Posted in Resources

Online Reading and Math Program: Try it Free!

Online reading and math programK5 Learning has an online reading and math program for kindergarten to grade 5 students. I’ve been given an 8 week free trial to test and write a review of their program. If you are a blogger, you may want to check out their open invitation to write an online learning review of their program.

Even if you aren’t a blogger, your child in Kindergarten (Primary) through Grade 5 can try K5 Learning free for 14 days!

I’m looking forward to telling you all about what my 10 year old daughter and I think of the program in the coming weeks!

Love, Luck &
Laughter,

Kimberly Charron

Posted in Resources, Reviews

Reading Programs for Children age 3-13 – Review

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ReadingEggs.com has two online programs for children age 3-13.  We received a free trial of Reading Eggs and Reading Eggspress in exchange for an honest review.

Reading Eggs is designed for children age 3-7.  My 8 year old daughter played around with it a little while, and enjoyed it, even though she’s reading novels at this time.  Setup was quite simple.  Once we were set up, she was asked to complete a 40 question Reading Eggs Reading Test to evaluate her reading skills:
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I believe 40 questions in one sitting is a bit long for a child in the target age group.  Even though my daughter answered all the questions correctly, it put her in a very easy reading level or what they call “maps” (there are 120 lessons, split into 12 maps).  I believe if your child succeeds in doing this, you should try the Reading Eggspress program instead (it’s just a click away).  We continued to play with it just to see what it was like.  Here’s a screenshot in which the child hears the sentence and puts the words in the correct order:
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My daughter very much enjoyed the animated critters, including this ant above.  I personally found that there was WAY too much repetition.  For instance, with this activity, they ask you to put the words in order over and over again.  However, if your child likes or needs repetition, this shouldn’t be a problem.  Reading Eggs combines phonics AND sight words.  Since I believe phonics is very important, I am glad it is covered.  Overall, this looks like a solid, fun reading program.

After playing around with Reading Eggs, my daughter moved on to Reading Eggspress, for ages 7-13.  The first task was a Reading Eggspress Reading Comprehension Test:
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After the comprehension test, when the child logs in, the first screen the child sees is of Floating Island here:
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My daughter loves Floating Island!  Here the child has five choices:

  • Comprehension Gym – Where your child is asked comprehension questions based on book covers that are chosen, the who/what/where/when of short stories, and parts of speech
  • Stadium – asks spelling questions, etc. and your child can compete against the computer or other players
  • Library – choose a book to read – fiction or non-fiction
  • Apartment – (this is my daughter’s favourite) here you can choose to play “Quote Quest”, or enter the child’s apartment, where your child can dress her character, play with trading cards, or view her trophies
  • Mall – your child can buy trading cards, buy clothes for her character, buy pets, and play Brain Games

Reading Eggspress Gym:
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My daughter can’t get enough of Reading Eggspress.  She can sit at the computer and play for HOURS.  While I’m not a big fan of comprehension questions, they do seem to be relevant to the content of each story, instead of silly questions designed only to make sure the child was paying attention.

Reading Eggs also offers optional companion books and writing workbooks to complement the online programs.  You can try Reading Eggs FREE for 14 days!  Each subscription to Reading Eggs gains you access to both programs.  Reading Eggs/Eggspress costs $9.95 US monthly, $49.95 US for 6 months (50% off each additional child), or $75.00 per year (50% off each additional child).

To see what others in the TOS Crew thought of Reading Eggs and Reading Eggspress, click HERE.

 

Love, Luck &
Laughter,

Posted in Free Homeschooling Resources, Resources

Free Reading Program until Feb 16th!

Wow! Siegfried (Zig) Engelmann, the author of the highly popular Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons, brings you The Funnix Reading Program, free once again, now until February 16th!  It teaches 2 years of reading skills and is normally $249.00.

The free version of Funnix is electronic (and is the same as the Horizons program). You download the entire package of 220 lessons and other material onto your computer, and you have everything you need to teach the program. The steps of what you do and how you do it are spelled out in Teacher’s Guide, which you review before presenting the program. Workbook and textbook activities accompany the lessons. You print these.

