Today's Wisdom

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

For Sale - Part 2

Classical Conversations books - Price includes media mail shipping.  All books in very good condition.  Paypal only please.  Comment below or email me.

$45 ppd includes tabbed sections that can easily be removed.

 Cycle 2 memory cards, audio CDs, and Geography trivium tables - $45 ppd

 Cycle 1 - $15 ppd

 Classical Music for Dummies includes CD - $15

 Set of 3 Prescripts Writing Books - Scripture, American Documents, and Medieval to Modern World History - $25ppd

Challenge A Books

 The Door In The Wall - $4ppd

 Number the Stars - $4ppd

The Secret Garden - $4ppd 

Carry on, Mr. Bowditch - $4ppd 

For Sale - Lots of Homeschool Goodies - Part 1

Paypal only please.  Please comment below if interested or email me!

My Father's World AHL for high school - 

(1st Edition set) $250 includes shipping with insurance. No writing or tears – items is good condition.

Items included are:Daily Lesson Plans (1st Edition) - this has been uncoiled and put in a 3 ring binder
Taking the Old Testament Challenge
The Tabernacle (pamphlet)
The New Answers Book
Unwrapping the Pharaohs
The Purpose Drive Life
The Epic of Gilgamesh
The Cat of Bubastes
Bulfinch's Greek and Roman Mythology
The Iliad
The Odyssey
Eric Liddell
Encyclopedia of the Ancient World
Exploring World History
In Their Words
Exploring World History Quiz and Exams, Answer Book
World History Map Activities
Rand McNally Historical Atlas of the World
Journey Through the Bible (usually sold separately but is included with this set)

Not Included:Daniel Teen Inductive Bible Study
Ancient Literature Supplement
Ancient History Timeline Figures
Ancient History Timeline Book

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Review of Tales from the Circle C Ranch

Circle C Adventures rides again and we love going along for the ride! We've been a fan of Andi for a little while now so when the opportunity came to review the latest book, Tales from the Circle C Ranch, my daughter and I were so excited. This book also has the Andrea Carter's Tales from the Circle C Ranch Learning Lapbook that can be purchased to add in extra fun as well. We received both for our review.  To see our previous reviews of other books go here and here.

Tales from the Circle C Ranch

Tales of the Circle C Ranch Bookk Review

This 150 page paperback book includes 11 short stories broken down into 2 parts - The Early Years and The In-Between Years. The collection of stories answers fan's questions that stemmed from reading Andi's Adventures in Circle C Beginnings and the Circle C Adventures series. Although it answers questions from those books, it can also be read as a stand alone book. It is a quick read with a nice font and black and white illustrations scattered throughout. My daughter and I just love following Andi through her adventures. We find ourselves trying to guess what she will do next and giggling as we read all snuggled up on the couch together. Before each short story, you are given the setting and time where this story takes place and the corresponding book that is comes before. Although, it is fiction, we always feel like we're on a real adventure. We love trying to read in our best cowgirl voices as we saddle up to see what happens next at the Circle C Ranch. One of my favorite parts is reading her stories and seeing how she applies her faith in everyday situations.

You can also see sample including the first story and the table of contents. The book can be purchased here for $7.99 plus shipping and handling. You can even get it personalized!

Andrea Carter's Tales from the Circle C Ranch Learning Lapbook

Tales of the Circle C Ranch Bookk Review

I also loved the fact that this book came with the option to purchase a lapbook because that lines right up with my daughter's learning style. She loves lapbooks and I think she will no matter how old she gets. Unfortunately, we haven't had the time to put this one into practice yet as my mother has been experiencing some heart problems so our time at home has been limited. I did print out the pages and have them ready for when we have some down time - which will hopefully be soon.

The lapbook comes with everything you need except the folders. The pages are in full color and you are given great directions on how to put the lapbook together. It even has a folder diagram labeling where to put each of your mini books. I love that! There are mini books to go along with each short story. Just some of the topics you'll cover include:
  • girls dress styles during the 1800's
  • the general store
  • history of photography
  • state fairs
  • history of fireworks
  • how to write a limerick
  • crabs
See this page for all the concepts covered. I can't wait for things to slow down around here this summer so we can dive into this. It would be a great way to reinforce the stories we've read too. We received the PDF download of the lapbook which can be purchased here for $7.00. It is also available in print for $12 plus shipping and handling or you can buy a combination of the book and lapbook for $19 plus shipping and handling.

