Fun-Time Phonics! – A Review

Fun-Time Phonics! – A Review

For my last project for the Old Schoolhouse Review Crew, our family was given the opportunity to review Fun-Time Phonics!, a systematic phonics and comprehension reading program by The Critical Thinking Co. It is a 320-page book for grades K-2, full of colorful pages that help children learn to read in a fun way. This program ensures complete phonemic awareness mastery because it focuses on vowel isolation – their individual sounds. Before a student can become a proficient reader, this very basic and important piece must be mastered. Because my daughter has recently been diagnosed with Dyslexia, I was excited about trying this fun curriculum with her. She specifically struggles with phonemic awareness/vowel isolation, so this was the perfect type of stimulating program to try with her. The emphasis of Fun-Time Phonics! is on patterns, not rule memorization. Here is a listing of the components and strategies that are extremely effective with all levels of readers: Builds from students’ natural speaking abilities, developing their auditory awareness of vowel sounds; Incorporates multisensory instruction for introducing the alphabet and short vowels; Provides cognitively-engaging connected text for practice; Utilizes co-articulation to introduce consonant sounds, eliminating traditional stumbling blocks and ensuring a successful reading start; Involves multiple regions of the brain – analytical as well as artistic and language-providing various pathways to long-term memory and automatic word recall. Fun-Time Phonics! is literally an open-and-go program. You sit down with your student, open the book, and easily teach the concepts without any prep work at all. Since we are no longer homeschooling, it is helpful to have a curriculum like this that we can add to our homework routine...
Reading Kingdom – A Review

Reading Kingdom – A Review

As part of the Old Schoolhouse Review Crew, our family was given the opportunity to review Reading Kingdom Online, a complete computer-based reading curriculum for ages 4-10 by Reading Kingdom. This program is fun and colorful, and teaches children to read and write up to a 3rd grade level. According to the Department of Education, 2 out of 3 children fail to become proficient readers. Reading Kingdom has taken a step to help children enjoy learning to read through their beautifully-designed interface.  This program is also specially designed to work well for children who have been diagnosed with various learning disabilities. Children with Dyslexia, ADD, and Autism thrive in this learning environment. The visual stimulation improves their ability to retain information as they learn it. Reading Kingdom Online is broken up into these segments: Sequencing – the process that allows us to read the same letter combinations as different words by changing their order; Writing – using the keyboard to physically type in the spelling of words; Sounds – phonics, creating words from sounds/sets of letters; Meaning – developing an understanding what words mean in their contexts; Grammar – how words and phrases go together in the English language; Comprehension – developing a complete understanding of what the kids read. Benefits of using this program are: Research based and incredibly effective. The program adapts to every child and provides individualized instruction. Kids can use the program on their own. It’s fun so children think they’re playing a game and want to use it. It was created by Dr. Marion Blank, one of the world’s top experts in reading. It works as a standalone curriculum or...
Review of Middlebury Interactive Languages

Review of Middlebury Interactive Languages

As part of the Old Schoolhouse Review Crew, our family was given the opportunity to review a semester of Elementary Spanish 1: Grades K-2, a completely online curriculum by Middlebury Interactive Languages. This program is very fun and interactive, and geared to younger students. Each unit takes a story from Spanish culture and uses various types of games and activities to help students learn the language AND the culture at the same time. Each unit is broken into several lessons, and there is a lot of review of the small pieces of information that are given. It is definitely not overwhelming for young students, but instead helps them to really grasp phrases before moving on. The curriculum also includes quizzes and tests that help them see how much they are learning along the way. As someone who learned sign language while immersed in Deaf culture, I know the value of being “thrown in” to the culture in order to learn. In the old days, we learned Spanish by copying words, repeating after the teacher, and we never used many visually stimulating and immersive techniques. Needless to say, I don’t remember a lot about Spanish. However, while in college, I became fluent in sign language by being thrown in and having to learn the language to survive. This curriculum reminds me of that (in as much as an online program can do that). The students watch and listen to stories in Spanish. While focusing on certain phrases, they pick up other words/phrases through context clues and pictures. It is awesome! Here are a few screen shots of how the program works: Here...

