Monday, July 13, 2015

CursiveLogic {A Review}


CursiveLogic was founded out of necessity. A young man, older than the average age of learning cursive wanted to learn cursive.  His reading tutor Linda Shrewsbury discovered an easier way.  CursiveLogic teaches the entire cursive lowercase alphabet in just 4 lessons.

We were lucky enough to receive the CursiveLogic Workbook to be able to use it with my high school son. Now he had already learned cursive, but it wasn’t his favorite, print was still his penmanship of choice. We knew in order to write essays for his upcoming college exams he would need to feel totally comfortable writing in cursive. Workbook_p5

CursiveLogic uses a simple formula to teach cursive.  In just 4 lessons you will learn (or relearn) to write the entire lowercase alphabet in cursive.  Each lesson goes over one of the 4 shapes. 

Now after that first young man was taught cursive so quickly using this method, Ms. Shrewsbury has taught cursive using this method to many people of all different ages and backgrounds.  Workbook_p13

This method was born through a well educated individual. Linda Shrewsbury is the primary author of the CursiveLogic curriculum. Linda graduated from Harvard University in 1974 with a concentration in economics. In 2007, she received a Masters in International Studies from Oklahoma State University. In addition to homeschooling her own three children for 13 years, Linda has been privileged to work as a teacher and a college professor in both private and public institutions. But CursiveLogic was not born from the ivory towers of higher learning. Linda created CursiveLogic to meet the needs of one special student who simply wanted to learn to sign his name.


Let me tell you a little bit about the method. There are 4 basics to it.

Letters grouped by shape ― Four foundational shapes underlie the entire lowercase alphabet. Rather than teaching the letters alphabetically, CursiveLogic groups the lowercase alphabet into four groups based on the shape of the initial stroke of the letters and teaches all of the similarly-shaped letters in a single lesson.  Letters are also taught in a specific order that reinforces the pattern.  By teaching all of the similar letters together, CursiveLogic captures the natural synergy of the alphabet itself, allowing each letter in the series to reinforce the proper formation of all the others.

Letter strings ― CursiveLogic captures the flow of cursive by teaching all of the similarly shaped letters in a connected string rather than as individual letters. CursiveLogic’s letter strings teach students to connect letters from the first lesson, allowing students to internalize the flow of cursive handwriting even before they have learned all 26 letters.

CursiveLogic also uses visual and auditory cues to reinforce the shape patterns:

Theme colors — Each shape string has a color—orange ovals, lime loops, silver swings, and mauve mounds—that reinforces the formation of the basic common shape.

Verbal task analysis — Students learn a simple, rhythmical chant that describes the path of the writing instrument as the letter shapes are formed.  The process of verbally describing a motor task while performing it aids the acquisition of new motor skills. 


A day/week in our life:

Now, with my son already having learnt cursive.  We planned on using this as more of a review and to up his comfort level in writing in cursive.  I originally wanted him to use this workbook daily.  Once I saw it and we began he only ended up using it about twice per week. His cursive has improved so much in just the first two weeks of using it. 

Our thoughts and feelings:

I asked my son what he thought.  He said that it takes the pressure of remembering each letter and trying for perfection. You practice the 4 shapes and get those down and you can write any letter with ease.  He said that it focuses his mind on what shape he should be writing instead of what letter he is writing and that makes him feel like he can think more clearly.

Check out CursiveLogic on social media here:


As you can imagine with all the controversy over continuing to teach cursive they stand on the side of keep cursive alive!  Join them in their crusade to keep cursive.

To see what others think of this check out this post. To see a wide variety of reviews check out our crew blog.

 Review Crew

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Vocabulary Using WordBuild.

My daughter loves vocabulary.  She feels the more words she learns the smarter she is.  It’s been a strange thing to me how many words she wants to know.

When Dynamic Literacy offered WordBuild: Elements, Level 1 Set (Includes WordBuild the Game) for review I was very grateful to be able to receive it for her.