If you are looking for wholesome books to share with your children, then you will want to check these out.

Circle C Beginnings - recommended for ages 6-9
Circle C Adventures - recommended for ages 9-14
Circle C Milestones - recommended for ages 12 +

There is also a series of books for boys ages 8-12 - Goldtown Adventures

Find out more about Circle C Adventures by visiting their Website, Facebook, or Twitter pages.

Dynamic Literacy Review

Crew Disclaimer

Monday, June 15, 2015

Review of WordBuildOnline

JazzEdge  Review

If your student has tried memorizing vocabulary lists before only to completely forget everything they learned after their test, then today's review just might interest you. Dynamic Literacy has produced a program to enhance vocabulary development. The product I'm going to share with you today is WordBuildOnline. This is an online program that takes just 15 minutes a day and really helps students connect words of the English language together. They also offer programs in print as well.

What is WordBuildOnline

WordBuildOnline uses morphology, which is the study of the form of words. The program uses roots, prefixes, and suffixes to teach students how to find the meanings of words even if they have never encountered the word before. Out of the 93 Latin and Greek root words taught, students will learn the meaning of 75% of the words used today in Academic English.

The program is broken down into two series to choose from - Foundations (has 2 levels) and Elements (has 3 levels). See the chart below for guidance on age and grade ranges. It is recommended that all students begin at Foundations 1 or Elements 1 regardless of age.

Using this program, students will improve vocabulary knowledge, reading comprehension, and test scores. They also offer a 30 day money back guarantee if you are not completely satisfied.

How We Used This In Our Homeschool

I registered both of my now high schoolers for use of this program hoping it would help them on their end of the grade testing as well as just enhance their vocabulary. We began with the Elements 1 program based on their grades and age. Each child had their own login with their own account set up under a master parent account.

The program is designed to adjust the level of difficulty based on your student's performance. It is recommended to only spend 15 minutes a day, 4-5 times per week doing the activities given for each Greek or Latin root word, suffix, or prefix. This is so simple but we have all learned so much already including myself. The activities are fun. We found some to be extremely easy to complete and some a little more difficult.

Here is what a typical week of activities would look like for us:

Day 1 - You would begin by watching a video on the root, suffix, or prefix studied for the lesson. Our skate boarding tour guide, Lexi, was a big hit for both of my boys.

Day 1 activity - After you have completed the video, you would begin the daily activities. This is where your student would put in to practice what they have learned to combine the root word with different suffixes and prefixes.

Day 2 - Here is where students would try to match the definition with the vocabulary word using what they have been taught about the root word, suffix, and prefix meanings. The key to this was each row of numbers put in had to match. This was one of their favorite activities to do.

Day 3 - This is the stair steps. Again students use what they have been taught to combine the root word with suffixes and prefixes. This activity was the one my boys found to be the hardest but there was a suffix and prefix button at the bottom they could use for help when needed. If you will notice, there is a timer in the upper right hand corner. That is there to make sure the student did not spend over the 15 minutes trying to figure these out and become frustrated. If time does run out, it doesn't make the student feel like they failed at anything but offers positive encouragement to try again.

Day 4 - Students read an odd story and fill in the appropriate vocabulary word in the sentence. They will continue that process until all 10 words have been used.

Day 4 -  This could also be done on day 5 but mine completed the last 2 activities together since we try to keep our week to 4 days.  This is where students will show how well they have learned the root word with prefix and suffix combinations. This is a series of 10 questions as well.

You can set up your parent account so that you will receive notification of each activity your child completes. I really liked that feature and it saved me time from having to check up on my students each day. Once I week or so I would check into my parent account where I could see a report of both boys activities and how well they were doing. There was also an option to reset a lesson if desired which they recommend only to be used if a student is interrupted while completing a session since the system automatically adjusts the content according to the student's performance.

