Tag Archives: Literature

Phonetic Zoo Review

Do your kids struggle with spelling?  Most kids do because the way sounds are spelled in the English language can be confusing.  If you want your kids to become great spellers, you might want to check out The Phonetic Zoo Spelling Level A [Starter Set] by Institute for Excellence in Writing (IEW).

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The Phonetic Zoo

Levels A, B, or C.
Take the placement test and choose the right level for your child before you begin.

Grades 3 – 8

Retails for $99.00

Each Phonetic Zoo Starter Set includes:

  • 5+ audio CDs (includes MP3 downloads)
    or also available for purchase as MP3 downloads and no CDs
  • Lesson Cards with spelling words and jingles
  • Personal Spelling Cards to keep track of your student’s typical misspellings
  • Zoo Cards that serve as a way to practice jingles or as rewards
  • 75 page Downloadable Phonetic Zoo Teacher’s Notes PDF file

In addition to the materials, you are encouraged to watch two videos to help you as the parent / teacher:  the “Excellence in Spelling” video and the “Spelling and the Brain Video Seminar”.

Each Lesson in The Phonetic Zoo has similar steps:

  • Phonetic Rule, Cards with Corresponding Zoo Animal, Jingle or Hint,
  • Discussion,
  • Word Lists (audio and print), Spelling Test, and Correction.

You move through the lessons at the pace set by your child.  Each lesson takes about 10 minutes and they will learn a phonetic rule, have discussion built into the lesson, and learn to master spelling 15 to 20 new words using the rule they have learned.

It is suggested to go as slow as, or as fast as it takes for your student to get a 100% score two times on a lesson to show they have mastered the material.  So a lesson may only take you two days, if your child can get 100% each time, or a lesson may take you 7 or 10 days.  Just keep repeating the material for 10 minutes a day, until they have mastered the given lesson twice before moving ahead to the next lesson.  If you taught the same lesson and did the same spelling words for 4 or 5 days each week, then start a new lesson the following week, program should last you the full school year.  But again, the key is to remain flexible and allow your student to progress at their own pace.

How we used Phonetic Zoo:

We were sent the Phonetic Zoo Level A Starter Set for the purpose of this review.  Level A contains 47 Lessons on 5 Audio CD’s (or MP3) ; large zoo rule and word cards, small flashcards, and the Teacher’s Notes e Book also includes all of the lessons, teaching notes, the final exam, printable word posters, zoo card pages, word lists and printouts.

I decided to write this story as a series of HOW TO steps.  WHY?  Because it helped me and it might help you too.   You can follow these steps too to help make sense of what you need to do, what your child needs to do to complete this wonderful program.  It is different than other spelling programs, and I think it may help you to see some steps we took to make it successful for us.  It is divided into two sets of steps: “Prep”, and “Lessons”.

Prep

Step 1:  I watched the 9 minute “Excellence in Spelling” video.

Step 2:  We took the  FREE Placement Test.  This is a great resource and helps your child start right where they need too.  There are three levels to this program: Level A,  Level B, and Level C.  You will want to place your child in the right level so they can be successful.

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Step 3:  Placed my order for the correct level (A, B, or C) of Phonetic Zoo my student needed based on what we learned from the results of the free placement test (see the red link above). We ordered Level A.

Step 4: Watched the 1 hour Spelling and The Brain video seminar.   You can wait for the product to arrive before you watch the video, or you can get jump started while you are waiting by watching this video now!

Step 5:  Organize my Zoo (my materials for Phonetic Zoo).

Have you ever heard the saying “not my monkeys, not my zoo” ?  Well in this case these are my monkeys and this is my zoo.

We are homeschooling 6 kids and it is so easy for the shelves and stacks of books and supplies to get messy and piled up fast (see the example behind him,  that shelf holds math manipulatives, crayons, pencils, flash cards, and notebooks and the kids get in a hurry and when they are done using them, they just shove their stuff in fast and go, and it quickly becomes a mess).  Since we were about to enter the Phonetic Zoo, and knowing how fast books and supplies can go missing or stacked in the wrong place in “our zoo”, it is best to set my self up for success,  be a good “zoo keeper”, and get my self organized!

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When you receive your Phonetic Zoo shipment, organize the kit you receive and your supplies (large and small zoo cards, CD’s, headphones, notebook, pens NOT pencils (or use a pencil without the eraser), etc.),  in an easy to access storage box (shoe box, milk crate, table organizer, book basket, shelf, or whatever works for your family, etc.).

