Archive for Schoolhouse Review Crew

Oct
15

Music to My Ears

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After many years of steadfast prayer fueled by constant desire, some of my children are now receiving music instruction from a local school of Fine Arts.  I don’t know how long we’ll have the opportunity, but with this gang we presently qualify for a big-family rate; so it’s affordable.  I appreciate the balance, as I see it, in their education; with Bible, academics, music & art, home management and community service.  I like being able to introduce my children to different things to find their level of interest and their natural bent.  A couple of my younger ones are actually starting out ahead of my older ones, thanks to KinderBach.

 

 

Karri Gregor is the creator, illustrator and teacher of KinderBach Piano Lessons.  She believes that children do not have to read to be able to learn to play piano or read music.  She has designed characters that help her students remember the piano keys, notes and the staff; instead of letters making words that must be read.  KinderBach is bright, colorful, fun and engaging!  Designed for ages 3 – 7, my younger children gained a foundation in music before they even realized they were taking lessons.

 

  • Music Theory
  • Note Reading
  • Rhythm
  • Music Vocabulary
  • Ear Training
  • Hand Position
  • Do, Re, Mi Singing
  • and More!

 

Click the graphic to view an informative video of KinderBach at Home.

 

The characters are endearing to children.  My youngest daughter was introduced to KinderBach around 6 years old, but was enthusiastic about using the online program again because of her affection for several of the characters.  You might also notice older siblings picking up instruction and building their own foundation in music from being in the same vicinity where the program is being viewed, because the lessons are lively and entertaining.  My preteen son says, “The story and songs stick in your head and then your brain recalls the pictures and instruction that is originally taught.  I know things about music that I didn’t even know I knew!”

 

Click to see the full cast of characters.

 

There’s ample material covered over 6 levels with 10 lessons each and 4 sessions in each lesson.  Yes, that’s a total of 240 sessions of private, in home music lessons!  Lessons are child-paced.  They can be watched and watched again, at no extra cost, when your daughter gets stuck on a favorite session or two like mine did.  The hands on activities thoroughly reinforce the lessons, making this a complete curriculum.  My daughter especially enjoyed attaching the little finger cues to her fingers, following the prompts and playing the piano.  I laminated the paper finger puppets so she could use them more than once, because they really encouraged her to strive for the goal of eventually playing without them.  Children quickly learn to play music that they recognize.

 

 

 

 A Year Online Membership gives you web access to all sessions by computer, iPad/iPhone, Android, Tablet, Kindle Fire or Nook; plus downloadable PDF activity pages that accompany lessons.  The best value is $7.99 a month for an annual subscription – billed in one payment of $95.88.

The TOS Crew previously had the opportunity to review KinderBach, but this time some of my Crew mates were given the chance to use the new iPad/iPhone App that’s available for Levels 1 – 3.  “App lessons can be purchased one at a time, or at a reduced rate for an entire level.”  The keyboard that’s needed for the lessons is on the screen, plus six mini-games are unlocked as you purchase more lessons.  The added convenience of education-on-the-go for just $26.99.  I’ll definitely be reading their reviews!

The entire curriculum is still available in a DVD & CD Activity Package, per levelfor the one-time charge of $40.45 each.  Value Packages are available, too!  What grabbed my attention is the fact that every disc has a “lifetime replacement”  included in KinderBach’s exceptional 30-day Money Back Guarantee!

~

 

Comments or Questions?

Contact  KinderBach  through the website.

Write:  KinderBach LLC, P.O. Box 181, Le Claire, Iowa 52753,

Call:  563.332.0587

 

and

Follow on facebook.

 

You can also read the numerous Crew reviews of the online program and the iPad app when you

click the graphic below ~


 

In addition, I have written two other reviews of KinderBach, and they can be found under the blog titles – Good Education and The Sound of Music.  This is a great program and I hope to use it with my grandchildren in the future.

 

Blessings,

 

Disclaimer*   I received 6 months online access to KinderBach, in exchange for my honest review as a member of the Schoolhouse Review Crew.  I receive no other compensation for my reviews on this blog.  The opinions expressed are my own.

 

Thank you for your comments.

 

Contents of this blog are copyrighted;  they are the property of Knee Deep In Grace and may not be used without written permission.

 

 

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Oct
10

What’s Black and White, and…

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What’s black and white and red all over?  Remember this one?  Okay, so it’s really what’s black and white and read all over?  A newspaper, of course!

What’s blue and red and eats rocks?  That’s simple.  A blue-and-red-rock-eater!  Now, what’s pink and green and eats rocks?  A pink-and-green-rock-eater, you say.  No way, I say, they only come in blue and red!

What’s fun, educational, motivating, interactive; and affordable?  No riddle here, it’s ZooWhiz!   The “online, curriculum based motivational learning system” with more than 17,000 educational activities for children ages 5 to 15.  Affordable?  Yes!  It’s Free, with a limited Keeper Account!

 

 

Want a Free Keeper Account?  Follow the Keeper Account link above, click Create a Free Keeper on the bottom left; and let your child choose a [Zoo] Keeper from a variety of pre-designed avatars.  These are all they have to choose from, at the moment, but my kids are hoping they’ll have a little more freedom in the future to design their own avatar Keeper.

 

Choose a Keeper

 

Once they’ve chosen their Keeper they sign in with their first name, or a code name if they’re anything like my son, and a parent’s email address to get permission to use ZooWhiz.  You can then use that same email to create a Free Parent Management Account, which will be connected to your child’s account; giving you the ability to keep up with his progress.

ZooWhiz is lively and engaging, with graphics that are bright, crisp; and bursting with energy!

Learn and Earn generates activities that move your child to practice math, reading, grammar, vocabulary, punctuation, spelling; and phonics according to the Age Floor you select for him, and earning coins for every correct answer given.  Two chances.  Answer the question correctly on the first try and you earn 20 coins.  If you miss it and try again you’ll still earn 10 coins with a correct answer.  Miss the answer and 10 coins are taken away and the correct answer is supplied.

