Sunday, April 24, 2016

FREE Middle and High School Language Arts & Composition Workbooks!!!

I mentioned a few weeks ago that I’ve been in search of something to use for my rising 7th grade daughter to use for grammar and/or composition.

After spending this week doing test prep and standardized testing, I realized that she probably still needs to be doing some grammar instruction this next year, but I think it’s also time to start giving her some formal writing instruction, as well.  So I started hunting again.  I recently started using the Chrome browser again with Windows 10, and so I decided to go through all the old “favorite” links I’d saved back when I used Chrome before, which was when Hayden was still homeschooled.  I was shocked at how many great links I had saved over the years, and one of them was to some FREE printable workbooks for Glencoe Writer’s Choice Grammar and also Composition for both middle and high school, grades 6-12!

I spent some time looking at the .pdf files, and I decided that using the “Reteaching” version would probably work best. They offer more instruction on the actual worksheets, making them easier to use without the actual corresponding textbook, and they give just enough practice without overkill.  I like both the grammar and composition programs, and I’ve decided to use both!  It looks like combining the two will fill up the school year well for about 32 weeks of material.  I think we’ll probably alternate between the two so we’re working on both programs throughout the year.

Here’s the link!  It includes all aspects of language arts, from grammar to composition to vocabulary to spelling.  I hope this helps someone out!  Enjoy!

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

One More Freebie and One More Cheapie This Week!

Did you enjoy those tax day freebies and cheapies?  Well, I’ve got a couple more to share with you for tomorrow, Thursday, April 21st.

First the freebie:  Get your FREE Junior Soft Serve Cone from participating locations of Carvel Ice Cream between 3-8 PM!

Now the cheapie, but a really good one:  Get your favorite sub sandwich from participating locations of Jimmy John’s for just $1 between 11 AM-3 PM!  This offer is valid on #1-#6 on the menu, the BLT, or the Slims. 

Enjoy your goodies!

Monday, April 18, 2016

FREEBIES and Cheapies for Tax Day 2016!!!

Today is “Tax Day,” but don’t despair…there are plenty of freebies and cheapies to go around and turn that frown upside down!  Think FREE Kona ice, 1/2 price Sonic cheeseburgers all day, etc. 

Have a great day!

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

REVIEW: Read, Write & Type by Talking Fingers Inc.

After first trying out the demo, Holden was really excited to get to review Read, Write & Type by Talking Fingers Inc.!


Read, Write & Type offers a unique online game format that teaches kids phonics, spelling, keyboarding, and word processing.  It’s also great for children with learning disabilities and ESL learners.  It’s designed especially for kids ages 6-9.

Teachers can try out a sample lesson, or students can try out the first 8 lessons for FREE!

This program is designed to boost reading levels in just 15 minutes a day by combining all the senses together to solidify the learning.  It was designed by the developer of the popular Reader Rabbit adventures!

A 5-year online subscription for a single user to Read, Write & Type is available for just $35Additional pricing options are available for multiple user subscriptions.



The basic premise of Read, Write & Type is that a group of storyteller characters are attempting to write down their stories, but a computer virus named Vexor keeps trying to stop them by stealing the letters.  The student’s job is to rescue the letters one at a time.  Each time a student has rescued a group of 4 letters, they earn a merit certificate!  This little printable reward turned out to be very motivating for Holden.  He often liked to play until he had earned a new certificate in one sitting!  There are 40 levels in all.

In the process, the student is learning about letter sounds and sounding out words.  There are two “Helping Hands” named Lefty and Rightway pictured on the screen who show the student how to position their hands on the keyboard and how to type out the letters and words on the screen.  Holden has had 4 years of formal phonics instruction previously, and he already reads well.  But he really enjoyed this game and loved learning how to type with the help of Lefty and Rightway!  The way the little characters speak to you from the windows in their little “keyboard” houses is really cute, too.  It’s such a colorful, engaging game that it really keeps Holden’s attention!  I really liked how it gave him just enough practice at a slow enough pace so he could keep up with it but not too much repetition so that it became boring or monotonous to him.  The clever little characters keep it fun, especially the villainous virus, Vexor!

