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English/Lang Arts

Improve Reading Comprehension with LightSail for Homeschoolers

Improve Reading Comprehension with LightSail for Homeschoolers

When my son was little he was a phenomenal reader. He was reading way above grade level and faster than I can read. The problem? His reading comprehension was almost non-existent. He could read all these big words and sentences but couldn’t tell me much about what he had read or answer any questions of the like. I struggled to find something that would help improve reading comprehension. I wish LightSail for Homeschoolers had been available then!

Lightsail for Homeschoolers is an online language arts program for preK-12 that advances skills in reading, writing, vocabulary and fluency.

LightSail for Homeschoolers

The LightSail for Homeschoolers language arts platform is a comprehensive and engaging online reading and writing program for children in grades pre-K through 12. A foundation in the science of reading and writing combined with the experience of a team of home educators creates a family-friendly learning experience advancing skills in reading, writing, vocabulary, and fluency. LightSail provides tens of thousands of ChildSafe books and multimedia resources from leading publishers such as World Book, Baker Publishing and Lerner Publishing.

{Disclosure: I received free access to LightSail as part of this review. I was compensated for my time to give an honest review of this product. All opinions expressed here are my own, and I was not required to post a positive review. Please see my full Disclosure Policy for more details.}

The 4 Pillars of LightSail

Lightsail for Homeschoolers is an online language arts program for preK-12 that advances skills in reading, writing, vocabulary and fluency.

LightSail’s program is based on what they define as The Four Pillars of Literacy.

  1. Reading – LightSail has a library of tens of thousands of books and multimedia content for all ages. Classics, biographies, animals, sports, timelines, audiobooks, and so much more!
  2. Writing – The writing assignments compliment the reading your child is doing. LightSail breaks the writing process down in a fun and easy to manage way.
  3. Vocabulary – LightSail uses a spiral approach to teaching vocabulary that is customized to your child’s Lexile score. Kids work with these words in Spelling Bees and vocabulary assignments, and parents can assign their own Spelling Bees or use ready-made lists. Students will learn things like how to use the words in sentences, what part of speech the word is, the definition and synonyms for the word.
  4. Fluency – LightSail has some really cool fluency tools. These tools allow your child to record themselves reading a portion of a book aloud and send it to you for assessment. Students can play their own recording back and re-record it until they are happy with it. It then allows you to listen to the recording with text on screen, so you can assess what they’ve omitted, inserted, mispronounced, substituted, repeated, or self corrected.

Features of LightSail for Homeschoolers

Lightsail for Homeschoolers is an online language arts program for preK-12 that advances skills in reading, writing, vocabulary and fluency.
  • Extensive Library: LightSail contains an extensive collection of tens of thousands of engaging books and multimedia content from respected publishers such as World Book and Lerner Publishing, as well as trusted homeschool and faith-based publishers. Parents customize this collection to the individual needs of their children and their family values through LightSail’s ChildSafe Content Control Service and reading- and grade-level appropriateness controls.
  • Bookmarks: Curated passages from larger works, like the Bible or Shakespeare, organized into topical groups and with added assessment questions leveled for children of different ages. Watch a video on Bookmarks here that shows you some examples! And, of course, any parent can create their own Bookmarks.
  • Quotations: Similar to Bookmarks but limited to 300 words in length, these passages are perfect to assign for copywork or memory work. Parents can create their own, but LightSail also has hundreds of groups of Quotations chosen by their team of experienced homeschoolers from famous lines of poetry, to quotes from historic speeches, to favorite Bible verses.  See more here
  • Memory Work Tool + Ready-Made Lists: LightSail has harnessed the power of existing features in their Fluency module and created an all new Memory Work Tool, allowing parents to use a Quotation or Memory Work list (or provide their own text) and set a schedule for their child to practice and recite. Plus, they provide all the most popular choices (hundreds of pre-made lists) for memorization that homeschoolers want! Learn more here.
  • Lesson Plans: Beginning with faith-based lessons, and then expanding to other academic subjects, LightSail’s Lesson Plan incorporates their amazing content into structured lessons with teaching notes, activities, games, crafts, quizzes, and much more.  Learn more here
Lightsail for Homeschoolers is an online language arts program for preK-12 that advances skills in reading, writing, vocabulary and fluency.

What’s Not to Love?

Extensive Reading Collection

As I’ve already mentioned, LightSail has an extensive library. Not just books, but timelines, maps, biographies, new and more! This means you have reading and research material right at your fingertips!

Customization

The extensive reading collection comes with amazing customization capabilities! As a parent have the ability to customize to the needs of your children and family values through LightSail’s ChildSafe Content and Control Service and reading and grade level appropriateness controls. This allows you to block the books you don’t want and/or specifically choose what you do.

Then there’s the customization LightSail does automatically. Every 15 days LightSail automatically updates your child’s Lexile score, allowing every feature to be tailored to your child’s reading level!

Along with the Lexile adaptation, there are built-in comprehension assessments that help you determine if your child is absorbing what they are reading.

Extra Features

Lightsail for Homeschoolers is an online language arts program for preK-12 that advances skills in reading, writing, vocabulary and fluency.

One of the features I really liked was the built in cloze activities to help improve reading comprehension. This leaves out a word in the sentence. Kids have to choose the correct word that will go in the blank. Doing this helps to ensure that kids are paying attention to what they read. It helps them to use the context of the story to infer meaning.

Another feature to love is the option to have the book read to you. Check out the video below where I demonstrate a book being read, and the various speed settings to choose from. This is super helpful when your child is struggling and needs help, or if you’d like them to be able to read (listen) to something that is above their reading level.

The House in the Cerulean Sea Character Mapping – FREE Printable

The House in the Cerulean Sea Character Mapping – FREE Printable

The House in the Cerulean Sea Character Mapping Printables are a FREE resource that I created to go along with the book. These fun printables will help you catalogue the characters, young and old alike!

The House in the Cerulean Sea Character Mapping includes a summary, character lists, and free printable character mapping pages for use with the book. A freebie from Starts At Eight.

The House in the Cerulean Sea

The House in the Cerulean Sea by TJ Klune is a fantasy novel aimed at adults – the main character is an adult who has been muddling his way through life, but then his job sends him to meet the most the magical children he has ever seen, while he navigates a growing attraction to another man (Arthur, the head of the orphanage).

The House in the Cerulean Sea by TJ Klune

The book is so wonderful and laugh out loud funny and could easily be loved by teens (and is loved by teens)! Klune’s work in The House in the Cerulean Sea has been praised for its warmth and messages of love and acceptance.

I was hooked fairly quickly. The best way I can describe this book is a mash up of Miss. Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children, Harry Potter, The Hobbit, and Hotel Transylvania. It is sweet and endearing, laugh out loud funny, and encourages you to open your mind and examine the prejudices that surround us.

I especially LOVE the cover! It is so whimsical and the colors make me feel as though I am surrounded by the ocean. Learn more about the making of the cover from Red Nose Studio here.

Brief Summary

Forty-year-old Linus Baker, career bureaucrat in the Department in Charge of Magical Youth, is a gray, shriveled, downtrodden soul when his latest assignment from Extremely Upper Management sends him to The House in the Cerulean Sea, aka Marsyas Island Orphanage. Marsyas Island Orphanage is located on Marsyas Island off the coast of a little seaside resort town.

His task is to look into the well-being of the orphanage’s six young residents. (See Character List Below) In practice, it’s more like assessing how dangerous they are, and taking a hard look at the methods of Arthur Parnassus, the headmaster.

