first and lowest level.  I think she felt bad that she was in 7th grade and in the lowest level, but we went on. She listened to the words and corrected them. She was excited that she didn’t have any other work to do.

Phonetic Zoo is a different approach to spelling, it uses audio to help your child learn.

The first lesson took a few days for her to get the words correct twice in a row, but she seemed to enjoy it. Each day we went over the rule and then she would do her spelling at the computer with her headphones.

Then we went on to the second lesson, and frustration hit. The second lesson is on “i before e”, and it includes words that follow the word and those that don’t. The first lesson she only had 6 words right. The next day she had 13 words right, I was impressed. But the following day she only had 6 words right again, and I couldn’t figure out why. It turns out she was cheating! She was just waiting to write the words down until she heard the answers.

spelling zoo 4

At that point I made her write in two different colored pens, one for the first try and one for the corrections and I had the pen she wasn’t using. She still was cheating and changing words so that she had a higher number correct. Obviously this is an issue we have to address, and there is nothing wrong with the curriculum, but if you have a sneaky kid, you might have to keep an eye on them.

After all of the cheating I decided that I would have to be in the room with her when she did the spelling, that made a program that should be independent, more work for me.

After doing lesson 2 for 17 times, and that is not a type-o, she still was getting words wrong. It was crazy, one day she would spell a word right, and the next day she didn’t come close. We worked on the words even more, but it didn’t seem to help.

I tried giving her the words, instead of having her listen to them on the computer, again there has been no change. She has been on lesson 2 for 24 lessons now, and I am convinced that it is an effort and attitude issue. This hasn’t been the only subject where she has not made expected progress in the last few weeks.

What We Thought of Phonetic Zoo

I think this is a solid program that will help struggling spellers. I think it is perfect for students who learn best with audio. It should be fairly independent and a simple part of your day. Yes we are sticking with it even if she is on lesson 2 for 100 days. I think that it could be the program she needs, but for whatever reason she doesn’t want to put in any effort.

These are the changes we will be making. Each day after she takes the test she will be required to do normal spelling activities with all of the words she gets wrong. Things like writing them 10 times each, using them in a sentence, abc order, and pyramid writing. I think that will give her the motivation to get the words right. Also, she will be doing the test and turning it in, and writing the correct spelling of the words on a separate paper.  We  are going to continue with this, and I will have an update with our thoughts on the program after the few changes.

IEW Review
disclaimer_zps7f3b646c

 

Writing Through Medieval History ~ Review

Post Contains Affiliate Links

Over the last few years we have been given the chance to review quite a few products from Brookdale House, and almost all of them have stuck around after the review period. When we were given the chance to review Writing Through Medieval History Level 2 Cursive, I was excited. We reviewed a different Writing Through History book a few years back, and AJ enjoyed it.  Since we are focusing on Medieval history this year, I thought it would be a great fit. For this review we were given a digital copy of the book.

 Brookdale House Review
 

What is Writing Through History?

The Writing Through History series is a writing program created by Kimberly Garcia. It is based off of the Charlotte Mason Methods. Using narration, copywork, and dictation this program combines penmanship practice, thinking skills, writing, grammar, and history. According to the website it is appropriate for children in 1st through 5th grade, but I feel they are appropriate through 8th grade at least!

There are 4 different books based off of the four year history cycle, and each history period is available in 2 levels. Level one is for younger students, where level two is for older students. Each level is available in either print or cursive. You are also given the option to receive the book as a soft covered book, or as a downloadable version. If you only have one child, I would highly recommend the soft covered book. Everything is laid out for you. On the other hand, if you want to use the same book for more than one child, the digital copy might be the way to go, but there will be quite a bit of printing involved.

What is Writing Through Medieval History?

Now that I have explained a few of the overall basics, I can explain more about the book we received. Writing Through Medieval History (the downloadable version) is 405 pages long.  It is broken into four different chapters. The first chapter has 29 different historical narratives. These are each about two pages long and then have assignments to follow. Chapter two contains 15 primary source documents that vary in length. Chapter three has 11 different poems, and Chapter 4 has 15 cultural tales  from or about Medival History.

A Charlotte Mason approach to writing and history.

