Tag Archives: Writing

Pencil Grip and Ultra Safe Safety Scissors Review

I am excited to tell you about  The 3 Step Pencil Grip Training Kit and The Ultra Safe Safety Scissors from The Pencil Grip, Inc.

The Pencil Grip, Inc. is a world renown company and a leading manufacturer of ergonomic writing aids and therapeutic toys and educational products. They have lots of wonderful products that benefit both kids and adults. They have built a reputation with parents, teachers, and therapists worldwide who have used these products and believe in the value of the product and methods applied.

The Pencil Grip, Inc. specializes in unique products that have many applications. The Pencil Grip, Inc. company was created by educational therapist Dr. Lois Provda in 1992.   Their products have many decades of successful use in homes, pediatric therapy, occupational therapy, and classroom settings.  The company has grown into an irreplaceable resource for unique and innovative products.

The 3 Step Pencil Grip Training Kit

Ranked #1

Recommended Family of Grips

The Cross Over Grip, The Pinch Grip, The Pencil Grip Original

For Children & Adults

Latex Free & Phthalate Free

Fit A Variety of Writing Instruments

Increases Neatness

Increases Comfort & Control

This kit is recommended by doctors and therapists for both left handed and right handed children and adults. By using the three step method, folks are able to reduce their frustration and strain.  They also reduce the normal time needed to learn (or re-learn) how to hold a pencil (or pen) correctly when writing.

The 3 Step Pencil Grip Training Kit contains 1 each:

  • Step 1: The Crossover Grip (Training)
  • Step 2: The Pinch Grip (Transition)
  • Step 3: The Pencil Grip Original (Graduation)

These products help correct hand position, dexterity, and reduce stress on the hands and knuckles. They help control the grip of the writing instrument and improve performance. A free instructional poster is available on The Pencil Grip website. These products are fun and easy to use and help motivate hesitant learners too.

The Crossover Grip

Step 1: The Crossover Grip is used for training.  It has a “super hero cape” design built in.  The cape is over the finger design provides the maximum reinforcement of correct position and structure.

When I worked with my five year old on using this grip, he kept wanting to put his middle finger in the wrong postion, placing it below the grip instead of behind it.

After a few times of reminding him, I was able to get him to hold it correctly and he felt more control and did very well with it.

I also had my eight year old try out using this grip.

He liked the feel of it.  I tried him on the next grip in the kit and he preferred the first grip more.  Perhaps it is the “super hero cape” on this grip that he is excited about.  He is left handed and sometimes it can be challenging to write going forward rather than write sliding the hand backward across the paper as right handers do.  This grip feels comfortable to him and right away we noticed an improvement in his control.  So he will be using this one for a bit longer until he is ready to move forward.

 

The Pinch Grip

Step 2: The Pinch Grip is used for Transitioning.  It has wings.  The wings help the user to see their grip and allows both freedom in writing and also more  structure.

Since my younger sons weren’t ready to move on to the next grip in the kit just yet, I used the Pinch Grip with my daughter after she tried out the Crossover Grip first.

This was the perfect grip for her.

For some reason, she liked to push the grip up higher on her pencil though.  I kept bringing it back down for her, but she said she liked using it up higher.

I noticed improvement in her control of the pencil right away.

 

The Pencil Grip Original

Step 3: The Pencil Grip Original is the Graduation phase.  It provides ongoing comfort and control and assists the user in continuing what they have learned.

My older boys and I tried out each grip in the kit.  The Original Grip was the most comfortable for me.  It is soft and gave me very good control and felt natural between my fingers.

I found this informative video online that explains the many benefits of using various kinds of pencil grips.  The video is not from The Pencil Grip company however, it is informational and gives credit to Dr. Lois Provda from The Pencil Grip, Inc.

With the 3 Step Pencil Grip Training Kit, I am certain our family will see improvement in their writing.  As each person works their way through the series of grips, they will be able to write with more control, less wobbling and produce straighter and neater lines.

The Ultra Safe Safety Scissors

Ergonomic Design

Ultra Safe

Concealed Blades

Safety Shield

Training Lever Action

For Ages 3+

These scissors are sharp and cut cleanly with precision.  They have sharp blades that are covered with a permanent shield to prevent kids from cutting themselves. They are easy to hold thanks to their ergonomic design. They have a spring assist opening feature that helps those with limited abilities, but can be folded in for less restricted use.

My 5 year old son and I both used these scissors for the purpose of this review.

