Wednesday, November 28, 2012

I am Guest Posting Today at Creation Conversations!!

I am so happy to be guest posting over at Creation Conversations for their Wildlife Wednesday feature! Below is a sneak peek of one of our nature studies. The full study is complete with lots of free resources AND a giveaway! Come one over and join us!

Wildlife Wednesdays

Do you see this sweet, tiny little creature my daughter is holding? It is certainly not a large bullfrog, but a toad nonetheless. We regularly go on nature walks, and a little bit of rain doesn't stop us. In fact, there's a whole new world to explore during and after a nice shower. Frogs and toads (all toads are frogs by the way) are always a top creation creature to be on the lookout for, especially in the rain - my children adore amphibians! When we are near a body of water, even a large puddle - we search for tadpoles, too!

... To read the rest of the post, hop on over to Creation Conversations!

Friday, November 23, 2012

Sea Cutter Book I: The Chronicles of Nathaniel Childe


Earlier this year I met author Timothy Davis through Twitter. I was intrigued with his award winning book Sea Cutter Book I: The Chronicles of Nathaniel Childe. So much so, I bought the digital copy from Amazon and began reading that very night. I read until my eyelids just couldn't stay open any longer. I finished this great suspense filled sea adventure the next night.

 Mr. Davis' Sea Cutter is the First Place winner of 2012 International Digital Awards for Short YA Fiction.

I had originally thought this might be a perfect read aloud for my own children, although this book is geared more towards late elementary and middle school children. So I decided to pre-read Sea Cutter before deciding whether or not to use it as a read aloud for my children. They are 4, 6 and 8. After that first reading a few months ago, I decided it might be too intense for them.

Fast forward a few months, Mr. Davis' book was released in paperback with a beautifully illustrated front cover. Ironically at the same time, I had decided the kids just might be ready for Sea Cutter and planned to begin reading our digital copy in only a matter of days! Mr. Davis and I had continued our online friendship over the months and he offered to send a copy of his beautiful paperback to us as a gift! ~ I do want to make clear that Mr. Davis has never asked for a review. I am doing this because we love Sea Cutter so much! I want to spread the word about this wonderful book.

Our copy arrived on Saturday; the kids opened the package with great excitement! We immediately sat down on the couch and assumed the read aloud snuggle position.

As each chapter drew to a close the children would say read more! After about forty-five minutes had passed I asked if anyone was ready for a break. I was met with a big unanimous, “No!” At about the hour mark the boys couldn't sit still any longer. But, C8 sat beside me and insisted we read together until the very last word! Thankfully, we had  nothing planned that Saturday afternoon and we read all 128 pages! Sometimes I could feel her cuddling closer ~  it's probably best the younger ones left to play outside because there are some dangerously intense moments. And there were times I needed C8 to take over reading because I was all choked up. It made for great discussions on how telling the truth and doing the right thing is always the best choice and also the importance of forgiveness.

The next day, I noticed C8 had grabbed Sea Cutter off the bookshelf and taken it to her room. She had begun reading it on her own! She will tell you this is one of her favorite books of all time!

So what makes this book so interesting and irresistible to put down?  

Well, let’s start with a brief summary of the book. Our story begins in New Bedford, Massachusetts in the late 1760's. Nathaniel Childe, a boy just eleven years old, is grieving the shipwreck of Father whom was lost at sea and feared dead.

Nathaniel holds onto deep rooted anger as his heart clings to hope that his father is alive. His hope is that Father is merely stranded on an island in the South Atlantic. Nathaniel receives a chest from Father, delivered two years late, full of secrets and treasure! He is now determined to search for Father. The Sea Cutter is centered on his dream of rescuing Father - no matter what the price.

But, Nathaniel gets caught up in his web of lies. We met a  scary and mean "smelly, slim, oily-looking sailor with a tattoo of a viper coiled around his arm." We meet Wayland, Father's good friend and first mate. He's a man faithful to reading his Bible and always looking to do the right thing. It is apparent he loves Nathaniel very much.

