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Mom's Fun-Schooling Handbook

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Now that the school year is winding down (for me at least, 4 of my babies are gone for the summer), and homeschooling mamas everywhere are getting ready for another fabulous year! 

I have something that might help. Actually it's a gift from The Thinking Tree. Sarah is giving away a sample of her Fun-Schooling Handbook! Almost 100 pages! And there is a bonus page in the back ~how to make Green Lemonade an energizing drink for all you mamas!
Free Fun Schooling Hand Book at Homeschooling6
Sarah has allowed a handful of bloggers to share this download.
You can download your FREE sample of the Fun-Schooling Handbook for Moms HERE. Please be kind and do not sell the download. It's against copyright laws. If your friends would like a copy please have them drop by Homeschooling6 to download theirs thank you =)  

Read my review HERE it has some wise words from Sarah Janisse Brown about fun-schooling! 

And watch a quick peek inside video below.

I want to thank The Thinking Tree for allowing me to share this 95 page download. It's very generous of  The Thinking Tree family!

The Brown family serves the Lord in the Ukraine and The Thinking Tree/Dyslexia Games is what supports them on the mission field. They have given away thousands of Thinking Tree books to families this past year. 

The Thinking Tree

Blast Off to Reading

Last week I received Blast Off to Reading to use with Lance. I can't wait to get started with this. It looks like a fun way to learn the rules of reading.
We did start but only completed two days because we have a lot going on with right now with fixing the house from hail damage, getting the kids ready to fly out to California, and just busy in general. My hubby is working on four properties right now plus his job so, yeah, it's busy.

I'll have a full review later but wanted you all to be able to check it out. I know some are getting ready for the fall.

The site has lots of free downloads and online games as well.
Blast Off to Reading
Hopefully after a week or so Lance and I will do some "summer" school and I can share a little bit about that.

We are going to take the rest of the week off from school.

Homeschool Portfolio Printable Pack by Not Consumed (Review)

Not Consumed has been so kind to let me review the Homeschool Portfolio Printable Pack. This is a great way to get your homeschool organized.
Not Consumed Homeschool Portfolio (Review)
This post may contain affiliate links. Please see my disclosure.
What is included in your Homeschool Portfolio Pack

~About Me Page: this is really cute and I love, love, that it includes "My Favorite Bible Verse" a neat thing for our kiddos to add and look back on years to come.

Also included is space for your child to write seven things about them and questions to answer like favorite book, toy, place etc. A neat page to record lots of memories.
Not Consumed Homeschool Portfolio
~Morning Checklist: this way your child doesn't forget to brush his teeth (mine still forget if I don't remand them, ugh!) and I like that Proverbs 21:5a is at the top of the Morning Checklist.

~Reading Record: this includes space for your child to write the book title, date, author, and rate it by coloring in the starts. Pretty neat. My kids love the 5 star rating part. And the verse for this page is Philippians 4:8!

~Weekly Checklist is a must and although we are not doing school right now this will be used next school year. I love that you can edit this page and add what your child needs to get done daily.

What's really neat about this page is it's separated into three parts: at the top there are Monday-Friday boxes to put appt. or places you'll be going -this is on the student's checklist so they'll know what's going on that week just like mom! 

The second section being the kid's school work. All their subjects will be in this section and the boxes to check off as they complete. This is one page for the whole week.

Lastly on the Weekly Checklist is the habits section and you can change this weekly or monthly or yearly because it's editable! Pretty cool huh?!?!?!
Not Consumed Homeschool Portfolio
~Attendance Record: a great way to keep track of what days you went on a field trip, when you took holiday time off or Co-op time. Always fun to look back on and great at a glance "what did we do April 3rd" type thing.

It's simple too, all the months are across the top and there is a column going down with numbers 1-31 for the days of the month. It's separated by quarters.

Field Trip Evaluation Form: a neat way to document your field trips. Your child can write what they learned, what the purpose was, there's space to draw a picture and rate how they liked the field trip (or didn't like, lol). It's a great way to get feedback from your child.

~Educational Snapshot: I love this page. It's going to sound so simple but is a wonderful way to keep track of what you used over the year. You can type in your child's name and school year.

There are ten boxes (plenty) to record what you are using for each subject. For instance I can make one box for history and write what we are using and what it is covering.

There is also a verse in the corner of the page: Proverbs 24:3-6

Not Consumed Homeschool Portfolio
~Homeschool Calendar is a year at a glance with mini calendars July-June and another page with August-July. When you purchase your Homeschool Portfolio Pack you get free lifetime updates meaning every year you'll get a new set of the Calendar pages.

