Personal Writings And Book Reviews

Write Shop Primary A April 17, 2009

Filed under: Homeschool Crew,reviews — novelized @ 11:32 am

Write Shop

Write Shop has been a wonderful resource that my kids have enjoyed learning from.  Write Shop Primary A is a workbook designed for little kids just learning to write.  It can be used by Kindergarteners/first graders or adapted for older children who are struggling with writing. 

Here is what I like about Write Shop Primary A:

This really inspired me to have a seperate time slot for writing.  We write across the curriculum very often and this gave us more focus on the art of writing itself. 

I like the worksheets that accompany some of the lessons.  The illustrations make the job very kid friendly and take the intimidation out of a writing assignment.  

We had fun making the published writing crafts.  They loved making story kites and were blessed with a day windy enough to make them fly. 

The lessons are the perfect length for this age group.  They are brief, but thorough.

Here is what I didn’t like:

The subjects they are expected to write about are sometimes too scripted or repetitive.  I would have liked a little more variation within a lesson topic.  

For example, in Activity Set 3 we wrote about weather for eight lessons.  This became boring after a few days.  The script doesn’t really vary and they get sick of writing the same basic stuff day after day.  If it wasn’t for the cool publication/ craft ideas we might have stopped at that point.

After reviewing other Write Shop poducts, this is not my favorite.  Sorry, but I just don’t think you can top their Story Builders.  (Check out my review of the Story Builders— they are great!) 

My suggestion:  Use Write Shop for children who really struggle with writing.  The occasional repetitive lessons will be reassuring to them and probably build their confidence because they’ll know what to expect and how to achieve completion.  

 Primary Book A is available in print editions or as an e-book.  The cost is $7 dollars less (when shipping is factored) for e-books. 

I’m not a big e-book fan, but in this case I think it could be an excellent option.  With the e-book you only need to print what you decide to and you will have a savings in your pocketbook and save space on your bookshelf.

You can order from Writeshop here.

The cost is $26.95 for the Print version.  It costs $24.25 for the   e-book (remember you save on shipping too). 

The worksheet Activity Pack is $4.95 and I highly recommend purchasing this as well.  It really adds to the fun.

To read more reviews of Write Shop Primary Book A visit here.

Happy Learning!


Knowledge Quest Homeschooling ABC’s November 26, 2008

Filed under: Homeschool Crew,reviews,Uncategorized — novelized @ 11:41 am

 Homeschooling is a special responsibility and a valuable family decision.  It takes work and planning and can be overwhelming at times.  The journey doesn’t always begin smoothly.  Many of us have floundered in those first years, trying to find our way and navigate the many twists and turns in concepts and products available to us.

Knowledge Quest understood the fears and questions that many parents have as they begin their journey into the homeschooling world.  They address these fears with their on-line, e-mail based class called Homeschooling ABC’s.

For $10/month or $2.30/class a homeschool newbie can find out what they need to know about the exciting learning opportunities they have as homeschoolers.

I have been homeschooling my oldest for 3 years, but the memory of the search for answers and understanding homeschool philosophies is fresh in my mind.

Here is what we got out of this class:

The class begins with an unschooling approach.  It discusses student- led/ delight-driven learning.  I believe, personally, that this is very helpful and insightful when taking a child out of Public School to begin homeschooling.  It allows them a graceful entry into learning that takes the pressure off of both the child and the parent.

This course is clearly coming from a Christian view of Homeschooling.  I appreciate this as I strive to make God the heart and center of our homeschool.  That is not to say, however, that a secular homeschooler could not use this class.  There is a lot of valuable information contained in these classes for all beginnig homeschoolers.

I found a lot of good advice and wished that I had had this class prior to my start in homeschool.

Some information was a little obvious to me, but other classes made up for this by really drenching me in information that frankly, I hadn’t had much time to consider.

For example, I am an eclectic homeschooler.  For us this was more of a necessity than a choice.  We don’t have an enormous budget for schooling and formal curriculums were a little too costly for us.  Most of what we use is hand me down materials from friends who have graduated their homeschoolers.  I have taken these gifts happily and adapted as necessary to make them useable for our family.  Because of this, I had never really looked into different philosophies of homeschooling. 

This class goes into depth explaining both the pros and cons to varying approaches.  I had heard enough from others about their philosophies, but learning the disadvatages to each was a bonus to me.

The writer of this class is very organized and, at times, I thought some ideas she presents might be impractical or more structured than I would want to be personally.

My favorite lesson in this class was lesson K ( I love the schoolbox idea!  It’s worth learning) and all in all I think this is an excellent resource for a beginner.  At this cost I would recommend co-ops or support groups to offer at least a few classes (if not the entire course) to beginning homeschoolers in their groups.  They could even gift the new homeschooler with a class as a welcome to the group.

Another favorite part of this class, for me, were the bonus gifts that come with many of the lessons.  There are 10 gifts in all and the class combined with these gifts are worth over $250!  All that for $10/month!  It is very worth it. 

If you want to be a real blessing to someone starting out this could be the way.  Knowledge Quest’s Homeschooling ABC’s will equip them with the understanding and confidence to succeed in their homeschool.