The coins can then be spent in the Arcade, on games, or in the Biodome at the Zoo Animal Shop.  Keepers can choose from and collect many different animals, viewing them and learning more about them from a detailed flash-card-type graphic My children choose animal collecting 9 times out of 10, over playing games in the Arcade, and it is the highlight of the ZooWhiz online program!  It should be noted though, that the website says, “Create a Free Keeper Account and start building your very own zoo.”  This idea is compounded when you select the Biodome tab under Information for Kids, the opening tagline reads, “Enter the Biodome to choose your animals and build your very own zoo.”  As Keepers students build collections of animals, but there is no Zoo to build.  There is no place to organize or view the animals in a zoo-like setting, and there is no visiting or care giving.  My students, ages 8, 11, and 14, were all truly disappointed in this aspect of the program.  Milestones keeps track of student progress, and seeing progress is something we all need!

 

Click the graphic to see a full Animal List

~

  ZooWhiz is all about “reinforcing learning and rewarding effort!”

My 8-year-old says it is all about “fun, fun, fun!”

 

 

When you discover, as I did, that ZooWhiz is an outstanding supplement to your current curriculum, you can choose to upgrade to a Premium Zoologist AccountCurrently, a 1-year subscription is just $14.95.  Seriously.  I don’t know how long this dramatic savings will be available, but what-a-deal compared to the regular price of $59.95!  The Premium Zoologist Account entitles you, as the parent, to more management, anytime access; and detailed customization to your child’s age or learning pace.  The Premium Kid’s Account opens more games and an exciting choice of animals to collect, including rare, endangered, dinosaurs and mythological creatures.  My son earned and saved 5000 coins to add a Sasquatch to his collection!  That’s a lot of learning and this seems like an ideal place to slip in a “well done, Son!”

~

ZooWhiz has a website full of information.

I included several links to it throughout this post and I hope you’ll make use of them.

You can email your Questions and Comments through the Contact link,

or if you’re in the United States call – 1.866.215.4620.

You can also write to:  P.O. Box 658, Armidale, NSW, 2350, Australia;

or instantly connect on facebook.


My Crew mates are eager to share their ZooWhiz experiences with you, too.

You can read their reviews when you click the banner below and follow the link to the

Schoolhouse Review Crew Blog.

 

 

 

Blessings,

 

 

Disclaimer*   I received 1 year access to a ZooWhiz Premium Zoologist Account, for three of my children, in exchange for my honest review as a member of the Schoolhouse Review Crew.  I receive no other compensation for my reviews on this blog.  The opinions expressed are my own.

 

 

Thank you for your comments.

 

 

Contents of this blog are copyrighted;  they are the property of Knee Deep In Grace and may not be used without written permission.

 

 

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Oct
05

A Box of Ideas

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You might remember that I have an affection for Unit Studies.  The Unit Study Method of teaching allows me to incorporate every aspect of my focus topic, covering many subjects.  This method usually allows for a lot of hands-on learning, and often improves my child’s ability to transfer skills they learn during school to real-life situations.  Where do you get the ideas for activities that will enhance your student’s learning?  I might talk to another parent/teacher that has experience or an expressed interest in the theme of our study.  I have several home resources, an exceptional local library; and access to an array of online resources.  I have a standard bag-of-tricks, but my latest discovery is Box of IDEAs

 

 

 

There are not many boxes available, yet; but the future potential is great!  Designed for ages 9 – 16, with the flexibility for use with even younger or older students, each Box of I.D.E.As. is filled with topic-focused activities and information.  There are at least 10 modules per box that might include games, puzzles, portfolio pages, experiments and explorations, well researched web-links; and more.  All of the activities in the box are complete, but if any additional supplies are needed, like a pencil, they are listed on the module label and can be acquired before the module is even opened.

Presently, there is a Box of I.D.E.As. for World War Two, SALT, Laundry, Quilting; and the number Eleven, with Olives, Pine, and Cemeteries coming soon.  Supplementing our current study of Early America, the SALT Box of IDEAs fit well into our schedule.  The branch of interest I pursued was early means of food preservation, and there’s a module for that – Preserving with SaltAfter introducing the topic into our curriculum, I let the box of modules lead the way.  The “SALT Box of I.D.E.As. is a comprehensive look at salt and how it has helped shape history, nourish our bodies; and even build and destroy empires.”  We were prompted to dig into History, Geography, Science, Language, and Political Systems; while using math, reading, writing, and critical thinking skills among others.

Contents of the SALT Box of I.D.E.As.

The single most difficult thing about using Box of IDEAs was choosing which module to start with first!  So, I read the label on each module bag: Title, Contents, Materials Needed, and Related Quote; and pulled out the one that “struck my fancy.”

The Wall That Salt Built – “While most people know of the Great Wall of China, most people don’t realize that it was essentially paid for by salt.”

Salt of the Earth – “Although, most of the world’s salt comes from the US and China, there are salt producers in many countries around the world.”

Very Salty – “A plethora of hypersaline lakes exist all over the world.”

Need for Salt – “For human and non-human alike, if we didn’t have salt, we would cease to live.”

Nelson Mandela quote ~ “Let there be work, bread, water and salt for all.”

Producing Salt – “Finding Salt – It is something we see and possibly use every single day, but where does it come from?”

Science of Salt – “Salt is the combination of two elements – both somewhat volatile.”

Preserving with Salt – “Pre-dating the birth of Christ, salt has been utilized to make food safe for future use through preservation.”

The Game of Preservation by Salt

Salt Peppers Our Words – “Salt provides the root for many commonly used words that proliferate still today.” The Salt March – “In March of 1930, Mahatma Ghandi chose to protest, peacefully, the salt tax.”

The History of Salt – “Salt has had a profound influence on human civilization from the beginning and in all parts of the world.”

(45) 2″X3″ Salt Timeline Cards, initially used with the Salt Chronology Game

This is one of the simplest systems I’ve ever used!  I could easily assign a module to one of my middle school or high school students for independent work.  Just take the module bag out of the box and begin.  I gather pencils and make copies of the portfolio page for each of my children participating in the activity.  I also have notebook paper available for copywork and expository writing.  I read the printed material out loud and we discuss the content.  Portfolio pages record lab results, ask fill-in-the-blank questions; and prompt essay writing, etc.  Each module includes a list of 3-4 Extensions that encourage delving deeper into the topic.  The Extension activities are varied and I tend to choose two out of a list.

