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!
Homeschooling is all about options. Parents are able to pick from a plethora of material and find what works best for their child and family. If you tend to be a bit indecisive like myself, this freedom can feel paralyzing.
Over the last year, I've been working with the Homeschool Review Crew to try out and review many different curricula and I wanted to break down what we've used for 1st grade and some of the pros and cons of each curriculum to help you find ideas that might work for your family!
First Grade Math
First Grade English
Pros: We jumped into this curriculum because I had heard about it from many different moms, all boasting that the content was amazing and it was FREE. The curriculum has not disappointing. I love how the material is clearly presented and the curriculum lives up to it's name: Good and Beautiful.
Cons: Well, we've yet to encounter one. This program has suited two of my children, with very different learning styles.
Memoria Press offers a variety of resources that can be used in first grade. They are a favorite of mine because they offer simple, clear, classical material at an affordable price. For first grade, we used book D and E from the Classical Phonics First Start Reading Program. The earlier books are amazing for starting your child's on a journey of reading!
We also practiced spelling with their Simply Classical Spelling Program, which is a great supplement for working through spelling words. The books are simply workbooks with spelling lists and a suggested plan to help children memorize the spelling words. It's not essential if your student is learning to spell easily through their main curricula, but can be used for extra help in that area!
If you're looking to focus in on grammar, we enjoyed the Easy Grammar System, which offers a simple one page lesson to complete each day. The lessons build upon each other and reinforce simple grammar concepts. The Pros are that the program is extremely simple. The cons were that I'm not sure how necessary this book was at this level. But, to learn more about the scope and sequence, check out our review!
First Grade History
First Grade Science
Generation Genius has been pure fun for my kids! They offer science videos, worksheets, and quizzes to test your knowledge! The topics are presented in a fun engaging way, and it's perfect for unit studies or diving into a specific topic. The only Con I've found is that I wish there were more videos! We watched them all during our free trial period, but I'm looking forward to seeing more content they develop!
Keep in mind that so much science can be learned by observing the world around us, nature walks, and books!
Whewwww, I'm out of breath, we covered a lot of ground and learned a ton last year! I hope you'll enjoy some of the above recommendations and am happy to answer questions in the comment section! Also, tell me about your favorite programs so we can check them out!
Learning to read is an exciting time in every child’s development. It sets the stage for their education, provides the ability to learn independently, and hopefully blossoms into a hobby that can transport children into adventures and far off worlds alike. But, learning to read can also be a tedious task filled with bumps in the road and frustration. With an emerging reader and a beginning reader in my house, I was really excited to learn about Learning Dynamics and check out Learning Dynamics Reading Program with the Homeschool Review Crew.
Learning Dynamics Reading Program is a fun an innovative program that provides everything you need to teach your child to read in a neat little box. When you open the box, you’ll find over 50 color books, a lesson manual, child’s workbook, letter flash cards, reward cards, and a music CD to accompany the lessons.
For the first 38 lessons, a single letter is studied each session. The workbook provides practice writing the letter and identifying words that start with it. The CD has songs to accompany each lesson and help children gain familiarity with the sounds. After the first 5 lessons, your child will begin blending sounds to form simple words like “Pam” and “Sam,” and after learning just 8 letters, they’re ready to read their first book!
Once children have completed the single letter sounds, they advance into using two vowels, and various letter blends. These letter blends open up even more doors in reading, and Learning Dynamics Reading Program introduces and explains the concepts with simplicity for parents and kids!
We used this program 4 days a week with my almost 5 year old daughter. She had familiarity with the ABC’s, but had little practice blending sounds or reading words. I was excited by the claim that she would be reading in just 4 weeks, but had a fair level of skepticism. In our case, the claims were true! My daughter began picking up letters, sounds, and blending them with ease! More importantly, she loved using the program and getting her rewards with each lesson!
Each lesson takes about 20 minutes. I pull out the letter flash card, read the short story about the letter in the teachers manual, then we practice making the sound together with our motor mouths, and listen to the song while she completes the work page. After the workbook page [and the first 5 lessons], we practice blending different letters together to make words. When the lesson is complete, I'd give my daughter the letter reward card that she'd earned. The reward cards and flash cards also provided a hands on way to build new words with the sounds she was learning!