We journey with Nathaniel and Wayland on his small ship the Sea Cutter on their quest to find Father on an island filled with treasure of pearls unimaginable thought to only exist in fairy tales.

Mr. Davis writes in a way that pulls you into the story and the characters' lives. He brilliantly ends each chapter in a way that you must read on to find out what happens next. Sea Cutter is chock full of adventure and suspense.The moral of this story is timeless and the page turning adventure will captivate young and old alike.

If you are studying colonial America, seafaring, whirlpools, pirates, the city of Recife in Brazil or even cliff hangers and foreshadowing this book would be a welcomed addition. If you're looking for a fun, sit on the edge of your seat the whole time book, this fits the description too!

You may read the first four chapters here.


You may purchase the Kindle edition  of Sea Cutter for $3.83 or in paperback for $8.98.

Final Thoughts: 

Sea Cutter is a wonderful book to read aloud and discuss with your 8 year old or older child. There are moral dilemmas perfect for discussion with your growing one. We enjoyed learning more about the beautiful seaside cities of New Bedford and Recife. We loved researching whirlpools and cobblestone streets. We researched different seafaring ships, pirates and ... cliff hangers. So, not only was this an excellent book to read, it also inspired us to learn more about the world around Sea Cutter, too.

Sea Cutter is a sit on the edge of your seat type of book. It's filled with excitement, danger, adventure and moral dilemmas. I highly recommend reading this beautiful book.


Disclaimer: I purchased the digital copy of Sea Cutter myself, was gifted the paperback edition by Mr. Davis. Mr. Davis never asked for a review in exchange for his gift of the paperback book. I offered this review completely on my own.

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Favorite Resources, The Election, The Aquarium and Rory

A few favorite highlights from Nov. 6 - Nov. 14 

Favorite Read Alouds this week:

A free download for November from Heritage History, Stories of the Pilgrims. It's a pretty long read aloud. We are on chapter five and only 13% of the way through according to our Kindle. We are going to have to read more chapters a day to get this finished before Dec.!

We are also reading One Wintry Night. There are so many great Christmas books I want to be sure to read. We are starting early!

I can't decide which language arts program to continue with for R6. We really enjoyed our time using and reviewing PAL, and we like our regular curriculum, too - BJUP 1st grade. This week we reverted back to BJUP. I like that I don't have to prepare much in advance to teach it, and we finish about twenty to thirty minutes quicker. There are portions of PAL I just love though. I think we will just do a week of one and then switch and do a week of the other until I have a clearer sense of which is working better for R6. There may not be a "better" choice. We'll just have to see.

Favorite Online Resources this week:

C8 is really getting into Spelling City. She's my child that likes the computer, but would rather have a lesson from Mommy. She's figured out the Spelling City games are actually FUN.

R6 continues to LOVE Reading Eggs. He ASKS to do these lessons! J4 tried the very first Reading Eggs lesson this week. It's a hit!

Favorite Board Games this week:

U-Build Sorry and Sum Swamp

Our week:
November 6, 2012 - We exercised our right to vote in the cold rain!

We printed out an electoral college map from C-SPAN and watched The Schoolhouse Rock video about the electoral college that night. Our friend Kathy at Kathy's Cluttered Mind has a lot of great election resources on her blog. We watched Arlington National Cemetery video posted by our friend Mary at Homegrown Learners. I just love her Veterans Day post.

 **If you missed our field trip to the Army Aviation Museum, I think you'd enjoy seeing the pictures and hearing what our very special tour guide had to share.

Our last day of co-op for the fall semester. This is R6's last Edible Art creation. I've loved assisting Mrs. K in this class. She's given the kids so many wonderful experiences this semester. I'm going to miss our class.
 We had special guests last weekend, my wonderful sister-in-law and my niece and nephew came for a weekend visit. We decided to spend Saturday doing a little bit of shopping and visiting the GA Aquarium. Aunt W and my nephew had never been and C8 and R6 had just finished a ten week unit on the ocean at co-op. We spent about four hours there and had so much fun just palling around together!
(HomeDepot was giving out sailboat building kits for the kids. There was a building station but it was too crowded. So we were given three to take home. Daddy helped them build their boats one morning this week.)

