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Thursday, July 10, 2014

WriteShop Review

Our review for WriteShop 

WriteShop Review

WriteShop offers writing resources for Kindergarten through high school, helping new and older homeschoolers teach writing with confidence. With engaging, step-by-step lessons that help build the writing process, pre-writing, revising, writing and brainstorming as well as help parents edit and evaluate your students work.

We recieved the digital download for WriteShop Junior Book Set D. This material works with many learning styles and will help guide your child through the writing process. Each lesson includes engaging games and activities that teach and review important writing and self editing skills. If your child is advanced or new to the writing, this curriculum is flexible so they can work at their own level. This curriculum was designed for a years worth of fun, however, they do note other options inside for cutting the time period back.  

WriteShop Review

About WriteShop Junior Book Set D: This set teaches basic writing like:
  • brainstorming 
  • organizing before writing
  • coming up with ideas 
  • self editing 
  • publishing creatively
Included in the Book Set D is a Teachers Guide, Student Activity Pack, Level 1 Fold N Go Grammar and optional Time Saver Pack. You can purchase the digital or physical copy. To purchase the physical copy, right now it costs $45.95, to purchase the digital copy (pdf/eBook), right now it costs $35.50. Timer Saver digital pack is $13.95

Table of Contents for Book D:
  • Letter of Invitation
  • Humor
  • Adventure
  • Science Fiction
  • Mystery
  • Poetry/Haiku
  • Folktales
  • Historical Fiction
  • Personal Narratives
  • Expository Writing: Factual Article
This level is designed for students in 3rd and 4th grade, however, you can use this with reluctant 5th & 6th graders. It is recommended to start with Book D if your child has not learned punctuation or grammar skills, still needs planning, organizing and adding details to stories. It is recommended that relunctant 3rd graders start with WriteShop Primary Book C. 

Please note: that this is not an individual study. It was designed for parents to work with their children when using this material.

When we got our downloads, I went through each one to see what all was inside. WOW! That is A LOT! Good information but maybe a bit much to run through. At first was sorta confusing on how to use the material. Teachers guide alone has 278 pages while the other 3 pack have anywhere from 22 pages to 74 pages. The page numbers didn't bother me as much as it did to run back in forth from one file to the other just print pages.

The timesaver pack has 9 lessons, most of which have 2 Activity Sets on Skill building and Pre-Writing. Fold and Go Grammar has 10 lessons covering Grammar basics like punctuation, nouns, pronouns, verbs, self editing and more. The student workbook pack goes along with with both the Activity Pack and Grammar Pack; beginning with the Activity pack first. To help you use this material they have included a schedule with daily plans that you can follow. Truthfully, although the schedules are nice at times, I am a hands on material kind of person. Don't get me wrong, I like the fact they offered schedules and daily lesson plans, (that shows me examples before I begin my tweeking). BUT.... I have never been one to follow curriculum to the T.  I will admit if I am confused or frustrated, then I will try it their way first if I can not come up with an alternative. But even then I might get myself in to more of a pickle. Because this is a review and we had 8 weeks to review this product, I honestly didn't tweek much).
In my opinion, school should not be so programmed. I always look back at when I went to public school. What classes bored me and why? How was the subject taught? I look at my kids and I dont want them bored with school, I want them engaging and enjoying what they learn. One reason why I support hands on teaching-learning. I like that this material allows for creativity (hands-on) skills. I dont mind encorporating some games in learning, however, I do mind jumping around getting the material together and lessons that go along with that particular game. I know it would be much to just combine the four digital files in to one full eBook, but it would be worth it to have all the material for each lesson together rather then some-what scattered. Again a lot of great useful information     but also a lot to print if you use the digital download. 

I like this material, but given more time I would definitely tweek it to help my own style of teaching as well as our family style of learning. 

