The Typing Coach ~ Review

When I was in high school we bought our first computer. It was around that time that all of my teachers were requiring reports to be either typed or written in pen, and sense my spelling skills left a lot to be desired, I typed everything. While spell check was wonderful, typing took me forever! Over the years I got a lot faster, but I was still using the hunt and peck method.

I have used numerous typing programs over the years, but never mastered typing correctly. I can type at a decent speed, but I glance at the keyboard too often and use the backspace button a little too frequently. AJ is the same way. She has tried various programs but the skill hasn’t stuck. Over the past few weeks we have been trying out a typing program that is different from anything we have used in the past. We have been using The Typing Coach Online Typing Course from The Typing Coach.

What is The Typing Coach?

The Typing Coach

The Typing Coach is a self paced online typing program. Instead of using animated characters or games, it focuses on typing. Consistent practice is key for this program. It is recommended that you practice for 20 minutes each day and that you work on each lesson until it is mastered with out any errors.

The course starts off with a lesson on Good Posture. There is an audio lesson that explains the proper way to sit along with a few videos that have examples. The videos also show correct keyboard and finger placement. Once you have mastered posture, you move onto the second lesson where you start to type.

Prior to the lesson you will need to print off a student packet and a learning checks packet. The lessons are completed in your own word processing program. We use Open Office, but any program that allows you to type should work.

Once your word processing program is open you click on the audio lesson online and follow the directions. What makes this program different from anything we have tried in the past is the audio learning. You are not looking at a picture of a keyboard on the screen or constantly looking down at the keyboard. Instead you are given directions like, “using your right hand type the L with your ring finger.”

There are also times during the lesson where you are instructed to practice typing the text in the student packet. While you are typing music is played. You are instructed not to use the backspace and to retype each line until you can do so with out any mistakes. I like that this forces you to practice typing something from paper, like you would normally do when typing something that you had written. The lessons seem to last about twenty minutes each.

The Typing Coach
When you think you have mastered the lesson you log into the testing and practice center. There you decide which test to take and you type a selection from the learning checks packet. Once you are finished you are told your score and how fast you typed. If you make any mistakes you are suppose to redo the lesson. If you master the section then you can move on to the next lesson.

What We Thought

AJ wasn’t too excited to try this program out. She likes to play games and enjoys fun colors. But obviously those programs haven’t helped her in the past. She doesn’t like to practice things she thinks she already knows, so the idea that she would have to redo a lesson if she made even one mistake didn’t sit well with her. But once she started it her attitude changed. The lessons are a simple part of our day. We still have a long way to go in the program, but I am already seeing her speed and accuracy improve.

I like the set up of the program, but it did take me a little bit to get use to. The biggest challenges were not using the backspace key and learning to practice typing each letter instead of looking at a word and typing the word. For example, looking and typing l e a r n instead of looking at the word learn, remembering it and trying to type it. This was different from any other program I tried, so it was hard for me at first. My speed has improve.  I am still working through the program but, I have noticed that I don’t look down near as often.

Overall, it is a good program that has helped both AJ and myself and I plan to continue practicing so that we continue to improve.

If you are looking for a no nonsense approach to learning how to type, that is affordable, and easy to use, then The Typing Coach may be exactly what you are looking for. There is the option to try a lesson before you purchase, so try it out and see if it will be a good fit for your family.

See what other members of the Homeschool Review Crew thought by clicking on the graphic below.

The Typing Coach Online Typing Course {The Typing Coach Reviews}
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Online Christian Filmmakers Academy ~ Review

One of my favorite things about school was being on the yearbook committee. I learned a lot about taking pictures and editing them and I even had a chance to take and edit a few videos. As AJ gets older, one thing I want to make sure she doesn’t miss out on is the fun aspects of school. She is really interested in photography and takes pictures from a perspective that I often don’t even think about. If she was in a public school I think she would probably want to take an elective based on film or drama. There is only so much I can teach her about those subjects because I don’t exactly remember everything from 7th and 8th grade.

We were recently given the opportunity to review Online Christian Filmmakers Academy from Family Gravity Media, a division of Families For Christ Ministries, Inc.. I thought that it would be a great way for AJ to learn more about making videos. I didn’t realize how much I was going to learn in the process!

Online Christian Filmmakers Academy {Family Gravity Media}

What Is Online Christian Filmmakers Academy?

It is an online course taught by Ken and Zack Lawrence. They are a father son team that has been working in the video production industry since 2004. The course is taught using numerous short information packed videos. They are interesting, well made, and really explain concepts in a way that even a complete beginner can understand. One thing that I really liked was that you can watch the video as many times as you need to in order to grasp the different concepts.

The course is broken down into five modules.

Module 1 – The Camera

This section covers so many aspects of the camera. We currently only have a point and shoot camera but a DSLR camera has been on my wish list for a long time. This section will make picking out the right camera a lot easier when the time comes. We learned about lenses, frame rate, shutter speed, and so much more. Unfortunately, since we don’t have the right camera yet, we couldn’t do any hands on learning on those topics. It was amazing how much I didn’t know about picture taking! This section also covers camera support and tripods though. We plan to implement what we learned in that lesson in our future photography.

