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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ARTistic Pursuits ~ Review

I have wanted to find a good art program for AJ for a long time. She enjoys doodling, but her art skills are greatly lacking. We have tried a few different programs, but they just weren’t a good fit. We were given the chance to review Middle School Book One The Elements of Art and Composition from ARTistic Pursuits Inc. and I thought that it would be a good fit for AJ.

Artistic Pursuits Middle School Book 1

The Elements of Art and Composition is a 92 page come-bound book. There are 16 units that are each broken into four lessons. The lessons focus on different elements of art including; space, line, texture, form, depth, balance, proportion, and perspective. The lessons are written to the student making it so that most students can complete the program on their own with little help.

ARTistic Pursuits Inc. Review
The first lesson in each unit introduces and explains the concept of that unit. The lesson has your child practice the concept in a creative way. In one unit your child is told to find an object and see how many different ways they can look at it. Another lesson has the student line up small objects and draw them a few times having some of them overlap. Each of these lessons are fairly short, but they explain the concept very well.

The second lesson is in Art Appreciation. The student is shown a piece of art that goes with the unit. There is a brief history of the culture and the piece of art, and then the student is asked to imitate the art in some way.

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The third lesson is the main art lesson, it is on technique. It gives some great tips on how to achieve different looks in your art. Unfortunately, I don’t feel that this section is large enough. It is only one page long in each unit. The information that is given is detailed, it even explains which pencils to use to get different effects.

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The final lesson in each unit is the Application lesson. This is the section where the student is told to use everything that they have learned and to do a project. Some of the projects require a lot of time, but there are some (especially in the beginning) that only take a little while to complete.

In each lesson the student draws something.

There are 64 lessons, so if your student completes two lessons a week, the book will last an entire school year. The books are not consumable, if you have multiple children they can all use it.

I decided to have AJ work on art twice a week. The first two lessons I read to AJ and worked with her. After those two lessons I quickly realized that she would be able to do the work on her own. Each lesson took between 45 minutes and an hour. She understood the lessons, but she had a lot of problems with the drawings.

She did the best on the second lesson in each unit where she was asked to imitate part of a work of art. On the rest of the lessons there were not details of what to draw and she had trouble. On a lot of the lessons there are pictures drawn by other students. Since her drawings were no where near as good as the ones in the book she became discouraged.

I think that this level was just too advanced for her. This book is full of wonderful techniques, but if you have trouble drawing basic items, then that won’t really help.

If your student has basic drawing skills and wants to improve them, then this book would help them a lot. With the different techniques and the art history, this would be a solid course that can be completed with little help from the teacher.

I plan to have AJ draw for fun a lot over the summer and then start AJ over in the book for the next school year. I think that if she improves on her basic drawing skills that she will get more from the book.

Find out what others had to say by clicking on the graphic below.

ARTistic Pursuits Inc. Review
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Music Appreciation ~ Review

When I first started homeschooling AJ I wasn’t afraid to teach her algebra or biology, I was worried how I would teach her music or art. I knew that she would need to learn a variety of subjects, but music was one that I didn’t know how I would go about teaching. I have never played an instrument and I couldn’t name more than two famous composers. AJ on the other hand loves music, all kinds of music, and is eager to learn. When we were given the chance to review a Music Appreciation course I was excited to see if it would be a good fit for AJ. I was amazed at the course that Zeezok Publishing LLC had put together. Their Music Appreciation Book 1: for the Elementary Grades is an excellent program.

Music Appreciation

Over the course of a year your child reads and learns about seven of the great composers; Schubert, Mozart, Paganini, Bach, Hayden, Handel, and Beethoven. While learning about each composer your child will read a book about each one, complete activities related to music, create a lapbook about each composer, listen to music, and do hands on activities. While the study of each composer has similar activities, each one touches on different aspects of music. We started our study with George Fredrick Handel.

Music Appreciation for the Elementary Grades {Zeezok Publishing LLC Review}
We received seven books, one about each composer, a five disk CD set full of wonderful music, a CD with lapbook pieces to print off, and a large workbook that is over 350 pages long. While this curriculum states it is for the elementary grades, there is a lot of work and learning involved.