Linus faints dead away on reading the first file, belonging to Lucy (short for Lucifer), the 6-year-old reputed to be the child of Satan. Linus soon learns there’s quite a bit he hasn’t been told. As time passes and he investigates further, he starts, for the first time, to question some of the things Extremely Upper Management has been telling him about these kids.

He also falls in love (an ever growing attraction between him and Arthur Parnassus spans the length of the book) and discovers unsuspected depths of courage, loyalty, and tenacity in himself.

Character List

The House in the Cerulean Sea Characters

The Orphans

  1. Talia – a two-hundred-something year old female garden gnome (which is apparently unheard of)
  2. Theodore – a wyvern who speaks in chirps, has a secret hoard of treasure (and buttons) under the couch
  3. Phee – a young forest sprite, distant, standoffish, has the power to make plants grow
  4. Sal – an extremely shy teenage boy who shifts into a Pomeranian when frightened
  5. Chauncey – no one knows WHAT Chauncey is, but he is a green amorphous blob with eyes on stalks on top of his head and he longs to be a bellhop when he grows up
  6. Lucy – a charming and intelligent six-year-old whose nickname is short for Lucifer, the antichrist, likes to make threats for fun

“Are you Mr. Baker? If you are, we’ve been expecting you. If not, you’re trespassing, and you should leave before I bury you here in my garden. No one would ever know because the roots would eat your entrails and bones.” She frowned again. “I think. I’ve never buried anyone before. It would be a learning experience for the both of us.”

Talia the garden gnome

Other Characters

  • Extremely Upper Management
  • Linus Baker – a caseworker for the Department of Magical Youth (DICOMY)
  • Arthur Parnassus – runs the orphanage
  • Ms. Zoe Chapelwhite – a sprite the owns the island

Together the inhabitants of Marsyas Island are a quirky, unorthodox, makeshift family who care for one another and keep mostly to themselves. The biggest obstacle to their existence, other than government officials sent by DICOMY to check up on them, is the seaside townsfolk who are sometimes weary and other times hostile toward magical beings in general.

The House in the Cerulean Sea Character Mapping

Sometimes I get inspired with books to create something for myself as a memory tool. As I was reading The House in the Cerulean Sea I felt it would be helpful for me to list the characters and their special powers. So I created these fun The House in the Cerulean Sea Character Mapping pages to use just with this book.

Free Character Mapping Printables

The House in the Cerulean Sea Character Mapping includes a summary, character lists, and free printable character mapping pages for use with the book. A freebie from Starts At Eight.

–>> Download Printables HERE <<–

Study Guide

The Super Summary Study Guide is a 59-page guide for The House in the Cerulean Sea by T. J. Klune and includes:

  • detailed chapter summaries and analysis covering all 19 chapters commentary on major characters
  • 25 important quotes
  • essay topics
  • several more in-depth sections of expert-written literary analysis
  • key themes like Nature Versus Nurture and The Perpetuation of Prejudice

More Fiction Books of Interest

The Giver Book Discussion & Colorless Activity from Starts At Eight
High School Series Books Summer Reading List ~ FREE PRINTABLE from Starts At Eight
100+ Engaging Books for Middle School from Starts At Eight. 100+ Engaging Books for Middle School is a list of single books as well as series that are reading level and age appropriate for middle school readers.
Middle School Summer Activities Inspired by Great YA Books! Think summer bucket list! Think field trips! Think fantastic fiction to inspire it all! That's what this is! Read a great book, adventure out onan awesome related field trip, make an inspired craft or project! Screen free summer fun at its best!
Preparing Your High School Student For The PSAT

Preparing Your High School Student For The PSAT

The time has come…the time has come that our home will contain it’s first ever…High Schooler!

I am down to the final 2 months before my first child begins her freshman year of high school. I started planning for this moment two years ago. I think I should have started planning from birth! There is so much to think about, so many decisions to make, so many possibilities and roads to consider.

One of the many things on our list is preparing for the SAT (Scholastic Aptitude or Scholastic Achievement Test). The SAT is a globally recognized college admission test. Most students take the SAT during their junior or senior year of high school, and almost all colleges and universities use the SAT to make admission decisions.

The thing is, there is even a test to take before the SAT that matters almost as much. It is the PSAT. That is where my focus is right now as it is the “Preliminary” step to the SAT.

The Preliminary SAT/National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test (PSAT/NMSQT) is a program cosponsored by the College Board and National Merit Scholarship Corporation (NMSC). It’s a standardized test that provides firsthand practice for the SAT®. It also gives you a chance to enter NMSC scholarship programs and gain access to college and career planning tools. ~College Board

Why Take the PSAT?

There are many reasons why you might have your student prepare for and take the PSAT. Top on my list is that I believe in preparing for the PSAT, you are leading your student down a path towards being more prepared to take the SAT. Your student can become familiar with the style of testing they will see on the SAT, from the directions that are given to the kinds of questions they will encounter.

Reasons Why You Might Have Your Student Take the PSAT:

  • Your student will gain valuable techniques and information that will prepare them to take their SATs.
  • Your student will receive feedback on their strengths and weaknesses in the skills necessary for their college study.
  • Your student will be able to see how their performance on an admissions test might compare with that of other college applicants.
  • Your student will be able to enter the competition for for National Merit Scholarships NMSC (grade 11).
  • Your Student will have the option to choose to receive information from colleges via a check “yes” to Student Search Service.

When to Schedule and Take Your PSAT

The PSAT test is only offered in October each year (NEW in 2021 is a January offering) so you need to sign up in September. You must sign up for the PSAT at your high school (or one in your community) as this test is administered by high schools, not through test centers.

Online registration is not available so head in and talk to your school counselor to sign up. While you are there you can pick up a free copy of the “Official Student Guide to the PSAT/NMSQT”. Here you can find all the PSAT/NMSQT testing information.

While taking the PSAT in your sophomore your does not count towards scholarships, it will be good practice for your student to take it first in their sophomore year. Then when it really counts during their junior year (the only year that qualifies you for the National Merit Scholarship) they will be much better prepared.

Know the Format of the PSAT

The Critical Reading sections include reading comprehension questions about full-length and paragraph-length passages. They also include exercises that ask you to complete a series of sentences.

* Sentence Completion – 13 questions
* Passage-based reading – 35 questions
* Two 25-minute sections
Total time: 50 minutes

MC900441732The Writing section includes multiple-choice questions covering the fundamentals of grammar, usage, word choice, and organization.

* Identifying sentence errors – 14 questions
* Improving sentences – 20 questions
* Improving paragraphs – 5 questions
* One 30-minute section
Total Time: 30 minutes

The Math sections include multiple-choice questions and calculation questions. Topics include numbers and operations; geometry and measurement; algebra and functions; and statistics/probability/data analysis.

* Multiple-choice – 28 questions
* Calculations – 10 questions
* Two 25-minute sections
Total time: 50 minutes

Preparation for the PSAT

Once you know how and when to schedule the test, and what the basic expectations are for the PSAT, then you can plan out your preparations for taking it.
math

Math Topics

It is a good idea to complete Geometry before taking the PSAT as Geometry is covered on the test. I have our daughter taking Algebra II in 9th grade and Geometry in 10th grade (she took Algebra I in 8th grade). So while she won’t have much Geometry when she takes it as a sophomore, when it counts as a junior she will have all the Geometry she needs.

Here are some great math options:

Reading Skills

A good way to hone your student’s reading skills is simply by reading. Reading lots of literature in varying genres, and being able to analyze them in a critical manner will go great lengths to helping your student with sentence completion and vocabulary.

High School Literature List Series from Starts At Eight

We are choosing to do a year of Latin Roots to help strengthen our daughter’s basic understanding of English vocabulary. Over 60% of English comes from Latin roots, not to mention prefixes and suffixes!