Here are five of over 30 Extensions suggested:

  • Find references in The Bible to salt.  It is mentioned approximately 30 times, see how many you can find and make a list.
  • Watch the 1982 movie “Ghandi” which chronicles Ghandi’s life and fight for Indian independence.
  • Make your own solar evaporator using household items…
  • What happens if a person eats too much salt?  Set up an appointment with a nutritionist or dietician to talk about salt in your diet.
  • Pick one of the top salt producers and find out how much revenue salt production brings to that country.

 

As time allows, I have the older students follow selected Web-Links for additional reading and oral presentation.  I make age appropriate writing assignments to be done after we close the module.  We normally wrap-up with one of the games or card activities included in the Box of IDEAs.

~

Box of I.D.E.As. and their complete learning modules are an outstanding benefit to our homeschool, aiding in the retention and recollection of the topic matter covered.  I think it is a good value in the combination of physical materials supplied and the time saved with immediate access to the thorough research that’s already been done.  A physical Box of I.D.E.As. is $79 and printable PDF format is $49.

 

Comments or Questions?

Contact:

Call – 333.506.9411

or

Write –

Box of IDEAs  LLC

7115 West Calla Road

Canfield, OH  44406

and

follow on facebook

 

 

My Crew mates have written reviews of two of the current boxes that are available from Box of I.D.E.As.SALT and World War Two – Pearl Harbor.   Click the banner below to read their well expressed opinions.

 

 

 

 

 

Blessings,

 

 

Disclaimer*   I received the physical SALT Box of I.D.E.As., in exchange for my honest review as a member of the Schoolhouse Review Crew.  I receive no other compensation for my reviews on this blog.  The opinions expressed are my own.

 

 

Thank you for your comments.

 

 

Contents of this blog are copyrighted;  they are the property of Knee Deep In Grace and may not be used without written permission.

 

 

 

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Sep
24

Let Me Introduce You to Hope

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Ahhh…reading!  Just the thought of a good book makes me smile.  It has been some time since I’ve been able to stow away and read a book just for the pleasure of reading a book.  My favorite type of story is one that carries me away to another place and time, a period piece, with golden threads of history woven through it.  These are not easy books to write.  An author will often spend a lot of time reading and researching their subject before they can even begin to put pen to paper, because most readers expect the historical account to be accurate; especially if it is a time or place that is familiar to them.

I recently found Hope.  She is a promising young author, published by Great Waters Press

 

 

The chief publishers of Great Waters Press are Hal & Melanie Young, the authors of a 2011 Book of the Year – Raising Real Men.  Hope’s first book, Book One of The Promised Land, is titled A Cry From Egypt.  It is written for ages 8 and up, and it is a superlative first effort!

Hope has researched Ancient Egypt for several years.  Her interest was kindled when she was 13 years old and her family was studying it.  Have you ever wondered how it would have been to live in Egypt during the time of the devastating plagues and the Hebrew slaves being set free?  What it would have been like to experience The Promised Land, first-hand?  Author Hope Auer has brought a cast of characters to life from this time, using her knowledge of Ancient Egypt, the few facts that are recorded about this period; and the Biblical account.  She takes no liberties with Scripture and maintains historical accuracy, while telling a fascinating story as it is lived by a 12 year old slave girl, Jarah, her family and friends.

 

 

A Cry From Egypt is set around the time of events beginning in the seventh chapter of the book of Exodus, through the 10 plagues on Egypt; and culminating with chapter 12 –

 

“…I will strike the water of the Nile, and it will be changed into blood.”

“…I will plague your whole country with frogs.”

“…and throughout the land of Egypt the dust will become gnats.”

“…I will send swarms of flies on you…”

“…the Lord will bring a terrible plague on your livestock in the field…”

“…festering boils will break out on men and animals throughout the land.”

“…I will send the worst hail storm that has ever fallen on Egypt…”

“…I will bring locusts into your country tomorrow.  They will cover the face of the ground so that it cannot be seen.”

“…and total darkness covered all Egypt for three days.”

“Every firstborn son in Egypt will die…”

 

These verses are foundational to the story, yet they are never directly referenced.  Hope has interlaced a believable story of possibilities with the Truth.  We see compassion, hatred, fear, forgiveness, unbelief, faith; and more, but it is clearly a story, not a sermon.  Through the characters, we have the freedom to question and explore, Who is Yahweh?  Can we know Him?  Does He hear our pleas for deliverance, help or salvation?  We’re reminded of God’s perfect timing and His great love for us.  We connected with Jarah and could openly discuss what it means to trust Yahweh.  Will she be willing to trust Him to lead her to the promised land?  Would we?

I chose to read this aloud to my older teens and down.  I read a few chapters at a time and then we would discuss it, not because we were having “school” but because it genuinely prompted stimulating conversation.  One evening we spent a chunk of time on, “How do you determine whether or not someone is being punished justly or abused before you step-in?  Is it ever okay to step-in?  What is the Biblical basis for your answer?  Where do we stand as a family?”

I finished the book first by myself, because I couldn’t put it down.  I wanted to know how Hope was going to write this, whether she’d mention that; and what happened to them?  I wasn’t disappointed.  The only issue I had was in finishing the chapter tease for Book Two, found at the end of A Cry From Egypt, and realizing it’s not yet written and I can’t purchase it!  Oh my, can I wait patiently or not?  That is the question.

~

You can purchase an advanced copy of A Cry From Egypt, for $12.50.  Scroll to the bottom of the Raising Real Men Web Page, right-hand side; and see Contact Us to email Hal and Melanie Young or find them on facebook – Raising Real Men: Surviving, Teaching and Appreciating Boys  and  Great Waters Press.

If you have questions or comments for Hope Auer, she has a first-rate blog @ http://acryfromegypt.com/  and she also has a facebook page.  I know she’d love to hear from you!

~

My Crew mates had the opportunity to read  A Cry From Egypt or another new book published by Great Works PressChildren in Church: Nurturing Hearts of Worship.  You can read their reviews when you click the banner below.

 

 

Hope is a homeschool graduate, and so is her illustrator, Mike Slaton.  This knowledge was an encouragement to me as I teach my own artists, musicians and writers.  It also spoke volumes to my children because it is a positive, hopeful, published writing by one-like-them.  On a more basic level, my 8 year old daughter liked the action of the story and enjoyed the fact that Jarah has an 8 year old little sister and older brothers just like she has.  It is simply a good book and that makes me smile.

