curriculum reviews

An Honest Review of History Unboxed “Ancient Israelites”

  I first heard about History Unboxed about six months ago.  I was really excited to try out these subscription kits that delve into the history of other cultures.  We have spent the past several years delving into ancient cultures in our homeschool curriculum.  I was extremely pleased to see a box about the Ancient Israelites.  I searched the internet and there really isn’t anything like it for homeschool.  So, I knew I wanted this to be my first kit.  While I am an affiliate for this company, I really wanted this to be an honest review of the pros and cons to the History Unboxed Ancient Israelites kit. Upon receiving my first box, I found it to be quite plain.  It was a standard cardboard box.  It seemed odd given the price point of the kits at $50 each. Since purchasing, I have additional boxes from History Unboxed that are in much better packaging.  So, I am assuming that they ran out of the nicer boxes.   Each of the kits comes with a brief history of the culture you are learning about as well as fun projects to create, food to try from the culture, or other historically important items to use. In the History Unboxed Ancient Israelites kit it comes with a full-size ram’s horn that is fully functional.  A package of honeycomb to eat, and sculpted clay, olive oil and a wick to create your own oil lamp reproduction.  It also came with some cheesecloth to make your own farmers cheese.  The recipe is included. If your a fan of subscription kits you will want to check out these other posts: Kiwico Eureka Crates Subscription Kits Overview Unboxing Talkbox.mom Language Subscription Kits The Pros The products in the kit are very high quality.  The ram’s horn is full size and works well.  Honeycomb is an expensive product you wouldn’t find in most adult subscription boxes let alone a childs.  The modeling clay is a name brand product that is easy to use. The projects are very simple.  Your child can complete most of them without much assistance.  This box does require baking in an oven and heating milk on the stove.  But an older child could complete most everything on their own. It’s also worth noting that if you have a child with food allergies, all of the food is individually packaged and sealed. The Cons I’m sorry to say that I have some issues with this particular History Unboxed Ancient Israelites kit.  Not with the quality of it, as I think it’s very nicely put together.  My issue is with the actual history they are telling.  It is very clear that the authors of it are writing biblical narratives.  The two lessons are from the Bible, that of Solomon and David.  I can’t figure out if the writer wants this box to be Christian, Secular or Neutral because it isn’t any of them.  The writer is either trying to write the lesson from a secular perspective or to make both secular and non-secular homeschoolers happy.  I don’t believe it is successful either way. The writing style makes it seem like these are interesting “stories” without any basis in fact.  They make sure to point out the lack of archaeological evidence to support Solomon’s existence more than once.  But they choose to leave out the fact there is archaeological evidence that supports the existence of David and many other biblical records.  It feels as though the author is purposefully trying to make the Bible seem fictional, all the while only using the Bible as its narrative for the entire unit study.   The writers would be more successful by adjusting this unit study to completely factual information and making it a secular curriculum that could be tailored by Christian families, or they need to make it a Christian curriculum.   My Thoughts I found the entire lesson rather off putting.  I did not feel that this information would suit Christians as they would not take kindly to being made to feel that their beliefs are a nice made up “story”.  But, as the entire historical lesson was based in bible theology, I also do not think that a lot of secular homeschooling families would enjoy it either.  There may be a few that don’t mind either way and would enjoy the fun of the experience.  But I found more than once I ended up skipping portions of the lesson that I found didn’t resonate with me. Also, I think it’s worth noting that the ram’s horn is very, very loud.  If you have a child with sensory issues like I do.  It will not be liked.  However, I do think the average kid will enjoy blasting it as much as they can through your home.  So be prepared!  You’ll want to take it outside. Would I buy this Again? Okay, so while I would definitely not purchase this History Unboxed Ancient Israelites box again, I did think that the quality of the materials in the box was well worth their cost.  If I had to purchase the items myself and curate it on my own, it would be about the same price.  So, it’s definitely a good investment.  If you don’t mind having to adjust the information to suit your family’s particular religious views, then I think you will find good value in this box. I actually have several other boxes from History Unboxed that I will be reviewing from them in the future.  I was able to pick them up at a local store near me for a steal!   I’m very excited to see what else this company has to offer.  So, I’ll keep you posted as to how these stack up against this one.  

