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Category Archives: Spelling

Moving Beyond The Page ~ Review

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Moving Beyond the Page provides literature-based homeschool curriculum, on a vast number of topics, in the areas of language arts, social studies, and science. Their curriculum is broken down into a series of units, organized by age level, from ages 4-5 all the way up through ages 14-15. Their unit style works particularly well for gifted and hands-on learners. My family has recently had the opportunity to use a couple of the units from their 10-12 age group, the language arts unit, Albert Einstein, and the accompanying science unit, Force and Motion. Today, we are happy to share our experience and review.

About the Curriculum

The Moving Beyond the Page curriculum is broken down into concepts covered over the course of the year. Each of these concepts is further broken down into a series of smaller units. These units each cover one particular theme relating to the main concept. The concepts and units can be studied in any order, however, allowing a very personalized learning experience for each child. The units can each be used independently, though some (like those my family has chosen) have also been written to work in conjunction with each other.

Each unit includes a Note For Parents page, which describes the structure of the curriculum, explains each component of the lessons, and provides a sample week’s schedule. It goes even further to explain the structure of each lesson, and finally, an example of a typical day, and time allotments for unit activities.

Each lesson is then clearly laid out in the curriculum guides, with checklists to ensure you have everything you need, ideas to think about, and things to know before you get started. The lesson then begins with the reading passage and accompanying questions, a series of corresponding activities, and finally a “wrapping up” section for reinforcement or further study.

Albert Einstein

einsteinThis language arts unit is available in either printed ($48.93) or online ($44.87) form, which includes the curriculum and all additional required materials. For the purpose of this review, we were given the online version. The unit is broken down into 8 lessons, plus a final project. It is made to accompany the biography, Albert Einstein by Kathleen Krull.

The lessons not only help guide students through the book through the use of lesson review questions, but also provide opportunities for activities such as mapping of various countries in which Einstein lived and worked, constructing a timeline of his life, research of other notable scientists that influenced Einstein, and much more. In the final project, students will use all that they have learned in order to construct a biography scrapbook of Einstein’s life and work.

Also included with this unit is a Rummy Roots card game, which is written right into the activities section of the unit. This game teaches children ages 8 and up 42 different Greek and Latin roots, providing an excellent vocabulary builder. The curriculum also includes a vocabulary list, as well as weekly spelling lists to correlate with the unit, making this an all-inclusive language arts curriculum.

 

Force and Motion

Force_motion_graphicThis science unit is also available either in printed ($50.07) or online ($46.01) form, which includes the curriculum, accompanying book, and experiment kit. The unit’s 8 lessons and final project are made to accompany the book The Quest for Personal Best: Individual Sports by Lisa Greathouse. Through the study of various sports and the athletes that participate in them, students are introduced to several physics concepts. Some of the fascinating topics covered include gymnastics and balance, bicycles and friction, skateboarding and gravity, and more.

Like the literature unit, this curriculum provides a series of review questions related to the required reading book, but then goes further by providing a variety of hands-on activities for reinforcement. In this unit, that includes a number of worksheets (included within the unit) plus simple experiments, which use the items from the experiment kit. Because this unit covers force and motion, the experiments involve simple activities such as using a spring scale to measure mass, using marbles to demonstrate Newton’s Laws of Acceleration, or a ball drop experiment to illustrate directional changes. The curriculum provides all necessary instructions for conducting these experiments, as well as forms for students to record their data and conclusions.

This unit also includes a list of vocabulary words covered in the study, as well as a unit review sheet to ensure understanding of the unit’s key concepts.

How We Used it & Our Final Opinion

We decided to follow the units as suggested in each of the curriculum guides, and I must say, the suggested schedule was very helpful in implementing the studies. I was admittedly overwhelmed at first receiving the curriculum, but after reading the introduction notes and suggestions, it was very easy to get up and running. I was also a bit nervous at first about the amount of hands-on work, as my youngest can sometimes get sensory overload by too many activities. However, this curriculum was extremely well balanced, providing plenty of reading and written work in addition to the fun experiments and activities. The hands-on activities are long enough to enforce the concept, but short enough to keep students focused and on task. Follow-up report forms are also helpful in ensuring students understand the purpose of the experiments, and how to interpret their findings.