There are not any lesson plans included, however there is a suggested daily schedule. Day one your student reads a passage and completes both oral and written narration. On day two your student works on grammar and copywork, and day three they work on studied dictation. On the fourth day they do oral narration and copy work, and on the fifth day they do more studied dictation. You can really use the book however it best suits your needs. Detailed information on what to do each day is included in the book.

If you are not familiar with the Charlotte Mason methods, there is plenty of helpful information in the book to help you along the way. The front of the book has explanations of what your student should do each day along with ideas on how to adapt if your child finds the material too difficult. I found this section helpful as it goes into detail on what your child should do during dictation and the correct way to do narration.

How We Used Writing Through Medieval History

Since we have previously reviewed Writing Through Modern History, I knew that the suggested schedule didn’t really work for us, so I decided to try a different way.  While this is a writing program, we used it as a history supplement. Of course, AJ is still getting the benefits of the different writing elements while we learn history.

Each week I looked over the topics that we were studying in history to see if there were any narrations or primary source documents about any of the thing we were learning. One week in history we were learning the very basics about the Justinian Code. Her regular curriculum glossed over the subject, but I found both a historical narrative and a primary source document about Justinian the Great.

The first day I had AJ read the historical narrative about Justinian the Great. Then she narrated about the reading. She has a little trouble retelling what she reads, so this was good practice. After she was finished she did a written narration. The next few days AJ and I read through the Justinian Code, it was a long document so it took quite a while. Each day she read a little bit and then did some copywork.

The grammar element is added by marking the parts of speech after copywork and dictation. AJ has the hardest time picking out each part of speech in a sentence, so each day we focused on a single part of speech.

She worked on copywork, dictation, and narration about Justinian the Great and the Justinian Code for about two weeks. By the time she was done, she had a very good grasp on the concept.

When there wasn’t a historical narrative or primary source that fit our current historical studies, then we would work on a poetry selection or a myth. AJ enjoyed reading about the different myths. Some of the poetry she enjoyed and others she didn’t understand very well. After each selection she would do dictation, narration, and copywork.

It is hard to say how long each lesson took. The writing, copywork and dictation exercises took about twenty minutes to complete, but the reading time varied depending on the document.

What We Thought About Writing Through Medieval History

AJ doesn’t love dictation, and some days she felt there was too much reading, but overall she likes it. I think it is a wonderful book. And plan on using it as a supplement throughout the year. Honestly, if you have a child around fourth grade, I think Writing Through Medieval History (or any time period) could be the backbone of their curriculum. In one book your child learns a great deal of history. There is reading practice that is fiction, nonfiction, and poetry. With a few supplemental books from the library, this could cover history and all of language arts.

The only thing I didn’t care for was the large amount of printing, but as I have said before, I prefer physical books. If you are looking for a Charlotte Mason approach, then I highly recommend this series.

Click here to see other reviews I have done for Brookdale House.

Members of the Schoolhouse Review Crew reviewed a lot of different products from Brookdale House. Click on the graphic below to see what they thought.

 

 Brookdale House Review
disclaimer_zps7f3b646c
 

 

Super Teacher Worksheets ~ Review

When we study different topics in history and science, I often try to find worksheets to help AJ understand concepts a little bit more. One site that I have found very helpful is Super Teacher Worksheets. They have quite a few free worksheets available that AJ has enjoyed using, but to access all of the worksheets you need a membership.

Super Teacher Worksheets is a quick and easy way to supplement what we are learning!

We were recently given a year long  Individual Membership  from Super Teacher Worksheets. I use the free version all of the time, so I was anxious to see if the paid membership was worth it. It is!

What is Super Teacher Worksheets?

Super Teacher Worksheets is a website that is full of different printable resources. Most of the worksheets are geared for kids up to sixth grade with some for seventh and eighth grade.( I think a lot of the worksheets that are geared for fourth and fifth grade can easily be used to help older students learn topics.) AJ is in 7th grade and we have used  dozens of worksheets over the last few weeks.

While there are plenty of regular worksheets, there are also flash cards, puzzles, maps, graphic organizers, holiday worksheets, and worksheet generators. There are worksheets for almost any topic. You can browse by subject or use the search bar and find what you need in seconds. Once you find a worksheet that you like you can print it right away, or save it to your file cabinet and use it when you need it.

The site is easy to navigate, and extremely fast. You really have access to thousands of worksheets right at your fingertips.

How did we use Super Teacher Worksheets?