~Assessment Graph: this can be used for those subjects that you correct for us one is math. At the bottom of the page there is space for the name of the assessment. Going up the page are numbers 5, 10, 15, 20, 15, and so forth through 100. If your child scores an 85 he/she can fill in the graph grid from 5-85. Everyday your child can see how he's improving. I'm using a graph per subject. I think this page will be a lot more fun for the younger students.

OR you can keep track and record their 'grade'. I think it would be great for the kids especially younger ones to keep track.

~My Goals:  this is where you can record your personal, spiritual, health, and homeschool goals AND your child's too. I think it's soooo important for children to have goals. Throughout the year have your child look at the goal page to see if he's staying the 'course' :) 

There is another My Goals page and this one is broken down in quarters (quarters 1-4).

~Cover Page: your child can decorate this page. There is space to write the Grade & Year.

~Calendar Pages:  from August 2016 to July 2016. Every year you'll receive updated calendar pages.
Not Consumed Homeschool Portfolio
Daily pages your child will use:
  • Weekly Checklist
  • Morning Checklist (for younger kiddos)
  • Reading Record (print as many as you need)
  • Assessment Graphs (unless you prefer to keep track of this then add it to your Records binder)
For your records:
  • Attendance Record (if you want your child to keep track to add one to his binder as well)
  • Homeschool Calendar
  • Educational Snapshot (this is where you will record all the subject and books/curriculum used)
  • All About Me Profile
  • Goal Worksheet
  • Assessment Graphs (if you are having your child keep track put this in his/her binder). Have the child put one for each subject in his binder.
  • Reading Records: I thought it would be neat to have one for each subject but of course you can use it however it works best in your homeschool.
    I was kinda thinking of having for example one for history another for read alouds. The child will have one for history and record all the audio books and books that he reads on the "History" Reading Record, just a thought. I'm still pondering =)
To see how Kim the author puts her portfolio together please visit her website (scroll to the bottom of the page).

Check out Kim"s latest product: Organize My Homeschool ~five in depths modules covering everything from setting a vision, establishing schedules, to making excellent use of your homeschool space!
click the banner to find out more =)

The AetherLight Chronicles of the Resistance (Review)

Brent has been having fun playing a new game The AetherLight Chronicles of the Resistance.   What I love about this one is it's an allegory of God's story, so when Brent is playing it he's learning about the Bible through game play. In fact there is now a Bible that you can purchase to go with the game! It's a companion Bible to the game, how neat is that. I'm thinking about ordering it for the kids.
The first chapter of the Scarlet Man's adventure lines up with the biblical story of Abraham and Isaac! Hint: Scarlet Man is the good guy, in fact he's recruiting good guys to show them they can make a difference.
The game is about a land called Aethasia. It use to be a beautiful land but that was before the evil emperor name Lucky. He fills the land with a fog that corrupts everything it touches. But there's hope: The Resistance. Your child will become part of the Resistance by helping with restarting the Great Engines to push back the fog.

As your child moves through the game he'll collect unusual items and use logic to solve puzzles by discovering Ancient lost engineering technology. Your child will collect gears and widgets to make their steampunk weapons (nothing violent and there's no blood or gore).

The animation is really neat. I loved just looking at all the detail (they need to make a book of the pictures so I can just stare at all the details, like when I was a kid) as my son played. Your computer screen will become a whole different world. It's beautiful and like I mentioned there so much detail. The world is known as steampunk

I also like that it's not violent. My kiddos unfortunately have been playing way too many war games so I really like this one. And what a bonus as they learn about the Word of God, all while having fun.

Although I LOVE the animation the details of the game it is a point and click type game meaning your child will have to point and click to make things open and click to pound and make the gadgets. To make the characters move you have to click the mouse which is fine with my kiddos.

Even though my kiddos don't play a whole-lot-of point and click we give it a thumbs up. Brent said it's pretty cool and enjoys playing it. The only con is he has to play with it on my computer. I haven't looked into seeing if it can be transferred to his.

A parent perk: there's a Parent's Dashboard which enables you to receive emails of your child's progress which includes questions to ask them helping them to dig deeper in Scripture.

Here is a peek inside the AetherLight Bible.
If you're looking for a fun game that tells the story in allegory form of the greatest story ever told, than you might want to look into the Aetherlight Chronicles of the Resistance. 

This game would be great for ages 10 and older. Brent is the one who helped me with this review but I think I'm going to get this for Lance too. He plays way too many games that have no real value. He wins a battle but it's really nothing. With playing the AetherLight he'll learn biblical truth and that's a good thing!