When we started our journey to learn all about George Handel (a name I had never heard) we turned to his section in the large workbook. On the first page we found a weekly lesson outline that broke the study into four weeks. It also included a few activities that AJ would need to complete outside of the program in order to meet national music standards. Those activities were simple to complete. Each week we needed to read a chapter out of the book, Handel at the Court of Kings, and answer some comprehension questions. She listened to some music from the composer each week as well. Each week also had her complete a section called Character Traits and Tidbits of Interest.

Handel - One of 7 composers to learn about

The biographies are well written and full of interesting details. In Handel at the Court of kings, we learned about his life in great detail, from him getting in trouble when he was six years old for following the singers in the street, to when he was traveling across Europe, and when he started to go blind. The book is broken into four chapters and contains sheet music for many of the songs that Handel composed. The book is fairly easy to read, but it does contain some difficult vocabulary sprinkled throughout. Including the sheet music, the book is over 160 pages long.

The Character Traits section listed good character traits that Handel displayed during the chapter and explained the traits in better detail. Handel was a good man. Some of the traits AJ learned more about were; diligence, humility, leadership, and humor. Reading through the character traits only took a few moments each week, but AJ enjoyed it. I liked the fact that those qualities were being displayed in real life ways throughout the book.

The Tidbits of Interest section was neat. It would list a page number and then give more information about an event that happened on that page. We tried to stop and read the tidbit of interest when that part of the story came up. It helped to put some parts of the story into perspective. When Handel was young his father didn’t want him to pursue a life of music, but we found out in the Tidbits of Interest section that at that time in Germany musicians were regarded as lower than servants. That helped us to see why his father was so against him being a musician.

Music Appreciation for the Elementary Grades {Zeezok Publishing LLC Review}
Each week AJ completed other fun activities to go along with the story. During week one she learned about Germany and practiced locating different countries in Europe. She learned a little about Bach and Scarlatti, the other composers who were born around the same time as Handel. She copied parts of sentences out of the book and sorted out the adjectives and adverbs and did research on the oboe.

Learn about more than music with Zeezok!

The second week had her learning a little more about Germany. She also started learning about some of the elements of music. She learned about; melody, harmony, dynamics, rhythm, tempo, and timbre. All of those terms were new to me, but AJ remembered some of them from the piano lessons she had taken. She ended the second week by learning about the different types of sound that instruments make and assigning colors to different sounds. She was given adjectives like lonely, warm, sweet, and heavy and had to decide which color reminded her of the word. She had a hard time with that activity because she is a very literal thinker. I think that was the only activity that she didn’t like in the entire study.

Learn about the elements of music

The third week was her favorite. It started with her reading and copying quotes about or by George Handel. Her favorite quote was from Handel, “…I should be sorry if I only entertained them; I wished to make them better.” In the book we learned how amazing Handel was, not only in music, but as a leader. AJ’s favorite part of the week was comparing and contrasting different music. She listened to songs that were opposites and described how they were alike and different. She listened to 10 different songs (not including the ones written by Handel) during the third week, and wished there would have been more.

Compare and Contrast music

The final week had her complete a few different activities. She reviewed the different character qualities that Handel displayed, put together a time line of events, learned about some of Handel’s famous songs, and experienced being blind. The last week took us two weeks to complete because there was so much to learn.

We tried to do the reading on the first two days of the week and the other activities through the rest of the week. We both liked that there were so many different activities. The only problem we had was that the chapters in the book are so long. The second chapter begins on page 43, so that shows how long the chapters are. I also felt that we rushed through some of the lapbook activities in order to try and stay on schedule. Even with rushing, it took us almost six weeks to finish our study on Handel. The next composer we plan to learn about is Bach, there looks like a lot of fun things in that unit.

Reading about composer Handel

I think this is a very well written curriculum. The books are interesting to read and full of factual details, and the CDs align perfectly with the book. When we are reading about a song Handel composed the book tells us which CD and track to go to so we can listen to the song. It is very organized and easy to teach, even if the teacher has no previous knowledge of music. There are hands on elements that make learning fun. Each composer focuses on different musical elements so the student really gains a wide variety of skills once the program is finished. The best part is that AJ really looked forward to music each day. There was a large amount of reading and writing, but she enjoyed it so much that she didn’t mind those things.

