Spelling You See

Many of you are familiar with the curriculum Math-U-See by Demme Learning. But did you know they have also created a spelling curriculum called Spelling You See? We recently had the chance to review Ancient Achievements- Level F

Spelling You See Level F

What it is
Spelling You See has a unique approach in how they teach spelling. Gone are the boring spelling lists that are mindlessly rewritten numerous times. They offer 7 different levels of spelling curriculum. Each level contains 36 weeks of lessons that are divided between 2 books. Each week splits into 5 sections labeled A-E. Each section is a 2 page layout and should only take about 10-15 minutes each day to complete.

What's included
With each level you receive:
2 consumable student books
1 instructors handbook
1 pack of Crayola erasable colored pencils
A special code that gives you online access to several different videos showing you how to use this curriculum as well as some PDF downloads.

How it works
On day A, the student reads the passage out loud to the parent. In level F, they read passages that have to do with Ancient times and events. Some of the cultures talked about are Sumerians, ancient Chinese, Greeks and their war with Troy, King Arthur, Robin-hood, Leaning Tower of Pisa and so much more.

After they read the passage, they then are instructed to do "vowel or consonant chunks" with a colored pencil. There is a box on the page that shows a list of what the chunks are. The idea behind chunking is to help the student learn specific letter patterns which will help them learn to decipher words & sounds on their own eventually. 

After the student reads & chunks the passage on the left hand side, they move to the second page on the right where the passage they just read is printed out with a blank line under the pre-printed passage. The student is then to do copywork and write out the passage just as they see it written. The directions also state the student is then to chunk the passage they just wrote.

Day B & Day C do the same as the above instructions.

On day D, the student does the read aloud, chunks the passage and then on the second page, they have to write the passage out as it is dictated to them. They are allowed to ask for help with punctuation and capitalization as well as tougher words to spell out. At the bottom of the page, there is a place for the parent to write how many words were spelled correctly.

On day E, the student reads the passage out loud, chunks the passage and then on the 2nd page, they have to write the passage as it's dictated with no help. At the bottom on the page, there is a place for the parent to write how many words were spelled correctly, the goal being to have more words correctly spelled this day than on day D.

The instructors manual provides a wealth of info on how best to implement this program. It gives you an overview of how and why this curriculum works, it shows an over of each lesson and what is being taught, explains how to chunk certain combinations, resources for each lesson as well as an answer for the chunking in each lesson.

How we used it
We did 1 lesson a week which meant we did one part each day that took no more than 15 minutes each. It was easy for my daughter to read aloud the passage as I was getting breakfast ready in the morning. From there, she went on to chunk the passage the first 3 days. Even though the directions said to then chunk the written passage, I usually let her skip this as she seemed to grasp the concepts. When it came to the dictation parts, either I or one of my other older children could read it to her while she wrote it out.

We really enjoy this curriculum as it combines so many things. The student learns interesting facts with each passage (can we say history?) They get to practice their penmanship with the copy work. The focus on the dictation passages is on how many words they got correct, not wrong. Positive reinforcement is always a good thing. I also love how everything is spelled out on how use it in the instructors manual so there is no work for me in prepping it. Also, each level goes by a letter and not a grade, especially good for those that might be struggling. This curriculum is based on ability level, not age or grade. To best figure out what level your student is on, you can have them take the placement test. Another thing to note, the student pages are perforated, so for those who like to remove pages either as they do them or for a portfolio, they come out of the book with ease.

You can read about our review from last year on Level E-American Spirit
Spelling You See Review
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ARTistic Pursuits-High School Book 1

My children all enjoy completing art projects but I have one child in particular who is gifted in art so I find myself needing extra support when it comes to working with her for art projects. We recently had the chance to review a specific product for my 9th grader, High School 9-12, Book 1; Elements of Art and Composition from ARTistic Pursuits

What is it?

This book is a 92 page soft cover book that is comb bound. It is a full year curriculum with a schedule laid out in the beginning of the book explaining that you could do 2 classes a week for 36 weeks (each class about an hour long). Or you could chose to modify it best to fit your homeschool. Also contained at the beginning of the book (as well as on their website for each book) is a list of art supplies for each semester so you know before even purchasing the book what you will need. The supplies for this book are easy to purchase and happen to be things we already had on hand from previous art classes.

The beauty of this curriculum is that the student can do it all on their own! Each of the 16 units contains 4 lessons focusing on:
  • Building a Visual Vocabulary- here they are encouraged to pay attention to the world around them and use their observations to come up with an art project.
  • Art Appreciation and Art History- students are given brief history lessons and show copies of artists drawing both in black and white and color.
  • Techniques- here they are taught about the materials and how to use them to create projects.
  • Application- this is the wrapping up part of each section where the students take all they have learned to do a final project.

Each lesson is clearly marked by a number and every lesson has a "try this" assignment that is marked in red making it easy for the student to follow along knowing where their assignment is at. Also scattered throughout the book are actual drawings from other students who did these lessons. It gives the students ideas of what the lessons can look like completed.

