Friday, October 09, 2015

Progeny Press ~ Sarah, Plain and Tall Study Guide ~ REVIEW

Recently my daughters and I were blessed to be able to review the downloadable digital study guide, Sarah, Plain and Tall from Progeny Press. We had read Sarah, Plain, and Tall in the past but we had never had the privilege of adding a study guide. This study guide proved to be very helpful and a ton of fun for all three of my daughters and I. 

For the purpose of this review we checked out the book Sarah, Plain, and Tall from our local library. I was certain we had a copy around our home somewhere, but like a lot of books in this house, it had disappeared. I'm certain we will find it someday. 

Sarah, Plain, and Tall is a fabulous book. If you have never had the chance to read it, I recommend it and I highly recommend purchasing the Sarah, Plain and Tall - E-Guide to go with it.

The story is a simple story of a family that needs a mother and of the woman who gradually fills this need. We find the book exciting and inspiring.

The Sarah, Plain and Tall - E-Guide is a 47 page study guide written by Rebecca Gilleland. It is recommended for grades 4-7. The study guide is filled with wonderful information and help while reading through the story. We chose to print out the study guide.

Each chapter of the book has corresponding vocabulary words as well as chapter questions in the study guide. Another wonderful part of the study guide is the Dig Deeper Section. In this section my daughters had the opportunity to grow spiritually through reading the assigned scripture passages and answering the assigned questions.

Using the study guide was simple. We chose to read one or two chapters a day and then turn to the study guide for the remaining part of our literature time. Using the study guide took no more than 30 minutes of our day. 

One of my daughters absolute favorite part of the study was the Before-You-Read Activities that are included in the study guide and the After-You-Read Activities. Some of the activities they did where map work, research work, and family discussions. They had a ton of fun locating Maine on the map and researching life on the prairie in the late 1800s. They also learned about mail order brides and why some men advertised for them. They thought the whole study was fun and educational. 

Even though they loved the Before-You-Read Activities, they loved the After-You-Read Activities even better. They were able to draw beautiful landscapes using colored pencils. They also spent the day with me collecting wild flowers and pressing them. We had an absolute blast doing that. It's a memory that will last forever. 

There were also creative writing activities included in the study guide along with As-You-Read Assignments as well. All of the activities were very beneficial to my daughters education and I was truly impressed with the study guide as a whole. Even though my daughters had read Sarah, Plain, and Tall before, they had never learned and absorbed the information like they did this time. 

Another fun activity suggested in the guide was to walk down a beach and collect sea shells and use a field guide to identify them. Of course, my daughters wanted to complete this activity so we did. The girls even wrote the name, Sarah, really big in the sand. 

Towards the end of the study we watched the movie Sarah, Plain, and Tall, starring Glenn Close. I loved how the study guide included questions for discussion. Such as, how the story had been changed, and if the characters were similar to the characters in the book. 

The last thing my daughters did was a cooking assignment suggested in the study guide. In chapter 4 of Sarah, Plain, and Tall, papa bakes and serves warm bread. It was suggested to bake and serve warm bread. We had never made bread from scratch before, so I was very thankful that the study guide included ingredients and instructions. They came in handy and the bread turned out amazing! My daughters definitely learned a new skill. A skill that I'm sure will come in handy again in the future. 

How Much Does The Sarah, Plain and Tall - E-Guide Cost?

Right now you can purchase the study guide for only $17.99

Final Thought

All three of my daughters expressed how this was one of their favorite studies of the year. I was also pleasantly pleased with the study as well. I loved how in not only had worksheet questions but that it also had a ton of hands-on activities to participate in also. I look forward to looking for more products from Progeny Press.

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Wednesday, October 07, 2015

Reading Kingdom ~ REVIEW

Two of my daughters were recently blessed with the opportunity to review Reading Kingdom Online from Reading Kingdom. Online reading programs are a big deal in our home, because reading isn't something that has came easy for my girls. We have used many programs in the past and I couldn't be more pleased with this one. 