Connect with The Aetherlight Chronicles on Facebook ~ Twitter ~ YouTube

Thinking Tree Journals and Flashcards

Do you own lots and lots of cards like flashcards or have some leftover from a lost card game? You hate to throw them out because they have useful information but are not sure WHAT to do with them?

Got maps! Particular the U.S.A maps with tidbits of information about a state or country?

Do you want the kids to keep on learning through summer break (homeschooling or not) BUT don't want it to "look" so much like school? Or do a lighter load over the summer.
Use Flashcards with Thinking Tree Journals
Well dust of those flashcards and get the maps out. Here is another way (and you don't even have to purchase anything) to use the Thinking Tree journals.

Use the cards in place of books. Have your child use the cards for Spelling Time, Reading Time, and Nature Study pages.

Have nature cards, use them on hot summer days instead of having your child go outside. Depending on his age and abilities he can draw and write about nature from one of the cards

Use Flashcards with Thinking Tree Journals

Write a Story About Something that Really Happened, use your history cards. It really happened. Maybe not to you but it did happen (smile & wink).
Use Flashcards with Thinking Tree Journals
Have your child read the back of the card and summarize it!

Copywork, gotcha covered there too with some cards.
Use Flashcards with Thinking Tree Journals

Creative Writing page, done!
Use Flashcards with Thinking Tree Journals
Have your child pick a picture card and write about it. Make up a story and illustrate it.

Reading Time Page: have your child select four cards and write, illustrate, and/or draw what they read.
Use Flashcards with Thinking Tree Journals

So find all those old flashcards and have your child start using them with their Summer Thinking Tree journal (or any journal).

Watch my 3 minute video ~sorry about the mad woman look, hehe.
To see more Thinking Tree videos visit my YouTube page and/or click on Thinking Tree Videos to read/see more ideas here on my blog. The videos I try to keep short so my written post usually have more information. 

McGuffey New Eclectic Readers (Review)

How many of you are familiar with the charming -very educational books called The McGuffey Readers but are not sure how to use them to their fullest potential? I have always loved the McGuffey Readers but was never sure just how to implement them. Did you know that the McGuffey Readers can be a Language Arts course covering spelling, vocabulary, copywork, dictation, narration, written narrations, and so forth?
McGuffey's New Readers By Everyday Education
The McGuffey's New Fourth Eclectic Reader is recommended for grades 6-7 with a reading level of 6.8 to 8.9 with some stories reading level as high as 10.1.

McGuffey's New Fifth Eclectic Reader is recommended for early to middle high school or as needed. Reading level 5.8 to 10.11. Reading progresses pretty quickly so don't let the 5.8 scare you with this being the Fifth Reader.

Janice Campbell from Everyday Education has republished the 1857 edition of the McGuffey Readers. These are the last edition that McGuffy helped with. Janice found the 1857 edition that McGuffey's instruction in the art of appropriate and effective expression as well as clear, distinct pronunciation was very much more dominant in this edition than others which is something that is lost in many modern language arts programs.

The 1857 Edition of McGuffey Readers republished by Everyday Education you will find:
  • More teacher helps than the previous editions.
  • An intense focus on building verbal skills than the previous editions.
  • This is the last edition that Mr. McGuffey was personally involved with.
  • Remodeled for higher reading/grade - the lessons are more difficult and the books six volume set extends through high school (see Everyday Education's site for more details)
  • Complete Original Text from McGuffey's 1857 edition
  • Phonics Based Reading Instructions
  • New introduction showing how to use Charlotte Mason's techniques with the Readers: copywork, narration, recitation, and dictation.
  • Mom learns right along with her child (or teacher to student).
What I love about Everyday Education's edition is there's a Mr. McGuffey, Meet Charlotte Mason chapter. This eighteen page chapter explains how Mason's and McGuffey approaches are compatible and how to blend McGuffey approach with Mason's: copywork, dictation,  recitation, and so forth.
McGuffey's New Readers By Everyday Education
I was given the Fourth & Fifth Readers to review so those are the two I will focus on. Both books are softcover and the pages are actually a cream color. Mine iss a review copy thus the white pages.