As the parent, I loved the fact that everything was either included with the kit, or involved simple, household items. For activities that involved outside sources, such as online articles, everything was provided right in the curriculum, which saved a lot of time searching for resources. Having everything all in one place made teaching a breeze. It made it so easy, in fact, that older students could even use this curriculum independently, with minimal parent assistance.

This curriculum makes learning even difficult concepts easy and fun. I would definitely recommend this not only to typical hands-on learners, but to all homeschoolers. With the wide variety of subjects available, parents are sure to find something that appeals to every child. And, with the clear explanations and easy to follow instructions for each unit, it really takes the stress out of lesson planning. My boys definitely enjoyed this curriculum and are asking for more units from Moving Beyond the Page!

 

For more information, please check out the Moving Beyond The Page website, or follow them on FacebookPlease also click below to read the other Crew reviews!

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Spelling You See Review

Today I am very excited to share our review of a brand new spelling curriculum. The publishers of the well-known Math-U-See program have just released a new curriculum called Spelling You See, which offers a unique and inexpensive alternative to typical spelling programs. If you are looking for a spelling program that is more than just rote memorization, but rather one that allows students to learn to spell new words in the context in which they are used, then Spelling You See might be for you. My children and I have been using, and loving, Spelling You See: American Spirit (Level E) for the past several weeks, and I am so happy to share our review with you.

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Program Costs

Spelling You See is currently available at 5 different levels. These levels do not directly correspond to grade levels, but rather are based on student ability and developmental stage. A readiness guideline is available on the website, so that you can find out exactly which level is right for your student.  Costs of each level are as follows:

Spelling You See: Listen and Write (Level A)
Instructor’s Handbook $14
Student Pack $20

Spelling You See: Jack and Jill (Level B)
Instructor’s Handbook $16
Student Pack $30

Spelling You See: Wild Tales (Level C)
Instructor’s Handbook $14
Student Pack $30

Spelling You See: American (Level D)
Instructor’s Handbook $14
Student Pack $30

Spelling You See: American Spirit (Level E)
Instructor’s Handbook $14
Student Pack $30

At this time, the levels are equivalent to elementary level work, though higher levels of the program are already in the works.

About the Program

Most spelling programs have the same basic premise: spelling is best learned through memorization of a given list of words. True, some programs may have games and activities to make spelling more “fun”, but most still fall back to this same foundational idea. Spelling You See is something completely different. There are no lists to memorize. Instead, children focus on a passage for the week, presented in the form of copywork and dictation, in which the student is introduced to new words. This allows students to see the word as it is used in its proper context, rather than as just another word in a list. Because the student reads the passage, then copies it, and finally writes it from parent dictation, this method involves all of the senses, which helps greatly with learning and retention.

 How the Program Works

This program is meant to be done in small amounts every day. Each week’s lesson is broken down in the student workbooks by day, consisting of a 2-page spread for the day’s activities.  These activities consist of 2 sections. In section one of each day, students first listen to the parent read the week’s passage, then read the passage together with the parent, and finally go through the passage again in order to identify irregular letter patterns, such as double vowels, consonant blends, word endings, etc. The student marks these patterns with colored pencils. The program refers to this as “chunking”. The second section of each day’s activities is where the copywork and dictation come in. The first 2 days of the week, the student copies the passage, marking the “chunks” afterward. On the last 3 days of the week, students write the passage as it is dictated by the parent. The passages gradually increase in difficulty over the course of the program, and the “chunking” activities get a bit more extensive, but the structure of the program remains the same. There are no lists and no tests. Students learn spelling naturally. It really is that simple.