 

 Blessings,

Disclaimer*   I received a pre-publication copy of A Cry From Egypt, in exchange for my honest review; as a member of the Schoolhouse Review Crew.  I receive no other compensation for my reviews on this blog.  The opinions expressed are my own.

 

 

Thank you for your comments.

 

 

Contents of this blog are copyrighted;  they are the property of Knee Deep In Grace and may not be used without written permission.

 

 

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Sep
19

Fighting Obesity

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Everyone needs daily physical activity.  Generally, our level of physical fitness reflects the state of our overall health, and the body’s fitness is usually determined by the amount of physical work we do.  Many of our ancestors physically worked hard every day.  They were naturally active.  Technological progress has changed the very nature of work.  Often, we sit at work and then, we sit at home.  Establishing a regimen of consistent physical exercise has the potential to improve our health, well-being and life expectancy.  Yet, it seems so difficult to implement.  I’m hoping that if I start a program with my children, now, maybe it will become such a habit that they will continue it into adulthood.  The experts estimate that “by 2015 75% of all US kids, adolescents and adults will be overweight or obese.”  That’s a statistic I’d rather not have a direct connection to.

Family Time Fitness  is Physical Education for everyone, but with their Fitness 4 Homeschool Curriculum it is especially for the Home School.

 

 

 

Designed for grades K through 8th, Family Time Fitness utilizes the Guided Discovery Method to teach Movement Education.  “Guided Discovery is based on providing simple instruction then allowing children to explore movements on their own.”  Guided Discovery is approved by the International Youth Conditioning Association.

 

Family Time Fitness gives us, as parents and teachers, the instruction needed to confidently teach our children basic physical movement:

Skipping

Hopping

Crawling

Shuffling

Running

and Jumping

Each of the 260 lessons is clearly outlined with written instructions and video examples to follow.

Lessons detail –

Skills Taught

Equipment Needed

and Suggested Recovery Time

Plus –

3-5 activities for Warm-up:

Standing Leg Swings

Arm Circles

Toe Raises

Heel Walks

Ankle Alphabets

the Rocking Horse Series

and More…

3 or 4 activities for Game Play:

Wall Sits

Ball Circles

Shuffle & Skip with Toss

Partner Turn and Pass

Shoulder Tag

Bear Crawl

and Several Others…

2-3 Cool Down activities:

the Bowing Pose

Lion Pose

Crossover Stretch

Palm Tree Pose

and Single Leg Stretch

To Name a Few…

And 1 Outdoor Activity:

Freeze Tag

Monkey in the Middle

Who can Hula Hoop the Longest?

The Agility Course

and More.

 

 

 

The lessons are structured to provide 25-45 minutes of physical activity, with an additional 15-30 minutes of outdoor play included for a full 60 minutes of moderate to vigorous exercise daily.  On average, it is taking us an entire hour just to accomplish the 25-45 minute activity.  Sometimes for fun, they do the 15-30 minute play, later in the day.  Other days, lack of time doesn’t allow us to do anymore PE for the day.  This program is flexible to any schedule, adaptable to any level of fitness and can be easily modified to meet each family’s needs.

It is recommended that Fitness 4 Homeschool be used at the same time each day, 5 days a week.  Presently, we are only using it 2 to 3 times a week.  Believing that “physical activity helps activate the brain and improves on task behavior,” we have set our family fitness time first thing in the morning; after face washing and teeth brushing, but before breakfast and school.  Starting after breakfast tends to churn up breakfast-in-the-belly because this, seriously, is a workout!

 

 

The lessons are designed so they can be done in limited space, but I think our space restrictions are a little much even for Family Time Fitness.  We couldn’t seem to do any of the activities in the house.  We did everything outside, and if the weather didn’t permit being outside then we postponed the lesson.  For those that have ample clear floor space, ideas and suggestions are added for indoor use.  For example, “Use foam balls for activities that require a ball with an alternative being a blow up beach ball.”

 

Lots of the activities are done without equipment, but some require readily available items that make the lessons more enjoyable:

Bean Bags – or small Balls, even a pair of socks rolled into a ball shape

Jump Ropes

Hula Hoops

Playground Balls – basketball, soccer ball or volley ball

Foam Balls

Cones – alternative might be a box, a bucket or even a large rock

Measuring Tape

Stop Watch

and an Exercise Mat – if needed after assessment of activity area


 

A Tracking Calendar is provided.  It can be copied and used for record keeping, as well as encouragement when a lesson is completed.

 

There is also an Assessment Form.  It is optional, but it is helpful to gauge where your child is starting in skill level and aptitude.  Assessing again, in 6-8 weeks, will usually show a noticeable improvement in a number of areas –

Strength

Mobility

Agility

Flexibility

Coordination

Balance

Endurance

and Mental Acuity

Other tools to assist you include:  a Daily Food Diary, Grocery List, a Meal Planner; and a Nutrition Log.

 

I have the PDF version of Fitness 4 Homeschool – Core 1 Physical Education Curriculum.  Paying a one time fee of $57 will give you access for a lifetime.  One of my favorite things in this format is the One Page Summaries.  One Page Summaries provide an overview of each lesson.  They were actually created to save on print costs.  How considerate!  You print one page and use it as a reference guide for the lesson you reviewed.  The lessons are formatted for the iPad and smartphones, too!  That’s another print saver.

 

 

It’s my intention to continue with Family Time Fitness and promote a few good habits with my children.  My youngest daughter loves “exercising and playing together.”  Her favorite activity is actually a Warm-up:  “Popcorn.”  The child lies flat on her back with her arms extended over her head.  She brings her knees to her chest, holding her legs with her arms wrapped around them.  She lifts her head as close to her knees as possible, holding that position to the count of 10.  Then, she “pops out” and back to the starting position!

My son gets distracted waiting for the set up or instruction for the next game.  He’s also extremely competitive and has to be reminded that every activity is not a contest against one of his siblings.  I’m looking forward to the improvement in his skill level, but also a positive change in his attitude.

The oldest daughter that is participating sees the benefit of “purposefully moving,” but has never enjoyed exercising.  “If you have to do it, Family Time Fitness is more fun with the family than working out alone.”

 

Comments or Questions?