In the Fourth McGuffey Reader by Everyday Education there is two pages of Marks & Pauses teaching your child about a hyphen, comma, semicolen, a dash, different sentence types, brackets, parenthesis, etc.
McGuffey's New Readers By Everyday Education
The Articulation section which is thoroughly explained, gives the Key to the Sound of the Letters: vocals, subvocals, asperated and exercises for each.For instance with the vocal exercise  you are instructed to say each word and then its vowel sound, and have your child imitate you. So if you are practicing the long sound of the letter a you will say these words: mate, rate, rain, aim, say, day, they, ere, feint, weigh, gauge, break, and steak.
McGuffey's New Readers By Everyday Education
After the Articulation section is Errors to be Corrected for example the incorrect way to say fetal is Fa-t'l the correct way is fa-tal

Those are just a few of what McGuffey has in the 20 page introduction section of the 1857 edition of the McGuffy Readers. 

This is one aspect that makes this edition different. The elocution and articulation is explained thoroughly and in more depth to make it easier for the teacher to teach the child. The Introduction pages are referenced in the lessons so your child will know when to go use them (if needed).

At the beginning of each lesson are spelling words along with their definition. Also before the child reads the selection there is what is labeled Sound, here the child is instructed for instance in Lesson VIII. it says sound the t fully. Do not say jus for just and so forth. There is even page number where the child can go back to the Introduction section which in this lesson is page 27 to practice the T Final sound.
McGuffey's New Readers By Everyday Education

Other times there may be a "lesson" pronounce correctly or articulation exercise before the reading selection.
End of lesson VIII
At the end of the lesson are questions or exercises for the student and sometimes teacher notes as well.

The Fifth Reader's introduction isn't as in depth in articulation as the 4th reader.It covers it but again not as thoroughly.

The Fifth Reader covers very thoroughly Inflections which are slides of the voice upward and downward.
Inflections pages cover (and there are always examples):
  • Falling Inflections
  • Strong Emphasis
  • Rising and Falling Inflections
  • Circumflex
  • Monotone
Also included in the introduction of the Fifth Reader (each explained thoroughly):
  • Accent
  • Emphasis: Absolute Emphasis, Emphatic Phrase, Emphatic Pause,
  • Modulation: Pitch & Compass, Quantity & Quality
  • Poetic Pauses
The lessons are set up like those in the Fourth Edition.

What I love is the stories are interesting and my kids enjoy them. Now the poems they have a bit more difficult time with only because they are poems. My kids prefer stories.

As you can see there is a lot of learning in the McGuffey Readers. I do want to remind you that this edition has the Charlotte Mason Meet McGuffey, so you won't do all the lessons and exercises as written (you can of course). You will have your child use the selections in a more Charlotte Mason-ish way.

1. You will choose a passage
2. Follow the McGuffey's instruction for oral work in articulation and rhetoric
3. Apply the appropriate Mason tool for written work: copywork, recitation, dictation, etc.

All this is explained in the Charlotte Mason introduction: Mr. McGuffey, Meet Charlotte Mason =)

For all you visual mamas here's a video comparing the introduction part of the Fourth & Fifth Readers by Everyday Education.
I hope this review has helped you understand what makes the republished New McGuffey Readers by Everyday Education special and unique from other editions.

The McGuffey Readers can be used as your primary language arts program or supplement your current one. With Ethan right now we are using it for reading and a little bit of spelling. As the year is winding down we haven't used the McGuffey Fifth Reader to its fullest but I would like to use it more as his primary LA program for 8th grade.

Please read Janice's helpful article regarding the McGuffey Readers:

Starter Pack for Children Ages 10+

See Edit at the bottom of this post with regards to the Thinking Tree Learning Levels.

Have you been wondering where to start your child using the Thinking Tree? If so I wrote a post for ages 5-9 with a Starter Pack to give you some ideas with what to start your child using. In this post, I want to share a Starter Pack for ages 10+

As always, feel free to swap out the main curriculum journal with another as well as the spelling journal. Customize it, make it work for your unique family.
The Thinking Tree Starter pack
This post may contain affiliate links. Please see my disclosure.
When your books arrive you'll want to take your child to the library so he can check out at least 8 books to use with his journal. As part of his eight books ~you might have him find a few books to use with Travel Dreams journal as well. Pick a place to 'visit' then have fun learning all about the people there. 
Watch my 5-minute video walking you through each book!  
The Do-it-Yourself Journal is the 60 Day Plan Handbook. Your child will complete about 5-10 pages a day for 2-4 hours of fun learning. This journal has some Travel Dreams pages too but your child will choose where he wants to visit, so think about that as well when choosing books.

If you'd like to take a peek inside this journal and see another very similar journal to this one but with a different cover you watch a video HERE.

In the Do-it-Yourself curriculum, journal spelling is not completed every day. On the days your child doesn't complete a spelling page you can have him use the Spelling Time book or whichever spelling journal you have chosen for your child.

