Sunday, April 28, 2013

Spanish for You! Estaciones
A Mosaic Reviews Product Review for Grades 3-8
Spanish for You! by Debbie Annett

I was given the opportunity to review Spanish for You! by Debbie Annett.   My son "Batman" is a very accomplished six year old is a bit young for this program but I wanted to give it a shot.  He knows his numbers and a few words in spanish.  I thought if anything I would just take things a bit slower then the recommended 30 week course.

The Spanish for You! curriculum is available in either celebration or seasonal themes.    I was given the Estaciones theme which is the seasonal package.  These can be used for a home or classroom type setting for grades 3-8.   A "travel" theme will be introduced in June of 2013.

All Spanish for You! packages come with the following:
*Soft cover book or e-book (currently only trial packages)
*24-30 week for grades you need (24 weeks for G5-6 & 30 weeks for G3-4)
(pdf download)
*Self-checking worksheets (pdf download)
*Audio files of entire book (MP3 download)
*Flashcards/activity pictures (pdf download)
*Teacher lesson plans must be purchased separately

Theme packages are available from $39.95 (grades 3-4, 5-6, or 7-8 to just $64.95 for grades 3-8.   There is a money back guarantee if you aren't happy with the program.

I received everything I needed to proceed via download from Debbie at Spanish for You!   Note:  I didn't receive anything in hard copy like you would if purchased.   The lesson guide suggests spending 10-30 minutes a day with your child on a lesson.  Each week is broken down by day with simple instructions on what to do.   The children start the program each day using flashcards that are simply drawn and easy to use.  Students can then listen to the downloadable audio files to learn the correct pronunciation of a word.  They then work on new vocabulary.   This is a good time to use the self-checking worksheets to review themselves.  There are optional games and activities to use to further learning and I found that to help reinforcing what Batman had just learned.

When I first started the program we did it about 10 minutes a day.   We definitely worked on it for the recommended four day schedule.  A few days here and there we were able to a bit more.  Some days, not so much.   I took my cue from Batman on just how into it he was for the day.  The lessons are pretty easy and fun.  I really liked how ours was corresponded to the seasons which made it that much easier to teach.   I found that simply reviewing key words throughout the day helped a lot.
Here is a picture of Batman reading one of his worksheets to me.

*This is a simple, no fuss program.  It's easy to use and the lesson plans are easy to understand and implement.
*The audio is a great resource and one to definitely incorporate to your lesson.
*Do at your pace.
*Price-very affordable!
*I love downloadable items!

*It's done all in black and white which to me is a pro and a con.  I love big, glossy pictures because they engage a reader more.   I had my son though color in his worksheets and flashcards and he had fun doing that.   

Check out these valuable links!

Thursday, April 11, 2013

The Ultimate Homeschool Planner
a planning system designed by Debra Bell

I was recently given the opportunity to review The Ultimate Homeschooler Planner ($28) and the The Ultimate Daily Planner for Students (19.99) by Debra Bell and published by Apologia.   These came at the perfect time since for a few weeks prior I was going crazy keeping track of all of my homeschool commitments and other obligations.  I had no written organization plan and I felt disorganized and spent much time double checking what I had to do each week.  

"Order brings peace" is a traditional saying attributed to St. Augustine.  I tend to agree with his logic whole heartedly.   This planner will not only help us survive our call to homeschool, but will allow us to "thrive in the pleasure of God's calling in your life".   This product was designed to be easy to use and will help us in our homeschooling journey.    This planner focuses us not only on lesson planning but wants us to be constantly aware of God's presence while homeschooling.
When I first got my planner in the mail I got excited because it's just beautiful.   I love anything floral and feminine and I knew this was something I would use.  Now that I've been using it, I can most certainly say that "I LOVE IT",  Here is what this planner comes with:
*Can be used from 2013-2016
*How to Use Guide
*Yearly Planning Retreat
*Monthly Planning Sessions
*Weekly Planning Sessions
*Monday Morning Tutorial and Friday Afternoon Reviews
*One Year Planning Grid
*Student Goal Setter
*Pre-planning Guide
*Monthly Planner (you fill in the dates)
*Weekly Planner
*Teaching Tips
*High School Planning Guide
*Year in Review

At the start of each month I simply fill out the dates in the box provided.  I then break down our weeks on the separate planning forms.   I'm able to document our bible plan, outreach, notes, supplies, appointments, etc.   Each week there are thoughtful prayers and verses written on the calendar that gave me moments of quiet reflection that I found very enjoyable.
 I love how there is a section each called "Motivating the Reluctant Learner" and "Checklist for Raising an Independent Learner".  Both are filled with great tips and feedback.  The reading list and field tip log are great additions so I could easily document extra items that we did.   The handy pocket folders in the front and back made keeping my "extra" paper easily organized.