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Put a metal ring (or use a clip) on the large cards, and a rubber band (or a baggy) around the small cards.

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Be sure you have a computer that can play an audio CD (or MP3 device), and it is helpful to have headphones (we have ear buds) for your student to use while listening to the CD’s (or MP3).

Step 6: PRINT out the Phonetic Zoo Teacher’s Notes  e-Book (Teacher’s Guide) from the link on the IEW website you are provided with after making your purchase, and put your teacher’s guide into a binder.  This is a 70+ page teaching resource you will want to keep handy.  You can also download the MP3 files of the CD’s and store them on your computer device too.

Teacher's Notes e-Book

Teacher’s Notes e-Book, Phonetic Zoo Level A

Step 6:  Yahoo!  We let out a shout and smacked ourselves on the back!  Great Job!  We finished our prep work and were ready to get started!

Lessons:

In this section, I will walk you through Lesson 1.  It may look like a lot, but each lesson only takes about 10 minutes a day.

Step 1: We got out our zoo supply basket we made.  This was so nice to have everything all together and ready.  I read through our first lesson in the Teacher’s Notes that I also keep in the basket with everything.

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Lesson 1, Phonetic Zoo Level A

Step 2: I read the phonetic rule from the lesson and provided him with the large zoo flash card to review. The rule is listed on the back, and on the front are a picture that corresponds with the rule and words to practice using the rule.  It is a nice way to practice going over the rule and remembering it.

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Step 3:  Next I gave him the small flash card to read.  It has the rule we just learned on one side and the zoo animal on the other side.  He can use this to remind himself about the rule we learned.IMG_1212 - Copy

Step 4:  He set out his paper to write on, set out his flash cards, put in the CD for Lesson 1, and his ear buds.   When he started the lesson, on the screen popped up a small box that controls the lesson.   The lesson is all audio (not a visual lesson) and requires him to listen closely to what is being said on the CD.

Step 5: My son numbered the lines on his paper from 1 to 19 (some lessons were to 18 and some were to 19).  You can pause the CD lesson as needed.  If you don’t want to print out your own numbers, there is a pre-numbered printable you can keep re-printing for your student to use for each lesson.  We just used a spiral bound notebook instead.

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Step 6:  Next he wrote out the words in the spelling test spoken by the instructor on the CD.

Step 7: Next he corrected his words on the list by writing a second column of the same words on the same lines next to the first words he wrote.    The correct words are both on the CD and on the zoo flashcards.  This process allowed him to see how he did and where he needed more practice.   The instructions from the curriculum are that he must receive two 100% scores on the material before he can proceed to the next lesson.

Step 8:  Personal Spelling.  We repeated the same steps for every 4 lessons BUT on the 5th lesson (lessons 5, 10, 15, 20, 25, 30, 35, 40, and 47) we were instructed to use his favorite words he picked himself.  These words could come from each section of 4 lessons, or be other words he wanted to use.

Step 9:  Final Exam.  We have not completed this yet.

That is it in a nut shell.  10 minutes a day.  Master the spelling test by 100% twice then move forward to the next lesson.  BOOM!!!

I am excited about using this spelling curriculum with my kids.  For the purpose of this review, I started this program with my 5th grade son.  But now that we have used it and know how simple it is and how much confidence he feels from mastering this technique, I will be using it with my other children as well.  This will give them all the added confidence in knowing how to spell a variety of words, and it only cost them 10 minutes of their day.  WOW!  I wish everything could be accomplished in 10 minutes a day.  Maybe it can and I just need to see a new perspective on how it can be done, just like mastering spelling.  Definitely worth it for both of us.

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Institute for Excellence in Writing makes learning fun and easy.  IEW has a way of making Language Arts skills easy and interesting to kids, those very skills that kids might otherwise find hard or boring.  Kids develop an internal motivation to challenge themselves and reach their achievable goal.  They have developed simple systems of teaching parents and teachers how kids really learn effectively and their materials are top notch.  I would encourage you to check out how you can fit these wonderful curriculum resources into your homeschool learning.

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IEW Review

Check out what others on the TOS Review Crew had to say about using The Phonetic Zoo and other products from IEW with their families.