Use Travel Dreams 2-3 times a week. Students in 5th-8th grade can study one city per month. High School students study one city per week to finish the course within a year.

You can swap out Travel Dreams with Timeline of World History, Time Travel History, United States Handbook or the Seven Amazing Continents (not pictured).

Math Genius can be used daily along with your current math program. If that is a bit much for your 10 or 11 year old than you can either take a few days off from your regular math and use Math Genius on those days, use Math Genius 2-3 a week along with your child's current math, or if it's summer and you are doing a lighter school load, use it then as your child's math for the summer with some fun math games (online or board games).

My 14 and 15-year-old boys use it daily with their regular math program. My 11 and 12 yr. old boys will start Math Genius soon. I might have them do two days of Math Genius and three days of their regular math program.

You can also forgo your regular math program while completing Math Genius. It's not a full math program per se but if your child struggling and/or dislikes math ~having him use Math Genius for a while can really boost his confidence & give him a break from 'regular' math while still 'doing' math. Have your child get lots of math in via games, shopping, putting together the household budget and so forth while using Math Genius.

(Exchange Math Genius for Multiplication Games or Bible Games.)

Math Genius is fun and non-stressful. It's a great way to take a few week off (or longer) if your child is really stressing out about math or struggling with it. Don't forget to allow your child to use a calculator. The whole idea is to show your child that they are a math genius.

Dyslexia Games is not for dyslexic students only or children with learning challenges. I absolutely love Dyslexia Games because it uses logic, art, and creative thinking using and training the right side of the brain. This series of logic -right brain training is awesome!

You can use Dyslexia Games as your child's temporary Language Arts program. Dyslexia Games helps with concentration, spelling, reading, and writing. This would be a nice break or change from your current Language Arts program.

(Other spelling choices Spelling Time B, Spelling Time Level CPsalm & Proverbs, Creative Spelling and Bible Time Vocabulary which is not pictured below.)

If you are not comfortable with stopping your current LA program that's fine too but try to start your day with Dyslexia Games. It's a great way to ease your child into "school" and gets the brain ready for the day. You can play classical music or other calming music. I wouldn't use this time to listen to an audiobook (but you can if you like) only because I think it's important for the child to put all their brain effort into the logic puzzles. In other words, keep their concentration on Dyslexia Games.

If it's a doodle or coloring page, then an audio book is fine. I would just try to keep radios, audiobooks, and anything that will distract them when using non-coloring pages. That's just my opinion. With my children, I don't want their attention split between two things. At least not when using Dyslexia Games.

These science journals were not available at the time we put this Starter Pack together. Pick a Science Journal to go along with your Starter Pack! Nature Study & Outdoor Science or the Science Handbook.

Need help putting a Starter Pack together feel free to email me at homeschooling6(at)hotmail(dot)com. Please include if this will be for a boy or girl and the age of the child.

EDITED: This post was written before the Thinking Tree Learning Levels were created. This is a Sarah approved Starter Pack. Keep in mind that you can swap journals out and many of the journals CAN be used for multiple ages/grades, you will adjust things to your child.

Travel Dreams can be used with a 5th-grade student (10yr.) by scaling back to one city a month as written above. Check out lots of library books on that city, watch YouTube Videos, and make a meal etc.

If Spelling Time is too advanced for your 11-year-old child than swap it out for Spelling Time B.

Read about the Starter Pack for Ages 5-9 too! See all Journals HERE.

The Thinking Tree

Thinking Tree Starter Packs For ages 5-9

One question I get asked often is, "Where do I start with using the Thinking Tree?", so here you go! Sarah put together two starter packs that will give you all an idea of where to start your Thinking Tree journey.

This Starter Pack is recommended for Ages 5-9
This post may contain affiliate links. Please read my disclosure.
Sarah suggest at this age to use Dyslexia Games Sereies A as your child's Language Arts program because it helps with concentrating, reading,handwriting, and spelling. With DG you don't have to 'teach' there is no correcting because your child is using art and logic. If your child misses something that's okay. If they continue to miss things or not see the patterns, do it with them but NEVER say it's wrong. Sit with your child and say, "Oh, look at that line, let's see if "we" put that", this way your "helping" your child (having fun too) and not correcting your child.
If your child is 8 or 9 you might want to take a look at Dyslexia Games B. This series like Series A will help with concentration, reading, handwriting, and spelling, toward the end of this series your child will transition from games and art to writing via copywork.