Since this was written for elementary aged students, I thought that we would be able to breeze right through it. That was not the case. If I was doing this with an elementary student I would most likely change this into a two year program and complete a book in eight weeks instead of four. I think doing all seven books in one year with an older student would be difficult, I couldn’t imagine trying to do it with a third grader. I think it would be too much when all of the other daily work is included. If you are looking for a quick and easy music program this is not what you are looking for. But if you want a program that will immerse your child in the world of music and make learning really come alive then this is exactly what you want.

Music Appreciation for the Elementary Grades {Zeezok Publishing LLC Review}
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Kwik Stix ~ Review

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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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Heroes of History ~ Review

I am always looking for a way to change up our school day. Since the next topic we are planning to study is American history after the Civil War, I have been on the look out for books and activities to help AJ learn about that era. When we were given a chance to review a book from YWAM Publishing, I knew that I wanted to pick an influential person to learn about. We were given a physical copy of Heroes of History Theodore Roosevelt: An American Original and a Digital Unit Study to accompany it. Since we reviewed a book from YWAM last year, I knew that we were in for a treat.

Theodore Roosevelt Review

 

Theodore Roosevelt An American Original is a 201 page soft covered book that is broken into 17 chapters. The book starts with a 39 year old Teddy Roosevelt marching up San Juan Hill as part of a Volunteer Cavalry. Then the book goes back in time and starts with him at five years old during the Civil War. His parents were on opposite sides of the war, and that made for a difficult time. His mother was helping out the South while his father was helping the North, even though he wasn’t fighting. The book goes on to tell about how sick Teddy was as a child and how he decided to make his body work by exercising and training. We learn that the Roosevelt family came into a lot of money and that because of that, Teddy and his family went on amazing vacations. He sailed up the Nile River and visited numerous countries in Africa and Europe. We learn about Teddy’s love of animals and his love of taxidermy.

The book then continues to show how he got into politics. It tells the sad way he lost his mother and wife and how he finally came back to society. Then the book talks about his road to the presidency, the obstacles he faced and how he dealt with them.

The book is easy to read and understand, but it does have some advanced vocabulary throughout the chapters. Reading the book alone gives you a great understanding of who Theodore Roosevelt was, but when you combine it with the Digital Unit Study, there is so much to learn.

The Digital Unit Study has options for classroom use, small group use, and for homeschool use. It is broken into two sections. The first section is the real study guide it is 71 pages long and has comprehension questions, social study activities, related themes, and more. The second part of the unit study is the printable pages. It included a fact sheet to fill out about Roosevelt, a world map, map of America, a map of New York, and a time line to fill in. The study guide is full of information to make the book really come to life.

I wanted this book to be our history study. Each week we read through three chapters of the book (except the first chapter that was really short.) and AJ answered the comprehension questions from the study guide. She also looked up different social study terms as we came to them. The Roosevelt family went on a lot of trips. AJ used the maps to chart their journeys. There are dozens of writing prompts, crafts, and ideas for places to visit while reading the book, we haven’t done those yet, but we still have a few chapters left to read.

AJ likes the story and has enjoyed following along with the Roosevelt family’s journeys. I have been reading the book out loud to her and she looks forward to finding out what is coming up next. If she enjoyed reading more, I could see the Heroes of History books being a great spine to our history study next year. Unfortunately, it wouldn’t work for her. I wish it would because the books from YWAM are full of history and bring a person to life. You get to know them so much better than you can in a few pages of a text book.

If you are looking for a book to supplement your history studies, or if you are looking for a good biography, these are great.

Christian Heroes {YWAM Publishing Review}
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Writers in Residence ~ Review

Writing is the subject that AJ hates the most. We have tried numerous writing programs that seem like they would be a perfect fit, but once we start them AJ dislikes them for one reason or another. We have seen a lot of improvements in her writing recently, but our lessons were taking over our day. On days we had too much going on in other subjects, writing got pushed to the side. I knew we were both ready to try something new. When I heard that Apologia Educational Ministries had a new language arts based writing program, Writers in Residence, I was intrigued. When I heard that it was authored by Debra Bell, I thought it would be a hit.