Each week I make out our schedule on Sunday night, depending on what we were learning I would look for a few worksheets to go along with our studies. Normally that would be time consuming, but not with Super Teacher Worksheets! It took me just a few minutes a week to find and print worksheets to supplement her learning.

There are a lot of science worksheets on Super Teacher Worksheets!

This week AJ is learning about food chains in science. I typed “food chains” in the search box and it brought up 50 different results. Some were articles to read, some were math or phonics activities, and others were exactly what I needed. I found three that went along with her lesson perfectly. They were geared for 3rd through 5th grade, but they helped her practice the vocabulary and concepts that were explained in her regular lessons. When she was studying cells there were a few different worksheets that helped her memorize the parts of a cell.

In math she is working on algebraic equations, and was struggling a little. I found a worksheet for her to have a little extra practice. For fun I also printed her off a math mystery puzzle where she plots points on a coordinate grid and makes a picture. She thinks she is just having fun, but really she is practicing math skills.

Spanish worksheets from Super Teacher Worksheet mask learning fun!

There is also a section with Spanish vocabulary. I printed out flash cards and an activity for her to do each day this week. I was even able to use the worksheet generator to create a quiz for her.

Plenty of history and geography supplements at Super Teacher Worksheets!

We have found a lot of great worksheets! In history she was learning about castles. I found a really fun map activity where she had to follow directions and find different rooms in the castle. I also found a multiplication mystery puzzle that was a castle.

I have used the worksheet generator at least once a week, I make a lot of worksheets up for AJ and the worksheet generator has made it easy.

What we thought of Super Teacher Worksheets

I loved it! There is only one thing that I would change about the site. When you want to view a worksheet it takes you to the PDF and off of the website, I would rather have the PDF pop up in a new window so that I could easily compare multiple worksheets. Other than that, the site is perfect.

I love the fact that I can type in a topic we are learning about and I have numerous worksheets available at my finger tips. AJ is a child that likes worksheets and workbooks, so this has been a great fit. I can add a few worksheets each week to keep her engaged, but I don’t have to spend a lot of time searching for them. I like that I can print off a worksheet on a topic like longitude and latitude and have a short lesson on something I wouldn’t have thought to do.

There are so many worksheets that I plan to use over the next year. From science worksheets, to book studies, Super Teacher Worksheets will be a huge asset to us over the next year.

Super Teacher Worksheets Review
disclaimer_zps7f3b646c
 

 

Grammar Workbook ~ Review

Post Contains Affiliate Links

Grammar is not a favorite subject in our homeschool. To be honest we have put it off quite a bit. We normally stick with a grammar book through sentence structure, then we end up putting the book on the shelf and never look at it again. I think the problem with a lot of the books that we tried previously, was that they were too repetitive and AJ easily became frustrated.

The Grammar Workbook is a great way to teach your middle schooler grammar!

When we were given the opportunity to review the Grammar Workbook by Kimberly Garcia we were a bit torn. So many of her other products have worked very well for us, and we needed a new grammar program, but I was afraid this one would end up not working for us.

It turned out that the Grammar Workbook was a pretty good fit.

We received a 236 page digital copy of the Grammar Workbook. It is made up of 60 lessons that are divided into 86 exercises. The lessons are broken up into five sections.

  • The Sentence
  • The Eight Parts of Speech
  • Sentence Patterns
  • Clauses and Phrases
  • Punctuation

Lessons vary on length depending on the topic, but most follow the same model.

The lessons start with text about a new topic, followed by an exercise to practice what was learned. Sometimes a new topic if followed by more than one exercise. The exercises are full of variety. There are writing activities, fill in the blank activities, underlining activities, circling activities and more.

After a few new topics and exercises are completed there is a writing lesson. This part of the program is different that other grammar programs we have tried. The student is given a writing selection (a paragraph or more) that has elements that they learned in the previous lesson. They are instructed to study the model and then do one of four activities.

  • Copy it
  • Write it from dictation
  • Rewrite it, keeping the author’s style
  • Create a paragraph similar to the model

The student can decide to do one or more activities.

How we used the Grammar Workbook

We decided to take it slow. I had AJ work on grammar two to three days a week. Each time she did one exercise. I didn’t want to print out the entire book, so we would read through the lesson on the computer and then she would do the exercise. Sometimes I would print out the exercise, other times I would have her write or type out the answers. When she had to make up sentences I often had her give the answer out loud.