Find out what others are saying about WriteShop by clicking below on the attached review crew link.
You can find WriteShop at the following places on the Web:

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/writeshop
Twitter: https://twitter.com/writeshop
Pinterest: http://www.pinterest.com/writeshop/boards/
Instagram: http://instagram.com/kimkautzer
Google+: https://plus.google.com/+Writeshop/

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Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Moving Beyond The Page Review

Our review for Moving Beyond the Page 

Moving Beyond the Page Review

 Moving Beyond the Page is a complete homeschool curriculum that encourages critical and creative thinking, provides challenging and engaging projects and supports different learning styles. One of the best things I like about this curriculum is    it works well for hands on learning and I am all about hands on teaching-learning. No matter what type of a teacher you are, no matter what type of a learner you have. This curriculum is useable for any style learner or teaching method. All you need is your creativity and will to have fun while learning.

What we recieved for this review:

We recieved the full Language Arts & Social Studies material, including the online access for these individual units:
Who Is Helen Keller? (Ages 7-9)
Slavery & Civil War (Ages 10-12)

Helen Keller's unit is for ages 7-9 and included a thin physical paperback biography reading book on Helen Keller, a thin physical paperback bio book on Alexander Graham Bell and the online access which had the Unit Study.

Included in the unit study:

Table of Contents

  • Lesson 1: Helen's Early Years
  • Lesson 2: Helen's Childhood
  • Lesson 3: Helen's Challenges
  • Lesson 4: Inventors
  • Lesson 5: Annie
  • Lesson 6: Helen Leaves Home
  • Lesson 7: More Learning
  • Lesson 8: All Grown Up
  • Final Project: Scrapbook or Interview

You can purchase the full physical curriculum which includes the literature and online access for $26.93 or your can purchase the full physical curriculum and literature for $22.87, not including s/h.


Slavery and Civil War's unit is for ages 10-12 and included a thin physical paperback reading book on "If You Lived When There Was Slavery in America", a physical paperback book on U.S History revised Third Edition, War, Terrible War 1855-1865 and a physical paperback Unit Study spiral-bound-book. Can I just note that I love the spiral bound booklets, they are easy to use...

Included in the unit study:

Table of Contents

  • Lesson 1: Antebellum America (2 Days)
  • Lesson 2: Slavery (2 Days)
  • Lesson 3: Disunion and the Start of the Civil War
  • Lesson 4: Leadership and the Civil War
  • Lesson 5: The Soldier's Experience (2 Days)
  • Lesson 6: Major Battles of the Civil War
  • Lesson 7: The Homefront Experience
  • Lesson 8: Gettysburg & Beyond
  • Lesson 9: The End of the Civil War and Reconstruction
  • Final Project: Remembering the Civil War (2 Days)

You can purchase the full physical curriculum which includes the literature and online access for $35.87 or your can purchase the full physical curriculum and literature for $39.93, not including s/h.

Also, after each unit there is a list of spelling words, spelling worksheets in a pdf file and a tab that allows you or others to share ideas of things you could add to your unit study to further your learning.

See More Moving Beyond The Page Curriclum Here

When we first got the physical material in the mail, I was pretty anxious to dig in to this curriculum. I'm a firm believer in hands on learning and hands on teaching and this material is great to use in hands on learning.
However, to be honest and explain, we have had a hard year already dealing with a family member and watching their health deteriorate slowly, that around the time of recieving this material we lost two different family members suddenly within a month of each other. Leading me to admit that I completely forgot about the online access that we had for Helen Keller. (I'm sorry). So we only read both bio's and discussed them together.

With that being said, I did log on to the online access and print off the information so that we could go back over it at a later time as a recap or fresh learner with my other two younger kiddo's. I am here to tell you that I love the "Ideas Tab" on their site when you login to your curriculum. The online curriculum also gives you downloadable pdf links (I'm addicted to pdf's - Lol) that go along with the lessons learned and they do look fairly short, I know the social studies units that we recieved in physical book were not long at all.

As I mentioned they have a suggest Ideas Tab. You can go to this section and add your ideas of what you changed or added to your lessons, any resources references or links and etc.

