Disclaimer: I received a FREE copy of this product through the HOMESCHOOL REVIEW CREW in exchange for my honest review. I was not required to write a positive review nor was I compensated in any other way.
Reading Unlocked Simplified Reading Program helps emerging readers learn to read with 10-15 minute online lessons. By teaching phonics and then gradually expanding concepts, students will grow their reading ability lesson by lesson. While students are learning to read, they’ll also practice their writing ability, auditory recognition, abstract words, and read clever poems at the close of each lesson with a parent or teacher.
One thing that drew me to wanting to try out Reading Unlocked is that it reminded me of language learning software I had used in the past. The program intuitively incorporates matching letters with pictures for beginning readers. It also asks students to write words on paper, as well as in the air so that students receive more than just computer learning practice. The program offers a structured lesson rather than a game, like many programs out there today, and that was something I felt would be valuable to my daughter’s learning.
My five-year-old used Reading Unlocked 3-4 days per week. We started by checking out the first lesson of level one, which started with the letter “c” and by the end, my daughter was reading the word “cat.” She was already familiar with those basic words, so we decided to try level two. Lesson one of level two started with a capital “T” and guided her to match capital letters with its lowercase counterpart. The level two lessons built up to “st” digraphs words like “step” and “list”. I was pleasantly surprised to see that my 5-year-old was doing well on level two. Once children understand the basic sounds and blending, they might be ready for blending consonant sounds in level two!
Reading Unlocked did an exemplary job by providing amply auditory practice. Lessons would include activities that would give the child tasks like “turn sit into pit,” which would teach listening comprehension as well as helping build phonics awareness. The one downside, I felt was when you log in to the program, it takes you immediately to the lesson. When the lesson is complete, you’re logged off. This was a bit cumbersome if you wanted to do more than one lesson, or felt the need to repeat a lesson. Individual lessons can be selected in the "settings" section, if you feel your student needs to practice a concept again, but a map or ticker to track progress might be fun for kids to see! Overall, we enjoyed using Reading Unlocked and feel like it’s a great choice for parents looking for online reading lessons! If you’re looking for structured online reading lessons, this is a great program to check out!
More members of the Homeschool Review Crew checked out Reading Unlocked with their students! Check out there thoughts below:
As a part of our Montessori Cloud Study, we decided to take a cloud scavenger hunt. Our spring weather has been ideal for rapidly changing cloud movement. One moment, it's beautiful and a few hours later, spring showers have rolled in. This has been ideal for helping my kids learn about different types of clouds.
To be clear, there are a lot of types of clouds, but I mainly wanted them to master 4 types:
With this knowledge in hand, they can "read" the sky at a level appropriate for small kids and possibly even predict the weather.
The scavenger hunt was enjoyed by all, and mostly focuses on having children draw what they see in the clouds and relate it to the cloud vocabulary they have been learning. If your students are new to cloud vocabulary, grab the free montessori cloud cards here!
Disclaimer: I received a FREE copy of this product through the HOMESCHOOL REVIEW CREW in exchange for my honest review. I was not required to write a positive review nor was I compensated in any other way.
Albert Whitman & Company has been creating beautiful books for the last 100 years! Recently, they released “The Boxcar Children” series, originally written by Gertrude Chandler Warner in 1924. I vaguely remember hearing about the series when I was a kid, so I was intrigued to find out more about the new The Boxcar Children Early Reader Set geared towards students ages 6-8.
Albert Whitman & Company will be producing a total of 8 books through 2020. We received the first four paperback books in the series and I began by reading out loud to all of my kids to spark their interest. They immediately connected to The Box Car Children because they were a sibling group four, just like my four kids. The second book my son read independently, then I asked him about it, and the third and fourth book we read together. I would read one page out loud and then he would read the next. I found this to be the best way to go through them at his reading level, so I could help him with words he didn’t know and be sure he understood the story.