As of now she is only copying or writing the models from dictation.

What we thought of the Grammar Workbook

AJ doesn’t love it, but I don’t think she will ever enjoy grammar. She doesn’t see the need for grammar right now. When I asked her what would make it better, her only answer was that nothing could make grammar fun. That being said, she is using it and learning from it.

The lessons are well written and easy to understand. The book takes concepts in a step by step manner and builds off of them. Most days she is able to do the work independently. I feel (AJ disagrees) that the amount of questions for each exercise is perfect. There is enough practice but not too much.

One downfall to this book is the amount of writing. AJ is a reluctant writer so the amount of writing was a turnoff at first. As I explained above, we just did some exercises orally instead.

We both like the variety of exercises, it makes it nice that she doesn’t have to do the exact same thing daily. I think that this program will improve her grammar as she continues to use it.

It is the program that we decided to stick with for her 7th grade year. If you are looking for a well written Grammar Workbook that has a lot of variety this one may be for you.

disclosure

 

6th Grade Language Arts Recap

Post Contains Affiliate Links

I can’t believe AJ finished 6th grade this year. I saw a lot of growth in some areas, and hope for a few areas that she still is struggling with. Before I share our 7th grade curriculum plan, I want to share how her 6th grade year went.

I was blessed to join the School House Review Crew for the second half of our school year, so a lot of our plans changed, but I still think it was a wonderful year.

A recap of our 6th grade year - What worked and what didn't

6th Grade Reading

We didn’t use a premade 6th grade language arts program. The plan was to read 13 books, practice reading comprehension, literary elements, and gain a love of reading. To say I was over scheduling us is an understatement! AJ doesn’t like to read, but I was going to have her read 13 novels along with her other reading? We didn’t finish them all. She read:

In addition to those books she also had three from the Review Crew that she read.

She ended up reading 11 books in all. Most of them included book studies or lapbooks. We did a lot of comparison with movies and comparing different characters from the same author. I feel we really made progress with her reading this year. It has been a long road, but she no longer despises reading!

6th Grade Writing

Writing has been the most dreaded subject of all! But we had some big breakthroughs this year. Honestly for the first part of the year we didn’t focus on writing by itself. She wrote in every subject, but we didn’t practice writing. It brought tears, frustration, and irritability – and she didn’t like it either!

We focused on copywork quite a bit. It seemed to help with her spelling, penmanship, and writing. She started writing more on her own, but we needed more.

Thankfully, we were able to review a writing program from IEW. It was the perfect fit for AJ. She learned a lot from the lessons and seems to enjoy the writing process now!

6th Grade Grammar

The year started off with good intentions. I had a plan for grammar and this was going to be the year that we were strict with it. That didn’t happen. We finished the first 2 chapters in her grammar workbook and then took it in another direction. I figured she needed to understand writing before she tried to pick apart sentences.

She started working on Daily Grammar from SchoolhouseTeachers.com. It was a simple approach that AJ enjoyed. The best part was that it was quick. Once she finished the level she was working on though, we quickly realized she needed more practice before she could move to the next level.

We reviewed a few different grammar programs over the last few months and I think I have found a good fit for us in a Grammar Workbook from Brookdale House|A Homeschool Curriculum Publisher

6th Grade Spelling and Vocabulary

The first part of the year I pulled spelling and vocabulary words from our reading. It worked fine, but when I was able to review Spelling You See she really began to flourish. Her spelling has improved quite a bit and I notice her fixing mistakes before I point them out.

I feel we had a rocky start with language arts this year, but we ended strong. AJ has improved in all aspects on language arts, and I look forward to a great 7th grade year!

 

 

Free Adverb OR Adjective Printable

Welcome to day 8 of my 30 days of FREE Printables! Today I am sharing a simple grammar worksheet. I shared yesterday how AJ has a hard time with adverbs. She seems to think that any word that ends in”ly” is automatically an adverb. To help her understand that some “ly” words are adjectives, and that a lot of adverbs have other endings, I created this worksheet for her.

There are two different versions of the worksheet. The first has a list of 25 words that needs to be cut out and sorted, the second has a word box and the student writes the words in the correct category.

Download your Free Adverb OR Adjective Printable! Don’t forget to come back tomorrow for a science printable.