This program was a huge hit with our family. I think knowing that they could complete it in 15 minutes a day was a real encouragement for both of my boys. Most of the activities could be completed in less than 5 minutes for my boys.  We would highly recommend this to any student. It would make a great review for students preparing for SAT tests as well since you have the option to complete the program at a faster pace if you would like.

Find out more about Dynamic Literacy on Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest.

Be sure to click the banner below if you would like to see more reviews on the different levels and options available.

Dynamic Literacy Review
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Thursday, June 11, 2015

Review of IEW's Deluxe Combo Package - Level C

IEW Review

I have been a huge fan of Institute for Excellence in Writing (IEW) for a while now. I have had there Teaching Writing: Structure & Style so long that I still have the VHS set! We have used IEW as our writing curriculum of choice since my oldest child was in 7th grade so for the past 5 homeschool years. We are now headed into the high school years with our 2nd child so I chose to review the Deluxe Combo Teacher/Student Writing Package Level C [Fix- 1 & 2] since it is recommended for 9th-12th grades.

All three of my children have used Student Writing Intensive Level B in the past and you can find my review of that here. I wanted to try Level C for Stephen, who is now in 9th grade to see if would be a bit more challenging for him.

What's Included

The Deluxe Combo Teacher/Student Writing Package Level C comes with a treasure trove of products that make this set a thoroughly complete writing curriculum for your student as well as a course for yourself on how to teach writing or improve your own writing. It currently sells for $299.  Some items have recently been updated.  You can find out what was updated here.  Here is what is included in the set with a brief explanation of each:
  • Teaching Writing: Structure & Style DVD set (TWSS2-D)  - This set includes 9 DVDs (recently updated) that show teacher tips and tricks to help their students become more efficient writers. It also includes 3 DVDs of sample student workshops at 4 different grade levels.  This also includes a premium content subscription that allows you to stream the videos online, access to training webinars, MP3 downloads, audio downloads and more for one year from the date of activation.
  • Seminar Workbook - This contains over 200 pages of resources that include the course syllabus for TWSS2-D as well as many charts, goals, teaching procedures, FAQs, word lists, sample lesson plans, sample student writings, and more.  It comes with a binder and tabs to organize the units being taught.
  • Student Writing Intensive DVDs Level C, including the Structure & Style Overview (SID-C) - This is the writing curriculum plan for high schoolers. It has everything you need to teach your student including lesson plans and DVDs of Andrew Pudewa teaching a live writing class. It includes a set of 4 teaching DVDs, a Structure and Style Overview DVD, and a binder with tabs.
  • Student Notebook with handouts and lesson plans - This includes your source texts for use in writing and charts for your students. 
  • Fix-It! Grammar, Books 1 and 2 with downloadable student e-books - These are spiral bound books which contain a simple yet great tool for daily grammar practice. This set includes the first 2 books in the Fix-It! Grammar series. 
  • A Word Write Now - This book is also spiral bound and contains over 100 pages of words organized into 4 sections: words pertaining to character traits, descriptive words, words for movement and senses, and common literary words.  This is a great tool to help your student through any writing blocks.
  • Portable Walls - This is just what it says, a portable wall of charts to aid your student in their writing including preposition lists, story sequence chart, creative writing chart, and more.
How we use IEW in our homeschool 

I use Student Writing Intensive DVDs Level C, including the Structure & Style Overview (SID-C) as my lesson plan guide. The SID-C teacher guide tells you exactly what portion of the Teaching Writing: Structure & Style DVD (TWSS2-D) you as the teacher may want to review before continuing the lesson with your child. 

There are 15 lessons broken down in a suggested schedule that takes approximately 2 weeks to complete 1 lesson. Some weeks had 5 days worth of work scheduled and some only had 4. We generally try to stick to a 4 day work week so I combined days when necessary. We found that this schedule works great for us. Many of the lessons include reinforcement activities to use as well which really allow a student to grasp a concept before moving on.

IEW takes the guess work out of what to write by supplying the writer with a source text. Most lessons begin with Mr. Pudewa teaching to a writing class of students on the DVD. It is suggested that you watch this with your child and I always did so I could see what they were learning.  All of my children enjoy Mr. Pudewa's sense of humor.  He really has a knack for making writing fun.  Then they will put the concepts covered in the DVD teaching into practice throughout the next few weeks. Concepts covered are outlines, writing from notes, report writing, essay writing, and much more. 