Apologia: Writers in Residence Review
Writers in Residence is a new product that combines a writing curriculum with grammar, sentence structure, capitalization, and punctuation practice. Writers in Residence is perfect for kids in grades four through eight. The student book is huge! At over 550 pages there is plenty of room for instruction.

There are six units that each take about four or five weeks to complete. There is a schedule included that has your student working for four days a week, but that can easily be adjusted to fit your own needs. This curriculum is very flexible!

Apologia: Writers in Residence Review
After opening the box we found a small teacher guide and a 2 inch thick Student Text and Workbook. I read through the beginning of the student book and decided we would try to stick to the four day week. The lessons all looked short and to the point. AJ enjoyed the lessons the first week, and by the second week she was reminding me that we needed to work on writing.

AJ worked on Writers in Residence almost every day. One thing that she really enjoyed was the variety. Some days she would write sentences about a favorite memory and other days she would pick out the verbs in the sentence and then practice walking a bunch of ways to help her learn that the more precise her verbs are in her writing the better. I think the variety in the assignments kept AJ guessing what would come next. It also meant that when she saw the writing book, she didn’t automatically assume that the work would be boring and tedious.

Throughout this review AJ has completed a lot of writing and grammar exercises. One thing that is stressed throughout the program is that writing needs to be practiced. AJ was expected to make mistakes in her writing and to fix them. Each unit is broken up into a number of modules. At the end of each module you and your child go through and grade all of the work they did based on their effort and the quality of their work. Even little things like acting out vocabulary words are included. Knowing that she was getting credit for all of those fun tasks as well as the harder ones really seemed to help motivate AJ.

What We Liked

  • We both liked that the book was spiral bound. That made it easy to write on at all times.
  • We liked that so many subjects were covered at once. It made our day go a little faster.
  • AJ liked that there was plenty of room for her to write in the workbook. She writes way too big for most workbooks, so that was a big deal to her.
  • We both like that the instructions were written at a level that she could easily understand. That made assigning writing work easy for me.
  • We both liked the bright and colorful text throughout the book. It was enough to be fun, but not too much that it overwhelmed her.

The only thing AJ didn’t like was that it was so big. I think if this could possibly be broken up into two books it may be easier for a child to handle.

If you are looking for a solid writing curriculum that incorporates other aspects of language arts into it then this is what you are looking for. It is well written, provides plenty of practice, and promotes independent learning. We will be using this for the rest of this year and all of next year. I have already seen a big improvement in her writing and look forward to how her writing will change in the future.

Apologia: Writers in Residence Review
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Math Mini-Courses ~ Review

One of AJ’s favorite subjects is math. We don’t follow a traditional method for math, instead AJ works on a mastery based program. We have been studying math this way since she was in fourth grade. She likes that she is constantly learning new things and that she can continue to learn about a topic. We started using a mastery based program when she was learning the very basics of fractions for the second or third time. She was tired of having to relearn the basics every year, study a topic for a chapter or two, and then not work on it until the next year.

We both love the mastery approach to math, but there are a few drawbacks. The major one is that it is very easy to miss studying a skill. Last year I noticed that she hadn’t learned much about geometry. I bought a few workbooks, but they all seemed a little babyish. I didn’t know exactly what I was going to use to teach her geometry, but I figured I would find something. When we were given the opportunity to review two of  the Math Mini-Courses from A+ Interactive Math, I thought it would be exactly what we needed. And it was!

A+ Math 20161

There are 20 Math Mini-Courses. Each course is a way to close learning gaps that your child might have. The courses are set up in a way that they start with the basic information on the topic and then go in very deep ensuring that your child really understands the topic. The courses have different amounts of lessons and range in price from $9.99 to $19.99 for year long access to the course.

Does the mention of fractions make you want to pull your hair out? Have your child try out the Elementary or Advanced Fraction Math Mini-Courses. They will learn all about fractions making math an easier time during your day.

After looking at all of the courses that are available, I decided that the two that would help her the most were; Percentages and Geometry. Unfortunately, I somehow ended up ordering the Elementary Geometry for students in 1st through 4th grade instead of the regular Geometry for grades 4th through 7th. I think we will be ordering the higher level geometry for her to use next year though, because she really enjoyed the elementary level.