To learn more and download your free reading program, go to www.Funnix.com

Love, Luck &
Laughter,

Posted in Free Homeschooling Resources, Resources

Free Reading Curriculum for Kindergarten/Primary & Grade 1!

This free reading curriculum, designed for Kindergarten/Primary and Grade 1, includes one online video and these three books:

  • Phonological Awareness and Phonics Student Center Activities
  • Fluency, Vocabulary, and Comprehension Student Center Activities
  • Teacher Resource Guide (accompanied by a Professional Development DVD)

It was all created for classroom use, but after having taken a look at it, I believe it could easily be used for homeschoolers as well.

Go to the Florida Center for Reading Research Website to download.  Enjoy!

Love, Luck &
Laughter,

Posted in Resources

A Christmas Gift & Special from Reading Kingdom

You may remember my Review of Reading Kingdom a few months ago. I am pleased to offer an exclusive, limited-time free trial and 50% discount on any subscription to the Reading Kingdom!

Try the Reading Kingdom for free for one month and if you like it, stay with the program and receive 50% off for the life of your subscription!

To use this promotion,

1.       Go the Reading Kingdom signup page and signup up https://www.readingkingdom.com/signup/

2.       Use this promotion code: HOLIDAYRK

3.       You get the first 30 days for free and then 50% off the life of your subscription with this promo code.

4.       This offer ends on January 1st, so signup today. Remember, it’s risk free, and you can cancel at any time.

Love, Luck &
Laughter,

Posted in Resources, Reviews

Wordy Qwerty for Reading & Spelling – Review

Talking Fingers offers “innovative phonics-to-fluency software for hands-on reading and spelling”. Wordy Qwerty is their reading and spelling software for children in Grades 2-4.  I received Wordy Qwerty in exchange for an honest review 🙂 Wordy Qwerty is suitable for children who have already completed a  phonics program and know their way around the keyboard OR have completed Talking Fingers’ Read, Write & Type! program.  My 7 year old daughter, who tested out Wordy Qwerty, is one of the former.

Lesson 1 begins with short vowel sounds and long vowel sounds and learning about silent e. It then progresses to the spelling rule for soft c vs. hard c, and so on.  There are six activities in each lesson.  I’m not a big fan of the “Recycler” game.  Two words are shown (see example below of “meek” and “meak”) and the child has to choose which one is a real word, or if both are real words.  So the child is viewing made-up spelling for words, instead of consistently correct spelling.  I do however like the “write stories” part of each lesson.  The first part of a sentence appears and is read to the child, followed by the dictation of the last part which the child must type in to continue.  The story continues usually for about four screens until the child has a very cute, complete story.

The music is the big winner in this curriculum.  Not only are there 20 educational songs all about spelling rules, but they’re VERY well done.  Have you ever had songs that went along with a curriculum that all sounded the same and whose lyrics were awkward to sing and didn’t fit the music?  Not so with this music.  As a music teacher, I was impressed with these beautifully made, catchy tunes, from a wide variety of musical genres.  Whether you like rock, rap, country, 50’s, or a middle-eastern flair, there’s something that you will enjoy.  And after the child listens to the music being sung, your child can click on the microphone (see picture) and sing along in “karaoke” mode!

Unfortunately it was a slow start for us with this program.  At first we had access to the online program, and it kept freezing up or giving us error messages.  I tried using two different internet browsers to run it, and I tried turning off our firewall, but nothing seemed to work and my daughter became very frustrated that she had to start lessons over and over again after they froze up.  After waiting awhile for a response to my help request, I asked again for help and Talking Fingers sent us the CD set instead (they said that my internet connection must be at fault, which was surprising since we have high speed internet and regularly play sophisticated online games), and we received the CD this week.

The installation of the CD went fairly well, except that it failed to put a shortcut on my desktop or to appear in the Program files for some reason, so I dragged a shortcut onto the desktop from the root file.  Once it was installed, we were able to play Wordy Qwerty without worrying about whether the CD was in the drive or not.  The best thing about having the CD product, besides the fact that it runs smoothly, is that it comes with the accompanying “JingleSpells” CD – all the spelling songs on CD so you can listen to them in the car (or anywhere), which we thoroughly enjoyed doing.  My daughter’s been singing them all over the house.  Even my 12 year old didn’t mind them 🙂  I highly recommend this CD for anyone teaching their children spelling rules – you can listen to clips of it HERE or you can even buy it from iTunes (just search for JingleSpells)!