 I was also asked to review The Ultimate Daily Planner for Students ($19.99).  This is a perfect planner specially for 4th-8th graders and will help foster their independence.   My son "Batman" instantly started to fill our the "All About Me" section and took pride in keeping his new organizer neat.  In addition, this planner allowed students to learn about:
*Writing in assignments each day
*Document Reading Lists
*Timeline of U.S. and World History
*Map of U.S. including Capitals and Time Zones
*World Map
*Scientific Method
*Capitalization, Punctuation
*Writing Guidelines
*Greek and Latin Roots

My son actually made it a point each day to write in his homework or logged a book that he had read.  We both did our planners at the same time.  That made us both accountable.

Overall, I enjoyed both planners and found easy to use.   When I first saw the asking price I admit I was hesitant in the fact that I wouldn't ever spend that much money on a planner.   Now that I've used both of these, I can easily say that this is money well spent out of our homeschool budget.   I feel more at ease and less stressed being led by God in my homeschooling journey.     

Tuesday, April 2, 2013


Virtue:  virtue is a positive trait or quality deemed to be morally good and thus is valued as a foundation of principle and good moral being.
As a member of the Mosaic Review Team, I was asked to review We Choose Virtues.   Heather McMillan created this product because she simply loved her children and wanted them to reach their full potential.  She thought that children needed to be inspired by simple, positive communication, and by consistent instruction.  Parents and teachers needed an effective language with which to communicate these instructions.

Our first step in this program was to take the Family Character Assessment that is a free PDF download.   My husband and I sat down to each take our test.   I also helped my six year old son by explaining each question.  This took a bit of time but in the end all three of us could plainly see what character traits we needed to work on.
There are twelve character traits in this program.  They include:
Attentive, Content, Diligent, Forgiving, Gentle, Helpful, Honest, Kind, Obedient, Patient, Perseverant, Self-Controlled
We each picked one character trait that we needed to improve on from the Virtual Flashcards".   My son "Batman" needed to work on the character card "diligent".   On the front of the card is a "Virtual Kid" and his friend called Chuck and Duck and the words "I am Diligent".   On the flip side it showed what diligent means.  "I start fast, work hard and finish strong.  I am NOT...slow to get started or lazy and I  don't quit early".  Our cards were the King James version but they are also available in NIV, or a secular version with no bible verse.   Our card read: Proverbs 13:4  The soul of the sluggard desireth, and hath nothing: but the soul of 
the diligent shall be made fat.

We spent about 15 minutes discussing what diligent means, and ways that Batman could be better in being diligent in his life.  Batman also was able to color a special coloring page based on this word that I got from the Kids of VirtueVille Coloring Pages which is a PDF download for $3.00.

I found that using the Parenting Cards ($34.99)  were a great support.  These are full color, illustrated cards that are loaded with helpful hints on introducing and demonstrating all 12 Virtues. 
Front and back of the parenting card.

This program takes about 10 minutes a day to review.  Each time I saw Batman being "diligent" I made sure to recognize his positive "virtue".   At times he needed a quick reminder to be more diligent.  I simply said the words "Chuck and Duck".  These were the "Virtual Kids" on the front of our learning card.   Batman quickly got the message and corrected his behavior.  This program is perfect for pre-k through elementary age kids. It was recommended that one card be used per week. 

I was extremely pleased to see that all members of my family made positive growth using this program.  It was easy to use, the cards were vibrant and fun, and overall we enjoyed it a lot.   We continue to use We Choose Virtues as a family so we can better ourselves and take personal pride in our behavior.

We Choose Virtues is giving my followers a wonderful discount.   Buy the Homeschool Kit ($98.99) and get 20% off using coupon code HOME20 by April 30.  Save 15% off on all other orders using code VIRTUE15 with no expiration date.