Below is a good resource that I seen noted in the idea tab.

It was also noted that you can get a FREE Braille Alphabet Card by clicking the attached link, Sign Up to recieve a FREE Braille Alphabet Card.

We were able to read both Bio's and discuss them the first week of use, then we moved over to reading some of the Slavery and Civil War unit. We read the book, "If you lived when there was slavery in America." I'm gonna note this, several years ago when lapbooking became huge in homeschooling, I had my oldest start a Civil War lapbook. Around here we have re-enactments from May-July and country fairs. So every year after we started the Civil War lapbook we would break the lapbook down in to unit studies, similar to this one and now it is one big Binder Book on the Civil War, President and other things around that time frame.  My point is, if you are looking for unit studies to use in lapbooking, Moving Beyond the Page offers a wide variety of Unit Studies to choose from and use in with lapbooks.

The Slavery and  Civil War unit study has 9 lessons that roughly make up use for 2 days. We was able to work 2 lessons a week as well as read some of the history book along with the lesson time. We really enjoyed these units, I think I may have used one unit study from Moving Beyond The Page before, But I'm not for sure. At any rate, I have bookmarked this site and will be revisiting them for more down the road. Thanks for allowing our family the chance to review for this material.

Find Moving Beyond the Page on Facebook at the noted link below:

Others on the review crew are sharing their thoughts on some of the Moving Beyond the Page curriculum. Click the review crew button below to see what they are saying.

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Wednesday, June 11, 2014

We Choose Virtues Review

Our review for We Choose Virtues
We Choose Virtues Review

About We Choose Virtues
From her love for children and desire to see them reach their full potential, seeing so many children with the lack of self-esteem, Preschool teacher and Children's Pastor Heather McMillian, created We Choose Virtues. 

Heather McMillian often heard from grade school teachers that sometimes it took from September to Winter Break for their students to follow even the simplest instructions. As her passion grew, she realized that she wanted to teach children how to change, not a short-term change, but a lasting change that also brought better attitudes. In her observation (I agree 100%) she notes that children need to be inspired by positive and consistent instructions, and parents and teachers need an effective language to communicate these instructions. Heather created a list of virtues along with catchphrases and used them first at home with her four children, she taught them in her own preschool classroom and then introduced them to fellow teachers, parents and counselors.

We Choose Virtues Review

We recieved the physical parenting cards (retails for $38.49), as well as the, "We Choose Virtues Bundle" (a retail value of $7.99), that included the following downloadable pdfs for this review: 
  • Kids of VirtueVille Coloring Book 
  • Family Character Assessment  
  • Teacher's Handbook 
  • Butterfly Awards 
The Parenting Cards are family or Homeschool version of the Teacher Cards. There are 13 double sided, 8.5' x 5.5' cardstock cards. They are a huge part of the We Choose Virtues system that helps to create character building in your home. Beautifully illustrated, loaded with tips that introduce and demonstrate the 12 virtues. (Diligence, Helpfulness, Perseverance, Attentiveness, Honesty, Gentleness, Self-Control, Obedience, Contentment, Kindness, Patience and Forgiveness) Each card includes:
  • the name of the featured "Virtue Kid" 
  • an inspiring story
  • a virtues challenge
  • virtues catchphrase
  • antonyms for each virtue 
  • a Bible memory verse with each virtue (choose KJV or NIV old & new testaments)
  • you can also get these cards in Spanish
We Choose Virtues Review
These cards can be reused and are included in the Homeschool and Family kits as well. Each virtue is easy to use and can easily be taught within 10 minutes. Each week, select a parent card of your choice, read them over and use the demonstrations listed on the back to help your children get some practice using that Virtue. There is no order to use these cards in, select the cards in any order you prefer. Daily and through out the week look for opportunities to help and encourage your child in usuing that virtue for the week. When you have finished that virtue, begin a new virtue for the coming week and keep repeating until all of the cards are used.  
We Choose Virtues Review
A great tip she encourages for parents with older and younger children together, encourage and allow your older children to teach the younger siblings. Once you have purchased the cards you will also recieve a FREE Download: Family Character Assessment, which will be delivered to you via email. 