Ga Aquarium has quite a few touching pools. This is always a highlight of our trip.

Who doesn't love the poison dart frogs?! So interesting!

Love the sense of wonder!

super cool garden eels
 Sunday, Aunt W, S and T went to church with us and then we enjoyed a yummy Greek lunch. We hated to see them go....
We've been playing a lot of this game. C8 got U-Build - Sorry as an end of the semester gift from her Games, Games class! She's taught the whole family how to play.

We enjoyed a rainy afternoon by finding and stomping in every puddle we could find! We (Daddy included) don't let a little rain ruin our day.

C8 made this dandelion ring for me while we were on our walk. love! See what I would've missed had we chosen to stay inside?

C8 was given this lion as a gift. The note card said "for being as bold as a lion" while signing the Revelation Song at church. (If you missed it, here is where I blogged about it.) Rory, as she named him, hasn't been out of her sight since he was given to her.


I'm linking this week with:

Homegrown Learners
Favorite Resource This Week

Hair, a Hayride and Helicopters!

We were invited to a hair styling party and at a sweet family's home a couple of weeks ago. This is the beautiful creations of our friends Ms. A and Ms. C. I just love my hair and C8's! The boys and C8 had a blast playing with lots of little (and big) ones while all the girls and mommies  took turns getting pampered. It was such a fun afternoon visiting with lots of friends! We will be so sad when this wonderful family moves to PA. We are going to miss them. We do have plans to keep in touch using Skype and fb!

That evening we took a road trip to visit my family in another state. My sister was having a few friends over for a going away party for longtime friends/birthday party for two special guests on Halloween. She has the gift of hospitality for sure! Uncle J. and Daddy prepared a hayride for Trick-or-Treating for everyone and we had such a fun time! Our drivers were the best ;-)
Our two Power Ranger Ninja's on the hayride
A friend gave us a book about Gladys Aylward months ago - These Are My People by Milly Howard. C8 decided to dress up as Gladys (missionary to China). We were able to keep her pretty braids and turn it into an updo.
It's always fun to go to my grandparents' homes on Halloween and get yummy treats and show off our costumes. I'm thankful our little ones were able to share in this tradition this year!

The next day my grandmother cooked an amazing supper for all the family. She and my grandfather are always so thoughtful to try to gather the family as much as possible - they do this a lot through our tummies!! I'm trying to learn how to make homemade dumplings like her. They are amazing!

We also enjoyed the last home football game of the season with about 20 family members in one spot! We got to visit with friends that were once in our homeschool co-op in GA that had recently moved to my hometown. It was so good getting to see them! I saw another friend I graduated with many years ago and his little boy. It's always so good to catch up with old friends! The kids got to see a family member coach football and watch a cousin play. It was a very good night!

The biggest surprise of all though was from Daddy. He had left out Halloween night with my dad. Daddy had to fly from ATL to Kansas City early on Thursday. My dad had business in north GA. Dad came back on Friday around lunch and Daddy wasn't sure what he'd do. His flight didn't land in ATL til early afternoon and it would take him till just after kickoff to drive down. He surprised everyone by making that big drive to be with us! He's so awesome!

Field Trip!

We didn't do any book work while visiting family, but we did have a GREAT field trip while we were there! We visited the Aviation Museum in Fort Rucker.
My beautiful sister and Mom, myself, cousin E, R6, Uncle J, J4, C8 and cousin P.
We had the best tour guide EVER, Uncle J! He's flown many helicopters and has some cool stories to share!
here he is explaining different missiles 
A Black Hawk helicopter. One of the helicopters Uncle J flies. He actually flew Saddam Hussein to court a few times in a Black Hawk like this. ~ Talk about a living history book, Uncle J is one!