Contact

Email ~ CustomerService@FamilyTimeFitness.com

Phone ~ 979.209.0778

or Write ~

Family Time Fitness

3131F East 29th Street

Bryan, TX  77802

 

and follow on facebook 

 

 

Please, follow the links I’ve provided throughout this post; including the banner below that directs you to the Schoolhouse Review Crew Blog and my Crew mates reviews.

 

 


 “Be enthusiastic about physical activity.  Children will give physical activity the same importance and enthusiasm that the parent or teacher gives.”

 

Blessings,

 

 

Disclaimer*   I received the Fitness 4 Homeschool – Core 1 Education Curriculum, in exchange for my honest review; as a member of the Schoolhouse Review Crew.  I receive no other compensation for my reviews on this blog.  The opinions expressed are my own.

 

 

Thank you for your comments.

 

 

Contents of this blog are copyrighted;  they are the property of Knee Deep In Grace and may not be used without written permission.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Sep
14

Revisiting Speekee

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Generally, life is so busy for everyone.  Have you noticed?  I try to keep ours fairly simple, but it still seems like it’s going to spiral out-of-control on occasion.  There are people at church or at the park that I meet and think, “I’d really like to get to know them.  We’ll have to make plans to get together.”  Then, life happens and the connections don’t.  There are old friends, relationships once established, and even acquaintances that I’d like to catch-up with because they cross my mind or I find them heavy on my heart. I pray for them, but I rarely make the time to call them. I have blog posts, products, and reviews I’d like to revisit, amend or update; but I seldom do it.  Maybe, it’s forward motion and I have a hard time going back or maybe, the truth is, my time’s just not as organized as it should be.  Nevertheless, none of these are situations that I like and I figure it’s up to me to make change occur in my own life.  I’m not going to wait until Monday or the ever-elusive-tomorrow.  Now is the only moment guaranteed, so…

Today, I want to revisit SpeekeeSpeekee is a Spanish language course for children, ages 2 to 10.  My initial introduction to Speekee, the purple puppet that stars in the program, was in the beginning of 2011.

 

Meet Speekee.

 

Since then, Speekee has made some changes.  Speekee TV is an online program, which means you have to connect to the web to use it, but now Speekee can travel!  Thanks to the creation of a new app for mobile devices, access to Speekee TVSpeekee and sock-puppet friends, Dino and Lupi – is never far away.

 

Dino and Lupi

 

There are 10 episodes filmed on location in Spain, with Spanish children and their friend, Jim; along with Speekee, Dino and Lupi.  Utilizing the Immersion Method, SpeekeeTV is in 100% Spanish, although subtitles are available in Spanish and English.  This helps me because I’m more of a write-the-word-and-its-phonetic-pronunciation-so-I-can-see-it, and then I’ll say it out loud -kinda girl; but my 4 year old granddaughter, who can’t read, is all-in.  She’s immersed in it, clearly not distracted by subtitles!  Each video, 15-20 minutes in length, follows the same basic format and students excel because of this consistency and repetition.  By the time she regularly visits the el parque, el cafe, le clase, el zoo; y el mercado with her new “friends,” she may be the first one in our family to actually learn the language.  Virtually, she spends minutes at the park, in Spain, playing and singing with Speekee; and then she bops back into the living room and says, “Listen to my Spanish song!  I’m singing Spanish.”  She’s excited to use Speekee and the learning is effortless!

~

Speekee TV is always available, flexible to any schedule; and parent or student-paced.  When I previously reviewed it, the outstanding FastTrack curriculum for homeschoolers was not an option.  You can now access FastTrack from the website or signup to receive a weekly email.  I get an email every week, for 40 weeks, that includes 4 activities that correspond to a specific Speekee video clip; plus other downloads, printable worksheets and flash cards that I can use for reinforcement.  One of the first activities we did was make Dino and Lupi sock puppets!  Every craft idea is not that involved, but they are fun and engaging.  We still have the freedom to pick and choose what we want to do, but I appreciate the fact that the creators of Speekee spent the time to assemble a curriculum that will accelerate my child’s and grandchild’s understanding and use of Spanish.  “Gracias, Speekee!”  This program is better than ever with the compliment of FastTrack.

~

Try it FREE for two weeks.  If you’re not satisfied within that time, you can discontinue it and you’ve risked nothing.  On the other hand, if you find your children asking to play Speekee and speaking Spanish to each other while they play, you can subscribe for $7.50 per month; with no long term commitment.  You can also go all-in, like my granddaughter, for $60 per year.

 

Click the banner to subscribe

 

The entire program is also available for purchase on 4 DVD discs, 34-track audio CD plus a 70 page guide.  Read the fine print – because of the format the DVD’s will play on most US players, but not all.

 

 Click for DVD Package details

~

 

Comments or Questions?

Contact:

 

email ~ customerservice@speekee.co.uk

phone ~ 01422 820263

or write ~

Lingua4 Ltd

Swift Cross Farm

Ripponden

Sowerby Bridge

HX6 4LQ

United Kingdom

~

 

You can find Speekee on facebook

 

 

and read Speekee’s Blog

You’ll note, I’ve included several links to the website in this post, and I can tell you that my Crew mates have shared their opinions on the Schoolhouse Review Crew Blog.  You can read those when you click the banner below.


 

 

Now, I think I’ll call that new family from church and see if we can arrange a play-date for our children this weekend.  Don’t you just love the Grace of a new day and a fresh start!

 

Blessings,

 

 

Disclaimer*   I received an online subscription to Speekee TV  in exchange for my honest review, as a member of the Schoolhouse Review Crew.  I receive no other compensation for my reviews on this blog.  The opinions expressed are my own.

 

 

Thank you for your comments.

 

 

Contents of this blog are copyrighted;  they are the property of Knee Deep In Grace and may not be used without written permission.

 

 

 

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Sep
12

Math 911

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Most of us relate 911 to the US emergency number.  In our house, we seem to operate in a perpetual state of Mathematics emergency.  I just never feel like we are fully equipped, especially for higher math.  Therefore, I was thrilled to discover the aid offered by Professor Martin Weissman and his Math 911       tutorial software!