So, a typical lesson would consist of these steps:

  • teacher watches Teaching Writing: Structure & Style recommended lessons 
  • student and teacher watch the lesson on the Student Writing Intensive DVD
  • student makes a key word outline of source text given when applicable (sometimes completed along with DVD)
  • student completes rough draft of paper using outline, A Word Write Now, and Portable Walls to assist him
  • student uses composition checklist given to make sure he has included the necessary details for the lesson
  • student gets teacher to complete a 2nd edit
  • student types final

We are continuing to use the Fix-It Grammar books daily as well. You can see my review of the 1st book in the series here. Having 2 students who have completed the 1st book, I can tell you that they both have made major strides in grammar using this simple daily program. Not only do you cover parts of speech, punctuation, capitals, homophones, etc but you will also be reinforcing the writing concepts taught in Student Writing Intensive DVDs Level C (SID-C) such as the dress-ups and sentence openers.

Teaching writing has never been my strong area but IEW has also given me the confidence to teach my children.  Our family would highly recommend this course for any high schooler wishing to lay a solid foundation in writing skills.

I know this is a lot of information to take in!  If you have any questions, or would like any further information please let me know by commenting below.

The Institute for Excellence in Writing (IEW) offers many curriculum choices for homeschoolers and traditional schools.  They also offer many articles, seminars, and webinars on their site.  You can find them at these sites as well:


Be sure to click the banner below to see what my fellow crewmates thought about this and other products available from the Institute for Excellence in Writing (IEW).

IEW Review

Crew Disclaimer

Sunday, June 7, 2015

Weekly Wrap Up - Summer Time!

Time for another wrap up.  End of grade testing is complete!

Recital has come and gone!

Sarah's 5 years of dance goodies.

 So, it's officially summer time for us! 

The puppies are growing so fast and now starting to scoot everywhere and open their eyes.

We're looking forward to a few summer camps, maybe a beach vacation minus sharks hopefully, bowling, skating, and even more family time together!

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Review of The Book of Ancient Romans Set

Memoria Press Review

Today's review is from Memoria Press who has brought back into publication some history books written by Dorothy Mills in the 1920's. They have added in some illustrations to update the books a little but overall they are the same history books that children would have learned from many years ago. The set I reviewed was The Book of the Ancient Romans Set. This classical history set is recommended for middle school grades but can also be used by high schoolers.  

Memoria Press Review
The set currently sells for $39.95 and includes physical products of the student text, student guide, and teacher manual.  
The student text takes you through the beginnings of Rome, the various lines of kings, the rise of the greatness of Rome, her triumphs as well as her decline and eventual fall. Mrs. Mills includes quotes from ancient historians such as Livy, Polybius, Appian and more. The illustrations and maps are in black and white like the ones you see below. See a Text Sample.

The student guide helps the student find the important components of each lesson with several sections including facts to know, vocabulary, comprehension questions, and activity questions including a timeline and map activities. This is a consumable book. See a Student Sample page.

The teacher manual is an exact replica of the student guide containing your answer key which really came in handy for us. The teacher manual also includes the the 5 tests and final exam along with those keys. See a Teacher Sample page.

How We Used This In Our Homeschool 

I had my middle schooler, Stephen, who is in 8th grade, work on this course. There are 26 lessons plus 5 reviews, 5 tests, and a final exam. There is no guidance on how to break the course up so we focused on completing 1 lesson per week for 3-4 days per week. Stephen started out independently working on the course himself and we went over the study guide together. He was comprehending what he was reading but often times found the vocabulary frustrating and hard to get through. So, by week 3, we began to work on the reading portion together as well. It helped him for me to read aloud some of the text and I too found some of the vocabulary and reading difficult. 
Lessons ranged from 2 pages of text reading to 17 pages so we adjusted our original plan of 1 lesson per week when needed. I would never assign more than 5 pages to read in one day hoping to keep the frustration levels low and comprehension levels high. This is not an easy course but we did find it stretching our vocabulary and pushing us both out of our comfort zones. 

