leave the textbook behind and read a book!

I love to read books.  Even more, I love reading books to my kids. 

A major component of our Curriculum over the years has been the reading lists from Ambleside Online.  I prefer real live books to textbooks, any day.

The trouble with booklists on the internet, is the finding of the books.  I have spent HOURS, upon HOURS searching for books in print, or for the correct downloadable format for us to read.  When my Kindle came along, I would search and search the free book lists to find the ones that we might need in the right format to download.

Heritage History eliminates the need for all that hunting around on the internet.  Many of the books we have searched for are easily accessed on these discs.  I appreciate how they are broken up into themed collections, making it very easy use.

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We reviewed the Young Readers Collection.  These books are meant to be started in the 4th grade, especially if you are going to be using Heritage History through the High School years.

Do not be afraid to use this collection with younger children as read aloud material. My Four Year Old enjoyed listening to books from this collection.

 

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Being the introductory collection, the selections are easy-to-read and cover many historical periods, providing a broad introduction to Western Culture.  You will find short stories from American, European, Ancient, and Biblical history.

Disk Includes 86 books, Recommendations, and a Teacher’s Guide

Both the Recommendations and Teacher’s Guide were helpful, there were a few tips in there I hadn’t thought of.  I appreciated that the disk contained more than one version of the book.  I could read it in PDF on my laptop.  I could sync it with my Kindle and read on the go, and if we ever get an iToy, I can use that version as well. 

If you are a lover of living books, these collections will be invaluable to you as you teach history to your children.

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Young Readers Collection sells individually for $24.99, a very reasonable price for the time it will save you in hunting around the internet.

The entire 5 volume set ,The World History Collection, is available for $99.99, a savings of $25, over individual purchases.

You may visit their website at http://www.heritage-history.com/ for more information and to see the extensive library they have available.

TOS Homeschool Crew Members reviewed portions of the entire World History Collection.  To read about their experiences, click here.

****** Disclaimer******

As a TOS Crew Member, I was selected to receive the Young Readers Collection from Heritage History, free of charge, and for the purpose of this review.  No other compensation has been received.  All of the above opinions are a result of using this curriculum in our homeschool.

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Eggs-actly what we needed

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First let me just gush a bit…  This reading program was fun, Fun, FUN!  Jeremiah, our 4 year old, loves to be grown up and do “stool” (school) like his brothers and sister; He gets even more excited when it is some “stool” of his very own.

Reading Eggs is an interactive reading program for children, that starts as young as 3 and grows with them through the age of 13.  Jeremiah used the very beginning level and loved every minute of it!  I loved that it was intuitive for him to use and needed very little monitoring from mom to complete the tasks.  It fostered a great sense of independence for him.  I would often use the time he was enthralled with his schoolwork to do a little more in-depth working with his older brother.  It created a perfect time window to provide one on one attention and work on pesky little things like Grammar or Math…. subjects that need a little more attention.

It teaches with a unique blend of Letter/Sound Recognition and Sight Words. Each lesson is comprised of about 12 shorter lessons, all building on the lessons before, reinforcing the letters, sounds and words used before.

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In the example above, a child would be asked to put the words in the correct order to create a sentence.  This is something I thought that Jeremiah might struggle with….  but with the younger students they call out each word, in the proper sentence order, focusing on word recognition.

One thing that I did notice that Jeremiah would do, that I really didn’t like. He would memorize the shape of the word and when called upon to match it, he would match based on the letter shapes and not really READ the word.  This happened about half of the time, and really depended on the game that he was playing.  This is one of the reasons that I do not like teaching with sight words exclusively….  If I noticed that he was doing this we would just make sure he was sounding out the words and not just guessing them.

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Children navigate through the lessons by completing a series of Maps. Each Map is made up of 10 lessons.  Lesson 11 is a quiz.  You must pass all the lessons to advance to a new map.  Typically Jeremiah will sit down and do 3-5 lessons in a day. Completion of quizzes earns you a certificate of completion based on how many you answered correctly. There are no pictures to match on the quiz, they must listen and choose the correct word or letter.  In our house, certificates are displayed proudly on the wall between the kitchen and the living room, for all to see. Smile

Subscriptions are available yearly for $75.00, every 6 months for $49.95, and at a monthly level for $9.95.  Reading eggs does offer multiple child discounts. While the pricing isn’t bad, it is not something that our family can afford at this time. If we are in a position to have an income that will allow for us to purchase this, we will most definitely do so!