About The Company:

Dynamic Literacy is a company that is based on frequently used Latin and Greek roots. The program is a collection of educational materials designed to communicate the structure of the English language to students of all ages.

About The Product:

WordBuild: Elements, Level 1 Set (Includes WordBuild the Game) 

This set includes 3 main things:

**Elements 1 Teachers Edition - a 336 page guide which includes:

• Fun facts and alerts about each root
• Guidance for how to use each exercise
• Exercise answer keys
• A weekly “check-up” for each root
• Units that review every prefix and suffix used
• A mini-dictionary for each of the 25 roots
• A comprehensive and a mid-term assessment
• A free on-line account to the Dynamic Literacy website for bonus content

**Student Activity Book - a 156 page workbook that covers 25 Latin & Greek Root Families. This book contains four activities for each root, plus appendices with practice activities for prefixes and suffixes, and even root bingo game boards.

**WordBuild the Game Looking for some fun? WordBuild the Game illustrates the formula WORD = Prefix +Root + Suffix with movement, music, and entertaining feedback.

The way of teaching Dynamic Literacy uses a simple process of learning.

Learn 3 roots.

Learn 3 prefixes.

Learn 3 suffixes.

Put them together and you learn 48 words. 

This is better explained here.

A day/week in our life:

Each Day for about 15 minutes Emily would work in Elements.

For a sample of the daily worksheets from both the teacher and student book see here.  We followed the plan pretty much as written.  Each day was written out simply in the teachers manual.  Each work page she was supposed to do that day was made clearly. She would just do the days work.  When it said for the teacher to write down the word on the board, I didn’t.  We would just discuss it like the book said. 

Our thoughts and feelings:

At first Emily was not enjoying this.  She felt overwhelmed.  I had her keep at it and she soon realized that she was learning new words faster than her word of the day calendar or any other way.  She was learning words at a rate of about 50 per week.  She was retaining the words better due to the fact that they are taught as based around a root word.

This program is generally recommended for children in grades 6-12.  She is in 8th/9th grade and this fit her previous knowledge.  She is not only learning words and their definitions, she is able to use them in a sentence correctly. 

To see what others think of this check out this post. To see a wide variety of reviews check out our crew blog.

 Review Crew

Friday, June 12, 2015

IEW Student Writing Intensive & Teaching Writing with Structure and Style


I just want to let you know up front that this review is going to be quite long and it’s just that Institute for Excellence in Writing (IEW) has so much to offer.

They sent me one of their Deluxe Combinations. Since I have a 10 year old in 4th grade I received Deluxe Combo Teacher/Student Writing Package Level A [FIX-1 & 2] PLUS A Word Write Now and Portable Walls

About The Company:

IEW is a company that realizes in order for children to succeed they need to be able to communicate confidently and effectively. Their goal is to be able to assist you throughout the entire process of learning to write well.

IEW has a long interesting history which originally dates clear back to the 1930’s.  Andrew Pudewa brought it to the United States in the 1990’s.

Ever since then Andrew Pudewa and IEW have taken the homeschool world by storm with not only their award winning programs but their 100% guarantee.

About The Product:

Like I said earlier I received a Deluxe Combo Teacher/Student Writing Package Level A [FIX-1 & 2] PLUS A Word Write Now and Portable Walls.

This seems like a mouth full.  It also at first sight seems very overwhelming.  I am going to try to make this review simplify it as much as possible so that you can see it doesn’t have to be overwhelming.  I know when I first began using IEW I felt very overwhelmed. It’s just that they offer so much.

Let’s dig in!