Module 2 – Cinematography

This section was all about lighting. I find lighting to be an issue in my photography, so this section was one I looked forward to. We both learned so many tips that I think will help take our pictures to the next level. Some of the topics covered include: hard verses soft light, color, temperature, painting with light, and framing.

Module 3 – Sound

This was another section that is jammed packed full of information. We learned about different microphones, how to capture sound, and how to add in sound after the fact. This requires a lot of expensive equipment, but it was fun to learn about.

Module 4 – Pre-Production

This section covers all of the things you need to do before the video shoot. It covers things like writing the screenplay, pre-production paperwork, and assembling a team.

Module 5 – Production

This section covers; the crew, set hierarchy, set etiquette, directing, the slate, and filming step by step. We haven’t made it this far through the course yet, but I look forward to watching the videos and learning more.

What We Thought

AJ learns well with videos and has enjoyed this course so far. She has started to use some of the things she has learned already with her photography and hopes to make a few videos in the future. She likes that they are short but interesting. We plan to go through these videos a few times to make sure we learn as much as possible.

While I don’t think you can learn everything about film making by simply watching these videos, I think they cover way more than the basics. They would be helpful for someone who wanted to improve their photography, a person looking to make better videos, or a person who is thinking about going into the film industry.

Currently the price for year long access to the course is $299, but through November 30 if you use the code, FALLCREW16 you will get $100 off of that price. If your teen is interested in film, this could make a great Christmas gift.

Find out what other members of the Homeschool Review Crew thought by clicking on the graphic below.

Online Christian Filmmakers Academy {Family Gravity Media}
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VeritasBible.com ~ Review

I am always looking for ways to make learning fun for AJ. One subject that I don’t want her to dread doing on a daily basis is Bible. I want the time she spends learning more about God’s word to be enjoyable, but I also want her to really be learning. I have heard wonderful things about Veritas Press so when we were given the chance to review a one year family subscription to VeritasBible.com I was eager to get started.

Old and New Testament Online Self-Paced Bible Veritas Review
VeritasBible.com is a fun and interactive way for your child to learn about the Bible. The family subscription lets you have up to five students working on the program. There are three courses that your child can work on, Genesis to Joshua, Judges to Kings, and The Gospels. Each course covers 32 major events in the Bible. With the subscription to VeritasBible.com you have access to all three courses, you can skip around and work on a little of each course, or stick to one. The choice is yours. Each course has enough lessons to last an entire school year.

VeritasBible.com - The best way to learn the Bible!

When you first start on VeritasBible.com your student picks an avatar and then decides the course that they want to start with. During the review period AJ jumped around between the courses, but the course she worked on the most was Genesis to Joshua.

The student follows a path where they need to complete lessons in order to move on. AJ said that the paths reminded her of a video game.

VP7

Each lesson is comprised of videos, games, Bible reading, review, and memory work. Each lesson has about 15 parts but they are all a little different.

In the beginning of the lesson characters from Biblical times introduce the topic in short videos. These are well made and funny. Both AJ an I were giggling a few times. The Bible event is talked about and explained by one of the characters.

After the event is described there is often a section of the Bible that the student is asked to read and answer questions about. Sometimes they may be multiple choice questions, matching questions, or ordering questions. There is instant feedback and the student isn’t able to move on until the correct answer is given.

VeritasBible.com - The Best way to study the Bible

In between the activities there are short videos where the characters explain more about things in the Bible.

The student often is asked to apply knowledge from their own life to the event in the Bible. In this lesson the student is asked which thing would be an example of moral decay. Again, the student can’t move on until the correct answer is given.

VeritasBible.com - The Best way to study the Bible

There is review in every lesson. In this lesson about Noah and the Flood, the student plays a game where they need to answer questions about the Fall in the Garden of Eden. For each question they get correct they earn more time to play a game. The questions aren’t all simple, but because there is so much review AJ is really retaining the information and able to answer almost every question correctly.

VeritasBible.com - The Best way to study the Bible

There are also activities that help the student remember where everyone fits in the story. This activity had her put the people in order on the time line.

VeritasBible.com - The Best way to study the Bible

There are Bible Cards to go with each course that are sold separately. During the lesson the Bible card for the event is read. Since we didn’t purchase the cards I have AJ write down the information from the cards and keep them with her notes. I think they would be a good item to purchase.

VeritasBible.com - The Best way to study the Bible

The lesson ends with a multiple choice quiz about the lesson. The student is shown their grade, but it is not recorded in the system.

VeritasBible.com - The Best way to study the Bible

Most of the lessons also include the memory song. It is a slightly annoying but catchy song that lists all 32 of the events in order. AJ loves the song. I think it is a great way to help remember the order of the events in the Bible.

As you can see, this is a very thorough way to learn about the Bible. I had AJ take notes on each lesson so that she was able to remember all of the details. The student is kept engaged, there are a variety of activities, and plenty of games to make learning fun.