Using a 100 Words to Read, Write, and Spell along with Dyslexia Games is a non stressful way to learn how to spell and it's fun. Your child will learn about animals too! Read a Mom Tip by Sarah Janisse Brown -just scroll down to the bottom and see what she says about writing and spelling. Very insightful.

She also does a wonderful job explaining why Word Hunt helps a child learn to spell and read this would include the Fun-Schooling Spelling Book as well.

If you can swing it, I'd also add to your Fun-Schooling Starter Pack: How to Homeschool ~A Purse sized Guide to Getting Started (which is recommended in the next Starter Pack) this book goes great with the Mom's Fun-Schooling Handbook and is just packed with helpful ideas. I am graduating my first child this year and I still found the How to Homeschool book refreshing, an encouragement, and learned new things. Sarah doesn't tell you how to homeschool, haha, no pun intended but how to homeschool your children, your unique family, because every family is different and there is no "right" way to homeschool. The sooner you read this book the better :)

And as always feel free to swap a spelling/math and/or journal out for another to make this work for your homeschool.

On a budget? If I had to narrow the Starter Pack down, I'd say a must is Dyslexia Games because it covers multiple 'subjects': reading, spelling, writing.I believe every child should use Dyslexia Games  it's such  a great start for beginning readers, struggling readers, children with learning challenges, it truly is wonderful program to have your child work through. Children are learning while having fun and it's not overwhelming or stressful. What a great way to do "school".

I'd also suggest the journal because your child will use real books to learn. If your child is just beginning to read, use read aloud books. Books that you are reading to your child and have him illustrate, dictate to you, and so forth.

You can find all the books mentioned in the video Here. There are links to each of the books and review links as well. And please check out my YouTube page. I am adding a peek inside of each of the books (work in progress).

~Read about the Starter Pack for Ages 10+ 

The Thinking Tree

Spelling Using Word Hunt

Word Hunt 1, 2, and 3 is part of the Dyslexia Games series. I LOVE these books. Simple yet very effective. I am using these with my kiddos. Actually right now two are using the Fun-Schooling Spelling Journal but once done they will use Word Hunt 3. My kids also use Dyslexia Games so they eventually use all three Word Hunt books.
Word Hunt from Dyslexia Games 
Your child does NOT have be dyslexic to use Word Hunt or Dyslexia Games. Every child (I believe) should use Dyslexia Games. I love the logic, art, and creativity of DG. 

A five minute video walking you through each book, enjoy!
Purchase individually from Amazon (affiliate links):
Sarah is explaining why Word Hunt from her popular Dyslexia Games series is so important ~this also applies to her Fun-Schooling Spelling journal as well. Sarah is a wealth of information, she needs to be speaking at conventions, getting the word out that there is a better way to learn how to spell =)

There is a reason for searching for a certain number of letters in each word. Counting the letters in the words helps kids to remember the words in a new way. They are also counting letters in many other words, not just the ones they write down, so they are experiencing the words in a different part of the brain.

When they count letters they are making new brain synapse connections and strengthening pathways for reading and math.

If the child is moving from place to place while looking around they use more senses. The physical activity is also helpful for hyper active children who need movement; this book gets them out of their seats.

If the student isn't hyper active, and doesn't need extra physical activity, you can let them look for the words in a favorite book, my daughters uses cookbooks. You can have the student do as few as 10 words per day, and use next book in the series at the same time.

It really is important to do Word Hunt, and we have found that this exercise is what helps dyslexics to become good at spelling and writing.

A couple of my kids are a little lazy when it's time to do Word Hunt, they are the same ones who eat too many sweets. They have a few more bad habits than the self-motivated kids, and would choose to sit around drawing, chatting, watching videos, doing facebook or playing mine-craft...and not exercising much. They would not be good unschoolers.

I need to guide and instruct these children more than the others. :)On a positive note they are more focused on their relationships (than on learning) and are delightful to spend time with, caring and sweet. They were late readers and they love both creativity and animals. These are the ones that I really need to encourage to follow through. Every child has different needs for motivation, and there are times to give up on learning activities that they dislike - but I have found that with all of them, Word Hunt is an activity that has triggered break troughs in their reading and writing abilities. In the end they would all rather do Word Hunt than memorize spelling lists and takes tests.

(I was not asked to write about Word Hunt but adding this because I was given Dyslexia Games B & C, I did purchase A)

Perfect Reading and Beautiful Handwriting (Review)

Janice Campbell from Everyday Education sent me Perfect Reading & Beautiful Handwriting to review for you all!