Ultimately, we enjoyed the stories. Because they’re written in an “easy read” fashion, there’s not tremendous character detail or plotline establishment, but The Boxcar Children Early Reader Set offers mysteries and adventures for emerging readers to explore!
Don’t forget to check out the rest of the Homeschool Review Crew’s thoughts!
These last few weeks have been chaotic to say the least. Cold temperatures mean we’ve been stuck indoors and we’re at that point in the years where we risk turning into the Donner Party by staying in, or picking up some nasty sickness by going out. What’s a mom to do?
Well, I ended up changing our schedule and incorporating some new learning activities into the afternoon when the level of chaos seems to get unbearably high. I decided to pull some of the Montessori Method into our afternoons. It’s a bit more work for me and involves more planning than I enjoy, but I do think that the extra intentionality is beneficial in directing my kid’s independent learning time.
So, I started by creating simple stations at the kitchen table. Traditional Montessori Schools place activities on trays and allow children to pick their tray, do the activity, and put it back, but we’re going tray-less for now! Each spot has an activity for a child to do. Ideally, they’ll spend about 20 minutes at a station and then switch spots. But, it’s been slightly less organized than that. For the stations, I’ve pulled manipulative toys from our downstairs that have been getting very little play because they’re downstairs where the boogie man apparently lives too. For my older kids, I made some Montessori cards about clouds to supplement some lessons I don’t think they grasped the previous week.
You can download the cards here, cut them out, and glue them to cardstock of your choosing.
When I printed them, I had to hit “scale to fit paper,” because the top and bottom was getting cut off.
The benefits of the Montessori cards is that kids can match pictures with names, read about the picture, and then I have my kids draw their own version of the picture, and copy the definition of each into their workbook. The following week, I add in two more cloud terms and a Bible verse for my kids to familiarize themselves with (Card Set 2)!
It’s been a hit, except for some groans about the amount of writing from my 7 year old, but that’s to be expected ;)
I hope you enjoy the download! Have you used Montessori Cards before? Do you enjoy them?
Reading Eggs has become a staple program in the homes of many homeschoolers and traditionally schooled students alike. The online program offers an array of engaging lessons that feel like games- and even include access to an online library! We started using it in 2017, and have continued to enjoy it as a supplement to our English and Math programs. Recently, Reading Eggs launched a line of workbooks which complements their online program so we were thrilled to check out 200 Essential Reading Skills for Second Grade!
200 Essential Reading Skills for Second Grade is a 36 week program and each lesson is designed to take about 15 minutes. The lessons include an easy to follow format which targets comprehension, spelling, and grammar. Each lesson is one page long (which my son loved!), and every 9th week is a review week to reinforce the skills learned.
The second grade program helps deepens children’s reading comprehension by helping them identify main ideas, make inferences, compare and contrast, visualize, make connections, predictions and study words. The grammar section focuses on parts of speech which are relevant to second grade like proper nouns, adjectives, action verbs, and tenses. The spelling sections cover the diagraphs: ar, or, qu, oo,wh, ea, ee, ai, Suffixes: s, es, y, ey, ing, ed, er, est, ly, dge, ge, ful, less, ar, or, ment and ness. And prefixes: scr, spr, str, un, as well as exceptions, tricky words, homophones, and irregular past tense verbs. All this information is neatly presented to you in the year- long planner, which makes organizing a breeze.
Teachers and students who are interested in the Reading Eggs Workbooks don’t need an online subscription and never need to touch a computer; the workbooks can stand alone. However, there are notations in the upper right hand corner which point to books from the Reading Eggs library if students are interested in reading the entire book which is used in the lesson. Currently, Reading Eggs is offering a 4 week free trial to Crew Review Readers, which you can unlock here.
Though our family uses Reading Eggs fairly regularly, my son had not used Reading Eggspress, which is suitable for 2nd grade. He stopped online lessons after completing the first Reading Eggs program for ages 5-7. Because we hadn't unlocked Reading Eggspress, I was unsure of how the workbook could be used in conjuction with the online program without completing some 50 lessons to unlock grade 2 on our account. Turns out it is INCREDIBLY easy- all you have to do is edit the program level on your family dashboard and then you can match the workbook lessons to the online program! This is perfect for families who might want to limit screen time, but have the option of online learning for extra practice!
