Friday, October 7, 2016

A TOS Review: Everyday Education, LLC

Beautiful Handwriting, Literature and Poetry {Everyday Education, LLC}

Handwriting. For some families, it is just a normal part of their day. Five minutes of instruction and practice, a pat on the back for a job well done, and moving on to the next subject. For other families, like ours, it is 5 minutes to 2 hours of strife, tears, arguing, and just plain ugliness. So when I was chosen to review Perfect Reading, Beautiful Handwriting from Everyday Education, LLC, there was not much cheering going on in the Quinn home. But we are always willing to give something new a chance and see if we can benefit.

Beautiful Handwriting, Literature and Poetry {Everyday Education, LLC}

None of my children have ever excelled in handwriting. My 13 year old daughter has finally begun to care and started taking more time in forming her letters. My, not so much. There are seriously days that I take their work back to them and make them read it aloud to me - and some of those days, they aren't even able to decipher their own writing! It is beyond frustrating, but I've never been able to find anything that encouraged them to excel in this discipline.

Perfect Reading, Beautiful Handwriting is a phonics based program that works on reading and handwriting. You can purchase the hard copy or an ebook version, which is what we were able to review. The book has a great breakdown of how you can use it for both, or just for one of the subjects above. The chapter outline is here:

  • Chapter 1 is a breakdown about reading and handwriting, as well as teaching tips on how to utilize this program.
  • Chapter 2 is filled with reproducible alphabet worksheets.
  • Chapters 3, 4 and 5 are the reading portion of the curriculum. There is a lot of teaching on short and long vowel sounds, blending, digraphs, and also copywork pages of sample words and sentences to go along with the lessons. We did not use this section of the book since we were focused on handwriting and jumped from Chapter 2 to Chapter 6.
  • Chapter 6 begins the handwriting portion of the teaching. The type of handwriting taught in this book is called italic (which before now, I believed to be a font, not a writing style). It teaches the basics of forming slanted lines and ovals rather than perfect circles - which I found to be much less intimidating to a child who feels perfection is unreachable. It is a lovely writing style that teaches how letters can be joined into a cursive-like style as well. It is actually the foundation of calligraphy, which it also teaches in the end of this chapter. I think this is something Chloe will enjoy working through at some point.

One thing I found very encouraging in the handwriting practice was the reproducible sheets. All of the copywork is the author's handwriting, not a typical mass produced lettering that is perfect. I've always thought copywork was better than reproducibles for this reason - so the child doesn't feel inferior to a computer generated - formed letter. This way, the child is seeing an actual person's work and can emulate it, but still make it his own. I think my 8 year old really worked well with that as his example.

Perfect Reading, Beautiful Handwriting takes a subject that my kids have struggled with for years and brings them an approach that made them feel successful. I am glad we had the opportunity to try it out, and I think we will continue to use it in the future.

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Beautiful Handwriting, Literature and Poetry {Everyday Education, LLC}

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Thursday, October 6, 2016

A TOS Review:

If You Were Me and Lived in ... {by Carole P. Roman and}

If You Were Me and Lived in ... {by Carole P. Roman and}

If You Were Me and Lived in ... {by Carole P. Roman and}

If you have a child who loves to explore, has a curiosity about the world beyond your front door, and dreams of far off places, a new series of books brought to you by Carole P. Roman and that may be just for you and your little adventurer. The If You Were Me... series is a set of 8 historical books that take your child to different places and times to give him a glance at what the world is or was like for others. We were chosen to review the following four books:

Each book touches on the history of the times the book is set in, the culture, the customs, family life, and much more. They are written in a way an 8 to 10 year old could just pick up the book on their own and learn a lot. Or you could do a family time with multiple ages and use it as a jumping off point. Caleb (8), Castle (3) and I read them together, and both boys enjoyed the pictures and stories they learned about.


Caleb preferred the American West story the best. Here is his review:

If You Were Me and Lived in ... {by Carole P. Roman and}

"If you were in the American West, you would be a pioneer. You would be travelling all over the place to new lands. Sometimes they had to cross rivers, build rafts, and take dangerous chances to get to your new home. When you got there, though, you were rewarded with lots and lots of acres, or land of your own. Sometimes there were Indians, and you didn't want to play outside alone because of all the dangers. The men and boys did the farming and ranching, and the women and girls took care of the homestead. I liked this book because it was fun. It told me what MY life would have been like if I lived back then. They ate a lot of stew, which is my favorite food!"