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4th Grade Curriculum Picks

  So I thought I would share what we are using this year for our curriculum picks.  I always choose from a lot of different curriculum.  Don’t freak out!  This in no way means that you should use them all.  Some of these programs are not for everyday use.  I do a rotating schedule to fit more subjects in.  Some of them (All About Homophones for example), I only use once every other week.  I like to plan a lot of different options throughout the year.  But this doesn’t mean we use them all at once.  I always like to have more available than less.  Sometimes we use all of our curriculum picks, sometimes we don’t. Many of these curriculums have full lesson plans on Homeschool Planet to make it super easy for you to schedule your lessons. As you can see, we are keeping a lot of the same ones from the year before.  I have been pretty happy with what we are using and would like to continue.  So here’s what we ended up deciding to use. 4th Grade Curriculum Math- Beast Academy Level 4 and Saxon 5/4.  Yes, I really use both.  I use Beast Academy as our main math curriculum and Saxon to fill in any gaps.  You can read more about how we use our math program in my post Why Beast Academy Is My Favorite Homeschool Math Curriculum and you can also read about Choosing a Math Curriculum. Science-Super Charged Science Cursive-Zaner Bloser Cursive 4 Grammar-Shirley English Jingles and Fix It Grammar Art-Artistic Pursuits K-3 History-We are using a mix of unit studies this year from Homeschool in the Woods Ancient Greece and Ancient Rome, as well as audiobooks from Story of the World.  We are also reading from A Child’s history of the world. Music-Alfreds Kids Ukulele Course Complete.  We started using this book last year.  It’s easy to use and comes with audio. Spelling-All About Spelling.  If you are interested in this program, you can read all about My Experience With All About Spelling. Homophones-All About Homophones. I’ve also written a full review on this program.  You can read Teaching Kids About Homophones for more information on this program. Reading-Pathways Level 3 English-Climbing to Good English 3 Foreign Language- We are trying a combination of Flip Flop Spanish and Talkbox Spanish this year.  Make sure to check out a complete overview of Unboxing Talkbox.mom Language Subscription Kits for more on this program. Critical Thinking-Basics of Critical Thinking Literature-  For our literature studies this year we are reading A Child’s History of the World, The Sea Wolf, and My Side of the Mountain.  All of these will be read Charlotte Mason Style as narrations with discussion questions or Novel-Ties Study Guides. Self guided reading is done throughout the week with independent choices using a “book box.”   Art History Unit Studies-We will be using Art in History’s Persian and Greek Pottery units to round out our history lessons. STEM-All STEM kits are KIWICO projects which we do throughout the year.

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Fix It! Grammar Overview-Video Post

    Hey Guys!  I thought you might like to see the newest homeschool curriculum we are using.  It’s Fix It! Grammar by IEW.  Fix it! Grammar is an incredibly easy program that can be done in just 15 minutes a day.  The program is incredibly simple for both parents and students.  It only requires the teachers manual, student manual, a dictionary and a notebook or journal.  If you don’t have a dictionary available you can download one for free from Merriam-Webster for either Apple or Android HERE.   One of the things I like most about this program is that it incorporates vocabulary, writing skills and grammar into a simple 15 minute a day program. I also use it to build on penmanship.  So it’s a great multi-tasking curriculum. I have been extremely impressed by the simplicity of this program as well as its effectiveness.  We have had no trouble using it.  The program is good for multiple students of several different age ranges.  You only need one teachers manual, but you will need multiple student manuals.  You could also make copies of the student manual.  However, the program is reasonably priced.  So, purchasing additional manuals would be much easier and less time consuming. Here are some samples from the books. Parent’s Note This series is based on (for the most part) old fairytales and contain elements of magic.  I realize that some parents (including myself) take issue with some types of thematic elements in books and writing, so I wanted to make you aware of this.  I personally use these as a teaching element unto itself.  However, if this is not something you would want your children reading you will want to select a different curriculum. Fix It! Levels Fix It! Grammar has 6 levels.  The first level is The Nose Tree. Level 1 Nose Tree presumes no prior grammar knowledge and introduces basic parts of speech, end-mark punctuation, phrases, clauses, homophones, and more.  Level 1 is rated for grades 3-5.  The cost for the combo teacher/student editions is $29.  Each additional student is $19. Try Before You Buy You can try up to 4 weeks of this program free by going to this link HERE: If you like this video, be sure to check out these others: Unboxing All About Spelling Level 4 Unboxing Talkbox.mom Language Subscription Kits Using Spice Subscription Kits For Homeschool (Unboxing)