The only issue we had with the program is that because it is so vibrant and full of information, it can take a while to load. When AJ did the program on the desktop computer she never had any problems, but when she used it on the laptop with wireless internet the lessons often loaded slow and had issues. I am sure it was because of our internet, but if you have issues with your wireless internet that may be something you want to consider before purchasing. There is a free trial, and you don’t even need to give a credit card, I recommend that you try is out and see how your kids like it.

One thing that I wish would change about the program is the fact that it has to be done in order. I wish that we could skip to the 11th event, “Sodom and Gamorah” if we wanted without having to do all of the lessons before that.

I am thankful that we were able to review VeritasBible.com AJ and I have both already learned so much. I am making it her Bible curriculum for next year because she loves it and I love that she is really learning. I think that Veritas Press really lived up to all the hype, they really do make amazing products.

Old and New Testament Online Self-Paced Bible Veritas Review
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MySchoolYear.com ~ Review

I am the first to admit that I am not the most organized homeschooler. I usually start off strong at the beginning of the year and plan to stick to a schedule, but I never do. Life happens and then time runs out and suddenly I realize we are not as far along in our curriculum as we should be. AJ will be starting 8th grade in a few weeks, and that means I need to stay more organized. This is the last year that I can wing it before I have to start tracking everything on her transcript. I can’t believe that next year she will be in high school! Since AJ is doing a lot more independent work, I need to be more organized. I have tried a few different online planners to help me stay organized, but none of them seemed to fit our needs. When I first heard of MySchoolYear.com I was a little hesitant, because I expected it to be just like all of the others that I have tried, but it isn’t.

MySchoolYear.com Review
I was given an annual membership to the My School Year (Homeschool Record Keeping). It has a lot to offer, but it is simple to set up.

When I first started to use the program AJ was still working on the last of her school work for 7th grade. I thought it would be a great idea to go back and add in lesson plans for what she had done for the year. It ended up taking me way too long to try and input everything she had completed, so I decided to try and set up her schedule for the upcoming year.

In just a few short minutes I was able to set up our homeschool, add AJ as a student along with all of her information, set up the classes that she was going to work on, decide the dates for the school year, and schedule her time off. Everything was simple to understand and I didn’t have any issues with getting everything set up.

MySchoolYear.com ~ A great way to organize your year!

The next thing I decided to do was to plan out the lesson plans for the year. Normally I don’t write out lesson plans very far in advance because we get to review and change up what we study throughout the year. There are a few different ways to input the lesson plans, and I found the options to be a big help.

Add a New Lesson – This is where you can add in detailed lesson plans. You are able to enter grades and the amount of time the student spent on the subject as well.

Rapid Repeat – This allows you to set up a lesson or activity that the student does on a regular basis. I set it up to have AJ work on Spanish in Duolingo each day. I also set up Bible this way. Since I know she will do one lesson in Bible three times a week, but I know that the program we use can change, I was able to set it up so that on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday it tells her to do 1 lesson in Bible. I liked that I was able to set it up so that even if our plans change I won’t have to change the schedule.

My School Year 2

Quick Split – This lets you put in a number of lessons, chapters, or pages that the student needs to complete in a time frame of your choice. I set up Literature and Math this way. I simply put in for her to read a book that had so many chapters over so many days, and the system figured out how to schedule it.

My School Year 3

Scheduling was a lot faster than I expected.  I love that I can print off reports that give me a printable schedule of the work she needs to do for the week or for a longer period of time. I can even print off the entire year of lesson plans to put with her records.

There are quite a few different options with My School Year, you can grade assignments with letter grades, a pass/fail, or leave them ungraded. There is also the option to have different types of work be weighted, like tests, so that they are worth more than daily work. I haven’t decided how I am going to do grades yet this year, but once I do I know it will be easy to set it all up.

MySchoolYear.com ~ A great way to organize your year!

There is more to My School Year than just scheduling and grading. You can keep track of a reading list, extra curriculum activities, track attendance, print off report cards, and create transcripts. When you log on you can see at a glance how much work your child needs to do in each subject to be finished for the year. I feel that My School Year has everything you need to organize your year all in one place. I look forward to using it this next year.

Find out what other members of the crew thought by clicking on the graphic below.

Homeschool Record Keeping {MySchoolYear.com Review}
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Forbrain ~ Review

When AJ (13) reads out loud she often mispronounces larger words. When I correct her, her response is almost always, “That’s what I said.” I don’t know if she says that out of embarrassment because she doesn’t want me to correct her, or of she really thinks that she says the word correctly. She also has a hard time reading at a decent pace. She will read part of a sentence and pause and then other times she will not take a breath and smash three of four sentences into a single breath. When she reads like that it makes it hard for me to understand what she is reading and makes it hard for her to remember what she has read. It is something we have been working on and we have seen improvements, but not very quickly. I didn’t think there was anything to help her, but then I learned about Forbrain – Sound for Life Ltd.

Forbrain – Sound For Life Ltd Review
Forbrain is a bone conduction headset. The child, or adult, puts on the headset on and adjusts the microphone the needed distance. Then they simply read, talk, or complete a variety of exercises. In very simple terms when you speak into the headset you are able to hear yourself. I recommend looking at the website where the science behind the product is explained because it is very interesting. It claims to help with reading difficulties, speech issues, attention issues, and memory issues. After learning all about Forbrain I thought it would be a good fit for AJ.