Alpha Omega Publishing – Horizons Preschool – A Review

For Joshua’s 3-year-old preschool year, we mostly used play for math, along with listening in on reading, social studies, science, and health with Katherine. We were SO excited to get to try out the Horizons Preschool Curriculum from Alpha Omega Publishing! We received the complete Preschool package for this review. This Christian curriculum teaches math, phonics, language arts, and other subjects with fun activities and games. The set includes two student workbooks (with 180 lessons), two teacher’s guides, a music CD, and a resource packet with tons of manipulatives. Horizons Preschool is the most incredible curriculum your youngest kiddos! It’s not just workbooks… there are so many things taught through this multi-sensory program. It is a great way to introduce preschoolers to “formal” learning. There are Bible stories, science projects, arts and crafts, music, health and safety, social studies, phonics, math, and a lot of other stuff. So well-rounded, yet geared specifically for this young age! Here are just a few things kids learn in this fun-packed year: Days 1-7 of Creation and the Flood (God, Jesus, Holy Spirit, light, dark, air, clouds, rocks, soil, grass, seeds, trees, fruits, vegetables, sun, weather, day, night, hour, seasons, Earth’s rotation and tilt, moon, stars, constellations, astronomy, planets, comets, meteors, fish, climate, ocean creatures, amphibians, eggs, birds, mammals, blood, circulation, brain, body parts, occupations, health, safety, music, work, rules, helpers, friends, family, reptiles, insects, man, cells, senses, bones, digestion, breathing, muscles, obedience, flood, and promises; Letter recognition and sounds Aa-Zz, and alphabetical order Colors and shapes Fine motor skills, such as cutting, gluing, stamping, drawing, coloring, folding, tracing, painting, etc. Physical activities, such as running, skipping, hopscotch, crawling, bowling,...

Science Unit Studies for Homeschoolers and Teachers – A Review

Susan Kilbride’s Fantastic Unit Studies is a website offering Science & History unit studies, along with recommendations for books and resources for homeschoolers. For this review, I was given a copy of Science Unit Studies for Homeschoolers and Teachers, a 201-page softcover book that is full of a variety of hands-on science activities for children ages 4-13. The topics are split into two age groups, with half of the units for ages 4-7 and half of the units for ages 8-13. The following units are geared to ages 4-7: Our Senses The Human Body Dinosaurs and Prehistoric Life Animals Insects and Their Kin Fun with Magnets Stars and Planets Health Beginning Plants Animal Ecology These units are for ages 8-13, and include more in-depth activities as well as tests: Insects Microscopes and Invisible Creatures Atoms and Molecules Matter Chemistry Fun Weather Force and Motion Simple Machines Light and Color Plants II The units all start with a list of materials you will need to complete the study. At first, I was overwhelmed by these lists, but as I read through them, I realized that MOST of the items should be readily on-hand in most homes. Some things you’ll need to buy, but it just depends on how extensive your arts/crafts and kitchen supplies are. After the needed materials list in each unit, you go into an introduction (sometimes), and then you are presented with several different sub-topics and activities to work through. Every unit is different. Some include more kinesthetic-type activities than others. For example, in the “Our Senses” unit, students build a Mr. Potato Head type craft, using an actual potato, toothpicks, and vegetables. This gives...
Homeschool Planet – A Review

Homeschool Planet – A Review

Looking for an all-inclusive program to organize your homeschool… and your life?!?! Homeschool Planet is probably the solution for you. I searched and searched, tried different programs for keeping everything organized and simple, but Homeschool Planet is the software that I ended up using for our first homeschool year. I was also given a free year of the subscription for sharing this review for all of you. This program was created by the Homeschool Buyers Co-Op and offers a free trial, so you can make sure it’s the right fit for your family before you actually buy it. Homeschool Planet is the most user-friendly online program I have found anywhere. It literally includes everything you will need. I’m sure I haven’t even used all of the fun features that are included… so many options. You can set up individual accounts within your profile, and the kids can even have their own logins so they can view only their assignments. Here are some of the awesome features within Homeschool Planet: Different views so you can see your classes/schedule in whatever format you need, including a calendar view so you can see all calendars at once and a planner view so you can simply see everything you need to do and when. Email and text message reminders to help everyone stay on schedule. Daily digest emails that can go to the whole family so everyone can see their schedule, assignments, and even their chores for the day. Attendance tracking. Transcript creation. Compatible with Google Calendar, iCal, and other online calendars. Mobile version that allows you to edit on smartphones. A rescheduling helper...