You can have your child try a demo of Wordy Qwerty Lesson 1 online here. Wordy Qwerty is available in online format for a 5-year subscription period for just $25.00 US for one user, with discounts for multiple users.  It is also available in CD-Rom format (not compatible with Windows 7 or Mac 10.6 though) with accompanying “JingleSpells” song CD for $35.00 plus shipping. The JingleSpells CD is also available as a separate purchase for only $10.00 US plus shipping.

Love, Luck &
Laughter,

 

Posted in Homeschool Information

Homeschool Moms: What is Your Favourite Subject To Teach?

Deciding which subject is my favourite to teach is difficult.  I LOVE teaching my children so much.  I guess my biggest thrill is teaching Reading.  Teaching my children to read is SO rewarding.  I love teaching them all the building blocks of phonics that they need to start putting words together.  I love seeing them “get it” as my daughter has this past year – going from being able to read three-letter words to being able to read sentences and anything at all 🙂  She loves to show off her reading aloud to me.  The only thing that makes me sad is that, since she is my baby, she is the last child I will be teaching reading to.  Maybe my children will let me help teach my grandchildren someday, LOL.

Once they’re reading, I LOVE teaching my children all about literature.  I love sharing the classics with them, and most recently I have enjoyed introducing my eldest to Shakespearean plays (having introduced him to the stories from the plays when he was little) and trading Shakespeare quotes with him anytime, anywhere 🙂  He prepared one of Puck’s monologues from A Midsummer Night’s Dream and performed it for the local Kiwanis Festival, winning first place and a cash prize for outstanding performance.  Here he is in his Puck regalia…


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What is your favourite subject to teach your own children?

Love, Luck &
Laughter,

 

Posted in Reviews

Reading Kingdom – Review

Reading Kingdom is an online learn-to-read program for children ages 4-10.  I received a free account in exchange for an honest review 🙂

Setting up Reading Kingdom was very easy and completed in about 30 seconds – both registering myself and adding my “Reader”, my 7 year old daughter.  Your child’s guide is the adorable and gentle-voiced Reading Kingdom owl:Photobucket

My daughter is already adept at using a computer and tested out of Keyboard & Mouse Training.  Since she was already at the beginner reading stage, able to read small words and sound out many larger ones,  she tested out of the Seeing Sequences test.  My daughter then completed the Skills Survey 1 and headed into “Letter Land.”  The Letter Land section involved learning keyboard geography, as well as learning how to type a period and capital letters.  This took weeks of doing a lesson a day and seemed like it would last forever, but finally she was on into Skills Survey 2 and then starting Reading Level 1.

For each Reading lesson, your child will first be asked to type the word they hear.  If they type it correctly, they move on to a new word.  If they are incorrect, they begin a series of repetitive activities to learn the word.  One of the activities involves choosing the word out of several very similar words such as in this screen shot:

Another activity is typing the missing letters.  The child is also asked to click on every example of the word in a story.  Here is an example of one of the little stories your child will read:

Each lesson is only about 5 minutes long.  The child is given the option of doing some extra activities (more of the same word) or exiting.  In order to move on to the next lesson in the same sitting you have to exit first.  In case you aren’t sitting alongside your child while they are working, Reading Kingdom sends messages to the parent’s email inbox to keep you posted on the progress of your child.  “Progress Updates” let you know when your child is done each section or level of the program.  Each Reading Level ends with a Progress Check and Review, and there are 5 Reading Levels total in the Reading Kingdom program.

Reading Kingdom was designed by Dr. Marion Blank, an expert in literacy.  Her approach is a whole language approach to reading.  Her belief is that phonics do not work – click on Reading Kingdom Approach to learn more.  I personally have seen phonics programs work for both my son (now 12, reading Tolkien & writing novels) and for my daughter.  I believe Reading Kingdom can be a great supplement or follow-up to any phonics program.  Reading Kingdom may be a great tool in particular for parents of children who just don’t seem to be “getting it” even after a phonics program.  For my daughter, already at a beginner reading level and able to sound out new words, Reading Kingdom served more as a spelling program.  She enjoyed learning to spell words that she wasn’t sure about.