Forbrain – Sound For Life Ltd Review
Forbrain is designed to be used daily for six to ten weeks for the best results. When it arrived we plugged it into the computer to charge and then I just let AJ play around with it for a little bit. She instantly liked how it felt and how she could hear herself in her head. After she got use to it I had her read out loud while wearing it. I also had her work on things she was memorizing while she was wearing it. She enjoyed just wearing it around the house sometimes.

I instantly noticed that she was more focused on her work when she was wearing the headset. I didn’t have to constantly tell her to do her work. I also noticed that the longer she wore it the more she began to read at a consistent rate. She also seemed to catch herself and correct herself when she would mispronounce a word. I didn’t notice any difference in her reading comprehension so far, but it is recommended to be used for six to ten weeks, so maybe we will see more improvement when we get closer to the ten week mark instead of the six week mark.

The issue that I noticed is that while she had improvements when she was wearing the headset, I didn’t see those same improvements once she took the headset off. When she took the headset off the same issues seemed to return. I was expecting to see results that would transfer even when the headset was off.

Even though she seems to need the headset on to improve, I plan to have her continue with Forbrain after summer vacation. I plan to have her wear it during poetry memorization, some reading out loud, and when she is working on learning the places for different countries in her geography course.

AJ says she doesn’t notice any difference in her reading, but she does like to wear it because she likes that she can hear herself better. She says it does help her to focus though and I never realized that she had problems focusing. Overall we are pleased with the results that we have seen so far and we hope to see more in the future.

Forbrain is an expensive product, but I think it would be a lot cheaper than speech therapy. If your child has significant difficulties this may be the answer.

Find out what other members of the crew thought about Forbrain by clicking on the graphic below.

Forbrain – Sound For Life Ltd Review
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The Glass Castle ~ Review

AJ is quite particular about the types of books that she enjoys reading or listening to. She has broadened the types of genres that she enjoys over the past few years, but if it isn’t about animals or an exciting adventure then she most likely isn’t going to enjoy it. According to her a book is only good if she can see the story in her head and really feel like she is on an adventure with the characters. When we were asked to review The Glass Castle by Trisha White Priebe and Jerry B. Jenkins from Shiloh Run Press I was a little hesitant. I didn’t think she would want to read another book when we were so close to the end of the school year. Then I read a phrase about the book, “The setting of Chronicles of Narnia meets the adventure of Alice in Wonderland.” After reading that, I thought it would be something that AJ would enjoy.

The Glass Castle, an exciting adventure story perfect for middle grade kids!

The Glass Castle is a 251 page hard-covered book that is broken into 41 chapters. It is an action and adventure book for middle grade students. There are quite a few moral lessons woven through the book along with a few Bible verses. Even though prayer and God are mentioned a few times throughout the book I personally would not consider it a faith based book. I think that most kids with a fifth grade reading level or above would be able to read it independently.

It was a great book and AJ would give it 5 out of 5 stars. That is a big complement coming from her.

The Glass Castle {Shiloh Run Press Review}
(There are some spoilers below)

The Glass Castle follows the story of 13 year old Avery. She is walking with her brother and feels like she is being followed, and it turned out she was. She ends up being kidnapped and is later told that her brother was taken as well, but that she wouldn’t be able to see him. Avery ends up in a room with a bunch of thirteen year old orphans. The only problem is that Avery isn’t an orphan, or is she?

After some exploring Avery realizes that she knows where she is, not because she had been there before, but because her mother had told her all about it in stories when she was little. Avery thought those stories were just fairy tales, but it turns out that they weren’t. Avery realizes that they are all in the castle of an evil King. For some reason the King had ordered all 13 year old orphans to be destroyed and the kids were all being held in the castle for their own protection. She soon learns that the kids all do work in the castle, and really they almost run it. From dress making to baking, they do it all. These 13 year olds are much wiser than their years. She becomes friends with a girl, Kate, who seems to know much more than any one else.

Avery wants to escape and return home, but she is told her brother will be harmed if she leaves. Just when she is about to try and escape the kids decide to elect a child king to be in charge. A kind boy named Tuck ends up being elected King, and surprising everyone he appoints Avery as the new queen.

She needs to find out more about the castle and why they are all there. Upon exploring the castle she learns that the King is sick and needs an heir to his thrown. But that isn’t all she finds out. Who was the first Queen, and why did her mother know so much about the castle? Who can she trust, and are her feelings for a boy clouding her judgment? Will the kids escape?

Unfortunately, by the end of the book you won’t have the answers to most of those questions. I am all for series of books and cliffhanger endings, but I hate when a book ends and the majority of the problems haven’t been solved. Especially when the next book won’t be available for a few months! I really felt this book needed at least one more chapter to tie in some loose ends and I hope that the next book is able to answer those questions. I look forward to reading the next one, I am sure it will be as good as this one.