My son, who is 7, has also been enjoying the program. He started by helping his sister build words during the blending time, and then began reading some of the more advanced books that accompany the program. He loves reading the red level books and has grown in confidence by being able to master the vocabulary that’s displayed on the front cover, and then read the stories to his little sisters. If you have two learning to read, you can purchase a separate workbook for the additional learner without having to buy all of the material again!
My son has really enjoyed the books, and I’m thrilled that my reluctant reader feels encouraged by his progress!
Over all, I have loved using Learning Dynamics with my kids! Learning Dynamics Reading Program is a wonderful, easy to use, program for learning to read and developing existing reading skills. I would recommend it to homeschooling families who are beginning their reading journey, and traditionally schooled children who are looking to get a jump start of reading or struggling on their journey.
Make sure to check out the other crew member's reviews to see how Learning Dynamics worked in their homes!
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!
Looking for a beautiful and meaningful Christmas gift? You've found it! Ellie Claire launched three stunning devotional journals that will keep your loved ones inspired for the entire year!
I was asked to review these three lovely devotional journals, ”Peace Begins with Me,” “The Earth is the Lord’s and everything in it,” and “Turn Your Eyes on Jesus,” and was really excited because it's a bit different than what I normally review. I'll admit, it's been years since I've journaled and I wasn't sure how much I’d enjoy it.
I started by cracking open "Peace Begins with Me," because I could sure use more peace in my life! With baby number four about to make an entrance, and still being unsure of where I’d actually deliver the baby, plus anxiety about what life would be like with four little ones under 6, I knew I needed to be intentional about soaking in a fresh dose of daily peace.
I opened up the first page and read the entry, and it was exactly what I needed to hear:
…If I am feeling anxious about my circumstances, then my anxiety is not from God. It’s either from my own circular thinking or from the pit of hell…”
And I knew this devotional came in the perfect season!
Each book presents readers with a different theme:
I honestly can't pick which one my favorite is. They're each unique, filled with inspiration, and the cover art is absolutely beautiful! They'd make such a thoughtful gift that would encourage your loved ones daily- what could be better??
No eating laundry pods here... Instead, I took the plunge into a greener and healthier laundry room with Seventh Generation Free and Clear. I joined Generation Good and was selected to try out their laundry detergent for free after sharing about my daughter’s skin woes.
When Avaline (my three year old) was born, she developed a chemical burn from the “natural” Huggies baby wipes we had purchased. We’re talking about red, blistering, burn on my newborn babies bum. You bet I was angry! When you purchase a product that’s supposed to be natural and for babies- that kind of reaction is the last thing you’d expect! After multiple doctors trips, we ended up switching exclusively to cloth diapers and cloth wipes which solved our problem.
Flash forward three years, and I’ve become much more conscience of the chemicals that enter our house. I’ve chosen natural, plant-based, soaps and lotions and made sure our laundry detergent was free of scent and dyes. I also bounced the harmful bounce sheets in exchange for these wool dryer balls* that are safer AND reduce the drying time by 25% which saves on electricity.
When Seventh Generations asked me to sample their Free and Clear Laundry packs, I was up for the challenge. It’s made for sensitive skin, has no dye, fragrances or artificial brighteners, and it’s stain fighting! I’ve never actually used a laundry pods, so this was new to me. When I pulled out the little pod, I was surprised that it was wrapped in plastic so I watched it in the water to make sure it dissolved… and it did!
I loaded in my laundry… and let me be clear… I load laundry in. There are no small loads in my dictionary! And I topped it off with this shirt:
No pre-treating here, I keep meaning to make my own stain remover, and I haven’t gotten to it yet… so I wash everything, stains and all!
And I was pleased with the results! There's still a slight stain on the arm... but with out pre-treating or harsh chemicals, this is a win!
I'm thrilled with the quality of the Free and Clear Detergent, it certainly gave my Arm & Hammer detergent a run for it's money! I will definitely be checking out some more of Seventh Generation's products. With such a trusted name, you can't go wrong!
is an author, blogger, and homeschooling mom of four, giving her excellent credentials to run her own circus one day!