Choosing Latin as a High School Elective from Starts At Eight

Learning and understanding the way these roots work will help her learn and comprehend the English language at a much deeper level. The goal is to develop your student’s vocabulary at a quicker pace, while increasing their understanding of existing vocabulary as they begin to comprehend why our words mean what they do.

Specific PSAT Test Preparation

Besides going about their general academics that are geared toward an overall increase in their math, reading/vocabulary, and writing skills, students can spend time preparing specifically for the PSAT. There are many books and web based programs for this purpose. One option is Barron’s Test Prep.

Using Barron’s Test Prep

With Barron’s Test Prep you can get everything your student needs to get prepared for the PSAT. From targeted practice, test taking strategies, and vocabulary building tools to full length tests. Their online solutions are catered to each student’s learning style.

Their adaptive test prep solution creates a customized course based on your skills, your time, and what you need to maximize your score. It then goes one step further by making it accessible anywhere you are! Whether you’re on a desktop, laptop or iPad, you have an instant connection to your personal learning dashboard.

Here is a direct link to their online Practice PSAT Exam.

Using Mr. D Math SAT Bootcamp

Mr. D Math offers 6 week SAT Bootcamps throughout the year that can be used for PSAT prep as well.

(My own personal review of this will be coming in March!)

  • This program also prepares students for the PSAT.
  • Each SAT Math Bootcamp meets once a week for 6 weeks.
  • Each program is timed to end just a few days before an SAT Test Date.
  • Sessions are taught by trained Mr. D staff via the online “virtual classroom,” so students can participate from anywhere!
  • Students will also have access to recordings of each session.

Our High School Plan

Ninth Grade – For our daughter the plan is to go about our freshman year covering our basic courses, including Algebra II, a literature and writing course, and the Latin I mentioned before. We are considering adding in some PSAT specific preparation in the latter half of the year.

Tenth Grade – In September we will sign her up for the PSAT. During the months of Sept & October beyond our usual course of study, the focus will be on specific PSAT preparations. She will take her PSAT in October. Based on her scores we will focus our attention where it is needed.

Eleventh Grade – In September we will again sign her up for the PSAT while continuing our usual course of study plus specific PSAT preparations. In October she will take her final PSAT. Based on her scores we will begin focus on preparing for her SATs.

More College Prep Resources

Career Exploration for High School Students from Starts At Eight3 Books to Help Prepare College Bound Teens from Starts At Eight

Free Bedtime Stories for Kids

Free Bedtime Stories for Kids

It’s hard to believe that my children have outgrown bedtime stories! We spent countless hours reading together every night for so many years. Reading to and with children is such an important part of their development. It improves reading and comprehension skills as well as helps develop creativity and imagination.

Free Bedtime Stories for Kids

Story Tyke – Bedtime Stories Reimagined delivers original bedtime stories to your inbox at 6 PM Sunday – Thursday!  

{Disclaimer: This post is sponsored by Story Tyke. While I was compensated for my time in writing this post, all opinions are my own, and I was not required to post a positive review. Please see my full Disclosure Policy for more details.}

Story Tyke is for parents (or grandparents like me!) with kids ages 4-8. It’s a  free subscription! All you have to do is head over to the Story Tyke Website and sign up! Once you are subscribed you will receive bedtime stories via e-mail every Sunday – Thursday night! 

Did you know that storytelling (without images) improves literacy skills, creative thinking, and memory recall for children? This is just one reason why Story Tyke was created.

Imagination time is extremely healthy for the development of children and in a world with increasing technology, they wanted to promote more imagination time without visuals, screens, and images. 

All you have to do is open up the e-mail and go!

–>>–>> Click Here to Sign up for Story Tyke Now! <<–<<–

A Look Inside A Story Tyke Bedtime Stories E-mail

Below you can take a look inside a Story Tyke Bedtime Stories e-mail:

** To get the full story head over to Story Tyke and Subscribe! **

What’s Inside?

The Story – a unique and engaging story every time!

And it’s not just one type of story! Story Tyke has a few different types:

  • original stories
  • traditional twists (think Spinderella vs. Cinderella)
  • educational stories
  • customized stories where you can insert your children’s names to make the story more engaging

‘Tyke Time’ Questions  – throughout the stories you will find questions bracketed and in bold. These offer you chances to have conversations that teach high morals as well as educational points.

Story Tyke Rewards – you can earn rewards for sharing Story Tyke with your friends and family! Use your rewards for things like sticker charts and gift cards!

Education Time – some of the stories include this section that contains facts relating to the story.

What’s Not to Love?

I was going to title this section, “What’s to Love?” but really is there anything not to love with Story Tyke Bedtime Stories!?

As parents or grandparents we can pull up a story any time, snuggle up, and read with our kids. Even on the go! Since it’s in your e-mail you can pull it up on your phone while waiting at a restaurant for food, or sitting in the doctor’s office.

As homeschoolers you could include it in your day as a fun and engaging educational activity.

Whether you tell the story at bedtime or build it into your homeschool curriculum during the day, you will love the easy storytelling experience and increased bonding time through a fun activity. 

–>> –>>Click Here to Sign Up for your FREE Story Tyke Bedtime Stories E-mails! <<–<<–

More Reading Related Articles 

K-2 Series Books Summer Reading List & FREE PRINTABLE from Starts At EightChildren's Books About the Library from Starts At Eight5 Little Monkeys - Books - Activities -Crafts - & More! from Starts At Eight10 Ten Favorite Read Alouds from Starts At Eight is a collection of both picture and chapter books that will captivate your children. Easy and fun to read aloud, ones your children will treasure for years to come.

Teach Creative Writing with Bardsy Homeschool

Teach Creative Writing with Bardsy Homeschool

If you are not a writer yourself, you may be concerned about how you will Teach Creative Writing in your homeschool. Read on to find out about a tool that might just resolve that concern for you!

Teach Creative Writing with Bardsy Homeschool

Bardsy Homeschool is a one stop shop to teach creative writing in your homeschool.

{Disclaimer: I received free access to Bardsy Homeschool and was compensated for my time in writing this review.  All views are my own and I was not required to write a positive review. Please see my full Disclosure Policy for more details.}

Bardsy Homeschool uses interactive tools and courses as well as guidance from professional writer-educators to help unlock the writing potential in your child.

For only $8.99 month you can have access to all Bardsy Homeschool writing tools, video courses, & lesson plans. Cancel anytime – No Problem!

Why Creative Writing Matters

Writing isn’t extra-curricular, it’s trans – curricular.

  • It fosters observation, flexibility and persistence.
  • Writing supercharges your child’s ability to absorb, process, retain and retrieve information across disciplines.
  • Your child’s math and science scores will reflect improved pattern recognition, construction and extension skills.
  • Just fifteen minutes of writing a day makes an impact on your child’s health: whether they’re experiencing stress or suffering from trauma. Creative writing offers them a healthy way to process their emotions, which is productive for their growth

Get Started with Bardsy Homeschool’s Storywheel

The Storywheel includes the 5 basics elements every story needs:

  • characters
  • world
  • conflict
  • plot
  • theme

The Storywheel helps kids understand that you can start anywhere! Got any idea for a character? Start there! Need a suggestion for a theme? Spin the wheel and get some ideas!

The Storywheel gives your students ideas to help them get started, or fill in the gaps they are missing! Once they have “traveled” around the wheel they will have the elements they need to build a great story!

Let Prospero Help You Teach Creative Writing

Prospero is the silver bullet in this program! Prospero is an AI (artificial intelligence) writing coach! I was blown away by the number of options for worksheets, and how well it saves and allows your child to organize them!