Ultimately, we love the ease of the workbook. The lessons are simple and frustration-free. Concepts are introduced; different practice questions are presented and then elaborated upon to reinforce learning. I love that this is program has the optional online component for extra practice. I also really liked that I didn't need to purchase a "teachers manual," as all of the answers were neatly located in the back of the book! I would highly recommend the Reading Eggs Workbooks to homeschooling families who are looking to simplify their English lessons with a proven and engaging program!
Memebers of the Review Crew checked out different levels of the Reading Eggs Workbooks, be sure to check out there thoughts on the program below!
Memes are fun, and I think we all can agree that they make social media bearable during election seasons. I've always wondered where the name "meme" came from though?
So, I asked and google answered: The word “meme” is derived from the Greek word mimēma, meaning that which was imitated.
Makes sense, right?
We're imitating silly movies with our own interpretations.
So, without further ado, let’s meme away with some homeschool humor for your midweek boost!
A special thanks to How Do I Homeschool, Intentional Homeschooling, and Homeschool in Memphis for sharing some great ones!
What is your favorite one? Did I miss any good ones? Leave them in the comments for next month!
...and keep smiling, mama!
The homeschooling world is filled with methods, curricula, online programs, and every imaginable learning tool in between. In my own experiences, I recall feeling so overwhelmed by trying to find the right program that compliments my child’s learning style, especially when it came time to teach them to read. With another emerging reader in our home and so much on the market, I was so relieved to find Memoria Press through the Homeschool Review Crew.
Memoria Press offers curricula that accompanies the tried and true classical learning style and makes products that are high quality, simple and accessible for all. The last few months, we have been trying out Classical Phonics with the First Start Reading Program, and I have fallen in love with the ease, beauty, and simplicity that this program offers.
We received student workbooks A-E, a copy of Classical Phonics, the Teacher’s Guide, and a separate Teacher’s Guide for workbook E. The student workbooks are intended to be used by one student, and of course the guides can be used over and over again. Classical Phonics, is a simple book that consists of letters and word families to help young learners practice the phonics skills and is a great confidence-builder after their lessons!
*Fruit not included
When I first pulled the Teachers Guide out of the box, I was a bit intimidated. It was a big book, and I’m a mama with very little time. Once I cracked open the book, I realized my fears were widely misplaced because the Teachers Guide makes the instructors job so clear cut, easy, and fun. It also accompanies books A, B, C, and D so it covers a tremendous amount of content. First Start Reading Program covers consonants, short and long vowels, 45 common words, hand writing practice, and space to color and draw. As the lessons advance, students begin to work on their listening skills through comprehension activities and dictation assignments.
We started with book A, which was perfect for my 4 ½ year old beginning reader. Lesson one covered the letter “M,” in two we learned “A” and by lesson three we were blending the sounds together and forming the start of a sentence, “I am…” My daughter especially loved the drawing activities that accompany the lessons, below is her self-portrait for lesson three:
Books A-D provide a tremendous first start for kindergarten-aged children while Book E and the separate Teacher's Guide provide more advanced materiel suitable for 1st grade. It features 8 different lessons and a variety of activities varying from copy work, vowel teams like “ai” and “ie”, dictation assignments, and reading comprehension activities.
One thing I feel that this program does incredibly well is placing commonly confused phonetic sounds right next to each other so that students can learn the differences early on and avoid the pitfall of simply guessing the words. My older student needs to work on that, so we plan to use Book E with him to make sure he has a firm grasp on the different sounds vowel pair make.
I have loved our journey through Classical Phonics with the First Start Reading Program. I wish that we started with this program from day one with my oldest child. It's simple lessons build upon each other to create a firm reading foundation that children will benefit from for the rest of their lives. I've also fallen in love with Memoria Press and can't wait to see what else they have to offer as we continue homeschooling.