The Deluxe Combo includes

  • Teaching Writing: Structure & Style DVD set
    • This DVD seminar will teach you how to teach writing the IEW way. The things you learn in this DVD can be used with any age child and therefor with any level in the IEW system.  A total of 12 DVD’s are in this seminar.  9 of them are the seminar. Don’t worry, you don’t have to watch them all at once.  Just watch them as you go.  The other 3 DVD’s have student work samples from all ages and levels of students so you can understand and get a feel for how things look.
  • Seminar Workbook
    • This binder has a syllabus for the class as well as charts, word lists, sample lesson plans, and more.  This is not a stand alone product.  It is designed to be used with the Structure and Style DVD set.
  • Student Writing Intensive DVDs Level A, including the Structure & Style Overview
    • These 4 DVD writing videos are geared toward children at the level of grades 3-5. It is also worth mentioning that each level is based on your child having no previous writing experience. 
  • Student Notebook with handouts and lesson plans
    • This is a 3 ring binder which includes student handouts, complete teacher's notes, source texts, assignments, and checklists.
  • Fix-It! Grammar, Books 1 and 2 with downloadable student e-books
    • These books make learning grammar simple. Each day you spend about 5-15 minutes grammatically correcting a sentence.  The sentences will collectively tell a story.

  • A Word Write Now
    • This book is a thesaurus of sorts. I say of sorts because it is so much more in depth than many other thesauruses. There are only appropriate choices.  The parts of speech are listed next to the words for younger students.  

  • Portable Walls
    • No, not the kind of wall I can remodel my house with, but the kind of wall that can surround your student while they are doing their writing.  This wall has great poster like features with out having to hang writing posters all over your house.


A day/week in our life:

It took me about a week to be able to begin using this with my daughter after I had received it.  I immediately began listening to the Structure & Style DVD Set. I was able to do this late at night after I put my kids in bed while I was cleaning my kitchen. Once I had watched about 3 hours of it, I felt ready to dive into beginning to teach my 4th grader.  I took the next few days to look over the materials and plan out our schedule. I have previously used IEW materials so I was somewhat familiar with them.

We decided to do the FIX IT Grammar program daily. Five days per week.

I would watch about 3 hours of the Structure & Style DVD a week.

Katey would do 1/2 of a unit of the Student Writing Intensive each week.  Which isn’t intensive at all.  Andrew Pudewa has a sense of humor and makes the writing fun and funny. He breaks it down into simple steps. That when followed create writers.


Our thoughts and feelings:

I was shocked at how well IEW worked for my 4th grader.  I know I shouldn’t have been.  I used IEW Level B with my older two children.  My 10 year old learns different than my older two do and learns at a different pace. So I went into this review with the expectation of “ahh, well, I guess I’ll give it a try.”  I am ecstatic to say that my non-writing 10 year old is writing things on her own now outside of our writing time.  She is journaling and writing down lists and things. This program has worked for such a wide variety of learners just in my household.

IEW can be found all over social media:

To see what others think of this check out this post. To see a wide variety of reviews check out our crew blog.

 Review Crew

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Field Trip Journals

Apologia Educational Ministries is a company that I have been a fan of since I began homeschooling over 5 years ago.
They have come out with a new type of product, once which I have never seen anything like it before.  I am lucky to have been chosen to review it.
It is their new Exploring Creation Field Trip Journal

About The Company:
 Apologia Educational Ministries, in my opinion, is most well known for their science selection of products.  They have won multiple awards in many categories.  While they do offer a wide variety of products from basic curriculum to online classes and more, one of the really neat things that they do is fully support the homeschooling community by holding retreats.  Some of them are online and some of them are live!

About The Product:

The Exploring Creation Field Trip Journal is simple really. It is over 60 pages ready for your creativity to be added. 
It begins with some preparing for a field trip tips. While most of us are mommas and know how to take our kids out places, this section offers some helpful tips to make the most out of the field trip. 
The next section talks about Field Trip ideas.  This is divided into 10 categories.  Each category has a list of field trip ideas, some are simple, some are extravagant.  There is also a password to log into the book online for even more ideas!
The next section is about “Places I’ve Explored.”  There is a 2 page spread for places in your state, another one for places in the United States, and the final 2 page spread is for places all over the world.
Our favorite part comes next.
It is the section called “Field Trip Pages.”  This section is used for specific field trips. This section has you take personal notes, either on the field trip or when you get back, (once my kids even did it in the car on the way home).  There is a place to draw something that has to do with the trip. A place to list any books you read in preparation for this field trip.   There is a section where you would write down the “Story of my day” and a section to write down “something I never want to forget.”
The next part is “My Special Spot.”  This is for a spot in the wild that you will visit 4 times a year, once each season, and you will document what you see, hear, feel.  Paying attention to all the details you would nature journal this spot, noticing the progressive changes over the seasons.
The “As I See It” pages come next.  In this section you would use your imagination to document your experiences.  This section could be used for journaling with words, with photographs, with drawings, with doodles, or any way you wanted.
The openness and opportunity within this book is only limited by your imagination.
Check out the sample pages by clicking the link on this page!

A day/week in our life:
We received our Field Trip Journal just in time. We are a field trip taking family.  We like to be out and about.  One of the big field trips we took shortly after we received this book was to our local Renaissance Faire.  This was our first time going to something like this. It was pretty exciting.

Our thoughts and feelings:
Usually I would just take pictures of us at our field trips with my phone, blogging about some of them.  Other than that they never got written down.  Everything was from my point of view. It was eye opening to see the things the kids noticed and wanted in the journal. I am really enjoying having somewhere specific that is meant for this type of journaling, otherwise it wouldn’t get done.

Apologia can be found all over social media:

To see what others think of this check out this post. To see a wide variety of reviews check out our crew blog.
 Review Crew

Friday, June 5, 2015

The Book of Ancient Romans Set {A review}

Memoria Press is a company who’s products we have used many times in our homeschooling journey.

We were very blessed to receive The Book of Ancient Romans Set for review.

About The Company:

Memoria Press is a family run publishing company that was founded in 1994 to help promote and transmit the classical heritage of the Christian West.  When Cheryl Lowe- “One of the Most Admired Women” of 2014 founded the company she wanted an emphasis on liberal arts and the great works of the Western tradition. 

About The Product:

The Book of the Ancient Romans Set is geared toward grades 6-9. As you will see, I used it with my 10th grader.  This set

The set includes:

  • The Book of the Ancient Romans, this book was originally written is the 1920’s by Dorothy Mills and has been brought back into publication with added illustrations through Memoria Press.   The book itself is over 400 pages, but broken down into chapters.  According to the table of contents you only do one chapter per lesson. 
  • The Student Book, this book is full of things like the facts to know section, the vocabulary section (your student actually has to fill in the definitions here), comprehension questions (your student actually fills in the answers here).  There is an activity section, the activities are things like map work, timeline work, diagraming, researching, writing and more.
  • The Teacher Guide, this book mimics the student book with answers and answer guidelines written in.

Sample pages of all of these books can be found here.

A day/week in our life:

When I got these I planned on using them with my 10th grade son.  I laid out an easy lesson plan with him, breaking the entire 5 units with 26 lessons, 5 reviews and 5 unit tests over 26 weeks. We have had it for about 6 weeks before writing this review and my son is already on lesson 12.  He has been almost doubling what I had assigned. Not because it is too easy either.  It’s because he is actually enjoying learning.  He is not a huge history lover and it’s because he doesn’t enjoy getting creative and doing projects.  He has loved the style of this history.  Read the assigned pages, do the assigned work in the student book and be done.

Our thoughts and feelings:

I personally haven’t ever been disappointed with anything Memoria Press that we have used, and this was no exception.  I was actually surprised at how much my son jumped ahead on this one.  He said he likes it because it gets straight to the point and there is no fluff.The fact that he likes this history so much taught me a lot about his learning style.  As much as I cringe at workbook style learning, that is what my son likes.  I know he is learning also.  He brings up conversations about things he has been reading and learning about without me even asking him.

To see what others think of this check out this post. To see a wide variety of reviews check out our crew blog.