What I received: Perfect Reading & Beautiful Handwriting Bundle -Print & eBook Bundle. You can also purchase on the print or only the eBook as well.

What is really unique about this program is it not only teaches your child how to read but write in the beautiful Italic handwriting. There's a total of 60 step-by-step phonic lessons!
I didn't realize that the typical printing taught to children have only six letters that are made with one stroke. Italic has twenty. The book teaches your child the strokes, then gives many practice pages (as your child is learning to read), at the end of the program (Chapter 6) it shows how to join the italic letters for cursive writing.

This is something I wish I had started all six of my kids with. Maybe they'd have beautiful handwriting as teenagers!
Perfect Reading and Beautiful Handwriting
The first chapter in Perfect Reading & Beautiful Handwriting provides information about reading, handwriting, and tips for teaching.

At the beginning of the book there is a suggested schedule for:
  •  Young students and/or learning challenges
  • School age students who is not yet reading
  • school age students who is already reading
The program includes 60 lesson the first lessons start with the alphabet. If you are using this with an older child you can skip this chapter for reading. The alphabet pages are great for older students to practice the italic font.
Perfect Reading and Beautiful Handwriting
You can see the full table of contents HERE and download a free sample lesson as well.

For younger children and struggling readers you will (not all on the same day):
  • Review (5 minutes, this is daily for all students young and old)
  • Introduce 
  • Trace
  • Sound Out
  • Read
  • Copy
  • Practice
For example if you have a child just beginning your schedule may look like this:
  • Monday: review, introduce, trace
  • Tuesday: review, sound out, read, copy
  • Wednesday: review, introduce, trace
  • Thursday: review, sound out, read, copy
  • Friday: review, read, practice
And again, this is a suggested schedule, so go slower if needed or speed up.  
Perfect Reading and Beautiful Handwriting
Many of the words in Perfect Reading & Beautiful Handwriting  are words that your child will be familiar with. Your child by age 5 or 6 has a speaking vocabulary of over twenty thousands words!

After the first chapter which had your child go over the alphabet, chapter two will start with short vowel.
Perfect Reading and Beautiful Handwriting
In Lesson 2 - Short a ~your child will come across words like cat, bat, hat, bag, (all familiar words) and also words like hack and tack. If your child doesn't know that 'c' and 'k' makes the hard /c/ sound, then simply tell him and move on. At first I was thinking, "Why is the ck sound in the first lessons?" but looking back on the early years when I was teaching phonics to my kiddos. When using programs that taught extensively on the "ck" sound, when to use it after the short vowel and such -my kids would be so confused. It was like a deer and headlights saying. Sometimes I think too much phonics can be not so good for our little ones. Like the book says, by age five or six our children 'know' so many words.

Now looking back, I wish I hadn't used some programs that did overkill phonics with my children. I wish I had the wisdom to just stop and trust myself. (My little tidbit of experience at no extra charge, hehe).
All that to say, don't stress that there is a word with the 'ck' sound at the beginning. Simply tell your child the sound and continue on with your lesson.

Throughout the book there's silly sentences which makes it more fun. With my Aspie (shows signs of Asperger's Syndrome but hasn't been tested) he liked these sentences. At first he didn't understand them and told me they don't make sense. I explained that they are silly sentences so he enjoys them now.

The majority of English words -about 87-97% sound the way they are spelled. There is the 10 that don't ~what we call the exception to the phonics "rules". Out of that 10% only 6% of the most commonly used words are the "exceptions" to the rules. These exception to the rules words like "said" are few in numbers and are covered in this program.

The "exception" words are in a box at the bottom of the page. For example Lesson 3 - Short e lessons, at the bottom of the page there is a 'box' that says, "Other words with shore e sound: said, says, been, again.
Some lessons will introduce multiple sounds like lesson 31. In this lesson your child will learn the -ew, wu, eau, eye sounds. With younger children you can split this up over a few days. Have them practice writing the words with the sound saying each sound as the child says the word in a separate composition book. The child can even circle the the sound that is being practiced.

Perfect Reading & Beautiful Handwriting explains how to pronounce the sounds for example in lesson 28 "When ea is like ee" it says, "In a lot of words when 'ea' is present, the letter 'a' has to be silent and let the letter 'e' say its name" then in lesson 30 'ea' comes up again with the other sounds it makes.

What I really appreciate about this program is the simplicity of use. It's all in one book. The original purchaser has permission to copy the blank lined pages too (only). I love that Janice Campbell has the bundle option available on her site because I like to hold a physical book. Having the eBook allows me to make additional copies.