What We Liked About the Program

There are a number of things that set this program apart from other spelling programs on the market. Here are some of our favorite features:

  • The program done daily, in small amounts. By doing a bit each day, rather than cramming for a couple of days a week, students are truly learning, rather than memorizing only to later forget.
  • Parent involvement is essential. Students are not sent off to memorize on their own. Parents are directly involved in the learning process every single day.
  • The program combines the activities of copywork and dictation, vocabulary, spelling, and handwriting all into one package.
  • Students learn to pay close attention to detail. The copywork especially helps them to pay close attention to each word, as well as the punctuation used in the passage.
  • There are no tests, and no anxiety. As a firm believer that tests do not necessarily reflect ability or skill, this is a huge plus.

Final Opinion

My children and I really love this method for learning to spell. I have never been a fan of spelling lists and memorization. I believe that there is a HUGE difference between memorization and true learning. In fact, until reviewing this program, we have gone a long time without a spelling curriculum in our homeschool at all for this very reason. I think Spelling You See is perfect for parents who, like me, want students to truly learn to spell, rather than just learn to memorize a list of words. I only really have 2 issues/ suggestions for the program. I do wish that there was a cursive option for the student books, since my children are past the printing stage. However, we were able to do the dictation portion in cursive, since the workbook just has blank lines for that activity anyway. I also hope that the program is extended to include other topics. American Spirit (Level E) focuses on American history. I hope that in the future, the publishers might consider other options as well, such as literature-based passages. These things aside, however, I think this is a fantastic program, and definitely one of the best options I have ever seen for teaching spelling naturally. I think students can benefit more from this method of teaching than from methods found in most other programs.

For further information, please visit the Spelling You See website. You can also follow Spelling You See on Facebook and Twitter.

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5 Days of Homeschool Essentials: Copywork

All this week, the members of The Old Schoolhouse Review Crew are continuing our Homeschool Essentials Blog Hop. Today, I would like to talk about our use of copywork.

5 Days of Homeschooling Essentials

Benefits of Copywork

Copywork doesn’t always seem to be high on the list of homeschool priorities, especially as children get older. When children are young, of course, we try very hard to make sure that they practice their handwriting, learning to form each little letter to perfection. Copywork is an excellent way to continue daily handwriting practice as the child gets older. But that isn’t the only reason I feel that copywork is essential. Some other benefits of copywork are:

  • Copywork can help with writing and sentence structure. The more children are exposed to, and then copy, properly structured sentences, the more easily they are able to create their own sentences, and to recognize improper sentence structure.
  • Bible verses can be used for copywork, making scriptures easier to learn and remember, since writing them helps lock the words into children’s memories.
  • Poetry and passages of classical literature can be introduced in small amounts through copywork. Rhyme, rhythm, and meter of poetry are especially made much easier to  observe once children are familiarized with them by copying the poetry themselves.
  • Copywork improves spelling skills and vocabulary. Rather than having a simple list of spelling words or vocabulary to memorize, copywork puts the words in the context of sentences. The more children see, and copy, a word spelled correctly, the easier they can remember how to do so on their own.
  • Copywork encourages attention to detail. Children have to pay close attention not only to the words they are copying, but also to punctuation, capitalization, etc. This forces them to focus and to train their minds to notice fine details.

Best Sources for Copywork

There are many sources for copywork out there. Copywork is especially popular with those who adhere to the Charlotte Mason method of teaching. Quick searches on Google or Pinterest can give you plenty of resources. Because I like to customize our copywork in order to fit with current Scripture or other subjects we are studying, I prefer to make my own copywork pages most of the time. For making our own pages, we use either Worksheet Works or Handwritingworksheets.com. These sites allow you to type in whatever passage you want, and customize the layout to suit your needs.