Check them out at


Salem Ridge Press (Mary Jane- Her Book) Post 1 November 19, 2008

Filed under: Homeschool Crew,reviews — novelized @ 7:23 pm

The goal and mission of Salem Ridge Press is to revive those special books from the past that have slipped away from us somehow.  They breath new life into wholesome, family-friendly books that are special treasures for reading.                                                                  

We had the honor of reading three books for review.  In this post I want to tell you about Mary Jane – Her Book by Clara Ingra Judson.

Mary Jane - Her Book

This story was originally published in 1918.


The neat thing is that in 90 years children haven’t really changed that much.  Sure the world around them is shifting and changing (some for good, some for bad), but children at their core remain the same.  They have the same curiousities and simple thrills.  They have the same spark of imagination and yearning for play.  Time doesn’t change these things and that is why Salem Ridge Press revived this wholesome and sweet story.

Mary Jane is five.  Like all little girls then and now, she is vibrant and sometimes silly.  She learns through discovery and exploration, and with the gentle guidance of family.  She plays like a child and immitates the adults around her.

This is excellent for homeschoolers in this age group!  We have an ecclectic approach, but I often lean towrds lapbooking and unit studies for the creativity in their learning.  This book lend itself to this type of teaching.  Each chapter is a perfect springboard for unit study. 

For example:

Ch.1- Mary Jane’s doll breaks and her father takes her to the store to replace it with the doll’s “twin.”  You could read the chapter and spend the day doing matching games.  You could also discuss safety issues when crossing the road (that is how the doll breaks).

Ch.2- Mary Jane is sent to do an errand for her mother and gets distracted by an army of ants.  You could read this chapter and then launch a study on insects or ants specifically.  You could do an experiment by leaving sugar need an ant hill and observe how quickly the ants find it.

Ch.3- Mary Jane tries to help the baby robins (that she thinks are thirsty) by giving them a drink from the garden hose.  You could discuss birds as a result of this chapter.  You could observe a nest or talk about the eating habbits of birds or how an egg hatches.

Those are just three examples I can think of and there are many many more!  With sixteen wonderful chapters to read, your little ones will be amused and entertained by the sweet adventures of this little girl.

My daughter is loving this!  I am working on writing and expanding out units related to each chapter in this story (as I did above) to use with my younger daughters as they grow.  The story’s simplicity inspired me.

If you have a little girl, I can confidently say that she will enjoy this book.  I don’t know a little girl that wouldn’t.

Check it out at

There is a free download of the first chapter at the site if you wish to sample it before you buy.  

The cost is $12.95 softcover (and worth every penny!)

Or it is available in hardcover for $22.95.

Best of all, Salem Ridge is a good company with strong benefit to children.  They are books we can hand our children without pre-screening or fear of the content.  In this world, that is a blessing!

Check them out.


The Little Man In The Map November 18, 2008

Filed under: Homeschool Crew,reviews — novelized @ 2:27 pm


The Little Man In The Map is a book that uses imagination and creativity to help teach geography to kids.  It is written by E. Andrew Martonyi and Illustrated by Ed Olson.  You can find it at: 

Here’s what I thought:

First let me say, I HATE Geography!!  I did horrible at it in school and I actually couldn’t tell you where any state but MI was on a map (I learned OK too when we moved).  Geography has been something I have learned for my kids, so that I can teach them what I could not learn.  It was never fun for me.

For our review we used a very cheap wooded state puzzel (often found at dollar stores . . .ours was from the dollar section of Target) to give the hands-on learning.  We read the book together and looked at and held each State as it was mentioned.  The kids had fun matching their puzzel with the creative illustrations in the book. The Little Man In The Map is a tool to bring joy to learning the state’s locations.

It is a very creative tool for teaching visual learners U.S. Geography.  My daughter loved it!  She has been memorizing every picture and noticing every detail in the beautiful and colorfully rich illustrations.  She takes a book to bed with her every night and it has been her choice nightly since receiving it. 

The website gives good information and descriptions of other man in the map products (like their 38×22 inch wall map for $21.95).  You can also download FREE coloring pages for the man in the map!  These are really nice features and make the cost of the book seem more resonable.   

I should also tell you that they are working on a Teacher’s guide as well.  It includes a crossword ( a little too difficult for my little ones . . .but great for 8 and up). 

The Little Man In The Map can be purchased for $19.95 at the site.  Check it out.

Some may appreciate knowing that:

Their slogan is “Imagination is the magic key.”

The word magic is used to discribe the feelings of imagination, not in a way to promote offense to Christians.  I, personally, was not offended at all.  I was just generally appreciative of the joy of learning geography that MIM brought to my home.  

If you are a homeschooler who opposes fairytale characters like elves though, it may not be for you.

Also feel free to visit the Author’s Blog at:

(not much is there right now, but hopefully with this nice little prompt there will be soon) 

For Chloe this was a 



Time for Learning (Post 2): Our experience in pictures November 14, 2008

Filed under: Homeschool Crew,reviews — novelized @ 11:44 am

Nevie still needs help to navigate the mouse.  She really had fun today.  She worked on alphabet stuff.