To use the scissors you have to place the paper in a very small space between the plastic guard and the top blade.  It feels a little awkward at first. But eventually you get the hang of it.

The blades are very sharp and cut easily through paper.  But you don’t have to worry about cutting fingers because a finger cannot fit into the tiny space between the guard and the top blade.  

He was able to cut straight lines, curved lines, and zig zag lines too.  It was a good feeling knowing his fingers were safe and he can use these scissors independently.

I definitely needed these when he was younger and needed some protection from injury.

Thankfully, he has better coordination now, but I still keep scissors put up and he only uses them with supervision.

Now with these Ultra Safe Safety Scissors, I will be able to leave them in his supplies for him to use at anytime and I won’t have to worry.

We have enjoyed using these products from The Pencil Grip.  This is our second time to review a product from them and their products are well made and definitely beneficial for all ages.

Social Media

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

Twitter: https://twitter.com/thepencilgrip @thepencilgrip

Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/thepencilgrip/

Blog: http://handwritingathome.blogspot.com/

Homeschool Review Crew

Be sure to check out what others on the Homeschool Review Crew had to say about using products from Pencil Grip, INC in their home.

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Hewitt Homeschooling: My First Report Review

If your kids enjoy fun hands on curriculum that offers a unit study approach, then they will love using My First Report from Hewitt Homeschooling.

Hewitt Homeschooling offers a wide variety of curriculum options for elementary, middle school, and high school students.  We are reviewing My First Report today, but be sure to check out the different kinds of products they have to offer.

My First Report

My First Report

Various Topic Themes

Unit Study Format

For grades 1–8

(depending on the skill level)
Grades 1-2 (with parental direction)
Grades 3-4 (independent)
Grades 5–8 (remedial work)

$8.95 each

or

SET of 14 Titles for $69.95

(40% savings)

My First Report uses a step by step approach to help elementary age students learn about a topic they are interested in and write a report about it.  This is a unique approach using unit studies to motivate kids to learn how to write mini reports on various subjects.  This curriculum helps students reach new challenges as they learn new skills, and learn to express their knowledge and ideas in complete sentences of their own.

Skills:

My First Report uses a variety of skills and encourages research.  This curriculum is designed for kids in 3rd – 4th grades, but can be used for younger students in 1st-2nd grades (with the parents help), or used by older students in 5th-8th grades too.

Skills used in My First Report include:

Research (Encyclopedia, Dictionary, Books, Online, Interview, etc)
Organizing
Sorting
Writing
Penmanship
Vocabulary
Reading
Critical Thinking

Unit Study Format:

My First Report topic themes are cross curricular and are designed as unit studies.  Each theme topic covers about 8-12 weeks of study and activities. You can go faster or slower depending on the needs of your family.

Each topic theme you purchase includes a number of corresponding worksheets (vocabulary word puzzles, research questions, maps, report forms, etc) and suggested hands on activities.

My First Report includes lots of optional suggested activities.  You can do as many or as few of the activities you chose.  The unit study is a beneficial method to cover a wide range of subjects and opportunities for students to learn hands on about the topic theme.

Various subject areas are incorporated into the study and will prepare your student to write an informed report about what they have learned.  Cross curricular subject areas include:

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

Topic Theme Titles:

Each My First Report retails for $8.95.  Hewitt Homeschooling also offers a huge discount if you purchase a bundle set of 14 topic themes together for $69.95

My First Report: Focus On The World
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

Our Experience:

We chose to write about our experience with My First Report: Focus On The World for the purpose of this review.  We have also began using My First Report: Weather . This curriculum is so fun to do and easy to implement.  We are using several titles from the series through out our homeschool year.

My First Report: Focus On The World
My First Report: Weather
My First Report: Outdoor Activities
My First Report: Music
My First Report: Transportation
My First Report: Wild Animals / Small Mammals
My First Report: Birds
My First Report: Reptiles/Amphibians

After we finish Focus on the World and Weather, I have scheduled Outdoor Activities for the summer, and the remaining titles are scheduled for fall. Once you try these out you will see why kids enjoy doing them.  My kids are having so much fun.

Everything is written out for you and easy to follow.  Each My First Report contains 50-60+/- pages including reproducible forms, worksheets, suggested reading and resources, and a very detailed unit study.

My First Report are illustrated and full color on heavy paper.  The pages arrived already hole punched, so it was easy to put each unit into a three ring binder for convenience.