For the Reluctant Copier

I know that there are plenty of children who just don’t enjoy writing, so for them copywork may seem quite a chore. Or, sometimes children may just tire of doing copywork every day. In these cases, I try to find new ideas to make the writing more interesting. If a child has a favorite author or book, using a well-known passage or other quote from the author is a good option. Using quotes from favorite movies is a great option for those children (like mine) who are big movie buffs. Riddles and tongue twisters are an especially fun way to either ease into the idea of copywork, or just to break up the monotony. The possibilities are really endless, but the point is that, especially with the ability to create your own copywork pages, this can definitely be an enjoyable part of the day.

I hope you have enjoyed reading about our copywork essentials. Please come back for other “essential” posts coming throughout the week. Please also take a few moments to visit a few of my team members’ blogs this week to learn about some of their Homeschool Essentials as well!

Tabitha @ The Homeschool Four

LaRee @ Broad Horizons

Gwen @ Tolivers to Texas

Amy @ Counting Change. . .  Again

Jacquelin @ A Stable Beginning

Gena @ I Choose Joy! 

Adena @ AdenaF

Stacie @ Super Mommy to the Rescue

Jen @ Happy Little Homemaker

SchoolhouseTeachers.com Review

I am very excited to be doing my first review for The Schoolhouse Review Crew! As the first review, I would like to tell you all about an amazing website, SchoolhouseTeachers.com, a division of The Old Schoolhouse. The site offers a Yearly Membership Option, which allows access to everything the site has to offer, for any number of students, for an entire year.

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What is SchoolhouseTeachers.com?

Basically, it is a huge collection of courses offered by a variety of teachers with expertise in a given subject. Each teacher brings his or her own unique teaching style, and may use such things as demonstration videos, worksheets, handouts, instructions for additional activities, and supplemental resources to aid in learning. Basically, it is the benefit of an outside teacher in the comfort of your own home. It’s an in-home, on-demand co-op, of sorts.

What’s Covered?

Honestly, there is so much excellent content on this website, that I can’t possibly get as in-depth as I would like. However, I can say that there is a VERY large variety of courses available. These courses are grouped by level, and organized into weekly lessons. Because specific grade level is particularly subjective for many homeschoolers, the classes are broadly organized into Pre-K/Elementary and Middle/High School categories. Additionally, there is a Family section for courses that might be beneficial to the family as a whole. Some of these subjects do overlap categories, since they can be used at a variety of grade levels. Altogether, there are over 60 courses to choose from, with more coming! Here is just a sampling of some of the courses offered:

  • Math – elementary level math, pre-algebra, and trigonometry.
  • History & Geography – Classical history, geography, archeology, figures in history
  • Language Arts – classics-based writing, reading, literature
  • Science – chemistry, physics, scientific method, nature study
  • Art – art techniques, studio art, photography
  • Music – vocal, recorder, violin, guitar
  • Foreign Language – Spanish, French, Hebrew
  • Electives – mock trial, computer science, economics, college choice guidance, home economics, logic

And SO much more!

Some students might prefer subjects to be presented as daily lessons, versus weekly. Courses in this format are found in the Dailies section. Here you can find such subjects as copywork, spelling, math, writing, art, Shakespeare, and more.

If you, like me, start your membership after the school year has already started, it is absolutely not a problem. You can always go to the course Lesson Archives, which contains all the past lessons from both the regular course listings as well as the dailies, so you can always start fresh from the beginning of a course.

I should also mention that in each of these categories is also a link to downloadable Course Checklists, which are very helpful in organizing and keeping track of subjects and daily lessons completed.

As if that wasn’t enough, there is also section for member extras. Here you will find The Old Schoolhouse Planners, back issues of The Old Schoolhouse Magazine, ebooks, supplements, and member discounts to other companies.

So what did my family try out?

We wanted to try everything! But really, we have only been members for a short time, so we did have to narrow our choices for the time being.