 

 

Professor Weissman has been teaching Mathematics since 1963 and his passion for it has not waned.  He says, “Each start of a new year gives me an opportunity to incorporate new ideas and methods to help my students overcome their fears of Mathematics and finally master the subject.”  I appreciate the fact that he acknowledges that Math unsettles some of us, even to the point that we may fear it.

He also validates my own teaching approach, Mastery Learning, by utilizing the same method in his software program – the keep-trying-until-you-get-it approach.  Wrong answers don’t count!  The end result of the knowledge gained and retained is the ultimate goal.

Math 911 is geared for ages 12 through adult.  It is designed to actually generate problems for students, furnishing unlimited Mathematical problems with detailed solutions.  Lots of practice to achieve mastery!  Professor Weissman believes students need more practice problems and less lecture or teaching.  He supplies problems for students to solve in –

 

Introductory Algebra

Intermediate Algebra

College Algebra

Statistics

Trigonometry

and Pre-Calculus

 

The Standard Version of Math 911 can be downloaded from the upper left side of the website, where it says, “Complete Introductory Algebra Course, Click Here, Download, Install…”  It’s FREE!  Then, you can upgrade to the Premier Version, where you receive access to all the additional Mathematics Courses listed above.  The Premier Version includes separate grade reports, printable or copied to Word, for each user in the family; and lifetime updates.

~

For my review of this software, I chose to use the program myself.  I’ve sort of been limping along for years, teaching Math to my children; so I decided they would benefit first by my education and then by direct application.  I really like Math 911!  It suits my temperament.  After it is downloaded, a desktop icon appears on the computer and it’s through this gateway that one gains access to a course.  I started with Introductory Algebra, knowing that I could move through the lessons at my own pace.  I was pleasantly surprised to see how quickly I mastered many of the lessons based on previous knowledge.  You complete a problem and press enter.  If correct, you see a green check and the word Right!  If incorrect, the correct answer is shown, and you are given the option to click a button to see how the problem was worked or click new problem.  If I lacked any assurance of how I arrived at an answer or if I just didn’t remember a concept, I viewed the step-by-step solution.  Answers aren’t marked wrong.  You work through problems until you get enough correct to count the level as mastered, then you move on.  The Introductory Algebra course is the only one that has instructional PDF-formatted modules available [see Intro To Whole Numbers, Addition & Subtraction, Multiplication Factorsand More directly under Screen Shots on the left side of the webpage] giving you the benefit of Professor Weissman’s teaching.  He maintains, though, that one learns best by working problems and seeing examples of their solutions, over and over again, as needed.  Practice.  Clear.  Simple.  No gaming or flashy graphics.  The fun is in the learning!

 

 

I am still working through the 11 chapters of Introductory Algebra, because I added Statistics, too.  It’s easy to switch to a new course.  Each one of the Six Courses offered is listed on your home page, along with other data:  What Version of the program you’re using, how many minutes you’ve spent on the program, what course you’re presently using, which lessons are available; and which ones you’ve completed.  When you click on a new course, Math 911 acknowledges it and proceeds to close, while directing you to click on the desktop icon again.  The program re-opens on the new course.  I’ve never taken a Statistics course before, and it is consuming.  I’m really trying to apply myself to the study.  I’ve written pages of notes from solutions, and the only problem I have with Math 911 is finding the time to do it.  It’s my goal to ace the courses, hoping to pass CLEP Exams for college credit after completing them.

~

Math 911 is on sale, as a Student Special that includes a FREE USB Version, for $49.95.  This is a great value, but more remarkably, for a limited time Professor Weissman is offering a Homeschool promotionfollow this link:  www.AlgebraInAFlash.com > buy now and enter the code homeschool at Google checkout you’ll receive the flash version for just $9.95.

~

Professor Weissman is personally accessible and generously tries to respond to comments, suggestions or questions within 24 hours.  His level of Customer Service is noteworthy.  He is understanding, kind and helpful.  You can  contact  him by email ~ mathprof@math911.com,  phone ~ 347.528.7837,  or standard mail ~ Professor Martin Weissman, Professor Weissman’s Software, 246 Crafton Avenue, Staten Island, NY  10314.

~

You can also gather information when you click the banner below and

read what my Crew mates have to say about Math 911.

 

 

 

Blessings,

 

 

Disclaimer*   I received a complete download, not a flash drive, of Math 911 in exchange for my honest review, as a member of the Schoolhouse Review Crew.  I receive no other compensation for my reviews on this blog.  The opinions expressed are my own.

 

 

Thank you for your comments.

 

 

Contents of this blog are copyrighted;  they are the property of Knee Deep In Grace and may not be used without written permission.

 

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Sep
07

A Lighter Burden

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Taking Galatians 6:2 literally it says, “Help carry each others burdens.  In this way you will follow Christ’s teachings.”  Dr. Marion Blank‘s desire to end illiteracy motivated her to extensively research how children learn to read.  Her years of study has produced multiple books, including  The Reading Remedy, and the award-winning  Phonics Plus Five reading program.  Her direct contribution to my life has been through the online learning program that teaches children how to read and write to a third-grade level –

Reading Kingdom.

 

Click the banner to read Why It Works

 

Dr. Blank believes, “Phonics is THE path to reading.  It’s why children for generations have been taught to sound out the ABC’s once they enter first grade.  But traditional phonics is not enough.  It’s great to be able to figure out the sounds of words, but by itself, it makes reading unbearably slow and tedious.  At some point, sounding out has to switch over to instant word recognition.  That means doing what you are doing now – looking at words and immediately recognizing what they are saying.  And that skill also is not enough.  In fact, success in reading calls upon five other essential areas.”

 

 

Reading Kingdom vs Other Reading Systems

 

I have taught several children how to read, phonetically, and sometimes it has been more trying and less successful than other times.  Now, I have a better understanding of the process.  Reading Kingdom, designed for ages 4-10, begins with a skills survey for each child.  According to the results, they are placed in one of 6 levels:  pre-reading or a reading level 1-5, honing their skills with the mouse and keyboard; learning to recognize, read, spell and type words and sentences.  As one progresses through the levels the six skills necessary for reading are strengthened.