 Review Crew

Monday, June 1, 2015



I took and passed my real estate agent exam this past week.  I will begin my actual work shortly. 

I am very excited to share my life that is about to get even crazier with you all.

I have often worked part time while still homeschooling.
Some of the jobs I have done are waitressing, cleaning houses, cleaning office buildings, grocery store cashiering, front end supervisor at a grocery store and going to school.  Now I didn’t do all of these things at the same time, just over the course of our homeschool life.  I am very excited to begin this new stage of our life. 

I hope you all have personal goals you are working on daily.  It takes a lot to be a homeschool parent and you need to do something for you at least occasionally!

Sunday, May 31, 2015

Jazz Edge {my review of an online piano teacher}

Jazz Edge is a company that was founded by Willie Mynette, a Berklee College of Music Graduate.  They host a myriad of websites. One of those websites is PianoWithWillie

I was given access to the Studio Membership.

Studio Memberships Include:
  • Unlimited access to over 3,000 lesson chapters
  • Instant access anytime, any device, anywhere!
  • Personalized Piano Plans™
  • Access to our active user community
  • All styles from jazz, blues, latin, gospel, funk & rock
  • Live chat with our support team
  • Downloadable MP3 & MIDI tracks with sheet music
  • 30-day, Piano Success Guarantee

Piano With Willie allows you to teach yourself piano using online piano lessons.
At first glace after logging in, Piano With Willie Studio Access can seem very overwhelming.  There really is a lot to it. 

He emails you a step by step introduction plan. 

Step 1 has you watch a video on how to use the website and sends you some piano start resources.

Step 2 has you download and begin the 30 day success playbook.  This is 30 lessons of piano success, starting with the basics, like rhythm, technique and reading.  Then moving along to songs and improvisation, and more.  Each video lesson is from 5-12 minutes long.  Then you spend time practicing.

Step 3 has you moving on to more advanced piano foundations.

Step 4 gives you an even more in depth look at the website navigation.

Emily began with the 30 day success playbook and did not enjoy it, she felt it was way to easy so the beauty of this program is that after using it for a very short time she decided to move on.

She was able to click on the lessons tab at the top and look through the over 3000 lesson chapters available to her.  The sort function here is amazing and came in very useful! Using the lessons tab to choose what songs she wanted to learn and what techniques she wanted to work on was her favorite.  She needed that freedom. 

They also have a 22 point assessment that you can take to have a lesson plan created for you to tell you exactly what to work on next.  This is my favorite part, considering I can be indecisive. 

You will need an actual piano or a keyboard with at least 61 keys on it to use this appropriately.

Here is a picture of one of the videos.  You see Willie teaching, you see his hands actually playing and you see the keys he is playing light up.

Our thoughts and feelings:
Piano With Willie is NOT for the beginner pianist. They do have a beginner program that some of the other crew members reviewed.  Emily has taken piano lessons for a few years now, and then we had our big move.  I hadn’t had the chance to find her a new piano teacher yet, so we were both excited when this came up for review.  She was able to jump in and learn songs she wanted as well as some technique work that will help her with all of her piano playing.   This studio access is great for going at your own pace and being able to pick and choose what you want to learn.  What it lacks is accountability.  I had to be the one to hold her accountable for her lessons.  (You can add this accountability through Piano With Willie’s Premier Access.)  She was used to going to a piano teacher once a week and practicing all week long then going back and showing how she had improved.  With Piano With Willie he would teach her and then she would practice for that day and then move on the next day. This got her advancing quite quickly through piano.   Something that we found really wonderful about Piano With Willie is the ability to have the freedom to study piano when you want and what you want to work on.  You truly have the freedom to choose. 

Something else that we found really great about it is that I didn’t have to drive her anywhere.  She was able to “take piano lessons” late at night.  Being the night owl teenager that she is.

Piano With Willie can be found on social media at these locations:


To see what others think of this check out this post. To see a wide variety of reviews check out our crew blog.

 Review Crew


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