Over the course of several weeks, the students are given small research projects that go along with the theme of the unit based on the title you chose.   Our unit was Focus on the World and contained a World Geography and Missions around the world theme.

In My First Report: Focus On The World, we learned about 13 different regions around the world.  Learning about 1 region a week, this title in the series would last about 13 +/- weeks or so.

Our research projects included learning about the cultures of people, languages, geography, animals, etc on each continent and learning how they were impacted by missionaries.  Each time we focused on a specific region, for example South America, there was a corresponding map and research questions to complete.

Unit study projects can be applied to each research project.  You can chose to do as much or as little of these optional activities as you like.  Below I have shared a few examples for you to see of the different unit study projects we did specific to the South America region.  When your student is ready, have them write their report from the research they did and information they have learned.  There are report masters included in the packet for them to fill in.

They can choose to write their report with or without a picture.

For South America for example, some of the additional unit study activities we did included:

Bible Copy Work & Penmanship & Vocabulary:

We read a bible verse and practiced re-writing it neatly.

The kids did a word puzzle included in the packet.

We also wrote out a rough draft of the report by writing down answers to research questions and then forming the information into paragraphs.

Reading:

We read about Brazil.

Read about Animals and Birds of South America.

Art:

created sketches, painted, and drew with colored pencils various projects about Parrots.

Plan to learn to weave a traditional project.  We saw brightly colored woven place mats on our food field trip that we would like to replicate.

Social Studies / Culture / Foods:

Learned about holidays and foods from the region.  Made a traditional meal.

Field Trips:

Ate traditional South American foods at a local restaurant.

We have plans to visit a local missions outreach that traslates bibles and sends them with missionaries around the world.  They have a museum and local housing for missionaries on sabatical and we hope to visit them too.

We also have plans to visit the zoo to see various animals from around the world.

Missions:

Interviewed a retired radio broadcaster who has been taking the message of Jesus into various nations around the world on short wave radio for over 40+ years.

Interviewed Nadia, a woman who works as a waitress at a local restaurant.  She was born in Columbia and lived in Venezuela and Brazil before coming to the USA.  We also had the opportunity to talk to her about faith in Jesus.

Music & Math & Language:

Learned songs in Spanish.

Practices words and counting in Spanish.

The same woman, Nadia, from South America also taught the kids a song in Spanish, taught them the names of money, how to say various family members (mother, father, brother, sister, baby, etc), and foods in both Portugese and Spanish.

Science:

Learned about the Amazon Rain Forest Habitat and Animals.  We chose to learn more about parrots in the rain forest (animals vary in different regions and we learned about other animals such as tigers, elephants, monkeys, etc from around the world for other locations).

I found coloring pages for animals online and we also took some art lessons creating parrot projects in an art course the kids are taking.

The kids then made several more art projects related to parrots.  One of my son’s liked the parrots so much he drew a parrot in the box for his report on South America.   As you can see, we really enjoy using these products.  We are learning lots of great information and having fun at the same time.

The My First Report products are consistently well written across all the various titles.  We first tried out a couple of Hewitt Homeschooling My First Report (Bugs and Worms and Solar System) a few years ago with our older kids when they were a lot younger, and we continue to be impressed with all the information the kids learn. Now our younger kids are benefiting too from all of these awesome hands on learning adventures.

My First Report are fun for the whole family, from the young to the old, including grandparents.   The thing I like most about unit studies is they are flexible and can be adjusted to use in any way, and for just about any age, that meets the needs of your family.  These would also be great for summer boredom busters, study groups, summer school, Sunday School, or afterschool learning adventures too.   This is a great curriculum resource and I would encourage other homeschool families to work My First Reports into their learning adventures.

Be sure to check out the various products from Hewitt Homeschooling.   I am planning to include some of their Lightning Literature curriculum for various ages of my kids next year.  For sure I would like to try the Lightning Literature: American Mid-Late 19th Century for my older boys, and many others look great too.

A few of the curriculum categories Hewitt Homeschooling has to offer include:

My First Reports
Lightning Literature
State Chronicles
Unit Programs
Hewitt Readers
Math-It
Winston Grammar
and much more!

Social Media

Stay in touch with Hewitt Homeschooling for all the latest news and updates through their social media links:

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

Twitter
https://twitter.com/HewittOnline

Pinterest
http://www.pinterest.com/hewittonline/

Google Plus
https://plus.google.com/b/115323246990194958229/+HewittHomeschoolingResources/posts

Hewitt Blog
http://hewitthomeschoolingresources.blogspot.com/

Homeschool Review Crew

Be sure to check out what others on the Homeschool Review Crew had to say about using Hewitt Homeschooling products with their families.