Prospero Saves All Work

Prospero easily saves all your student’s work in one place and turns it into building blocks. They type right in the worksheet and Prospero saves it for them.

Let me say that again PROSPERO SAVES YOUR CHIILD’s WORK!! That means no missing papers! No lost thoughts! They type, Prospero saves!

Later they can move them around to create a framework for their story. They can add, delete, change and rearrange as much as they want. Then, in go the story elements and out comes everything they need to make a first draft!

Prospero In Action

To begin with Prospero you start with a working title.

Then Prospero offers up a plethora of worksheets across the 5 Storywheel categories that will help the student develop each of those 5 important pieces.

The student works in their own timeframe filling out and organizing all the worksheets.

Once they’ve completed their worksheets they can move them around to create and organized flow, and simple click an arrow to pop them into a rough draft format.

Having to only type things once and then being able to simply click arrows and drag and drop things around is wonderful for kids who get frustrated having to write outlines, rough draft after rough draft, and then the final paper.

No Printer Needed!

Bardsy Homeschool can be a totally digital program! Your student can type all of their work right into Prospero, edit, move and delete pages and more! For someone like me whose printer recently bit the dust, this is an awesome feature!

Don’t want to be totally digital? That’s fine too! You can also print all the Bardsy Homeschool Worksheets for your student to work with pen and paper.

Video Courses

Do you think your student needs more structure? Then the video courses may be your way to get started!

Award-winning author Celeste Davidson teaches via bite-sized video lessons (under 10 minutes)!

There are 3 course tracks you can follow:

  • Writing Warmup – For beginners. Get going by retelling a classic story.
  • Better Storytelling – A deep dive into essential story elements and their assembly.
  • Story Talk – Learn to read and critique stories.

Free Downloadable Character Creation Kit!

Get Bardsy Homeschool’s Super Character Creation Kit for free when you  subscribe to get Bardsy Homeschool E-mails.

This comprehensive kit includes:

  • Create a Super Character Lesson Plan and Activity
  • Bardsy’s Super Character Video Course – Part 1
  • Three Extensive Character Building Templates
  • Everything You Need To Get Creative And Get Writing!

Bardsy Homeschool believes that creative writing supercharges every academic skill.

The Bardsy Homeschool Method breaks storytelling down into two complementary steps: develop and assemble. This method is woven into Bardsy Homeschool tools to minimize struggle and make writing accessible and fun.

Now, you can see this method in action with their online Super Character Creation Kit

Download Bardsy’s Homeschool Super Character Kit and get started on your story today!

21st Century Learning with Virtua Education

21st Century Learning with Virtua Education

Now more than ever parents are choosing 21st Century learning for their kids (both homeschool and public). The seemingly endless sea of options for online learning can be both a blessing and a curse!

21st Century Learning with Virtua Education

Virtua Education from the Homeschool Buyers Co-op is an online secular homeschool curriculum that uses Artificial Intelligence (AI) to customize a learning path to your child’s knowledge.

{Disclaimer: This post is sponsored by Virtua Education.  While I was compensated for my time in writing this post, all opinions are my own, and I was not required to post a positive review. Please see my full Disclosure Policy for more details.}

Virtua School has an extensive library of applicable courses that cover English, Math and Science from Elementary to High School.

With access to over 2,000 micro-lessons in English, Math and Science across a variety of formats, such as slideshows, videos, graphs and text, Virtua School helps take the guess work out of education at home!

How Does Virtua School Work?

1. Begin with Diagnostics

You begin Virtua with diagnostic assessments. This process identifies the student’s knowledge gaps and brings relevant micro-lessons (or nuggets as they call them) into the student’s learning pathway.

These diagnostic assessments are not tests. They simply gather information to help the Virtua system to know what your student needs to learn next.

That’s why during the diagnostics they don’t tell you which questions you got right or wrong. It doesn’t matter. Every answer given helps CENTURY (the learning platform Virtua uses) to understand your child’s brain better so they can help them progress more quickly.

2. Your Path is Created

Once your student has completed the diagnostics, Virtua creates a tailored learning path for them to follow. The path consists of assigned nuggets (small lessons) for them to complete.

They can choose to do all 3 subjects or just one, plus you can go into the parent dashboard and assign specific nuggets if there are topics you know your child needs work on.

3. Follow The Given Learning Path

Nuggets are small lessons on your child’s learning path. They typically include a short video lesson with questions for them pertaining to that information immediately following the short lesson.

What we love so much about nuggets is that they are small, bite-sized pieces of information. This is especially helpful for kids who have a short attention span because they can easily complete a nugget (or a few) in a short time span, allowing them to have completed a whole concept before taking a break.

The Virtua AI system constantly re-assesses your student and personalizes learning pathways not just in terms of content that needs to be studied but when content needs to be revisited.

Virtua Library

Another feature of Virtua Education is their online library.  Over 25,000 titles in a wide variety of formats making learning fun and memorable!

  • eBooks: Tens of thousands of expertly curated and extensively researched ebooks that keep students engaged and intrigued.
  • Audio Books: High-quality audio books allow students to build a strong foundation for independent learning. 
  • Instructional Videos: Over 100 videos teaching basic skills and civics concepts add variety and depth to your homeschool. Perfect for visual learners!
  • Magazines: National Geographic, BBC Wildlife Magazine, and more! Get access to digital subscriptions and expand your horizons.
  • Languages: Learn Spanish, French, or Mandarin Chinese at your own pace with MUZZY.
  • Read, watch, or listen on any device! Your computer, tablet or smartphone are all able to support your Virtua Library.

Give 21st Century Learning with Virtua Education a Try!

Virtua is offered as a monthly subscription through Homeschool Buyers Co-op. Right now you get your first month of Virtua for just $1!

While you are there be sure to check out all the other awesome deals Homeschool Buyers Co-op has to offer!

Homeschool Kindergarten American History

Homeschool Kindergarten American History

Kindergarten is a wonderful time of questioning and exploring with our little ones. They are years of hands on fun, reading tons of lovely books together and learning so many new things. While this can be a fun and free time, it can also cause concern for some homeschoolers who question what to teach and how to teach it.

While we like to keep things more free flowing in the early years, I do love to check a good box! Finding Kindergarten curriculum that is both engaging and free flowing can make all the difference!

History can be one of those subjects that can easily get overlooked in the early years as we focus more on reading, writing, and math. I have recently found a homeschool kindergarten American History curriculum that incorporates wonderful literature to explore, along with Bible work, comprehension and more!

 

Homeschool Kindergarten American History

Sonlight’s Exploring American History: History / Bible / Literature K is a literature based American History Curriculum for kids in Kindergarten.

{Disclosure: I received Instructor’s Guide and the 2-volume history spine from this complete Sonlight curriculum for free and was compensated for my time in writing this review. However these are my honest opinions and I was not required to post a positive review. Please see my full Disclosure Policy for more details.} 

Bible

The Bible portion of the program includes:

  1. Sing the Word! Teach Me Your Paths – Which is an album of memory songs. A great mnemonic aid which includes the entire set of 28 Scripture verses in the Bible K Memory program (plus a bonus track!) set to diverse musical styles.
  2. The One Year Bible for Children

American History

Volume One and Two of Heroes and Happenings the spines of this program. They are beautifully done with lovely colorful illustrations and vocabulary pointed out in the margins. Your child will begin learning about important historical figures via interesting stories and pertinent facts.

Besides the two Heroes and Happenings books, the 4-Day History program includes timeline figures and seven additional books (and the 5-Day program adds three more!). Enjoy a deeper dive into the Revolutionary War, Westward Expansion, the time of the Pilgrims, and more.