I could definitely see where this could be used as a high school course as well considering the vocabulary and activities that are made available. The map illustrations were some of our favorites parts.

Check out the Table of Contents page and sample pages to see if this might be a good fit for your family. 

You can also find Memoria Press on Facebook and Twitter. They have lots of classical Christian curriculum choices available including Logic & Rhetoric, History, Latin, and more.

Click the banner below to see what my crewmates thought of The Book of the Ancient Romans Set, the Famous Men of Rome Set, and the Latina Christiana I Complete Set.

Memoria Press Review

Crew Disclaimer

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Review of PianoWithWillie

JazzEdge  Review

Today's review product is one that I am excited to share. We were given a Studio Membership of PianoWithWillie by JazzEdge. PianoWithWillie is an online piano course created by Willie Myette. You can access the course on multiple devices that can be connected to the internet including mobile phones, iPads, desktops, tablets, and more.  We mainly accessed it using a laptop.

In this course, Willie has created a wonderful variety of piano lessons from basic to advanced. If you have never had any piano experience whatsoever, he recommends you not to begin with this course but rather to start with Easy Piano Basics.

I decided to start with PianoWithWillie because my children have been taught some basic piano skills by their Grandmother. We ran into a few problems while my children were learning to play with this method. One was the children would forget what they were suppose to be practicing each day so come piano lesson day, they were not where they should be or they were practicing incorrectly. I had no piano experience at all so I couldn't help them or try to correct them. Willie states that is one of the reasons he designed PianoWithWillie because the students he was teaching had the same problems. With this course, they could go anytime and practice along with the videos in the comfort of their own homes by themselves and know that they were practicing correctly.

My daughter, Sarah, who is 11, decided to take this course. There are many different options and courses available to you so navigating your way around can be very overwhelming at first. Thankfully, Willie has taken the time to show you the steps you will need to complete to get started. 

When you log into your account, you are brought to a screen where you will begin with the Piano Start Tab. Under that tab, you will then go through the various steps available beginning with Step 1: Getting Started.  After watching a video on how to get started, you can then choose if you would like to start a 30-Day Success Playbook or dive right into some other lesson plans.  I would also suggest you watch Step 4 right away as it is very helpful in showing you how to navigate the site.

Lessons available can be filtered and searched for according to what you are trying to find. Some of the genres available are Blues, Classical, Funk, Gospel, Jazz, Latin, Rock, and Universal. Lessons also follow 2 distinct paths - Foundational or Fun'dational.

Foundational lessons focus on rhythm, technique, and reading which are typically known as the not so fun lessons but are necessary for long term success. Fun'dational lessons focus on song, style, and concept which are considered to be the more fun lessons where you can dive straight into learning how to play a song.

For Sarah, it had a been a while since she took her lessons with her Grandma, so I decided to let her start on the 30-Day Success Playbook which contained 30 lessons equaling 1 per day. The lessons were all short and less than 10 minutes with most being around the 5 minute mark. They were a little challenging for her but I think she did well with them. She would take more than a day to practice a lesson if she needed to which is truly the beauty of the program. It allows you to go at your own pace which can be as slow or fast as you like. If she felt herself stressing out, she would go slower.

During the lessons, you will see a screen similar to the one below. Willie will be teaching you and you are also able to see his hand movements along with an animated keyboard showing which notes are to be played. With the lessons and the playbook, you can also download any sheet music or worksheets to go along with the lessons.

JazzEdge  Review

Sarah really enjoyed the lessons and said she would recommend them to piano students who already know a little about the piano. I watched the lessons and tried a few myself and I have no piano or music experience whatsoever. The lessons were hard for me but doable. I do agree with their recommendation that I would rather begin at an easier level such as Easy Piano Basics.

Here is a little of what she learned in some of the first lessons - as you can see she was pretty proud of herself.  I think this course really helps students gain confidence at their own pace and timing!

Find out more about JazzEdge:

JazzEdge also offers drum lessons. Be sure to click the banner below to see what my fellow crewmates thought about PianoWithWillie, Easy Piano Basics, and DrumsWithWillie.

JazzEdge Review
Crew Disclaimer