  • Sequencing
  • Motor Skills
  • Sounds
  • Meaning
  • Grammar
  • Comprehension

 

It is expected that a child will be reading, with confidence and enthusiasm, at a 3rd grade level with the completion of  Reading Kingdom.  Generally, this will take 12 – 18 months.  After the first few weeks, most children can navigate the program on their own.  Reading Kingdom allows me to share the responsibility of teaching my child how to read, making it a lighter burden and not nearly as overwhelming.  Because it is interactive, it customizes each lesson for my child.  Each 15-30 minute session teaches her reading, spelling, punctuation, and writing. 

 

 

 

 

I can watch her progress and clearly see her successes, and so can she.  Reader reports —what they’re doing, how they’re doing and what is coming up– are available to the parent and track a child’s progress.

 

 

Reading Kingdom is lively, appealing and inviting!  My child wants to play it, but it has not always been gumdrops and lollipops.  I’m pleased that it has raised her reading level, but I am also quietly thrilled that it has significantly improved her level of patience!  Let me explain.  To me, instant gratification is the bane of our culture.  Reading Kingdom requires my child to slow down, focus; paying attention to directions and details.  She must type when directed to type using the keyboard and click when instructed to click a letter on the screen.  The word focus has deeper meaning to her, now.  If she concentrates and responds correctly she can progress through the levels, but if she doesn’t know an answer or is just distracted the program will re-teach the word or concept; which can get quite repetitive.  I consider these simple but important life lessons.  Plus, the positive by-product of the repetition is that it inevitably builds her confidence.  Whereas, I appreciate these perks of the program; some parents do not.  Since I reviewed Reading Kingdom in 2011, one of the changes they’ve made to the program is the ability to adjust the response times for your child.  For some, this makes the difference between tears and smiles; or discontinuation and completion.  I think the best thing to do is to take advantage of Reading Kingdom‘s offer –  FREE for 30 days  –  and monitor the results for yourself.  It’s truly risk free!

 

 

Reading Kingdom is $19.99/month (one child) with no monthly minimum or $199.99 per year (one child).  Each additional child is $9.99 per month.  If you take the time to directly compare Reading Kingdom to other reading programs you might find that this one costs a few cents more per day, but you will also find that the benefits of Reading Kingdom, as one of the most complete reading programs available online, far out weighs the extra pennies.

 

 

Dr. Blank and her team are “passionate about promoting literacy and believe that every child has the right to learn to read.”  There is a scholarship application program set up, making literacy a hope for everyone.  If Reading Kingdom works for your child and you know he needs it to succeed, then ask for it!  “Nothing is impossible for God.”

 

 

Comments or Questions?

Contact through the website

~ or follow on Facebook 

 

 


Dr. Blank can also be reached through email:  BlankM@childpsych.Columbia.edu

 

 

Please, follow the links I’ve provided throughout this post; and click the banner below to get a well-rounded view of Reading Kingdom  by what my Crew mates have to say about it.

 

 

 

 

Blessings,

 

 

Disclaimer*   Reading Kingdom gave me a generous, 1-year license in exchange for my honest review, as a member of the Schoolhouse Review Crew.  I receive no other compensation for my reviews on this blog.  The opinions expressed are my own.

 

 

Thank you for your comments.

 

 

Contents of this blog are copyrighted;  they are the property of Knee Deep In Grace and may not be used without written permission.

 

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Sep
06

Everyday Homemaking

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Econobusters  is a website dedicated to busting free from this economy, with Molly Green.  Molly shares frugal tips, recipes, advice and more to help you maintain balance in your home and life, while saving all the “green” you can.  Now, Molly has her very own product review crew, built on the standards you’ve come to rely on from the Schoolhouse Review Crew.

 

 

 

Drum roll, please…  This is the first product review for The Molly Crew!

 

What could be better than everyday homemaking?  Isn’t that just what we’re trying to do everyday – create, maintain, or improve our home and life?

 

Everyday Homemaking is jam-packed with practical ideas and tools to help you better manage your household and time. Practical ideas, time- and money-saving tips, useful products, links to our favorite sites–family resources that God has used to enable us to live our lives more abundantly. Everyday Homemaking–practical ideas for busy families, like

 

yours and mine.”

 

 

 

I basically grew up in a single-parent household.  My dad was career Army and my mother raised us alone.  I was well-loved, but unprepared for adult life in many ways.  I felt like I was given a good foundation for motherhood, but not homemaking or housekeeping.   Vicki Bentley  is the author of Everyday Homemaking.  Her biography begins with the little tidbit of information that “she is the mother of eight daughters, foster mom of over fifty, and grandma to fifteen wonderful grandbabies.”  Wah! As you read further, you discover that she was able to homeschool 17 children, alongside her husband Jim, and was still able to “open the front door to guests.”   I have only seven children still living at home–they’re not babies–and more times than not, I meet my guests on the porch.  The Lord wants us to practice hospitality, but my lack of housekeeping skills often prevents me from doing so, and that’s sad.  I am awestruck at what Vicki’s been able to successfully accomplish in her life!  I wish we had been next-door neighbors when my older ones were growing up, but I’m grateful for the positive impact that she’s had on my life from this point.

 

One of The Molly Crew’s choices for review was Vicki’s Everyday Cooking – a collection of tried-and-true recipes…  The e-book format is $14.99.  I’m looking forward to reading my Crew mates reviews of this book, since I chose to review The Everyday Family Chore System.

 

 

 

 

I chose to review this book because the first words I read said, “Household management training!”  Vicki Bentley actually explains that her intentions are for it to be a springboard…to encourage and provide tools to help you mentor your children in what it means to be a responsible, caring, sharing part of your family.”  This was my first ray of hope that all was not lost, because these are the characteristics my older children display.

 

The book is divided into three parts:

 

1.)  Laying a Foundation – “Child training is the first step to successful home management training.”

 

I was immediately reminded of Proverbs 22:6, “Train up a child in the way he should go…”  This is a foundational truth.  I appreciate that there are Biblical references throughout this book.  Somewhere, over the past several years I recognize that I’ve become careless in my child training.

 

2.)  Implementing the Plan
– Assign responsibilities
– Teach them HOW to work
– Motivate them to succeed

 

The facts are that the reasons for establishing a family chore system are more than having your home clean and organized.  Although, my husband would say this is prime, at the moment; and rightly so.  It also presents a way for us to faithfully serve one another, and provides an opportunity for me to teach vital life skills to my children.  Before now, I had no plan; consequently some of these areas have been neglected and are quite weak.