We Choose Virtues was designed for the early-childhood - elementary aged children, but I believe you could get away using it with some children of middle school aged. 

We really enjoyed using these cards for the review time and I plan to use them again here soon. This would be a great asset for churches to use in children's church or the toddler-pre to elementary age classes or you could include this in with object lessons. It's ok honestly to get creative and have some fun with these cards. Especailly when you have larger groups of children. Kids love to learn and have fun at the same time. (I plan to include them in some of the classes I teach in church).

We used these cards weekly, however, we already use character building in our school, so some of these virtues came easily and others well we still need more work on. (Reuse for sure!) My kiddos enjoyed our fun in learning and relearning using these cards, most of all I know my girls enjoyed the coloring pages. My son doodled and said ah, done. (not much of coloring kiddo) I like the Character Assesment, even caught myself in the middle of some of these virtues, (bites tongue). Needless to say, it never hurts to improve in some of these areas, sometimes we over look things in time especially as we get older.. (ouch, haha).

Our review crew is also reviewing the Youth Virtue Journal which includes a 100 pages, covering 9 virtues: Attentiveness, Contentment, Gentleness, Helpfulness, Honesty, Respectfulness, Forgiveness, Obedience and Perseverance. Click the attached review crew button below the disclaimer to see what everyone is saying about We Choose Virtues.

Check out the We Choose Virtue Store, Here. You can also follow at the noted social media pages below:

Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/wechoosevirtues

Pinterest –  http://www.pinterest.com/WeChooseVirtues/

Blog -- http://www.wechoosevirtuesblog.com/

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Friday, June 6, 2014

Kinder Cottage Publishing Review

Kinder Cottage Review
We did a review for Kinder Cottage Publishing on 2 of their books. We recieved the physical hardback book copy of The Tale of Peter Rabbit & Peter Rabbit and the Little Boy.  Each of these books were orignally wrote by Duff Graham for the Henry Altemus company in 1917. They have been well preserved and the stories are the original stories, they are just updated including words of todays language for todays children to understand.

These books are fairly thin, light in weight, and average a total of - up to - 64 pages. They are full of color and the series is based in the early 1900s, western civilization. While reading these books, not only are your children working on their reading skills, they are learning about history, culture, literature and Christian faith. Individually, you can purchase each of these books for $4.00 or you can purchase all 10 books for $30.00 at the Kinder Cottage site.

Kinder Cottage ReviewKinder Cottage Review

There are 10 books in the Peter Rabbit series and by clicking here, you can view other books they are offering. These books are good for children of the ages 3 - 9 years.

A tale of Peter Rabbit -  is about a rabbit named Peter, who likes to find ways to make trouble for himself. He is a mischevious little tyke. While his siblings follow the directions they are given and stay out of trouble, Peter gally vants off and creates his own little adventures if you will. The plot of this story is about following the directions given.  

Peter Rabbit and the Little Boy - Again, Peter (mischevious) Rabbit finds more trouble while beginning his day with some rough housing with his siblings. He is taken in on a time-out, so-to-speak, all the while he is looking for an other way to escape his punishment and set out on some more adventures and getting him in to more trouble. (This little rabbit reminds me of my son, sneaky, mischevious and curious...) 
While the whole plot of this story is about listening to your parents, again following directions, it also makes good points to remind us parents how our little ones think at times and how we need to be clear in our explanation of why it is important that they are to follow directions and listen to their parents or adult leader/teacher, and their safety.

About Kinder Cottage Publishing : Howard and Ann Closs started Kinder Cottage Publishing in 2012, to ensure their children would grow up with a love of learning about western civilization, history, culture, faith and literature. Their goals is to create products for parents that help to educate their children. 