Here is her pouty face when it said “Good Bye”.

Caibry was anxiouse for his turn.  Today he worked on classifying animals by what they eat.  This was great as we just completed a unit study on teeth.

Chloe worked on her LA Arts.  We really love the animated puppets!

 Still no glitches.  I am truly enjoying watching the painless learning occuring in my home.  This is fun, and it simplifies my day.  Time 4 Learning still has one happy momma.


Time 4 Learning (Post #1) November 13, 2008

Filed under: Homeschool Crew,reviews — novelized @ 10:05 pm

reading math

October 28th we began or journey of exploring the Time 4 Learning website.  Time for Learning is an on-line teaching tool that is available for $19.95/month ($14.95/ additional child).

As a part of my review process, I will be blogging about our learning adventures and experiences at Time 4 Learning over the next few weeks.

So far . . .

The set up was pretty easy and the signing in was a breeze.  We were up and going without any glitches.

The first one to try it out was my son, Caibry.  He is four.  He has S.P.D. and visual learning comes very easy for him ( I try to stretch him in other areas too, but visual is his strength). 

Caibry LOVED this!  He had a kicking,screaming, make- mom- want- to- run- away fit when I said time was up.  I am not even kidding!  He would have done it all day if I had let him.  I actually thought about letting him.  He has done 21 activities so far!  Between his learning time and his playground learning he has been on the site for 21 hours, so far, and loved every minute.

Next came my oldest, Chloe.  She is six.  Her learning style tends to be more auditory or hands-on.  I wasn’t really sure how, or if, this would work for her.  To my surprise, she learned happily.

With Chloe, I think she needs more challange.  Maybe I will raise the grade level in a few subjects for her.  I’m torn about that though, because she views this a more of a fun “activity” than as “school”.  It might serve her well as re-inforcement and review.  I’ll have to work that out with her.  She has completed 18 activities.  She loves the LA Arts (the puppet animation is adorable).

My three (almost 4) year old, Nevie, tried it too.  She is totally sold on it!  She gets a big smile when I tell her it’s time for school.  She feels so big.  She’s really learning though too.  I will admit, her favorite thing on the site is the playground.  The playground is a collection of educational and entertainment links for kids like PBS, puzzles, video games etc.  Her favorites are On The Farm and Clifford.  It’s real incentive for her to complete a lesson.  I’m not too worried.  Even on the playground, she is learning.  She has enjoyed 8 activities so far.

Our experiences with Time 4 Learning are wonderful so far.  If I were going to complete their review today it would be an absolute full endorsement!

I’ll continue to brag about them in future posts as we get deeper into it.  I’ll be sure to tell you if an glitches come up.  So far . . .so good.reading math

Read my second post on Time for Learning at:

My third and final post can be found here :


Creation Science and Mystery Advenure at Media Angels, Inc. November 8, 2008

Filed under: Homeschool Crew,reviews — novelized @ 11:36 am

At 14 years old, Christina Gerwitz knew that she wanted to be a novelist.  With the help and encouragement of her parents, Christina created a Christian Adventure novel series that is laced with mystery and  creative support for the creationist viewpoint. 

The Missing Link:Found  is the first book in the series written by Christina and Felice Gerwitz.

The story centers around the adventures of a homeschooled brother and sister when they become part of a mystery involving the FBI and an archealogical dig for what could be the missing link!

The action, adventure, and mystery are used to conceal a very educational perspective on Creation.  The reader will learn about Carbon -14 dating, the importance of chronology in the feild of anthropology, and more.  They will learn through the character’s examples how to argue for creation, while respecting the other side as people. 

Too often, Christians can become fierce in their beliefs and not hear the other side. This book, and its characters show that an approach of kindness and patience is far more effective as a witness.  People want to hear what we have to say when we honor their opinions enough to listen to them (even though we don’t agree).  I think that  this point alone makes it worth the $8.99.

Here it is:                      

*A compelling story.                                       

*Fun pleasure reading.                                    

*Lessons in witnessing.                                                                                                                

*Lessons in Creation Science.                          


Here’s what it is not:

* A perfect example of grammar and editing.

*A boring story.

*A weak portrayal of Christianity.

*A be all and end all of Creation vs. Evolution.

Having looked at some of the pleasure reading options for teens today, I would concider this a fine choice.  Its content is much more edifying and educational.

Check it out at

While I’m talking about this series I also want to mention the other great products this company offers.

Media Angels,Inc. has a strong support for Creation Science and you will find that their products reflect this.  They publish science study guides at very resonable prices ($12.95 each).  Cathy Duffy has placed nine of the on her 100 top picks for Homeschool Curriculum.  High praise indeed.

The other exciting development at this company is their new partnership with the owners of Visual Mana to create Scholar Square. is a place for educators to place their homeschool seminars or lectures of benefit to homeschoolers.  It will be a place of learning and teaching that has videos available 24-7 all over the world! 

Media Angels is a busy little company with big dreams and a growing impact on the homeschool community. Check them out and see if they fit into your family’s approach to science.