Reading Eggs offers assessment test placement for each student, to assure they begin at just the right level for them.  We knew we were at the absolute beginning so we just started there, without using the assessment.

I know the program works.  Jeremiah recognizes the words from the first 3 Maps in print books, and in signs around town. The gift of reading is priceless and I would like to give a big thank you to the creators of this program for sharing it with TOS Homeschool Crew Members this year.

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See what other crew members are saying by visiting the Homeschool Crew Blog.

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disclaimer:

As a TOS Homeschool Crew Member, I was given access to Reading Eggs for a trial period of 3 months.  This extended trial period was for the express purpose of creating this review.  No other compensation has been received.  I am not required to furnish a positive review.

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Jeremiah is learning to read

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I must tell you that this product was so much more fun than I anticipated!  It is a great way to begin to teach your child words in a fun and engaging way.

I feel it only fair to explain that I am not a fan of sight words.  I really am more of a phonics based mom. For this reason I wasn’t too sure how this Sight Word based game was going to work.  I want my child to have the skills to de-code words that they come across and I feel like phonics is the way to teach that.  That being said, I also have one child out of 4 (Hunter) that has struggled with phonics, not the saying or remembering of the sounds, but with the “seeing” of those combinations within a word.   That child led me to search out lists of commonly used words in the English Language, to begin reading each day so that he could have a few “tools” in his pocket for reading.

Because of Hunter and his struggles, I hope Jeremiah will benefit from a more rounded approach.  I better understand how the two philosophies, sight words and phonics, can work together to help a child read.  I don’t think sight words should be used exclusively to teach reading, I have begun to see how they can assist phonics learning if used properly.

So, let me tell you about The Reading Game.  It was sooooo much fun to play!  I really wish I could have captured the exact look on Jeremiah’s face when he matches two words together but please trust me when I say it looks an awful lot like this:

077Pure Joy.

Jeremiah, our chief product tester for this review, had no previous word recognition besides his own name and those of our family.  We started right at the beginning with Book 1 the Skunk Book. You learn the words in 5 word groups, progressing through the cards until you have learned all of the words that are contained within each book.  I liked the fact that the amount of words that you are learning are a few at a time. Thirty per book and from those 30, only five at a time. This is very manageable for Pre-School aged children. It makes the game fun and quick for them. 

Jeremiah wanted to read the Skunk Book from the time that he finished his first five words so I would let him “read” the book and pick out all the words that he knew.  Every time he found one, the look was the same as that picture up there.  Pure Joy.

I have let him set the pace with learning his words through this game.  We play it nearly everyday and some days it is played more than once.  The older kids like playing it with him, so I am not always required to help him each time. I do not move on to a new set of 5 words until he can recognize the 5 we are on with out error for a few days (maybe a week) in a row.  He’s 4, we have lots of time.

The cards are small and easy to transport, so they make a great travel game. If you know you are going to be waiting for dinner at a restaurant or at the doctors office, throw the 5 cards you are working on in a sandwich bag and toss it in your purse, you are ready to play anywhere.  I have forgotten the cards at home, yet, because I only have to remember the 5 we are currently on it was very easy to take a scratch paper and make paper cards to play with while we waited for our dinner to arrive.  It kept both the natives from being too restless!

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How do I know it works?  Well,  He can write and read the words weeks later.  I give him a “spelling test”  and ask him to write his 5 words. We look for those words when we are out, on menus or signs, even on labels.  We hunt for them inside books.  They are being locked into his memory, and that is evidenced by squeals from the back seat as we drive around town doing errands, squeals that nearly make me levitate combined with “ Momm!  dat word, wite dere (pointing and gesturing wildly) dat word has an IS in it.  SEE?”  Followed by “Yes, Jeremiah I see, now mommy will be pulling over until her heart rate returns to normal…..”