We enjoyed reading both of these classical books and are grateful for the opportunity to have recieved them. I enjoyed most hearing, "lets read it again!" These books are fun, engaging and makes great for discussion. I found my kiddos trying to re-enact some of Peter Rabbits adventures. (giggles) For the price these are being offered at Kinder Cottage Publishing I cant pass recommending these great books. 

Kinder Cottage Review

Titles within the series are noted below:

  1. The Tale of Peter Rabbit
  2. Peter Rabbit at the Farm
  3. Peter Rabbit's Christmas
  4. How Peter Rabbit Went to Sea
  5. Peter Rabbit Goes A-Visiting
  6. Peter Rabbit's Easter
  7. Peter Rabbit's Birthday
  8. When Peter Rabbit Went to School
  9. Peter Rabbit and the Little Boy
  10. Peter Rabbit and Jack the Jumper

Others in our crew are reviewing from Kinder Cottage Publishing, but they are reviewing different books. Find out what they are saying about Peter Rabbit by clicking the attached review crew link below this disclaimer.

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Thursday, June 5, 2014

Learning Breakthrough Program - Review

Learning Breakthrough Program Review

We did a review for Learning Breakthrough Program. We had the choice to recieve the physical copy or ebook copy. We chose to recieve the ebook copy of A Life in Balance. 

“My students taught me how to teach them.”– A Life in Balance

Learning Breakthrough Program ReviewA Life in Balance:Discovery of a Learning Breakthrough, is for adults who are looking to improve brain function and clarity of their children. 

About Learning Breakthrough Program Dr. Belgau devolped this program because of his own observations that many learning challenges are impacted by senosry integragation disorders. This program is a direct result of observing, researching, and interacting with individuals struggling with learning disabilities over the past 30 years. Dr. Belgau holds a Masters of Education and Bachelors of Science degree from Sam Houston Univeristy and a Doctor of Education degree from Pacific States University.

This program helps the brain organize better and process information, this is sort of exercise if you will to the brain. GREAT NEWS! This program is a drug free alternative therapy for ADD/ADHD individuals and offers information about treating learning disabilities like Dyslexia. This program is not just used with school aged children, but has even been used with adults and baby boomers. This program has been used by medical professionals since 1982 and is now available for home use. 
This program is sensory integration therapy that provides helps to people on the Autisim Spectrum. The full program itself is $399.00.

We recieved a copy of their book, A Life in Balance, in a pdf format, and it has 210 pages in total. You can purchase the physical book for $16.94 right now at Amazon for a limited time, regular price $18.95.

A look inside. Here are few of the chapters included:

  1. The Early days; Teaching Unteachable Children; Breakthrough
  2. Slow Kid in a Fast Family; Bright Shining Examples; Turning the Tables
  3. Unseen Magic; Quiet Genius
  4. The right stuff; Simple Truths
  5. Beginning to teach; Practical approach to creativity
and more, in all a total of 30 chapters, minus appendixes and about the author section within this book. Each chapter is full of inspiring, educational and encouraging words, as well as creative ideas and new approaches or tips in teaching individuals experiencing learning disabilities.

My thoughts on this book 

To be honest, I do not have any children facing special challenges or atm learning disabilities. Whether I do or dont is not the case. None the less, I do have specially challenged family members and know others with children facing special challenges or learning disabilities. On top of that I am watching my ailing elderly great grandmother struggle in her years with dementia and her learning abilities becoming minimal to a decline of almost nothing. After each of these instances it has sparked my interest in learning more about these individuals and how I can better help them in their struggles. 

This book is more based on the life of Dr. Belgau and the overcoming of his own personal learning disabilities, which brought him to developing this program to help others. Research from the early 60's helped him to create the Learning Breakthrough Progam and help individuals that has learning challenges like ADD/ADHD, Autism, Dyslexia and others to help them learn to read. 