I wanted to read a few chapters a day to AJ, but we got busy with school and doctors and just didn’t seem to find to sit down and read the book. I sat aside an entire school day where we did nothing but read the book. It turned out to be a good thing, because we wouldn’t have wanted to put it down after a few chapters. I expected some complaining from AJ, but she didn’t want me to stop reading. I read the book to her in a little more than five hours, and it was a very thrilling experience. From the first chapter to the end we were learning new details, making discoveries, and attempting to figure things out. I’ll admit that I kept reading ahead because the story was so intriguing.

One thing that I really liked about the book was that it was clean. There wasn’t any magic or witches, and while there was some obvious chemistry between a few characters there wasn’t as much as a kiss between them. There is mention of a drunk man and a few people die, but there were no details. I really think that most parents would be comfortable with their child reading The Glass Castle.

If you have a kid who enjoys adventure and mystery, then The Glass Castle may be just the book for them. Mom will probably like it too.

Find out what other reviewers had to say about The Glass Castle by clicking the graphic below.

The Glass Castle {Shiloh Run Press Review}
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Poetry Memorization ~ Review

AJ can memorize any song or commercial, but she has a hard time remembering math facts and dates that she needs to remember for her school work. When I heard about a new poetry memorization product from Institute for Excellence in Writing, I was a little torn. AJ made great progress with their writing curriculum, but I didn’t know if I wanted to add extra work to our already busy schedule. After reading through the samples on the website, I decided that having AJ memorize poetry would be beneficial to her.

Linguistic Development through Poetry Memorization IEW Review
We were given Linguistic Development Through Poetry Memorization. It includes; five CDs that have all of the poems the student is to memorize, a DVD of the seminar “Nurturing Competent Communicators“, and a Teacher’s Manual. Inside of the Teacher’s Manual there is a page that tells you how to download the 170 page student book, and seven audio MP3’s of wonderful workshops. We were given a physical copy of the Student Book, but it is sold separately.

Linguistic Development through Poetry Memorization IEW Review
I don’t know what it is about Andrew Pudewa, but his seminars and workshops are always enjoyable to listen to and watch. It often seems like he is talking about AJ! I haven’t listened to all seven of the seminars, but the ones that I have really changed my thoughts on teaching and language arts in general. I had a few light bulb moments when I was watching the DVD about Nurturing Competent Communicators. If you have a struggling student at all, I recommend listening to any seminar or workshops of his.

Linguistic Development through Poetry Memorization IEW Review
There are five different levels of poetry that your child will memorize over the years with this program. Everyone starts at level one and moves on at their own pace memorizing nineteen provided poems and a personal selection for each of the first four levels. The fifth level has twenty different speeches for your child to memorize.

The poems in level one are fun and silly most of them are between one and five stanzas long with short sentences. AJ’s favorite poem that she has memorized so far is called Celery by Ogden Nash.

Celery, raw

Develops the jaw,

But celery, stewed,

Is more quietly chewed.

As the levels progress there are longer poems and some that are more serious, but there are short and funny poems sprinkled throughout as well. I was very happy with all of the different selections. Some of them are poems that I remember reading when I was younger and others are poems that I remember dissecting in English class. There are also quite a few that I have enjoyed reading for the first time.

The program is very simple to use. I decided to learn the poems along with AJ (I don’t know if I will stick to that when she gets to the speeches though, they look hard!) and it has become a fun activity for us to do together. Each day AJ and I both recited all of the poems that we had memorized. If she could recite the newest poem that we were working on, then she would color the picture at the bottom of the student page and highlight the name of the poem on her progress page. Then we would start working on a new poem. If she had any issues or missed any words then we would simply continue to work on the same poem. After reciting the poems we listened to the CD of the poems being read aloud until we came to the poem we were working on. We would listen to the poem we were currently working on a few times and then read through it in the student manual. Then AJ would put a check mark on the progress chart to show that she practiced them that day.

In the back of the teacher’s manual there are optional lesson enhancements. Some of them are poetry and literary elements to talk to the student about while others are activities like learning about worms when she memorized the poem, Ooey Gooey. We talked about different elements of each poem, but we didn’t decide to complete any other enhancements because our days our fairly busy right now. I like that they are there if I need them.

The entire process takes us less than 10 minutes a day, and it is a time that AJ enjoys. When I first told her we were going to memorize some poetry she wasn’t excited, but now if I forget to have her do it, she reminds me.

One of the reasons that this product interested me was that AJ has a very hard time writing poetry. She is a very literal thinker and writing silly verses was a hard concept for her. I hoped that introducing her to different poems would show her that not all poetry had to rhyme and that they were not all suppose to be read in a sing song tone. Having the poems read correctly with the correct pronunciation was wonderful! I am very glad that we had the opportunity to review the Linguistic Development Through Poetry Memorization , we plan to continue with it for years to come.

Linguistic Development through Poetry Memorization IEW Review
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Kwik Stix ~ Review

Post Contains Affiliate Links

Lately AJ hasn’t been able to do very many arts and crafts. She loves to paint and create things, but she always seems to make a mess. Between spilled water and paint that accidentally gets on the table, I say, “no” way more than I say, “yes” when she wants to get the paints out. When I heard of the new Kwik Stix from The Pencil Grip, Inc.  I was very intrigued. A lot of paints claim to dry fast, but when we try them out, they take forever to dry. I hoped that these would be different.