Holden still struggles with writing by hand, and he often becomes frustrated in the process.  This program has allowed him to practice reading and spelling words without having to write them, but helps solidify them in his brain through typing, and that’s been a big plus for him.  Being able to type instead of write makes him more motivated to play the game and view it as fun instead of learning in a way he finds cumbersome.  And once he’s learned keyboarding skills effectively, his creative writing skills can continue to develop because he will no longer be held back by his frustrations in the physical act of writing, and that’s very important to me.

I also love that I can set Holden loose with this program, and he can work on it without my assistance.  He usually sits down to play it after our school time is over.  He gets immediate feedback throughout the program, so he doesn’t need me to sit with him and provide instruction or help.  And at any time, I can check on his progress.  The Bonus Blimp keeps track of his performance and will redirect him to any activities where he needs more help until he has learned them sufficiently before moving on.  I can see his Hall of Fame Certificates so I know what levels he’s completed (plus he loves printing them out for me!), and the Power Fountain shows me his keyboarding speed and accuracy.

Overall, this is a fun learning program that really covers a lot of skills.  And although Holden actually just needed to learn the keyboarding aspect of it, I think he benefited from the extra reading and spelling practice, and I can really see how the all-encompassing approach to teaching phonics and reading skills could help kids who are struggling to learn to read to finally get it to click and make sense in their minds.  If I had a younger student who was just learning to read, I think this program would be a great investment for practice and building proficiency.  Holden liked it so much that he asked several times if I could incorporate it into our school day!  So have your student give the demo a try and see what your students think of it!

Check out what other Crew members have to say about Read, Write & Type by clicking the banner below.

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

FREEBIES from The Old Schoolhouse Store

For all of the month of April, I’m giving away these wonderful resources from The Old Schoolhouse Store.  Download them now to take advantage of this giveaway!  Just add the items to your cart and use code KBCREW16 at checkout!




1.  Keeping the Garden ($12.95 value)






          2.  Molly Green 5 E-book Bundle ($40 value)



Cover 3D



3.  Hey Mama! 31-Day Devotional ($9.95 value)






Enjoy your freebies, and thank you for visiting The Old Schoolhouse Store!

Sunday, April 10, 2016

Filling in the Holes in our Curriculum

Who Is God?

I’m *almost* done finalizing our school plans for the 2016-2017 school year.  I just filled a hole for Haylee’s 7th grade bible study.  We’re going to be using Who Is God? from Apologia’s What We Believe Series.  She’ll be using the study book, notebooking journal, coloring book, and audio CD’s.  I’m also getting the junior notebooking journal so that Holden can join in and we can do bible study as a group for school.  Yay!

I still need to figure out what to do for Holden’s 3rd grade Spanish curriculum.  He’s finishing up Sing Song Spanish, which he loves, but he’d not old enough for Spanish for Children.  So I’m still hunting for something else.  If you have any suggestions, please share!  The Schoolhouse Review Crew has an upcoming review in June for Foreign Language for Kids by Kids, so I’m hoping maybe that might work out and fit the bill.

The final hole we have is for Haylee’s Language Arts.  I’m trying to decide if I should focus on grammar or writing for her, but I’m leaning towards writing since she’s going into 7th grade.  If I do grammar, then I’ll probably use the free Glencoe Grammar 7 workbook.  But if I do a writing program, I’m leaning towards purchasing Write Shop Junior E.  Haylee has reviewed level D before, and she really enjoyed it and thought it was fun.  I need a gentle introduction to writing because she really hasn’t done a formal writing program before, so I think level E might be a good starting place for her (for reluctant 7th graders).  It’s pretty pricey, though, even for the downloadable version, so I’m still pondering that.  Or I could use Wordsmith Apprentice ages 9-12.  Haylee’s 11 and will be 12 during the school year, so that might be a good fit.  I already own that.  I’d bought it for Hayden but never used it.  Again, recommendations and opinions are welcome!  Please do share your thoughts. 