If you are looking for a more formal approach to assessments, The Reading Game website has free printable assessment sheets for you to test their pre game and post game recognition skills on each of the 180 words the program uses.  The game uses 54% the Pre-K, K, and 1st grade words on the Dolch Sight Words List.  It concentrates on the words that are not easy to learn through picture cues. I would not box myself in with thinking that this game should only be used with children 4-8 years old.  I really think that anyone, young or old that needs to learn how to read or needs some reinforcement in reading would benefit from this product.

Priced at $24.95 it is affordable, especially for families with multiple children and teachers who would use it in a more traditional classroom setting.

This family gives The Reading Game two thumbs up!

Please take the time to read what other families are saying about this product.  You can find more reviews at the TOS Homeschool Crew page.

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***disclaimer*** I received The Reading Game, free of charge for the purpose of this review.  No other compensation has been received.  Thank you to the creators of the game for your generosity in providing your product to the TOS Homeschool Crew to review.  All of the above opinions are my own.

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our journey in reading

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Reading.  It is a love/hate subject in this house.  The two older ones LOVE to read; I love to read, my husband is a reader.  Hunter?  Not so much.  Honestly, with the way he strives to avoid it, you would think asking him to read was something that induced cardiac arrest or something.

I know he is below grade level.  I know he is embarrassed to read out loud in front of  others.  He hears the difference in the way other kids read and the way that he reads.  I know that he trips over seemingly small, easy words and then one word later can spit out a 7 syllable word flawlessly.  We read together.  We have tried online reading programs.  We do summer reading programs, we bribe him to read with Pizza and Ice Cream…. and still he avoids it.  He struggles, and it breaks my heart.

I would say that my main goal as his teacher is to obtain reading fluency. I am aware that the only way to obtain that is to read more.  To practice, practice, practice.   In this house, reading out loud is an event.  We do accents and voices for characters, make funny faces, gesture wildly as we read our books.  My goal is to read something to my children in a way that is expressive and makes the words live, breathe and dance in their minds as they listen.  I am not saying that he has to read out loud the way that I do, I just want him to be able to read more comfortably, less robotic…. ya know?

So I wrestle with wanting to help him and some days not even knowing how or what it is that is making things “hiccup”, knowing that he is capable if we can keep up the consistent practice and trying to balance that need for practice, practice, practice into the busy life of a family of 6.  It’s hard.  Some days I cry in the shower with frustration…..  Some days, I am not so patient as we practice.

Then, a while back I was told there was going to be a reading program up for review.  My initial gut reaction was “so what?”, but I prayed about it…. and told them I was interested in trying it out. They said they wanted struggling readers.  I could at least give them a struggling reader!  Really, the main thing I wanted out of the program was the assessment.  I knew he was behind, just not how much, and if I could find out just where he was then we could go on from there.

I would be lying if I told you that I was all gung-ho the moment the program arrived.  I was apathetic, unwilling to put hope in the possibility that this program,  Read Live Naturally, was going to be the lynch-pin to success for our reading issues.  I knew it was set up for use primarily for classrooms and I knew that the price point of $149.00 a year would be something our family budget would not normally be able to absorb.  I was secretly very afraid it would help, a LOT, and then I would be stuck, never able to afford something that was finally working.

So with a little trepidation I set up the account.  That process is not so intuitive, it is sure geared to brick and mortar institutions, but I survived.  Thank goodness for tutorials! 

We began at the beginning with the assessment.  We started at the lowest level and just kept going up, each time we did a reading, the program suggested going up a level.  When it was all said and done, it was recommended we work at a 3.5 level.  I felt a glimmer of hope.  In the fourth grade he was a a 3.5 level.  Not as low of a score as I had anticipated. Propelled by the success of the assessment, we dove in to the program itself, with a fair amount of gusto. 