The Homeschool Review Crew checked out many more programs with Memoria Press - be sure to check out what they reviewed and thought below!
A lifetime ago, I studied Biblical and Theological studies at Regent University. I love all things Koine Greek and have way more commentaries and lexicons than current bookshelves. When I first heard about Drive Thru History® two years ago, I really wanted to check it out with my kids… except they were all under 5. As amazing and intelligent as I think they are, I knew the material would be over their heads. But this year, with the launch of Drive Thru History® "Acts to Revelation", I felt like we were ready to dive in (or should I say drive in) and learn!
Drive Thru History® "Acts to Revelation" is an 18 part series that covers what occurred from the book of Acts to Revelation. We watched this as a family with my 7, 4, 2-year-old and of course baby. Given my kid's ages, we began by watching the series in 15-minute intervals and then used the study guide questions to talk about what we learned. The study guide provides a summary of each episode along with discussion questions. We found it better to share the questions with our kids before the episode and let it be like a discovery hunt as they watched and listened for the answers.
The videos are visually stunning and filmed on the actual location of Biblical events. The creators incorporate historical paintings to further illustrate the scenes and paired them with Scripture and incredibly upbeat narration from Dave Stotts, who clearly has the best job on the planet. The enthusiasm is contagious, cinematography amazing, and the content is powerful.
Episode 4 was particularly moving to me as the host walks viewers through the Road to Damascus to learn about Paul’s conversion. The actual segment of the road where Paul encountered Jesus lies in Syria and Stotts explained that he wasn’t able to enter into the country and shared that over 900,000 Christians have been martyred in the last ten years in the Middle East. Though this is never an easy topic to address with children, it’s so important that they have an understanding and thankfulness for our own freedom and know the need to pray for our persecuted brother and sisters.
Each episode is incredibly rich in content. It truly had me thinking I must have dozed off in a few classes or am just getting old, but I prefer the former. I loved being able to see the places where the Biblical events occurred. In episode 6, Stotts shows viewers around the remnants of Lystra where Paul was nearly stoned to death. After a brutal beating, Paul and Barnabas fled an incredible 60 miles to Derbe to escape. Reading the Biblical account is inspiring, but seeing the places and realizing just how far that journey was added an entirely new dimension to learning.
The program would make an amazing family Bible study (as we used it) or a stand-alone history class. I can’t wait to get to the final episode on Revelation. My husband wanted to watch out of order and the collegiate systematic theologian inside of me just couldn’t go out of order!
Be sure to check out what the rest of the Homeschool Review Crew thought!
Does anyone else homeschool with the foreboding sense that they might be forgetting something which may or may not be pertinent to their child's future? That pretty much sums up my homeschooling style...
When my first child started kindergarten, we pieced together simple and free material and maintained a relaxed approach, but by the second year I realized there were some learning gaps. With my next child starting her homeschool journey, and my brain stretched many directions, I wanted to use a complete curriculum that would make my life simpler and keep us on task. We found Homeschool Complete through the Homeschool Review Crew and started my daughter’s schooling journey with Kindergarten Complete Semester One . We received the first semester of Kindergarten Complete as a download, along with the downloadable student worksheet. The teacher’s manual alone is 490 pages, so if you plan to print it and assemble it in a binder, you might save yourself a bit of time by purchasing the pre-assembled bundles!
Kindergarten Complete Semester One teaches essential skills through thematic units. The units include my family, fall, farm animals, zoo animals, shapes and patterns, fire safety, bears, colors, health and nutrition, thanksgiving, behavior, Christmas, transportation, winter, Martin Luther King Jr., and sea life.
Based on the seasonal activities, it’s best to start this program in the late summer/ fall when kids traditionally begin school, or simply plan accordingly! It’s structured based on 180 day school year, working 4 days per week on the curriculum and one day for unstructured activities. I found that this was more than manageable, and my little ones asked to “do school work” even on the weekends!