AJ enjoyed using A+ Interactive Math last year, so we were familiar with how to use the program. If it is your first time using the program, there is a section that explains how to use it. Once you purchase a Math Mini-Course you will need to create a parent account and then a student account. The student should be able to use the program all by themselves, working in the student account. Any lessons completed under the parent account will not be marked complete.

A+ math has Parent Reports to help you see how your child is doing.

Under the parent account you are able to generate different reports that show how your student did. You can see how they did on the interactive questions, which online worksheets they completed and their score, and any tests that they completed.

How the Lessons Work

Each lesson is set up the same way. The student clicks on the lesson they want to do, then they watch a video lesson. There is also the option to print the lesson in PDF form. The video explains the topic and then goes over a few different examples. At the end of the lesson they complete an interactive question and answer section. The interactive question and answer session begins with a short review of the lesson and then has your student answer some multiple choice and short answer questions. The lesson prevents the student from clicking an answer or inputting one until they have listened to all of the choices. This was great for AJ because one issue she has is that she doesn’t always read all of the options, so she ends up getting the answer wrong. Some lessons only have a few questions while other lessons that she completed had more than ten. (See the photo above.)The thing that is great about the interactive questions is, if your child selects the wrong answer or types one in (Make sure they click on the frog after their answer is imputed, or it won’t register that it is complete.) then they are brought back to the lesson where how to do the problem was explained and then the problem is worked out for the student. I love that they are given instant feedback! When they are done with the questions and answers they mark the lesson complete, and the rest is up to you. Some people stop at that point. But there are both printable and online worksheets for each lesson. After your child submits the online worksheet they are able to review any incorrect answers along with a step by step way to answer the problem that they got wrong.

After your child submits the online worksheet they are able to review any incorrect answers along with a step by step way to answer the problem that they got wrong.

Mistakes are shown, and give you the correct way to solve the problem.

If you want your child to have even more practice on a topic, you can also generate and print off additional worksheets. We didn’t complete this step the last time that we reviewed a course from A+ Interactive Math, because I felt the; online lessons, interactive question and answers, and the online worksheets were more than enough practice. This time though, I had AJ do the printable worksheet if she missed more than three questions on the online worksheet. I think she only had to do one.

Percentages

The Percentage Mini-Course is made up of 13 lessons. It starts with an introduction to percentages, goes through converting percentages from fractions and decimals, and then goes through different word problem lessons. The course covers everything related to percentages and I am certain that when AJ completes this course (she has 4 lessons left) she will have a very solid grasp on how to work with percentages. She struggles with word problems so I am thankful that the last few lessons in this course covers them.

Elementary Geometry

The Elementary Geometry Mini-Course is made up of 19 lessons. It started with the very basics of plain and solid shapes. It went on to cover two and three dimensional shapes and lines of symmetry. It is wrapped up with different types of lines and angles. AJ finished this course, and she did learn a few different things. I think it covers far more than a 4th grade level of geometry. We are both looking forward to having her complete the regular geometry next year. AJ really enjoyed the elementary course and was sad to see that there were only 19 lessons.

How We Used the Math Mini-Courses and What We thought About It

Since the Geometry Lessons were for kids in lower grades, I had AJ do two lessons a day. After the lesson she completed the online worksheets. For the Percentage Lessons she did one a day in the beginning and eventually as the lessons became harder, I had her do the lesson one day and the online worksheet the next day.

We really like A+ math because it is presented in a way that is easy to understand. The lessons are long enough to teach the topic, but short enough to keep her attention. I think these Math Mini-Courses are amazing! They give you a way to help your student fill in the gaps of their learning. The best part for us is that AJ can do it all by herself. The only complaint AJ had was that she never knew how many interactive questions there would be.  She would like it to say something like, “Question 3 of 17” that way she knew what to expect.

Overall we were both very happy with the Math Mini-Courses!

If you are looking for a math program to help fill in the gaps of your child’s learning, then the Math Mini-Courses from A+ Math is something you should look into. Find out what other members of the Crew thought by clicking on the graphic below.

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Math Mini-Courses {A+ Interactive Math Review}

Read, Write & Type ~ Review

Read, Write & Type, learn them all at once with this online program!

