Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Schoolhouse Review Crew: VocabularySpellingCity

I have two children with (undiagnosed) dyslexia - and pretty extreme cases. Apparently one of the big indicators of dyslexia is a profound inability to spell well because of an inability to hear the individual sounds - called "Phonemic Awareness". While I wish I had known that years ago before I tried to teach them to read, it is good to be aware of it now - and to look for tools that might help with that. 

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In this case, we are using the online program VocabularySpellingCity to see if it will help increase their spelling ability, as well as to test out where Maestro is at with his spelling abilities, and to get Buttercup started on her journey to good spelling as well. In short: this Schoolhouse Review Crew program offers things to cover the entire family!

Monday, October 28, 2013

Schoolhouse Review Crew: Bridgeway Academy - Easy Essay Writing (High School Level)

I have mentioned my struggle with getting certain children to write in the past, and have tried several writing programs - all of them off-line up to now. I've tried co-op classes, in-home books, younger grade levels, older grade levels, and one in-house as part of a junior-high-level-boys-only group (which was a wonderful experience, but I have not seen where he is doing another right now.) On top of that, said now-teenager has expressed interest in going to a brick-and-mortar school for years, so I thought perhaps an online course might be a way for him to try out a classroom situation, while still being home and getting some writing instruction in. Enter the Schoolhouse Review Crew's offer to try out Easy Essay Writing with Mrs. Kimberly Kulp offered by Bridgeway Academy, an online homeschooling group.  

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This program is designed for students in grades 9-12, so Maestro is the only one to fit the bill, age-wise. To be honest I wasn't sure whether he would be ready to take on the responsibilities of an online class. I've been looking at the possibility for most of this year, though and thought this would be a good opportunity to find out how he'd do. Find that part out at the end of the review. Read on to find out how our experience with online learning went!

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Schoolhouse Review Crew: Diary of a Real Payne

All of my older children have enjoyed books like Wayside School is Falling Down and other such somewhat silly, zany stories that use a lot of imagination in the writing. Eleven-year-old Chef even keeps a running list of his "favorite" authors (Roald Dahl tops the list currently) and is making plans to visit their museums and where they lived some day. This is to say that reading in our house is pretty serious stuff - most especially when it's reading about the Crazy we find in life. And really: What kid doesn't like the silly, make-you-laugh stories? Well, Schoolhouse Review Crew came through again by offering the chance to read and review a book called Diary of a Real Payne Book 1: True Story by Annie Tipton. 

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The first book in a still-being-written series, Real Payne is a 192-page story aimed at the 9-12 year old group. The story is built around the imagination of a young girl named EJ Payne, who lives in a small town but yearns for more. How many of us are not affected by a desire to experience life in the patch of grass on the other side of the fence? I find this is especially true with children because they really don't have as much control over their day-to-day lives as they might like.


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