One thing that I really enjoyed about this program is that it starts by establishing a daily routine. My kids have LOVED starting off our day with the recitations and songs. The daily routine includes reciting pledges, calendar work, days of the week/ months of the year songs to sing, a review of material previously covered, as well as the option to include daily Bible verses and story books. Of course, families can customize and tailor this to their specific needs and children. We decided to add in some declarations from Bethel Church, which I’ll include in downloadable form at the bottom of the page.
This curriculum is truly a "complete" program. It incorporates all of the core subjects, and even includes gym, music, and art activities. Each unit has recommended story books, some might be sitting on your book shelf while others are certainly at the library- and many are on Youtube in case you forget like me ;)
I intended to use this solely with my four year old, but my six and two year old wanted to join in the fun! The downloadable student’s workbook made it easy to simply print out the pages we needed per child, per day, and then my kids assembled their work in binders. The amount of daily work was very age appropriate, and the activities really focused on making learning fun!
One of our favorite class activities has been practicing ball rolling for "indoor gym class." Kindergarten Complete provides so many cute rhymes to repeat as the students roll the ball so kids can get their wiggles out, and learn colors at the same time! This program has really added more fun and structure into our homeschool routine, and I'd highly recommend it!
Homeschool Complete has really thought of everything so you don't have to!
You can check out more reviews from the crew below!
Numbers are a great joy in my house. I’m not exactly sure how it happened, but my kids love math! About a year ago, my son picked up a calculator and it became his favorite toy. He’d sit for hours typing in numbers and yelling from his room, “Mom, guess what 100 + 77 is??” As his love for numbers grew, we even had to implement a rule in our house, “no math before bed” because he’d get SO excited that he couldn’t fall asleep!
I’ve heard wonderful things about Singapore Math Inc. over the last few years, and was so excited to try it out for myself with the Homeschool Review Crew! We chose to check out level 2B of Dimensions Math PK-5 and have thoroughly enjoyed exploring this curriculum.
Math 2B consists of 8 chapters and covers mental calculations, multiplication and division of 3 and 4, money, fractions, time, capacity, graphs and shapes.
The first chapter on mental calculations caught me off guard. This wasn’t a method of problem solving that we had previously used; but the Teachers Handbook provided a review of what had been addressed in the previous curriculum. Mental math is a cornerstone of the Singapore Math Inc. method which teaches strategies to help students develop a flexibility in thinking about numbers (read more about that here). As we worked through the chapter, I really appreciated that they presented different ways to perform mental math instead of a right and wrong way to come up with the correct answer.
The following chapter on multiplication and division of 3 and 4 seemed to pick up seamlessly from where my son had previously studied, and he enjoyed the workbook pages (especially the challenge questions).
“Through the CPA approach (Concrete, Pictorial, Abstract), students first interact with objects they can relate to that model problem. In the pictorial phase, they make a mental connection between the objects they just handled and visual representations of those objects. For example, real oranges (or counters standing in for oranges) are now represented as drawings of oranges. In the abstract phase, students use symbolic modeling of problems using numbers and math symbols (+, -, x, ÷).”
In our time using it, my numbers-whiz-kid has deepened his understanding of numbers and equations and has gained the ability to mathematically think outside the box.
I found the Dimensions Math Teachers Guide is immensely helpful along our journey. Each lesson has fun activities and games, which required very little prep-work [that’s a huge plus for this tired mama!]. One of our favorite games used a bag of random coins. Each player would reach in and pull out a handful of change, calculate how much they grabbed, and the winner was the player who received the highest sum. In addition to the Teachers Guide, Singapore Math Inc. offers worksheets online through Blackline Masters programs and they even have cute videos for the smallest learners who are just starting their math journey!
I'm looking forward to continuing with this program, and am especially excited to learn about geometry the Singapore way!
Be sure to check out other Crew members reviews to hear their thoughts and learn about other levels of Dimensions Math PK-5!
is an author, blogger, and homeschooling mom of four, giving her excellent credentials to run her own circus one day!