Literature

Read-Alouds are the third component to this wonderful curriculum.

Included in Exploring American History: History / Bible / Literature K are seventeen marvelous books in the 4-Day program, plus four additional titles in 5-Day!

A Look Inside Sonlight’s Kindergarten Exploring American History Curriculum

What’s To Love About this Kindergarten American History?

Ease of Use

The Instructor’s Guide has everything you need all in one place! Just open and go! 

It includes a day by day, week by week schedule including discussion questions, map and timeline points, and vocabulary.

Flexible Schedule

Right off the bat when you are purchasing Sonlight’s Exploring American History: History / Bible / Literature K you get a choice of a 4 or 5 day schedule. We chose the 4 day because it fits with our 4 day homeschool schedule, allowing us a free day or catch up day each week!

Whichever schedule you choose, it comes broken down by week and day, including a blank space for dates, allowing you the flexibility to start on any month and day you choose!

 The Literature!

Anyone who knows me knows I LOVE teaching through literature! History becomes so much more engaging with stories and faces! Not only are there amazing history literature in this program but fun and engaging Read-Alouds too!

The Read-Alouds that go along with this program are wonderful and enriching books your children will ask to read again and again!

Try Sonlight Curriculum for FREE!

Have you ever used Sonlight? Wondering how it all works? Sonlight offers you the chance to try Sonlight curriculum for FREE!

Want to browse more Sonlight curriculum options?  Click HERE to request a catalog.

Other Sonlight Curriculum Reviews

Be sure to check out my Sonlight Science Discover & Do review!

Homeschool Middle School Writing Curriculum Review

Homeschool Middle School Writing Curriculum Review

Finding a Homeschool Middle School Writing Curriculum can be challenging. Many of us don’t feel equipped to evaluate our child’s writing.

Through the years I have had the opportunity to try many different writing programs.  Everything from workbooks to videos, highly parent heavy to those that claim independence and more. 

The ones I have been most happy with are ones that have tools for evaluating writing (both for student and parent) and ones that have the bulk of the writing curriculum spelled out so the student can be mostly independent. The trouble is finding one curriculum that does it all! 

Homeschool Middle School Writing Curriculum Review from Starts At Eight - WriteShop's homeschool middle school writing curriculum is a comprehensive writing program that walk both student and parent through the writing process.

WriteShop Homeschool Middle School Writing Curriculum

I can’t begin to tell you how impressed I am with WriteShop. I have recently acquired WriteShop I to use with my 8th grader and I am finding it to be a comprehensive writing curriculum that includes detailed help for both student and parent.

{I received WriteShop I and Video Companion Course as part of this review and I was compensated for my time in writing it. All views are my own and I was not required to write a positive review. Please see my full Disclosure Policy for more details.}

While I say “middle school”, don’t let that fool you! WriteShop is a flexible writing program for middle and high school students.

Choosing a level depends on your student’s experience level:

  • No Prior Writing Experience
  • Limited Writing Experience
  • Writing at Grade Level
  • Writing Above Grade Level 

You can START WITH A PLACEMENT TEST and learn more about the general placement guidelines on WriteShop’s website.

I used WriteShop I for the purpose of this review because my daughter is in 8th grade and that is what is recommended for 8th grade with any of the levels of writing experience.

Features of the WriteShop Program

What’s Included?

WriteShop What's Included from Starts At Eight

The WriteShop I & II product line consists of:

  • A Student Workbook (actually 2 – one for each level)
  • Teacher’s Manual (just one that includes both levels)
  • Optional Video Companion Course (one for each level)
  • As well as the option to purchase The Blue Book of Grammar and Punctuation, and The Copying & Dictation Exercises.

When shopping for WriteShop products you have multiple combinations of these things to choose from. You need both the Student Workbook and Teacher’s Manual, but I highly recommend you opt for the WriteShop I Video Course Set that includes both those books, The Blue Book of Grammar and Punctuation, and the Video Companion Course.

Optional Video Companion Course 

Let’s talk a little more about this gem of a Video Companion Course WriteShop offers. This is an online (not DVD) Companion Course for WriteShop I and II through Play With Education. Play With Education is a separate website that provides quality e-learning solutions for families using WriteShop.

The video course walks teens through each WriteShop lesson and activity. Each 10 to 15 minute video breaks down WriteShop lessons into segments and gives in-depth explanations of the key points.

Video Course Features

  • Step-by-step demonstrations of each step of the writing process.
  • Techniques to identify repeated words, passive verbs, and other common mistakes.
  • Self-editing guidance.
  • The video course may be used for your entire family.
  • Go at your own pace.
  • Lessons never expire.
  • Instructor is an experienced private tutor who has taught and edited papers for WriteShop students for over a decade.

To see a lesson, click the Video Lesson Sample tab on their website.

What I Love About WriteShop Homeschool Middle School Writing Curriculum

Flexible Scheduling

WriteShop assumes that your student knows how to construct, capitalize, and punctuate a basic sentence. Beyond that, depending on their ability and interest, you can take them through the program (meaning WriteShop I & II) in one (Fast Track), two (Standard Track), or three (Extended Practice and/or Remediation) years.

In the WriteShop I/II Teacher’s Manual you will find guidelines for why you might choose the one, two, or three year options, along with Lesson Plan Overviews for each option.

Parental Involvement 

In my opinion there is just the right amount of parental involvement needed. WriteShop makes the process clear enough so the student can work independently, especially with the optional videos, but encourages a cooperative parent-student relationship for success with the WritShop program.

WriteShop Editing Tools from Starts At Eight

Included within the program are helpful tips for teaching, editing, and grading student compositions. You, the teacher, are responsible to proofread and edit the student’s first revision, discussing ways to improve the composition. Then when the final draft is complete you will use the Composition Evaluation form to give a grade.

The Video Companion Course 

I LOVE THESE! Let me say that again, I LOVE THESE!

I think the videos are an incredibly beneficial addition to the WriteShop program. For the mom who does not or can not sit and walk her child through each step, the Video Companion Course is key!

WriteShop I Video Companion Course

I have found these to be an integral part of the equation for teaching writing! My daughter finds it so easy to sit down and watch these short lessons. They walk her through each of the worksheet activities, as well as any writing assignments.

 

The Giver ~ Book Discussion & Colorless Activity

The Giver ~ Book Discussion & Colorless Activity

The Giver is a wonderful middle and high school level novel that invokes tons of in-depth discussion and raises thought provoking questions about a life without memories, feelings or pain, a life of sameness and predictability and how that might be better or worse than the life we live.

The Giver Book Discussion & Colorless Activity from Starts At Eight

The Giver Book Discussion and Color Less Activity

For our Mother/Daughter Book Club this month, we chose to read The Giver by Lois Lowry. It had been awhile since I had read it, and I found myself a little surprised (and maybe a little overwhelmed) about how many topics could be discussed after reading it.

The Giver Summary

The Giver, the 1994 Newbery Medal winner, has become one of the most influential novels of our time. The haunting story centers on twelve-year-old Jonas, who lives in a seemingly ideal, if colorless, world of conformity and contentment. Not until he is given his life assignment as the Receiver of Memory does he begin to understand the dark, complex secrets behind his fragile community.

Since I have spent time organizing my own thoughts about this book, I decided to gather a bunch of it here. From basic comprehension questions, to discussion questions/topics, as well as the colorless project that I chose to do with our book club.

The Giver Discussion Questions

Here are some thoughtful questions with thoughts on each one to talk about and share.