How we used it

My 9th grader couldn't wait to receive the book and as soon as she did, she paged through the whole thing. Since this review was just 6 weeks long, she picked out the lessons that interested her the most to start with. She would sit down for an afternoon of several hours pouring over several lessons while working on a project. This girl can get herself lost in art that's how much she enjoys it!

Her latest fascination is black and white sketches. While she perused a lot of the curriculum, she honed in on unit 14, proportions in the face. She's really been into sketching faces lately so she soaked up how this section explained drawing face in correct proportions. She also loved drawing different expressions.

Some of her other projects she completed:

We really enjoy ARTistic Pursuits style, very simple to pick up the book and go with no prep work once you have the art supplies. Their friendly conversational tone in the book makes the reading easy and engaging. Because it's non-consumable, you can use this with many children over the years. They have curriculum geared for preschoolers all the way through high school.

ARTistic Pursuits in not a stranger in our home. Check out our previous reviews on the Sculpture Technique Book and Middle School Book 1.

Connect with ARTistic Pursuits on:

ARTistic Pursuits Review
Crew Disclaimer

Memoria Press-First Start Reading

My preschooler has really been soaking up learning lately so I was excited to recently have been given the chance to review First Start Reading from Memoria Press. I have had the chance to use curriculum from Memoria Press in the past and we have really enjoyed their approach to learning and the ease of use of their curriculum.

What is it?

First Start Reading is a classical curriculum that teaches reading, phonics and printing that includes focusing on correct pencil grip. Granted, my daughter was a little on the younger age for this curriculum as she will only be 4 in July but she has really shown an interest in learning phonics and can already write her name. Knowing those facts, I figured she would really enjoy using this curriculum. They focus on the more traditional approach to phonics learning the vowel-consonant style as well as learning word families along the way.

First Start Reading-Memoria Press

The full curriculum package contains a 322 page teachers guide and 4 consumable student books that costs $42.95. This curriculum can be used in a classroom or homeschool setting as indicated in the teachers guide.

Teachers Guide

The teachers guide takes 2 pages per lesson to walk you through how to implement the student book and even gives suggestions for dialogue to say to the student. It starts out having the teacher/mom pointing to the photos in the student book and asking them what the photos are which then leads to talking about what letter they start with. From there, you go on to show them the sound the letter makes. You then share words with the student and ask them if those words start with the specific letter sound you are working on.

After discussing the letter and its sound, you then show them how to form the letter in both lower & uppercase. They suggest using a chalkboard or whiteboard for this part. Then you move onto having the student practice writing the letter in their book.

Teachers Guide on the left, student book on the right with my daughter practicing writing.

Student Workbook

Each lesson has 2 pages. When they are learning a new letter, the first page shows the upper & lower case letter then it has 2 black & white pictures of something that starts with that letter. The child can color those photos. On the page next to it, there is a blank box for the child to draw their own photo that starts with that letter. Below that, there are several lines for the child to practice writing the letter being highlighted on that page. The first line has light dots for the child to trace for the uppercase letter then the next line they are to write it out themselves. The 3rd line has dots for the student to trace the lower case letter with the 4th line blank for them to practice writing it themselves. The 5th line has a combo of upper & lowercase letters for the child to trace & write.

Every couple of lessons, the curriculum takes the previous letters the child learned to combine them into a word. For example the first 2 lessons in "Book A" teach the letters "M" and "A". The third lesson them combines them to teach the student the word "AM". The approach is unique in that there is a dotted line linking the 2 letters together so you sound them out slowly joining their sounds together. The child also traces and writes the word as well.

In the later books which we haven't gotten to yet, the lessons have the student writing out full words and reading short stories. There are also pages where the parent dictates words for the student to write (basically like a spelling test).

How we used it

My daughter could not WAIT to start this program! I only wanted to do one lesson a day so she would be able to soak in what she was learning but boy she begged to do another lesson once we were finished for the day. I would sit down with her and point to the letter at the top of the page and tell her what it is (she knew many of them prior to starting the curriculum). Then I'd ask her to tell me what the pictures were and we'd overemphasize the letter sound. From there, I'd recite some words to her and ask her if they started with that specific letter. Then I'd ask her to come up with words on her own that started with that letter.

Afterwards, I'd ask her to come up with a picture to draw starting with that letter. Then I would very lightly write that word in pencil in the photo for her to trace. After she was done coloring the photos on both pages, we'd move onto how to write the letter. I had a small white board that I used to show her how to write the letter then I'd let her practice. Once she felt good about writing it, we'd move back to the student book where she would follow their guidance and practice writing her letter.

Not too bad for a 3 year old!!!

By the 3rd lesson, she was reading her first sentence, "I am Olivia"!!! She was SO incredibly proud! Throughout the days after her lessons, I would occasionally ask her what letter or word she learned today and the sounds that they made just to make sure she was still recalling it. I am beyond impressed how well she is learning at such a young age her phonics and even her handwriting is blowing me away.