 See my video of Perfect Reading & Beautiful Handwriting below!

Notgrass: From Adam to Us (Review)

The three younger kids and I have been using From Adam to Us by Notgrass and loving it!!! This is a one year world history and literature course.

Recommended Grades: 5th-8th

What we received:
Notgrass did a wonderful job with designing a course that isn't dry and boring. The lessons are written in a narrative fashion to keep the interest of the students. There are many illustrations and the text will mention to look at the pictures on such and such page if on the same page it will read, "look to the left" or "see illustration below".
From Adam To Us by Notgrass

The two main text Part 1 & 2 are gorgeous with full color pictures.Each hardback book has 15 Units for a total of 30 Units. Within the Units are 5 lessons.

Each weekly unit includes:
  • Our World Story: using major events to give a big picture for the kids to see and understand the chronology. For example the Tower of Babel, the conquest of Alexander the Great, the invention of the printing press, and so forth.
  • God's Wonders: children will explore the world's created wonders and how they have influenced the world.
  • World Landmark: exploring places like the Pyramids, Great Wall of China, and so forth which show how people are created in God's image (and were very intelligent from the beginning).
  • World Biography: lessons that relate to the times of some of the most "famous" people that our children are familiar with like Ramses II, Johann Sebastian Bach, etc. 
  • Daily Life: a peek inside how the people lived with colorful illustrations, maps, and pictures of artifacts, etc.
What I love is all the assignments are included at the end of each lesson so your child will know exactly what needs to be done.
From Adam To Us by Notgrass
For example in one lesson your child will work in their:
  • Timeline Book
  • Student Workbook or Lesson Review which ever you are having your child use.
  • Thinking Biblically: Make a chart of the generations from Adam to Noah and the number of years each one lived. See Genesis chapter 5 and also chapter 9:29 for details.
  • Vocabulary: Write the following words that belongs in each sentence (your child will use a composition or notebook to complete this assignment).
  • Creative Writing: Make a list of 15 different ways the people are creative
Depending on the age and abilities of your child you can have them complete all the assignments or pick and choose.

Some lessons have a lighter assignment day.
From Adam to Us
A few more samples of the writing assignments that your child will encounter:
  • Write a one page letter as if you were a centurion during the time of Jesus writing home to his family. Your letter can be from any part of the Roman Empire.
  • Write a story of at least one page about an inn on the silk road.
  • Choose five of the photos in this lesson. Write a brief description of each photo. Under each description write three adjectives that describe the photo.
  • Write a paragraph about how one of the inventions discussed in this lesson is a part of your everyday life.
Some examples of Thinking Biblically:
  • Read Daniel 1:1-7 concerning how Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah, came to serve Nebuchadnessar.
  • Read from Peter's letter to his fellow believers in 2 Peter 1:12-18.
  • If you were going to copy only one book from the Bible which would you choose? Write a paragraph explaining your answer.
  • Copy 1 Timothy 1:15
I wanted to share some of the Writing and Thinking Biblically because I really like them. You will need to add a composition book, notebook, or notebook paper in a binder to assignments like the writing, vocabulary, etc.

At the end of each unit is a Family Activity (pages found in the back of each book). Your child will make Sticky Bricks Stonehenge, An Album of Prophets, and Eiffel Tower Collage to name a few.
The Literature Package is sold separately and includes ten books.

How we are using From Adam to Us: I purchased extra workbooks, timeline, and map books so I could use this with three kids. Right now we are using the program together. I read the lessons and the literature book which becomes our current read aloud. We do the map and timeline book seated together. 

The rest of the assignments the children do on their own. I leave the book from Adam to Us on the kitchen table so they can come back and look at the pictures and such for their assignment.  We leave the book in the kitchen since all three kids are sharing it.
From Adam To Us by Notgrass
Our thoughts: The boys are really liking it. Having all the mapwork and timeline work in their own book is great. As much as I LOVE timeline figures -I'm loving that we don't have to cut and glue pieces in our books. It's less paper getting lost. 

I was looking for a Christ Centered history program and Notgrass delivers that. You can see the love they have for Christ with the way they put this program together. Each lesson ends with a scripture. I love how it points everything back to Christ
Bottom line: The program is set up well for kids to use independently. Since I have three kids using the program we do it together. 

Having the assignments after each lesson in the textbook is great because there is no extra assignment book to keep track of. I love that there are no separate teacher lesson plans. Everything is laid out without me going crazy and losing parts of the program.

Love, love, love, the full color text and the maps. Having the maps included in the text is super helpful to "see" where everything is happening.