How it works:

You begin with a cold timing.  The student chooses one of 12 passages to read, and they receive a score based on how many words they read in a minute.  The program introduces and defines key words for each story.  There is also a place that a child can answer vocabulary words while they wait for the teacher to come over and begin the timing.

cold time graph                    choicescold time

There is a highlighted bar that helps the student stay “on line” with where they are reading.  This feature of highlighting continues as you practice reading along with the program.  During the read along the highlights change to blue on the sentence being read.  The stories are interesting and informative.  I find myself learning things as I listen.  Even my high school kids will pause and get lost in the story as it is being read out loud.

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Initially the program is set to a default of 3 required read along episodes.  This number can be increased based on what you feel the child needs.  Other adjustable options are: timing based on the whole story OR only on the words read per minute, amount of time allowed for some of the quiz questions, and goal levels.  At the outset we used the defaults.  Hunter would get a cold time score of around 40-45 words a minute.  After reading along just three times, his hot timing would improve to 85+ words in one minute.  I decided after a time that I wanted to see what would happen if we had to read the whole story, since reading is an activity that we want to read more than just one minute at a time.  He is still successful at meeting his 80 words a minute goal. 

At first I wondered how much this was really helping.  It seemed like he was just memorizing and repeating the words.  I didn’t want a mimic, I want a reader.  So I went on a quest to find out WHY this program teaches reading the way that it does.

I found that it is the very act of mimicry that is helping him.  By reading to him expressively, I was doing the right thing…. where I was missing the boat so to speak was in having him read it after me. I was not affording him the opportunity to see the words and hear them read correctly. To be honest, the reason I never did that was because there were some days where I would just get frustrated! He would miss words that he had just read correctly three sentences ago and I couldn’t figure out how to address the fact that what he was saying wrong, was always something different.

This program is calm with him, steady and fluid, every time.  He can work independently, reading and practicing at his own pace.  If he wants to leave, the program will take him right back to where he was when he logs in next.  The independent working factor is huge.  He does not feel overwhelmed because there isn’t anyone listening to him to correct him.  I am not the one doing any correcting.  He has the power to click a word that he doesn’t know and hear it said for him….  The only thing I am required to do by the program is to begin the cold timing and the hot timing, and to assess his quizzes and other comprehension exercises.

Since Hunter can’t type well and there is a time limit on a few of the typing areas, I let him narrate to me the summaries.  He has no trouble comprehending, just in typing the words he wants to as fast as he would like.

As I prepared to write this review, I asked Hunter what he thought about Read Live Naturally.  This is what he said, “It has helped.  It is a fun way to read. I feel like it helps me to take in words and read them faster, so that it doesn’t take me so long to read  other things.  I like it better than being handed a 10 chapter book to read, that feels impossible.  These stories are smaller and that makes it easier to do.”

Now the ball is fully in my court.  I need to decide whether to purchase it at the end of December. I need to spend some time talking with my husband and we need to decide if continuing with this program is worth the investment of $149.00 for 12 months. If money were no object, I wouldn’t hesitate for a second, I have enjoyed using it, but when you have to stretch pennies, the decision becomes more difficult.  Part of me really thinks we can’t afford NOT to purchase it.  The product works, there is no denying that.  It  is helping him in a way that I can not.  I am human and fallible and my frustrations shine through from time to time.  Having this program would remove my frustrations from the equation and help encourage him to success.  I just need to think of it in terms of Food for his future and we can eat some rice and beans for belly food that month, maybe walk a few places if it isn’t too snowy to save on gas…..

Members of the TOS Crew were given the opportunity to review either Read Live Naturally, or the company’s other product One Minute Reader.  If reading is something that your child struggles with and you want to help them at home in a homeschool setting or as a supplement to another educational choice, please visit the Review Blog and see what other families are saying about these products.  Additionally, the Read Naturally website: http://www.readnaturally.com/index.htm, has so much information about reading and how to help your child excel.  Head on over there to see how their products can help improve your child’s reading experiences.

****disclaimer**** As a member of the TOS Review Crew I was given access to Read Live Naturally, free of charge, for a limited time, solely for the purpose of this review. All of the above experiences and opinions above are based on our usage of their product within our homeschool environment.  No other compensation has been received.  Thank you Read Naturally for providing us with access to your product.