Kwik Stix The Pencil Grip, Inc. Review
We received a Kwik Stix 12 pk and a surprise gift of a pencil grip. I wish that I would have had that pencil grip when AJ was learning to write! She has a very awkward grip some times, and I know that the pencil grip would have helped. It slides on the pencil and tells you where to place your fingers in order to have a proper grip. AJ has used it a few times, but she finds it a little hard to use because she doesn’t normally hold the pencil correctly. There was also a chart that showed some different grips that were either correct or incorrect. The way AJ holds her pencil was on the incorrect side. I loved that there was something that showed her she was holding the pencil wrong. I am not pushing her to use the pencil grip right now, but when she uses it I do see an improvement in her penmanship.

Kwik Stix Review, A mess free way to paint

The Kwik Stix 12 pk came with a variety of paint colors; red, orange, yellow, two shades of green, two shades of blue, purple, pink, black, brown, and white. Each stick is about three and a half inches long and resembles the shape of a glue stick. They are solid sticks of tempera paint, you simply take the cap off, twist the bottom of the stick if needed, and then use the Kwik Stix to paint something. They are non-toxic and very easy to use.

Kwik Stix The Pencil Grip, Inc. Review
When AJ first saw the Kwik Stix she thought they looked like colored glue sticks. But when she first tried them out, she really liked them. The box claimed that the paint dries in 90 seconds, and they really do. We found that they dry almost instantly. The color goes on smooth and evenly and once it dries, it has a paint like texture. They take painting to a new level. One thing I like about the Kwik Stix is that you don’t need any paint brushes or water to use them. As long as you have the paints and something to paint on, you are all set.

AJ really liked using them, and the only issue we found was that there isn’t a way to mix the colors once they dry. If AJ drew a line of black and then quickly went over it with white the line did turn gray, but it had to be done very quickly. The amazing thing was that even though she mixed colors, the Kwik Stix never had the other paint transfer onto it.

Kwik Stix The Pencil Grip, Inc. Review
 AJ has used the Kwik Stix on regular paper, construction paper, and on a cardboard butterfly. Everything she has used it on has come out great! She is doing more art projects, and I am dealing with less mess. In the video below you will see AJ using the Kwik Stix.

These Kwik Stix would be great to use with young kids. They are virtually mess free. If you are looking for a way to let your kids paint without all the mess, these Kwik Stixs are something you should definitely check out!

Kwik Stix The Pencil Grip, Inc. Review
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GREEMU ~ Review

Throughout the year our family suffers with dry itchy skin. AJ can only use certain soaps and lotions because she breaks out if she uses the wrong kinds, and my mom is diabetic so itchy skin comes with the territory. I have dry skin, but I hate the feeling of creams or lotions. Last year we were able to try out a few different skin care products, some worked well, and the others didn’t work for our family. Since we had some success, I was intrigued when we were given the opportunity to review GREEMU from Devonian.

If you haven’t heard of GREEMU, you’re not alone. It is a new organic based plant oil that is an alternative to emu oil. Emu oil has become popular for uses on hair and skin. It can be used as a moisturizer and to help the skin in other ways. It can also help damaged hair. While there are benefits to using emu oil, there are many people who don’t want to use it because it is an animal based product. Devonian saw the need for a product that was as beneficial as emu oil, but that was animal free. GREEMU was the answer.

Greemu Devonian Review
We were given a four ounce bottle of GREEMU to use for the review period. I was anxious to try it out in a few ways. The first thing I tried it on was my hair. I have unmanageable curly hair that is dry and full of split ends. Once my hair drys, it is impossible to brush it out. I have tried numerous different conditioners and products to soften my hair. I always end up with one of two results. Either the products don’t work, or they make my hair look so oily that I can’t use them.

Greemu Devonian Review
I read the directions on the bottle of the GREEMU. It says to use a few drops and to work it in your hair from the roots to the tips. I tried using a few drops and my hair just soaked it up. After a few hours my hair looked so oily, but it did feel a lot softer. For a few days after washing my hair, my hair felt softer and looked healthier. I decided to take it a step further. I put quite a bit of oil throughout my hair and left it overnight (there was some residue left on the pillow) when I woke up my hair was so soft and smooth. I have continued to put the oil on my hair overnight about once a week, and I have had great results. I can brush through my hair, it isn’t as tangled after a shower, and it looks softer.

I won’t use it on my hair unless I know I can wash it out before I have to go somewhere, because it leaves my hair too oily, but I am excited with the results.

Next I tried it on my skin. I don’t normally use anything on my skin because I don’t like the oily sticky feeling. This didn’t work for me because it left my skin shiny and had a sticky feeling.

My mom on the other hand, uses lotions a lot. Her legs were itching really badly so I decided to try the GREEMU on her. I used just a few drops on her skin and rubbed it in. A little while later the itching had stopped. She liked how the oil helped her, but she didn’t like how there was a residue left on her skin. She has used it a few times sense, but she is afraid that the residue will get all over her clothes or the furniture.