Adverb Worksheet

Post Contains Affiliate Links Adverbs are a hard part of speech to learn. They can modify verbs, adjectives, other adverbs, and even complete sentences! They are one part of speech that AJ had a little problem picking out in sentences. I created a simple worksheet where she had to list the different adverbs under the correct type. It seemed to help her out a lot. Free Adverb Sorting worksheet - part of 30 days of FREE printablesWe also used a few other fun resources to help her grasp the concept of adverbs. One of our favorite things was the memorable song, “Lolly, Lolly, Lolly Get your Adverb On” from School House Rock! Grab your FREE Adverb Worksheet today, and come back tomorrow for another free printable!

Humpty Dumpty Printable Pack

Welcome to day 6 of the 30 days of free printables! Today I am sharing a printable pack based on the cute nursery rhyme, Humpty Dumpty. In this pack you will find copy work, a fill in the blank story, past tense verb practice, sequencing, and math word problems. This set was made with younger elementary kids in mind. I hope you enjoy it!

Grab your FREE Humpty Dumpty Printable Pack! Day 6 of 30 days of FREE Printables.

Download your Humpty Dumpty Printable Pack today and come back tomorrow for another FREE printable.

Free Fantastic Mr. Fox Study

Post Contains Affiliate LinksOne of the many books we have read this year was Fantastic Mr. Fox by Roald Dahl. We read it as part of a unit study about Roald Dahl. We ended up reading four of his books and comparing his writings and the types of characters in his books. I was able to find free studies for all of the books except for Fantastic Mr. Fox, so I made one myself. AJ enjoyed the book and the study. She even enjoyed the movie even though it was nothing like the book.

Grab your FREE Fantastic Mr. Fox Literature Study, part of the 30 days f FREE Printables!

I hope you enjoy our day 5 of Free Printables the Fantastic Mr. Fox literature study. Remember t come back tomorrow for another free printable!

Free Printables for 30 Days

acToday is my birthday and I am turning the big 30. Today I will be at Downtown Disney with my best friend pin trading and window shopping. We don’t get to spend much time together, so I am extremely excited!

To Celebrate My 30th Birthday, I am posting a Free Printable every day for 30 days!

 

In honor of my birthday, I would like to give you all a gift. Since I am turning 30 I have decided to have a new printable everyday for 30 days, starting today! You don’t have to sign up for my newsletter or anything, although I would love if you did. Just a gift from me to you as a thank you for being a reader.

Each day will be a surprise. I have some math worksheets, science, literature studies, and just for fun pages. Some of them have already been made, but others are in progress. Most of them will be for older elementary students, but some will work for older and younger kids as well.

Do you have a topic that you would like a worksheet for? Tell me in the comments, and if it is something that I can work with, I may make it.

Now for today’s free printable………

Day  1 is Prime Panda!

A fun Free Worksheet that focuses on prime and composite numbers.

This fun worksheet takes coloring by number to the next step. It focuses on prime and composite numbers. It includes two different worksheets, one for younger kids that is a simple color by number type, and one for older kids where they have to solve equations and then color by number.  I hope you enjoy it!

Download your copy of  Prime Panda. Please do not share the link to the PDF, feel free to share this post where anyone can download their own copy.

Have a great day, and come back tomorrow for another free printable.

Find the days that have posted so far below.

Day 2 – Hey Diddle Diddle Pack

Day 3 – Butterfly

Day 4 – Temperature

Day 5 – Fantastic Mr. Fox

Day 6 – Humpty Dumpty

Day 7 – Adverbs

Day 8 – Adverbs or Adjectives

Day 9 – Memorial Day

Day 10 – Parts of Speech

Day 11 – Spelling Practice

Day 12 – Medication Check off List

Day 13 – Brain Break Cards

Day 14 – Telling Time

Day 15 – Multiplication

Day 16 – Pippi Longstocking

Day 17 – American Flag

Day 18 – Fractions

Day 19 – Books of the Bible

Day 20 – Old Testament Puzzles

Day 21 – Old Testament Puzzles Part 2

Day 22 – Sudoku

Day 23 – Sudoku

Day 24 – Northeastern States

Day 25 – Southern States

Day 26 – Super Hero Writing Prompts

Day 27 – Rocky Mountain States

Day 28 – Southwestern States

Day 29 – Pacific Coast States

Day 30 – Midwestern States

 


Carnival of Homeschooling