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Unboxing Talkbox.mom Language Subscription Kits

      So today we are going to be unboxing Talkbox language subscription in Spanish.  I’m going to go through everything that is in the kit as well as discuss the App that goes with it.  These boxes are different than most language curriculums because it is designed to get the whole family involve in learning a language together.  The boxes are meant to be used in conjunction with the App. The Talkbox is currently available in 11 languages including: Spanish French German Portuguese Chinese Hebrew Japanese Korean Russian Romanian Each language currently has a total of 9 different boxes and a phrase book.  After you watch the Unboxing Talkbox video be sure to check out the actual kits by going to the Talkbox.mom website HERE. Be sure to use coupon code: selfmademodern20 for $20 off the first box+phrasebook or selfmademodern5 for $5 off the the phrasebook Once we have spent sometime using the program as a family, I will write a full review.  If you enjoyed this unboxing post be sure to check out these others: Unboxing All About Spelling Level 4 Unboxing Barnabas Robotics Simple Robot Kit If you have any questions about the kits, be sure to post them in the comments section below.

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Unboxing All About Spelling Level 4

  Today we are Unboxing All About Spelling Level 4 Program.  All of the levels are set up very similarly.  This will give you an idea of what comes in each of them.  I did forget to include a small set of mini pieces in this kit.  They will come in the package when you order.  If you want to see my full review of the All About Spelling Program you can click HERE. You will need to purchase the basic spelling interactive kit with any of the levels.  This one-time purchase is used with all seven levels.  It includes Letter Tiles, Magnets, and Divider Cards.  The divider cards help you store all the flashcards properly.  If you don’t order this, you will need to come up with your own divider system.  You will also need to purchase the Letter Tile App as you won’t have any Letter Tiles.  You can read more about the Letter Tile App in my full review.  The only thing not included in the kits is a magnetic white board which you will need. If you enjoyed Unboxing All About Spelling make sure to check out their website Here.  They have a lot of free homeschool resources on their website for you to use.  It also has their entire program as well as the All About Reading Program.  The programs can be used individually or together.  Each of the spelling levels runs approximately $44.95 plus shipping. If you enjoyed this unboxing, be sure to check out my other ones below. Unboxing Talkbox.mom Language Subscription Kit Unboxing Barnabas Robotics Simple Robot Kit Please feel free to let us know if you have tried the program.  If you have any questions or I forgot something, don’t hesitate to let me know in the comments box below.  

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Why Beast Academy Is My Favorite Homeschool Math Curriculum