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things you never knew you needed to know

The Homeschool Mother's Journal

link up and join me at the Homeschool Chick blog

In my life this week…

I learned about cars.  My Suburban to be precise.  Did you know that your radio could short out and give your husband fits trying to find out why?  Me either….  But I know it now…LOL .  Did you know that after ripping out the entire dashboard, the back light panels, and nearly the headliner, that you could find the short in the drivers side visor?  Me either…

Did you know that after you find the short  and need to drive the car, you can drive with out a dashboard, but only for a few days.  Why?  Because the car will die, and your husband will have to leave work and rescue you….  Then causing him to spend 2 more nights trying to figure out why the perfectly good, new alternator isn’t charging the battery.  You might even go and buy a new battery thinking that it is the problem…. but it isn’t.

Did you know that the little battery gauge on the dashboard (that hasn’t been in the car in over a week) has a teeny tiny resistor in it?  One that tells the alternator to turn on and charge the battery?  and that if you don’t have the dash on, it doesn’t do that and then your car will die and the battery will never be recharged?

Me either.  But I know now….  and feel so much smarter because of it. Oh, and my dashboard has been re-installed Smile

In our homeschool this week…

We have started our Pizza Hut Book it program.  I have set the goal for Hunter to read 600 minutes this month to earn his free pizza.  Really, I thought that this would be a near impossible goal for him.  I have to tape him to the chair to get him to read 20 minutes and even then he is writhing in agony over the mere thought of reading the written word.

Alas, something has clicked.  Maybe it is the Pizza…..  but in the last two weeks he has read 300 minutes.  I haven’t even need to tape him to anything.  It has been willing, excited, and he is enjoying it!  Yesterday alone he read for 100 minutes straight and finished a whole Magic Tree House book. He has never read a whole anything.  This my friends is amazing!

Tayler met a deaf guy on the bus she rides to College each day.  On Friday he flopped down next to her on the bus and asked for help with his math.  Funny how all the times Mom tried to teach sign language to them…no one was really interested.  Meet a real live deaf person….. and she is all gung-ho.  Hey, whatever it takes.  I am just glad she remembered enough signs to talk to him the first time Smile

We found out that one of the High Schools here in town sponsors “Deaf Night” throughout the year.  Deaf people from our community come to Starbucks or Dairy Queen or somewhere and help these High School kids learn.  Last night we went to the one at Starbucks so that Tayler could practice more.  She was shocked to find her bus buddy sitting there with a bunch of people.  I got to break out my rusty signing skills and meet him and others.  It was a really nice way to spend a couple of hours.

Helpful homeschooling tips or advice to share…

one day at a time.  sometimes… one minute at a time.

Feeling overwhelmed?  go pray.  then come back and start fresh.

I am inspired by…

my kids.  The older two are just blossoming, and growing in their friendships and in their walk with God.   It makes my mommy heart happy.


 

My favorite thing this week was…

Jeremiah.  He says the best stuff!  “daddy?  I love you so much I love you.”  or “ Did you fix it daddy? You did?  You are the bestest daddy evah”   And my personal favorite of the week.  His daddy had been teasing him about being a silly boy and he seriously states “ Daddy, I am your son, and I wuv you.”

Things I’m working on…

Consistency.  I say this often, but if I do not keep it at the forefront of my mind, I am easily distracted! 

I’m reading…

I am not reading anything for entertainment at the moment…. but WE are reading Mr. Pipes and the Hymns of the Reformation, and The Princess and the Goblins.  (not as creepy as I thought)

I’m cooking…

Last weekend I made some zucchini bread and banana muffins.  I am thinking that this weekend will be more of the same.  With the cooler weather, I am back to baking Smile

Oh, and I found a cookbook that I love, hidden by the stile in my cupboard.  I am thinking some Mexican feasts will be in order in the next few weeks.

I’m grateful for…

My husband.  He works all day, then half the night to make sure we have a working car.  He is such a blessing to be married too.

I’m praying for…

My family.  That God will grant them wisdom and knowledge of Him.

A photo, video, link, or quote to share…

a little photo collage of some of the beauty God put in Mexico City, Mexico.

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See you next week!

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