We were happy with the results of GREEMU. It has helped my hair, and my mom has seen results on her skin. I wish that it would absorb into or skin better so that our skin was not left with a sticky feeling, but I think we will continue to use the GREEMU oil.

If you are looking for an oil that will help your skin and hair, GREEMU may be what you are looking for.

Greemu Devonian Review
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Memoria Press Literature ~ Review

When I was in middle school and high school I really enjoyed literature. We would spend about a month on a book and by the time we were finished we learned so many things. We talked about all kinds of literary terms and often would spend an entire class period marking up passages in the books. Since I loved diving into good books I wanted AJ to have the same kind of experience as I did. Unfortunately, I hadn’t found a great literature curriculum that I could afford, so I decided to make up my own literature guides. I enjoy doing it and she loves them, but they take a long time. I knew I need to find a few well written study guides before next year, but I didn’t know where to look.

 

Memoria Press Literature Guides Review
 

As I began looking for literature curriculum to use with AJ next year, I came across Memoria Press. We enjoyed a history study from them last year, so I thought that AJ would enjoy their literature. A few weeks later I was blessed with the opportunity to review the Eighth Grade Literature Guide Set from Memoria Press. AJ is in 7th grade right now, but the books in the 8th grade set looked like ones that she would really enjoy.

 

Memoria Press Literature Guides Review

 

I was thrilled when I opened the box from Memoria Press. It included Student Study Guides and Teacher Guides for; The Wind In the Willows, As You Like It, The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, and Treasure Island. Each Study Guide was a little bit different.

Treasure Island

Treasure Island Literature Guide

The Student Study Guide for Treasure Island is 89 pages long. It begins with two pages of directions explaining how to use the literature guide and then a two page introduction about the author, Robert Louis Stevenson. The guide is broken into lessons that cover either one or two chapters. Each lesson follows a similar layout.

  • Reading Notes – This section gives information about unknown characters or terms.
  • Vocabulary – In this section your child gives definitions for an average of eight to ten words. Then they are asked to do additional dictionary work for two of the words.
  • Comprehension Questions – Your students answer five or six questions about the reading in complete sentences.
  • Quotations – A quote from the chapter is given and your student writes which character (or if it was the narrator) said the quote.
  • Discussion Questions – A few questions are listed for your student to discuss orally. Some of the questions are opinion based where others focus on morals or the reasoning behind a characters action.
  • Enrichment – The Enrichment section is not found after every chapter. It includes additional activities to go along with the reading. Some of the activities include; drawing, map work, finding definitions, research, and composition activities.

After about every six chapters there is a Mastery Word Review where your student completes vocabulary activities based on vocabulary that they learned in the previous chapters.

At the end of the book there is an Appendix of Nautical Terms. This section is really neat. It not only has terms, but types of knots, parts of a ship, and sailing directions. I think this section would really come in handy while reading the book.

The Teacher Guide is an exact copy of the student guide with all of the answers filled in. The back of the guide includes answers to some of the discussion questions. There are also six reproducible quizzes, a final exam, and answer keys.

The Adventures of Tom Sawyer

Adventures of Tom Sawyer Literature Guide

The Adventures of Tom Sawyer Student Study Guide is 79 pages long. While it is similar to the Treasure Island Guide there are some notable differences. This guide starts with a short one page guide about how to use the book and then it goes into a section about how to mark a book. This section made me smile. It is very basic, but it shows the student how to read closely and mark important things in their book.

After the section about marking the book the student is instructed to read the preface of the book and answer some questions about it in the Study Guide.

There are 36 lessons in this book, one for each chapter in the book. Each lesson follows the same layout.

  • Reading Notes
  • Vocabulary – They are only asked to define about 5 words, there is not any extra dictionary work.
  • Comprehension Questions
  • Quotations – This time they are asked who said the quote and who it was spoken to or about.
  • Discussion Questions
  • Focus Passage – In each Focus Passage the student is asked to find a certain paragraph in the chapter and answer questions about it. The first few have simple comprehension type questions about the paragraph. As they move through the book they are asked to list words that describe mood, or for phrases that show certain things about a character. At times they are asked to paraphrase parts of the paragraph or to describe what was going on.

Like Treasure Island, this Teacher Guide has all of the student pages with the answers filled in. It also has six quizzes and a final exam.

As You Like It

As You Like it Literature Guide

The Student Guide for As You Like It is 42 pages long. Since this is a play by Shakespeare the Student Guide is a little different than the others. It begins with a two page introduction to Shakespeare followed by a two page introduction to the play. Following the introduction is a Character Log with the name of twelve characters from the play. The student has to describe each character and their strengths and weaknesses as they read the play.

The rest of the Student Guide is divided into seven lessons, a question about the Epilogue, and 80 short answer review questions.