An Apache - Uncle J shared an amazing rescue story of an Apache crew saving the pilots (one a flying buddy of Uncle J's) of a downed Kiowa helicopter while he was in Iraq. You can read the full story here.
A piece of the Berlin Wall - gave me chills
pilots in training - the back cockpit to the Cobra

there are many great "reenactment" scenes at the museum

President Nixon's ride - Army One. Love the green interior and the "wall paper"
We are thankful for Uncle J and his service to our country and his willingness to educate the next generation.

Linking this field trip with:
Chestnut Grove Academy Field Trip Friday Blog Hop

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Vocal Coach

"With over a million products sold world wide, Vocal Coach training has been instrumental in developing and preserving the voices of all categories of singers from beginners, to award-winning touring artists. Vocal Coach Chris Beatty uses a highly trained and experienced ear, combined with a passion for making singing fun and easy to guide his students of all ages and abilities." ~ Vocal Coach website

The children and I have been reviewing our last Crew review for 2012, a wonderful 2 disk DVD and 1 CD package called Teaching Kids to Sing  from The Vocal Coach. It has a strong Christian undertone and is geared for children ages 5-13, but our 4 1/2 year old had a fabulous time doing the exercises and singing the songs, too.

What is the purpose of Teaching Kids to Sing?
The goal or purpose of this program is that "children will learn proper posture and vocal habits as well as the necessary vocal techniques for developing their speaking and singing voices."

What will the children learn and what's included in the set?

In DVD Volume 1, Building Foundations that Last you will learn:
  • Posture
  • Breathing
  • Tone
  • Warm Ups
  • and more
In DVD Volume 2, Essential Skills for Growing Voices you will learn:
  • Rhythm
  • Diction
  • Dynamics
  • Vocal Health
  • and more
The CD includes 26 demo and accompaniment tracks to be used for practice.

There is also a sheet of paper containing all of the words to the songs and warm-ups for the set inside the DVD/CD case.

Each DVD is about 45 minutes long.
Teaching Kids To Sing DVD/CD Set

How we are using Teaching Kids to Sing:

We worked through the DVD sections in order, together in our living room. We practiced all the exercises with the instructors and children on the DVD. After a couple of weeks of practicing together, I put the DVD's in the car and we began watching and practicing while on the go.

On the Vocal Coach website, there is a section dedicated to homeschoolers which contains a wealth of information pertaining to this set. There are also tests and lots of questions and answers you may read through to learn more about the program and even a suggested schedule for teaching.

What I think about the program:

First, let me share a personal story. We try to call grandparents and great-grandparents on their birthdays to sing and wish them a Happy Birthday. Well, last week we had to leave a message for a family member, who by the way had no idea we had been using this DVD program. This family member called later in the day to say they really needed to find a way to copy the message and send it back for me to hear because "everyone was singing together, distinctly and everyone's tone was simply beautiful." How cool it that?! Now, we were not thinking about our recent training, we were just singing joyfully for this special person.

The format of the DVDs is similar to a classroom setting. There are a handful of children participating in the learning process with the Beattys', who by the way have over 40 years of study and vocal teaching, giving instruction. When I first put the DVD in the player I wondered if this would keep my 4, 6 and 8 year olds attention. I am happy to say that after at least six times viewing the program all the way through they haven't complained once. In fact, I regularly hear the songs Upright Child of the King and I'm a Vocal Athlete being sung randomly throughout the day.

There is a lot of science taught in this program which I love! Our family has seen an improvement in our never before trained singing voices, and I think that pretty much speaks volumes about this programs worth!

Teaching Kids to Sing is available for $44.99. There is also a multiple CD set for middleschoolers to adults called Vocal Coach Singer that other members of the Crew are reviewing.


Thursday, November 8, 2012

Growing Up Wild


Growing Up Wild is a truly unique missionary resource. I've never seen anything like it, and we love it!
 So much so, a fellow blogger and close friend and I will be teaching a class of 2nd and 3rd graders in our homeschool co-op using this DVD/CD-ROM ccurriculum beginning in January! 