The Reading Kingdom is a fun, easy-to-use online reading program that teaches children 4-10 years old how to read and write to a third grade level. Reading Kingdom's system was developed by Dr. Marion Blank, a world renowned expert on literacy and the Director of the Light on Learning Institute at Columbia University. They use a 6 skill model of reading instruction that incorporates elements of phonics and whole language while teaching additional skills required for reading and writing success without requiring kids to learn any complicated rules. The fact that my daughters didn't have to learn a bunch of complicated rules was a huge blessing. The following are the six areas of reading it teaches: Phonics, Sequencing, Writing, Meaning, Grammar, and Comprehension.  It is recommended to use the program at least three times per week. 

How we used Reading Kingdom Online

My daughters love the program so much that they actually use it more than three times per week. One of my daughters, Gracie has an average of 4.3 days a week and she is pretty proud of that. I can't believe how far she has came in the short few weeks we have reviewed the program. 

She has always struggled with reading and writing and in these short few weeks she has not only advanced through the program fairly fast, but she has also retained the information she has been learning. That is a huge blessing for her and me as well. We have used programs before that they have done well within the program, but haven't retained the information. This hasn't been the case with Reading Kingdom. She enjoys logging in and completed her lessons and sometimes even asks if she can continue on. Of course, I say yes! A daughter asking to do her reading and writing assignments is incredible. I'm so thankful that we have finally found a program that she enjoys and learns so well with. We will for sure be continuing on with this program in our studies.

One of things that I enjoy about this program is that the students begin with a placement test to determine where to start in Reading Kingdom. This places them in the correct portion of the program that is going to benefit them the best. It was important for me to step back and not help my daughters so that they would be placed in the correct area. My youngest wasn't pleased at first because she had to start from the very beginning, letter land. She felt like she already knew those areas and was able to finish those areas with ease and move up in the program. After she made it to level one she began to appreciate the program a lot better and also enjoyed logging in and completing her lessons. She wasn't as enthusiastic as her sister about completing more than she needed. However, I was just thankful that she does enjoy the program and does get her work completed. 

Another thing I enjoy about the program is the fact that I have to ability to download and print student reports. I felt like this was a nice addition to the program and helpful in seeing my daughters progress. There is even a spot to download student diplomas for when the finish the program. They will love having that and I can't wait to be able to print one for both daughters. 

Final Thought

As you can probably already tell, we loved Reading Kingdom and highly recommend it. It is a program that we will stick with and I can't wait to see how much more my daughters learn with it. 

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Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Middlebury Interactive Languages - Elementary Spanish 1: Grades 3-5 - Review

Teaching a foreign language is something I worried about when I first started our homeschooling journey. I'm sure I wasn't alone in those feelings. Thankfully I was blessed to be able to find some pretty great resources to help my children. Just recently my youngest daughter had the chance to review Elementary Spanish 1: Grades 3-5 from Middlebury Interactive Languages. This was a great opportunity for her and it took a ton of stress off of me. 

Elementary Spanish 1: Grades 3-5 is an introductory Spanish course that provides a fun, interactive experience for a student’s first exposure to the Spanish language. The content for each unit is based on an authentic story, myth or legend from various Spanish-speaking cultures. We felt that the stories were a fun way to keep my daughters attention and keep her interested in what she was learning. 

The purpose of the program is to get your child comfortable with the sounds and rhythms of Spanish; to learn simple Spanish phrases; begin to read, write, speak and listen for meaning in Spanish; and recognize distinctive practices and products of Spanish-speaking cultures.