Each Lesson has:

  • Vocabulary – Ten to fifteen questions where they are only asked for the definitions.
  • Journal Prompts – Three to five activities including some fun activities like; making the family tree of a character, comparing and contrasting characters, diary entries from different characters, monologues, pictures, and more.
  • Quotes – The student is given three or four quotes. The need to tell who spoke it, who it was spoken to, the situation, the meaning, and the reaction.
  • Comprehension Questions – There are about fifteen questions in each lesson. Many of the questions have multiple parts.

The Teacher Guide is similar to the others. It has the Student Guide with all of the answers filled in. Well, almost all of the answers were filled in. The Character Log was left blank. I wish that it would have been filled in because Shakespeare is a hard topic to teach. Having those filled in would have helped me explain things to AJ a little easier. At the back of the guide there are answers to the Review Questions along with a Midterm Exam and a Final Exam. The exams both include required essay questions.

I think that this guide will make teaching Shakespeare a lot easier for me. I have not read this play yet so I think it will be helpful to have the basic answers at my finger tips.

The Wind in the Willows

Wind in the Willows Literature Guide

The Student Guide for The Wind in the Willows is 53 pages long. It has twelve lessons, one for each chapter in the book. This guide didn’t have any directions or introduction. It just starts. Out of all of the guides, this one seems a little all over the place. But it provides quite a bit of variety.

Each lesson is a little different and may have:

  • Reading Notes – These are not already filled in like in Treasure Island or The Adventures of Tom Sawyer. Instead the name of a character, a place, or an unknown term is listed. During the reading the student is to fill in information that they find. Often the information was not found in the book and we needed to look it up.
  • Vocabulary – The student only writes a short definition.
  • Comprehension Questions – Some lessons only have a few while others have twelve or more.
  • Quotations – The student lists who said it, when they said it, and who they said it about,
  • Discussion Questions
  • Activities– These range from drawings to reports. There is room right in the guide for most of these activities.
  • Focus Passages

The Teacher Guide is similar to the others and has answers to almost every question. It also includes five quizzes and a final exam.

How We Used It

Since there was no way AJ could finish more than one of these during the review period, we had to pick one to start with. AJ decided to start with The Wind in the Willows, after I told her that Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride at Disney Land was based on a character in the book. I ordered two copies of the book from the library and after receiving abridged and junior additions, we were finally on the way home with two copies of the the original version.

When the box arrived AJ was anxious to see what was in it. At that time I didn’t look at the other guides. We opened the guides for The Wind in the Willows and looked over them.

Memoria Press

I was disappointed that there wasn’t a schedule or pacing guide at all. There wasn’t even any instructions. When I tried to find out how long the study would take I couldn’t find information for this guide, only for The Adventures of Tom Sawyer. After looking at that I decided that we would take the study slow. AJ has improved a lot in her reading and writing, but I knew it would be too much for her to read the entire chapter and answer all of the questions at one time.

I decided to have AJ look up the vocabulary words and then we would take turns reading for about thirty minutes. After the reading she did any written work (except for the activities) that she was able to based on her reading. Following that schedule she was able to complete about two lessons and the quiz each week. On the day that she took the quiz I would also have her do a few of the activities from the chapters. At first I was a little uncomfortable taking that long on a book, but AJ was learning a great deal. I felt that the questions were well written and on an eight grade level. One thing that I really appreciated is that the Study Guide gave plenty of room for AJ to write.

What We Thought

The one thing that really frustrated me was that the quizzes and tests are all in the Teacher Guides? The only guide that states that the quizzes and tests are reproducible is the guide for Treasure Island. After reading the copyright on the front of the other guides I assumed that they were not reproducible. Since I didn’t want AJ to have the Teacher Guide I ended up giving her the quizzes orally and that was very time consuming. When I read that the quizzes and tests in Treasure Island were reproducible I assumed that the other ones were probably too. Knowing that would have made the quizzes easier for AJ.

At first I thought that reading four novels in a school year was just not enough. This year I planned to have AJ read eight. I quickly realized that these four Study Guides made for a very complete curriculum. The vocabulary in each one is challenging but doable and I think it will stretch AJ’s abilities. For each book the student focuses on a different element. This makes each guide unique and will keep the work interesting.

AJ’s favorite part was the Quotations section. She enjoyed hunting through the chapter to see who said each quote. I found that having her look for the quotes made her read closer. There were even a few times that she asked to do the work by herself. Normally she doesn’t enjoy study guides unless I create them, but she enjoyed working on The Wind in the Willows.

I love that this set has her starting to read closely and having her mark up the books. I think it is a great skill to learn.

While we read through this book together I think that she should be able to complete the guides for Treasure Island and The Adventures of Tom Sawyer with very little help from me. I was very reluctant to teach her Shakespeare already, but the way the guide is written makes me confident that we will be able to read and understand it.

These guides look like they will make a great literature curriculum. We are going to set the other three novels aside for now and use them next year. I am sure that with just one or two more books added AJ will have a very full year of learning.

If you are looking for a solid curriculum, that is easy for the parent, and has plenty of variety, then I think Memoria Press is something you should check out.

Other Members of the Crew reviewed different levels of the Literature Guides. Find out what they had to say by clicking on the graphic below.

 

Memoria Press Literature Guides Review
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