Beast Academy came into my life by accident.  I was trying to find something to keep my child engaged in school.  The math that was being offered was not enough and boredom had started to set in.  To the Google I went.  I stumbled upon an advertisement for Beast Academy.  You know the ones I mean.  Those advertisements you promise yourself that your “only” going to “look” at.  You tell yourself you will “never” buy their product.  But, it was unique.  A math program that was set up like a comic book.  Tell me more! I went to the Beast Academy website and to my surprise the curriculum is run by the Art of Problem Solving.  These guys have an upper elementary math curriculum that is well known and highly respected in the Math community.  The Art of Problem Solving (AOPS) has grown since the 90’s to include an online school, small in person physical learning centers, streaming video lessons, an online community and multiple textbooks for mathematically minded students.  Now you really had my attention. Quick Overview About Beast Academy Beast Academy is the Art of Problem Solvings way to address meeting the needs of math minded kids between the ages of 6-13.  It was launched in 2002.  The program currently has 4 levels.  Level 1 is going to be launched soon.  You can choose to do the entire program online or in textbook format.  Either way it’s the exact same curriculum (although not the same questions).  The program is meant to be used for highly accelerated math minded kids starting in the 2nd grade (soon to be 1st) until 5th grade.  However, there are placement tests to see which level fits the needs of your child best.  I highly encourage taking these tests as many kids will find it easier to start level 2 in third grade or even 4th. Why Beast Academy is Different These guidebooks are not set up like any math book I have ever seen before.  The first thing you will notice is the color.  These books are full color on every page.  Then there is the fact that they are set up like a comic book.  It’s highly appealing to kids.  It encourages reading as well as math.  In fact, part of the reason I purchased these was because I thought it might help my child to want to read more.  Each book follows the story of a school of little characters who happen to be monsters.  They go about their day in school solving problems.  Some of these problems require teamwork.  Sometimes they must rescue their teacher from trouble. Make no mistake.  While these books may look simple, cute, fun and engaging, they are challenging.  In fact, sometimes they are so hard that I have to read through the problem solving hints in the back.  What I find amazing is that I personally have learned some incredible tips for mental math that I have started using in my everyday life.  I never have to ask for this work to be done.  Usually, I get asked if extra pages can be done.  When it’s time to read another lesson, it makes reading time more fun as well.  I strive to do about two pages in the workbook per session.  Sometimes, the work is so challenging that only one problem might get done.  Which is fine. The workbooks also work hard to be nothing like a normal math workbook.  Everything is done in puzzles or games.  Problem solving is encouraged and so is failure.  Every problem is interesting and challenging.  The harder problems are marked with a star.  The super difficult ones are marked with two stars.  The double starred problems are not always meant to be solved correctly (although it’s great if they are).  They are meant to challenge the mind to use the information the student has already learned.  So these can be very difficult if not impossible for your little one. The back of the books also contain hints and ways to solve and work through the more challenging problems when they are too difficult to solve.  It also contains an answer key for easy grading.  I find this very helpful. Online Vs. Hard Copies You have the option to do all the work online which eliminates you needing to teach the work.  The online version also includes over 700 supplementary videos that accompany the lessons.  Level 2 offers a read aloud version as well.  This is beneficial if your child can’t read fluently yet.  Parents can also view all the students’ progress via their online account. The program is also available in hardcopy Guide Books and Workbooks which is how we chose to use the program.  The books are very straightforward and easy to use.  There is even the option of bundling and doing both the online courses and the books together.  While the lessons are the same, the problems are completely different between the two programs. You could choose this option if your student really needs additional practice.  But, you really only need to do one or the other unless you really want or need to have both.   The lessons in the online course and the workbooks are the same. If you are looking for lesson plans you can find them on homeschool planet. One thing you should know is that you can’t use only the workbook hard copy by itself.  You will need either the online or hardcover guide books.  The workbook does not have enough instruction in it to be used as a stand alone. Cost The online program starts at $96 per year if you pay everything up front.  This is per child.  If you have multiple children then you will pay $48 for each additional student.  Bundling is $150 per year and includes both the online program and the books.  The hard copies cost $108 plus shipping for the entire level. The Cons I only have a few issues with these books.  One that

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My Honest Review of Calico Spanish