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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!

IMG_1214

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.

IMG_1205

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.

IMG_1217

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.

Social Media

Be sure to connect with IEW on their Social Media links to keep up with all the latest teaching tips, news, and product updates.

IEW  BLOG   http://iew.com/help-support/blog

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

Pinterest  https://www.pinterest.com/iewriting

Vimeo  http://vimeo.com/iewtv

Twitter  https://twitter.com/iew

You Tube  https://www.youtube.com/user/iewtv

Google+ https://plus.google.com/+Iewriting/

Instagram  https://instagram.com/iew/

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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Cursive Logic Review

When you are ready to teach your kids to write in cursive, you will will want to consider using the CursiveLogic Workbook by CursiveLogic.

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This is a unique and easy to implement approach for kids to learn how to master writing in cursive letters.

What we received:

Workbook_cover

96 page, hardback, spiral bound, full color workbook.
Contains both the teacher instructions, and the student practice pages.
Retails for $29.00

The first portion of each lesson teaches students to write each CursiveLogic letter string through a five-step process. After learning the string method, a student can begin writing connected letter groups and real words. After finishing four lessons, the student will be able to write the entire lowercase alphabet and to connect letters fluidly.

The student will learn how to form lowercase letters and capital letters. Students then practice cursive by tracing and then writing famous historical sayings.

The workbook contains three dry-erase surfaces that recap all of CursiveLogic’s exercises the student used to learn and practice the four CursiveLogic letter strings.  Dry-erase pages enable students to practice and review again and again.

Additional helpful tips, and printable practice pages are available through the CursiveLogic newsletter.

How we used the CursiveLogic Workbook:

Workbook_p22

Each day, my son works in this notebook and loves it.  He is mastering writing in cursive and I am so grateful for the opportunity to learn about this resource.

tracing

He is learning the CursiveLogic method, and loves working in the workbook.  He is learning 4 different skill sets:

Letter shape:

CursiveLogic groups the lowercase alphabet into four groups based on the shape of the initial stroke of the letters.   The workbook teaches all of the similarly-shaped letters in the same lesson.

Workbook_p15-01

Letter strings:

CursiveLogic teaches the similarl shaped letters in a connected flowing string. Letter strings teach students to connect letters,  students gain an understanding of the flow of cursive handwriting.

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CursiveLogic also uses visual and auditory cues to reinforce the shape patterns.  My son loves this curriculum.  He is an audio visual learner.  He usually hates to work in workbooks or to write, but he is loving his workbook.

writing cursive

Theme colors: 

Each shape string has a color—orange ovals, lime loops, silver swings, and mauve mounds.

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Verbal task analysis :

A simple, verbal saying that describes the path of the writing instrument as the letter shapes are formed.

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He is surprising himself (and me too) that he likes this curriculum and is mastering cursive writing skills.   I am really proud of him.  He has been a boy who previously hated to sit still and write.  But he really is enjoying mastering this skill and I don’t even have to ask him.  He does it all on his own.

I would encourage everyone to put this workbook on their homeschool curriculum list.

Social Media:

Twitter: http://twitter.com/cursivelogic
Facebook: http://facebook.com/ilovecursive
Instagram: http://instagram.com/cursivelogic

CursiveLogic Review

Be sure to read what other families on the TOS Review Crew had to say about using CursiveLogic Workbooks in their home.

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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.

IEW

IEW Review

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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Blog http://iew.com/help-support/blog

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Be sure to check out what other homeschool families on the Schoolhouse Review Crew had to say about using IEW writing products with their families.

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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.

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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

DSC01754 (Picture my son took of hundreds of new born baby spiders emerging from their nest on a tiger lily).

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.

Social Media Links:

You can follow Hewitt Homeschooling on their social media to keep up with all the latest news and updates.

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

Twitter
https://twitter.com/HewittOnline

Pinterest
http://www.pinterest.com/hewittonline/

Google Plus
https://plus.google.com/b/115323246990194958229/+HewittHomeschoolingResources/posts

Hewitt Blog
http://hewitthomeschoolingresources.blogspot.com/

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Be sure to check out what other families on The Old Schoohouse Review Crew had to say about using various products from Hewitt Homeschooling to meet your homeschool needs.

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