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Sam The Minuteman Study Guide Review

What is a Minuteman?  That is a very good question, and it has a lot to do with American History.

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We recently reviewed Sam The Minuteman Study Guide by Progeny Press to learn more about these important people and their role in American History.

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A Minuteman is an American Citizen who is ready to defend his/her person, family, property, neighbors, town, state, and country with just a “minute’s notice”.    There is an interesting fictional story that helps kids learn about these defenders and their role in history called  Sam The Minuteman.  This story is about a boy who’s dad was a Minuteman when the colonies were still occupied by Britain.   This study guide helps you dig deeper into the lives of people, their character, family and community dynamics, and their faith as well as the battle they fought for independence from Britain.

Sam The Minuteman Study Guide

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Sam The Minuteman Study Guide

For Elementary 1st – 3rd Grades

42 pages

e-Book PDF download

Retails $11.99

Table Of Contents

  • Note To Instructor
  • Synopsis
  • Background Information
  • About the Author
  • Before You Read Activities
  • Vocabulary
  • Cause and Effect
  • Word Pictures
  • How the Author Creates Mood
  • Looking At The Story
  • Important Words to Remember
  • Thinking About the American Revolution
  • After You Read Activities
  • Additional Resources
  • Answer Key

How We Used The Sam The Minuteman Study Guide

We received a PDF download of Sam The Minuteman Study Guide to review in our home.  I printed the study guide and put it into a three ring binder.   This study guide was a great addition to our study of American History this fall.

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To complete this study guide, you will need a computer, an email address, and printer, as well as the book Sam The Minuteman.  The book is easy to find at local libraries or for purchase through book stores, or even easier is to find it as a read aloud on youtube where you can listen, watch, and read along with the word in the story.

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When you purchase the study guide, you can either print off the whole study guide and put into a three ring binder, or have it bound, or you can just read it from the computer screen and print off what pages you need as you go along in the study.  This is so flexible and will fit with just about everyone’s needs.

 Activities We Did In The Sam The Minuteman Study Guide

  • Make Homemade Butter  (in the story they ate homemade bread and butter).  Recipe for making butter provided in the study guide.   We purchased cream, put it into the stand mixer (because shaking it in a jar takes to long) and made our own homemade butter.   We used to do this every week when we had our own fresh milk from our cows.   We also made homemade bread, and made biscuits on another day, to eat the butter on.
  • Historical Timeline (dates and headings provided in the study guide)
  • Crossword Puzzle
  • Worksheets: Vocabulary Words
  • Worksheets: Several “Question and Answer” worksheets throughout the study guide.
  • Bible Study:  Several scriptures and question and answer were listed and encourage character and understanding of the Christian faith.
  • Worksheets: Coloring Page of the Liberty Bell
  • We used several online resources to complete the study guide through Progeny Press, and also to learn more about this period in American History.
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Crossword puzzle and worksheets from Progeny Press Sam The Minuteman Study Guide

About the story:  Sam The Minuteman

The story book is historical fiction.   The characters are made up, but are based on historical facts so it is a great addition to any American History study.   Reading this story will help kids understand and relate to people who lived at this period in American History and America’s fight for independence and birth as a nation.

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screenshot of Sam The Minuteman read aloud on youtube

We have a copy of the book, but we also found the book as a free read a loud on youtube (read by Stories with Sarah), and this was a perfect option for us.  The kids had fun hearing another child read the story aloud and following along.  This is a great option for those folks who don’t own their own copy, don’t want to go buy one, or who have kids who are fascinated with everything on digital media like my kids.

The read aloud is only a 10 minutes long and the kids can read right along with Sarah as she reads the book on the video.  In addition to the book, we added in watching several other videos about Minutemen and read through the wikipedia explanation, did coloring pages, made a lapbook, and more too.  These activities really helped the kids appreciate the learning material and activities, and deepen their understanding in the Study Guide even more.

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screenshot of Sam The Minuteman on youtube

The main character in the story is a boy named Sam Brown who lives with his mother and father on a farm in Lexington, Massachusetts.   America has not become a nation yet and is still a British colony, but has formed it’s own local governing proclamations. The people living in the colonies are upset because of the increased taxation and trade regulations placed on them by Britain, and the increased presence of British soldiers and governors the King has sent to enforce the new regulations.