Typing is a subject that we have had no luck with at all. Right now there are three programs on my computer and two online typing programs that AJ has tried. Not one of them has worked for her. She gets bored with the repetitive typing of home keys, and soon typing practice becomes more of a hassle than it is worth. Since we haven’t had any luck with a program that she enjoyed using I was a little hesitant to try any other typing programs. That was before I heard about Read, Write & Type from Talking Fingers Inc.  and it looked very promising. As I was looking at the website, AJ walked by and said she really wanted to try it because it looked like fun. AJ is in 7th grade and way above the recommended age level for the program, but I thought that the way it was set up would keep her interest and finally help her learn how to type. I was right!

Talking Fingers Inc. Review
Read, Write & Type is way more than a typing program. It is an online reading program that is geared for kids ages six to nine. While teaching letter sounds and reading skills it also teaches how to type each letter. During the first few lessons they learn the sounds that letters make and they type the letter while hearing the sound.

Talking Fingers Inc. Review
The story behind the program is that the letters on the keyboard want to write down their stories. Each letter is represented by a character, like Ann the Ant for the letter A. But the evil Vexor wants to steal all of the letters to prevent them from writing down their stories. In order to win back the letters the child has to complete a series of typing games. Some are things like typing out words, and other are things like typing the letters “th” if the picture starts with the “th” sound. After each activity the letter character seems to return but Vexor steals it again. After playing a few different games the letter is finally returned to the keyboard.

There are 40 different lessons representing the 40 different sounds. After each set of four sounds your child is awarded a certificate that they are able to print out.

Since AJ already knows how to read I decided to just let her do the program completely on her own. I checked in on her, but she never needed any help. She would work on it until I would pull her away because she thought the program was a lot of fun!

There were a few things that I really appreciated about the program.

    • Right away the child is typing words, not just random letters.
    • They learn to make capital letters and basic punctuation as well as the letters.
    • When ever the child makes a mistake, whether they mistyped something or were misspelling something, the computer corrected them right away and showed them the correct way to stretch their fingers to type the correct letter.
    • There are activities that also involve the mouse, so the child can rest their fingers for a little bit while continuing to learn.

Talking Fingers Inc. Review

  • If the child doesn’t know what a picture is, they can click on it to hear the word. This was a big deal for AJ, because often a picture could be a few different words. For example if she saw a mouse and wasn’t sure if it was a mouse or a rat, a simple click of the mouse lets her know which one it was.
  • There was constant encouragement along the way. The different characters would cheer when she would type something correctly.
  • It was an entire reading program. There were books to download after she met certain requirements, activities that focused on beginning middle and end sounds, and sentence writing. There is even a fake email section where she was able to type stories. She really dislikes writing, but I found her typing stories in that section at least once a week.
  • She was actively engaged while learning and wanted to do a good job. She was always giggling, and when she was trying to test her speed she would do very well.
  • It uncovered a few issues I didn’t know she still had. When she was younger she had a hard time differentiating between the different vowel sounds. Even now when she sounds out a word, there are times that she picks the wrong letter. But this program helped me to see that she does that with simple words still. I never mentioned it to her, but since completing the program I have seen an improvement in her spelling abilities.

There were a few times that she said that the program was too easy, but she asked to do it every day and even though she passed all of the levels she still goes in and plays games for about fifteen minutes a day.

Read, Write & Type has improved her reading, spelling, and typing in just a few minutes a day. The only real complaint that AJ had was that there were not enough levels.

I don’t know if this program would be the best for most seventh graders, because it does start at the basics, but I do think kids in about fifth grade and lower may benefit from Read, Write & Spell. But if you have a child who is looking for a fun an interactive way to learn to type I would recommend checking out the sample lesson. If they like that, they should like the program.

When AJ was learning phonics and letters she used a program on the computer. It was fun for her and she learned a lot. I think if I would have had this program as an option back then that she would have learned to type and read a lot faster. I think this is a well made program that will help out struggling readers and those who are just learning to read.

I look forward to trying another typing program from Talking Fingers called Word Qwerty in the future. Since AJ enjoyed this so much, I am sure that it will be a hit as well.

AJ was on the older end of this review, click on the graphic below to see what other members of the crew thought.

Talking Fingers Inc. 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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