His book is full of educating and inspiring materials as well as loads of information, almost too much information to process all at once. I almost guarantee I will have to re-read over several chapters just to refresh what I previously read or learned from the first time reading it, as well as making sure I understood it right the first time. I like science but some things are just too far over my head. I like that he gave great details when explaining some of the science, discussing the discoveries or creative ideas/approaches he uses. However, I am a visual learner, details are great but I need more of a picture to work with vs a whole lot of details. 

I believe this book would be a great read for any parent wanting to help their child or other individuals work through the difficulties of their learning challenges, anyone looking to understand the challenges others are faced with and how to help them through their challenges. All in all this is really a great book of information.

Below you can watch a video presentation by  Learning Breakthrough Program  

Watch the video presentation below:

You can also check out their Social Media Links below:

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/LearningBreakthrough

Others on our crew are reviewing this program as well, please check out their findings by clicking the review crew link below this disclaimer.

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Thursday, May 1, 2014

Artistic Pursuits Review

Our review for ARTistic Pursuits 

ARTistic Pursuits Review
ARTistic Pursuits has a variety of art curriculum to choose from on their site. They have 10 original books for:

  1. Preschool, Ages 3,4, and 5
  2. Early Elementary, K-3 
  3. Elementary, grades 4-5 
  4. Middle School, Grades 6-8   
  5. High School, grades 9-12 
  6. "New" Sculpture Books (with a new one coming in 2016.)
This is a unique homeschool art program designed to keep children involved in the creative process while building skills in observation. Each book integrates all components of a fine art education by helping students build a visual vocabulary while using critical thinking skills as they explore art history, art appreciation, art techniques and get creative. A long with each book is a noted supply list for what you will need while using the curriculum of choice. These books are spiralbound paper books, easily used and much appreciated by me. :)
ARTistic Pursuits ReviewWe were able to review one of the new sculpting books,  Sculpture Technique: Model

This book includes:

  • How to use this book 
  • Unit 1: Creating Mass with Putty
  • Unit 2: Creating Scale with Clay
  • Unit 3: Creating Surface with Fiber
  • The Road to Creativity
  • Evaluation Answer Sheets
  • Course Description
  • Template
  • Classroom Schedule
There is also a noted art supply list under the contents for each unit.  The  Sculpture Technique: Model book has 48 pages of fun. It can be purchased for $47.95. This book is best used with ages 11-18. However, I believe if your child is creative, interested and a good listener that is under the age of 11, you would have no trouble using this material with them, as long as you are closely monitoring. Otherwise the older children can work independantly with this book. You can check out some of the other Art Curriculum they have by clicking here.

We have done some mild clay fun in the past and when we had a chance to learn and have some more fun, we could not resist. Who could resist getting creative while making a mess? Honestly, the best way to learn and have fun. With school winding down some, we were able to get in a few extra days of fun with art. We expected to use this one maybe 2 days through our school week and surprised ourself using it a little more.

Although the ages recommended are 11-18, I did allow my younger children (7,8 & 9) to have some fun to. They see clay and all of a sudden it becomes everyones fun. We covered through each lesson, honestly, my kids listen to the lesson, but they wanted to cut loose on the fun. The lessons are short so you can get in on the fun fairly early. However, keep in mind your working clay so after you are finished creating your master piece there will need to be a dry time before working further. The amount of time spent on each project varies by child and what they are creating.

All around, we enjoyed ARTistic Pursuits and plan on re-using this book further in our art schedule after our coming break. I attached a picture below of what the kiddos did. However, the poor horse broke it's leg; but here is a picture of the finished fun.

Others on our crew are reviewing for ARTistic Pursuits, as you can see from the attached picture there are six books to choose from, not including their newest books Sculpture Technique: Model and Sculpture Technique: Construct.

ARTistic Pursuits Review

Find out what others are saying by clicking the attached review crew link below the disclaimer.

Find  ARTistic Pursuits, on Facebook at the noted link below:


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