If You Were Me and Lived in...Ancient China: The Han Dynasty

If You Were Me and Lived in ... {by Carole P. Roman and}


Ancient China takes you back to the Han Dynasty, about 150 AD. It takes you to the capital city, as well as what rural life was like then. We learned about the customs of the day, how formal things were, and how important tradition, station and ancestry was to the culture. It talked briefly about slavery, class types, jobs that were respected, and celebrations revolving around their religion. This book is fairly long, and there is a TON of information in it. We didn't do this in one sitting, but broke it up over the week. There was just so much about this time period that Caleb found interesting, I will probably go back and do some activities revolving around the food, kites, dragons and symbols, and warriors.

If You Were Me and LIved in...Ancient Greece

Ancient Greece begins by comparing the ruins of Greece today and then a picture of what it may have looked like in 350 BC. This book talked a lot about Greek mythology, the clothing and housing of the time period, and the importance of education in the most civilized nation of the time.

If You Were Me and Lived in...Renaissance Italy

The late 1400's were a time of great change in Europe, especially in Italy. This book shows the reader how much influence Italy had over clothing, music, art, culture, food, lifestyles and practically everything all over the world. Some of the greatest artists, musicians, and architects were living and creating in this time, and it is fascinating to see some of their creations still around today.

The If You Were Me... series is a great way to do history with younger children. I see many unit studies coming out of each of these books for my kids, and I can't wait to read the other books in the series. I highly recommend this way of open ended teaching. It gives you so much freedom to learn and explore with your children in new and creative ways.

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If You Were Me and Lived in ... {by Carole P. Roman and}

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Thursday, September 29, 2016

A TOS Review: Heirloom Audio Productions

Heirloom Audio Productions ~Cat of Bubastes

Every time an audio book from GA Henty comes up for review fro The Old Schoolhouse, the kids and I are hoping and hoping that we get picked. I've honestly lost count of how many stories Heirloom Audio Productions has sent us to review, but I've yet to receive one that we didn't absolutely love. The Cat of Bubastes was as great as we expected, and then some.

Heirloom Audio Productions ~Cat of Bubastes

The story follows a young Prince named Amuba and his faithful servant Jethro through the greatest ordeal and adventure of their lives: kidnapped by Egyptians, forced into servitude, befriended by the children of the high priest to the goddess Osiris, and then sent on the run as fugitives to protect their new friend. All along the way,  Amuba must learn what it truly means to put his trust in the one true God when encountering great trials. The Cat, from which the title comes, is a small but essential character to the story's entire plot. This, and many more moments, give us insight into ancient religions, pagan worship, and the struggle in which many who encounter the Lord find themselves in.

The production is exciting, leaving you on the edge of your seat just waiting to see what happens next. Some of the stories we've had would have moments of loud scenes and eerie noises that upset our 3 year old, but this one never had him running to my lap. While it kept his attention and was exciting for us all, there were no frightening parts (or he's just gotten a little braver!)

Heirloom Audio does such a wonderful job drawing you in, I can't imagine having a movie be any more well done. Many famous people lend their voices to this production, I'm sure you'll recognize a few:
  • Jonathan Rhys-Davies (Lord of the Rings)
  • Elizabeth Counsell (The Chronocles of Narnia)
  • Brian Blessed (Star Wars)
And that's just to name a few!

We were sent more than just the audio book for review. Heirloom Audio also sent us the following:

  • The Cat of Bubastes Mp3 download 
  • The Cat of Bubastes eBook (original GA Henry publication with updated illustrations)
  • Printable cast poster 
  • Printable verse poster 
  • Mp3 soundtrack (So cool!)
  • Live the Adventure newsletter
  • Study guide with nearly 50 pages of learning material
  • Behind the scenes video (if you have a child interested in movies or audio production, this is a very neat look at what goes into putting together a project of this size)
Heirloom Audio Productions ~Cat of Bubastes

The Study Guide was a pdf format, not the hard copy. They do have both, however on their website. When using the study guide, you will be amazed at all of the educational material, biblical and historical topics that you can touch on. The guide is broken down into these sections:
  • Listening Well
  • Thinking Further
  • Defining Words
It also offers a breakdown of a listening schedule with daily questions and discussion starters, as well as some in-depth bible topics. There are many ways to incorporate this into your homeschool day, and it will be a great experience for the entire family! Believe me, with a family that has a large span of ages, we didn't have any trouble finding learning opportunities for everyone. This study guide and audio book experience will not disappoint!

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Want to see what other reviewers thought of The Cat of Bubastes? Just click right here!

Heirloom Audio Productions ~Cat of Bubastes

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