  Today I’m going to give a full review on the Calico Spanish Curriculum.  I always knew I would teach a foreign language in our homeschool curriculum.  My family is Asian and most of them speak at least one dialect of Chinese.  I don’t speak any.  In fact, I only understand when I’m being yelled at or talked about.  Growing up it drove me crazy because my relatives would always speak to each other in Chinese when they didn’t want us kids to know what they were saying.  So foreign language was huge to me. The school I had sent my child to offered French.  I thought this was going to be great because I wouldn’t have to teach a foreign language.  But as time went on, I couldn’t figure out why I never heard any French being spoken at home.  When the school went to a distance learning platform, I realized that the children were only getting a short french lesson two days a week.  Not enough to remember or speak efficiently.  I personally can’t make heads or tails of French.  No matter how hard I try it all sounds like gibberish to me.  So I had trouble helping practice.  I had taken several years of Spanish in high school and had always wanted to continue learning it.  I find it far easier to understand and speak than both Chinese and French.  Plus, where we live it is a very common language that is spoken.  This makes it easier to practice.  After lots of research, I decided to give Calico Spanish a try.  I really wanted something that had videos available to use. I thought that videos would be the most engaging for a child just starting a new language. Quick Overview     The Program Calico Spanish is broken into levels.  It has Level A to Level D.  Each level is meant to take about a year to complete.  The levels do not coincide with a grade level.  This means that you can start them at any age.  WIthin these levels are units.  Each of these units are broken into days.  The program is designed to be open and go.  As a parent, you literally just pick the day that you are on and it lets you know which video to watch, which flash cards to use and any worksheets that need to be done. Each level has a teacher’s guide, a student workbook, flash cards, videos, music videos, mini storybooks, and downloadable posters.  You have the ability to purchase all the hands-on products as a package when you start each level or you can choose to download and print them for free.  You can also move from level to level without paying more.  This would allow you to use the program for children of different ages or learning abilities.   My Experience The Calico Spanish Homeschool pricing is $89 per year for the online subscription.  The Level A Visuals Pack is an additional $99. Each level that you are using has its own Visuals Pack.  As you go up in levels they go up in price.  These are the materials you will use during the year.  Most of these items can be printed for free.  I chose the print for free method.   Honestly, I wish I had spent the money and purchased the hands on materials.  I had to print out the workbooks and teacher’s guide.  Once I did that, I took them to the office supply store to get them bound.  The flash cards had to be printed page by by page and then had to be cut out.  After printing, I had to laminate them so they could be used all year.  Then I had to cut them out. It was way too much work.  I would definitely splurge and get the package.  It would have been so much easier.  Also, the storybooks can’t be printed at all so you can only get them if you purchase them.  They are available in the levels to watch.  But, I don’t think it’s quite the same.  The reader uses a monotone voice which is not exciting to listen to. Calico Spanish is designed to introduce Spanish in a gentle manner.  Each level builds on the last level.  It focuses on dialogue between characters in the stories.  It doesn’t teach much in the way of grammar at all.       The Pros This program was a wonderful introduction to Spanish for my child.  The songs are catchy and easy to sing along with.  The videos are simple and easy to watch.  The characters are likable and the worksheets are very simple to do.  The provided teachers guide has the translations available so that you can explain what things mean.  The instruction is extremely straightforward and I was able to easily give day to day instruction. The posters that are available were a personal favorite of mine.  I was able to print them out and put them up around the classroom for easy reference guides.  By the end of the year, my child enjoyed speaking Spanish and was able to have a basic conversation when speaking to someone who spoke the language.  This program was vastly superior to the foreign language education he had gotten from school.   The Cons This program has several issues which need to be mentioned.  While the program could be used to introduce older kids to Spanish, it is definitely meant for elementary kids. It would be difficult to use with multi age children because of this.  You would need more than one program depending on the age ranges of your children. Another issue I found is that the program is redundant.  I know your thinking that being repetitive is a good thing.  You’re right! it is.  But the program never speeds up.  The videos are spoken very slowly and deliberately.  I thought that as you advanced through the program it would advance with the child.  But it does not.  So over

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One copy of zaner bloser handwriting and one of Cursive Kickoff sitting on a table.