Who are the Wilds?

The Wilds are a missionary family in a remote tribal jungle in Indonesia.

What is Growing Up Wild? 

Growing Up Wild is an educational DVD video series with an accompanying CD-ROM activity guide. Growing Up Wild was conceived by The Wilds to educate and "spur on" the viewers to live for Christ as they chronicle their day to day life as tribal missionaries.

(There are more wonderful Growing Up Wild video excerpts you can view to learn more and get a feel for what the series is like.)

We reviewed Volumes 1 and 4. Each volume has three, 15 minute video episodes with an activity guide unique to each episode.
PhotobucketIn Volume 1, we touched on:
  • What their house looks like compared to ours in Home Sweet Hut. You can see the full activity guide for this episode here.
  • How they get months worth of supplies during one trip to the coast of Papua in Supply Trip.
  • How they use gravity for pressure in their water system and the sun for electricity in Sun and Water. They have a clean water, a small washing machine, shower and even a toilet in the most remote of jungles!
In Volume 4 we learned about:
  •  Evidence of our Creator in the many unique animals populating their area, in Amazing World Around Us
  •  In Adventures in Culture we are taken into the cultural life of the Wano people. ~ I was the only one to say "Ouch!"out-loud while watching this episode that includes actual nose piercings. We are encouraged to "explore the boundaries of our behavior" and self-evaluate "yourselves  as you see how the many parts of your life is governed by your culture." One of the activity guide pages shows a drawing by one of the brothers, Morgan, of  where he saw the American Dream, Christian American Dream and Jesus and His Call overlapping.
  • In Tribal Calling we see more of how the Wilds are reaching the Wano people for Christ. 
  • We see how they came into a culture with no written language, learned it in about three years, began teaching them how to read and write so that they could read and learn from God's Word. 
  • How the Wano people were taught chronologically from the Bible for six days a week over three months. 
  • How at the end of those three months sixty of the Wano people understood and accepted the Gospel of Jesus! 
I absolutely love the activity guide for this episode which digs deep into God's plan for us as part of the body of Christ.

How we used this series: 

We watched each episode and discussed them together. I printed out and used the activity guide as a starting point for looking up Bible verses and to point out discussion topics. I am saving the activity guide's hands on suggestions for our co-op class next semester.

Final Thoughts: 

Recommended for ages 5 and up, Growing Up Wild is a fabulous, God-centered missions curriculum that can be used in the home, in church groups or even homeschool co-ops. The video itself is high quality, beautiful and very well done.  My children love learning about missionaries and especially missionary children! At first I was worried that the tribal clothing might distract my little ones. It wasn't a problem at all.  If you haven't yet, go ahead check out the wonderful Growing Up Wild video excerpts here.

We are so excited about sharing this series with our 2nd and 3rd grade class next semester! Look for an update sometime around February on how we are using it in our one hour, ten week long group setting!

The Wilds' prayer is "that God will raise up men and women who want to live all out for Him, craving to be stretched and used and poured out for His namesake."


Each episode is $18.99 plus tax.  Growing Up Wild Volumes 1-5 are available for a 15% discount if purchased all at once at the bottom of the page.

See what others have to say about Growing Up Wild by clicking the banner below.


Disclaimer: As part of the Schoolhouse Review Crew, we received episodes 1 and 4 in exchange for our honest review. 

Monday, November 5, 2012

Institue for Excellence in Writing - PAL

R6 and I have been using Institute for Excellence in Writing's Primary Arts of Language course designed for students K-2 for a little over a month, and we are loving it!

I do have a very big confession. I've seen IEW's tables at conferences but I've never been intrigued. The word Institute made me think stuffy, boring and not fun at all. I completely passed it by each time.

Boy was I wrong! Little did I know but this program combines Classical, Charlotte Mason and Montessori philosophies to teach reading, writing and spelling. Because of this combination, there are many different types of activities to complete during a lesson. This keeps things moving and fun for my son.