I truly wish I had had this program when my older children were preschool/kindergarten age. I LOVE that there is NO prep work at all for me, I can simply open up the teacher guide to see what I am supposed to do with her and we sit down to do the work. I'd say we spent 20 minutes a day on a lesson but keep in mind she is only 3 and I added a bit to the lesson to really help drill the letter & sounds with her. I will definitely be using this with my other preschooler when she is ready to start learning her phonics!

Connect with Memoria Press on:
Memoria Press Review
Crew Disclaimer

Real Life Homeschooling- When Tough Times Strike

Life is full of ups and downs, good times and tough times. Hard times are already challenging enough to deal with but add in homeschooling to the mix and those tough times can be overwhelming. Whether you just had a baby, a spouse lost a job, you're moving, illness strikes or a loved one died, temporarily adjusting your homeschool schedule is needed in order to cope.

Our family has been through several challenging times over the years. From my husband being in the hospital several times, fostering a medically fragile baby, a child's injury & 5 months of physical therapy, and on and on. By far though the hardest time we went through during homeschooling was the life limiting diagnosis of our son Noah while I was still yet pregnant with him. We received news he was going to die while we were finishing up our homeschool year and his death came just a few weeks before we were to start our new school year.

My children were all elementary age at this time so we had a bit more leniency to abruptly change our schedule. When we received his diagnosis, we stopped schooling for several days as we processed the news. Once we started back, we simply finished up the crucial things that needed to be done in order to put together our portfolios.

After his death when it came time to start school again, we kept our schooling to the basic subjects for awhile, especially the ones my children could do on their own such as Teaching Texbooks for math where they are taught by a DVD program. 

Some days though, all that managed to get done around here was watching a few educational DVD's (and that didn't even always happen) and making sure there was food in the house for everyone to eat. Housework and everything else got pushed aside because that's all I could manage. 

And you know what, that is ok!!!! There is so much life learning that can be accomplished outside of bookwork.

Looking back, I can see how my children learned the gift of empathy after going through all we did with our son. They have since reached out and given support to other kids also going through similar circumstances with losing a sibling. My children learned how to help run a house with picking up my slack with the household chores and cooking on days I was having a rough grief day (I was also recovering from childbirth so I was limited in what I could do). They learned that it's ok to cry and express your sadness which I think has helped strengthen our relationships with each other. There are so many other life lessons my children learned during our tough times that could've never have been learned from a book. Lessons that will reap rewards long into adulthood.

With that said, here are some tips if you find yourself in the trenches during the school year:

-Stick to the Basics
          State requirements can vary by state but during the rough days just do what you absolutely need to. 

-Take Time Off
          I know this makes most of us cringe but seriously, if you are facing some crappy stuff in life, stressing yourself over school is NOT worth it! Taking time off is so valuable in helping you to regroup and make it through. Your kiddos will continue to learn every day with all you are dealing with. Life lessons can be far more valuable than textbook lessons! Keep some educational DVD's and games on hand so even if you take a break from the bookwork, they still have something school related to do.

-Work Ahead
           Those days you have that are super good?? Work ahead! Do some extra lessons, freeze a meal, etc. 

-Ask for Help
           I know not everyone has family or friends that can help but if you do have a support system outside your home, reach out to them. Have someone take your children for a few hours, let them bring you a meal or simply have them over if you need someone to talk to or pray with. Sometimes just having someone there to talk to and share the burden with can give us the strength to  make it through the day.

Have you found yourself faced with a hard situation during your school year? If so, what did you do to make it through?

Discover real life in other homeschools with the Schoolhouse Review Crew bloggers! Join the blog hop to read more!

Real Life Homeschool Blog Hop
Double O Farms
Simple Living Mama
Fried Clams and Sweet Tea
This Sweet Life
A Net In Time
Counting Pinecones
Some Call It Natural
Kingdom Academy Homeschool
Debbie's Homeschool Corner

Real Life Homeschooling Blog Hop

I'm joining up with a group of homeschooling bloggers this week to talk about Real Life Homeschooling. This topic can take on so many different meanings so I encourage you to check out the graphic at the bottom of this post to see what others are sharing about as well.

In the coming days, I plan to share about what our homeschooling life is like and what it isn't. I also want to give you an insight on what our homeschooling looks like when life gets tough & unpredictable.

In the mean time, if you have any questions about homeschooling or about our life specifically, please feel free to leave a question in the comments as I'd love to devote a post to answer questions as well!

Real Life Homeschool Blog Hop
Every Bed of Roses
Ben and Me
Footprints in the Butter
Mountain of Grace Homeschooling
Counting Our Blessings
Homeschooling for His Glory
Ozark Ramblings
Chestnut Grove Academy
 Farm Fresh Adventures
For This Season
Unexpected Homeschool
 As We Walk Along the Road
Growing in His Glory
Homeschool Coffee Break
Daily Life
There Will Be A $5 Charge For Whining
Proverbial Homemaker
ElCloud Homeschool

Happy Easter!

He is Risen!!!

I just wanted to share with you one of my favorite songs that reminds me of Easter. I was going to share the original music video until I saw these 2 boys from the Philippines singing & playing this song that moved me to tears.

Have a blessed Easter my friends!