  1. What was the role of the “family unit” in Jonas’s community, and how is it different from the concept of family in our culture?
    • The family unit was an artificial family selected by the Elders. Its role was to raise children by the rules.
    • Children were assigned to each set of parents; when the children were old enough, the parents were removed to a home for Childless Parents.
    • There were no natural connections among family members; there was no such thing as love; there were no grandparents or sense of continuity.
  2. What did you notice about the language used by the author in this book? How does it reflect the community itself?
    • The lack of figurative language and showy adjectives robs the language of “color,” just as the community has been robbed of color.
    • Almost all words are restricted to literal meanings, taking away the freedom and playfulness that figurative language allows. The people of the community have also been robbed of freedom and playfulness, and are restricted to literal actions and interactions with one another.
    • Many new terms are mechanical (“comfort object”) or euphemistic (“release” for kill), which reinforces the lack of emotion and the sense of control in the community.
  3. Why do you think the Giver finally decided that “things must change”?
    • Sharing memories with Jonas made the Giver feel less alone and less hopeless.
    • Telling the truth about Rosemary seems to have made the Giver less willing to risk any more tragedies like hers.
    • Loving Jonas, and knowing Jonas had the ability to love, made the Giver determined to help him escape to the larger world.
  4. In order to change plans suddenly and sneak away from the community with Gabriel, Jonas must have learned many new values during his time with the Giver. What were some of the things Jonas learned? Give examples.
    • to think for himself and question what was happening around him
    • to defy rules
    • to take risks
    • to sacrifice himself in order to save someone he loved (Gabriel)
    • to judge others by different standards or morals from those applied in the community (as when he watched his father release the twin boy)
  5. Why do you think the title of this book is “The Giver” and not “The Receiver”? Do you think “The Receiver” would be better?
    • The story focuses on Jonas, who is the new Receiver, but he becomes a “Giver” at the end, in a sense, by giving his memories to the community, by giving his life for a cause, and by giving memories to Gabriel.
    • Students might argue that Jonas is the character who is acted upon in this story and the Giver is the one who brings about change by training Jonas and staying in the community afterward, so the Giver has greater significance.
    • Students might argue that the title is appropriate but the name of the job is inaccurate, since the person’s role is to give memories, give advice, and give wisdom. The person is called the Receiver, but he only “receives” during training.

Discussion Questions / Topics

  1. If you were to write your own ending for The Giver what would happen next?
  2. Do you believe that Jonas and Gabriel have a happy ending? Why or why not?
  3. Why do people break the rule against riding a bicycle so easily?
  4. What does the book suggest about the importance of being able to make choices, regardless of the consequences?
  5. If you were observed by the Elders, what Assignment would they think fit you? What would bring them to this conclusion?
  6. In Jonas’s community, every person and his or her experience are precisely the same. The climate is controlled, and competition has been eliminated in favor of a community in which everyone works only for the common good. What advantages might “Sameness” yield for contemporary communities? Is the loss of diversity worthwhile?
  7. True/False, Matching and Essay Questions for The Giver

The Giver World Without Color Project

Focusing on a colorless world I sent the girls out with a camera. Each girl was to choose something that they felt captured/represented “color” for them. When they came back I printed each photo in both black & white, as well as color.

Then I sort of set them free with craft supplies to create mini posters using their photos. It was interesting to see how each girl had their own creative spin on this topic.

You might also want to encourage them to use quotes from the book, or like in the first image descriptive feeling words were used in conjunction with the photos.

Books in The Giver Quartet

  1. The Giver– summary is above.
  2. Gathering Blue – Lois Lowry once again creates a mysterious but plausible future world. It is a society ruled by savagery and deceit that shuns and discards the weak. Left orphaned and physically flawed, young Kira faces a frightening, uncertain future. Blessed with an almost magical talent that keeps her alive, she struggles with ever broadening responsibilities in her quest for truth, discovering things that will change her life forever.
  3. Messenger – Trouble is brewing in Village. Once a utopian community that prided itself on welcoming strangers, Village will soon be cut off to all outsiders. As one of the few able to traverse the forbidding Forest, Matty must deliver the message of Village’s closing and try to convince Seer’s daughter Kira to return with him before it’s too late. But Forest is now hostile to Matty as well. Now he must risk everything to fight his way through it, armed only with an emerging power he cannot yet explain or understand.
  4. Son – They called her Water Claire. When she washed up on their shore, no one knew that she came from a society where emotions and colors didn’t exist. That she had become a Vessel at age thirteen. That she had carried a Product at age fourteen. That it had been stolen from her body. Claire had a son. But what became of him she never knew. What was his name? Was he even alive? She was supposed to forget him, but that was impossible. Now Claire will stop at nothing to find her child, even if it means making an unimaginable sacrifice.

Compare and Contrast The Giver Book & Movie

While the book came out in 1993, the movie came out in 2014. I often enjoy watching movies based on books after we have read the book. It makes for interesting discussions such as:

  1. How things differed from the book?
  2. How the visuals looked different than what you pictured?
  3. How was the movie story line was the same or different from the book and why you might think that was done?

You can get a FREE Printable Compare Contrast Book vs. Movie Worksheet here.

Top 10 Favorite Read Alouds

Top 10 Favorite Read Alouds

We have so many books that are on our love list here in this house, but not all of them would make for a great read aloud. So I will share some of our favorite read alouds that I think would fit in this read aloud category. Some (most) are for younger kids (picture books), and some longer and more in depth for the older set. My youngest will be 6 this month and I know that some books, even read a chapter at a time, just don’t hold her interest.

10 Ten Favorite Read Alouds from Starts At Eight is a collection of both picture and chapter books that will captivate your children. Easy and fun to read aloud, ones your children will treasure for years to come.

Top 10 Favorite Read Alouds

All the books in this list of favorite read alouds that include a link in the descriptions are links to posts on my blog where I have written about these books. When I asked the kids about read alouds the number one, right out of their mouth pick was The Rattletrap Car so I put it first on the list. My Many Colored Days happens to be right up there with The Rattletrap Car, other than that there is no specific order to the list.

1. The Rattletrap Car ”it doesn’t go fast and it doesn’t go far”. Takes a family from a farm where everyone is “hot, hot, hot” in an old car to the lake where everyone gets “cool, cool, cool”. This book was one we received as part of a mail order book club I was in when Chloe (now almost 13) was a baby. The descriptive, silly sound words are so much fun. I had to purchase a second copy of this book because it was so much loved by Chloe that some of the pages got torn by mistake and she did not want to give it up so we needed a new one to share with the other kids.

2. My Many Colored Days This story is a great way to introduce both colors and feelings to young children. The rhyme is incredibly catchy as you can read here. This is one of those books I would easily add to every baby shower gift as a must have for little ones!

My Many Colored Days Unit from Starts At Eight

3. The Pout Pout Fish This is a book that makes you laugh out loud and smile. It’s any easy book to read aloud and have little ones join in as I talk about in a post about enjoying this book at story time.

4. Wide Mouth Frog This book was so much fun, and can easily be enhanced more with a puppet of a frog to go along with the story. There is a great animated video of the story as well.

5. 5 Little Monkeys Is a classic song/rhyme/story, but only Ava really took to loving it. She has a treasure of 5 Little Monkeys stories that she has just loved. The are fun and silly and a joy to share together. Here is a post where I share our favorite story time version.

5 Little Monkeys - Books - Activities -Crafts - & More! from Starts At Eight

6. Ella the Elegant Elephant Ella was a favorite of Jayden’s when he was young. He took to a light blue Carter’s brand elephant as a baby and when he was a toddler I found the Ella books. This is one of the books I had included in a previous list of Read Alouds. That list also includes a few that are not on this list that we love as well.