Other than that, I think we’re in good shape!  We’re making SO many change this school year that I’m kind of looking forward to the variety and spice of doing some things differently.  And this will be the first time I’ve ever tried to combine Haylee and Holden for anything…in this case, music appreciation and bible study.  So we’ll see how it goes!

Monday, April 4, 2016

REVIEW: Times Tales by The Trigger Memory Co.

We were really looking forward to reviewing Times Tales by The Trigger Memory Co. with Holden!



Times Tales is an amazing mnemonic-based program that uses simple animated stories to help kids recall otherwise boring multiplication facts that are often difficult for them to memorize.

I received the digital download of Times Tales, which includes everything that’s in the DVD version (the videos come in two files) and 3 digital .pdf files that include your printable tests, crossword puzzles, flashcards, and cube games.  The video files are easy to watch on your computer, and you can use the printables as often as you need for your family.

Times Tales covers the following multiplication facts:

  • 3x6, 3x7, 3x8, 3x9
  • 4x6, 4x7, 4x8, 4x9
  • 6x6, 6x7, 6x8, 6x9
  • 7x7, 7x8, 7x9
  • 8x8, 8x9
  • 9x9

The entire digital download set is available for just $19.95!  You’ll receive your digital files within 24 hours of purchase, and there are no shipping costs for digital purchases!

You can even try a free sample that will teach your child the upper 9’s in just 15 minutes!



I can’t even begin to express to you how difficult teaching the times tables to Holden has been for me.  We begin each homeschool day with our math lesson, and it includes a daily drill sheet of 25 facts that is supposed to take only 45 seconds to complete.  Sometimes, he gets a longer sheet of 100 facts that are supposed to be done in 5 minutes.  This has turned into a completely frustrating process for both of us, as it can take him 3 hours to complete his math lesson, mainly because he just can’t focus on those math facts long enough to get that drill sheet done!  No matter how many different ways I’ve tried to teach him, he just can’t seem to recall them from memory…he has to calculate the facts each and every time, which is painstakingly slow for both of us!

This is where our review of Times Tales came into play.  I knew it would either be wonderful or a complete failure like everything else we’ve tried.  Well, I’m absolutely ecstatic to tell you that this program was a complete game changer for Holden!

The whole program was so easy to use.  The introduction at the beginning of the first video file gave us a quick explanation of how the program is laid out and how we should plan to do the videos and activities. 

I started by having him watch the first videDSCF4589o with me, which I projected from my computer onto our large wall-mounted television so we could both watch it easily.  We were first introduced to the characters that would be used in the stories, followed by a series of cute little animated tales that were fun to watch.  They were very colorful, and each character was very memorable had the shape of a number.  Those number characters interacted in each tale, and each tale involved two factors and the digits of the product from a multiplication fact, only Holden did not realize this until later. 

After watching the stories, a quiz show game came up that asked him questions about the stories to help him recall the “characters” involved in each tale.  We paused the video at the appropriate times to see if he could remember them correctly.  He didn’t quite show complete recall of the stories the first time, so I set it aside and had him watch it over again another day.  This time, he completely mastered the quiz show questions, so we moved on.  Next, the video explained that the tales revealed actual multiplication facts.  Holden’s face lit up DSCF4590when he realized he’d been learning his times tables! 

So when it came time to work with the printable flashcards, he was amazed that he knew the answers!  He jumped up on the couch with the biggest smile on his face, and it totally warmed my heart to see that light bulb moment happen for him…FINALLY!  We did the character flashcards and the character fact sheets one day, and he recalled the answers so quickly!  I was really impressed.  Then I saved the regular flashcards and regular act sheets for the next day, and he again did them so well!  He was talking super fast, recalling the stories out loud and then telling me the answers…and getting them right! 