My youngest, Little M, is a musician, so I had a good idea of the direction in which he would go. He chose the Recorder course. He had learned a small amount from a class he took at co-op long ago, so he was eager for a refresher. The course is presented with one or 2 videos of teacher demonstration, plus a sheet to print out for further practice between lessons. Little M really enjoyed being able to play along with his teacher. He played the videos a few times each, until he felt like he had mastered each song and matched the teacher perfectly. Then, he proceeded to play the song for anyone who would listen. 🙂

My older son, Big G, is an excellent artist, even though he has never actually taken a formal art course. He chose to take Studio Art For Teens. The course is very simply laid out. This one does not have video instruction, but does have various drawings and very clear instruction, written in a conversational way, that he simply read and followed the given examples. He has learned about line, shading, texture, and color thus far. He is enjoying the course, and often remarks that he had no idea it was so easy to learn the techniques.

The boys did 2 subjects together, the first being Spanish. This was my kids’ first experience in a foreign language class. However, the teacher breaks the class down into very easy pieces. The class is presented with a video, and each student has a handout to print and follow along with during the lecture. The teacher often pauses to give the students a chance to repeat back the sound or phrase that she has just presented. Little M, the performer, loved repeating the phrases, but it was tough getting Big G, the shy one, to break out of his shell to respond. Nevertheless, they both enjoyed it, and did very well with the homework printouts following the lessons.

The last subject we tried, which the boys studied together, was Classical History, which was actually presented by a teacher of Classical Conversations. We have been searching for a new history curriculum lately, so this was a fantastic find. A short introduction of each unit is presented, and can be read online or printed. Each unit then has hands-on activities and documentary videos correlating to the lesson. Further reading can be done with suggested resources, or with any history book you might have. (We did not actually have the exact books suggested, but found that those we did have worked just fine.) The boys liked that the class was organized such that they knew what subject areas to cover when, yet it was flexible enough that they could use whatever resources they preferred or had on hand.

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Our overall opinion:

As you can guess, there is no doubt that we LOVE this website! We are very impressed with the variety of courses offered. Some of the courses, such as computer programming, photography, and filmmaking, are either difficult for homeschoolers to find, or  cost a small fortune. We are so excited to find courses like these being offered. The courses are convenient. The boys can “go to class” any time during the day, and can choose whether they want to read information on the computer or print it out to find a quiet spot to read. Best of all, the courses are Christ-focused. I don’t have to worry about any of the content, knowing that no matter what they choose, it will be Christ-honoring and safe.

How much does it cost to join?

The best part is that this site doesn’t cost an arm and a leg to join. The Yearly Membership Option is $139 for full access to the entire site. There is a December promo right now as well, where you can get 2 memberships for the price of one! Monthly payments are also available, at only $12.95 per month! For all the pricing options, click HERE!

I hope you all take advantage of this amazing resource!

To read other Crew members are saying about SchoolhouseTeachers.com, please click HERE.

Crew Disclaimer

Spelling Curriculum

Spelling comes naturally to me. So, I suppose I assumed that spelling would come naturally to my kids as well. While this proved true with one of my children, my older math whiz of a son struggles a bit. It’s not that he can’t learn spelling rules. I think it’s a matter of a lack of interest more than anything. He would much rather draw, create, or even crunch numbers.

So begins our search for spelling curriculum… AGAIN. We have tried a couple of workbook-type curricula, which were okay… kinda. And then we heard all the hype about All About Spelling. According to reviews, it seemed like an answer to prayer… until we actually got it. By the time the boys and I got everything out, went over the basics, and started to actually do a lesson, we were all on sensory overload! But, we plugged forward, thinking it would get better. My youngest, in particular, has some sensory processing issues, and he was increasingly frustrated by the need for “so much stuff just to do spelling”. Too many cards, too many bits and pieces. Moving on.

So, at this point, we have a couple of options. I can take a traditional approach, with yet another workbook full of lists to memorize, drill, and test. Or, I can go with more of a Charlotte Mason style approach, with lots of copywork, dictation, and, of course, reading. At this point, I am tending to lean toward the latter.

Any advice from anyone out there in blogland? Recommendations? Sympathies?

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