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screenshot of read a loud book on youtube

During the story, Sam experiences the beginning of the war.  He sees British soldiers from Boston pass through his town as they trying to keep orders for the King, and he feels the frustrations of his father and neighbors.   Then one night, the church bells ring and wake Sam and his family and this is the signal to his father that it is time to go and defend his freedom.

They meet with other men and learn that the British soldiers are marching to Concord where the colonists have hidden weapons.  Then Sam goes with his father and the other minutemen to try to hold back the British and give the Americans time to defend their supplies and hidden weapons.  One of Sam’s friends gets shot, but survives.  Eventually the Minutemen Militias grow stronger in their fighting skills and are able to drive off the British soldiers.

Additional Resources We Used To Further The Learning:

We love turning everything into an expanded unit study.   That is what I love about study guides, they spark your curiosity and invite you to dig deeper.    We expanded our learning with several additional fun activities including videos, reading, Legos, cooking, life skills, and more to learn about this fascinating period in American History.   We would like to take a field trip too. Several years ago, we went to see some Revolutionary War History in Charelston SC,  another trip to Kings Mountain where the Mountainmen (Mountain Minutemen) fought a battle with the Brittish Soldiers, and another trip we went to a Revolutionary War Museum and State Park with a Ford (where the militia crossed the river).  We are also creating a lapbook to hold our completed the Sam The Minuteman Study Guide activities, and additional projects we did while learning about Minutemen Militia.

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Minuteman received notice (image source)

Legos:  I have 6 kids and 5 of them are boys.  We love building with Legos and it just makes learning fun!   We recreated and retold the story and the events we learned in the study guide with Legos.  The kids set up a village and a house for Sam’s family, and showed him and his dad riding a horse out to meet the other Minutemen to fight with the British soldiers coming down the road.

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Sam and his dad are in the Minutemen Militia. Story retold with Legos.

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Coloring Page Paul Revere (notified the Minutemen the British were coming and then rode out to the army to notify them the British were coming to take away their weapons and subdue them).

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Coloring Paul Revere as he rode out from Boston on his horse to warn the Minutemen the British were coming.

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Who were the Minutemen?  Wikipedia

Geography Map

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Geography and History video:  The American Revolution in 9 minutes.  This was our absolute favorite “quick” video that explains the history and geography of the war, and best of all it is told with stick figure animation.  This is much more fun for kids to watch than other history videos.   The kids also have fun watching a grade school class retell the events in a video they made called American Revolution.

History of the part time militia known as Minutemen 

History video: the Force Of Citizens

History video: Minutemen Militia from “History of the US Constitution”.

Visit the Minutemen Historic National Park

Volunteer with Friends of the Minutemen

American Revolution Lapbooking Pages

It is amazing what you can learn from history and how it applies today.  A Minuteman is a person who is ready to handle trouble at any minute.   Formed in 1645, these homegrown militia men were to be ready within 30 minutes of being warned and carry with them three days provisions of food, shoes for both snow and regular weather, and weapons.  They played important roles in history from 1645, 1750, 1774-1776, through the Civil War (mountain men), and beyond.    The government passed the Militia Acts of 1792 by Congress requiring all citizens to arm themselves with a musket, a bayonet, and no less than 24 bullets.   The Militia Acts of 1903 passed by Congress states that 1) the organized Minutemen Militia will become the basis of the National Guard and 2) a provision that states able bodied citizens ages 17 to 45 are to take up arms to defend themselves and the country.

American Minutemen (image source)

American Minutemen (image source)

We actually learned there are Minutemen Militia (also known as Watchmen Militia and Family Protection Group, etc) today all across this great nation we live in that are ready on a moment’s notice.   The Discovery Channel produced a documentary about them.  They meet together in groups and are trained to use weapons, and secure resources such as food, water, and have supplies on hand to last from several weeks to several months. These groups are made up of people from all races and from all walks of life from mechanics to librarians to students, etc. The documentary followed men and women from across the USA who get together and practice drills in Florida, Indiana, and Arizona for combat in the event the government cannot protect or help it’s citizens.  That kind of circumstance could happen when mobs breakout in the cities, such as when natural disasters happen (hurricanes, tornadoes, floods) and folks are without resources, nuclear meltdowns or if there is an EMP or asteroid that takes out communications and infrastructure, and during racial tensions in inner cities and mobs breakout, as well as illegal drug smugglers coming across the borders, and with mass shootings and terrorists attacks.