The video recommended that we let a week pass between watching the first video and starting the second one, so we kept practicing with the flashcards, test sheets, crossword puzzle, and cube games until a week had gone by before we repeated the whole process again with the second video.  And I must say that Holden willingly completed the activities and even asked if we could work on it after school.  I could really see his confidence building, and it gave him more momentum to answer those questions faster each time.  He felt proud of himself, and I felt proud of him, too!

We continued with the second video, which taught us additional tales and facts in the same manner, and again, he had great success! 

I have to say that the stories are so memorable that I really think this program is an incredible tool for any child to learn their upper times tables.  And what’s more, it’s fun!  Somehow, it doesn’t even feel like learning.  I’ve never seen anything like this before.  It’s remarkable to me that a child can master it in just a couple of weeks!  How I wish I’d had this program when my daughter was younger and learning her times tables!  She struggled for years to get them down, and not being able to memorize them really slowed her down as she progressed into more advanced math.  Times Tales has been such a blessing for my son, and it’s brought sweet relief to me as his teacher, too!  It has been worth its weight in gold by turning our frowns upside down!  Smile

I’m convinced that Times Tales could work for any child.  It’s like entertainment with immeasurable educational value, and it’s worth every penny in my book!   

Take a look at what other Crew members have to say about Times Tales by clicking the banner below.

Sunday, April 3, 2016

Our 2016 Cabin Vacation

We’ve had a wonderful time this week on our annual vacation trip to Cliffside Cabin in Front Royal, VA!  20160330_093457

We actually spent the majority of the week just hanging out at the cabin and relaxing.  We got a surprise this year when we arrived, as we discovered the owners had added internet access to the cabin!  This is the first time in 9 years of coming up here that we have had Wi-fi.  It was great!  I had a review due while we were here, so it kept me from having to drive into the nearest town to sit in a cafe with Wi-fi to write and publish it.  And my husband had some work stuff to do, too, so it was helpful to him, as well.  And best of all, it kept the kids from getting cabin fever, so we were able to hang around and keep them entertained with their electronics a bit so we weren’t forced to keep having to go out somewhere.

Steve and 20160330_170556Hayden went camping on Wednesday night in the Shenandoah National Park.  It was cold but still the warmest night without rain in the forecast, so they gave it a shot. Hayden got to practice making a fire in the middle of a creek so he wouldn’t cause a forest fire, LOL. 

I did some shopping in town with Hayden while we washed clothes at the laundromat, and we visited the town’s local bakery a couple of times (they have the best bread pudding with cranberries and really yummy cherry moonshine cake). 

Friday’s weather was absolutely gorgeous…maybe the nicest I’ve ever experienced up here!  It got up to 81, but we are in the woods, so it was shady and warm with a breeze coming off the Shenandoah River below us.  We took the kids into town in the afternoon to play in the park for an hour while I did some grocery shopping.20160402_123841

Saturday was our planned day to go exploring something new.  We spent the day in Winchester, VA, and we visited a few museums while we were there.  I bought a family block ticket for $20 so we could tour three locations:  Abram’s Delight (the oldest house in Winchester dating to the 1700’s, George Washington’s Office Museum, and best of all…Stonewall Jackson’s Headquarters Museum.  The ladies at Jackson’s HQ were all in period dresses,20160402_132919 and they were so knowledgeable and friendly.  In the gift shop, I bought the kids a complete playset of Union soldiers, Confederate soldiers, and an artillery set so they could stage their own battle reenactments at home.  Very cool! 

Then we stopped by the Shenandoah Valley Discovery Museum to let the kids get their wiggles out.  We go there every year on the last day of our trip to let the kids unwind a bit.  It was very busy on a Saturday afternoon, but it wore the kids out so that they slept well last night.  Then we treated everybody to lunch at Chick-Fil-A before heading back to the cabin to start packing up and fixing our last dinner.

We’re packing up the vans right now and getting ready to go check out so we can head into town for worship services at Front Royal Church of Christ before getting on the road for home.  It’s been a great week!  Now the countdown begins until next year’s vacation…our last one while all three kids are still kids!