This is a huge program! In order to review this for you in a somewhat timely manner, I am going to  link to an hour PAL webinar  that explains the program in depth. Next, I will embed a 13 minute overview that explains "Where and How to Begin" very well in those short 13 minutes. Then, I will list what's included and needed for the program. And, lastly,  I will give you a sneak peek into what PAL looks like in our homeschool.

  • Let's start with the reading portion of program:
 The picture above is the reading program. What is included with the PAL-Reading program's complete package ($69.00):
  •  The Phonetic Farm folder and stickers
  • Primary Arts of Language: Reading Teacher's Manual ~ 165 pages
  • Primary Arts of Language: Reading DVD-ROM 
  • The Reading DVD-ROM includes: the instructional DVD and files. The files included on the DVD-ROM are: Student Book 1 (Lessons 1-40) as PDF files, Student Book 2 (Lessons 41-80) as PDF files, Readers One, Two, Three and Four as PDF files. (The Student Books can be purchased separately in hardcopy form.)"The Four Language Arts" by Andrew Pudewa MP3 audio, "Nurturing Competent Communicators" by Andrew Pudewa MP3 audio, "Poetry as an Integrator" by Anna Ingham MP3 audio, "Introduction to the Blended Sound-Sight Program" by Anna Ingham MP3 audio
  • Primary Arts of Language: Phonetic Games ~ 194 pages
School supplies you will need for PAL-Reading:
  • 3x5 inch cards (2 packages). 
  • Manila file folders (at least 35).
  • A box or crate to keep the file folders in.
  • Crayons, markers, colored pencils, comfortable pens, black Sharpie marker (for teacher), scissors, glue, tape
  • 3-ringed binder with five tab dividers
Now, I will list what is included with PAL-Writing's complete package ($89.00):
  •  Primary Arts of Language: Writing Teacher's Manual
  • Primary Arts of Language: Writing Instuctional DVD-ROM containing: Video Instruction, Student Material PDF Files (to print) ~they may be purchased separately here ~which are: Part I Student Book (Printing and Story Summaries), Part II Student Book (Copy Work and Style) Part III Student Book (Composition with Style). And SIX audio MP3 Instructional Seminars from past Writing Teacher's Symposiums. You can find the full list here.
  • All About Spelling Level One which includes: Teacher's Manual (122 pages), Student Materials, and Basic Interactive Packet (letter tiles, magnets, phonogram CD-ROM, and tabs)
School supplies you will need with PAL-Writing:
  • A composition notebook to use as a daily journal (hard or spiral)
  • Wide-rulled notebook paper (spriral bound or loose leaf)
  • 3x5 cardbox for All About Spelling student materials
  • Magnetic whiteboard, optional for use with the spelling tiles
 Now,  lets talk about how we've used PAL:

When our large package arrived in the mail I immediately sat down and watched the instructional portions of the reading and writing DVD. A day later, I began making file folders and printing the student materials from the reading and the writing DVD-ROMs for the coming week. *There will be some preparation for the teacher to do beforehand.You can prepare everything for the year in advance or just do it one week at a time as I do, or any variation that works for you.