How we used the program

For the purpose of this review my daughter logged on and completed a lesson at least three times per week. The course was broken into 16 units:

Unit 1: Family
Unit 2: Numbers
Unit 3: Greetings
Unit 4: Adjectives/feelings
Unit 5: Food
Unit 6: Community/professions
Unit 7: Body
Unit 8: Review
Unit 9: Animals
Unit 10: Colors
Unit 11: Clothes
Unit 12: Weather and Seasons
Unit 13: School
Unit 14: Calendar
Unit 15: Months
Unit 16: Review

Each unit was then broken into 6 lessons. Each lesson contains fun and education portions such as:

  • Stories
  • Games
  • Activities
  • Songs
  • Quizzes
  • Assessments
  • Speaking Labs

One of my daughter's favorite part of the course was a part called Speaking Lab. In this part my daughter had the chance to listen to different Spanish words or phrases and then record herself saying the same words and phrases. She had a blast with the portion of the course. I felt like it was wonderful for her to be able to hear how she was saying the words. There were many instances where she wouldn't like how she said it, so she would try over and over again until she mastered it. That alone was awesome practice for her. 


One of my favorite parts of the program is the gradebook. In this section I can pull up a list that will show me my daughter's scores for all lessons and quizzes. This is a wonderful way for me to be able to check her progress and make sure she is staying on track with the program. From there I can also view all of the activities and even see the problems that were marked incorrect. This is nice, because it allows me to go back over these problems with her. 

Final Thought

As a homeschool mom whom very much desired to have my daughters learn a foreign language, I'm very pleased with this program. It wasn't only fun but it was also engaging, effective, and easy to use. Best of all is that it requires minimal effort on my part. My daughter can work independently and I absolutely love that. Although, I did also have fun participating in the program with her. I have to admit, I learned a ton of Spanish myself from the program. This to me was a win-win. I foresee us continuing with this program and can't wait to see what else my daughter learns. If you are looking for a high quality Spanish program than I definitely recommend you check out Middlebury Interactive Languages

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Friday, September 25, 2015

USAopoly - Wonky & Tapple REVIEW

Hi friends, My family and I just recently had the opportunity to participate in a really fun review. We were blessed with the games Wonky: The Crazy Cubes Card Game and Tapple: Fast Word Fun for Everyone from USAopoly. I'm a huge fan of fun and educational games and these two games did not disappoint.

Wonky: The Crazy Cubes Card Game is recommended for ages 8+ and can be played with two or more players. Wonky is a card game that requires building wobbly towers with odd-shaped blocks. Each player is dealt out a certain number of cards. They then have to only play the blocks that correspond to the cards they have in their hand or if they don't have a card that matches the blocks still in play, they will have to draw for more cards. The object of the game is to trip up your opponents as you stack a large block on a small one and make the tower wobble.  When it’s your turn you can even play a reverse play card for payback. You can even cause the next player to have to draw more cards. You want to be the first player to get rid of all your cards without toppling the tower and you will win. My whole family spent hours playing. It was a blast and we can't wait to take it with us to family gatherings.

How Much does Wonky: The Crazy Cubes Card Game cost?
You can currently purchase this fun family game for only $19.95

Tapple: Fast Word Fun for Everyone is such a fun game. It is also receommended for ages 8+ and can be played with 2-8 players. The game usually takes between 10-20 minutes to play. The rules are simple. Simply pick a category card, say a word that fits the category, you will then tap the first letter of the word before a timer goes off. After your turn you then pass the Tapple wheel on to the next player. The best part of this game is that there is no spelling required. It was so fun and my daugthers didn't even realize they were learning. We will also be taking this game with us o family gatherings.

How Much does Tapple: Fast Word Fun for Everyone cost?

You can currently purchase this game for also only $19.95

Final Thought

Our family feels so blessed to have been able to review both of these super fun family games. Games that are not only fun but educational are our favorites. My daughters had so much fun playing and they didn't even realize how much they were truly learning. My husband even had fun playing them.  

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Monday, September 21, 2015

YWAM Publishing - HEROES OF HISTORY Ben Carson: A Chance at Life - REVIEW

My daughters and I recently had the opportunity to review HEROES OF HISTORY Ben Carson: A Chance at Life and the Unit Study Curriculum Guide from YWAM Publishing.  This was such a fun and interesting study. My daughters and I enjoyed it immensely.