7. Pete the Cat – I Love My White Shoes This is another great book we were introduced to at story time a few years back. I can still hear the sing song tune of Mike who does story time in my head…”I love my white shoes, I love my white shoes.”

The following 3 books are one I have recently read to Ava (who will be 6 this month) for our Mother/Daughter Book Club. Each one became one of our favorite read alouds. We loved them all for different reasons. Pippi Longstocking is fun and fanciful, The Doll People has fantastic illustrations, and Betsy-Tacy is such a great story of childhood friendship.

8. Pippi Longstocking – I loved Pippi as a kid! Fun and fanciful, a tomboy like me. And if your child ends up loving her there are more adventures to be read in sequels like Pippi Goes on Board and Pippi of the South Seas. I also loved these movie adaptations of all the Pippi adventures.

9. The Doll People – This book inspired me to build a doll house for my oldest daughter. We were in the process of moving and she was so sad. My dad and I used all materials I had left over from our old house, things like carpeting, wall paper, paint colors and even the roofing! Then I bought dolls like the ones in the story, only one to represent each member in our family. It is a much treasured (and packed away safely) keepsake. The Doll People is a series as well, one I loved from start to finish!

10. Betsy-Tacy – This is a story of friendship, honest to goodness, little girls making playhouses, dressing up, and so much more. And like the other older books I mentioned here there are multiple Betsy Tacy books to enjoy!

Bonus Number 11: Pinkalicious

10 Ten Favorite Read Alouds from Starts At Eight is a collection of both picture and chapter books that will captivate your children. Easy and fun to read aloud, ones your children will treasure for years to come.

As I sit here updating this post (7 years after I wrote it) a recent reminder of some read alouds my daughter loved came to mind. I was just in the library getting a The Snowy Day out for my grandson (as alas I cannot find my copy) and stumbled upon the Pinkalicious books. I could not believe how many more they have added since my daughter was little! There is Purplicious, Goldilicious, Silverlicious, Aqualicious, Emeraldalicious, tons of easy readers and SO MUCH more!

More Reading Fun

K-2 Series Books Summer Reading List & FREE PRINTABLE from Starts At EightA Preschool Readers List of Favorite Books from Starts At Eight

Children's Books About the Library from Starts At Eight


The Big Book of Homeschooling

To get tons of great advice, and move beyond the basics of academics, pick up a copy of The Big Book of Homeschool Ideas. Some topics included are things like active learning, learning with video games, helping teens/tween become independent learners (one of my chapters), teaching on the road, learning with movies, high school literature (one of my chapters), and gardening.

This book can carry you through all your years of homeschooling, covering the stages your children will mature through: preschoolers, elementary grades, middle school, and high school. As your life situation changes, you will find new chapters that apply to you. You can view the full table of contents to see all 103 topics!

The Big Book of Ideas Cover (iPad)

Reading Eggs Reading Skills Workbooks {Mathseeds has them too!}

Reading Eggs Reading Skills Workbooks {Mathseeds has them too!}

When my children were younger workbooks were my best friend! Grab a workbook, a pencil, and some crayons and you have educational and fun entertainment for your kids! Using workbooks is a great way for kids to learn both math and reading skills in a way that is fun for them.

Reading Eggs Reading Skills Workbooks {Mathseeds has them too!} Reading Eggs popular learning site now has workbooks too! Workbooks to teach reading skills and workbooks from the Mathseeds portion of their site for math skills! It's a great way to help your children learn in a fluid manner both on and offline! - A Review from Starts At Eight

Fast forward a whole bunch of years and now we have another little one around who can benefit from the same workbook style I used with my own children! It has been so much fun to pull out so many of our kids toys and things that we had put away for just this type of occasion! Seeing that workbooks are consumable I really didn’t have too many left to choose from so when I saw these new math and reading skills workbooks I couldn’t wait to try them out!

Reading Eggs Reading Skills Workbooks {Mathseeds has them too!}

The Reading Eggs and Mathseeds Workbooks are great offline learning options with a similar feel to their much loved online learning site! {Disclosure: I received free workbooks as part of this review. I was compensated for my time to give an honest review of this product. All opinions expressed here are my own, and I was not required to post a positive review. Please see my full Disclosure Policy for more details.}

Reading Eggs Reading Skills Workbooks {Mathseeds has them too!} Reading Eggs popular learning site now has workbooks too! Workbooks to teach reading skills and workbooks from the Mathseeds portion of their site for math skills! It's a great way to help your children learn in a fluid manner both on and offline!

These workbooks are a great way to reinforce the essential math and reading skills kids need to learn at each grade level!

Reading Skills Workbooks

Reading Eggs Reading Skills Workbooks {Mathseeds has them too!} Reading Eggs popular learning site now has workbooks too! Workbooks to teach reading skills and workbooks from the Mathseeds portion of their site for math skills! It's a great way to help your children learn in a fluid manner both on and offline!

While I only picture K-2 here, the Reading Eggs Reading Skills Workbooks are available through Grade 5.

The Reading Eggs Reading Skills Workbooks are built on five pillars of reading success:

  1. phonemic awareness
  2. phonics
  3. vocabulary
  4. fluency
  5. comprehension

Within each book you will find a comprehensive lesson breakdown as well as a Year Planner where it breaks down the book for you with a comprehensive chart of page numbers, letters, site words, and skills that are worked on for each lesson. (Those are specific to the Kindergarten book, but you will find a detailed breakdown in each level of the workbooks.)

Reading Eggs Reading Skills Workbooks {Mathseeds has them too!} Reading Eggs popular learning site now has workbooks too! Workbooks to teach reading skills and workbooks from the Mathseeds portion of their site for math skills! It's a great way to help your children learn in a fluid manner both on and offline!

Math Skills Workbooks

Reading Eggs Reading Skills Workbooks {Mathseeds has them too!} Reading Eggs popular learning site now has workbooks too! Workbooks to teach reading skills and workbooks from the Mathseeds portion of their site for math skills! It's a great way to help your children learn in a fluid manner both on and offline!

Each math skills workbook contains 50 lessons that can be done in just 15 minutes a day! Each book covers 200 essential skills your child needs to excel in that level of math. PLUS they have the same great organizational features as the reading skills workbooks!

“Children who use Mathseeds are excited by math, have a deeper understanding of math concepts, and score higher in independent testing.”

What We Love About These Workbooks

Reading Eggs Reading Skills Workbooks {Mathseeds has them too!} Reading Eggs popular learning site now has workbooks too! Workbooks to teach reading skills and workbooks from the Mathseeds portion of their site for math skills! It's a great way to help your children learn in a fluid manner both on and offline!

  1. Clearly Organized – Between the lesson breakdown and the year planner these books make it easy to know what skills your child is working on, or to pick and choose what you would like them to work on.
  2. Bright, Bold Colors – The books are bright and colorful, both inside and out. The breakdown of activity boxes, text, and images makes each activity easy to focus on.
  3. Durable Pages – This is especially important in the younger years. Kids are rough on everything! These books are durable enough to withstand your child and all the
  4. Many Ways to Use Them – Use them as your homeschool math program or use them as a supplement. When my kids were little I used an online program like Reading Eggs along with workbooks to give my little one something fun, but still educational to keep her occupied!
  5. All in One – These books are all inclusive per grade level! They are detailed and comprehensive in the topics covered for each grade level so you can just grab one and know your kids are learning all the concepts they will need!

Having a combination of workbooks along with an online learning platform gives me a great sense of completeness. It offers you more learning options, a means to take learning on the go, and a way to work either online or off, all with a similar and familiar format.