 

3.)  The Actual Chore System
The Everyday Family Chore System
– How-to-do-it Cards

 

Vicki believes Part 3 is the most important part of this book.  I would agree that for most people, especially those just contemplating a chore system of any type, first-time parents or a young family, this is probably true.  This is the section with the details of how to create your working chore charts and lists.  Part 3 is where she stresses that you must teach your child HOW to work, and shares her “essential element”
in the system — the How-to-do-it Cards.

 

 

She highlights several different ideas of how to implement the Everyday Family Chore System.  Even though we already have a chore system based on a rotation schedule, I chose to follow her suggestions and make a new chore chart.  I used a magnetic white board, because I already had it, and I purchased colored magnetic material that I could write names and chores on; and cut apart.  If I were starting from scratch, I think I would be tempted to use the magnetic wall paint I saw in the craft store. It looks so cool! It allows you to make nearly anything magnetic and then paint over it with the color of your choice!

 

We headed our chore chart with the words – Family Service = Loving Each Other,
followed by the verse from Colossians 3:23, “Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for The Lord, not for man.”

 

 

Ultimately, the chart itself worked similarly to the one we were already using.  However, the concept of the How-to-do-it Cards, although simple, is remarkable.  It changes everything! Especially, if you’re just starting to train your child.

 

The strength of the Everyday Family Chore System, for me, is found in Vicki Bentley’s ability to fill a gap for parents. She challenges parents to model behavior, and to have a clear definition of what it means to train and to discipline. She guides them to an understanding of basic foundational principles, that might never have been considered; backing every truth with scripture.  She teaches parents how to train their children. She is so generous with her knowledge and information–I just read the Basic Foundational Principles on her blog the other day. She has been blessed and she is a blessing.

 

 

This book is available coil bound – $19.99 or 91 pages in e-book format for $17.99.

 

To read additional reviews by my Crew mates, click the banner below.

 

 

 

 

Blessings,

 

 

 

 

Disclaimer*   I was given The Everyday Family Chore System e-book in exchange for my honest review, as a member of the Schoolhouse Review Crew.  I receive no other compensation for my reviews on this blog.  The opinions expressed are my own.

 

 

Thank you for your comments.

 

 

Contents of this blog are copyrighted;  they are the property of Knee Deep In Grace and may not be used without written permission.

 

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Aug
27

Making Time 4 Writing

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What do you make time for in your day to day life?  Work, devotions, music, God, family, education?  Generally, we make time for the things that we value.

One of our highest priorities is to make time for learning. Many subjects vie for the time that is available.  History, Science and Art are the easy favorites in our house, so we have to purpose to make time for the less desirable, Mathematics and Writing.  Time always seems to be in short supply.  I still teach my children how to look up a word in the dictionary, but I appreciate the ability to type that same word into a browser and have a definition in just seconds.  I appreciate crock-pot cooking, as opposed to standing over a stove, but I’m not fond of the microwave, even though it’s quick.  I appreciate time-saving choices.

One of my choices is  Time4Writing.  I think this is probably marketed as “Now is the Time 4 Writing,” but to me it is, “Helping you Make Time 4 Writing.”  Time4Writing provides 8-week, online writing courses with certified teachers.  Courses are available for Elementary, Middle School and High School/College Prep students, covering the basics through advanced essay writing, SAT essay writing and writing research papers.  Each course costs $99.

 

 

 

Using the placement chart available on the website, I chose to enroll my daughter in the High School Grammar, Usage and Mechanics course.  I wanted to make sure there were no gaps in her writing foundation. If we had determined that this was not the right course for her, for any reason, I could have changed courses or even had my money refunded within the first 2 weeks.  Time4Writing offers a 100% guarantee!  She begins her seventh week, today, and says, “This course has definitely been beneficial to me.  I already knew a lot of the material that was presented,  but I was able to identify my weak areas and discover what I still needed to learn.  Presently, I have a 96.86% for the course, but I have several classes to complete and I’m hoping to raise my final grade.  The teacher’s comments were encouraging and kept me on track.  Now, I have the confidence to conquer essay writing.”

 

 

Click graphic for Course Overview

High School Grammar, Usage and Mechanics covers:

  • Parts of Speech
  • Complex Sentences
  • Subject-Verb Agreement
  • Plural & Possessive Nouns
  • Pronouns, Adjectives and Adverbs
  • Confusing Words & Capitalization Errors
  • Commas, Semicolons, and Other Punctuation
  • and Proofreading

 

Each course is student paced.  The student signs into the lesson and completes the assignments given.  These are not video lessons.  They are written and read by the student, reinforced by writing assignments and multiple-choice quizzes.  Tests are marked and comments written by the teacher, with the opportunity to correct and improve the grade.  I think this keeps the focus on learning and retaining the material, not on the grades obtained.  The parent is sent reports of every correspondence between the teacher and the student, and detailed reports of the assignments completed and test scores earned are available.

This system worked especially well for both of us.  I read reports and watched progress, but otherwise my time was not used for this course.  My daughter broke her ankle at the beginning of the course.  The pain and the medication she needed put her behind on her classes, but once she was feeling better she was able to make up the time.  She would work on lessons in the morning and then do an extra one in the evening.  Her teacher was attentive and helpful, even offering to extend her course time by a week, if it became necessary.  Although, the courses are a little costly to our homeschool budget, and I do wish they had a greater than 5% multiple users discount, the benefit of time gained was worth the price to me.  I hope to enroll her in the SAT essay writing course, soon.

There are numerous Free Writing Resources at Time4Writing.com.  I hope you’ll use the links I’ve provided throughout this post to gather more information and utilize the resources available.  You can also read the various reviews written by my Crew mates, when you click the banner below.

 

 

 

 

Comments or Questions?

Read the answers to  frequently asked questions, make  Contact  through the website

or

Click to follow on facebook

 

 

 

Blessings,

 

 

Disclaimer*   I was given access to an 8-week online course from Time4Writing in exchange for my honest review, as a member of the Schoolhouse Review Crew.  I receive no other compensation for my reviews on this blog.  The opinions expressed are my own.

 

 

Thank you for your comments.

 

 

Contents of this blog are copyrighted;  they are the property of Knee Deep In Grace and may not be used without written permission.

 

 

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