HEROES OF HISTORY Ben Carson: A Chance at Life is a 192 page paperback book recommended for ages 10+. This wonderful book introduces you to and explores the life of the world famous
neurosurgeon, Ben Carson. As a child growing up in Detroit, Ben Carson has a dream of becoming a physician, a dream that rose out of struggles with poverty, racism, and poor grades. As Ben persevered and strove for academic excellence, his life became one of compassion and service. The book was such a joy to read with my children. At times we actually had a hard time putting it down. There were many moments my children would ask me to continue reading and of course I did.

The Unit Study Curriculum Guide was such a blessing. I felt that it was put together in a fantastic way. Each chapter of the book had corresponding chapter questions that were found in the unit study guide. These questions really helped my daughters remember what they were learning and I had fun asking them and hearing all the replies. The guide helped my daughters explore many different areas and is filled with a ton of wonderful information and help such as:

  • Essay writing
  • Creative writing
  • Hands-on projects
  • Audio/visual projects
  • Social Studies
  • Reproducible activity sheets
  • Geography
  • History
  • Vocabulary
  • Critical thinking
  • Community Links
  • Meaningful field trips
  • Guest speakers
  • Service projects
  • Related Themes to Explore
  • Politics and law
  • Current events
  • Life skills
  • Math
  • History
  • Geography
  • Science
  • Biography of Related Resources
  • Book recommendations
  • Movie recommendations
  • Documentaries
  • Magazine articles
  • Websites
  • Culminating Events
  • Project displays
  • Era music, food, and activities
  • Oral presentations

My daughters absolute favorite part of the unit study guide was a section called Student Explorations. In this section my daughters were able to complete some really fun hands-on activities such as creating a model of the brain, learning about Michigan, and even practice sewing. 

There were many reading, writing, and research activities also included in the guide. I loved how in depth some of the topics were and how easy everything was for my daughters to understand. Another fun activity was being able to sit down and watch a movie called Gifted Hands, recommended from the study guide, that was all about Ben Carson's life. 

One of the activities that my daughters haven't completed yet, but will soon is a timeline. We enjoyed that this was included and I look forward to my daughters completing it soon. 

Final Thought

Ben Carson's life is absolutely fascinating and inspiring and I'm so thankful my daughters were able to learn about it using HEROES OF HISTORY Ben Carson: A Chance at Life and the Unit Study Curriculum Guide from YWAM Publishing. learning all about history and much, much more was so fun and that's the kind of curriculum I love for my daughters. We highly recommend YWAM Publishing.  They offer a ton HEROES OF HISTORY books about a lot of different people from history.  

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Fascinating Education - Fascinating Biology - Review

For review purposes my daughter received a year access to the Fascinating Biology course, along with a short course in Chemistry from the wonderful company, Fascinating Education.  

Fascinating Education is a online science program offering courses in Biology, Physics and Chemistry. They use an audio-visual technique to teach science in a step-by-step manner. My daughter enjoyed it because she could actually see how science works in vivid color, rather than just reading about it.

How We Used the Fascinating Biology Course

Each course is broken down by topics. In the Biology course, there are 18 lessons and they cover the following topics:

  • What is Life?
  • Chemistry Review
  • Cell Membrane
  • Take in Nutrients
  • Take in Energy
  • Grow
  • Reproduce
  • Homeostasis
  • Adapt
  • Prokaryotes, Protists, Animals and Fungi
  • Plants

Each topic includes a lesson, a script of the lesson, and a test. 


The lessons are taught through video presentations. The videos have multiple slides and subtopics, which are found on the left hand side of the video in a menu bar. This allowed my daughter to stop the lessons at any time and come back where she left off and also allowed her to go back over information that she may have not completely understood. There is also a glossary available that defines some of the harder terms. This was also a nice addition to the already wonderful video lessons and also proved to be helpful to my daughter. 