Just like they were through out American History, these modern day Minutemen Militia are ready at any minute to handle any trouble that arises to defend our towns and people from threats of danger.   Approximately 30% to 70% of Americans are legally armed depending on what part of the country you live in.   The nationwide average is about 80 million gun owners who own at least one registered gun, (there are between 280-310 million guns), or approximately 1 out of 3 households are armed.  These registered gun owners are willing to protect their homes, family, friends, and neighbors from attack from those who would attempt to cause harm to life, liberty, and the pursuit of freedom in our country.

Progeny Press has created a great study guide to get young people interested in American History using a simple story with characters they can relate too.  Would you like to learn more about the Minutemen Militia and the American Revolution?  Then you might want to go on this learning adventure, and check out this great study guide from Progeny Press, and perhaps your family will be inspired to be a part of the Minutemen in your local area and will gain a deeper appreciation for the sacrifices so many have made for the freedoms we enjoy today.

Social Media

You can follow Progeny Press on their social media sites for all the latest news and product updates.

Facebook: http://facebook.com/ProgenyPress
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Twitter: http://twitter.com/progenypress

Progeny Press Review

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IEW Teacher and Student Writing Package Review

If you haven’t yet heard of the Institute for Excellence in Writing  (IEW) curriculum company, I would encourage you to check them out.  We were sent their Teaching Writing: Structure and Style, Student Writing Intensive Level A  Package for review.  This would be a great curriculum to add to your schedule this coming school year. 

IEW Writing Level A Package

 

Teaching Writing / Student Writing Package Level A

Package Combo Retails for $249 (Save $49.00!)

Teaching Writing: Structure and Style DVD seminar

Student Writing Intensive Level A

For Elementary Grades 3-5.

Grades

 

What We Received

Teaching Writing: Structure and Style DVD Package Level A:

12 Seminar DVDs 

  • Nine DVDs with instruction on the nine structural models and multiple stylistic techniques (14 hours total viewing time).
  • Three DVDs of sample Student Workshops at four different grade levels.

TWSS Seminar and Practicum Workbook

  • 3 ring binder with dividers  and printouts.  The binder serves as the syllabus and workbook for the seminar and contains charts, word lists, sample lesson plans, and more.

1 year Online Subscription

  • Streaming video of the entire Teaching Writing: Structure and Style teacher training course, providing instruction on the nine structural models and multiple stylistic techniques (14 hours total viewing time—may be watched all at once, or viewed one disc at a time throughout the school year)
  • Streaming video of sample Student Workshops at four different grade levels to help you with the first lesson
  • Free access to our monthly training webinars, August through May
  • Audio MP3 downloads of Andrew Pudewa’s most popular conference talks
  • Several PDF downloads

Student Writing Intensive Level A
5 DVDs
SWI Level A Student Notebook with student handouts, a student 3 ring binder with dividers, and daily lesson suggestions for the teacher/parent

Here is the author Dr. Pudewa, explaining more about the program.

 

How We Used IEW Writing Curriculum

We did a trial run for a few weeks at the end of our school year to see if we want to include this curriculum in our studies this fall.  I was really impressed with the quality of the materials we recieved.  The 3 ring binders are heavy duty and we were sent over 100 pages plus nice dividers to put into each of them and help us stay organized and on plan.  The case that holds the Teachers Seminar DVD’s is really nice too.

I found the Level A Package to be a wonderful writing program and useful for teaching English to Elementary 3rd, 4th, and 5th grades.  This curriculum fits right into our life right now as we have several in this grade range, and some older ones who can sharpen their skills too.  This program is helping improve my skills as a teacher so really all of my children will benefit from this.

For this review, I used this program with my 12 year old to help him get a better understanding and improve his writing skills. This program will work great for older students who might not like writing.  My 12 year old does not enjoy writing and would much rather do math. This curriculum would also be useful for teaching English as a Second Language, and also for remedial learning for older students who need more practice with writing skills.