How to Choose a Cursive Curriculum

  When selecting your homeschool curriculum its important to think about penmanship.  As your child continues their educational journey you will need to decide if you will be teaching cursive.  In my family this was not a decision, but a need.  I write 99 percent of the time in cursive.  In fact, the only time I print is if I know someone else can’t or might not be able to read my writing.  So for me the decision was not if I was going to teach cursive, but how to choose a cursive curriculum. Styles of Cursive Believe it or not there are many styles of cursive and even more curriculums.  Some of these styles are:  Handwriting Without Tears (HWOT) D’nealian Zaner-Bloser Spencerian Getty & Dubay Italic Today we are only going to focus on the first three. Handwriting Without Tears The school my child was going to had used the Handwriting Without Tears program for print.  It is a fabulous program for printing.  It was developed by an occupational therapist to teach handwriting in an easy to follow manner.  This program was specifically developed for left handed writers, for children who struggle with motor skills and for children with cognitive issues.  The letters are setup to be easy to write with very clear instruction on how to form letters correctly.  They then move to the same curriculum in cursive once they complete the printing program. This program is wonderful in it’s simplicity.  It does not require your child to have completed the print program in order to start the cursive.  However, children will find the transition very easy if they have.  The cursive letters look only slightly different than in print, which makes the transition to cursive very simple.  All of the letters are written straight up an down, just like in print.  I have heard that some parents of right handed children complain of wrist tiredness due to the straight up and down positioning of the letters.  I didn’t notice this when using the program.  But it’s worth noting. Each page is very short and only takes a few minutes to complete.  Every page flows well together.  If you are looking for a way to teach cursive in the simplest and easiest way possible, this is definitely a great place to start.  The program goes from Kindergarten to grade 5.  Cursive lessons begin at 2nd grade. Why We Discontinued We chose to discontinue this program after completing the first cursive book.  The main reason for this is that my husband and I both write in traditional cursive.  Our handwriting looks nothing like the HWOT cursive.  So after working through the program my child could not read my cursive or any other cursive that didn’t look like the HWOT program.  It really is its own style of writing.  This completely defeated the point of teaching cursive for us.  Also, several of the letters in the HWOT curriculum do not look like standard cursive letters.  Most notably was the letter “Q”.  It looks like a 2.  This again, makes it very difficult to distinguish from traditional cursive.  Lastly, and this is really only important to me, the HWOT cursive is so simplified that I find it rather unattractive.  It really doesn’t have the flow of a traditional script.  Again, that’s just my opinion and may not really be an issue for some.  But in the end we chose to move to another program. D’Nealian Cursive So in the world of traditional cursive there are two main types most people think of.  D’Nealian and Zaner-Bloser.  These were the primary cursive curriculums being taught when I was young. They are similar in how all of the letters are written.  The main thing that makes D’nealian different is that all of the letters, both printed and cursive, are written in a slant.  This means that when learning to write your child will rotate their paper and sit in a more specific posture in order to be able to make the words appear at an angle.  This posture makes slanting the letters easier.  It also makes writing in cursive easier on the child’s wrist.   It is a continuous stroke method.  This means you continuously write without lifting your pen.  This program goes from kindergarten print all the way through 6th grade.  Cursive lessons start in 2nd grade.  The books are sequential and are reasonably priced.  The final book in the series teaches calligraphy.  This method is definitely not as simple to teach as HWOT.   Our child learned print with the HWOT program which teaches that printed words are written straight up and down.  It really didn’t make sense to try to reteach printing at an angle since printing was already well established.  I think this would have led to a lot of frustration for us.  However, if you were starting to teach this from the very beginning it would definitely be a program I would consider.  I think teaching the slanted print and following through to the cursive program would make it easier to teach. Zaner-Bloser Zaner-Bloser (ZB) has been around for many years and has a well respected reputation for teaching handwriting.  The primary difference between Zaner-Bloser and D’nealian is that Zaner-Bloser teaches your child to print straight up and down.  It then teaches cursive at a slanted or curved angle.  We ended up choosing this curriculum simply because of that.  This meant that we did not have to reteach printing.  We were able to simply start with the cursive program.  It simplified the process for us.   I really like the books.  They are well priced and you get a lot of pages for your money.  ZB cursive starts in a very simple manner.  It teaches a three step pattern of model, practice and evaluation.  These have a teachers guide but you could definitely go without them to conserve cost.  The student edition teaches not only proper posture but also simple strokes from the beginning.  Each page builds on

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Barnabas Robotics Mini Tinker Kit

Unboxing Barnabas Robotics Part 2: Mini Tinker Kit 2.0

  It time!  Today we have another Unboxing for Barnabas Robotics. This time we will be opening the Mini Tinker Kit 2.0  This kit has four projects in one.  It includes an Animal Bot, Wheel of Fortune, Doorbell, and Scribble Bot.  The mission of Barnabas Robotics is to empower kids as young as 5 to learn robotics and coding.  Check it out!     This is a three part unboxing.  The three kits we are going to unbox are: The Mini Tinker Kit The Barnabas Bot The Simple Robot Kit x2   The Mini Tinker Kit is for ages 6-10.  It retails for $22.95.  All Barnabas Robotics kits come with free shipping after $35.  These kits would make for excellent creativity days.  You could as use them in your unschooling curriculum.  Check out our other Unboxing for the Simple Robot Kit HERE. If you have built one of these and want to share what you think let us know in the comments below.  After these kits are unboxed and built we will do a follow up review on them in another post.  Stay tuned!