Some of the lessons even allowed my daughter to get hands on. In lesson 2, Chemistry Review, my daughter learned about polar and non-polar molecules. There was a neat presentation that showed how oil and vinegar do not mix. My daughter of course wanted to try it as she was watching, so she did. She had seen the experiment before and had even done it in the past. This time however she understood even more about what was happening.  


After viewing the video lessons my daughter would open up and print the script of the lessons. She kept all the scripts together in a folder for safe keeping. She loved that she could look back over the scripts whenever she needed a little extra help remembering some of the information. 


The final part of each lesson is a test. The questions in the test portion are multiple choice questions and when my daughter would finish a question she would click a submit button to move on to the next question. My daughter showed some hesitation with the first few tests she took. At first she thought they would be too hard for her. We were both pleasantly surprised at how much information she was retaining from the lessons and she proved it with 100s on her tests. We were both so proud. 

Final Thought

We found Fascinating Education to be great for our science loving daughter. I do feel like it was a hit because she is a visual learner and the video lessons were right up her alley. However, I do wish there were more hands-on activities included in the lessons. We are going to continue using Fascinating Biology as a supplement and we look forward to seeing what else the course has in store. We recommend it for anyone wanting to learn more about chemistry, biology or physics.  

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Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Super Teacher Worksheets REVIEW

My daughters have always enjoyed worksheets. I'm honestly not sure why, because growing up I sure didn't. However they do and quite frankly I'm definitely okay with it. Seriously, children who love to do worksheets? That's a homeschool dream and just recently I feel like I hit the jackpot when I was chosen to review an Individual Membership from Super Teacher Worksheets.

Super Teacher Worksheets is a website that has thousands of printable PDF worksheets geared towards preschool through middle school. Their collections include math worksheets, spelling lists, phonics and reading comprehension passages, educational games, science, social studies, handwriting practice pages, puzzle and brain teasers, flashcards, holiday pages, teacher helpers and much more. More than likely if you are looking for a certain type of worksheet you can find it there. You can search by topic and by common core standards.

Another great thing they offer is the ability to generate your own worksheets using their Word Search Generator, Multiple Choice Generator, and Fill-in-the-Blanks Generator. This is a really cool addition because I can create my own worksheets over and over for all different types of curriculum we use. It's always nice to have the ability to tailor worksheets to our needs. There is even a fun area to create your own newsletter. I enjoyed being able to create one and place it on our refrigerator for all my daughters to see and reference. 

They also offer a spot to save all of your favorites in a place called my filing cabinet. This was extremely handy. I used this when I knew I wanted to print something but didn't need it immediately. When I needed it, I would print it and then delete it from my filing cabinet. I also liked that I could preview it right in the filing cabinet without having to actually open the PDF file.

For the purpose of this review we used a ton of the reading worksheets. My daughters enjoyed them immensely and would even ask for them occasionally. When your child asks to do worksheets then you know it must be good. It was! I was also impressed by the quality of the worksheets.

 The very first thing I printed was a worksheet called Book Bingo. My daughters loved it. I loved it because it was getting my daughters reading. The tasks were simple. For instance, one square might ask for my child to read a fable. After completing the tasks they would color in the squares until they had a bingo. It was fun and my daughters enjoyed doing it. 

I love that they add new printable worksheets, games, and teaching tools all the time! They even have a great page called What's New on STW where you can find all the new additions. I have a feeling I'm going to be stalking that area. 

Final Thought

I can't say enough about how much I love Super Teacher Worksheets. It's a website that I didn't have prior knowledge about before this review, but so thankful that I do know about it now. I know that we will continue using it for a long time. It's just too great not to add to my list of little treasures for honeschooling. Prior to reviewing this awesome site I spent hours searching out worksheets to compliment our studies. I no longer have to do that. Super Teacher Worksheets is a true time saver and blessing. If you are looking for worksheets for homeschool then I highly recommend that you give an Individual Membership a try. 

What does the Individual Membership cost?

Right now the price for an individual membership is only $19.95 per year.

It's absolutely worth every penny it in my opinion. 



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