I am so pleased with the quality and content of both the Reading Eggs Reading Skills Workbooks and Mathseeds Math Skills Workbooks.  They are well organized and easy to use.  Another bonus is the continuity for families that want to utilize both a website and a workbook in their home learning.

Head over to Reading Eggs and check it out!

Purchasing & Discount Information

Reading Eggs is offering some great discounts so that you can try out all of their products and online programs (both Reading Eggs and Mathseeds)!

Reading Eggs Reading Skills Workbooks {Mathseeds has them too!} Reading Eggs popular learning site now has workbooks too! Workbooks to teach reading skills and workbooks from the Mathseeds portion of their site for math skills! It's a great way to help your children learn in a fluid manner both on and offline!

For their website:

Get a FREE 4 week free trial of their website that includes all of their programs:

  • Reading Eggs Junior (2-4 years)
  • Reading Eggs (4-7 years)
  • Reading Eggspress (7-13 years)
  • Mathseeds (3-9 years)

The 4 week trial ends 10/17/18.

For their workbooks:

They are also giving 10% off Reading Eggs and Mathseeds Essential Skills Workbooks! This is accessible via this code: WK10K3DUR0U valid through 10/15/18.

 

Connect with Reading Eggs: Facebook : Twitter : Pinterest : YouTube : Instagram

Easy to Implement Homeschool Writing Curriculum: Writers in Residence™ Volume 2

Easy to Implement Homeschool Writing Curriculum: Writers in Residence™ Volume 2

Do you think you are a strong writer? Can you identify the parts of a sentence? Are you worried about teaching writing in your homeschool? I can tell you that I consider myself to be a strong writer, but I cannot identify all part of a sentence as readily as I should be able to, and while I wasn’t worried in the beginning about teaching homeschool writing, I did go through a period of worry. For that reason I have spent a considerable amount of time researching and using various homeschool writing curriculum options.

Easy to Implement Homeschool Writing Curriculum: A Writers in Residence™ Volume 2 Review from Starts At Eight. This homeschool writing curriculum offers a laid out schedule, easy grading rubrics, real life examples, step by step writing improvement techniques, and even work with English grammar skills.

Apologia seems to be on our radar this year! Both my middle and high school aged homeschoolers have benefited from some of their new curriculum options.

{Disclosure: I received a copy of Writers in Residence™ Volume 2 as well as compensation for my time to give an honest review of this product. All opinions expressed here are my own, and I was not required to post a positive review. Please see my full Disclosure Policy for more details.}

Apologia's Readers in Residence is an enriching homeschool reading curriculum that takes your child beyond the written word, delving deeper into literature.Apologia's Writers in Residence is a homeschool writing curriculum that teaches foundations, uses real life examples & offers evaluation help for parents.

If you saw my recent reviews of Readers in Residence™ and Writers in Residence™ Volume 1,  you know that these two curriculum options “had my daughter at hello.” She loved the covers and the vibrant colors! While this alone doesn’t make it a fabulous curriculum, it did get her in the door!

Apologia's Homeschool High School American Literature Review from Starts At Eight. I'd like to introduce you to Apologia's Homeschool High School American Literature curriculum which is a full year of American Literature for High School.

For my high school age son I was super impressed with the depth and breath of the High School American Literature Curriculum. It satisfies both a composition and an American literature credit. Therefore, the student earns two high school credits!

Easy to Implement Homeschool Writing Curriculum

If all of that wasn’t enough then check this out! Writers in Residence Volume 2 All -In-One Student Text and Workbook and Answer Key is now out!

Writers in Residence™ homeschool writing curriculum is designed for kids in grades 4-8. While your child completes various writing assignments – learning about the writing process in steps, with great detail, they will also grow their vocabulary, learn about sentence structure, parts of speech, and the conventions of the English language for punctuation, capitalization, and usage.

Writers in Residence Volume 2 All -In-One Student Text and Workbook and Answer Key is broken down into 4 Units with 4 different modules in each Unit. They each include final checklists and unit reviews. Each unit focuses on a different style of writing and uses real life writing examples to help teach the concepts required for that style of writing.

The 4 Units Are:

Unit 1: Into the Wild – where your student takes on the role of a science writer
Unit 2: Making the Case – where your student learns to build an argument
Unit 3: Poetry Jam – where your student learns about various types of poetry as well as the elements needed to write their own
Unit 4: A Fantastical Tale of Extraordinary Exploits – where your student will learn how to create stories by using their imagination to invent characters, adventures, and unseen worlds.

Benefits of Writers in Residence™ Volume 2

In my previous review of Writers in Residence™ Volume 1 I talked about many of the features of the program. Here are just a few:

  • Suggested Daily Schedule
  • Grading Rubrics & Module Checklists
  • Real Life Quality Writing Examples
  • Helps Build Grammar Skills (this one I didn’t mention the first time but wanted to be sure to point it out now as both volumes include specific work with English Grammar)
  • Various Styles of Writing Are Taught (another new one that I wanted to note because the styles in Volume 2 are all different than what was in Volume 1 – and I LOVE this!)

4 Day a Week Schedule

Easy to Implement Homeschool Writing Curriculum: A Writers in Residence™ Volume 2 Review from Starts At Eight. This homeschool writing curriculum offers a laid out schedule, easy grading rubrics, real life examples, step by step writing improvement techniques, and even work with English grammar skills.

One of the things I want to highlight is the 4 Day a Week Schedule that these courses come with.

What if you aren’t using a 4 Day Homeschool Week? Some of you might be thinking, “be we don’t use a 4 day homeschool week”! That’s no problem, we didn’t either this year. You could choose to schedule this scenario in two different ways. First you could just choose the 4 days each week you wish to do this. We did every day but Thursday because that is a busy at the barn day for our daughter so it lightened her load for that day. Or the second option I see is to not worry about the “weeks” and just move along to the next assigned lesson every day that you do it. The check boxes make it easy to keep track of where you are!

Planning a 4 Day Homeschool Week from Starts At Eight includes reasons why you might choose to school 4 days a week as well as a method and printables for planning!

How about if you are using a 4 Day Homeschool Week? Next school year we are switching to a 4 Day Homeschool Week. This can be a good way to build in rest time, build in time for struggling learners, allow for pop up field trips, and so much more! Courses like the Apologia Writers in Residence™ homeschool writing curriculum make it easy for us to do that!

Various Styles of Writing – Work with Poetry

I was impressed that each of the units in Writers in Residence™ Volume 2 all focused on a different style of writing than the units in Writers in Residence™ Volume 1. It was refreshing to see more styles and facets of writing instead of a direct repeat of what was done in Volume 1.

The poetry unit – POETRY JAM – didn’t consist of just one type of poem. It was an in-depth look at various poetry styles including acrostic, lyric, haiku and cinquain. Beyond these styles there’s work with writing and revising your own poetry for sound, rhythm, and meaning.

As with each style of writing, there were multiple real life examples of each type of poetry. You can see a couple of haiku examples in the image below.

Easy to Implement Homeschool Writing Curriculum: A Writers in Residence™ Volume 2 Review from Starts At Eight. This homeschool writing curriculum offers a laid out schedule, easy grading rubrics, real life examples, step by step writing improvement techniques, and even work with English grammar skills.

With each style of poem there is a separate rubric for the student to evaluate their own poetry. This allows them a simple checklist style method of going through and evaluating and improving on their own writing.

Easy to Implement Homeschool Writing Curriculum: A Writers in Residence™ Volume 2 Review from Starts At Eight. This homeschool writing curriculum offers a laid out schedule, easy grading rubrics, real life examples, step by step writing improvement techniques, and even work with English grammar skills.

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