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Spelling curriculum books on a table

My Experience With All About Spelling

  Today we are going to talk all about spelling.  One of the main reasons we chose the school my child went to for Kindergarten was their reading and spelling program.  I had attempted to teach reading myself at home and was unable to do it.  Everyone has strengths and weaknesses with their education.  This was definitely not my child’s strength.  Our kindergarten teacher was amazing and by the end of the year we were on the same level as the average child.  But first grade didn’t go as planned.  My child began to struggle with spelling and I didn’t feel like we were getting the assistance we needed from the school or the teacher.   Once the pandemic hit we moved to distance learning like everyone else.  This is where I really felt like things stalled.  I realized that my child would memorize the spelling lists.  But then, when my child would go to spell anything not on the list, every word was wrong. Once I made the decision to go to homeschool and build my own curriculum, I knew that spelling was on the top of my list. Deciding on A Spelling Curriculum After much research I settled on two curriculums.  The Logic of English and All About Spelling.  I really loved how detailed the Logic of English is and I really thought that was what we would go with.  It is a full English Curriculum that aptly teaches the Logic behind English.   If you are looking for a full English curriculum make sure to check them out.  Their customer service department is excellent.  When I called I got a real live person and they were more than helpful.  They sent me links and information pdfs right away. It’s a very comprehensive program.  It covers multiple years in one book so its great for multiple students.  It’s also great to reuse with the same students.  The main problem I had was that we already had an English Curriculum from Shirley English we were using and a separate Reading Curriculum.  The Logic of English Curriculum would have been to much.   Why We Chose All About Spelling   So in the end we went with the All About Spelling curriculum.  It is strictly a spelling program.  There is a separate reading curriculum you can get if you need both.  As the website suggested we started at book 1.  They recommend beginning at the first book and if your child is further along to work at an accelerated pace.  The reason for this is that All About Spelling teaches you the rules of spelling.  So there is an order that needs to be followed. Can I just say that I wish I had this curriculum as a child.  When I was starting to teach spelling my child would say things like “why do we do this?” And I would reply, “You just do.”  I personally have learned so much from these lessons that it’s incredible.   Not only that, my child has become a proficient speller in just a matter of eight months.  Whenever we run into a problem I simply ask what the rule is and the spelling is instantly corrected.   What the Kit Comes With The Level 1 Kit comes with everything you need.  It comes with the instructional manual, four kinds of flash cards, physical letter tiles, a certificate of completion and stickers with a progress chart.  You will need a magnet white board for the physical tiles. To use the book you start at the beginning.  As the teacher, you read the instructions to your child.  Each section will tell you how to teach each lesson so there is no guess work.  If you have multiple children near the same age you can use one level for them all.  This will save you time and money in the beginning.  You can advance the students at their own pace and move them up levels when they are ready. There are four sets of flash cards. They are the sound cards (red), phonogram cards (yellow), key cards (blue) and word cards (green). The Phonogram Cards & Phonogram Sounds App The Phonogram Cards have each of the phonograms on the front with pronunciations on the back.  The cards are designed to help your kids with the sounds letters make.  I have used these off and on but All About Spelling makes an app called Phonogram Sounds that is free on all the App Stores.  The Phonogram Sounds App not only gives you the phonograms broken out by categories, but it clearly pronounces them as well.  We have used this app almost exclusively.  I actually prefer it because the sounds are said properly with the right intonation.  I realized that someone like my mother who has an accent would pronounce the phonogram different than I would.  Improperly pronouncing the sounds of phonograms leads to difficulties for your child later on.  An example of this is the letter “l”.  Many would pronounce the sound as “luh”.  This is incorrect.  I realized I was putting this “uh” sound on almost every letter.  So I highly recommend using the app.  If you don’t want to use it, I encourage you as the parent to listen to it and then use the flash cards with your child.  This will ensure you are giving the correct pronunciation.   The Sound Cards The Sound Cards require that your child dictate sounds back to you or answer questions regarding sounds.  I use these occasionally as a refresher and to change up the work.  But, I don’t use them regularly as they are repetitive of the other cards.  I can see using them for a child that is really struggling with phonogram sounds.  It would help with retention and memory. The Key Cards The Key Cards are definitely my favorite.  They contain all the rules of spelling.  We review these the most.  It not only helps my child to remember the rules, it helps me to

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