For our lessons, I open the Reading and Writing teacher's manuals to the current lesson. I'll be going back and forth between them. Everything you need to know or say is in the lessons.
  • Our first learning point for each lesson is Poetry (5-10 min.). We begin by reading a preselected poem and pointing out language and phonics principles that are outlined for us in the text. The first day we just read for enjoyments sake. By the end of Lesson 9, we've picked the poem apart, illustrated it, imagined it and memorized it without effort.
  • Next, we switch to PAL:Writing Teacher's Manual for the next three activities. 
R6 completing a writing worksheet after practicing on the whiteboard.
  1. Here we write a brief Journal Entry (5-10 min.) with our child. Tips and a sample journal entry is included for the first day. At this time, you may want to introduce how to use a calendar to find the date as suggested.  
  2. Next, we do the Printing Lesson/Copy Work (15 min.) which in the beginning is learning how to properly form each letter of the alphabet and practice using a worksheet. R6 could use a little more practice writing his letters. So we began at the beginning with Lesson 1 in PAL:Writing.
  3. Third, we complete the Story Summary (20 min.). There are eight stories printed within the lessons to summarize. There is Story Sequence Chart in the appendix that can be used as an outline to summarize each story. The first eight are summarized for you in the teacher's manual. At lesson nine, the author provides many free sources for good stories and fabulous tips. 
A break or switch to another subject is recommended at this time. Usually, R6 and I just go straight into the next portion of our lesson.
  • Now we are back to PAL:Reading Teacher's Manual. I chose to begin in Stage 1 which teaches letters, phonics, and sight words using games. R6 could already read many words, but some of the sight words taught in Stage 1 he wasn't familiar with. Plus, we didn't pick through specific phonics sounds for sight words like PAL teaches. So, I thought it would be good to begin with Lesson 1. 
I also found, after listening to the Phonogram CD-ROM that came with All About Spelling, that even I couldn't recite all of the sounds of some of the letters. ~I didn't know the letter O has four sounds?   So a fresh, new beginning would be ideal for the both of us!
  • Now comes the really fun part for my little one- Folder Games as we call it, or Foundations and Reader Words (15 minutes) as it is called in the teacher's manual! We usually play about 3-4 games at this time. The games are located in a separate spiral bound book that comes with the complete reading course. These must be put together by teacher (and child!).
R6 working on his Color Palette file folder.

This has to be the favorite game so far. J4 loves playing this game, too! Mugs is fed letters or blends as they are said.
We like using the Phonogram CD-ROM to call out the letter or blend sounds for Mugs to eat! I click a letter or blend and then R6 shows the bone to me and finally, he feeds it to Mugs. I always make a "yum, yum, yum" sound. The laptop also makes for a wonderful prop for the folder game.
  • This is also when we write our sight words on an index card and underline our helpers. For example, one of our first sight words was green which R6 can already read. But we learned for the first time that the double e's are "Squeally-e's, and that they say the long e sound when they are in the middle of words. We then underlined the double e's on our card as suggested.
  • Next, we work on another favorite, the Phonetic Farm (5-10 min.) folder and stickers. Everything that needs to be taught again, is clearly stated for the teacher.
 After the Phonetic Farm, we typically take our break.
  •  After our break, we do our Agenda Work (suggested 30 min. we finish in less time). This is the worksheets from Student Book 1. There are suggestions to add a book on tape to the agenda or a chore. We typically just stick to the worksheets.
An example of a one worksheet from Lesson 4.
  • The last two activities we typically add to the earlier lessons. They are a review of the Phonetic Farm and then an informal spelling test. For example, the spelling test for Lesson 1 is spell /c/, /o/ and /a/.
Because R6 was already reading and spelling words, we decided to go ahead and dive into All About Spelling which is multisensory and just fabulous. Typically, All About Spelling would begin in PAL: Reading: Part II.

We are already in the second part of Step 5 Choose the Correct Vowel (pg. 33) and this is what our last lesson looked like.

  1. R6 first alphabetizes the letters on the whiteboard. 
  2. Then, we review by segmenting words. For example, I say the word ham and R6 would then segment the sounds by pulling down a token for each sound (3) he hears. 
  3. Next, I pull down the m, a blank red (vowel), and the t. 
  4. I repeat straight from the teachers manual "I want to spell the word mat. What sound will go here?" Point to the blank tile. 

This is our card box for all of the All About Spelling Student Materials
 Final Thoughts:
A lot of what we are still doing is a review of sorts, yet so much is not. It's presented in a way that is very different from what we are used to. I've also noticed we are spending more time on Language Arts each day. Over the past month, I have witnessed a marked increase in R6's language skills. I couldn't be more thrilled with this course and how R6 is responding.

To read what others have to say about IEW's PAL program click the banner below:


Disclaimer: As a member of the Schoolhouse Review Crew, I was given a copy of IEW's PAL course in exchange for our honest review.