Reading Kingdom has some freebies to offer.  Receive Free e-Books when you “Like” the Reading Kingdom Facebook page.  You can also subscribe to the free Reading Kingdom newsletter, full of tips on reading and educating your child.

You can try Reading Kingdom too, just set up your FREE 30-day Reading Kingdom trial right now (no credit card required) HERE.  Once you’ve set up your account you can purchase a subscription for $19.99 US per month OR $199.99 US per year, plus $9.99 per month for each additional child.  Also available at the Reading Kingdom store is a learning-to-write workbook, a book for parents called The Reading Remedy, a collection of 30 digital stories to read, and a paper-and-pencil version of The Reading Kingdom.

To see what other TOS Homeschool Crewers thought about Reading Kingdom, click below:

Love, Luck &
Laughter,

 

 

 

Posted in Reviews

Kid Scoop – Reluctant Reader Solution – Review

The Kid Scoop name may already be familiar to you, as you may have seen Kid Scoop’s weekly page of activities in your local paper.  I received The Reluctant Reader Solution from Kid Scoop in exchange for an honest review 🙂

The Reluctant Reader Solution has two parts that are included in the purchase price:

Part One:  A downloadable collection of 60 mini-unit studies of about 6 pages long each.

Part Two:  A 12 month subscription to The Kid Scoop News Online Monthly Newspaper.  These are typically about 20 pages long.

The mini unit studies consist mainly of worksheet-type pages, some of which overlap and you will see again in the Kid Scoop Newspaper.  You will need to print out both the Newspaper and the mini unit studies in order to complete the puzzles etc. The online newspaper also has a feature that allows a computer voice to read to you. We’re not big worksheet fans in our homeschool, but the topics are interesting.  We especially enjoyed the February, 2011 newspaper with the topic, “pencils”, (below) which included fascinating facts about pencils, and pictures of amazing pencil sculptures. In the January issue, the “birthdays without presents” ideas resonated with us, as for the second year in a row, my 12 year old has requested “no presents” for his birthday party.  I love that lessons on money and interest are included in this issue of the newspaper as we love to teach the children all about money.  Other topics in the e-books and newspapers include:  Valentine’s, Easter (bunnies only), Mother’s Day, S’mores, Big Foot, Vaccinations (if you are “anti-vacc” you wouldn’t like this particular one), Orcas, The Maya, Reading Nutrition Labels, Tom Sawyer, and many more! I can see us coming back to the e-books and newspaper to accent topics we are studying in our homeschool.  All the materials in The Reluctant Reader Solution would appeal to children in Kindergarten/Primary through Grade 8.  You or your child would pick and choose the activities to complete, as some are for the younger kids and some are geared more for the older kids.

You can view more samples of the Kid Scoop newspaper HERE.

Do you want to have fun exploring newspapers with your children and making them part of your curriculum?  Kid Scoop has a free 30-day newsletter called “Make Reading Fun” that you can sign up for on their website, just click on “30 Awesome Exercises and Ideas to Make Reading Fun!”  There are a ton of other freebies and resources on their website, so take a browse!Photobucket

The Kid Scoop Reluctant Reader Solution is available in English or Spanish and is available for $97.00 US.  While that is pricey, especially since you have to print everything yourself, Kid Scoop’s 365 Day Unconditional Guarantee means you get 365 days of activity sheets plus 12 months of Kid Scoop online, all risk-free.  If you haven’t been able to get your child interested in reading this may be well worth it.

To read about other TOS Crew Members’ experiences with Kid Scoop, click below:

Love, Luck &
Laughter,



Posted in Contests, Things to Do, Places to Go, Uncategorized

Library Summer Reading Programs Across Nova Scotia

The Summer Reading Program, “Destination Jungle” is in full swing in Public Libraries across Nova Scotia.

Some libraries’ programs are open to as young as 3 years old, and some start for Grade Primary and up.  Children receive a logbook and poster upon registration.   Throughout the summer they record their hours and/or books read and go into draws to receive prizes at the end of the summer.  Prizes include bikes, Nintendo DSi’s and Wii’s, so pop into your local library today and sign up 🙂