IEW has put so much together for the parent teacher.  The Teacher Seminar gives you the tools you need to confidently teach your students to write well, think and express themselves clearly. It helps parent teachers learn how to effectively teach their kids to:

  • Outline and summarize
  • Write paragraphs
  • Create stories
  • Write critiques and reports
  • Develop essays
  • Communicate their thoughts and ideas into writing
  • Change sentence structure
  • Use vocabulary in interesting ways

When we first received the materials, I put the binder notebooks together.  Then I viewed the lesson on the corresponding disk in the Teacher’s Seminar DVD’s before having my son watch it with me. Then we watched the lesson together, and followed the teacher notes and presented the lesson to my son.

The lessons are designed to do one a week, but some students will take two weeks to do a lesson. The teacher’s portion of teaching the lesson and use of the DVD takes about 1 hour at the start of the week.  Then he can work on the daily practice assignments the rest of the week. We did not need to watch the Student version of Structure and Style overview as it is basically the same as the teachers DVD.

After watching the Lesson on the DVD, we used the checklists to complete the lesson assignment.  The workbook has sample assignments and ideas to help,  and there are also student workshop videos to watch that can help give more ideas on implementing the lesson.   I found these to be very helpful.  In a nut shell so to speak, my son is learning how to create an outline from a paragraph using key words.  Then learning how to use his outline to write and add adverbs and verbs to make it more interesting.  He is learning to be more creative in writing stories.

Our first few weeks of lessons:

Teacher’s Notes: Lesson 1

“Sea Snakes”

Key Word Outline,

Composition Checklist

Key Word Sentence: 1 word

Key Word Sentence:  2-5 words

Key Word Sentence:  6 words

“Desert Tarantula”  Optional Resource

Repeat steps learned

“Pillbug” and Composition Checklist

Repeat steps learned

Teacher’s Notes: Lesson 2

“The Boy and the Nuts”

“The Cocks and the Eagle”

Once we complete the first lesson in the teacher’s seminar (or student set), we can move ahead and master the material in the next one.   Not all of the lessons use the disk system, some can be completed without it.  For example, Lesson 1 used the disk, but Lesson 2 did not.  You can easily keep track of what’s what as everything is layed out very nice and easy to follow.  I am saving the rest of the work to begin in the Fall at the start of our school year.

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Before we start our next school year, I hope to get a couple of my boys set up with this curriculum too so they can work through it together.  You are allowed to make copies of the student workbook for use within the same family, so this will be really nice to have the boys working on this together and strengthen their writing skills.

There are some additional items available through IEW to help with this curriculum.  I hope to purchase the Portable Word Walls and A Word Write Now before our Fall school year begins too.   IEW also has a clearance section and you can find a lot of discontinued items there. Many of these are previous versions that have now been updated. For example, I found some Word Walls and Bible Based Writing Lessons workbook on clearance for 4th-12th grades. Kids learn to outline bible passages, diagram them, and write paragraphs retelling the story. There are also US History Writing Lessons too. How cool is that?

I can really see how this curriculum is going to help my kids learn how to write with excellence and help me learn how to better help them too.  I am thrilled to schedule this material for their daily writing curriculum for the coming school year.

I hope you will check it out IEW, and all of their various writing curriculum products and see if their curriculum would be a good fit for your family too.

IEW Writing Packages

 

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IEW Review

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Hewitt Homeschooling Review

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Hewitt Homeschooling has some great products for homeschool families. We are reviewing My First Reports: Bugs and Worms by Hewitt Homeschooling, and we are learning lots of great information and having fun at the same time.  If you are in the process of putting your curriculum choices together, I would encourage you to add products from Hewitt Homeschooling to the list.

pic of homeschool help

 

My First Reports

One unique product Hewitt Homeschooling offers is a curriculum supplement called My First Reports.  My first reports uses a step by step approach to help elementary age children learn about a subject they are interested in and write a report about it.

Skills used in My First Reports include:

Research
Organizing
Sorting
Writing
Penmanship
Vocabulary
Reading
Critical Thinking

There are several My First Reports to choose from and they are geared for different ages, but all are flexible and can be used for grades 1 – 8 depending on the skill level of your student.

My First Report: Music
My First Report: Transportation
My First Report: Weather
My First Report: Me
My First Report: Famous People
My First Report: Wild Animals / Large Mammals
My First Report: Wild Animals / Small Mammals
My First Report: Pets/Farm Animals
My First Report: Bugs and Worms
My First Report: Birds
My First Report: Reptiles/Amphibians
My First Report: Plants
My First Report: Solar System
My First Report: Marine Life
My First Report: Olympics
My First Report: Outdoor Activities
My First Report: Sports
My First Report: My State
My First Report: Eastern United States
My First Report: Western United States
My First Report: Middle United States
My First Report: Southern United States
My First Report: Lewis and Clark Expedition
My First Report: Focus On The World

You can purchase My First Reports individually for $8.95 , or buy 14 titles as a bundle for $69.95 and save nearly 40% off retail.

 

Our Experience:

Bugs and Worms

We chose My First Reports: Bugs and Worms for this review.  It is designed for kids in 3rd – 4th grades, but can be used for younger students in 1st-2nd grades or older students in 5th-8th grades too.  My First Reports: Bugs and Worms contains 52 pages including reproducible forms, worksheets, suggested reading and resources, and a unit study.

When we received the packet from Hewitt Homeschooling, I placed the pages into a binder.   The pages come already hole punched so you can put it into a three ring binder for convenience, or into your students completed notebook if you desire.  I am a unit study “collector”, or perhaps a unit study nerd might describe me better.   I guess and I love being able to insert them into a binder and keep them for future use.  If someday I pass along our schoolroom to my own grown kids, or to another family, hopefully all the unit studies we have acquired or created over the years will be easy to just grab and go because they are arranged neatly in their own binders.  You could fill a whole book shelf with them.  Ooohhh Awwhhhh.  Yep, I am a unit study nerd!

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We were very excited about this curriculum.  This package covers information about 12 different bugs and worms:

Grasshoppers
Flies
Ants
Bees
Fireflies
Crickets
Ladybugs
Spiders
Caterpillars
Butterflies / Moths
Dragonflies
Worms

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Unit Study Approach

This set is designed to used for 12 weeks, in a unit study method, covering one bug or worm and corresponding worksheets and suggested activities per week.  Being a unit study, many different ages of kids can enjoy it, and it is cross curricular for many different subjects and covers:

Math
Reading
Social Studies
Music
Art
Language
History
Science
Health
P.E.
Bible
Suggested Field Trips

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During the process of learning about a bug or worm you will also do many activities mentioned in the accompanying unit study.  For example, various activities to choose from might include:  geography you will take a map of your state or a region and list bugs found there.  Younger students might cut out pictures and paste them on the map and older students would likely create a map and write a list of various insects identifying  them and their locations or to add in an art aspect, they might sketch them too.  In the bible they would learn about insects mentioned in various verses.  For reading and literature they would read various books, magazines, news articles, and poems about bugs.   For Language you would learn insect vocabulary words and spelling of each insect, as well as answer the report questions on the worksheets. You might create word puzzles and give an oral report too.  For Math, you put the insects in order based on a category such as length or color or weight ect.  Perhaps you could make a graph for comparisons.  You might calculate speeds and distance traveled or the amount of food they eat.  For Science you will make comparison graphs for body characteristics, learn about habitats and how to classify, catch-observe-release different insects when you are studying each one, etc.  One suggestion is to build a wormery when you study the worms section.  For art and science you might make a kite and then for P.E. you would go outside and fly it.  Also for P.E. you would take a hike through your neighborhood or a park to look for insects and study where they are found, what they sound like, etc.  For music you might study and recreate the sound of various insects, sing songs about insects and songs about creation including songs and praises to God.  Art has so many suggestions like making a spider web, visiting an art museum, making collages or mosaics, sculptures, and various crafts.  Field tips ideas include hikes or nature walks in various locations like parks, nature preserves, zoos, museums, the insect section of the library, a honey farm, or other farms where insects are used in some way, nature store, etc.

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While learning about each “critter”, my 3rd grader completed a worksheet for each bug we learned about.  The worksheet includes a picture of the bug, its class and scientific order, vocabulary words, and several questions to research further.   He is encouraged to write complete sentences when answering the questions.  When the week of learning about the insect is complete, and he has answered all the questions, he can transfer that information into a finished report by using his answers to help create paragraphs for a report about the insect he is writing about.

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I have always loved the hands on aspect of Field Trips.  My kids love the adventure and learning outside the classroom / house.  We took a field trip two weeks ago to the Creation Museum to learn more about the history of insects and see various species in their collections.

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This is a great curriculum resource and I would encourage other homeschool families to work it into their learning adventures this school year.  My First Reports would also be a great adventure for summer school, Sunday School, or afterschool learning adventures too.

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